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Kensai/Mage strongest class? Also Dual wield Crom+Flail of Ages > Everything else?

Restarted all the games recently, NWN1, IWD:EE, now it's time for BG. (I like to bounce between games every day or two, don't judge me lol. I just pick up from the save and continue on the journey.)

From what I remember, Kensai/Mage was the strongest character I'd ever seen, and I think the Crom Faeyr+Flail of Ages dual wield combo was the best weapons I'd ever seen.

The reason for this post is I'd like to know if you guys think anything is stronger than Kensai/Mage that isn't a Sorcerer, and whether there's a different weapon combo you think is superior.

For this discussion the character would start in BG;EE, through Dragonspear and into BG2 and Throne of Bhaal. And the level breakdown I think was Kensai 13 rest mage. If I'm right, that should still give access to level 9 spells right? Could be wrong. If i'm wrong, maybe it was Kensai 9? It's been a good 5+ years here.



  • SillyfishSillyfish Member Posts: 17
    That's a strong argument for dropping Kensai in favor of another fighter kit. Do you have any suggestions?

    Regarding weapon selection - I simply enjoy having a planned set of weapons for the end game, even if that means for the entirety of BG1 and SoD (and most of BG2) I'm not using them.

    At this point I'd be happy if anyone has other suggestions for weapon combos other than Crom/FoA even if numerically they might not be as powerful.

    Again, any suggestions?

    Regarding party composition, that's again excellent advice. I know I want Viconia in there, but aside from that I thought I'd wing it. Haven't played Dorn before, sounds fun.

  • AmmarAmmar Member Posts: 1,146
    edited July 2019
    Berserker -> Mage is commonly regarded as a stronger dual-class than Kensai->Mage due to the extremely useful blanket immunities provided by Rage.

    Also, the Gnome Figher/Illusionist multiclass is more powerful in the long run due to getting HLAs for both classes, extra spell slots, shorty safety boni and also has the advantage of playing as a F/M consistently throughout the trilogy without long downtime or having to abuse scroll scribing.

    It is relatively hard to argue against CF/FoA though. Depending on your party composition it can be better to not build CF (as it costs a lot of str enhancing items). If you have high str already then Belm is still an extremely powerful offhand.

  • jmerryjmerry Member Posts: 1,187
    Other fighter kits? Berserkers are always a solid choice, since the rage ability grants some very nice defenses. Plain fighters are just fine too, if you'd rather use a bow or something.
    The other three fighter kits - wizard slayer, barbarian, and dwarven defender - are all unable to dual-class to mage. Barbarians can't dual-class, dwarven defenders can't be human, and wizard slayers can't cast spells (they lose the button).
    If you're willing to tinker a bit in EEKeeper or the like, dual-classing from plain fighter to a specialist mage becomes possible. Specialist mages do have additional stat requirements, so keep that in mind if you want it to be a "legal" build.

    Another weapon I'd suggest? Foebane. It's one of the most damaging weapons in the game, only beaten out by the Flail of Ages +5, the Club of Detonation +5, and the Staff of the Ram +6. Against its "bane" targets, it beats out even those. If you fix the bug (LMD trigger doesn't grant the temporary HP it should), it has some nice defensive properties. And on top of that, it's available quite early in ToB - just level 1 of Watcher's Keep and Saradush needed.
    For party-level planning, it's worth noting that there are a few weapon types that your companions likely won't use. None of the BG2 companions starts with even a single dot in flail or bastard sword proficiency, and only Sarevok has one in halberd proficiency - compared to his five in two-handed swords.
    You mentioned using Viconia and Dorn. Viconia has the standard cleric restrictions, and will eventually be proficient in practically everything because she has to spread her points around. If your protagonist isn't using the flail or hammer, she can (with a strength-boosting item in the flail's case). Dorn starts out specialized in two-handed swords and two-handed style, so it's natural to add halberds to that. His most likely endgame weapons are Ir'revrykal or the Ravager, switching to Firetooth for a ranged option.

