Brawler Build Guide
The Brawler class combines that lightning fast attacks of the Monk with the combat prowess of the Fighter. Fighters provide healing, weapon expertise and the option to wear some Armor with no Recovery Time penalty. This helps to fill in the weaknesses of the Monk, and is an extremely deadly combination, that often results in many downed enemies within seconds. This an very solid Multiclass that is highly recommended to anyone that just wants reliable damage with decent survive ability.
This Brawler Build has two styles of play available to it, and they can both be utilized without having to change anything, which is fantastic. First using the Monk Ability Swift Flurry, we gain the option to strike again whenever we Crit with a Weapon. When combined with the Cleaving Stance of the Fighter, we often proc this a few times when one enemy goes down, usually killing another enemy which just repeats this process. Second, when combined with the Blunderbuss weapon you can create an infinite loop of shots. Blunderbusses fire 4 rounds into the target, and each one has it’s own chance to Crit, meaning you have 4 chances to proc Swift Flurry each time you fire. If you Proc Swift Flurry you will immediately fire 4 more rounds, which repeats this process. With a little RNG you can burn through the entire Health bar of an enemy with just one shot!
Brawler Subclasses (Devoted & Helwalker)
For my Fighter Subclass I chose Devoted in order to get extra Penetration, which the Blunderbuss weapon sorely needs, and extra Crit Damage as we’ll be doing a lot of Crits. The great thing about this Subclass is that it applies these benefits to Unarmed and Blunderbuss, so you’ll gain them no matter which you are using. You really couldn’t ask for more!
For my Monk Subclass I chose Helwalker for increased Damage at the expensive of more Damage taken. Blunderbusses don’t hit particularly hard and anything we can do to improve their damage is always good. The downside is that you have a tendency to die much easier in some situations. You can play the Brawler with any of the Monk Subclass, so choose whichever you like and don’t worry too much about it. However, keep in mind you only gain Wounds with the Shattered Pillar Subclass when you melee.
Brawler Weapons and Armor
As mentioned above we use both Unarmed and Blunderbuss for our Weapons, both have distinct style of play, and both are buffed by Devoted. Unarmed is simply great when surrounded by many enemies where you can proc an AoE with Cleaving Stance, resulting in mass casualties very quickly. Fists also deal Crush Damage, which is different from the Blunderbuss’s Pierce Damage, giving you two different types in the case of an immunity.
The Blunderbuss works better when there are fewer harder to kill targets that you can pick off one by one, while in Warrior Stance. Because we use Swift Flurry, each shot from the Blunderbuss has a chance to proc it, sometimes creating a damage loop that doesn’t end until the enemy is dead, no matter how high their Health is. We dual-wield these for best results, because you can use Penetrating Strike or Charge, and both are Full Attacks which will fire both guns.
When it comes to Armor you want to use the lightest you can and try not to incur any more Recovery Time penalty than is needed. Because Fighters have the passive ability Armored Grace, they can use Light Armor with no penalty and Medium Armor with a 10% penalty. Because I chose Helwalker, I’d advise upgrading to Medium Armor as soon as you get this passive because you will be taking 30%+ increased damage quite regularly and you will need to mitigate some of it. However, if you chose another Subclass you can probably remain in Light Armor without issue.
In this section we’re going to cover the “must have” Brawler 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 ability increases our Perception, which helps with Accuracy, and converts 50% of Grazes to Hits. This really boosts the overall performance of the Build, especially when attacking with Fists earlier in the game.
Fighter Stances – These Stances become available at level 4 and you want to get them ASAP. You’ll want to use Warrior Stance when using the Blunderbusses and Cleaving Stance when fighting Unarmed.
Confident Aim – This passive also helps to convert Grazes to Hits, and is excellent for early game damage until you have better Accuracy.
Two Weapon Style – This passive reduces our Recovery Time when dual-wielding which we will be the entire game. Grab it early and enjoy it.
Disciplined Strikes – This upgrade of Disciplined Barrage increases the likelihood that you will Crit by 25%, which helps to proc Swift Flurry in melee, but especially when using the Blunderbuss. This is one of the best ways we can increase our Crit Chance!
Penetrating Strike – This ability is amazing for 1 Discipline. Not only is it a Full Attack, meaning you will strike with both Fists or Blunderbusses, but it increases the damage by 25% and adds +4 Penetration. Did I mention it only costs 1 Discipline?
Rapid Recovery – This upgrade of Constant Recovery really helps to keep you alive while in combat and is just an all around good use of an ability point on any Fighter.
Charge – This might be my favorite ability in the whole game. If you charge through enemies with Cleaving Stance up you will trigger the AoE if you down an enemy, and Swift Flurrly can proc from either Charge or the AoE. Additionally, you can charge through with your Blunderbusses equipped, triggering a Full Attack with both guns against each enemy Hit, meaning you could proc infinite Swift Flurry loops on multiple targets at the same time!
Weapon Specialization – This passive will further increase our damage with Fists and Blunderbusses so we take it when we can.
Conqueror Stance – This stance gives you additional Accuracy when above 75% Health which helps to increase your Crit chance. Get this one and use it when your guns are drawn.
