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training questions

FrdNwsmFrdNwsm Member Posts: 1,069
Two questions. MC has trained in 2 handed weapon technique, halberd and two handed sword. Recently it occurred to me that dual wielding combined with greater whirlwind might be even more destructive. So far MC has only 1 pip in katanas and none in dual wielding. Which is better to train in as far as reducing THACO? Dual wielding clearly is more flexible as it doesn't restrict you to one weapon type, but it's likely that he will use katanas for this, having Celestial Fury and Hindo's Doom. On the other hand, more pips in katana will aid THACO, in case I want to use a katana combined with a shield for better AC. Still, I am leaning toward getting dual wielding skill first. Comments?

The next is regarding my wizards. Neera had the choice between Alacrity and a damage spell. She picked Dragon Breath. It seemed to me that if Alacrity is a spell, then using a spell slot to speed up casting other spells might be redundant; I mean, that's what Time Stop is for. Unless you can combine the two? Use Alacrity, then cast two more spells fast, with the second one being Time Stop?

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Comments

  • elminsterelminster Member, Developer Posts: 16,215
    Regarding your first paragraph. What is your class?

    You can combine Improved Alacrity and Timestop. Which means that while under Time Stop you can cast a lot of spells all at once (without your enemies being able to respond). Especially if you are wearing the Robe of Vecna and Amulet of Power (since combined they lower casting times by 5).

  • GallowglassGallowglass Member Posts: 3,356
    edited June 2015
    FrdNwsm said:

    Two questions. MC has trained in 2 handed weapon technique, halberd and two handed sword. Recently it occurred to me that dual wielding combined with greater whirlwind might be even more destructive. So far MC has only 1 pip in katanas and none in dual wielding. Which is better to train in as far as reducing THACO? Dual wielding clearly is more flexible as it doesn't restrict you to one weapon type, but it's likely that he will use katanas for this, having Celestial Fury and Hindo's Doom. Still, I am leaning toward getting dual wielding skill first. Comments?

    Hmmm.

    Two-handed weapons eventually go up to +6, whereas one-handed weapons cap at +5, and dual-wielding incurs a THAC0 penalty in the off-hand (unless you equip a cloak to cancel the penalty, at the cost of removing whatever other cloak you'd have been wearing) ... so to this extent, there are some THAC0 advantages to two-handing.

    On the other hand, you get THAC0 bonuses from increased STRength, and if you dual-wield a STR-boosting weapon in your off-hand, then your main-hand weapon also gets the THAC0 benefit of the increased STR ... which can be a lot, if you have Crom Faeyr (25 STR!) in the off-hand. (So, for example, in my current run, I've got Korgan dual-wielding with an unbuffed THAC0 of -15 with both hands, and hitting the max of -20 when I buff up.)

    However, THAC0 is only one detail of the comparison between two-handing and dual-wielding. You also have to take into account attacks-per-round, damage-per-hit, and critical hit ratio. (There are some people who are particularly obsessive about APR and fail to take the other factors into account sufficiently, so unfortunately there are some "mathematical proofs" which are actually garbage.)

    The comparison is also greatly affected by which High Level Abilities your character currently has available. If he's two-handing, then Greater Whirlwind Attack is the killer ability. If he's dual-wielding, then Critical Strike (combined with a cast of Improved Haste) is likely to be better, although not necessarily so (e.g. if the opponent is immune to critical hits by wearing a helmet).

    Also, many weapons have bonus effects which are particularly useful against particular enemies, so in the end it's actually a rather situational matter, because the best weapon(s) for the job depends upon who you are and who you're facing.

    All in all, both two-handing and dual-wielding are perfectly viable ways of killing your enemy pretty efficiently, and most of the time the difference in effectiveness is not really significant ... this is by design, because the devs deliberately intended that the choice would not be dramatically unbalanced in favour of only one style. Probably your best option, if the composition of your party allows it, is to have different members of the party fighting in different styles, so that you can take advantage of all the best weapons.