  • jsavingjsaving Member Posts: 966
    edited July 2019
    I'd go with fighter/illusionist multi for the reasons @Ammar states. Losing fighter HLAs is a significant downgrade for fighter/mage duals and the save bonuses from being a gnome are helpful for a large chunk of the game.

    If dualing I agree that berserker would be the best choice, although the rage ability is much more useful for fighter/thieves than fighter/mages since its protections can be partially replicated with spell immunity.

    Post edited by jsaving on
  • Balrog99Balrog99 Member Posts: 6,615
    edited July 2019
    Don't forget you can dual from fighter at lower levels. Even a dual at level 3 gives you access to all weapon types, allows you to grandmaster in any weapon you want (I like Quarterstaff myself - now you can actually hit something with that Staff of Wizardry!), and gives you a little more survivability (24 HP's w/18 CON, and shield use) and a small THAC0 boost. Not too shabby if you want to play a human wizard to it's best advantage (especially if you have no qualms about Keepering in a specialist class).

  • Very_BigSwordVery_BigSword Member Posts: 200
    @Balrog reminds me of my first BG2 toon which I exported from a vanilla BG1 run - Fighter 3/Mage X dual with all proficiencies in long bow and two handed swords. Such a BG1 build but served me very well in SoA and I finished the game with that character. Sucked against Clay Golems though :/ Disappointed about the quality of BG2 longbows too!

  • Balrog99Balrog99 Member Posts: 6,615
    @Balrog reminds me of my first BG2 toon which I exported from a vanilla BG1 run - Fighter 3/Mage X dual with all proficiencies in long bow and two handed swords. Such a BG1 build but served me very well in SoA and I finished the game with that character. Sucked against Clay Golems though :/ Disappointed about the quality of BG2 longbows too!

    Hmmm, you would have one pip from your wizard level 1. If you put it in quarterstaff you could at least hit a clay golem with that...

  • Very_BigSwordVery_BigSword Member Posts: 200
    edited July 2019
    Balrog99 wrote: »
    @Balrog reminds me of my first BG2 toon which I exported from a vanilla BG1 run - Fighter 3/Mage X dual with all proficiencies in long bow and two handed swords. Such a BG1 build but served me very well in SoA and I finished the game with that character. Sucked against Clay Golems though :/ Disappointed about the quality of BG2 longbows too!

    Hmmm, you would have one pip from your wizard level 1. If you put it in quarterstaff you could at least hit a clay golem with that...

    Absolutely true but it was my first BG2 run so I didn't know about the golems. I can't remember where I put the wizard proficiency point but since it was in BG1, probably "Missile" for darts and slings :'(

    If I were to do a fighter mage dual now it would be a berserker or kensai Lvl 9/Mage Lvl X for sure, it is the best bang for buck with the relatively short down time esp with BG2 scroll scribing. I've never done the Kensage before but Kiefsai was fun back in the day.

  • dunbardunbar Member Posts: 1,570
    edited July 2019
    I know this discussion is in the BG1 section but as we seem to be talking about BG2 as well I think it's worth pointing out that if you want a low level dual in BG2 you can create your character in BG1, play until level 2 (or whatever) and dual, save the character, copy and paste the cha. and bio. files from your BG1 'characters' folder to the BG2 one and then start a new game in BG2 with that character (it really takes very little time to make up the 'lost' XP).

  • BalladBallad Member Posts: 198
    My last complete playthrough was with a Gnomish Fighter/Illusionist, and it was the most stupidly powerful Charname I've ever played. In ToB, with your 0 base THAC0, Warrior HLA's, 9 level mage spells and HLA's, there's very little that can stop you unless you get bored and start playing poorly - which is almost inevitable when playing an overpowered character. But I digress.

