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Upgrading my game

JidokwonJidokwon Member Posts: 196
I really haven't played with any mods outside of Tweaks yet. I'm looking to up the difficulty a notch from Insane, though. I've heard a lot of good things about some of the mods out there that do just this, but I'm wondering if I'd be better off doing a run on LoB first. I'm mostly hoping to do the LoB run for the Steam Acheesement and I'm thinking that the difficulty mods would be further down the natural difficulty progression path than the base LoB. However, I'm a bit concerned about some of the encounters vs a LoB run. Hi zoning into the Beholder Den in the Underdark with a six-person party - I'm looking at you, for instance. I'm hoping to hear from some of the more seasoned players that have beaten the complete (I say complete, instead of full, as I'm hoping to leave no quests and areas untouched that my party is capable of) EE Trilogy here. Am I wrong in thinking that it will be near impossible to beat a LoB run without permanently losing party members in a complete run? Would I be better off, perhaps, trying to up my game with some mods that change the AI and such long before attempting the LoB run? From the base EE Trilogy on Insane difficulty, where would you recommend me next bumping the difficulty up?
LucasIDKn8

Comments

  • PaulaMigratePaulaMigrate Member Posts: 548
    edited June 27
    Sorry to say, but the difficulty from insane or LoB is just based on giving opponents more XP or HP or weapons or stats. It gets boring soon because it's out of balance at first and then repetitious over time.

    You should consider to use mods that add better AI and tactically improved encounters. You can start with your level 1 PC and the challenges grow with you. Combine the SCS mod with a high difficulty setting on the slider and let the fun begin. And really play the trilogy as a trilogy via EET. This way you get the full spectrum of suitable opponents from the start.
    Further you can add mods like Drizzt Saga or Dark Horizons to your set, they add enemies not available in vanilla games.

    Unless of course you're a fan of IWD's HoF mode. Then go LoB.

  • subtledoctorsubtledoctor Member Posts: 7,214
    edited June 27
    It's apples and oranges. LOB just makes things bullet sword sponges. Take the Shield if Balduran into a beholder lair on LOB and you can mop them up same as in vanilla. Take an "enraged" berserker or a Scroll of Prot. from Undead to a demilich in LOB and he shrivels up and dies same as in vanilla.

    Use something like SCS, on the other hand... those beholders will take the Shield away from you and force you to fight (and die) like an honest, if severely disadvantaged, man. The demilich will summon a non-undead pit fiend or fallen planetar in your face. Etc.
  • PaulaMigratePaulaMigrate Member Posts: 548
    edited June 27

    It's apples and oranges. LOB just makes things bullet sword sponges. Take the Shield if Balduran into a beholder lair on LOB and you can mop them up same as in vanilla. Take an "enraged" berserker or a Scroll of Prot. from Undead to a demilich in LOB and he shrivels up and dies same as in vanilla.

    Use something like SCS, on the other hand... those beholders will take the Shield away from you and force you to fight (and die) like an honest, if severely disadvantaged, man. The demilich will summon a non-undead pit fiend or fallen planetar in your face. Etc.

    Right and wrong. You can do that, but it requires meta gaming and cheesing to an extend where you forget about the whole plot of the game and your only goal is to get XP from quests, find some gear, level up, learn spells, get wands and fight and fight and fight.
    To each his own.
    My proposal was more aiming at having maximum challenge in your fights while still seriously playing the game contents.
    (I am sure you remember the Vecna mod in BGT?)
  • JidokwonJidokwon Member Posts: 196
    @PaulaMigrate, @subtledoctor: It looks like both of you are in agreement that LoB would be *considerably* easier than adding any difficulty mods. That was pretty much what I was thinking and hoping to verify from more seasoned players before getting too far into another play through.

    Difficulty mods would be a *huge* increase in difficulty, I'm thinking, even when I drop the slider down to Core difficulty. I realize that LoB will pretty much just increase the mob HP from Insane, however, I do think that an LoB run would be *more* difficult than an Insane run. A lot of short duration buffs, I think, would wear before harder encounters are finished, for instance. I don't see any backstabbing or chunking on LoB mode, too. However, I'm still using six-person parties and I'm wondering if it's realistic to think that I might complete an LoB run without permanently losing party members. The example of entering the Beholder Den with a party of six is just one example that I think it will be near impossible to get through the initial encounter there without permanently losing one or more on LoB mode.

