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What IE game is the "most balanced"?

For starters, by "balance" I mean which game offers the most consistent level of difficulty from start to finish. Some games might be harder than others, (Dark Souls, for instance, I'd argue is exceptionally difficult and also very well balanced). In a balanced game, some parts might be more difficult, some parts might be less, but by and large nothing will be extraordinarily harder or extraordinarily easier than the rest of the game.

@ThacoBell and I got a little sidetracked in the "Nerf the Ammo Belt" thread discussing game balance. And while we were taking the thread way off course, I think it's still a discussion worth having. I'll copy over some of the off-track discussion from the other thread to get started, as well as lay out my case.

What IE game is the "most balanced"? 31 votes

Baldur's Gate / TotSC
35%
FlashburnEnialusMeliamnerecklessheartThacoBellsmady3lroumenNeverusedGreenWarlockevildevil97Mantis37Zaghoul 11 votes
Shadows of Amn
12%
Abi_DalzimEugVVlSssiksseilorDrakeICN 4 votes
Throne of Bhaal
6%
BallpointMansemiticgod 2 votes
Icewind Dale (sans Heart of Winter)
45%
O_BruceDJKajurubob_vengNoonFinneousPJ[Deleted User]RaduzielbooinyoureyesifupaulineArdulZilber[Deleted User]SomeSortBubb 14 votes
Heart of Winter
0%
«13

Comments

  • SomeSortSomeSort Member Posts: 859
    Icewind Dale (sans Heart of Winter)
    For starters, I think it's easy to dismiss ToB and Heart of Winter out of hand. Both are balanced okay if you're playing them as standalones, but completely ruin the underlying balance of the games they're "expanding" thanks to Monty Haul-style loot and XP rewards and the annihilation of the level cap. Dipping into Lonelywood or Watcher's Keep for 15 minutes early in the game is enough to ruin the difficulty of the rest of IWD or BG2.

    In my opinion, the openness of BG and BG2 that is part of their charm also negatively impacts their balance, because developers never know what level a party will be and what gear it will have for any given encounter. Sure, the developer can "encourage" players to follow a certain path, but if players stick to that path, it's no longer an "open" game.

    The Underdark is the single best example of this. Some players will feel pressured to rush to Spellhold, and once there will take the portal to skip Sauhagin City, and they'll arrive at the Underdark seriously underleveled and undergeared. Other players will clear out their entire journal before leaving Chapters 2/3, will take a chance on Saemon Havarian, and will be overleveled and overgeared by the time they reach the Underdark. It's impossible to design that section of the game so that it's an appropriate challenge for the former parties, but simultaneously still an appropriate challenge for the latter.

    In Icewind Dale, on the other hand, developers could know within one or two levels what level adventurers would be in each section, and would have a great idea of what kind of gear they'd have, so it was much easier to design fights that were appropriately difficult for 90% of the parties at that point of the game.

    I also think the items in BG and BG2 were far less balanced. From arrows and wands in BG1 to Carsomyr and Staff of the Archmagi in BG2, both have plenty of things that break or trivialize large sections of the game. For instance: Beholders were arguably the most difficult enemies in BG2, and there were not one but *two* items that caused Beholders to commit suicide the second they saw the party. If Beholders weren't the most difficult enemy, then Liches arguably would be, and a single Protection from Undead scroll (available cheaply from shops!) is enough for a solo character fresh out of Chateau Irenicus to clear out every single Lich in Athkatla. Icewind Dale, by contrast, doesn't have a single "automatically win the most difficult encounters" items.

    (Note: I'm largely ignoring the Collector's Edition items, though they should properly be included since they were eventually released for the general base game in one of the last patches. Adding Robe of Vecna, Vhailor's Helm, Shield of Balduran, and Defender of Easthaven further trivializes any sense of "balance" in BG2.)

    ThacoBelltbone1lolien
  • SomeSortSomeSort Member Posts: 859
    Icewind Dale (sans Heart of Winter)
    Copying over the discussion from the other thread:

    SomeSort:
    IWD is by far the most tightly balanced of the 2nd Ed IE games, with Black Isle planning every step of the way to make sure the threats and privations were commensurate to the current strength of your party. In BG2, a party might be running into Firkraag straight out of Chateau Irenicus or out of the Underdark. They might have Carsomyr when they assault the planar prison or they might not. They could be level 30 by the time they take on Watcher's Keep or they could be level 9.


    ThacoBell:
    "IWD is by far the most tightly balanced of the 2nd Ed IE games, "

    Hehe, no wait, tell me another.


