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Why Bards are good.
For purposes of keeping things easier to explain, I'm going to break the Bard into the two most distinct playstyles I see: The Dervish, and the Battle Bard.
Often armed with nothing more than a dagger (if s/he even takes that), the Dervish's true power lays in the ridiculous amounts of Verbal spells s/he gets. These Bards are the ones that nearly never stop casting spells, because they have plenty of them to go around. These are the players who want to control the field without having to lift a weapon, and are often an underrated threat. With spells like Awe, Terror, and Agoraphobia, the Dervish picks and chooses which enemies get to fight their teammates. On top of that, they have plenty of "fix it" abilities as well, such as Release and Greater Release (available at first and second level, respectively), Mend, Battlefield Triage, and the ability to give Metamagics to their teammates through Amplification (gives Extension) and Silver Tongue (gives a rechargeable Swift) makes them excellent team players. On top of that, Dervish Bards often carry the Bard battery spells, such as Confidence, Empower, and Restoration, making them the ultimate team player.
A stupid amount of spells, most of them per Life.
Well suited to just about any situation.
Very good at crowd control, and fixing up teammates.
Can be an excellent buffer/battery.
Equipment costs a LOT with Dervish.
If a Monk (or anybody with Pro Magic/E-Soul) gets to you, your options are nearly nonexistent.
(If you don't take a shield, spending a lot of time standing in one place (only 2 Ambulants per life) is going to get you shot over and over. -Ceian)
Being the only magic class allowed to wear non-magical armor, the Bard can also choose to play as a Battle Bard. Armed with a medium shield, a fair choice of weaponry, and two points of armor, the Battle Bard played correctly is an awesome sight to behold. Using the Combat Caster means they are the only class that can use magical abilities without needing an open hand, and this opens up a wide variety of options for the Battle Bard. They can be Mending armor in the middle of a heavy fight, or using crowd control abilities while fully defending themselves. These Bards also usually take advantage of the many songs that are available to Bards. Song of Interference, granting immunity to Verbal magic, is a favorite. Other songs often seen on spell lists for these Bards are Song of Freedom (immunity to most crowd control effects), Song of Survival (a contingency song that basically allows a free life, once per life), Song of Deflection (immunity to wounds from projectiles), and Song of Battle (grants the bard Armor Destroying). When played by a high level stick fighter, a Battle Bard is a terrifying player to deal with.
Can cast while fighting without needing an open hand.
Can deal with those pesky monks (or anybody with Pro Magic/E-Soul).
Very self sufficient through Mends.
Can be used as a "solo player"
Not many spells due to equipment cost.
Not as much versatility as the Dervish
There are, of course, many other ways to play the Bard. There are hybrid lists that take both Dervish and equipment, and there are lists that don't take any of the "Prestige Class" abilities. These are just the two optimized builds I see most.
-Mishka Thundervoice, Paragon Bard of the Wetlands
V7.X: By Vigus
I said it once, I'll say it again. Flawless class. Any class that can make a 6 point armor tank dance like a chicken while saying "I'm a pretty puff princess", is the opitome of awesome.
Thank you for that very true statement Vigus. Bards do indeed bring joy to those that play the class. Crowd control is the name of the Bard's game. It's what the bard seems to be primarily built for. See the warrior, go make said warrior follow a blue butterfly for a bit while you kill the healer he was guarding. In addition to its crowd control, a bard has some neat abilities that make the bard just fun to play. Mimic and Warskill allow for some neat weapon/caster combinations and Beserk is fun to put on anyone. Any Barbarian on your team will be your friend if you go spouting you have one of those spells in your arsenal. Voice, while dumbed down since the latest revision of 7.5, is still incredibly useful, giving you options such as heal, acid bolt, call lightning, etc. Bardic Charm, the subtle trait of the bard, is about as useful as Powerful Blows, but at least you get it right from the start of playing a bard. That, and fey creatures are always your B#%^&es.
While not the easiest class to use, it is versatile and very fun for anyone that takes the time to learn it.
People seem to find you annoying -Crit
By the Great Runestone Lillywinks
Why Bards suck. (Edit: This is not updated to V8 RoP)
People seem to find you annoying -Crit
Sadly, even as a person who plays a bard, the bad outway the good. Bard has a lot of flaws that the other magic classes don't have to deal with. First off is its round about power. It lacks the offensive and defensive powers that all the other classes have. The bards attack spells lack what wizard and druid can dish out, and the druids and healers buffer spells blow the bards arsenal out of the water.
Second are immunities. Many a class are immune to control. Hell, beserk barbarians are immune to control and subdual, so unless your a 6th level bard facing said barbarian, you had better run faster than he does or learn to fight better than he does. Monks, Anti Paladins, Druids at a higher level, all are immune to half your spelllist. The other half of your spelllist are subdual or non offensive spells. Tack on Protection from Magic that healers and wizards get, and in some games you're about as useful as a warrior with a dagger and no armor. Even bards themselves get Protection from Control and Protection from Subdual early in their leveling. MY GOD, they hose themselves.
Third, lack of spells. Not that you don't have a slow leveling progression too. You get 6 spells you can use at level 1. Okay, let me tell you the truth, you have 2 spells you can use at level 1. You don't count Cancel Magic with the 6 cause it's little more than a cantrip; you don't count Visit, cause if your using it, you're obviously bored; you don't count Presence, cause if your using it at first level, you're obviously stupid; and you don't take Protection from Control, unless your facing a team of bards, then go ahead and take it. Any starting bards take the max Hold Persons and Charms first, or whatever their spell point pool will allow. Now I understand you might take the other spells depending on the situation, and maybe a few of you take the other spells and forgo the Hold Person and Charm and . . . somehow that works for you. But you appreciate that Hold Person dammit! I started playing a bard when Hold Person and Pro Control were not an option. To play a bard, you had to walk uphill, both ways . . . IN THE SNOW!!!
Bard just lacks the shear number of spell you can take. It may help with those you who want a magic class with less spells to remember, but if that's your thought and you're not starting out in Amtgard caster classes, you have no real business playing a magic class. Two more levels in any of the class, and you'll find that out.
Fourth, it takes alot of time to be effective at it. This is both a pro and a con depending on the type of person you are. Because of all its flaws, a player playing a bard has to do a bit more of thinking on his or her feet. People playing the bard class have come up with some of the most unique ways of making the class effective. While Wizards are feared for their spellballs and Druids for their Verbal magics of Nature and Death and Healers are feared for their ability to keep a team alive for alot longer, a bard is feared for his ability to hit you out of nowhere with some creative stuff. Stuff like the Confusion/Hold Person Combo, the My Legend killed 5 people combo, and of course, the Florentine Fighter/Charm/Whirling Tornado of Death Combo. There are a lot more. Granted, the other classes could and have done this, but no where near as much as a bard. The other classes are not forced to be creative. Wizards and Druid attack directly and I rarely see a healer who isn't in the back just healer, rezing and enchanting. But Kezgar was out on the field with a red sash on and he . . . shut your pie hole! Kezgar would own the field playing color, so any examples of him don't count!
Alright, I think I need to stop now. Remember these are my opinions of what I've learned and viewed. I know some will agree and some will disagree. I don't care. Fellow bards, peace out.
PS- For those of you that verbally speak out and say that Presence is useful at first level, you are dumb. If you don't believe me, go find a caster who is better than you and ask him. Then after he tells you that 1st level Presence sucks, tell him I said for him to slap you across the mouth . . . good day sir.
I SAID GOOD DAY!!!
By the Great Runestone Lillywinks