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New Full Playthrough Suggestions?

sdb92sdb92 Member Posts: 4
Have been lurking the forums for a while, finally signed up

Bought this game on my series x a while back on sale (absolutely loved this game as a kid, watched my dad play all the time, didn't understand the game mechanics in my early years though lol) Recently decided it was time to take a trip down nostalgia road and am loving it just as much as I remember being a kid all those years ago!

Have messed around briefly with a few different builds (Archer, Fighter/Cleric, Sorcerer). I do like all of these classes, but I know there are companions who can fill these roles if I want any of them.

I want to find myself a build for an entire Playthrough of all the games. I think I have narrowed it down to

1) Blade - admittedly I do not know much about Bard's in this game but I have read they can do a little bit of everything? I do like the jack of all trades idea. Is this sort of the good at everything, but great at nothing class of the game?

2) Swashbuckler -> mage - although I hate being forced to play human if I want to dual class this is the one that interests me most. I don't know why but the Swashbuckler kit has always interested me. I'm not into the sneaky backstab role, I do prefer being a bit more on the frontline. Am I correct that you still get all the other perks of being a thief besides being able to backstab? I would do a straight swash build so I could pick a different race, but I feel like dualing to mage is probably more ideal in the long run?

3) Dwarven Defender - I always end up being the tank in most RPG's/MMOs. My only concern is I would pretty much just be a meatshield the entire time and get bored of this class, unless there is more to it that I'm missing? Only reason I'm not 100% sold on this class is because I do like to have some utility.

I plan on rounding my party out based on my main character choice. I am not a power gamer by any means, these days I just play when I can and enjoy the ride haha. Just looking for something I'll get the most fun out of.

TIA for any input or recommendations!

Comments

  • atcDaveatcDave Member Posts: 2,192
    A big thing to remember in the whole BG story-line is that your character is just one part of the team. So even if you find a warrior boring at times…. Well… You need a warrior. You, or Minsc, or Korgan, or Keldorn or whoever. You’ll want probably 2-3 tanks to block for the others.
    Truly, you can pick any class you want. I often build my main character based on my interpretation of a portrait! the character you choose will likely influence which NPCs you want to fill out your team.
    That is one of the reasons this game has so much replay value, is it can be made to work with any main character. And every change in the team changes the interaction between all the characters, it is an endlessly fascinating dynamic.

    Now for all that, the easiest character to learn to play with is a warrior. Dwarven Defender and Paladin Cavalier make particularly strong choices.
  • atcDaveatcDave Member Posts: 2,192
    Oh I should add, I don’t want to assume how much you know (!), you WILL be controlling your whole team. So if you want to run a thief, you’ll have one of those. You want to run a mage? You can run one of those too.
  • jmerryjmerry Member Posts: 3,846
    I'm a fan of full-party themes myself; rather than planning a protagonist, plan the whole party. Of course, that requires some knowledge of the game as I'm planning for the companions I'll meet along the way. If you're new, or coming back after a long time away and many things forgotten, something less prescriptive like a roleplaying concept is probably a better idea.