    SomeSort:
    I really don't see how the point is even arguable, to be honest.

    What level are you when you fight Firkraag in Baldur's Gate 2? Answer: somewhere between level 9 and level 30.

    What level are you when you fight Yxunomei in Icewind Dale? Answer: somewhere between level 6 and level 8.

    Can you balance a fight so that it's challenging and rewarding for parties anywhere from level 9 to level 30? Of course not, that's ridiculous. Can you balance a fight so that it's challenging and rewarding for parties from level 6 to level 8? Of course, that's trivial.

    Repeat this comparison for every major setpiece battle in BG2 and IWD.


    ThacoBell:
    Giving someone the option to postpone a fight till much later is not an example of non-balance, its an example of player choice. Don't conflate the two. FIrkraag is first available in chapter 2, and is balanced well as an optional fight in said chapter. In fact, the bg series is MUCH better balanced than IWD. Any class can complete it with reasonable knowledge of the game and good strategy. All major encounters have multiple ways of tackling them available to a large large variety of classes.

    IWD says, "No screw you, you chose the wrong party I'm immune to all magic." IWD is scewed SO HEAVILY in favor of fighters and physical damage that adding more than one mage is outright making your party weaker. It discourages you from experimenting and forces certain tactics, and not just for optional more difficult fights, but for major enemies that must be beaten to finish the game. Thats not balance, thats "Do things this one correct way or die."


    SomeSort:
    Game balance, to me, is the Goldilocks principle: fights that are not too easy and not too hard, but just right. Now, it's possible to very tightly arrange a BG2 run to maximize how many fights adhere to the Goldilocks principle. But doing so requires an astounding amount of metaknowledge, and with a similar amount of metaknowledge in IWD you could easily smash through any "impossible" challenges. (Source: my third run-through was a solo Conjurer on the original, pre-Heart of Winter release. Turns out nobody was so immune to all magic that they couldn't be killed by a solo pureclass mage with heavy metaknowledge, scroll scarcity or not.)

    But arranging BG2 to maximize the Goldilocks zone is an ARTIFICIAL CONSTRUCT by the player. If you're just playing through it blind, you're going to wander into the Planar Prison straight out of Chateau Irenicus or save the Copper Coronet until after the underdark or do countless other things that will make various stages of the game too hard or, (more likely), too easy.

    In IWD, all you have to do to reach the Goldilocks Zone on your first run-through is create a sensible party. If you have six characters, two of whom are fighters, one of whom is a divine caster, one of whom is an arcane caster, and one of whom is a thief, (in whatever combination), you've got everything you need to complete the entire game.

    I'd also disagree that there's "one correct way". I think everything has a role. 90% of the game is low-level mobs spawning in huge hordes. For those, you need renewable damage, so yeah, spellcasting is heavily disincentivized and you're forced to rely heavily on your beef.

    But on the other hand, 10% of the game is uber-bosses, your beef is hopelessly outclassed, and suddenly what you need is a way to dramatically ramp up your burst damage and short-run survivability. You know what excels at this? Spells! Fighters are for mooks, spellcasters are for bosses, and "do things this one correct way or die" really just means "have a broad range of skills to face a broad range of threats".

    Ultimately, one can't design a difficult game that simultaneously doesn't heavily incentivize optimal or near-optimal play. IWD decided to make the game difficult even if that meant weird / quirky / underpowered combos (such as an all-spellcaster party) would be a major challenge. That doesn't make it unbalanced, that makes it hard. But, crucially, it makes it *consistently* hard.

    Baldur's Gate 2 instead undermines any sense of challenge by giving players the option to overlevel and overgear for anything. Each of the major quests in Chapter 2 is designed to be possible for a poorly-geared, low-level team straight out of Chateau Irenicus, but only one of those major quests is actually going to be tackled by a poorly-geared, low-level team straight out of Chateau Irenicus.


    ThacoBell:
    Nope. The quests are arranged in such a way that they become available in a natural progression. Waukeen's Promenade (the first area) can be cleared easily out the gate. THe slums (next up) only has mildly more difficult quests. And the quests there that send you elsewhere (Nalia, Firkraag, etc.) are a step up from there. Even with FIrkraag (one of the tougher bosses) the game even tells you to come back later and gives ample chance to do so after clearing all the quests in the windspear area. So unless you GO OUT OF YOUR WAY to hit certain areas in a certain order, the natural progression of quests as you run into them is a very natural difficulty curve. BG1 does a similar thing, with the critical path keeping you on north/south trade route with encounters getting more difficult as you travel more east/west.

