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Normal vs Core Rules

I just did my second run through of Icewind Dale, this time on Core Rules (first time on Normal). Aside from a few spells that couldn't be memorized, and one unexpected death - both of which reload solved - the main difference was more enemies hitting harder. I found myself using my sorceror's haste spell far more often in return, which meant sleeping a lot more. That was about it. I was constantly sleeping!

Is this to be expected from Core Rules in BG2EE as well? I've played BG2EE a few times on Normal and my last run through was very comfortable. Which I liked for a change. I felt powerful! But when I play again in a year or so, I thought I would try Core Rules. I'm rethinking that after IWD. Did anyone else have a different experience on CR in BG2 other than hasting almost every battle and sleeping it off?



  • DanacmDanacm Member Posts: 837
    The first level mage knowledge is really funny :)
    I love the games where sleep as rare as i can do. In bg2ee with either enough mages or without mages is very well doable in core. In iwdee its easier, if you use most warriors who dont rely on spells like fighters, paladins, rangers.

  • ReedleReedle Member Posts: 13
    Thanks Khyron for your four suggestions! My last run through in BG2 EE (my fourth!) had become too easy - you know something's up when Twisted Rune takes 30 seconds, the 4th level of Watcher's is a piece of cake and the demogorgan takes no reloads. I am hoping to forget some things in about a year and play again on Core Rules. I had considered Insane but I actually found levelling up so fast the one time I experimented with it kind of offset the extra damage. Core Rules for me was harder for some reason (no idea why - anyone else experienced this?). I will take your advice when I p!ay again!

  • ReedleReedle Member Posts: 13
    Gorgonzola you are so right! It's one reason I'm sure we keep coming back to these games - we get better and the challenges get easier as we master this very complicated game. My first game was all about the interface , mastering the maps, and the language. What's this 2d4+2 business? Why is it plus 2 AC when it should say subtract it! Why can't I get to Nashkel - it's still greyed out! You can play half the game without knowing half the information you need! I just finished my fourth game over about five years. I do trap now. I've got the targeting the clerics and mages first down pat. I pre-buff to the extreme. I don't use backstab as much as I could. One thing I didn't do, btw, was get walkthrough info on the games. It would have saved me a lot of trouble, I think, but I'm a person who likes to get lost in new cities and figure things out on my own so it seems to be true with games too. After my second time through, I did take tothe internet to see if I was missing stuff and it turned out not too much but one huge area I had not been taking advantage of was stealing stuff. All those arrows and spells in Waukeens can just be stolen! I didn't even notice that a steal button came up when my thief was talking to the shopkeepers.

    People keep talking about kensais and I want to try one, but I played Rasaad my first time thru BG1 and hated him. So weak but he just kept running out in front to get killed. One day that negative Rasaad experience will fade. One can only hope.

  • sarevok57sarevok57 Member Posts: 5,340
    i was playing a bg2 play through and i had;
    charname ( dwarf fighter cleric )

    we were around the 2 million xp mark

    and i finished the entire planar sphere without resting once from beginning to end on insane difficulty with double damage on

    even more ironically the only spells i cast were; haste once, breach twice, protection from evil 10' once, protection from fire x3 and the odd heal here or there

    to be honest, when playing these games if you aren't playing on Core rules or higher you aren't doing yourself any justice, its a huge game changer when you go up in difficulty

    i remember waaaaaaay back in the vanilla days i found BG2 to be so over whelming that i would play on the easiest setting ( before this silly god mode setting ) and i was still getting my butt kicked hahaha

    but once i actually learned how to play the game, i went from easiest to hardest right away, and i enjoyed the game and appreciated the challenges so much more because of it

    now 17+ years later or so, even insane difficulty for me feels like a walk in the park, and i tend to play really lazily, but every once in awhile some one on the team gets wiped out, just the game telling me i can't be TOO LAZY hahaha, good stuff