    On those character classes you mentioned ...
    - Bards in general are something of a jack of all trades, yes. A very wide equipment selection, arcane spellcasting on par with a multiclass character (until very late, when it falls off), the pickpocket ability for some rogue shenanigans, and their unique song to buff the party. Blades add extra melee prowess to this (some daily self-buffs and the ability to master two-weapon fighting) at the cost of halving their base pickpocket ability, halving their lore bonus (but it's still higher than any non-bard, and you'll reach 100 to identify everything eventually), and weakening their song - vanilla bard song has unlimited range and upgrades its luck bonus at levels 15 and 20, while blade song has relatively short range and never improves its luck bonus. While you can be effective in melee, this requires the use of your spells for defense; you have poor HP and can't wear a helmet or heavy armor. Thus the melee prowess only applies in short bursts; you're extremely powerful while your buffs are active, and the rest of the time you stay back and provide support.
    - Swashbuckler -> mage: If you don't like playing a sneaky role ... a pure swashbuckler isn't really any better for you than a vanilla thief. A swashbuckler is not a tank. Sure, you get that AC and damage boost, but you still can't wear helmets or heavy armor, and you don't have a warrior's HP. Sneaking up on enemies to deliver powerful hits and get out before they can retaliate is still the way to go, because you'll go down fast if you ever let the enemies properly focus on you. Now, the dual class changes things. A mage can use their defensive spells to cover those weaknesses, and the swashbuckler -> mage slots into the same arcane melee archetype that the blade does - powerful and tanky in short bursts while your buffs are up, back-line support or skirmishing the rest of the time.
    - Dwarven defender: A true tank, and very focused on that role. Yeah, they're simple to play - just remember that you have a full party and can focus lots of attention on other characters. You'll probably have one or more pure warriors on the front lines anyway even if you pick a different class, because that's just the way the roles shake out. And as conventional heavy-armor tanks go, the dwarven defender is undoubtedly the best at it.
  • The_Baffled_KingThe_Baffled_King Member Posts: 147
    edited April 2023
    If you like being on the frontline, but you find a Fighter or Fighter kit a little boring, and you want your PC to be a class that none of the companions are, then I’d consider taking a Fighter/Mage multi or a Fighter kit –> Mage dual.

    Dwarven Defender

    As the game ends if your PC dies, I feel that the primary tank is slightly handicapped if it happens to be the PC. Otherwise, as others have said, a party needs a meatshield, and their identify matters only if you specifically want the PC to do more interesting stuff.

    Swashbuckler –> Mage
    sdb92 wrote: »
    Am I correct that you still get all the other perks of being a thief besides being able to backstab?
    More or less. No Backstab, no Sneak Attack and Crippling Strike (there’s a toggleable setting to swap Backstab for the other two abilities).

    Bear in mind that there aren't many companions in BG2, and three of them are Mage/Thief multis or duals. If you go that route, then you either restrict your options in BG2, or you end up with multiple similar characters. This guarantees redundant (ie wasted) Thief points, and multiple Thieves are bad if you don't like sneaking. Word of warning, though: if your Swash dual is the only Thief in your party, then you either need out-of-game knowledge about traps and locks, or you likely need to recruit another Thief after you dual, as a temporary companion to deal with traps and locks while the Swash's Thief skills are disabled.

    I partly agree and partly disagree with jmerry’s comments. Yes, the Swash is not a tank, and you get more out of the Swash if you attack from stealth then retreat. That said, a pure Swash’s bonuses give a heck of a boost mid-game in SoA and into ToB, Also, I don’t really rate Swash –> Mage as an arcane melee archetype. The minor perks of a few levels in Swashbuckler don’t counterbalance the fact that the THAC0 progression for Mages stinks to high heaven.

    Swash –> Mage is at its best when you take enough Thief levels to get the necessary points in Find Traps and Open Locks, then dual to Mage. The end result is a Mage that can do enough thieving that the party doesn’t need a Thief, with the Swash perks just giving a slight bump in AC and combat capability compared to a normal Thief –> Mage dual.

    Blade

    Bards are misleading. They have a bit of Thief, a bit of Fighter, and a bit of Mage, but the mix is heavily skewed towards Mage. Although they use a Thief template, the only Thief skill they get is Pick Pockets. From the Fighter, they only get the ability to use (almost) all weapons and to wear Chainmail. From the Mage, they get arcane spells, which is kind of all the class is about (note though that there are good Mage/Sorc magic items a Bard can’t use). From their own class, they get amazing Lore and their Bard Song.

    So, the Bard is best viewed as weaker Mage + Bard Song + a few extras. In fact, the Bard even has an advantage when casting spells that scale in power depending on the character level of the caster, as Bards gain levels far more quickly than Mages or Sorcerers (albeit that the Mage/Sorc gains access to new spell levels more quickly than the Bard).

    As for the Blade, it's much better at fighting than other Bards, but overall worse at it than Fighter multis. It certainly isn't a reliable front-liner, and I'd second everything that jmerry said about performing only in bursts via spell buffs and Blade abilities. It's also worth noting that its weak Bard Song can cease to matter in the late game because it gets overwritten if the High Level Ability upgrade to the Bard Song is chosen. Given that you mentioned the availability of companions to be consideration, I’m just noting that one of the BG2 companions is a Blade.