    Thank you for the feedback. Both of you are likely seasoned enough to breeze your way through anything mods can throw at you, but I'm just getting to the point where I want to take the next step up from EE Insane. Not go full out maximum difficulty with no reloads. I'm a *long* ways from even thinking about that yet. Please, correct me, though, if either of you *aren't* saying that an LoB run would be easier than fully modding the game to have smarter AI and such. Am I wrong in thinking that LoB would fall in between Insane difficulty and going full out with difficulty?
  • Grond0Grond0 Member Posts: 1,526
    LoB will certainly be harder than insane - as you've pointed out yourself the extra time required to complete encounters will pose new challenges. However, I don't see that LoB will make much difference to the chance of getting chunked if you're only talking about BG2 (SoD may be a different matter). Enemies get no new abilities or extra damage, they just survive longer and hit you more easily. As has been mentioned above dealing with beholders is just as easy on LoB. Something like mindflayers will require a bit more adaptation as low AC will not be sufficient against them, but they will still be unable to see through invisible or hit a character protected by PfMW. If you're comfortable playing the game on insane then LoB shouldn't seem too much harder.

    Just start a game on LoB and see how you get on. You may find the extra time required to smash through goblins to be painful and tedious - but you may also find it much more satisfying and rewarding :).
    ArctodusJuliusBorisov
  • subtledoctorsubtledoctor Member Posts: 7,214

    Right and wrong.

    I think I pretty much said the same thing as you?

    You can do that, but it requires meta gaming and cheesing to an extend where you forget about the whole plot of the game and your only goal is to get XP from quests, find some gear, level up, learn spells, get wands and fight and fight and fight.
    To each his own.
    My proposal was more aiming at having maximum challenge in your fights while still seriously playing the game contents.
    (I am sure you remember the Vecna mod in BGT?)

    Never played that mod, so I don't get the reference. But how something be plays the game was not part of the OP's question. He basically said: given the goal to reach X (a "more difficult game" without defining what that might look like) should he or she use LOB, or SCS (or Tactics or some other mod)?

    And my point is, LOB and SCS don't lead to the same destination. They each go in wildly different directions. Which one is preferable to which player boils down to, which direction that player personally prefers. (And of course some players like to combine them.)
  • PaulaMigratePaulaMigrate Member Posts: 548
    What is *harder* for you - an enemy having 3*HP+80 (Like LoB) or one that uses tactics and intelligence against you and makes the best out his weaponry?
    There is an interesting topic What was your worst defeat? (Survey #3) https://forums.beamdog.com/discussion/27638/what-was-your-worst-defeat-survey-3#latest. You find interesting examples in this thread and it's not necessarily the 565HP Sarevok but often those mixed groups using different tactics against your group where you need to find your own methods to counteract.
  • JidokwonJidokwon Member Posts: 196
    edited June 27
    Thanks again for the feedback. I've been playing the series since release and love the games more than others I've found, but I have a terrible case of restartitis. It took me over two years each time to beat the trilogy on Core and Insane difficulties. I expect that it will take another couple to do the next complete run on the next step up.

    I know that I keep going back to that entry Beholder Den encounter, but it scares the hell out of me. While LoB mode might seem like the next natural bump up in difficulty from Insane, what I *don't* want is to find out far into a play through that any encounter is unwinnable by a well rounded party of six (or any number really). Zoning into a long fight with, at least, three beholders, effectively buffless, one that will be changing targets regularly and frequently Imprisonment is just one example in my head that doesn't seem winnable with a party of six. I guess I'm also trying to learn a strategy for a party of six to reasonably beat this encounter on LoB difficulty before I get to far into it. Continually reloading for the very small chance of any of the party not getting Imprisoned doesn't seem reasonable at all to me. Then again, neither did trying to kill the rats in Prelude of BGEE on LoB, so, perhaps, it's deliberate and intended that not all encounters are winnable on LoB difficulty and I'll just have to get used to that idea.

