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Are druids worth playing in SCS?

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  • zoharzohar Member Posts: 15
    edited August 2020
    DavidW wrote: »
    Check the readme. (But basically: edit stratagems.ini in a text editor and set 'no_initial_change_insect_plague' to 1)

    I don't know what you mean by "justification after the fact" in this context. As I note above, the insect plague and inquisitor nerfs are a direct result of my own playtesting, where I found that - at least for my playstyle - that insect plague made mage combats boring. (If you check the ancient history of the mod, you'll see that the insect plague nerf wasn't even in SCSII until 2 years after it was released.)

    Just to clarify (pardon me if I wrongly understood your answers). If I change the ip nerf the AI from SCS will still assume that the spell is nerfed and cast wrong spells to counter that?

  • DavidWDavidW Member Posts: 817
    zohar wrote: »
    DavidW wrote: »
    Check the readme. (But basically: edit stratagems.ini in a text editor and set 'no_initial_change_insect_plague' to 1)

    I don't know what you mean by "justification after the fact" in this context. As I note above, the insect plague and inquisitor nerfs are a direct result of my own playtesting, where I found that - at least for my playstyle - that insect plague made mage combats boring. (If you check the ancient history of the mod, you'll see that the insect plague nerf wasn't even in SCSII until 2 years after it was released.)

    Just to clarify (pardon me if I wrongly understood your answers). If I change the ip nerf the AI from SCS will still assume that the spell is nerfed and cast wrong spells to counter that?

    Correct. (That’s why it’s an ini disable and not just an optional component.)

  • VanDerBergVanDerBerg Member Posts: 212
    @DavidW Thank you for your comments. I apologise, my posts always come out more aggressive than I intend them to be. I appreciate it is impossible to please everyone with mods and, ultimately, the final metric will be how much you are having with the mod. Just a few comments, probably most of which will be a repetition of what others have said.

    The issue with Insect Plague doesn't have all that much to do with the actual nerfing of the spell - we will all agree it was extremely powerful in the original game and it should have been toned down. It is more that, to me, it is really the unique selling point for a single class druid. From my point of view (and, again, this might be just the way I play the game), there are three advantages that druids have over clerics - insect plague, iron skins and nature's beauty. The last two, to me, are much more relevant to fighter/druids (which I see as a completely different class than pure druids, played in a completely different way), as the pure druid won't spend much time in melee (again, I don't do much shapeshifting, so I am quite possibly wrong here). Then, if the main weapon of a single class druid is heavily nerfed, this makes them quite redundant compared to clerics, which in general have much better spell selection. Yes, you can find some utility for druids, as I am sure some will point out, but the reality is that they become a luxury rather than a necessity. The same problem I have with Inquisitors and their Dispel Magic. Yes, it is insanely powerful, but if they are rid of that, why would anyone chose an Inquisitor over Cavalier, for example. I know this kind of balance isn't what you had in mind when designing SCS and doing spell revisions, it is just that this is a side effect of it. Luckily, if these things are optional, druid and paladin lovers can get rid of them.

    In terms of the OP mage spells, I didn't point out to them from the perspective of balance between classes. Such a thing is next to impossible to achieve - no amount of nerfing to mages will ever make thieves and mages comparable in terms of their utility in a group. Fighters and mages will always be more useful than other classes in BG. It is that, to me, some of these spells are as much 'I win' button for player-controlled mages as is Insect Plague, if not more. Take Time Stop, for example. Time Stop + Improved Alacrity is basically an 'I win' combination against anything that isn't heavily magic resistant. A case in point - I won a fight against Gronmir with this combination, then spamming horrid wilting, skull traps, dragon breaths etc. At the end of time stop, all of them died in seconds and I won a battle against a ToB-level mini boss without putting anyone in my party even in the slightest risk. After that, the only time I used Time Stop was when an enemy summons a planetar, so I used Time Stop + Imprisonment to get rid of them. And I find in many mages fight that if I manage to do my Time Stop before them (and with Robe of Vecna I always have that advantage), there isn't much they can do about it. Project Image is the same - it is well known how it can serve as 'I win' button in many cases. Similar also with Chain Contingency - all of these spells can, as well as Insect Plague, be used to win hard fights without putting the rest of your party at any risk or, at best, as using them as a distraction for enemies while your mage obliterates them.

