“Wings flutter. Beauty distracts. Poison injects. The butterfly’s curse extends to your enemies. A short life, shortened further by your hand.” – Ada-1
If there is one thing Bungie have done well over the course of the Destiny franchise, it’s making the gunplay smooth and rewarding (not including balances). The smooth use of the weapons has been extended to the bows which feel powerful to use and rewarding when you land those precision shots. Combine the rhythm of a bow with the poison of Thorn and you get the Exotic, Le Monarque.
Like the Monarch butterfly from where it derives it’s name, Le Monarque rewards players for arrows fired just after a full draw. The Exotic perk Poison Arrows delivers an unhealthy dose of poison fired quickly after a full or perfect draw, which is when the bowstring has been pulled back to its maximum. If you hold onto the string too long after it reaches the full draw point, you will lose the poisonous effect of the arrow. Additionally, if you land a precision hit with a poison arrow, you can spread the damage-over-time effect to nearby enemies.
As for the standard perks on Le Monarque, Natural String slightly increases accuracy, handling speed, and stability. Compact Arrow Shaft increases your maximum arrow capacity and Snapshot Sights provides a faster time to ADS (aim down sights).
When you first read Le Monarque’s Exotic perk, it can seem very niche or difficult to consistently activate the effect. For example, Thorn’s poison doesn’t require any special timing or firing pattern, it just activates on a hit. However, with Le Monarque it’s very easy to slip into a rhythm where you’re spreading poison on every hit, particularly in the middle of combat.
With the ability to spread poison on precision hits, Le Monarque thrives in PVE content, including Strikes, arena-based activities such as Lost Forges, Patrols, and more. Wherever you can maximise the spread of damage through clustered enemies, Le Monarque can shine.
That isn’t to say Le Monarque is terrible in Crucible but it does encourage a particular style of play in PVP. Some bows can be used in the thick of the action to great effect but Le Monarque relies more on the damage over time than a large or rapid burst of initial damage. For that reason Le Monarque is ideally used from afar, hitting foes with Poison Arrows and watching as their health bar ticks down, especially when combined with assisted fire. When used up close and personal, the Le Monarque can lose to faster TTK weapons, especially since we are living through the Age of Recluse and Luna’s Howl.
The poison has an added bonus of potentially rattling players, causing them to retreat or to step further into the open where you or your allies can finish them off. Combine this with the spread of poison on precision hits and you can dish punishment to an entire group of hostile Guardians, with one well-placed arrow.
But where does Le Monarque fall flat? While it can be great for crowd control and dishing out damage to groups of enemies, the spread of poison only works if hostiles are grouped together. Even a step or two away from your target can negate the spread of poison. Coupled with the need for a perfect draw to activate the poison, it can seem like a lot of work to activate the effect. However, once you get into a rhythm, you can be unleashing poison on your foes without much thought.
To get the Le Monarque, you need to rely on luck and the Black Armoury Forges. If you don’t have the Annual Pass and the Black Armoury expansion, you unfortunately cannot get this Exotic bow. When completing a Powerful Weapon Frame, purchased from Ada-1, you have a chance to score Le Monarque as an additional drop to your Forged weapon. It’s all about that RNG.