    While I imagine that there are *a lot* of casters in fully modded games that could make this Beholder encounter on LoB mode look pretty trivial, they also won't have LoB health (at least for a few more years until I work up to a fully modded LoB run) and can be dropped fairly quickly if I'm careful. From the little that I've read, though, the fully modded game is also fully beatable in its entirety by a well rounded party of six. My searching on this subject continues to look for if this holds up on LoB mode modded or unmodded.

    Playing with less than six party members might also be a bump up in difficulty, but I'm unsure about that. To me, this seems like it'd be playing another game entirely really. Some encounters would be more difficult with less of a party, I'm sure. But with less party members, the existing ones are also leveling a lot faster and won't have as many weaker links to protect. Is playing with less party members truly more challenging or is it just more convenient? Am I wrong in thinking that strong characters will get more powerful a lot faster and that smaller parties really won't have to worry about weaker links?

    Edit: I should not have used the term "chunking." I think that I should have said that I don't see characters one-rounding enemy targets with overpowered abilities being a thing on LoB difficulty. Unless I'm mistaken, they'll have far too much health for backstabbing and one-rounding spells and abilities to find much use. Overall, I'm pretty sure now that I'd find a fully modded game that enhances the AI more difficult than LoB mode, which *isn't* what I'm thinking that I'm ready for yet. But, I'm more of a completist than a power gamer, so if a number of encounters and entire areas would be unwinnable for a party of six on LoB difficutly, I'd likely opt to skip it entirely and go for the fully modded game on "easier" difficulty settings.

    I'm still looking, but I haven't seen *any* videos of full parties beating the trilogy in its entirety in LoB diffulty, where there are tons of them doing so with fully modded games. My google-fu is very lacking, though, so if any could point me to one or even explain how to beat this one encounter reasonably with a full party I'd greatly appreciated it. I'm in the process of using the console and EE keeper to figure it out, but this one encounter is the main thing holding me back from an LoB run altogether. I know that fully modded games are beatable in their entirety, where I'm unsure about LoB mode, though I expect overall a fully modded game would be much more challenging.
    Post edited by Jidokwon on
    JuliusBorisov
  • Grond0Grond0 Member Posts: 1,526
    Any solo character can kill the rats in Candlekeep, let alone a party - the rats can't kill you :D.

    For the beholders the Shield of Balduran has already been mentioned. In an unmodded game there are only 2 elder orbs able to cast imprisonment and only very limited times (I think once, but could be wrong). Beholders can't see through invisibility, so you've got time to arrange your party in the desired position before an elder orb can cast true sight. Even without the Shield of Balduran, in a full party you're almost bound to have someone that can cast mage spells and buffing up using spell shield to protect your buffs can make them invulnerable to beholders.
    ThacoBellJuliusBorisov
  • UnderstandMouseMagicUnderstandMouseMagic Member Posts: 1,088
    I haven't played LOB and judging by what people say, don't really want to.

    However, for a long time I always played on insane and was very nervous about trying SCS. A thread here convinced me to try it.

    My view is that SCS not only increases the interest, not always or just the difficulty, but also plays very fair.
    It allows you, for instance, to choose what you want to upgrade before you even start.
    So you can choose not to upgrade the beholders I think if that's your worry.

    As an example,
    There doesn't seem any point encountering a much tougher group to kill when you know where they are beforehand and can still hit them from distance with AOE spells. And that is my weakness, can't stop myself doing it, it's such fun.

    But what when that same group ambushes you?
    Then you have to think, react differently, have to have a proper fight using your resources. Even run away and try when you are stronger. That provides variety, not just "oh look, they hit like a truck and NPC so and so has been chunked".

    The first few times I took the advice here and turned down the difficulty, just like you would have done when you first started playing the game. Over time was able to return to insane, but still the game catches me out. Something that wasn't really happening much at all before, without SCS.

    One point though.
    If you have a tendency to restart the game a lot, why are you worrying so much about completing the whole saga?
    Rather than drive yourself nuts thinking about an encounter hours and hours of play away, just live/play in the moment and enjoy what you are doing now. And if you don't change it, remove the mod, replace it with something else.
    It's just a game, not an exam to pass.