  • gorgonzolagorgonzola Member Posts: 3,646
    I always have a giggle in my head when RPing a level one mage
    Casts magic missile: hits for one damage
    “That’s it team, I’ve shot my load for the day, going to take a nap over there now, k?”
    a mage is at lev 1 only for a very short time, then start to kick butts, even at low levels, as long as you learn to play him properly.
    Zaxares wrote: »
    As someone who loves playing a blaster-type Mage, those first few levels are really quite painful, yes. XD But still, a well-placed Sleep or Charm Person spell can make a world of difference in a difficult 1st level boss fight!
    it can seem counter intuitive, but MM is a very weak choice at low levels while it becomes utterly powerful at very high levels.
    when your lev 9 capable mage, or his PI, that is equipping RoVb and AoP, cast improved alacrity then lowers the enemy resistance, GM him and send to him 5 MM, 5 MMA and 5 skull traps or flame arrows in less then 2 seconds even a strong tob enemy like draconis dies before he can even react :wink:

    i don't have much experience in playing lev 1 mages as i play almost only bg2, but my solo sorcerer there, with tactics mod installed, could solo the starting dungeon. and with that mod you find enemies like a lev 19 cleric that as you approach invisible cast true sight, then summons a fallen deva, a monk that uses quivering palm on you and ilich is a berseker with a +3 weapon. also you can sleep "for free" only once, then every time you try you are ambushed by a party with on average 2 mages and 3 warriors.

    it is very easy to play end game mages that have tools like improved alacrity, CC, spellstrike, ADHW, planetar and on and over, huge spellbooks and the best equipment.
    to play low level mages it is much more difficult and requires A LOT more knowledge add finesse.
    once i learned to do it i discovered that my mages need to rest a lot less then before as the key is not spamming spells, but using the right spell in the right situation.
    sleep, charm or a couple of stacked webs can really make the difference in a battle, while a couple of low level MM (as it is a spell that improves leveling up) can at best be useful to disrupt an enemy caster.

    this is why i appreciate @Khyron 's approach, it is much more novice friendly, to be effective with a low level caster you have to be somehow proficient in using the spell system.

  • ReedleReedle Member Posts: 13
    Honestly I don't know how I even finished my first or second run throughs (a year apart) of either BG or BG2. i am not a gamer - nothing came easily. I played on Normal and they were hard, very hard. If I were not someone who obsessively finishes what they start, I might have given up. Even the easier Icewind Dale was difficult on Normal the first time just figuring out the Luremaster stones and what went where. Learning to pre-buff seems to be key, but it's also a bit of a drag. Telling myself whenever my mages woke up to cast stoneskin was a bit like nagging myself or my kids to put on their seat belts before driving. Life lessons! Just organizing belongings and putting things away are likely good life lessons from these games for the younger crowd.

    I will play Core Rules in BG2 next time I play! You've convinced me. But another question: what's the difference between CR, Hard and Insane? I did experiment with Insane a bit - I finished IWD on CR then imported the same characters with their hign levels to play Heart of Winter afterwards on Insane. I finished HofW in one night. Very easy despite double damage because my characters levelled up so quickly. The final dragon battle was embarrassing - for the dragon. And I don't think it would have made much difference if my characters had started at lower levels.

  • dp85dp85 Member Posts: 14
    So I don't know if you're going to read this but just judging by your op it seems your main strategy is to Haste, then all out attack, which is fine. That definitely works for most battles since combat isn't overly tactical. The best defense in these games is to kill the baddies before they can hit you. Downside is like any strategy that relies heavily on buffs, it means sleeping often to restore spells (and for Haste, fatigue as well).

    My advice, if you want to continue using sorcerer and not have to rest often, is to just stop using Haste. Like force yourself to stop. It's not a necessary spell at all (though it is one of the better area buffs). Try out some other strategies or find spells that work well together and fit your style of play. For example, using 1-2 dedicated tanks or using summons as meatshields is a very safe strategy that can carry you through entire dungeons without sleeping (if you save your main buffs like Haste for the big battles only).

