In this Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Build Guide we’re going to be taking a look at the War Caller Class, which is a mixture of Fighter and Chanter. I’ll be providing information on Attributes, Weapons, Armor, and most importantly, what Abilities to take and how to use them. Please keep in mind that this is my War Caller Build, and there are plenty of ways you can build this class, and this is not the only one. If you’re new to Pillars of Eternity 2, or you just love creating characters as much as I do, then this Guide is for you.
War Caller Build Guide
If you are playing a War Caller then you are most likely going to be doing the majority of your damage with Weapons or Chants. This is because outside of Disciplined Strikes, Fighters don’t possess many abilities that increase the effectiveness of casting. With that said, in this Guide we will be focusing on the “martial” version of the War Caller, that augments Fighter’s weapon abilities with the Chants and Invocations of the Chanter. Specifically with Melee Weapons, and Chants and Invocations that work well in melee range. This Build is intended to be used in a party, but also functions extremely well solo.
With this Build we utilize the high Critical Chance we gain from Paralyzing bunches of enemies to gain more Phrases, and deal increased damage. We use the At the Sound of His Voice, the Killers Froze Stiff Invocation for this, and when the Paralyze wears off we go ahead and use it again. Between the Invocation and the Phrases: Come, Come Soft Winds of Death and The Dragon Thrashed, The Dragon Wailed the enemies we face will not only be CCed nearly all the time, but they will also be taking damage for the Duration they are CCed. This makes it easy for us to pick off targets, and get AoEs from our Cleaving Stance, all while healing at the same time via Constant Recovery.
War Caller Subclasses (Devoted & Skald)
From the Fighter class I have chosen Devoted for the increased Critical Damage (+25%) and increased Penetration (2) with Proficient Weapons, however you can choose No Subclass or Unbroken if you’d rather not be locked into one weapon type. I wouldn’t recommend Black Jacket though, because Constant Recovery is a key part of this Build, and losing access to it really hurts your healing. Devoted can dual wield two of the same weapon, or use a Shield in their off-hand with no penalty.
Skald is our choice from the Chanter class for its ability to gain Phrases on melee weapon Crits and cheaper Offensive Invocations. The idea here is that we cast Invocations, Crit enemies and repeat for the highest damage possible when we do. No other Subclass is as effective for this particular Build, so none are recommended. However, Troubadour can work extremely well in a War Caller build that doesn’t focus on Crits because it extends the Duration of Phrase effects, making it possible to keep 2 Phrases active at once.
War Caller Weapons and Armor
My preferred weapon for this Build is Battle Axe, for a couple of reasons. First the weapon itself does +20% Crit Damage, which is exactly the sort of bonus this Build needs because we’re going to be doing a lot of Crits. Second the weapon ability Bleeding Cut does 10% damage over time, which at first doesn’t seem that good because of the +50% Recovery Time. However, this bleed will trigger on the attack done from Cleaving Stance, so you can put a further DoT on all enemies around you. I like to swap to Cleaving Stance, put this Ability on and then Cleave when I know an enemy is about to go down. It’s especially great right before a Charge attack, to put a bleed on all enemies. However, as someone pointed out to me, Club is also a good choice because the weapon ability Bewildering Blows reduces the Will of the targets struck, making it more likely you will Paralyze them. You will do reduced damage if you use this weapon, however.
I dual wield the Battle Axes to further reduce my Recovery Time (-30%), which is important as we need to attack often in order to Crit often. In addition, the AoE from Cleaving Stance will Hit with both weapons on all enemies in the AoE, which is just win. However, it is a good idea to use a single one earlier on in the game until your Accuracy has improved a bit, or you’ll be whiffing a lot with your swings. If you didn’t know you gain +12 Accuracy for single handing without a Shield.
On the Armor side of things, you should be wearing Medium. You’re going to be in the thick of it constantly and just a few points of Armor can be the difference between living or dying. This Build typically wins by outlasting enemies via healing, Armor and constant damage from our Chants and DoTs. Losing out on a bit of Recovery Time may make it possible to win fights you wouldn’t otherwise. However, there is flexibility here and you can be more of a DPS War Caller by utilizing Light Armor, or more of a Tank if you wear Heavy Armor. There is no proficiency with Armor, so you can swap them around and try what you like best.
War Caller Abilities
In this section we’re going to cover the “must have” War Caller Abilities for this Build. You are free to pick and choose which you want outside of these because everyone’s style of play is different and there is no perfect way. However, these ones will be needed for this Build to work effectively.