    "Turns out nobody was so immune to all magic that they couldn't be killed by a solo pureclass mage with heavy metaknowledge, scroll scarcity or not.)"

    And this just highlights what I said earlier. Belhifet is straight up IMMUNE TO MAGIC. Most of the end game bosses are. You won't beat them with mages without heavy metaknowledge. This is not natural gameplay or balance, its straight up using exploits acting against class roles to force a square win through circle hole. Thats poor desing. BG allows more varied tactics to overcome foes with metagaming or exploits.

    "Baldur's Gate 2 instead undermines any sense of challenge by giving players the option to overlevel and overgear for anything."

    PLAYER CHOICE. If you overlevel and overgear for easy challenges, thats on you. The game never forces it.

    tldr: Every "example" you give of bad balance is player choice, rather than forced game design. If you want to just play a certain way, and have a linear experience you don't need to think through (not an insult, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the playsyle), the IWD is for you. BG offers far more choice and better balanced combat for higher class combinations without gimping youself, and there are players that prefer the more open gameplay. But more player choice (and the consequences that entails) does not equal bad balance.

    ThacoBell
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 11,422
    Baldur's Gate / TotSC
    For me, balance is more than just the difficulty curve. Its also the viability of every playstyle. IWD difficulty curve is easier to measure because it is so linear, it also has a more limited weapon selection, leading to less overpowered weapons. However, where I think it fails, is in its playstyle. IWD's encounters are not balanced with every classs in mind. Fighter classes will have an easier time than mage classes, as an unfortunate number of endgame bosses are practically (and in one case literally) immune to magic. This is character select forcing. As with a party of all mages, you will need to rely heavily on metagmaing and exploits, two things outside of normal game balancing. It requires taking at least some fighter classes to reasonably (no glitches or metaknowledge) clear.

    The BG2 has the better core balance, as it encourages more classes and playstyles, whith every major encounter on the critical path being susceptible to more sources of damage, eschewing the (do it this way or die) mentality of late game IWD. BG2's difficulty curve is harder to measure due to its mre open nature, but I believe it also has a reasonable curve. Going to where the game directs you, will bring you to quests and challenges appropriate for your level. Where things change is player choice, if you wish, you can go off the rails into more difficult areas for greater challenge. Where BG2's balance is hurt, is the wide array of VERY powerful artifacts available to the player. I don't feel this hurts the game as much, as the playre can choose to what extent this impacts their game.

    BG1 is the most balanced. For the most part, it has a very reasonable curve, barring the extreme early game. And despite being more open, its easier to measure its curve than BG2. The main story path leads you mostly on a north/south route, where the encounters are manageble for even a half party at level 1. Going further east/west leads to more challenge and is optional. It has a further advantage over BG2, in that it has far fewer powerful artifacts.

    Zaghoultbone1Artona
  • Grond0Grond0 Member Posts: 6,435
    I think the arguments on both sides are good, so it comes down to how you regard game balance - is that more about consistency or flexibility?
    - if you see balance as essentially a matter of maintaining difficulty at a similar level for the whole game then IWD is better.
    - if you see it more about the extent to which you can use radically different parties and tactics then IWD doesn't look so good.

    I shudder to think just how many hundreds of games of BG I've played. I like IWD as well, but have probably only played that 1-2% as much as BG. That probably sums up my personal feeling that game balance is not about consistency, but flexibility - the former can result much more quickly in a boring experience if the game is replayed a lot. However, I appreciate that someone who had only played each game once would probably have a different view.

    ThacoBelltbone1lolien
  • lroumenlroumen Member Posts: 2,127
    edited April 2018
    Baldur's Gate / TotSC
    I find that both bg1 and Iwd are well balanced.

    What makes Iwd balanced is that the game is very linear, so it is easy to anticipate what level a full party will be. Mind you, once you go less than 4 characters in the party, the fast leveling will unbalance the game rather quickly, especially considering the power of magic.

    What makes bg1 balanced is the main storyline. There are only a few unforgiving encounters in the wild, and the TotSC dungeons are very difficult for low level parties, but if we disregard the latter (expansion is bound to be higher level than the base game) it is quite okay. I find that even small parties are balanced, more so than in Iwd due to the usage of magic in bg by opponents to the party.

    Bg2, ToB and how are not very balanced due to character levels getting too high and magic becoming too good.