    Many of the low level area statuses also combine well together and won't fatigue you like Haste. I can't speak specifically on Core Rules (my only recent playthrough was with a Jester on SCS Hardcore) but I relied heavily on the Grease + Web and Grease + Horror (in small rooms) combos, usually cast from Minor Sequencers. I found this an effective strategy from BG1 right into ToB.

    I'll also add that if you're planning on playing on Core Rules, you might want to consider using the SCS mod and playing on the lowest difficulty setting (enemy mages are about equivalent to Core Rules). The balance and AI changes are worth it and the tweaks section has some good stuff not in other tweak packs. It handles higher difficulty settings much better than the base game, which just multiplies damage without improving AI.

  • KhyronKhyron Member Posts: 483
    Unlike how things work in IWD, you get no xp bonus from higher difficulties in BG2.
    So even if you play on highest diffi, you'll not level any faster.. possibly some harder enemy spawns, but that won't really change your xp gains by any noticeable scale.

    Rasaad is a bit of a muppet, isn't he? As a character he just annoys me and in combat it is true, he does suffer for quite a while. When he finally does start to shine though, he becomes very strong indeed.
    So i guess it's a matter of sticking with him or not.. To me though, he is like a Xan 2.0. (Our quest is vain! or.. Life is so hollow..)
    Has potential but makes me want to give up and go home before the adventure has begun.

    I guess I am more of a traditionalist than many, when it comes to party composition.
    I see suggestions of having 5 chars with arcane magic.. and yeah.. for sure, for max power that's probably the way to go. Not for me though.. i appreciate a man clad in full plate and packing steel!

    I rarely have more than 1 arcane caster, 3 at most (and that involves a Bard or something similar)
    A Blade or FMT, using primarily buffs for combat etc, and 2 proper casters.. at most.

    My mages are also mainly de/buff-bots.. remove protections etc on harder enemies.
    99% of the time they are relegated to sling-duty.. or shortbow/crossbow in Imoens case.

    Don't get me wrong, mages are great.. but.. I dunno. It feels nice to see someone make an umberhulk explode into 30 chunks of meat with a real splatty sound, by hitting the muppet with a really big piece of metal.

  • sarevok57sarevok57 Member Posts: 5,340
    well the thing about magic is, that in SoA magic is super strong, scrolls are everywhere, and the magic resistance of most fodder enemies is usually 0, and for the once in a while stronger enemies who actually have some magic resistance you have lower resistance, pierce magic or pierce shield

    but when ToB comes by, it seems that your warriors are the ones who are actually dealing out the serious damage, despite you can chain contingency horrid wiltings with enemy sighted, but i find that more enemies in ToB have higher magic resistances so now its time for your warriors to shine through

  • ReedleReedle Member Posts: 13
    @dp85, I think forcing myself to stop hasting is a very good idea, and I was in fact starting to do this near the end and becoming more strategic. So that is very good advice. I wasn't sleeping because of running out of spells (except if I had no healing spells left because I hardly carry any potions) or primarily to heal but almost purely because of hasting so often and it was a drag. I did establish in IWD, btw, that you can sleep almost ANYWHERE with a second or, rarely, third re!oad just because I was nodding off so often.

    And yes, I do like to rush in if I can and hit hard before they hit me. Pre-buffing is a necessary evil that I learned over time and I always have two cleric mixes (fighter/cleric and a mage/cleric who is my back up cleric and mage but the strongest character of all at high levels) so I can fit all the buffs in before they run out because it takes so long to cast them. The mages cast their own protections, as well as Courage, Hope and Haste. The clerics cast Armor of Faith, Bless, Protection from Evil, Resist Fear, Defensive Harmony (later), Prayer, Recitation. I don't like Chant, it blanks out the rest of my cleric's spells for some reason. Chaotic commands or various element protections as needed. This is all before stepping into a room! You'd think I woudn't need Haste but just a couple of strong hits on a weaker party member was enough to do me in. And I never resurrect - I will redo the whole fight - if I can help it. If you or anyone else think I'm missing a prebuff or could cut this list down as standard prebuffing, do let me know!