Disciplined Barrage – This is not only going to increase your Accuracy with attacks, but also Invocations and Chants, in addition to providing Concentration, which prevents you from being Interrupted. You’ll take this one during Character Creation.
Fighter Stances – At level 4 you’ll unlock your Fighter Stances and you’ll want to pick them up ASAP, as they are a big part of the class and build. You can switch between these while in combat, and they have some amazing effects.
Two Weapon Style – This passive reduces your Recovery Time when dual wielding weapons, and is great for getting more attacks off, which results in more Crits.
Disciplined Strikes – At level 7 you’ll gain access to this Ability and it replaces Disciplined Barrage, giving you a +25% to Crit (this includes with Invocations and Chants). This works extremely well with our Crit-focused Build, however Tactical Barrage is also an extremely good choice.
Tactical Barrage – Increases your Intellect by +5 and gives you +1 Power Level. Intellect affects your Chant’s Linger Duration, the range of your Invocations, the Duration of the Paralyze you inflict as well as the Duration of Constant Recovery and Tactical Barrage itself. Definitely consider switching to this one after you’ve unlocked The Dragon Thrashed, The Dragon Wailed. And absolutely take this one if you picked Troubadour as your Subclass.
Rapid Recovery – This increases your healing from Constant Recovery and is vital to keeping you alive in combat, especially if you have no dedicated healer.
Charge – At level 10 you’ll gain access to Charge which is just fucking ridiculous. I like to ball up the enemies and Paralyze them, before charging through for massive Crit Damage, which then instantly fills up my Phrases. Rinse and repeat. This ability does trigger the AoE from Cleaving Stance, which is just the icing on the cake.
Armored Grace – This ability will reduce the penalty you take from wearing Armor and will make a -35% Recovery Time Armor piece only give -10% instead, which is great. You can either upgrade to full Plate at this point or you can enjoy the benefits of faster attacks.
Weapon Specialization – With this ability you gain just a flat increase to Proficient Weapon Damage. It’s one of the few ways we can increase our Weapon Damage so we take it and don’t look back.
Mob Stance – This upgrade of Cleaving Stance reduces your Recovery Time by 5% for each enemy around you. This significantly boosts your overall attack speed and really helps out, even with just a few enemies around.
Improved Critical – This passive further boosts your Crit Hit damage and should make it into the Build at some point. Again it’s one of the few ways we can boost our Weapon Damage so we pick it up.
Come, Come Soft Winds of Death – This will be the first Phrase you take, and will last you for a long while and you won’t really need another one until later in the game. Take this during Character Creation.
At the Sound of His Voice, the Killers Froze Stiff – This is going to be your bread and butter Invocation and it’s what makes this Build really shine. Not only does it Paralyze enemies in a decent-sized AoE, preventing you from taking damage, but Paralyzed enemies have 50% of incoming Hits converted to Crits from all sources. This allows you to Crit much more often and allows your party members to do the same. Take this at level 4.
The Dragon Thrashed, The Dragon Wailed – As soon as you get access to this ability you should add it to your first Phrase and alternate between them for incredible AoE damage. If you don’t have Tactical Barrage, it might be a good idea to swap out Disciplined Strikes for it here, as it will give you near 100% up time on both Phrases. You’ll lose Crits for more sustained damage though, so it’s really up to you.
War Caller Attributes
In this section we’ll cover Attributes for the War Caller, and explain a bit about each and why we need it or why it’s important. War Callers have a pretty tough stat spread because they need Intellect, Might, Perception, Dexterity and Constitution. In order to obtain good values in these you will more than likely have to dump some Resolve, however, you shouldn’t be getting Hit that much by the middle part of the game, so Resolve will be less useful anyhow.
Intellect is the most important Attribute for the War Caller because it affects many many abilities. First it affects the overall radius of your Chants, as well as the Duration they Linger after being Chanted. The only way to stack 2 Chants with 100% up time is by having high Intellect, so keep that in mind. Second, it affects the length of your Paralyzing Invocation, making it hit many more enemies, as well as extending the Duration those enemies remain Paralyzed, which is key! The longer they are Paralyzed, the longer you can damage them without taking return fire. Remember that getting a Crit with this Invocation will extend the Duration, making it even more effective. Lastly, it effects the Duration of Disciplined Strikes (or Tactical Barrage) and Constant Recovery, making you have to buff less often and heal for longer. This frees up Discipline to be used on Charge, and makes you more Durable longer into a fight.