    Building up your proficiencies in dual-wielding, and suitable weapons with which to do it, takes a lot of levelling ... since you're already a long way into the game, you'll probably have finished by the time you'd be good at it! Instead, since your protagonist has already gone down the two-handing route, you'll be fine sticking with it. I'd therefore suggest investing his next proficiency points in Quarterstaffs, because some enemies are resistant (or even outright immune) to sharp attacks, yet vulnerable to blunt attacks.

    Give dual-wielding a try in a future run. It's good fun, but works best if you've built your proficiencies for it from the start, rather than trying to switch styles mid-game.
    FrdNwsm said:

    The next is regarding my wizards. Neera had the choice between Alacrity and a damage spell. She picked Dragon Breath. It seemed to me that if Alacrity is a spell, then using a spell slot to speed up casting other spells might be redundant; I mean, that's what Time Stop is for. Unless you can combine the two? Use Alacrity, then cast two more spells fast, with the second one being Time Stop?

    Oh YES, you can (and should) combine the two. Cast Time Stop first, then Improved Alacrity within the stopped time ... casting the IA uses up part of your stopped time, but then you can unload a whole pile of spells in the remainder of the stopped time, instead of only a couple of spells. Especially if combined with cast-accelerating items (Robe of Vecna, Amulet of Power), because then a lot of quick-casting spells become instant-casting spells which use up no further time to cast, so you can cast as many copies as you can memorise, and then switch to casting something else still within the stopped time. Improved Alacrity is a relatively minor (but nevertheless useful) benefit outside of Time Stop (because it temporarily lets you cast continuously instead of once-per-round), but it's absolutely devastating, a key tactic in the late game, when used inside a Time Stop.

    In the particular case of Neera, however, although TS+IA is still a good tactic, I generally favour the Robe of Goodman Hayes rather than the Robe of Vecna ... minimising the risk of unwelcome wild surges is a big benefit for a Wild Mage. And you've usually still won the battle when the smoke clears after your Time Stop, even without the speed advantage of Vecna. (Usually I have a second caster, so the other one can get the benefit of the Robe of Vecna instead.)

    JuliusBorisov
  • FrdNwsmFrdNwsm Member Posts: 1,069
    elminster said:

    Regarding your first paragraph. What is your class?/blockquote>

    Half-orc berserker. Natural strength 20.

  • FrdNwsmFrdNwsm Member Posts: 1,069
    >> I generally favour the Robe of Goodman Hayes rather than the Robe of Vecna ... minimising the risk of unwelcome wild surges is a big benefit for a Wild Mage<<

    Oh yes, she has that robe, of course.

  • ArunsunArunsun Member Posts: 1,583
    Once you get a fair amount of greater whirlwind you won't need the extra attacks you get from dual wielding (because you will have 10 of them per round anyway). And overall, for an equal number of attack per round, it sounds kinda obvious that two handed weapons are better due to their additionnal effects etc... I would just keep on using two handed weapon

  • FrdNwsmFrdNwsm Member Posts: 1,069
    Arunsun said:

    Once you get a fair amount of greater whirlwind you won't need the extra attacks you get from dual wielding (because you will have 10 of them per round anyway). And overall, for an equal number of attack per round, it sounds kinda obvious that two handed weapons are better due to their additionnal effects etc... I would just keep on using two handed weapon


    Well, GW with a good halberd is certainly effective. But wouldn't double wielding + greater whirlwind produce 20 attacks per round? 20 sounds better than 10.

  • Lord_TansheronLord_Tansheron Member Posts: 4,198
    FrdNwsm said:

    Well, GW with a good halberd is certainly effective. But wouldn't double wielding + greater whirlwind produce 20 attacks per round? 20 sounds better than 10.