Mob Stance – This stance will upgrade Cleaving Stance so that you gain even further reduced Recovery Time for each enemy around you. You’ll absolutely want this one, because faster attacks mean more dead bodies.
Uncanny Luck – This ability gives you a small chance to resist damage or Crit, and we need both. Take it when there is nothing else worth getting.
Armored Grace – This ability will reduce the penalty you take to Recovery Time when wearing Armor. Get this one as soon as you can and switch to Medium Armor if you’re playing as a Helwalker.
Improved Critical – This passive will further increase your Crit Damage, and you will be doing a lot of Crits, so it’s a no brainer.
Weapon Mastery – Another passive that increases damage so we pick it up. You can never have enough passives that do this, and Fighters possess many, which is great.
Swift Strikes – This ability increases your Action Speed and gives you Dexterity which does the same thing. This allows us to attack lighting fast, and we take it during Character Creation.
Swift Flurry – This upgrade is what allows this Build to work, by giving you a chance to strike again when you Crit with a weapon. You cannot trigger the damage loop with Blunderbusses until you get this ability at level 7.
Duality of Mortal Presence – This ability will give you increased Intelligence or Constitution for each Wound you have, which is awesome. Later we’ll upgrade this for increased damage.
Thunderous Blows – For 2 Wounds we gain +5 Might and +2 Penetration. We don’t really need the Penetration, but the Might is too hard to pass up, so we take this one. The Duration is also pretty good at 20 seconds.
Rooting Pain – This ability damages, and more importantly, Interrupts enemies around you when you gain a Wound. This drastically helps your survive ability, and cannot be understated. Be sure to get this one as soon as you can.
Enervating Blows – We’re going to be doing lots of Crits in melee so this is an easy choice here. Take it when there is nothing better to get.
Turning Wheel – This ability will allow us to gain up to +50% Damage as Burn when meleeing with our Fists. We will already be doing incredible damage without this, and this will just put us over the top.
Heartbeat Drumming – This passive gives us even more of a chance to strike again when we Crit, but only in melee combat. Since this should be often, we take it and put it to good use.
In this section we’ll cover Attributes for the Brawler, and explain a bit about each and why we need it or why it’s important. This Brawler Build needs Perception, Dexterity and Constitution. Might would also be good to have, but doesn’t really do much for the damage of the Blunderbuss. Intellect and Resolve are not necessary, and I would dump some Resolve for extra points. You’ll want to keep Intellect at 10 or better because you don’t want to hurt the Durations of Swift Flurry and Disciplined Strikes, as they are already short.
We need Perception because we need to Crit often to make this Build work. Even if we deal less damage with the Crits we do, just doing a Crit could trigger Swift Flurry, which is all we need to do to deal more damage. Take this one to max if you can, because you’ll need as much Accuracy as you can get.
Dexterity is needed to attack as quickly as we can and try to get a Crit to proc Swift Flurry. It also helps with the Reload Time of the Blunderbuss, which would otherwise be longer. You don’t need to max this during Character Creation, but it should be close.
Constitution is third because you will take increased damage from being a Helwalker Monk, and we need a larger Health pool so we don’t die from it. How much you want to spend here will partly be determined by your group’s make up, but I would put at least 3 points in it. More is of course better if you have points to spare.
The Race I chose for this Build was Hearth Orlan for the extra 10% chance to convert Hits to Crits. There is really no other Race that gives bonuses that are very helpful to the Blunderbuss setup, however there are plenty that work well for when you are in melee. Human is very good for increased Accuracy and Damage when Bloodied, and Fire Godlike shines when surrounded. Pick whichever you like, but if you plan to be shooting more often than not, Hearth Orlan is the way to go.
When using the Blunderbusses try not to use a Full Attack ability on your first shot, unless you use Charge. You will always fire two shots when you first enter combat, before you have to reload. Afterwards you will alternate firing one gun, reloading, then firing the other. This is ideally when you want to spend Discipline on Penetrating Strike to allow you to fire both guns again, doubling your chance to proc the Swift Flurry loop.
Using a single Blunderbuss will increase your Crit Chance by 20% (with One-Handed Style), and is a viable alternative to dual-wielding, since it helps with the damage loop of Swift Flurry. However, it doesn’t take advantage of Charge or Penetrating Strike well, because these are both Full Attacks, which strike with two-weapons if you have two equipped. Keep that in mind if you decide to play One-Handed and take something like Knock Down or Mule Kick instead.
Charge, Charge, Charge! Use this ability often against 2 or more targets. It not only gets you in range quickly, but it triggers a Full Attack on each enemy you “charge through”. This works well with Fists in Cleaving Stance or Blunderbusses in Warrior Stance. You can kill whole batches of enemies in one single Charge, that is just insane to watch. If you don’t fall in love with this ability after just 1 go, I’ll eat my hat.
Lastly, there is lots of gear that helps with Ranged Accuracy and I suggest you take full advantage of it. You can get Ring of the Marksman and Acina’s Tricorn very early in the game and they both help tremendously with this Build. You might also want to pick up some gear that helps when you are surrounded, for hand to hand scenarios, such as Ngati’s Girdle.
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!