    Edit: Clarification that Blade is overall worse at fighting than Fighter multis, not worse in general (no comment on that front).
    Post edited by The_Baffled_King on
  • jmerryjmerry Member Posts: 3,846
    Also, I don’t really rate Swash –> Mage as an arcane melee archetype. The minor perks of a few levels in Swashbuckler don’t counterbalance the fact that the THAC0 progression for Mages stinks to high heaven.
    Yeah, on second thought, the Swashbuckler -> Mage dual is basically a Thief -> Mage dual with some bonuses and penalties that barely matter at all. There's a 15% spell learning penalty due to a bug, and that might be the biggest difference from the base class pair. At higher levels, you're a full mage with thief utility and a better weapon selection. Just like Imoen and Nalia, only you have the option of putting more levels into the thief side and choosing your skills.
  • WhereistheexitWhereistheexit Member Posts: 1
    Hey!

    I think this is my first post on the forum, but I wanted to give you some input.

    I'm seeing a LOT of good advice, but if you aren't an expert on 2nd edition, and you haven't played through the game yet I do have one big piece of advice.

    Mage/Cleric - Half-Elf

    You aren't going to be strong, not at all. You don't need to be though! This character is VERY useful because not only does it come with the most spell casting abilities of any class in the game, but it also has enough buffs to make even weaker character/class combo's more effective.

    Being able to use Haste/Chant/Bless/Defensive Harmony/Spirit Armor (multiple times on multiple people even)/Various Elemental Resistances is immense especially since you have enough casts to do this for nearly every battle with enough left over for healing and slow poison.

    With this single character combo, being a non-specialist mage, you have a character that can basically cast any non-Wild Mage/Druid spell in the game. Fighter/Mage/Cleric can't hit max spell casting unfortunately without modding.

    It would help to play a nerd too, max out wisdom and intelligence, blammo. You'll be able to pick and choose your character to do multiple play throughs as any alignment as well. I like to think that this is exactly what a person raised in Candlekeep would become as well. I mean they have basically the largest human/demi-human ran library in Faerun.

    This character gives you the ability to pick Dynaheir and Jaheira and have two mages and two clerics. Keep Imoen if you want, I like her, but you can't use her in SoD. I ended up doing basically every quest and swapped her out for Safana when I hit the level cap so I could use her as well in needed maxed out thief skills.

    You can pick practically any combination otherwise as well, and still have a really good chance on not having any issues with spell casting.

    Just one issue with this character, you'll never have more than one attack :persevere: minus the use of haste. It won't matter though since you can always be casting some sort of spell, and in the 2nd game use the infinite scrolls you could be scribing.

    The super specialized character classes like Swashbuckler etc etc can always be played around with in Black Pits if you need to practice a bit. Don't worry about going full Munchkin in their and reusing characters already geared (multiplayer and export to run like that). One you do it once to get the story you can really get a feel of each specialty class by redoing any match anytime you want as many times as you want.

    Sorry for my grammar, I think I typed faster than I can think.
  • Balrog99Balrog99 Member Posts: 7,367
    Aerie in SoA/ToB is a cleric/mage though, so if you're planning on bringing her along, you might want to try something else. I find a Cleric/Ranger to be pretty fun and unique, but I unfix the fix that prevents it from casting all druid spells. Another option would be Avenger with all the extra spells and shape changes. Imagine a druid that actually uses wild shape once in a while!
  • sdb92sdb92 Member Posts: 4
    Balrog99 wrote: »
    Aerie in SoA/ToB is a cleric/mage though, so if you're planning on bringing her along, you might want to try something else. I find a Cleric/Ranger to be pretty fun and unique, but I unfix the fix that prevents it from casting all druid spells. Another option would be Avenger with all the extra spells and shape changes. Imagine a druid that actually uses wild shape once in a while!