    Also, a side note - I always found it very silly in the original BG game that the spell protections don't protect against AoE effects not centred on the protected target. So, if horrid wilting targets you directly and you have spell protections on, it won't hurt you, but if it is cast 1 mm to the side of you, you die. This doesn't make much sense to me and I don't see a RP reason for this. How complicated (not for you, but in general) would it be to change this behaviour to make spell protections really act like spell protections?

    ThacoBell
  • zoharzohar Member Posts: 15
    edited August 2020
    DavidW wrote: »
    zohar wrote: »
    DavidW wrote: »
    Check the readme. (But basically: edit stratagems.ini in a text editor and set 'no_initial_change_insect_plague' to 1)

    I don't know what you mean by "justification after the fact" in this context. As I note above, the insect plague and inquisitor nerfs are a direct result of my own playtesting, where I found that - at least for my playstyle - that insect plague made mage combats boring. (If you check the ancient history of the mod, you'll see that the insect plague nerf wasn't even in SCSII until 2 years after it was released.)

    Just to clarify (pardon me if I wrongly understood your answers). If I change the ip nerf the AI from SCS will still assume that the spell is nerfed and cast wrong spells to counter that?

    Correct. (That’s why it’s an ini disable and not just an optional component.)

    Thanks for the answer, DavidW. Is there an easy way to tweak the SCS ini to give the ip its magical damage back? I would like to play the full mod but with this minor compromise.

  • DavidWDavidW Member Posts: 817
    zohar wrote: »
    DavidW wrote: »
    zohar wrote: »
    DavidW wrote: »
    Check the readme. (But basically: edit stratagems.ini in a text editor and set 'no_initial_change_insect_plague' to 1)

    I don't know what you mean by "justification after the fact" in this context. As I note above, the insect plague and inquisitor nerfs are a direct result of my own playtesting, where I found that - at least for my playstyle - that insect plague made mage combats boring. (If you check the ancient history of the mod, you'll see that the insect plague nerf wasn't even in SCSII until 2 years after it was released.)

    Just to clarify (pardon me if I wrongly understood your answers). If I change the ip nerf the AI from SCS will still assume that the spell is nerfed and cast wrong spells to counter that?

    Correct. (That’s why it’s an ini disable and not just an optional component.)

    Thanks for the answer, DavidW. Is there an easy way to tweak the SCS ini to give the ip its magical damage back? I would like to play the full mod but with this minor compromise.

    No, you'll have to edit the code to do that. It's in stratagems/spells/insect_plague.tpa (if you feel brave!)

  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 12,139
    There are only 2 things in the whole game that mages are unable to make themselves immune to. They can also dish out some of the highest consistent damage. No other class has these blatant advantages. Better get rid of that! Can't let mages have something they can't defend against like every other, lesser class.

  • DavidWDavidW Member Posts: 817
    ThacoBell wrote: »
    There are only 2 things in the whole game that mages are unable to make themselves immune to. They can also dish out some of the highest consistent damage. No other class has these blatant advantages. Better get rid of that! Can't let mages have something they can't defend against like every other, lesser class.

    Thank you for your patient and constructive engagement.

    ThacoBellLudwig_II
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 12,139
    You know me, "Mr. Patient", that's what everyone here calls me.

    DavidWjsavingLudwig_II
  • Balrog99Balrog99 Member Posts: 7,125
    ThacoBell wrote: »
    There are only 2 things in the whole game that mages are unable to make themselves immune to. They can also dish out some of the highest consistent damage. No other class has these blatant advantages. Better get rid of that! Can't let mages have something they can't defend against like every other, lesser class.

    But fighters can use the Protection from Magic Scroll. Oh wait...

  • OrlonKronsteenOrlonKronsteen Member Posts: 861
    The Protection from Magic Scroll nerf is an optional component. You can disable it in the ini... ;)

  • ReticentReticent Member Posts: 122
    edited August 2020
    @DavidW I think rather than the changes implemented to Insect Plague itself, a useful approach would be to make sure the mechanics already in the base game that ought to counter IP actually do counter IP.

    First, I'd assume that Spell Immunity: Conjuration ought to be absolute defense against IP. My recollection is that it might not be, so that is one area to address. AI mages with SI:Con in their books would sensibly want to cast it on sight if a druid is present in the party (or have it added to the their list of possible pre-buffs).

    Second, IP should ONLY be able to be cast on a valid hostile target. Targeting allies or items on the ground to catch invisible mages in the "spread" is a real abuse of the spell. The gist of this being that if all the potential enemy targets are (improved) invisible, IP shouldn't be able to be cast.

