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All this talk about supposedly "useless" companions...

... annoys me. Have you read Haeravons walkthrough? I found it very useful in terms of tactics and secrets, but boy does he like to ramble on about how useless several companions are. I really can't understand this, and here's why:

When ee came out, I finished the whole saga (except sod) for the first time in many years. I wanted to play a party using several of the less popular characters. If I remember correctly, the party was like that:

Bg 1:
Charname dual-sword wielding cavalier
Can't remember the sixth member... Kivan maybe

Bg 2:
Haer dalis

And guess what? In both games, the party turned out to be incredibly powerful in the end.

A few thoughts on the party members:

- I was especially impressed with faldorn. Good dex, ankheg armor, iron skin and other buffs made her surprisingly tanky. She used her sling and, with a buff, her club well. Her spells start underwhelming, but boy does that change late game... insect plague almost trivialized late game.
- I found garrick incredibly useful as well. Not a powerhouse by any means, just damn useful. He sang his songs, he used his fast level progression to torment our enemies with high level magic missiles and dispel magic, he bombarded anything in sight with his many wands of fireball, he looked at all the blue-colored stuff we found and told us that it was a halberd+2, and when he had nothing better to do, he peppered enemies with his army scythe, loaded with nasty bolts of biting. It was awesome.
- Xan was adorable, and very powerful. His debuffs were tge bane of many of our strongest enemies. And what a great sight it was when Xan, looking not really happy about it, wrecked havoc on our sleeping/confused/held enemies with his moonblade.
- Safana rambled a lot of nonsense but did everything a thief has to do well. I enjoyed using darts and ninja tos for a change with her.

Same procedure in bg2.
- Anomen just became incredibly powerful with 5 pips in flails and his high level spells. He was a great caster and a great fighter and basically ready to handle anything the game threw at him. My female paladin was so impressed by this that she even tried out his magic flail when they were camping out in the wilderness! Ahem.
- Valygar was not as tanky as ano, but man did he become deadly. He dual wielded many, many weapons with great skill, he went in for deadly backstabs, and his magical abilities were pretty useful.
- Haer dalis: similar to garrick, but more battle oriented. He developed surprisingly deadly melee prowess over the game, combined with the lore, the magic, the song, he was a damn valuable party member. Plus, he gave anomen one of the meanest insults I have ever seen in the saga! He became a little underwhelming in Tob though, needed some micro to stay alive... might have to try a few new end game tactics with him.
- Nalia was just another, slightly weaker imoen. Which means that she competently handled all our magic needs, had fun with gesens bow and liked to sip thief potions when fumbling around chests.
- Ahhhh, Cernd... Now he is the real deal. Weird stats, weird personality, unpopular kit. But still, he was awesome. But he required work. The werewolf thing was useful in the first half of soa, later not do much. What did continue to be great were his 18 wisdom and his spells. Late game his stats and inability to wear armor weren't an issue any more with all the powerful items at his disposal, he used several powerful quarter staves to dish out damage from behind if need be, and he was a great help for the party. A caster powerhouse, but not a beginners character.

So there you have it. I believe that EVERY npc can be very, very good if used correctly...with the exception of bg 1 rasaad.

Do you agree? What are your experiences with less popular npcs?



  • DinoDinDinoDin Member Posts: 851
    Garrick is highly underrated imo. I think he pairs very very well with a party that has a specialist mage (Xzar, Xan, Dynaheir). He can get you any of those spells you missed, and the gear for a bard is incredible and much of it available early -- Chain +2, crossbow of speed, short sword +2. Or you can go axe and the buckler from Friendly Arm. The thing about BG1 is that it's almost more powerful to have a bard who can make decent attacks but also use wizard-only items than it is to have a wizard who has a crummy attack.

    Xan too, imo, is also solid. Missing out on web is huge, but fireball isn't all that strong in reality. And his specialization helps a lot in terms of getting better rolls on Sleep, Charm, Emotion, all of which are, in a way, much stronger than fireball. Dagger is the best Wiz proficiency too, giving you melee and ranged without penalty. His weapon too helps prevent deaths from fireballs.

    As for BG2, I think it's quite common to think Haer Dalis is overpowered actually. His ability to be tanky, his ability to get lots of attacks well before whirlwind. I also find Valygar immensely useful, easy stealth scouting, especially if you rig him to backstab with quarterstaff and then switch to dual wield. Valygar is super important, imo, on no reload/limited reload runs. I think Valygar is preferable to Minsc, from a power gaming standpoint.

  • DinoDinDinoDin Member Posts: 851
    Valygar is solid, btw, with the grandmaster armor you get early in ToB. He can still stealth with it. If you've gotten all the boots of speed, you can get a fully movement speed boosted party by then.

  • jsavingjsaving Member Posts: 895
    edited July 7
    lemarin83 wrote: »
    I found it very useful in terms of tactics and secrets, but boy does he like to ramble on about how useless several companions are. I really can't understand this
    Overall I think you make a good point. Every companion can be useful if properly built, each can be powerful in their own way, and it is 100% possible to finish the game with whatever set of NPCs you choose. Why anyone would label some companions "useless" is hard to understand.

