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Over 200 hours in BG + BG2, and I'm still horrible at these games

So, I know the series is HARD, and you're expected to reload and try again unless you go for some very specific strategy that you already know it will work. But even considering that, I feel I'm terrible, and it's really frustrating because at this point I'm pretty sure there are things I'm not seeing.

To be more specific: right now I'm playing ToB for the first time, and I can't beat Ravager at all. And I don't think the problem is in my strategy once in combat, but maybe everything else, such as party composition, equipment and prepared spells.

My part consists of Mazzy (27), Minsc (24), Aerie (19), Neera (23), Imoen (23) and Charname (24, conjurer mage.) So, my first guess is that there simply isn't enough damage. During the fight, my main source of damage is Minsc, hitting only with gram the sword of grief +5 and while in berserk. My casters are mostly useless, except for Aerie. Everyone else might be able to dispel the boss and debuff him a bit, but fail most of the times. They can't do much more than that, since they miss.

In fact, missing and having low damage seem to be my two main issues. Notice I've never used a million traps to kill a boss (in fact, I've never used them) but it's not like I don't know some general tactics to play the game. The thing is, they don't work - my battles go for too long and I don't deal enough damage. Balthazar killed me like 10 times, and when I got him, I didn't even know how it happened.

I'm playing in core rules difficulty by the way.

Any suggestions, or ideas of what I'm doing wrong?



  • Grond0Grond0 Member Posts: 6,995
    jmerry wrote: »
    Basic stats on the enemy:
    The Ravager has about 600 HP, AC -12 including Dex, immunity to all elements, 90% magic resistance, and 75% physical resistance. Weapons need +4 enchantment to hit it. It's also immune to backstab, stun, sleep, polymorph, petrification, charm, fear, confusion, web, entangle, level drain, time stop, feeblemind, paralyzation, maze, imprisonment... practically everything. It regenerates 5 HP per second.
    What still gets through? Slow, if you can get through the magic resistance. Unlike every other disabling effect I can think of, Hold doesn't appear in the list. Magic damage works.

    Unless you've got a specific mod the Ravager does not regenerate. When originally being designed he did have regeneration, which is why you can still see that in his stats. However, that was never properly implemented in vanilla. I seem to remember there was discussion about whether BG2EE should correct that and it was decided not to as that could unbalance strategies people had used for years.

    I thought he is immune to hold, though I don't use near infinity to check directly. He's definitely vulnerable to blind though (not basic blindness as he's immune to all level 1 and 2 spells, but PW:blind works once his MR is down). Harm may also be a possibility, though I don't think I've ever tried that.

  • jmerryjmerry Member Posts: 2,092
    edited June 2020
    OK, on second look - yes, immune to hold. That immunity item has way too many effects on it, and I somehow skipped past hold in there. Looks like blind and slow effects are about the only disablers that can work.

    That's interesting to know about the regeneration effect not working - is the same true of Balthazar's regeneration?

  • Grond0Grond0 Member Posts: 6,995
    I think it is, though it's not so obvious in that combat as Balthazar has other healing options and I'm normally aiming to kill him quickly (while I might well have a much longer combat with the Ravager, while gently wearing him down).

  • gorgonzolagorgonzola Member Posts: 3,678
    As @Grond0 and @jmerry told there are many possible approaches to those battles, that are end game battles so not easy, but far from impossible to beat as long as you have some understanding on the magic system, the combat one and are able to use the items, some of them like the shield of reflection are situational, but life changers in those situations.

    i did not check it but possibly the cleric spell that sets the MR to the same percentage of the level of the cleric works with the ravager, your aerie is lev 19 and that spell, if he is not immune, as is intended to be used on the party works always. to bring ravager's MR from 90 to 19 with a single spell is a big plus, then add a pierce magic and he will have 0 MR.
    as he is immune to stun implosion does not work to freeze him, but is more damage that can be done if you go for the magic route.
    and CC is a very powerful spell in this battle as let you fire 3 HW in a round, just cast the CC only when the MR has been lowered or keep the one that has it pre set, maybe before resting, far so it does not trigger too early.
    sequencers with skull traps and triggers can be memorized before resting so your mages have more spells available then slots and allow to cast 3 spells in a round (it is even possible to fire a sequencer/trigger then set a CC in the same round to have 6 spells in the same round).
    every spell that does magic damage (ADHW, skull trap and MM) do damage to the bone blades that can be annoying.
    If only minsc seems to do damage probably there is something wrong in what the other toons use, mazzy should do it, but if ranged is the enchantment level of the ammo, not of the bow that counts, so she can only use gesen without ammo added as there are not +4 arrows, but there are +4 short swords, and with GWW and a good str item she can pack good damage with a +4 short sword. the same for the others, there are +4 bullets, even if mages don't shine as thac0, but aerie buffed does, and buffed she can be also a very good tank, as she can use her arcane protections to survive while she DW improved hasted for 4 apr with 2 good crushing weapons and 25 str, with thac0 as good if not better then the one of a ranger or fighter, and SI abjuration makes her impossible to dispel so her offensive and defensive buffs will stay on.
    she should do like 100 dmg round, and optionally her simulacrum (with a BBoD from scroll in a quick slot) even more, that even with the 75% physical resistance is something, like 25-50 dmg/round while she tank untouchable for 4 rounds every PFMW she can cast, so probably at least 12 rounds, that let her alone to deal 25*12=300 dmg, half of his whole health.