    ThacoBelltbone1
  • semiticgodsemiticgod Member, Moderator Posts: 14,380
    Throne of Bhaal
    As far as items go, IWD is easily the most balanced, because most of its items are very bland and have no special abilities besides flat bonuses to hit, damage, or AC.

    ThacoBelltbone1
  • SomeSortSomeSort Member Posts: 859
    Icewind Dale (sans Heart of Winter)

    I'm judging the games based on class balance rather than items, spells, or difficulty over the course of the game. Throne of Bhaal is the one game in which only one or two classes truly get shafted in terms of power: clerics and to a lesser extent druids lack the offensive power that other classes gain at epic levels. They have the weakest HLAs and low APR, and that's about it.

    This raises an interesting question to me. Thieves and Bards are “balanced” (i.e. on par with mages and fighters) solely because they get access to Spike Traps and Use Any Item, arguably the two most “unbalanced” (i.e. corrosive to the underlying difficulty curve) abilities in the game. Sure, thieves are totally playable once they can gear up like a fighter and cast spells like a mage (including their own special spell that deals massive irresistible damage).

    So can the introduction of unbalanced abilities make the game *more* balanced by making it equally broken for everyone?

    For instance, if you gave Druids “Shapechange: Avatar of Rillifane” and Clerics the ability to use their turn ability on enemies who weren’t undead (call it “Turn UnUndead”), they’d probably be just as broken as the rest of the classes. Would that make ToB a more balanced game? I guess in one sense, it would, and I’d never really thought of it like that.

    semiticgodtbone1
  • semiticgodsemiticgod Member, Moderator Posts: 14,380
    Throne of Bhaal
    SomeSort said:


    So can the introduction of unbalanced abilities make the game *more* balanced by making it equally broken for everyone?

    I'd say yes, though that's not necessarily a good thing. Naturally, a game can be unbalanced in multiple ways, and while it's better to make all classes overpowered instead of just one or two, the ideal is for no class to be overpowered or underpowered.

  • RaduzielRaduziel Member Posts: 4,716
    Icewind Dale (sans Heart of Winter)
    When I think about balance I don't think class x class but class/party vs. world.

    By that standard, IWD is by far the most balanced game. Maybe a little favorable to sorcerer, but nothing huge.

  • SomeSortSomeSort Member Posts: 859
    Icewind Dale (sans Heart of Winter)

    I think people who are claiming you need a particular class balance in IWD should try playing the game with different groups. It's totally doable with all different kinds of themed parties that rely on different strategies. Even Belhifet: druid summons are awesome and can occupy the golems, leaving Belhifet to be taken down by your bard and mage with Tenser's and your cleric with Holy Power.

    SoA literally has an NPC tell you to go into the Planar Sphere at level ~10 if you are a mage. At that point you might have along with you a level 8/8 fighter/druid; two level 9 rangers, and a frail 8/8 cleric/mage. You could get trapped in the sphere, with nearly impossible fights between you and the rest of the game. Ditto for your 11th level Bard going on a jaunt to the Astral Prison for which the game provides you with... another mid-level bard. :tongue:

    IWD consistently ups the challenge witn pretty satisfying set-piece battles. It's generally not a cake-walk, but nor is it impossible. The first time I brought a paladin to that one place where you get swarmed by several dozen yuan-ti foghters and multiple spellcasters? And dome guy off-canera who I couldn't find was summoning infinite trolls, and my stocks of fire arrows were dwindling? I had to scramble for sure, but ultimately made it through. Or when I het the map-swarm bug abd had ~15 trolls, ~10 spiders, 3 lizard man spellcasters, and ~12 bombardier beetles :open_mouth: come at my 6-person party from two different directions? Man that got hairy. Or without bugs, how about when you enter level 3 and before you even have time to prep, you are set upon by 10+ cold wights?

    IWD is better-tuned to throw you into fights that make you sweat and scramble - to use a sports analogy, it can force your QB out of the pocket. SoA on the other hand, puts you in situations where you will either die pathetically (wander unprepared into a secret closet in an inn) or overcome cosmic-powered enemies without breaking a sweat (point your Berserker at a demilich, go make yourself a sandwich (with extra cheese, natch)).

    Now, BG1 is another story. It also throws challenging stuff at you (bandit camp, Davaeorn). I think it's the best of the bunch overall. But in this particular regard, IWD edges it out.

    Also in BG2: it's easy to forget this now, but I'm sure there are people who didn't bother grabbing Amauna's bones in the Shade Lord's dungeon and as a result got themselves a big face-full of pissed-off dragon at level 12. And that Lich in the gate district is just begging for a low-level party to stumble on it with no warning. (The first time I got him was right after I'd cleared out the Sea's Bounty, so I thought it was going to be another quick treasure battle like that.)

