Holy Slayer Build Guide
The Holy Slayer class has extremely high burst damage because of the Paladin’s strong attacks with Flames of Devotion, and the Rogue’s bonuses to damage. Holy Slayers also utilize Stealth to the fullest, not only using it to further increase the damage they deal, but also as a tool to get a way when things are looking grim. If you’re looking for the lone gunman on the grassy knoll, then look no further. This Build is the closest thing to a Sniper there is in Pillars of Eternity 2 Deadfire. Note that it works better as a solo Build, but can work just fine in a group, as long as you are controlling it.
Holy Slayers begin combat from Stealth, firing a single Flames of Devotion into their first target, usually killing it in a single shot. If not they quickly fire a second, before turning invisible with Smoke Veil and then taking down their next target. When they are just about out of Guile, they quickly retreat to get out of combat, replenish all their resources and then repeat this process. Holy Slayers pick off their targets one by one, making a mockery of any real challenge the game presents, and rendering even the hardest fights in the game easy.
Holy Slayer Subclasses (Assassin and Bleak Walkers)
For my Rogue Subclass I chose Assassin for the extra Crit Damage, Accuracy and Penetration when attacking from Stealth or Invisible. This is 90% of the Damage we do, so this is a natural choice here, and works well with a Sniper sort of Build. Assassin is much harder to play as a melee character, so if you are playing a melee Holy Slayer, I would strongly suggest just taking one of the other Subclasses or No Subclass.
Bleak Walkers was also an easy choice for Paladin Subclass, because it increases the damage of Flames of Devotion significantly, as well as causes Sicken on the target. Sicken debuffs healing, but more importantly will give us the Sneak Attack bonus on further attacks against the target, should it fail to go down in one shot. The reason Flames of Devotion is so good, is that it provides a % of extra Damage after all your Damage has been added up. This means that the harder you Hit or Crit, the more damage Flames will do. Ironically, Bleak Walkers also have a natural disposition of being a bit of a dick, so works well in an Assassin type build, where you can literally kill anyone, any time you want to.
Holy Slayer Weapons and Armor
Holy Slayers use an Arquebus to deal the highest damage they can in a single shot, further boosting the damage that Flames of Devotion does. Having an extremely long range, the Arquebus also allows the Holy Slayer to get away from enemies once their Guile is depleted, so that they can get out of combat and recharge. It also happens to come with a Weapon Ability that further increases Accuracy by 15, which is even better. You won’t need to worry too much about Reload Time with this Build, because you won’t be taking damage while reloading, and your first Reload from Stealth will be reduced by 85%. The only downside is that the Arquebus does Pierce Damage and some enemies are immune, so consider keeping a Ranged Weapon that also does Slash Damage for those times where you would be otherwise ineffective.
Armor wise it doesn’t matter a whole lot what you wear, since Reload Time is generally not a problem. Later in the game you will be in combat longer, Reloading, so No Armor, or Armor that doesn’t give a Recovery Time penalty would be best. However, I would be inclined simply to pick the one with the best bonuses, as there are some great Legendary Armors out there. Be on the look out for anything that increases Damage, and prioritize your slots for those.
Holy Slayer Abilities
In this section we’re going to cover the “must have” Holy Slayer 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.
A special note about this section. You’ll notice as you scan through that there are not really many abilities listed like there are in my other Guides. This is because many of the Paladin Abilities are the support type and many Rogue Abilities are the attack type. We are, ironically, using them completely backwards for this Build. We cannot take Rogue Active Abilities because we must save our Guile for Smoke Veil. There is a bit more flexibility with paladin as Sworn Enemy and Lay on Hands both have lightning fast cast time, but you won’t really need them.
Smoke Veil – This is THE ability that makes this whole Build possible. Get this when you reach level 4, and only spend your Guile on this one ability. Use it, fire, repeat, retreat, repeat. It’s cheesy as fuck, but it gets the job done.
Dirty Fighting – This ability increases the likelihood our shots will Crit by 10% if we Hit so we take it. Anything that might increase our potential damage is what we’re after, and Crits do more damage.
Two-Handed Style – This passive will give us a flat 15% damage increase to the Arquebus which is fantastic. Take this one as soon as you can.
Uncanny Luck – Another passive that helps further increase our Crit chance. We take this one because why not?
Deep Wounds – This passive puts a Raw Damage DoT on your target if you strike with a weapon, which isn’t super helpful earlier on in the game, but as enemies start to gain larger Health pools it will help out a lot.
Smoke Cloud – This upgraded version of Smoke Veil Distracts enemies when you cast it. This is great because if you use it when enemies just reach you, then when you fire your next shot you will gain the bonus from Sneak Attack against them.
Deathblows – Provides +50% Damage against enemies with 2 or more Afflictions. We take Smoke Grenade to pull this off from time to time. It’s not a constant increase in damage, but there is potential and that’s more than many other abilities give us.