    Third, and this may be really hard to address with scripting, the IP projectile is so slow that it is entirely reasonable to kite it for the length of the battle. I had a recent encounter where Imoen was targeted by a hostile IP, and I just kept walking her around, occasionally getting enough distance that I could have her contribute spell casting and still have time to walk away from the insects.

    Fourth, where IWD spells are optionally installed, it might not be entirely crazy to use the IWD version of Insect Plague rather than the BG2 implementation. I imagine the existing SCS AI would have no more issue working around that version than they do any other static "cloud" spell.

    Thanks for your willingness to take feedback on this!

  • Grond0Grond0 Member Posts: 6,994
    edited August 2020
    Reticent wrote: »
    Second, IP should ONLY be able to be cast on a valid hostile target. Targeting allies or items on the ground to catch invisible mages in the "spread" is a real abuse of the spell.

    Fourth, where IWD spells are optionally installed, it might not be entirely crazy to use the IWD version of Insect Plague rather than the BG2 implementation. I imagine the existing SCS AI would have no more issue working around that version than they do any other static "cloud" spell.

    Everyone's view of what constitutes cheese is different of course, but I thought I'd share another perspective on this. Presumably you think it's unfair that a targeted spell could still catch invisible enemies, but that can be done by any static area based spell, including lingering ones like cloudkill and fire storm - and you've suggested possibly changing the nature of the spell to that type. Doing that would seem a shame to me though - there are already lots of those sorts of spells and the different mechanics of the current version of insect plague offer an interesting variation to game play.

    ThacoBell
  • smyth25smyth25 Member Posts: 218
    Sorry if this seems a bit off topic, but I just wanted to mention how Spell revisions deals with the issues raised in this thread. I've been doing a playthrough with SR lately and have found that it makes the game a lot more interesting by giving all spellcasting classes solutions to deal with other spellcasters (whether it's defending themselves from magic, or attacking other spellcaster's magic).

    Furthermore, the changes to various buff spells, summons, and increased power of healing spells means that focusing the mage isn't necessarily the main tactic for in all fights for defeating the enemy. Sometimes you may decide that it's better to focus another enemy in a fight first, and the more balanced line of spells means that leaving the enemy mage alone for a bit isn't an immediate death sentence.

    In regards to Insect plague in particular, the spell is still nerfed, but not as much as standard SCS. The crucial aspect is that other spells' power has been raised to a similar level, so now the spells are mostly in equilibrium. Insect plague is still a great spell to use, but it should be combined with all the other great spells that SR either introduces or reworks.

    Basically, would highly recommend Spell revisions!

    Mantis37
  • ReticentReticent Member Posts: 122
    edited August 2020
    Grond0 wrote: »
    Reticent wrote: »
    Second, IP should ONLY be able to be cast on a valid hostile target. Targeting allies or items on the ground to catch invisible mages in the "spread" is a real abuse of the spell.

    Fourth, where IWD spells are optionally installed, it might not be entirely crazy to use the IWD version of Insect Plague rather than the BG2 implementation. I imagine the existing SCS AI would have no more issue working around that version than they do any other static "cloud" spell.

    Everyone's view of what constitutes cheese is different of course, but I thought I'd share another perspective on this. Presumably you think it's unfair that a targeted spell could still catch invisible enemies, but that can be done by any static area based spell, including lingering ones like cloudkill and fire storm - and you've suggested possibly changing the nature of the spell to that type. Doing that would seem a shame to me though - there are already lots of those sorts of spells and the different mechanics of the current version of insect plague offer an interesting variation to game play.

    I wouldn't deign to presume anyone's preference was the "correct" interpretation, and am actually quite fond of the BG2 version of the spell.

    But I can't deny that the spell is "having it's cake and eating it too" in terms of targeting behavior, and in the specific context of SCS where it's already been decided that the spell is problematic, I'd rather see the spell's behavior normalized as either hostile target or AoE, than the current soup of nerfs it got.

    At least in case 4 you've got the balance of the IWD spells offsetting any reduced utility.

  • VanDerBergVanDerBerg Member Posts: 212
    At least druids are cool-er in Neverwinter Nights. Barkskin that is actually useful? Amazing!