    BG1 I think has the best argument against IWD, but I think it's hamstrung by something that's pretty outside its control: the difference between level 1 and level 2 is far greater than the difference between any other levels. IWD gets past this by zooming you up a couple levels in the prologue, but BG is a low-level campaign and can't do that. As a result, a couple dozen experience might be the difference between a battle being punishing and easy.

    Also, BG1 definitely crosses the line from "punishing" to "cruel" a lot more than IWD does, in my opinion. That time you're making your first or second map transition and you get waylayed by ten bandit archers? That's a huge FU. That time you're still trying to figure out the controls and you get ambushed by a mage just when you think you've reached safety who blows up your entire party with one horror spell? The time you're just wandering around minding your own business and suddenly you get ambushed and wiped by (basilisks/sirines/ankhegs/winter wolves/bears/hobgoblins with poisoned arrows).

    I feel like the learning curve on BG1 was basically "get instakilled without warning, reload, get instakilled a few more times trying to figure out how the hell you got instakilled in the first place, reload, leave, figure out ten hours later what was going on, return". On Icewind Dale, there are definitely a couple parts where you're going to reload a handful of times on your first playthrough, (Yxunomei), but by and large, it's tuned so you should be able to baaaaaaaaaarely scrape through most challenges on your first or second try.

    semiticgod
  • SomeSortSomeSort Member Posts: 859
    edited April 2018
    Icewind Dale (sans Heart of Winter)
    Raduziel said:

    When I think about balance I don't think class x class but class/party vs. world.

    By that standard, IWD is by far the most balanced game. Maybe a little favorable to sorcerer, but nothing huge.

    I was thinking about original game balance, i.e. sans the Heart of Winter and Enhanced Edition changes, so no Sorceror, no kits, no dual-wielding except for the pseudo-version Rangers got (leaving your off-hand empty gave you one extra APR), none of the BG2 spells (or spell changes, such as taking Haste from doubling your APR to giving +1 APR).

    Also, sadly, no improved bard song selection, (by far the best contribution of the expansion, though IWD bards were better than BG2 bards to begin with simply due to the expanded spell table and access to the top-tier melee weapons).

  • semiticgodsemiticgod Member, Moderator Posts: 14,380
    Throne of Bhaal
    SomeSort said:


    I feel like the learning curve on BG1 was basically "get instakilled without warning, reload, get instakilled a few more times trying to figure out how the hell you got instakilled in the first place, reload, leave, figure out ten hours later what was going on, return".

    True. This is one of the laziest and most unpleasant means of increasing difficulty, and BG1 heavily relied on instant death scenarios, which was made all the more egregious by the slow pace of the game. Few things are less fun than spending half an hour exploring the map and then dying to an enemy with an attack that no one could possibly have foreseen. Worse yet, the instant death scenarios were the few good sources of XP in BG1. BG1 gameplay often devolves into buying a potion from Thalantyr, killing a bunch of basilisks who are powerless to harm you, and then emerging from the fight as a high-level character who can steamroll all the hobgoblins who would otherwise pose a serious threat in the early game.

    BG2 had its fair share of game-ending disablers, but the means of avoiding them were far more accessible and easy to see. When I was first playing BG2, I kept getting killed by mind flayers, but when I figured out that INT drain was causing the deaths and when I saw the description of Chaotic Commands saying that it blocked psionic spells like the omnipresent Psionic Blast, I was able to try again with a new setup and succeed.

    But those basilisks in BG1 on the first playthrough? You'd have to travel halfway across the game world just to grab one of the two extremely finite items that would let you win that fight.

  • lroumenlroumen Member Posts: 2,127
    edited April 2018
    Baldur's Gate / TotSC
    No, that is not true. Bg does not revolve around basilisk hunts or XP hunts; that may be a personal play style in order to get fast levels because you play noreload or want to skip the challenge of playing beginner levels.

    Bg1 teaches you right from the start that you are being actively hunted and many npc tells you to be careful. For the first tough fight, Tarnesh, you have a suggestive four player party and definitive help from several guards. Even imoen has a magic wand to get definitive hits off.

