Best Bard subclasses in Baldur’s Gate 3, ranked (BG3)

Baldurs Gate 3 Bard Closeup Near Cage
Screenshot: PC Invasion

Baldur’s Gate 3 players are presented with a wealth of options as they create their first character and begin their adventure. Here is our list of the best Bard subclasses ranked in Baldur’s Gate 3.

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Baldur’s Gate 3: Best Bard subclasses, ranked

When you choose a Bard, you gain access to a lot of unique skills that are highly useful outside of combat. However, with the right subclass, your Bard can be extremely useful in combat. When your Bard reaches level 3, you get to choose from among three Bard subclasses (listed in-game as “colleges”). Your choice determines how your Bard develops from that point forward.

Related: Best Bard build in Baldur’s Gate 3

We’ve ranked the Bard subclasses below from best to worst. Consider carefully what you want to accomplish with your bard and choose accordingly. However, since I’ve put hundreds of hours into playing Bard in Baldur’s Gate 3, here is the subclass ranking I would recommend.

1. The College of Lore (Best)

Baldurs Gate 3 Bard Subclass College Of Lore
Screenshot by PC Invasion

The College of Lore is the best option for a typical Bard. The Bard is well-suited to a support role right from the start of the adventure. This subclass allows them to double down on that and also teaches them Cutting Words. Cutting Words is one of the best support abilities in the entire game because it allows you to use a Bardic Inspiration to wit to distract a creature which gives them a penalty to their attack rolls, ability checks, and saving throws. This has saved my party members countless times.

College of Lore isn’t all support. At level 6, Bards in this subclass gain access to Magical Secrets, a branch that allows them to wield powerful magic from other classes. This is your chance to take powerful damage spells which you’ll use when nobody needs a buff or debuff. They also become better at Intimidation and Sleight of Hand, as well as Arcana. When you think of a Bard, you probably imagine a character of this sort.

2. The College of Swords (Good)

Baldurs Gate 3 Bard Subclass College Of Swords
Screenshot by PC Invasion

The College of Swords is a decent second choice if you want to be more active in combat. For starters, you’ll be able to equip Medium Armor and more weapons, plus relevant abilities. At level 6, you also gain the ability to attack a second time in one turn which is really powerful.

Bards tend to fall in battle pretty quickly under normal circumstances when enemies break through the front lines and start targeting support members. However, improved armor options could keep your singing hero in the action long enough to toss out a spell or two and turn the tide of battle.

If the ability to wear Medium or even Heavy Armor is what you seek, I highly recommend one of the best multiclass options which is Bard and Cleric. If you do that, you can skip College of Swords altogether for College of Lore.

3. The College of Valour (Okay)

Baldurs Gate 3 Bard Subclass College Of Valour
Screenshot by PC Invasion

The College of Valour is a middle ground that offers a less specialized mix of the two other colleges. The game rewards players who lean into their characters’ roles, so I don’t suggest choosing this particular subclass. That’s not to say there are no benefits, however.

What makes College of Valour unique is your Bardic Inspiration turns into Combat Inspiration. The main difference is the target gets a 1d6 bonus to their weapon damage or Armor Class, along with the regular Bardic Inspiration things including Attack Rolls, Ability Checks, and Saving Throws. Also, you can equip better gear and even wield the powerful Shatter spell (which is also an option in the College of Lore). As with the College of Swords, this subclass grants you an additional attack at level 6.

We’ve ranked the subclasses above, but there’s no wrong choice for your Bard. Choose the subclass that suits your style of play. Once you’ve chosen the best Bard subclass for you, be sure to learn the best Bard spells.

Jason Venter
About The Author
Jason Venter is a contributing writer for PC Invasion since 2022 who can trace his love for video games back to the Apple IIe port of Mario Bros. in the late 80s. He remains a diehard Nintendo fan to this day and loves JRPGs, adventure games, and platformers in particular, but he still plays games in most genres and on most hardware. After founding indie gaming site HonestGamers in 1998, he served as an editor at Hardcore Gamer Magazine during its entire print run. He has since freelanced for a variety of leading sites including IGN, GameSpot, and Polygon. These days, he spends most of his time writing game guides and entertaining readers with his fantasy novels.