    However, I would add two thoughts. First, even a companion who "can be very good if used correctly" may not turn out to be best-in-slot for anything. People don't always clearly distinguish between those concepts and my sense is that perfectly serviceable companions like Faldorn and Valygar sometimes get labeled useless because better options are available.

    The other thing I'd mention is that, for the most part, the joinable NPCs in BG1/BG2 are quite a bit weaker than what you'd get rolling a party from scratch. Nearly every NPC in the game would be better if they had a different multi/dual class mix and some super-strong combinations like FM/FI/FMT go entirely unrepresented. My guess is that too causes people to label companions "useless" even though their only crime is to be not-quite-strong-enough.

    Sounds like you're having a great time with your "unusual" party composition and I wish you all the best with that.

    Post edited by jsaving on
  • monicomonico Member Posts: 564
    I'm not sure what is meant by "unpopular" team that you made.

    I wasn't under the impression that any of your companions (except maybe Garrick) was unpopular.

    To me, the problem with NPCs in BG1 is that some of them become available too late (Alora, Quayle, Tiax, Skie, arguably also Coran, Eldoth, Faldorn, Yeslick), by that time your party is already set and probably has got quite some XP under their belt, and there would be too much of a gap to take the new companions.
    Plus, they would probably never get to the XP cap, unless you rushed the main storyline to get to them before exploring the wilderness.

  • jsavingjsaving Member Posts: 895
    edited July 7
    A fan poll on this showed *huge* popularity differences across BG1/BG2 companions. Minsc, Imoen, Jaheira, Jan, Edwin, and Viconia were way ahead of the other companions in terms of favorability with Korgan, Kagain, Mazzy, Keldorn, Tiax, and Aerie falling into the moderately well-liked category. No one else from the series received more than a handful of votes, though of course being popular is not the same thing as being effective.

    Post edited by jsaving on
  • DinoDinDinoDin Member Posts: 851
    TBH, the only companion I find counter-productive, or objectively bad, to include is Rasaad in BG1. At the area and level you're going to be when he's recruitable, he just becomes something of a huge chore if added to the party. He's terrible at the frontline, but has a speed boost meaning you'll have to babysit him when exploring the wilderness areas. And there is a lot of exploring of wilderness areas at this stage of the game! And it's a long time before you can get the boots of speed to offset this and be able to move the whole party without constant micromanagement.

    And the upside to adding him just isn't strong. He's not a great ranged fighter. He doesn't have access to many spell-like abilities as he will in BG2. His strongest aspect, is arguably in the role of a two-hander damage dealer. His fists seem to have the same range as two handers and he can hit hard. But he's still outclassed in this by a number of other NPCs, even from the same area such as Minsc and Dorn. Some people argue he's a great mage-killer or whatever, and maybe that's true on SCS. But in the base game, I find any mildly skilled archer to be much better at this.

    I suppose he could work with something like a barbarian or some other speed boosted protagonist, who is tanky. But, as it is, Rasaad is one of the few BG1 NPC's I actively avoid including specifically for combat related reasons.

  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 11,122
    @DinoDin Have you tried using Relair's Mistake with him? He works surprisingly well as a polymorphed wolf.

    I will admit that you can only make so effective though. Monk is THE Magikarp class, and the range of BG1 is not kind for him. When I take him in BG1, its because I love his character and writing,

  • MaurvirMaurvir Member Posts: 687
    Monks are ridiculously weak until they get to higher levels. However, when they do, they become powerhouses. Balthazar is a monk, after all, and believe me, that was a tough fight.

    Rasaad is terrible in BG1 because he never achieves a sufficiently high enough level to pull off those power moves. In BG2, he is finally starting to get close, but even then, he doesn't hold his own until well into the game.

    Mages at least get MM, making them useful while they are building up. Monks only get their fists, staves, and harsh language.

  • ilduderinoilduderino Member Posts: 593
    ThacoBell wrote: »
    @DinoDin Have you tried using Relair's Mistake with him? He works surprisingly well as a polymorphed wolf.

    I will admit that you can only make so effective though. Monk is THE Magikarp class, and the range of BG1 is not kind for him. When I take him in BG1, its because I love his character and writing,

    I really like his character and quest in BG, sadly I feel his quest jumps the shark in BG2 just when powerwise he is coming into his own

  • DinoDinDinoDin Member Posts: 851
    edited July 8
    Just to emphasize, the biggest issue is Rasaad's movement speed boost. Without that, he'd be a perfectly acceptable if mediocre fighter-type. But the speed boost means he's a somewhat squishy character that, without constant micromanagement, ends up at the front of every encounter.

  • jsavingjsaving Member Posts: 895
    I have to say I'm not personally a fan of his at all. In BG1 he is quite weak and squishy compared to other front-liners like Minsc, while in BG2 the writing for his quest is so abominable that I cringe while going through it. I would agree he's a strong party member in ToB though.

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