    APR are hard-capped at 10/round, there is no way whatsoever to get more. In fact, dual-wielding under GWW is actually detrimental; you're wasting attacks on your offhand, which has a worse THAC0. It is better to unequip the offhand and wield a single weapon instead for the duration of GWW, to make sure all attacks hit with that weapon - or to use a 2h in the first place, which often has a higher per-hit damage than a 1h (but not necessarily).

    Also note that you can use dual-wield and Grandmastery combined with a +1 APR offhand weapon (Belm, Kundane, Scarlet Ninja-tô) to get 5 APR, then use Improved Haste to double that to 10 APR - giving you maximum APR for a much longer duration than GWW, and freeing up use of other abilities in conjunction (like, say, the Critical Strike HLA). This may not work for every character of course, and is contingent on having enough casts of Improved Haste available.

    JuliusBorisov
  • FrdNwsmFrdNwsm Member Posts: 1,069
    "APR are hard-capped at 10/round,"

    Hah! I had no idea; my whole plan was to get enough dual wield and katana pips to get 20 APR using Greater whirlwind. Good thing I found out before wasting that training. Thanks.

  • YannirYannir Member Posts: 595
    You can accomplish some pretty cheesy tactics with the Time Stop+Robe of Vecna+Improved Alacrity-combination.

    1st you cast TS, then IA. IA has a casting time of 9, so it would've taken one round out of your 2,5 rounds of TS. But with RoV, that actually becomes 0,5 rounds. You still have 2 full rounds to dish out spells. Now, with RoV, a spell that normally has a casting time of 5(like Dragon's Breath) now has a casting time of 1. Which means instant-casting. Now, if you enable auto-pause once a spell is cast, you could basically fire off 20 Dragon's Breaths because of IA's bact-to-back spellcasting while time is still standing still, and they all hit simultaneously when the TS runs out. Even without RoV, you can still do this with Magic Missiles or Chromatic Orbs.

    Just a theory, I don't think anyone could fire 20 back-to-back DB's. You simply run out of spells. With Wish-resting you could replenish your spells mid-combat but that does take some time and effort.

  • Lord_TansheronLord_Tansheron Member Posts: 4,198
    Note that stacking a gazillion spells during TS may cause issues with performance, I've had the game crash before because of that... Granted it was a LOT of spells...

  • semiticgoddesssemiticgoddess Member Posts: 14,808
    I think a 0 casting time spell takes 1 frame to get off the ground. Improved Alacrity could let you cast as many spells as there are frames in 12 seconds.

    JuliusBorisov
  • JarrakulJarrakul Member Posts: 2,029
    The Timestop + IA + Robe of Vecna (or just Magic Missile spam) combo is definitely effective, but I'd argue there are only two fights (Draconis and the amazons at the end of Watcher's Keep) in the game that are really worth it. Everything else is either dealt with more easily with less complicated techniques, or immune to Timestop. Obviously that's only in the unmodded game, but I believe FrdNwsm's game is unmodded.

    semiticgoddessJuliusBorisov
  • GallowglassGallowglass Member Posts: 3,356
    @Jarrakul - oddly enough, I don't recall ever using TS+IA against Draconis (although I can't swear to what I may or may not have done ages ago), I usually just hack him down by frontal attack and a couple of de-buffs ... that's certainly the way I did it a couple of days ago. Against the Final Guardians in WK, yes, I'm sure I've used TS+IA several times ... and I use it in other various other places occasionally.

    On the whole, I agree ... it's a very powerful tactic, but most of the time I don't find that I need to bother using it. In my current run, I think I've used TS maybe 3-4 times, but I suspect that I've had runs in the past where I might not have ever actually cast TS!

    One time I definitely used it in the current run was the arena battle in Neera's ToB quest - certainly not essential there, but there are so many enemies that it's simpler just to splat them with major magic than laboriously hack them down piecemeal.

  • JarrakulJarrakul Member Posts: 2,029
    My very clearest memory of using that combo in my youth is with Edwin against Draconis, and just one-shotting the poor dragon. I was so used to having trouble with Draconis that I just stood there for a few seconds in stunned silence.

