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Since the individual stealth seems to make it potentially more worthwhile now, I was experimenting a bit with the Rogue's Backstab ability to get a feel for it. I was wondering about the exact mechanics of it though, since I encountered some unexpected results. I didn't find a full answer in existing threads, so I thought I'd ask.

 

Firstly, when attacking from stealth at the beginning of combat the Backstab seems to trigger for the first two attacks, rather than just one. This doesn't seem to have clear time limit as it even worked with a crossbow, reload time and all (I tried a pistol as well, but the Spear Spider I was experimenting on kept dying on the first shot). Is this a known feature? And would it still apply if the second attack was aimed at a different enemy? I would expect not since clicking Cancel after the first attack and immediately reattacking the same target stops a second Backstab, but I'm not sure if that would also happen if the second attack at a different target was automatic. 

 

Secondly, when applying a special attack (Blinding Strike, in this case) the backstab doesn't trigger; this is known, going by previous threads. However, when using two weapons this applies only to the attack with the first weapon. The second attack did again trigger the Backstab (in addition to a second dose of Blinding Strike). Again my questions is, is this known behaviour? And more generally, does Backstab have any other undocumented properties of note?

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I found Backstab in general to be really buggy with similar results. A second backstab also won't happen if you are interrupted at all, but otherwise often happens with normal dual weapon attacks (no ability used). Sometimes it doesn't happen though even if not interrupted and I also noticed that the time between attacks seem to not be a factor.

 

While I still think it can be powerful, I wish it wasn't so buggy. The main turn off for me was that I couldn't stealth backstab anything that actually mattered, no matter how much stealth I had, at least with melee weapons). This was particularly the case in The White March and against kith. Also, so many major fights have a cutscene or a conversation before the battle which breaks stealth. While stealth backstab is great for random, weak wilderness enemies, it is useless for important battles. Also, I felt it was overkill often for them. Maybe with items that grant invisibility it could be more worthwhile in the late game.

Edited by Braven
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I tried Backstab + Invisibility from Feign death. Invisibility from Feign death is NOT cancelled by attacking. It sounded a potentially good combo. Backstab is indeed applied during the 6s duration from Feign Death.

 

Then I used Salvation of Time on my rogue during the 6s persisting invisibility from Feign Death. I thought it could be PoE God Mode. Unfortunately, even if invisibilitt was kept active during Salvation of Time bonus 10s, Backstab itself ceased to work after the initial 6s duration. Not very consistent ^^

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It'd be nice if rogues had a hide in plain sight ability/talent that allowed them to enter stealth during combat 1/e. Just break engagement and set them at an empty circle, it fills up as the usual formula. It'd be a better engagement breaker than escape/coordinated positioning and facilitate backstab.

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It'd be nice if rogues had a hide in plain sight ability/talent that allowed them to enter stealth during combat 1/e. Just break engagement and set them at an empty circle, it fills up as the usual formula. It'd be a better engagement breaker than escape/coordinated positioning and facilitate backstab.

They do have one, but it is 2/rest instead of per/encounter and is actual invisibility, so stealth skill doesn't matter for it.

Edited by Braven
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Having played with it a while now I've found you can quite consistently get a second backstab hit (provided your victim doesn't expire before then). Walking up behind one of your tanks and poking people with a staff or pike seems to work quite well for that, since the reach means you don't need to get as close (so more time before stealth expires), and unlike with ranged weapons you're sure you're within the 2m backstab range. I'm looking forward to getting some boots of speed to run at enemies with my staff like a pole vaulter, this should help with stealthing the harder targets problem as well. 

 

Anyway, I agree that it isn't necessarily the most reliably useful skill, but it is good fun trying to get the most of it. And it is very amusing having your level 2 rogue one-shot killing bandits with The Disappointer. An arquebus would admittedly be better due to the higher base damage, but it feels counter-intuitive walking to point-blank range wielding a rifle. Note, by the way, that unfortunately a blunderbuss is useless for backstabbing. 

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As an addendum, for anyone wondering whether to use Backstab: it turns out it still triggers if you are already visible, as long as you initiated the attack when you were still stealthed. In other words, even if you don't have high enough stealth skill to completely close the distance to a particular enemy, you can still get a backstab. Note that in this case you don't get a second backstab. You actually also don't get a second backstab when attacking from invisibility by the way (at least not with Shadowing Beyond), this seems to only happen when your first attack was from stealth.

 

Also useful to keep in mind: for ranged weapons the 2m range is checked when the attack actually occurs, so if you click to attack and the target walks out of range during the attack animation, you don't get a backstab. Though of course that goes both ways, if you time it right you can have an enemy walk into 2m range during the attack animation as well. 

 

Anyway, I would say Backstab is not something you can completely build a character around, but if you're going to play a sneak attacking melee rogue anyway you can reliably trigger it and quickly pile up some initial damage. Sabre + fast off-hand weapon works nicely, as you'll get the second backstab very quickly (obviously, add some Lashes to those). So while it does take up a talent (and an investment in stealth, but a melee rogue should get that anyway) it can certainly be worth taking these days.

Shadowing Beyond is an optional extra, I'd say Backstab is useful enough without it. But can be a good option to get your rogue out of trouble and apply some big damage in one go. I would recommend some light pistoling to the face in that case (if you have one handy). As noted you only get a single backstab off of invisibility, so you should make it count. Arquebus would actually be better still, but that just feels wrong to me somehow (and isn't Ruffian-like, if applicable). 

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The next patch is supposed to tweak Rogues, so maybe we'll see some revised Backstab mechanics. I've always thought it's pretty bogus that it doesn't stack with the Rogue's bread and butter - the per encounter abilities.

 

In terms of it applying to the first two attacks, maybe it's just going off the initial sneak attack duration (the first two seconds of combat, I think) as opposed to actual attacks from stealth. I guess it's difficult to say, obviously it depends on your rate of attack whether this would be true.

 

I've always thought it was a waste of a talent anyway, even if they did get it sorted. Rogue's already do consistently high damage, situational slightly higher burst damage feels like a but of a waste of time.

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It's somewhat situational sure, but like I said it's not actually that hard to use it reliably. And I'd hardly call 150% extra damage 'slightly higher'. I'm not saying it's necessarily the best talent you could pick, I'm merely pointing out that in the present game it's certainly improved enough that some good clean backstabbin' fun can be had (whereas before the individual stealth it really was a waste). Though it certainly will be interesting to see how the rogue tweaks will affect it (if at all).

 

It's two attacks rather than duration by the way. You get the second backstab even with a crossbow, reload time and all. 

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