    the vanilla game can be very hard as you are learning to play it, but if there is people playing ScS + Item Revision + Spell Revision + LoB mode + maybe avoid summons and other things that in their opinion make the game to easy we can easily assume that vanilla is not hard at all, as long as you have learned how to play properly.
    the problem is that there is a lot to learn to become good strong players in this game, it is much more complex then most of the modern 3D RPG, a lot of knowledge is needed to master it.
    people that is playing it since 20 years ago is still learning new things about it every time they play or read the forums...

    what has completely changed my own perspective about the game was playing the first BG2 dungeon with tactics mod installed, if is only after doing it that i started to really learn how to play, even if i have still a lot of margin to improve, is something that i suggest to every player to do after some vanilla runs, to do it even if they don't plan to play the whole game with that mod and want to play with more modern ones like scs, it can be a life changer, at least it was so for me.

  • DinoDinDinoDin Member Posts: 1,425
    FWIW the Ravager is considered one of the tougher fights in the entire series, so don't feel bad that it's a challenge! Others have given advice here, so I just wanted to add something different.

    About the series challenge in general. Roughly speaking a party composition of 2 fighters, 2 divine casters, 2 arcane casters is ideal. With one half thief among them (doesn't have to be any better than Imoen for BG2/ToB). And among the divine casters 1 druid and 1 cleric is also ideal. The game tends to distribute gear in such a way as to help this kind of party composition. As well, I simply find it useful to have access to the full complement of spells/abilities. Aerie can obviously allow you to double dip somewhat, as can other multi/dual NPCs, so there is flexibility here.

    As you can see from others' suggestion, the Ravager is hard because he's highly magic resistant and your party is very mage heavy. Thus there's something of a fragility in this fight. As well the party lacks some tankiness, with really only Mazzy able to take on that role in a top-tier way. This isn't intended as a criticism, and certainly any party composition can win the game. But if you find you're struggling overall, it's worth thinking about this concept.

  • gorgonzolagorgonzola Member Posts: 3,678
    edited June 2020
    aerie, neera and imoen are WAY better then mazzy for tanking, PFMW and SI abiuration and there nothing the boss and the blades can do to damage them, and with 3-4 mages this mean that you can tank forever before the PFMW slots are all used.

    i agree that a balanced party 2 fighters, 2 divine casters and 2 arcane casters is strong and sound, but is not the better possible party, even if more then enough to beat the vanilla game.
    only 2 fighters mean a relatively low physical damage output, you can live with it, but NPCs like aerie or haer dalis, that can cast (she both magics) and that can fight (she when buffed, he if you give him good equipment, as you have to rise his thac0 in every possible way) can cover a caster role, but also go mlee and make your front line much stronger then with only 2 fighters, the same is true for anomen that buffed is a super strong fighter up to the end game and is also as good as a pure class cleric at casting.

    both using the existing npcs and using custom parties it is perfectly possible to have 4-5 fighters (or at least people that can do actual physical damage) 2-4 arcane casters and 2-4 divine casters in the same party, jaheira is an other double function npc, adding a lot of versatility and capability to deal with different situations.
    2+2+2 is the perfect basic approach to the game (even if imo to don't have a proper thief is not a good choice), but as the dual and multi classes rule in this game a lot can be done to improve the synergy and physical and magic capability of the party while having it still perfectly balanced.
    after all you don't need more then a single high level mage, as there is a single robe of vecna, and you don't strictly need a very high level divine caster, even if turning undeads and some high level divine spells are indeed powerful.

    and i personally regard the tensor transformation option as a niche one, can be useful in some very particular situations or for a blade, that can gain a ton of hp and thac0 from it, but usually loosing the ability to cast is a cost too high to get better thac0, but not fighter like apr, so the not dual or multi mages are only mages for the 99% of the game, and should stick to it, and one is perfect, 2 are somehow redundant, 3, like in the OP's party is over killing and makes the other departments weak.
    the only exception imo is 1 mage + neera then you can give the RoV to the one you want to use in that battle and have a main mage that is reliable or one that can bring havoc spamming dwehomers, then indeed to have 2 dedicated mages can bring real power.