    Also, good point about some of the EE fights. Some of those are pretty hard compared to the original game, and while I don't know that I've used the full combo on any of them, there are a couple that might warrant it.

    Yannir
  • ArunsunArunsun Member Posts: 1,583
    I am not too sure why you all speak of Draconis as one of the hardest fights in the game. I mean, yeah it is tough but I have never felt like it was on an equal footing with final seal for example

  • BlucherBlucher Member Posts: 110
    Agree @Arunsun Draconis is tough, but the stand outs for me are Abazigal, Final Seal, Imprisoned One, even Balthazar. Actually, for me, the one that keeps me up at night is the big demon fight right after the dead magic room in WK third level. I usually spend several hours thinking about it and going over it/planning everything out before loading up my save and going through the portal. (I almost always play solo no-reload nowadays and experience has made me very afraid of that particular fight.)

  • JarrakulJarrakul Member Posts: 2,029
    Draconis and Demogorgon are the only two fights in the game I've ever been truly unable to beat, and of those Demogorgon is optional. Granted, that was a long time ago, and nowadays neither of them are so bad, but I can honestly say that at one point in my BG life, Draconis was the biggest roadblock I faced in the entire series (with the possible exception of Aec'Latec, back before I figured him out).

    Of course, different people have trouble with different things. I've never had much trouble with Balthazar, for instance, but I understand a lot of folks here find him one of the hardest enemies in the base game. I do often have trouble with Abazigal, though, even though he's generally considered pretty underwhelming, and I find Sendai to be a speedbump at best. So I can totally understand your not finding Draconis as difficult as others do. These things are not the same for everyone.

    atcDave
  • atcDaveatcDave Member Posts: 1,933
    I would add to Jarrakul's comment that I have discovered even for myself, different parties sometimes struggle at different points in the game. I've never had an issue with Balthazar, and I trounced Draconis pretty easily the first time I played. But then my second party really struggled against him. There's a lot of subtle variables in the makeup of each party that may have unexpected consequences.

    JarrakulGallowglass
  • lunarlunar Member Posts: 3,420
    If you use 'pause on spell cast' from options, and cast Improved Alacrity, Neera can blast a very high number of instant cast spells. If she also has amulet of power, and robe of vecna, most spells will be instant-cast. And with auto pausing you lose no time at all. You can release 6 magic missiles, 6 acid arrows, 6 flame arrows/fireballs/skull traps, and other spells, in a few seconds of real game time.

    JuliusBorisov
  • FrdNwsmFrdNwsm Member Posts: 1,069
    edited July 2015
    Just as a side note, do we ever get to go back to Athkatla? I notice that after leaving Saradush we can return to WK, but from there we can't get back to Athkatla any more. What, we forget the directions? Among other things, MC has a slew of gold piling up from keep revenues; would be nice to collect that.

    As for different party compositions, that certainly could cause variations. I have, for example, become seriously dependent on MC's berserker immunities. Level draining undead? No problem; go berserk and whirlwind them into oblivion. I've used the Slayer exactly once, and that was just as an experiment for comparison purposes. A different MyChar would need to develop totally different tactics, and probably use Slayer form a lot more.

  • lunarlunar Member Posts: 3,420
    No, you don't get to return to Athkathla. You have been whisked away from that region by the power of Pocket Plane. And I guess there is now a war and stuff going around the borders so it is quite difficult to return to Amn. Ofcourse, an epic level party like yours should be able to travel to where they damn please, but such is the game restriction.

  • FrdNwsmFrdNwsm Member Posts: 1,069
    edited July 2015
    Well, that sucks. Casper doesn't have the "recipe" for Crom Feyr or a couple other things that Cromwell can forge, and after having paid the little extortionist off for making a couple of items, we are quite impoverished. That Keep gold would come in handy right about now.