    If you choose to go head first into all encounters, then that speaks of playing against the game purpose and sounds more like a wisdom dump charname to be honest. Going through the game linearly with only few extracurricular activities (side quests), only becomes tougher due to magic around cloakwood. Going through the game doing normal side quests does not become overly difficult save some challenges, but then you don't want the game to be a cake walk everywhere because then you would call it boring.
    Instant death encounters happen only in the most out of the way locations not relevant to the main quest and with plenty of encounters in between to gain benefits (items, levels) for the party.
    Even then, the basilisk area has clear aid from the developers in the sense of Korax.

    The only instant death I can think of (which is a grave mistake) is the six bounty hunter random encounter.

    ThacoBell
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 11,422
    Baldur's Gate / TotSC
    @subtledoctor "I think people who are claiming you need a particular class balance in IWD should try playing the game with different groups." I have, and it SUCKS with mages. The only way you can reliable handle the final boss without meta knowledge, professional levels of knowledge, or exploits, it to NOT BE A MAGE.

    semiticgod
  • SomeSortSomeSort Member Posts: 859
    Icewind Dale (sans Heart of Winter)
    ThacoBell said:

    @subtledoctor "I think people who are claiming you need a particular class balance in IWD should try playing the game with different groups." I have, and it SUCKS with mages. The only way you can reliable handle the final boss without meta knowledge, professional levels of knowledge, or exploits, it to NOT BE A MAGE.

    Again, this is demonstrably untrue. The only way you can handle the final boss is to physically damage him, but *mages have a whole suite of spells making them totally viable physical damage dealers*. Tenser's and Haste dramatically ramp up damage output, especially sans the EE changes, (they combined to give mages 4 APR; compare to the 2 APR that combo gave in BG2). In addition to Stoneskin and Mirror Image, mages could get some of the lowest AC values in the game, (Spirit Armor + Robe of Enfusing left them as protected as a fighter wearing Full Plate +2 and didn't lock them out of rings/cloaks of protection, to boot). Additionally, since both of those are guaranteed drops, they're far less at the mercy of random drops for their protection needs. Including the EE changes nerfs Haste and Tenser's, (though it adds Improved Haste to help offset), but Black Blade of Disaster deals superlative damage, and MMM should hit Belhifet just fine.

    You're probably biased by BG1 and BG2, where using a mage to deal physical damage is stupid. Tenser's, in particular, was a joke in BG2. Those spells were decorative or gimmicks. But they were never gimmicks in IWD, they were instead powerful and useful and totally viable alternatives. In my solo mage run, I spent most of the latter half of the game Tensered because that spell resulted in more additional damage than pretty much any other spell around.

    If you play a mage in IWD the same way you play a mage in BG2, your mage is going to suck. This doesn't mean mages suck in IWD, it means they have a different playstyle. (And before you say this is an example of poor balance because you can't play an IWD mage like a BG2 mage, so you have fewer options... remember that you can't play a BG2 mage like an IWD mage, either.)

    Besides all of this, we're really talking about ONE BATTLE here. Okay, you don't want to use a melee playstyle with your mage. For 99% of the game, you can contribute tons and tons without it. And yes, for 1% of the game you'll have to change your approach... but so what? Like nobody ever changes their approach in the Mind Flayer dungeon in BG2.

    I'm really tempted to start a solo bard run right now just to prove the point. (Why a bard? Because I've done a solo mage and because solo sorcerors are too OP.)

    semiticgodGrond0[Deleted User]Raduziel
  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 0
    edited April 2018
    Icewind Dale (sans Heart of Winter)
    The user and all related content has been deleted.

    SomeSortRaduziel
  • Icewind Dale (sans Heart of Winter)
    The user and all related content has been deleted.

  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 11,422
    Baldur's Gate / TotSC
    @SomeSort "Again, this is demonstrably untrue. The only way you can handle the final boss is to physically damage him, but *mages have a whole suite of spells making them totally viable physical damage dealers*. Tenser's and Haste dramatically ramp up damage output, especially sans the EE changes, (they combined to give mages 4 APR; compare to the 2 APR that combo gave in BG2). In addition to Stoneskin and Mirror Image, mages could get some of the lowest AC values in the game, (Spirit Armor + Robe of Enfusing left them as protected as a fighter wearing Full Plate +2 and didn't lock them out of rings/cloaks of protection, to boot). Additionally, since both of those are guaranteed drops, they're far less at the mercy of random drops for their protection needs"

    EXACTLY. You have to turn your mage into a fighter to be viable.

    @subtledoctor Those kits don't do you much good when your enemies are IMMUNE TO MAGIC. While six of an single class certainly isn't optimal, its more viable in BG/BG2 versus IWD, because enemies don't have so many stupid immunities.