Smoke Grenade – This also applies the Sickened status effect, which we don’t really care about, except that it puts two Afflictions on every enemy in the AoE. Since Deathblows gives us +50% damage against enemies with 2 Afflictions this works well.
Improved Critical – This passive increases our Crit Damage by 10% which we will need. Again anything that increases damage is top priority.
Flames of Devotion – This ability hits like a ton of bricks and only gets more effective the more damage you deal.
Zealous Focus – Take this at level 4 for the increased Accuracy. You can upgrade it later for more Crit chance if you’d like, but it shouldn’t be required because you’ll have tons of Accuracy at that point.
Scion of Flame – This passive will add 1 additional Penetration to your Flames of Devotion attacks, which is really the only ability you’ll need to use. Get it and penetrate!
Virtuous Triumph – The only thing better than killing enemies in one shot is refunding the cost immediately. Take this passive and you’ll never run out of resources no matter what you do.
Holy Slayer Attributes
In this section we’ll cover Attributes for the Holy Slayer, and explain a bit about each and why we need it or why it’s important. This Holy Slayer Build needs Might, Perception and Dexterity, in that order. They don’t really need anything else at all, and can dump Resolve, and Constitution to some degree, but not Intellect. We need Smoke Veil last at least it’s full Duration and longer would be better, if possible.
High Might gives us a modest increase in damage, and believe it or not, damage is hard to come by with this Build. Neither Rogue nor Paladin possess many abilities that increase their damage passively, so you will gain most of your increase from better weapons and gear. If you don’t have high Might you will struggle more later in the game. Max or near max is good.
Perception helps with our Accuracy which also helps with our Hit and Crit chance. We want to Crit on every shot we can, if possible, to gain that increased Crit Damage from the Assassin Subclass, so you’ll want to pump this Attribute to help out. Max or near max is good.
Dexterity isn’t that important to his Build, but it does help when you stay in combat between kills, primarily with the long Reload Time of the Arquebus. Because the Holy Slayer only really needs 3 Attributes, you should be able to max out Might, Perception and Dexterity if you dump some Resolve and Constitution.
There really aren’t too many Races that help this Build out, but my recommendation would be either Island Aumaua or Hearth Orlan. Island Aumaua give you +2 Might, which allows you to pump it even higher during Character Creation, which is great. They also don’t move slower in high water, and mud and such. These are areas where you might not be able to get a way, if you don’t take this Subrace. Hearth Orlan just provides 10% chance for Hits to become Crits, which is just generally good. Race won’t play that big of a role, so choose what you like.
Stride helps out this Build tremendously, because once you pop Smoke Veil and are looking to get the hell out of Dodge, you need to get there before you become visible. Taking passives that increase Stride, like Fast Runner, or getting items that have +% Stride on it can be live savers.
This Build is very front-loaded, meaning that nearly everything you need to make it work effectively is available close to the beginning of the game. There aren’t a whole lot of abilities that improve it later on, making it more efficient earlier. Because of this, the Build will become more dependent on gear as you progress, and enemies start to gain more Health, but your Damage remains mostly the same. Be sure to upgrade often, and be on the lookout for things that increase your damage per shot. You want to strive for one shot, one kill, not sustained DPS.
One really big downside with this Build is that it takes a lot of managing, and if you aren’t driving it yourself, then I wouldn’t recommend it. There’s really no way to get the AI Behavior to mimic this style of play, and you can’t just put combat on auto-pilot, like you can with some other Builds. Keep that in mind when making a Holy Slayer like this, because some people may not prefer to play that way.
Your first shot from Stealth will always gain a -85% reduction to Reload Time, which essentially allows you to fire back to back shots when starting an encounter. There are upsides to this and downsides. If you take the second shot immediately after the first then you won’t gain the bonus from Assassinate, because you are no longer Stealthed. You will also have to pop Smoke Veil afterwards, and will end up firing your 3rd shot just after it expires, so it will also miss out on the bonus. This will throw off your rhythm. However, if you use Smoke Veil before your second shot, then you will burn through your Guile much faster, and may not be able to retreat in combat if you need to. Keep these things in mind and try to decide in each encounter if you can burn the targets quick with less damaging shots, or if you need to go Invisible to hit for more damage.
One really great thing about this Build is that it works in nearly every scenario in the game. Ambushed? Just pop Smoke Veil, make a run for it, and reset the fight. Then begin with one of your trademark Flames of Devotions to the dome, like you always do. 20 enemies in a shop and you want to steal all the loot? Just kill a couple, Smoke Veil away, and come back once reset. Rinse and repeat. You can have a field day mopping the floor with entire towns, or feel some security knowing you can take on any random event and come out ok.
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!