  • YannirYannir Member Posts: 595
    FrdNwsm said:


    As for different party compositions, that certainly could cause variations. I have, for example, become seriously dependent on MC's berserker immunities. Level draining undead? No problem; go berserk and whirlwind them into oblivion. I've used the Slayer exactly once, and that was just as an experiment for comparison purposes. A different MyChar would need to develop totally different tactics, and probably use Slayer form a lot more.

    You've just struck gold! That's exactly why we keep playing this game for years and years. The replay value is just humongous. Doing stuff differently between runs is what keeps things fresh.

    I don't think you would end up using Slayer much more than you have now, even if you picked another class. There's always multiple ways of dealing with circumstances. It may entail more planning and prebuffing, though.

  • ArunsunArunsun Member Posts: 1,583
    I typically use slayer form in 2 situations: when facing an enemy that has imprisonment, and against Lesser Demon Lord in Ust Natha because +5 weapons are required and there are none of those till then except Carsomyr and Sling of Everard (and MMM)

  • FrdNwsmFrdNwsm Member Posts: 1,069
    edited July 2015
    Yannir said:
    "I don't think you would end up using Slayer much more than you have now, even if you picked another class. There's always multiple ways of dealing with circumstances. It may entail more planning and prebuffing, though."

    Well, I picked a berserker way back in BG1 because it seemed cool. I didn't realize the ramifications at the time, since I could only do it once a day, and had no prior experience with the game. But playing to this point, I can say that the berserker has to be one of the easiest and yet OP classes to play.

    Easy: Plan of action is nice and simple. Go crazy, pop a whirlwind or get improved haste, kill 'em all.
    OP: Look at the immunities you get while berserk. Maze, Imprisonment, charm, confusion, fear, life drain all bounce right off. Toss in extra HP, better THACO and AC as added perks. What's not to like? Makes the other fighter kits look silly by comparison. Wizard Slayer? There's a joke kit! Kensai isn't much better; a plain vanilla fighter would be better than either, IMO.

    Closest comparison I can think of would be a high level Blade. Good defense, good offence, and a bunch of arcane spells thrown in.

    So yes, some other class would entail more thought and preparation.

  • Lord_TansheronLord_Tansheron Member Posts: 4,198
    FrdNwsm said:

    Kensai isn't much better; a plain vanilla fighter would be better than either, IMO.

    HERESY!

  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
    @FrdNwsm You might wanna try the kensai... :smiley:

  • ArunsunArunsun Member Posts: 1,583
    Kensai is just a different kind of warrior, but it is from far the strongest warrior in terms of damage. Try playing a Kensai with throwing daggers, he will just be ridiculously strong without endangering himself too much.
    A berserker does everything better than a fighter except ranged weapons but that s not what you want a fighter to do anyway.
    Wizard slayer is a joke indeed

  • YannirYannir Member Posts: 595
    image

    I wouldn't count Kensais out. Shield Amulet drops the AC to -8.

  • FrdNwsmFrdNwsm Member Posts: 1,069

    @FrdNwsm You might wanna try the kensai... :smiley:


    I have. Yes you can get to high level with one, you can do that with anything, probably even a wizard slayer, despite the weaknesses. The ACs for Kensai and Berserker are comparable, but then at high levels AC is almost irrelevant; things can hit you anyway. Damage done is almost comparable also, when you throw in HLAs. My major damage infliction right now is not due to going berserk, it's using abilities like Greater Whirlwind. Kensais can't use stuff like the Helm of the Rock, but much of that sort of gear is secondary. You can get magic resistance and what have you from other items.

    IMO, the main advantage of the berserker over the kensai is survivability. The berserk state makes you immune to something like half of the most common attacks, including some of the most devastating ones (mainly those of the mental variety). Maze, imprisonment, life drain, fear, confusion, dire charm, feeblemind, stun, sleep and hold all just bounce off.

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