  • DinoDinDinoDin Member Posts: 1,425
    edited June 2020
    Your point on going beyond just the 2,2,2 setup is solid advice. To be more precise I probably should have said that players should have a minimum of two of each of these things in their party. But yeah, Anomen and Jaheira are a perfectly acceptable, and even powergaming way to handle your divine spellcaster quota and add some figthery firepower.

    I do think your advice about relying on mages as tanks is perhaps not good for advice for a lot of players who find themselves struggling with the game's content. It's certainly worth noting that at high levels players have the option to transform their wizards into tanky characters, but this also requires playing your party in a fundamentally different way from how you have played for much of the series. Far more elegant advice, imo, is to tell players to stick with their trusted tanks, even through ToB. What you're describing is a higher level play, that requires more micromanagement, pre-buffing, careful play in the midst of combat. Pre-buffing strategies also rely somewhat on foreknowledge. So I'd be hesitant to recommend it myself to players who struggle in the base game.

  • JQuailmanJQuailman Member Posts: 36
    With so many casters in your party I would focus on Getting proper spell buffs pre fight: PRotection from evil, remove fear, stoneskin/ironskins, blur/mirror image, armor of faith, draw upon holy might, summon creatures and haste. Simple buffs that can make a hard fight WAY more manageable.

    After the general buffs you can add In other things in that will directly combat a certain enemies offense, as well as strip down that enemies defense.

    As other people have mentioned certain enemies require a certain level of Weapon enchantment. At the stage of game you’re in I feel like most of my party has a +4 or better option. I lean more heavily to melee and usually have at least 3 members of my party excel in it.

    Do you have simulacrum for all your casters? I’ve never played with that many arcanes but if you Were to simulacrum all of them it would seem you could rip down any magic resistance an enemy has very quickly and then blast them with spells. That would be a lot of micro managing during a battle but seems like an effective strategy.

  • gorgonzolagorgonzola Member Posts: 3,678
    DinoDin wrote: »

    I do think your advice about relying on mages as tanks is perhaps not good for advice for a lot of players who find themselves struggling with the game's content.
    my suggestion was for a party with 3 pure mages (as imoen is substantially that, even if she can open doors, find traps and use a bow) so a party that is not balanced and has only a single traditional tank if mazzy is used ranged and also very little physical dpm as long as mazzy uses ranged the +4 bow and aerie in not buffed for mlee and DW.
    low dpm and only one tank are a problem vs an enemy that takes only 25% of the damage and has a lot of HP. with that particular party and in that particular battle using the 4 arcane casters as tanks can buy you the time to take down the enemy, that is like doing 2.4K damage on an enemy without damage reduction.

    i am not proposing it as strategy that has to be used by all the parties and in all the battles, i agree that relying on traditional tanks with a lot of hp, good ac and in the end game also all the damage reduction items, as the thac0 of some end game enemies makes them hit often also vs very good ac, is the better way to go for most of the parties and situations.

    even if i personally played a lot of small parties with all arcane casters, like FMT, aerie, haer dalis and nalia or FM, aerie, jan and tashia (sorcerer from a mod) and as i could not use armors i had to rely on arcane spells to tank. it worked surprisingly well, letting me win most of the battles without taking any damage or taking only very little damage. notice that even in small parties still i try to have balanced parties, at least 2 people that can go mlee, at least a divine caster and a real thief that can scout, stab and set traps, so i was still using your 2 + 2 + 2 concept even if in a condensed form, trading quantity for quality (over leveled toon as there is less people sharing the kills xp).
    so even if i don't suggest as best way to use the arcane casters as tanks it is a viable tactic, main tactic for parties designed for it, but viable for all the parties when you usual tanks seems for some reason to not be able to cover the role in a particular battle.