    Grond0Mantis37
  • ArunsunArunsun Member Posts: 1,277
    Actually LoB does increase difficulty quite a lot, but in a very unfair/frustrating way, and you gotta be equally unfair to beat the game. Subtledoctor mentioned Beholders. Well normal Beholders are a pain to deal with if you don't have the shield. LoB beholders are just the next level of pain/frustration, and nearly impossible to deal with in a conventional way. But you'll still be able to (and probably have to) cheese them with the shield, it'll just be longer.
    A difficulty increase that nearly forces you to cheese is not a good way of increasing difficulty, and not an amusing one. Spending 30min to kill a pack of kobolds that can't hit you except on a crit is not fun. And once you're done doing that you don't feel like you overcame a challenge.


    Actually one could sum up why LoB is not that good in one sentence:
    You're nigh-forced to use AI exploits or engine limitations, but backstab which is an intended game mechanic becomes totally unviable.
  • Grond0Grond0 Member Posts: 1,526
    edited June 29
    Arunsun said:

    Actually one could sum up why LoB is not that good in one sentence:
    You're nigh-forced to use AI exploits or engine limitations, but backstab which is an intended game mechanic becomes totally unviable.

    I don't think the changes are that drastic. It's true that some spells become entirely useless, e.g. sleep, but generally tactics that worked in the original game also work with LoB. Backstab for instance is often an efficient means of progress in LoB - yes it takes longer to kill things, but that's kind of the point. If your character is protected from beholder rays then backstab works well against them in LoB. If your character is not protected then you wouldn't want to rely just on backstabbing against beholders - but then that's also the case on easier difficulties as well.
  • ArunsunArunsun Member Posts: 1,277
    Grond0 said:

    Arunsun said:

    Actually one could sum up why LoB is not that good in one sentence:
    You're nigh-forced to use AI exploits or engine limitations, but backstab which is an intended game mechanic becomes totally unviable.

    I don't think the changes are that drastic. It's true that some spells become entirely useless, e.g. sleep, but generally tactics that worked in the original game also work with LoB. Backstab for instance is often an efficient means of progress in LoB - yes it takes longer to kill things, but that's kind of the point. If your character is protected from beholder rays then backstab works well against them in LoB. If your character is not protected then you wouldn't want to rely just on backstabbing against beholders - but then that's also the case on easier difficulties as well.
    Backstab's supposed to give you a great advantage over an opponent by taking them by surprise. A high level thief is able to one shot a mage that doesn't have protections, and that doesn't feel wrong because the enemy could do the same to you (and they do, with decent AI). But if you backstab a mage in LoB, you'll get him to barely injured and he'll then have all his protections triggering.

    That's a gigantic difference, and it entirely blocks that tactic, which is in my mind kind of the main point of backstabbing (except on a shadowdancer because it has HiPS and its gameplay totally relies on that one backstab a round). An assassin cannot even assassinate squishy targets...

    Concerning beholders, aren't they immune to backstab? This is an honest question, I have always had that in mind
  • JidokwonJidokwon Member Posts: 196
    LoB mode certainly makes a lot of spells and abilities fairly useless. I'm also pretty sure that every mob that casts spells does so at a much higher level.

    Those feared elder beholders have gotten the better of me every time I've tried them. They're entirely optional, but I'm more of a completist than a power gamer. Prebuffing really does nothing as any buffs get dispelled in the first couple of rounds. The shield and cloak do nothing against Imprisonment, too. I'm sure that I've used the wrong ones, but the Slayer Forms that I've tried so far have either worn off on their own or rooted me in place when used. I've yet to get that first one down more than two bubbles. It's challenges like this that have kept me coming back to this series for almost two decades, though.
  • Mantis37Mantis37 Member Posts: 301
    Another option is to try playing no-reload or limited reload on core, and then working up from there. It gives things a fresh feel :).
  • Grond0Grond0 Member Posts: 1,526
    @Arunsun - my apologies, yes beholders are immune to backstab in unmodded BG (even though they can't see through invisibility).