    @chimaera Again, those spells aren't much use when your enemies are immune to them.

  • SomeSortSomeSort Member Posts: 859
    Icewind Dale (sans Heart of Winter)
    ThacoBell said:

    @SomeSort "Again, this is demonstrably untrue. The only way you can handle the final boss is to physically damage him, but *mages have a whole suite of spells making them totally viable physical damage dealers*. Tenser's and Haste dramatically ramp up damage output, especially sans the EE changes, (they combined to give mages 4 APR; compare to the 2 APR that combo gave in BG2). In addition to Stoneskin and Mirror Image, mages could get some of the lowest AC values in the game, (Spirit Armor + Robe of Enfusing left them as protected as a fighter wearing Full Plate +2 and didn't lock them out of rings/cloaks of protection, to boot). Additionally, since both of those are guaranteed drops, they're far less at the mercy of random drops for their protection needs"

    EXACTLY. You have to turn your mage into a fighter to be viable.

    Okay. So you must think the Shapeshifter kit is terrible in BG2, because using its unique ability just "turns it into a fighter", so if the Shapeshift form is awesome, this proves that fighters are awesome and Shapeshifters are terrible.

    Also, the Priests of Helm and Lathander suck because their unique ability just "turns them into fighters". Also, any fighter who uses protection scrolls to get through an encounter must suck because you had to "turn them into a mage" to succeed. And if your Cleric ever casts Find Traps, then he sucks, because you had to "turn him into a thief". Fighter/Druids who cast Iron Skins are really just "turning themselves into Fighter/Mages" with stoneskin, so Fighter/Druids must suck. Mages who cast Animate Dead are "turning themselves into Clerics".

    Mage becomes powerful by casting powerful mage spell that opens up an entirely new style of play = mages suck. Got it.

  • RaduzielRaduziel Member Posts: 4,716
    Icewind Dale (sans Heart of Winter)
    IMO, arcane casters shiny more in IWD than in BG because in IWD crowd controls seems to be way more important - and that is something a wizard/sorcerer can do better than any other class.

    In another thread someone told that IWD is a game of scarcity and I couldn't agree more. And exactly because of this spellcasters are way more important in IWD than "tanks" - you can recover spells with rest, but not potions.

    And as was said, a wizard buffed can do everything a fighter does and more.

    The only classes that have a real advantage on IWD are, in this order: sorcerer, cleric and undead hunter. Good luck with a fighter facing blasting skeletons, ghouls and wights.

  • semiticgodsemiticgod Member, Moderator Posts: 14,380
    Throne of Bhaal
    There is a distinct difference in scroll availability between IWD and BG2, or even between IWD and BG1. In BG2, there are multiple scrolls of almost every spell in the game without even counting the 2 scrolls of every kind in ToB, and it's not hard to outfit a party of six mages with all the right defensive spells, damage spells, disablers, and utility spells you might need. In BG1, scrolls are scarcer, but you can still give most types of spells to most of your mages.

    In IWD, there are many scrolls (maybe even the majority) that only show up ONCE in the entire game, and on top of that, they tend to arrive late, they're highly restricted in terms of when you can get them. Orrick won't even sell you higher-level scrolls until you reach certain chapters in the game. Worse yet, Potions of Genius and Mind Focusing are considerably more rare. I've played mages in IWD many times, and their highest-level spell slots were usually either empty or had redundant spells, like three Haste spells.

    There are mage scrolls in IWD, but there aren't nearly as many as there are in BG2 or BG1.

  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 0
    edited April 2018
    Icewind Dale (sans Heart of Winter)
    The user and all related content has been deleted.

  • semiticgodsemiticgod Member, Moderator Posts: 14,380
    Throne of Bhaal
    Mages can tank Belhifet, but it's a nasty prospect. PFMW is the only way to block Belhifet's poison and disease damage, and the only way to hit him reliably is to use Tenser's Transformation (during which you can't cast PFMW or even Stoneskin) or Time Stop.

    A mage with a Potion of Strength dual-wielding a +3 dagger and the Black Blade of Disaster under the effects of Emotion: Hope, Emotion: Rage, Improved Haste, and Tenser's Transformation can kill Belhifet in 3.7 rounds, assuming a 100% hit rate. That's more than enough time for him to kill you through sheer APR and poison damage. If you cast PFMW right before Tenser's Transformation, you can take him down safely unless he teleports away--which he will, and he and his allies have a very excellent shot at killing you when your PFMW runs out. Time Stop will let you cut through most of his HP if you cast Tenser's Transformation in the middle of Time Stop or use a Time Stop scroll during Tenser's Transformation.