    Dual-builds like the Kensage owe their popularity to SoA times when they indeed outshined their multiclass counterparts. I remember how those old character creation guides in 2001 were head over heels for all things dual class. When ToB came out, the power balance shifted towards multiclass characters. With the Enhanced Editions, this is even more so, since many people now start their playthroughs at Candlekeep instead of Chateau Irenicus. Most of the better dual class builds require you to play an underpowered single class character through BG1/SoD, which in gameplay terms is half the length of the game.

    Now, a lot of people still go through with dualing because of the prestige aspect. It's such a cool feeling to invest so much time and effort in fleshing out a character. However, from a pure fun/ease of use perspective, I'd take a multi over a dual any day.

  • DreadKhanDreadKhan Member Posts: 3,859
    Berserker Mage is very strong over all, and is probably a little better vs tough foes, at the small cost of being slightly worse at dealing damage, but being maybe a tad more dependent on defensive items, but it should be noted that vs annoying-ass Beholders, the Berserker Mage is a world away better, being immune to nearly their whole suite of abilities with Rage and the shield, while a kensage has to scramble to win, like a pitiful WORM! *ahem*

    Honestly, I strongly agree that F/I is a very, very great build from Lvl 1/1 to the end of ToB, it's always powerful, and only maybe falls behind briefly when the dual classes regain their fighter levels, but after a few levels, the F/I is much more competitive THAC0 wise, and with many other perks, such as specialization in bows, something that's a godsend in BG1, and you can easily afford to start with spec in Longbows, and as soon as you can buy the +1 composite, you're set for BG1 offensively really, nabbing a hard hitting bow for very cheap, which is often a bigger asset than Berserker Rage, being able to fire crazy-powerful arrows in BG1 with spec is very nice IMHO. Heck, a Swashbuckler with only proficiency in shortbow is very effective in BG1, thats how good archery is, and the F/I can do it in BG1.

    In BG2, the F/I start to shine a bit brighter, as it gains an extra slot of the highest level spells, and less importantly also the lower level ones. They get enough spells to compete with a pure mage IMHO, even though they'll be a few levels behind. In BG2, you can easily spec in whatever weapons you want, and could have taken spec in another 2 things beyond bows IIRC, which is pretty great. You can use the +3 longbow as soon as you can buy it, but I think you do find better ones out their eventually, but this is enough to be viable, and lets someone else use the good shortbows potentially.

    In ToB, you're a caster that has access to fighter HLAs, a very nasty combination including IH and Crit Strike to slice through whatever is in your way, or even go all out and single weapon style the FotA and use GWW to burn through enemies like a hot wind. The F/I ends up being by far the best fighter, despite lacking GM. He also nabs shorty saves, which are amazing, and will start out likely with 19 int, which is helpful for a specialist wizard IIRC when scribing scrolls with failure. I think 19 is unlimited spell book too, which a human would nab too in BG1 potentially, but the F/I start with it. Use of various Gauntlets to boost offensive output helps offset their disadvantages vs a Kensai, and eventually their THAC0 will outweigh the Kensai bonus', and even surpass them I think. The Berserker still has his useful immunities, but the F/I has a good save, which helps a ton.

  • KelsperKelsper Member Posts: 2
    edited August 2019
    Are we talking solo, or in a full party? It seems like you'll have the latter.

    While my recommendation for a solo or a small party would be the F/I, the slower mage progression can be significant, especially for experience required for level 9 spells (3.25/4.25M for 9/13 duals as opposed to 6M for multis) in larger groups. Then again you're assumedly in a group with a full spellcaster regardless.

    I recently did play a F/I solo through the series and I would say it was the most powerful character I've played. For weapons, I used longswords (Varscona + Harrower in BG1, Namarra + Daystar for early BG2 - Daystar did remain useful), flails (Flail of Ages) and eventually warhammers (Crom Faeyr), and mostly offhanded Belm with Flail of Ages or Crom Faeyr.

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