    @Jidokwon you could kill that first elder orb by, e.g.:
    - sneaking past it and using area damage from out of sight.
    - sending in summons from out of sight (repeated skeleton warriors work wonders).
    - attacking it with a group, ensuring that the one closest to it is immune to both its rays and imprisonment, e.g. spell immunity + spell shield, decent level berserker, polymorph jelly.
  • WrathofreccaWrathofrecca Member Posts: 57
    LoB has one distinct change to it from Insane. It's important to note the difference: increases to thaco, ac, saves, magic resist, and hp(x5, as many things seem to have 300+ hp but it feels like it scales based on mob type).

    So the first thing is killing and the second is endurance. To kill most things I rely on auto attacks, not spells. I use to enjoy heavy spell casting parties and flinging spells, especially using cloudkill and fireball to soften people up early game. Now I use haste if I need to kite and for some encounters I pause frequently and just kite all the shit around when it aggros one target. Another tactic I use is 1 mage, 1 thief(if not Jan or Nalia, aka using Edwin), and 1 healer. I tried Core playthrough with Viconia and druid charname and that ended poorly as Dorn and Korgan were my only mop up crew in ToB (bg2 part was fine). Taking what I learned from that my current LoB playthrough has Korgan, Dorn, Edwin, Jaheira, Jan and Berserker9 dual-mage which was very, very rough. Jaheira is almost worthless early game and I really worried about losing my third/fourth hitter. It didn't help that I used random item mod so I had no way to hunt down specific items which I may never find and even with all these advantages, I delayed certain encounters that are jokes are core/insane because you can no longer burst down targets.

    Now I do feel an assassin might be viable. With the right weapons, I hear staff of striking and ram are amazing/bis for backstabbing, I bet an assassin could still do work and with correct use of invis potions, certain key fights might be made easier. Most fights involve my 3/4 hitters just smashing the shit out of stuff and Edwin/Jan just debuff with greater malison, fear, slow, and glitterdust. I also use Jaheira's insect spells and Dorn's poison weapon with crossbow/bolts to stop most mages.

    For a future play through, especially on good, I'll be using an all good lineup with Mazzy as an archer, play character as a Wizard Slayer using Azure Edge, and probably Kheldorn and Valygar. I'll likely take Jaheira or Cernd over Anomen because while Anomen is incredibly strong, I find the druid spells, Nymph, Insect spells, and elemental summoning to be invaluable. And if you haven't given Wizard Slayer a try I recommend it, there is actually a lot of untapped potential there but casters have never been an issue until LoB which the Wizard Slayer (using ranged weapons imo, at least vs casters) to be invaluable. Once their magic resist begins to really come online you should see even stronger gains and there is always the option to dual class them to mage or for flavor, to thief. But I really think a Pure Wizard Slayer could find a home in any party if they use a ranged weapon. And return to thrower weapons benefit from str moddifier so they gain massively bonus damage. I rolled I think a 97 on my Wizard Slayer and it just felt broken.

    You can also make great use of Azure Edge with Paladins, Berserkers, possibly Kensai, and Rangers.

    Also, a pro tip for LoB, make use of two handers! Two handed weapons keep you safely out of melee and aggro range and also make it easier to surround and attack enemies. I use Dorn and Jaheira with a 2 hander and there is a +2 staff that's 1 handed that I give her that still has reach. They can both learn Halberds and spears to gain diversity and then my charname picked up a point in flails, is 5 stars in long swords, and might gain a point in maces. I sometimes equip flail of ages for the proc and removing the thaco penalty is useful. I also don't recommend giving a dual classed mage a 2 handed because you want them tanking in melee range, at least on LoB runs.

    I hope this helps. If you decide to use random item mod be warned, Vecna and the Balduran shield are not available so I have to use other sources of game mechanics to over come those deficits : )
  • ArunsunArunsun Member Posts: 1,277

    LoB has one distinct change to it from Insane. It's important to note the difference: increases to thaco, ac, saves, magic resist, and hp(x5, as many things seem to have 300+ hp but it feels like it scales based on mob type).

    I don't think LoB affects MR. The other parameters are increased by +5, and HP are multiplied by 3 then a further 80 is added
  • WrathofreccaWrathofrecca Member Posts: 57
    Can neither confirm nor deny MR but I'll do a core rules play through to test it out. I remember being able to land Chaos on drow from previous play throughs and that's now no longer an option :/
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