Baldur’s Gate 3: Bard Subclass Tier List

Choose the best Bard subclasses to guide you through Baldur’s Gate 3, with our tier list ranking all subclasses from worst to best.

Baldur’s Gate 3 Bard Subclass Tier List

In Baldur’s Gate 3, your Bard subclass determines available spells, proficiencies, and Bardic Inspiration. The Bard subclass is unlocked at level 3, with additional benefits at level 6. The Bard’s core feature is Bardic Inspiration, which inspires an ally by adding a +1d6 bonus to their next Attack roll, Ability check or Saving throw. Bards blend spell casting, weapon combat, and utility in one of the best classes in Baldur’s Gate 3.

However, it begs the question, what makes a Bard subclass better or worse than the others? The simple answer is weapon and armour proficiencies, enhancements to Bardic Inspiration, or additional spells. The Valour Bard gains Medium armor, shields, and martial weapon expertise. This frees up the Bard for more weapon-based combat, while the College of Lore Bard gains increased skills and spells. Our guide aims to give you a tier list of the best and worst Bard subclasses in Baldur’s Gate 3 so you can decide which is best for your build.

Bard Subclasses Tier List – Baldur’s Gate 3

Baldur's Gate 3 Bard Songs

The College of Valour subclass is the best for the Bard because of additional weapon and armor proficiencies and extra utility via combat inspiration. With a Valour Bard, you can use two-handed, dual-wield, or even dual-hand crossbows and take advantage of Extra Attack and the plethora of the best weapons in Baldur’s Gate 3. The College of Swords is a secondary choice for Bards who want to specifically fight in melee range with one or two weapons equipped. You can use Bardic Inspiration for unique weapon attacks rather than buffing an ally. Lastly, the College of Lore Bard gains skill proficiencies and additional non-Bard spells. Bards are weak spellcasters overall but make great versatile builds if done correctly. Therefore, the Lore Bard falls behind in terms of efficiency and upside.

Here is the tier list for the Bard Subclasses in Baldur’s Gate 3 ranked best to worst:

  • S Tier – College of Valour
  • A Tier – College of Swords
  • B Tier – College of Lore

This build page has been updated for the patch 6 version of Baldur’s Gate 3.

College of Lore (B Tier)

BG3 Cutting Words

Here’s what the College of Lore Bard Subclass will unlock for you at various levels in Baldur’s Gate 3:

  • Cutting Words (Level 3) – It receives a 1d6 penalty to Attack Rolls, Ability Checks, and Saving Throws until the start of your next turn.
  • Bonus Proficiencies (Level 3) – Choose 3 Proficiencies of your choice.
  • Magical Secrets (Levels 6 & 10) – Choose 2 Spells from the Magical Secrets spell list of Level 3 or lower.

The College of Lore Bard makes an exceptional choice for players looking to excel at dialogue, exploration, and spellcasting.

Noticeably absent from the Lore subclass features is Extra Attack. Missing Extra Attack removes the Lore Bard from a higher ranking on this tier list because attacking twice with one action is incredibly powerful. However, you gain increased skill proficiencies, which is helpful for story and explorations. Moreover, the Bard can learn non-bard spells with magical Secrets. The Lore Bard gets Magical Secrets twice, not one, thus expanding their spellbook dramatically.

Sadly, the Bard is one of the weakest spellcasters in Baldur’s Gate 3. Their choices for level 6 spells are atrocious and essentially useless. A Sorcerer, Wizard, Druid, or Warlock has game-changing impactful spells like Disintegration, Globle of Inverability, Sunbeam, Circle of Death, etc. Thus, you end up with a severely weakened spellcasting class that incentivizes you to play melee weapon damage dealer or multiclass to Warlock for Hex and Eldritch Blast.

We suggest using the Lore Bard for a dialogue-focused build where you want skill proficiencies over combat power.

College of Swords (A Tier)

College of Swords Bard Unlocks at Level 3 Baldur's Gate 3

Here’s what the College of Swords Bard Subclass will unlock for you at various levels in Baldur’s Gate 3:

  • Fighting Style (Level 3): Duelling or Two-Weapon Fighting only.
    Blade Flourish (Level 3): provides a series of Weapon Action-like actions that all require a Bardic Inspiration Charge to use
    • Slashing Flourish Level 3 – Attack up to 2 enemies at once.
    • Defensive Flourish (Level 3) – Attack defensively, increasing your Armour Class by 4 if you hit.
    • Mobile Flourish (Level 3) – Thrust your weapon with enough force to push your target back 6 meters.
  • Proficiencies (Level 3) – Scimitar and Medium Armour 
  • Extra Attack (Level 6) – Can make an additional free attack after making an unarmed or weapon attack.

The College of Sword Bard retains most of Lore Bard’s strengths but has three added benefits: Extra Attack, Fighting Style, and Blade Flourish. With Extra Attack, every action can attack twice. Therefore, you are highly incentivized to play a melee-focused build using Duelling or two-weapon fighting. Moreover, the Blade Flourish allows you to use Bardic Inspiration selfishly, attacking multiple enemies, increasing Armour Class (AC), or knocking back enemies.

Legendary Rapier - Duellist's Prerogative - Baldur’s Gate 3 - BG3

The lack of martial weapon proficiencies holds the College of Swords subclass back from being S Tier on this list. The Swords Bard gains Scimatar proficiency, ironically lacking Martial (Greatswords, Mauls, etc). Therefore, you are pigeonholed into using a particular build at end-game Act 3. You want to use the legendary Rapier Duellist’s Prerogative without an off-hand weapon. You can additionally take the defensive duellist feat, which allows you to use a reaction to increase AC while using a Finesse weapon.

While the duellist playstyle is effective at the end game, it’s far from the best and lacks the additional spells needed or weapon proficiencies to move higher on our tier list.

College of Valour (S Tier)

College of Lore Valour Unlocks at Level 3 Baldur's Gate 3

Here’s what the College of Valour Bard Subclass will unlock for you at various levels in Baldur’s Gate 3:

  • Combat Inspiration (Level 3): Your Bardic Inspiration receives an upgrade, allowing inspired allies to add bonus damage to their next weapon attack or a bonus to their Armour Class for one attack.
  • Proficiency (Level 3): Medium Armour, Shields, Marital Weapons.
  • Extra Attack (Level 6): You can make an additional free attack after making an unarmed or weapon attack.

The best overall Bard subclass is the College of Valour because you gain weapon, armour, and shield proficiency. These proficiencies free up various build options like support healer, melee damage dealer, and or tank. Moreover, you gain Extra Attack at level 6, just like the College of Swords subclass, but you can use any weapon type. The Combat Inspiration skill is also helpful because you can inspire allies with weapon attacks or AC. Using a bonus action, This buff lasts until a long rest and can be cast at camp after a long rest.

If you were to judge the Bard purely on combat power, the Valour build using either a longbow or dual-hand crossbows would be the best. You can use 6 levels of Bard to gain extra attack before swapping to Rogue and Thief subclasss. With at least 3 levels of Rogue, you would gain an additional bonus action. Therefore, every attack would trigger a secondary attack with your off-hand crossbow. The off-hand crossbow works just like dual wield but is rarely played. It gives you essentially four attacks with one action. Swap to Fighter for two levels to get Archery Fighting Style and Action Surge.

The “sweaty” multiclass combination gives you more raw power than any other Bard subclass and is on par with the other best builds in Baldur’s Gate 3. Moreover, you still retain the Bard’s identity and utility, which makes for one of the best class and subclass combinations in all of BG3.

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