    @khyron, we think alike! The only games
    I ever really played in the past were Diablo and Tomb Raider - good stories but lots of chunking! So satisfying.

    I like tanks but I'm not keen on paladins. I'd rather have a fighter cleric as they get more spells. My optimal mix is two fighter types so they get full mastery. That's two tanks plus I have a fighter cleric and fighter thief. Then a sorceror and a mage cleric. So I have four fighters, two clerics, two mages and a thief - nine roles between six people. My last run- through of BG2EE was a breeze with a similar party, my sorceror self, Korgan, Sir Anomen, Jaheira, Minsc and my fave Jan Jansen. Best party over four games I've played with. I even started liking smug and pompous Anomen because I could see the humour of him. But of course that was on Normal. I hope it's still a good party on Core Rules.

  • gorgonzolagorgonzola Member Posts: 3,646
    even if i usually run very magic heavy parties i usually don't buff much.
    i see sometimes in YT videos that the player spend rounds and rounds buffing, sometimes even in the wrong order so as the party gets to the battle some buffs are already expired.
    some buffs are needed, it would be crazy to fight a dragon without a protection from fear and without a protection from his elemental damage and it would be also not good to fight mind flyers without cahotic command, but to stack too many buffs is overkilling and depletes the spell books so fast.

    the key imo is to use the right buffs for the particular situation and for the tactic you want to use in that battle. trying to get the most from every buff positioning the party in the right way and having control on which toon is targeted by the enemies.

    my custom rule is to not buff beyond long lasting protections like stoneskin if i don't spot the enemy before or there are in game clues about the enemy i am going to face.
    if i have to fight firkraag or the shadow dragon i know from the game which enemy i will face, so i buff accordingly before the battle, if i am fighting kangaxx i know that he probably is some kind of lich as he is in a tomb and i already have fought 2 liches to get to that point.
    and i scout the areas with my thief.
    but if an ambush is going to happen the party does not know it so i don't buff, if my thief can not scout (i play often tactics mod where so many enemies can see trough invisibility so it is impossible to scout safely) i also don't pre buff.

    but in vanilla it is possible to spot most of the enemies without being spotted, so the party can impose his tactic on the enemy instead of playing defensively.
    a mage and some helpers? take away the mage fast then the helpers are not a big problem.

    a dragon? some summons to suck the breaths and buffets, sending them one by one to avoid that a single buffet sends them all away at once, while the party try to stay away from the buffeth or breath zone. i spread all the party and summons around the dragon instead of packing everybody on his front and i try to have control on who is targeted by the big lizard, as soon as he target one of my toons i make him retreat as i send a summon to draw the dragon's attention. and until he is protected by his stoneskin the work of the fighters and summons is only to distract him, giving to the mages the chance to breach him and to the druid the chance to cast on him some insect spell.
    then, when he is breached, maybe doomed and greater malisoned, and not before, it is the moment to charge.

    beholders? i try to spot them, then my thief sets traps, my mages are ready with some fireball or skull trap and my ranged attackers have some poisoning darts or bolts. then i send someone to draw the beholders attention so they follow him trough the traps carpet while the mages drop their spells in a way that the beholders are hit, but not the toon that has draw their attention, and the ranged attackers drop their poisoning ammo. usually the beholders don't survive enough to do enough damage and anyway they see each party member only for a short time.

    some strong fighters? be ready to weaken them with ranged attacks as they close the distance, have your thief invisible and ready to backstab someone as soon as they come near.
    and the mages can use some web or grease to avoid that all the warriors come close at the same time and as soon as someone get webbed they take him out with MMM as against a webbed person there is no to hit roll.

    those are only few examples of the many possible tactics. the key is control of the battlefield, in a proactive way, and doing this only few buffs are really needed. as long as the player is able to control who is attacked physically and who has to suck the enemy spells.

    and this works both with parties heavy in magic and with parties that are more oriented towards physical damage and rely on AC and HP to survive. with a balanced party it works even better.
    the tactics can vary according to the party composition but the concept is the same. not to talk that every player has his unique style and his preferred tactics.

    but if too many buffs are needed probably there is something wrong in the tactical approach.