    JQuailman wrote: »

    Do you have simulacrum for all your casters? I’ve never played with that many arcanes but if you Were to simulacrum all of them it would seem you could rip down any magic resistance an enemy has very quickly and then blast them with spells.
    imho it would have been a great suggestion in the original game, but sadly not so much in EE.
    the reason is that in the original you have control on the spells the simulacrum retains, as the order you select them for the original mage spell book is used, so if your mage has 5 spells and the simmy 3 as is level drained you can take stoneskin, lower magic resistance, lower magic resistance, blur and blur and the simmy would retain stoneskin and the 2 lower MR (for the example i picked spells of different levels, but suppose that they are all at the same level).
    in EE the alphabetical order is used so the simulacrum will retain 2 blur and a lower MR, you have no control on what spells he can cast if not memorizing for the original mage only the number of slots the simulacrum has, casting the spells not needed by the simulacrum before casting simulacrum or changing the spells names, the names of the spell files, not the one showed in the game.
    this makes probably the simulacrum of aerie worth to use as it can buff for combat, maybe equip MH a BBoD from a scroll in quick slot and the best crushing weapon you have OH and be an other outstanding frontliner, with 25 str, good thac0 and 4 apr improved hasted.
    but the simulacrums of the regular mages are mainly useful for the wands and scrolls that can have in their quick slots as often the spells that you really need for the battle are the ones that the simulacrum has lost.

    with the original game, that i still play side by side with the EE, i use a lot the simulacrum spell as it is true that is level drained, but you can use him as you are also using your mage, or a PI, with EE i find myself using it only if the toon has some mlee potential, aerie or a FM charname, or with a sorcerer that is free to pick every spell he knows, so does not suffer the alphabetical order problem.

    but your suggestion, even with the EE simulacrum nerf, can be useful, even if in a different way.
    a simulacrum of a mage equipping the best str belt and with scrolls of tensor transformation and BBoD in the quick slots, maybe some PFMW scroll in the 3rd slot and hasted can really help to tank and do damage.
    the belt can be given back to who normally uses it as the mage must equip belt and scrolls only at the moment he creates the simulacrums. other possible candidates for the 3rd quick slot are adhw scrolls or the wand of resurrection that let you heal at range and without casting time.

  • jsavingjsaving Member Posts: 1,067
    gorgonzola wrote: »
    i am not proposing it as strategy that has to be used by all the parties and in all the battles, i agree that relying on traditional tanks with a lot of hp, good ac and in the end game also all the damage reduction items, as the thac0 of some end game enemies makes them hit often also vs very good ac, is the better way to go for most of the parties and situations.
    I think you and @DinoDin both have it right, actually. He is correct that for players who are struggling to understand game mechanics, it's a really bad idea to tank with mages. But you are correct that fighter/mages in particular are vastly better tanks than armor-wearers IF you know what you are doing and make sure you buff appropriately before encounters.

  • gorgonzolagorgonzola Member Posts: 3,678
    i agree that is better to first learn how to play in the way the game is intended then, when you have some knowledge about how to do it, start to explore alternative routes.
    the fact that i explored the all arcane parties quite early as well as the true capability of the thieves makes me a weaker player when i have to play traditional fighters, i am far form being a master in buffing them with potions, maximizing their st and using at best their equipment, i had so many rounds without using any armor if not the bard one that allows spell casting or in very particular situations like the death magic areas of WK and i am used to rely more on SI and other arcane protections then on good ST and a huge hp pool (and the fact that i always play without the maxed dice roll leveling up probably has a role in it, my fighters have way less hp then the ones of who goes for maxed hp gain, so are dead when theirs are low hp at the end of a hard battle.

    anyway all the possible strategies are useful in the game, so on the long run to learn them all is worth it and even if someone is still learning the "canon route" and using his fighters as tanks if it does not work for a particular battle and it happen that in that party there are only 2 fighters and 4 mages why not use them as tanks? that party is already unbalanced, with only 2 people that have high hp and can equip an armor and tank, one of them is also possibly used ranged most of the time.
    as all the 4 mages can go to the battle with pre set trigger and sequencers, set up before sleeping there is too much redundancy, you really don't need to have 3 mages and a CM active casting at the same time, while you have problems to tank the ravager and his bone blades, so in this particular case to use the mages also for tanking seems to me the more logical thing to do, even if for other battles a more traditional approach is used.
    a mage tanking, minsc and mazzy with mlee +4 weapons right behind him, as bow don't get the str bonus, aerie buffed to DW 2 +4 maces, hammers or whatever flanking and the 2 other mages casting means an easy victory, to ask misnc to tank alone is asking him too much, he can have good ac and has hp, but unless you have a party filled with high damage fighters that spam GWW takes too long to kill the boss.

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