So far I am about mid-way through IWD:EE and I thought I'd share some findings which may be of use to others. I am a veteran with BG, but IWD I am rusty with.
I don't know your playstyles, so I can only speak for myself with the following. If someone has a similar playstyle, then they might find this post of value.
First thing's first - picking the party:
Most kits in the EE version are fine (such as Avenger, Beastmaster, Skald, etc), while others are so broken that I actually consider picking them to be a form of cheating (sorcerer is the most obvious culprit - IWD was never made for a sorcerer and is a generally arcane-light game. Sorcerers get spells that a normal mage would not have access to at the point in the game when the sorcerer would get them - if at all. Indeed, if a sorcerer never existed and a fan made a mage in a mod that worked like a sorcerer, it would be considered powergaming to the extreme form).
Thus, I picked all unkitted vanilla classes, as follows:
- Human Bard
- Dwarf Fighter
- Gnome Fighter/Cleric
- Half-Elf Ranger/Cleric
- Human Druid
- Elf Fighter/Mage/Thief
This is 10 classes. With XP split among so many, you may think the game is slow-going. I also don't have a pure caster, which may look like an issue on paper. It isn't. Let's work from the bottom-up:
Covers lots of roles, and the roles change as needed. Very versatile.
As mentioned, this is not an arcane-heavy game. You don't find lots of arcane magic scrolls, and if you have a pure mage, they often have spell slots long before they have spells to fill those slots with! No point having level 6 slots (or whatever) if you only have up to level 4 spells (or whatever) in your spellbook. Thieves are the same - they only have 2 skills which are musts (find traps/pick locks). After you get these skills to 100, then what? A pure thief is a waste of a class. Thus, I have bundled these two utility classes into one character who progresses very nicely and is an amazing archer (due to the fighter aspect). His mage spells are always just on par with the advancement of the game (and the back-up caster, the bard, is the same). Find traps and pick locks are at 100 midway through Dragon's Eye. His archery skills are good and he lands a lot of kills from afar. Set Traps is next up, as pickpockets is handled by bard and scouting is handled by the C/R.
Amazing AOE offensive caster and summoner.
I have two other divine classes in the party for healing, so the Druid only has a bit of healing spells, while the rest are offensive magic (especially AOE), and summons. In a pinch, she can change shape and hold her own in melee if caught out alone. The Druid in IWD really is awesome. Combine the Druid's insect swarm with the cleric's raise undead, and the mage's web, and you have a total lockdown of the enemy (the undead are not affected by the insects so they fight just fine while the enemy gets bitten and held constantly). The rest of your party just stands back and hucks arrows/axes/bullets at the enemy, providing support as needed.
In fact, using the above tactic (plus the druid's spike growth, another amazing AOE), I beat Yxunomei without a single party member even getting hurt, never mind killed.
Also, Goodberries kick ass in IWD.
This class is really good. At the start of the game, acts much more like a cleric, but as the game progresses, the ranger aspect really shines. She can hold her own in combat, and buffs the party before a major conflict. Also dispels (slow poison, cure disease, free action, etc). Is the party scout, and once you get Kaylessa's armor, you no longer need to worry about armor class. In the earlier levels, either the R/C or F/C can turn undead, while you still have access to a healer with the one who isn't.
Awesome class. Similar to the R/C, the F/C has access to even more spells (due to the neutral alignment I picked as opposed to the C/R's mandatory good one), but covers the same role in the cleric aspect - healer, buffer, and dispeller. Can't scout, but he can tank, and he also summons skeletons.
Tank. Damage dealer. All-around badass. Has one job and does it superbly well. Leads kills by a mile ahead of the second (F/M/T) and third (C/R).
This class is a slow garden of growth. It is nice to have a bard for the bonuses through song, but it just gets better and better as the game goes along. By the time level 11 hits, you no longer need to worry about healing spells except in emergencies, as everyone regens thanks to the song. In fact, the level 11 song with the Druid's spike growth means you can send your fighter in and not worry. The song will keep his health up while the spikes slowly whittle down the enemy. The bard is ID on a stick, pickpocket (when you need), and a support caster means that the bard helps everyone else to shine. Truly a superb class.
The bard works well with everyone, the Druid works amazingly with the Clerics and the bard, and the C/R and F/C can frontline with the fighter as well as perform other duties. The F/M/T can do a bit of everything.
I like to have lots of variety in my party. I like everyone to be able to perform multiple roles, and, aside from the fighter, everyone does exactly that (the pure fighter is really necessary though for the high HP, damage dealing, and tankiness). There isn't a single character here who does just one thing. They are all mixtures of summoners/healers/supports/buffers/debuffers, and so forth.
In fact, if you were to ask me how to strengthen the party, I would say change the pure fighter to a fighter/druid, perhaps. MAYBE. You would lose out on some tankiness, but would have more versatility (can never have too much). Also, the pure-Druid would become an Avenger for even more improvement, since Avenger is the best Druid kit. I may play it through again with these changes or some others. Otherwise, the party is perfect.
All in all, a great fun party to play. You literally ALWAYS have options. There are always get out of jail cards and tricks up your sleeve. So much healing, so much buffs and summons and AOE damage/control.
This is the most fun party I have ever played, and will probably run through it with BG after I am done with IWD. You really see the skills of your team advance and progress, and the role one of them serves at the start is not necessarily the same all the way through. It's not the party for someone who wants instant rewards. You've got to earn them. You see the growth over time until they are WTF levels of powerful and you didn't even realise when exactly it happened. It's a true party for the storytelling RP adventurer.
Other combinations that are similar
The structure here is pretty simple:
2 x cleric (for awesome buffs and defensive utility)
1 x druid or shaman (for awesome summons and offensive AOE utility)
A party of 3-4 classes that can heal is stupidly difficult to take down.
1 x thief/mage (always roll these classes up into a multiclass with some other class)
1x frontliner (a fighter or fighter/druid with ironskins (eventually!) would be best)
1 x bard to support everyone and perform a tonne of utility duties
Thus, with roughly the above structure, the following example parties would be very similar (using unkitted, thus playing IWD how it was meant to be played):