  • ReedleReedle Member Posts: 13
    Yeah, I admittedly don't usually have the patience to play as tactically as you and many others though I've gotten better. Liches? Send in a tank protected from magic. Dragons? Arrows of disspelling always work for me, along with a few lower MRs and Breaches, ( and then blindness and a charge). Beholders? I love walking into a whole nest with the Shield of Balduran or Cloak of Mirroring. I am a God! Why miss out on that? Lol. BUt I had no problems with Beholders or dragons on CR in IWD without any superpower shields. It was being swarmed early in the game by stronger opponents than I was used to that caused me to haste (and thus sleep) so often and pre-buff so extensively. It levelled the playing field to the Normal level, I think, but irritated me because it also slowed it down and became repetitive with the pre-buffing and sleeping. That's why I asked my original BG2 because if that was the experience for others, I didn't really want to play it on CR. But I've been persuaded! And those are great tactics, by the way! Thank you!

  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 11,734
    edited February 4
    I'd hold off on SCS until you're comfortable with the game and know what the majority of spells and abilities do. While the lowest difficulty SCS is technically core-rules equivalent, the nature of the smarter ai and larger pool of abilities will trip you up without a solid knowledge of the game. Especially in BG2.

  • ReedleReedle Member Posts: 13
    I play solely on a tablet so don't have any mods at all and won't be getting any. The only one I would really like is the one that adds dialogue between NPCs. I leave at least a year between play throughs because if the game is too familiar to me I'll be bored at the outset. I think some gamers play over and over and that's why they know so much, but some like myself would be unable to do that. So unless a mod adds to the story - like dialogue - and not solely stats or extra spells/classes, I don't really feel the lack of mods.I

    What does SCS stand for and what is it exactly. I see it referred to all the time with no explanation given.

  • ReedleReedle Member Posts: 13
    By the way, I decided to try core rules last night in BG1 cause I haven't played it in more than a year. In one night I had cleared down to Nashkel without hardly sleeping and certainly not hasting cause I don't even have a sorceror! This was just an experiment but I'm glad I did it.

    So I think my advice to newer players would be: most should start on Normal because there is so much to learn. If new to D&D rules and not a gamer, like me, play your second game on Normal for confidence if nothing else, especially if you really struggled through your first play through. (And play a Fighter type or Fighter Cleric the first time through not a Wild Mage like I did!). You can always make things harder mid-game. But by your third play through, you should be playing on Core Rules or things are going to start to seem too easy. I don't regret playing four games on Normal over a five year stretch. I loved breezing through the last game. But I also didn't learn anything new in it and that gets boring fast. I am going to try all the tactical and choice decisions suggested on this thread a year from now when I play BG2 again so thanks all!

  • ithildurnewithildurnew Member Posts: 226
    edited February 5
    SCS needs no explanation. It simply is, and it is good.

    On a more serious note, brand new players might want to wait a bit before trying it, as @ThacoBell suggested.

  • monicomonico Member Posts: 564
    edited February 5
    A bit late to the party, but I had the same problem as you for years, relying too heavily on haste.
    Nowadays, I never use it anymore because of the fatigue.
    I have found that the Slow spell is a perfect replacement:
    Although it only affects 1 battle, instead of carying you potentially for 2 or 3 fights in a dungeon, there is no fatigue.
    instead of the +1 APR per party member you gain from Haste, Slow divides enemy APR by 2 (often means lowering their APR by 1, but could be more), so spells are already even.