    I love the ranger class (I've been using an elf Archer, composite long bow and dual wield long swords had been a blast) and the idea of ranger/cleric sounds pretty cool to me, but I do play on console so I would have to use the kit as is. Would it still be as effective? I also just find the idea of a ranger not being able to use swords and restricted to cleric weapons unnatural lol, but I could probably get past that
  • BardsSuck_BardsSuck_ Member Posts: 133
    sdb92 wrote: »
    Balrog99 wrote: »
    Aerie in SoA/ToB is a cleric/mage though, so if you're planning on bringing her along, you might want to try something else. I find a Cleric/Ranger to be pretty fun and unique, but I unfix the fix that prevents it from casting all druid spells. Another option would be Avenger with all the extra spells and shape changes. Imagine a druid that actually uses wild shape once in a while!

    I love the ranger class (I've been using an elf Archer, composite long bow and dual wield long swords had been a blast) and the idea of ranger/cleric sounds pretty cool to me, but I do play on console so I would have to use the kit as is. Would it still be as effective? I also just find the idea of a ranger not being able to use swords and restricted to cleric weapons unnatural lol, but I could probably get past that

    As much as i love the ranger Aragorn stuff, rangers in this game are crap, really, its a crappy fighter, why not play fighter and get GrandMastery ? It feels so much rewarding. I tried play ranger and just feels underwhelming.
  • Balrog99Balrog99 Member Posts: 7,367
    sdb92 wrote: »
    Balrog99 wrote: »
    Aerie in SoA/ToB is a cleric/mage though, so if you're planning on bringing her along, you might want to try something else. I find a Cleric/Ranger to be pretty fun and unique, but I unfix the fix that prevents it from casting all druid spells. Another option would be Avenger with all the extra spells and shape changes. Imagine a druid that actually uses wild shape once in a while!

    I love the ranger class (I've been using an elf Archer, composite long bow and dual wield long swords had been a blast) and the idea of ranger/cleric sounds pretty cool to me, but I do play on console so I would have to use the kit as is. Would it still be as effective? I also just find the idea of a ranger not being able to use swords and restricted to cleric weapons unnatural lol, but I could probably get past that

    Without being able to ungimp the druid spells, you'd be left without the ability to cast higher than level 3 druid. Levels 1-3 are not very good for druidic magic unless you have access to Icewind Dale spells. It's not a gamebreaker, but not being able to summon nymphs, cast ironskins or cast insect swarm limit the potential (and the fun imho).
  • jmerryjmerry Member Posts: 3,846
    Yeah, a ranger/cleric doesn't have much to recommend it over a fighter/cleric in the standard rules. You get stealth, free dual-wielding, and a short list of spells you'll likely never use in exchange for slower warrior levels and a worse race selection. But hey, warrior priests are fine no matter how you get there, and there's plenty of room for non-optimal play in these games. If it's the concept you want, go for it.
  • DhariusDharius Member Posts: 657
    Agreed, the R/C always sounded good on paper, but the faster level progression of the F/C trumps it IMO.

    I've played a Cavalier in SoA and found it a bit overpowered (the bonuses against big bosses and practically no drawbacks), which was great :)

    Similarly a single class Sorcerer through SoA was rather easy, but I was very careful with my spell choices. Pick the 'wrong' spells and you could be in for a challenge ...

    (SPOILER) Personally I'd avoid thief/mage combinations as there are three NPCs with this combo to choose from in BG2 (not so many in BG1/SOD although potentially Imoen and Safana can dual class).

    Blades are not bad but as you already have Haer Dalis in BG2 and he has unique tielfing related bonuses I'd rather just pick him instead. When I have played bards I've chosen every version except blade, my favourite being the unkitted bard.


    At the moment I'm playing a human Cleric of Tyr hopefully through the trilogy for the first time, but it will take months at the rate that I play. At least for once I won't have to bring along Anomen, Aerie or Viconia (I need a break from them).

    I have a soft spot for the C/T combination as it allows you to bypass a lot of the otherwise "essential" NPCs (e.g. Jan, the clerics) and allowed for some of more unusual party members/member combinations that I wouldn't otherwise have space for (e.g. both Faldorn and Jaheira, or both Valygar and Minsc etc.)
  • sdb92sdb92 Member Posts: 4
    You guys are awesome. Really appreciate all the feedback. I think I have it narrowed down to 1 or 2 choices. Going to start a fresh run this weekend when I have some down time
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