Might increases the damage of your weapon attacks, your Chants and your Invocations. Of the 3 of these we mostly take if for the Chants because besides increasing your Power Level, there is really no other way to boost the damage that these deal. Might also increases your healing done, which is great for both Constant Recovery and Come, Come Soft Winds of Death.
Perception is important because you need your Invocations to Hit in order to Paralyze targets. This Build doesn’t work if you can’t Paralyze, so putting a few points into Perception goes a long way to making that happen, especially earlier in the game when your Accuracy is much lower. Keep in mind that Perception also affects the probability of your Chants Hitting as well, and Invocations can Crit for increased Duration or Damage, which really helps. One nice thing about Warrior Stance is it helps with Accuracy of Invocations and Chants as well as weapon attacks, so swap to it when you don’t need the AoE.
Dexterity reduces the Recovery Time between attacks and spells, and helps to increase the rate at which you attack, which should in turn increase the rate you Crit. It’s also important because we wear Medium Armor and will have slower Recovery due to this. However, it becomes somewhat moot later on in the game when you can just Charge back and forth to gain Phrases quickly. Theoretically though, if you have enough Int and Dex you could create an infinite loop of Paralyze that would never end in many cases.
Last we come to Constitution which you only need a point or two of, unless you are the “tank” of the group. The added Health will help to keep you alive while in melee range of so many enemies, giving your HoTs time to heal you up. You really only want enough Health that you can’t be killed in between Paralyzing your enemies. If you’re playing solo you will want a bit extra, however.
I did not add a Races section to this Guide because if I’m totally honest, they don’t play that much of an impact in the overall performance of your Build. I play a Fire Godlike for extra Armor and the burn damage it returns to enemies, but you can play any race you wish. My advice is don’t worry too much about, and just Role Play this aspect of the game, or take whichever you feel like. If push came to shove, I think Nature Godlike would make an excellent choice if you could find a way to buff your Might, Dexterity or Constitution reliably, as the increased Power Level would help many aspects of this Build. There are a few Non-Offensive Invocations that do this, but you won’t generally have enough Phrases to cast them, unless you play as a Troubadour.
I only use the Come, Come Soft Winds of Death Phrase for the first 13 levels of this Build but there is a bit of waste here, because you have about 3 seconds of overlap where the debuff reapplies on enemies and hasn’t run out yet. If you want you could take a second Phrase earlier to get better use out of these few seconds. Ancient Memory is a good choice for the extra healing, but just keep in mind you won’t be doing max damage as there will be a few seconds in between. If you took Tactical Barrage though you should have enough Duration to have just about 100% up time on both.
You can spend a point to get the 2.0 version of At the Sound of His Voice, the Killers Froze Stiff, if you wish. However, it isn’t overly effective because you don’t really need the Frightened debuff on Paralyzed enemies. The upside of having it though, is that Frightened is a Resolve Affliction, so if the enemies were immune to Dexterity Afflictions then you would still apply some effect.
Chanters only gain Phrases at the beginning of combat, equal to the highest costing Invocation they know. For this reason it is advised that you take a higher costing one at some point, so that you begin combat with more Phrases, allowing you to Paralyze 2 or more times before you need to build up Phrases again. An excellent choice is: The Lover Cried Out to the Beloved, “I am Yours!”, because you can Charm tons of enemies with it.
Lastly, You can play a variation of this sort of Build by picking the Monk class instead of the Fighter. Monks can boost their Action Speed naturally, solving the Nature Godlike problem, and they have many abilities that benefit from Critical Hits. Swift Flurry, Enervating Blows and Heartbeat Drumming all provide benefits from Crits, so there is a natural synergy here, possibly even more so than with Fighter. Monks aren’t quite as tanky as Fighters though, and I enjoy the AoE damage from Cleaving Stance.
War Callers don’t have the DPS that many Multiclassed Fighters will have, but do have more support functionality and are extremely hard to kill. Because Chanters have Phrases that do both damage to enemies, buffs to friendlies, or both, there is quite a bit of flexibility in how you can Build your War Caller. I chose this class for my first Build Guide because the War Caller is a DPS, Tank, and Support all wrapped up into one neat little package, and has a little something for everyone.
Stay tuned for more Pillars of Eternity 2 Build Guides through out May, as we make some more specific Guides covering some of the most fun and interesting combinations we could find. If there is a specific combination you would like to see, please post in the comments and we will do our best to accommodate!