    And that's it. Those are pretty much the only spells a mage can use to kill Belhifet; all the others are virtually useless.

    ThacoBelltbone1
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 11,422
    Baldur's Gate / TotSC
    @SomeSort "Mage becomes powerful by casting powerful mage spell that opens up an entirely new style of play = mages suck. Got it."
    No, the problem lies with the game, not the class. Shapeshifters CAN shapeshift, but they can also cast as well as any Druid. Mages get tons of neat spells to play with. The problem is that IWD FORCES a mage to go tenser's to damage the final boss reliably. Nice try trying to say I made a claim that was nowhere in my post though.Says a lot when you have to make up things to try to discredit me, rather than reinforce your own position.

    @chimaera "And which spells would that be? Tenser's transformation? Even a sorcerer can melee B. with enough buffs & potions. (speaking from experience, btw, not theory)"

    Yes, that is why people play mages. To hit things in melee. Phenominal cosmic powers, nah, imma hit you with my stick.

    MAGES DON'T SUCK. IWD'S BIZARRE FIXATION ON NOT ALLOWING MAGES TO MAGE SUCKS.

    Artona
  • joluvjoluv Member Posts: 2,136
    @semiticgod: I find contingencies and sequencers very useful in that fight.

    semiticgodSomeSortRaduzieltbone1
  • semiticgodsemiticgod Member, Moderator Posts: 14,380
    Throne of Bhaal
    I just remembered that I actually created a mod specifically to add in a bunch of mage scrolls to compensate for their scarcity in IWD.

    Raduziel
  • SomeSortSomeSort Member Posts: 859
    edited April 2018
    Icewind Dale (sans Heart of Winter)
    ThacoBell said:

    @SomeSort "Mage becomes powerful by casting powerful mage spell that opens up an entirely new style of play = mages suck. Got it."
    No, the problem lies with the game, not the class. Shapeshifters CAN shapeshift, but they can also cast as well as any Druid. Mages get tons of neat spells to play with. The problem is that IWD FORCES a mage to go tenser's to damage the final boss reliably. Nice try trying to say I made a claim that was nowhere in my post though.Says a lot when you have to make up things to try to discredit me, rather than reinforce your own position.

    @chimaera "And which spells would that be? Tenser's transformation? Even a sorcerer can melee B. with enough buffs & potions. (speaking from experience, btw, not theory)"

    Yes, that is why people play mages. To hit things in melee. Phenominal cosmic powers, nah, imma hit you with my stick.

    MAGES DON'T SUCK. IWD'S BIZARRE FIXATION ON NOT ALLOWING MAGES TO MAGE SUCKS.

    I didn't feel I needed to reinforce my position. My position is that mages work just fine against Belhifet, and I've demonstrated that pretty thoroughly by now, or so I thought. But if you want me to reinforce it more, then sure, here we go.

    I googled for every video of someone fighting Belhifet solo with Heart of Winter installed. Here's the first nine I found (before I got tired of looking):
    Example 1 - F/M/C
    Example 2 - F/M/C
    Example 3 - Monk
    Example 4 - Druid
    Example 5 - F/M/T
    Example 6 - Mage (I think specialist, but it's German)
    Example 7 - M/T
    Example 8 - Sorceror
    Example 9 - C/M

    7 of the 9 have levels as an arcane spellcaster
    4 of the 9 have levels as a divine spellcaster
    4 of the 9 have levels as a fighter class
    2 of the 9 have levels as a thief

    Your position seems to be that IWD gimps arcane casters against the final boss. But if you look at people who actually solo him, the real takeaway might be that arcane casting ability is the single most important tool to have. More than half of those runs had no fighter levels whatsoever, (including both a pureclass sorceror and a pureclass mage).

    Lots of BG games *FORCE* players into a specific strategy to beat a specific enemy. Solo thieves in ToB are pretty much forced into either trap cheese or abusing UAI to become pseudo-mages. BG2 FORCES mages to play Wizard Chess during mage battles, and there are plenty of encounters where you're pretty much forced into MMM if you want to contribute damage. I guess I just don't see the problem with "you can do whatever you want for 99% of the game but for one battle sure you'll need to use one specific strategy".

    Like, powerful enemies having specific counters is not really unique to Icewind Dale here.

    Edit: the problem, from a balance standpoint, comes when certain classes *don't have access to those specific counters*. But that's not a problem here.

    Raduziel
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