    But on top of that:
    - enemies move slower, allowing for better field control, hit & run tactics,
    - they regen twice as slow (rarely useful, apart from trolls/werewolves, but still there)
    - they suffer -4 thac0, so they hit your tanks less often
    - they suffer -4 AC, so your damage dealers hit more often.
    - oh and enemies almost always fail their saving throw since it comes with a -4 penalty

    All in all, I find that Slow has become my haste replacement, and I would always memorize one over haste.

  • MaurvirMaurvir Member Posts: 891
    ThacoBell wrote: »
    I'd hold off on SCS until you're comfortable with the game and know what the majority of spells and abilities do. While the lowest difficulty SCS is technically core-rules equivalent, the nature of the smarter ai and larger pool of abilities will trip you up without a solid knowledge of the game. Especially in BG2.

    This is no joke, btw. I am doing my first SCS run in BG2, and my party is getting hammered like a bent nail. I thought I knew BG2's magic and combat system pretty well, but I'm still running into fights that my party is unprepared for.

    Of course, the only reason this is causing heart burn is because I was also trying to do a minimal reload run. Needless to say, it hasn't been one...

  • ithildurnewithildurnew Member Posts: 226
    edited February 6
    I too thought I knew BG2's combat/magic etc fairly well after several playthroughs, looking up quite a few online articles/websites (the ol' BG2 Spells Reference is still around) etc. BA in BG2 earned.

    Then I discovered tactics mods and SCS. New learning curve, I adjusted and learned a lot more, eventually becoming versed enough to regularly enjoy minimal reload trilogy runs on Core difficulty with SCS. Eventually I installed aTweaks as well, and found out demons, elementals, and even mephits could pwn me if unprepared. MA in BG2 earned.

    Then I saw people like the legendary BH_Alesia taking their characters on solo no reload BG1/SoA/ToB/Ascension/SCS runs... often barely taking any damage at all through the entire run with some of her characters. Another level of education - her posts on the old BW forums were eye opening (here's a sample archived post ). I'm still trying to get to the point where I can maybe come close to her feats someday... and obtain my PhD in BG2.

    Post edited by ithildurnew on
  • gorgonzolagorgonzola Member Posts: 3,646
    yep, alesia, thetruth on sorcerer's place forums and very few others are on an other level, well above the one of the experienced players.

    probably some other people that participate at this forums are at the same level, each one with his specific field of competence in which he excels, but are very few.

    this game can be won by a novice, but to really master it is at least as hard as becoming a ranked chess player.

  • gorgonzolagorgonzola Member Posts: 3,646
    edited February 7
    about switching to ScS early my reason to don't suggest it is that it somehow changes the game's mechanics.
    while honing your skills with tactics you work inside the vanilla game mechanics, even if the enemies cheat, to play with scs or other mods that alter the game mechanics is actually playing a different game, very similar, but different.

    and i think that a player should first become proficient with the vanilla system, and there are many ways to do it, tactics, but also rolling mediocre stats, playing classes you are not familiar with, trying solo and no reload runs and on and over.
    and, overly important, he should try to not rely on every item or tactic that makes the battles too easy, ie no green scrolls to fight liches unless you use a solo not berseker and not mage *, no shield of balduran, no RoV + improved alacrity and so on.

    then, when the vanilla system is somehow mastered, even if not at the grand mastery level of alesia like gods, he can try scs or also the other mods that alter the vanilla mechanics,

    and this is only my humble personal take on the thing.

    *edit: in my early years of playing, without an internet connection, so without getting hints from other players, i never discovered the anti kangaxx use of the green scrolls as well of the use of spell immunity, still in almost every vanilla run my party was able to kill him.
    most of the times i had to use a scroll to get back some imprisoned party member, but, with some reloads needed, i often prevailed.
    to beat the vanilla demilich with the scrolls or SI, once you know how to do it, is one of the easiest thing in the game, to do it without them you really have to learn how to use at best your summons, to position the party members, to be in complete control of the battlefield so charname and the key npcs, the ones that can actually damage him, don't get imprisoned.

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