  • NeverusedNeverused Member Posts: 785
    Like almost every other “Is it worth playing”, the answer is “it depends.” There are party compositions where druids shine or help the others to shine, and some where they’re superfluous. If you think that with a nerfed Insect Plague they’re useless then... I don’t really know what to say. There’s still Call Woodland Beings that can mass cure and dominate and confuse. There’s still Conjure Fire Elemental, which can easily carry you safely through the midgame of SoA, and have a different niche than Skeleton Warriors. Nature’s Beauty, Fire Seeds, Pixie Dust, the greater elemental transforms and summons and Iron Skins...

    In the long run, I do generally like clerics more than druids in my parties, but that’s more because I’m lazy and unsafe and require Raise Dead and Remove Paralysis more than I’d like to admit. But as I like having two divine casters in most of my parties since Chaotic Commands is kinda hard to give up, I’d gladly have a druid and cleric over two clerics.

    Grond0
  • ReticentReticent Member Posts: 122
    I don't know if anyone really believes they're useless- but when you take a class on the lower side of the power curve and nerf some of their strongest tools for the benefit of a class at the apex of the power curve, it's going to rub some people the wrong way. That's understandable.

    Druids do have some generally undervalued tools besides the various insects. Call Lighting alone is worth luring enemies outdoors for. And late in the game Dolorous Decay's ability to act as a Power Word Slow can have huge tactical applications.

    ThacoBell
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 12,139
    @Neverused You do know that Druids get chaotic commands too, right?

  • NeverusedNeverused Member Posts: 785
    Yeah, but covering an entire party with it takes a lot of level 5 slots, usually more than a single divine caster can spare, thus why I like having two. Personal preference since I've had more runs end to Stun or Confusion than I'd like to admit.

    Also, I don't think Druid's anywhere close to the lower side of the power curve: they're a solid support class that's not meant to be DPS, and they still have tools to disable opponents and buff their teammates.

  • StummvonBordwehrStummvonBordwehr Member, Mobile Tester Posts: 1,015
    Late to the party I guess.

    I have recently played a FD multi in BG1:ee with SCS in a full install. The Druid spellbook rocked with the IWD spell book component on.

    My favourite combo was a entangle / spike growth. 4 castings of entangle and most foes got stuck - combine it with 3-4 castings of spike growth and most opposition trembled.

    I know that BG2 spellcasters are way more troublesome than their BG1 versions. But I was awestruck how well the Druid fared. Mages are still a League of their own, but when you hate mages like I do, I was glad to see the IWD priest and druid spell book closing the gap a bit. So druid is a viable choice and especially the FD version

  • VanDerBergVanDerBerg Member Posts: 212
    Also, I don't think Druid's anywhere close to the lower side of the power curve: they're a solid support class that's not meant to be DPS, and they still have tools to disable opponents and buff their teammates.

    Who all is less powerful than druids, in your opinion?

  • ReticentReticent Member Posts: 122
    edited August 2020
    I'm sure a lot of it comes down to how you want to define 'power curve', but any way you cut it mages and their variants are going to be at the top once you've gotten a significant amount of xp under your belt. So nerfing druids to benefit mages is a bit off-putting regardless.

    ThacoBell
  • DavidWDavidW Member Posts: 817
    Reticent wrote: »
    I don't know if anyone really believes they're useless- but when you take a class on the lower side of the power curve and nerf some of their strongest tools for the benefit of a class at the apex of the power curve, it's going to rub some people the wrong way. That's understandable.

    That's not how I think about balancing in SCS. This isn't an MMO. Party mages don't get meaningfully benefitted by the Insect Plague shifts. (I suppose they gain very slightly because the shadow druids near Trademeet are a little less effective, but I doubt that's what you mean.) The Insect Plague nerf reduces the (over)effectiveness of PC druids against enemy spellcasters (mostly, but not exclusively, mages). And in a tactical mod for a single-player party-based RPG, that's always going to be the relevant balance question: how are various possible PC parties, as a whole, balanced against various possible enemies.

    Similarly, insofar as I care more about mages than druids, it's not because of an intrinsic preference for the class; it's because BG2 is filled with mage fights (including some of its most iconic fights) and has far fewer druids and clerics, and even fewer solo fights with them. (And, to a lesser extent, because - at least until the IWD spells turned up - I can't keep solo druids or clerics alive against a party, despite extensive experimentation.)

    ReticentMantis37Ludwig_IIAdam_en_tium
  • ReticentReticent Member Posts: 122
    DavidW wrote: »
    That's not how I think about balancing in SCS.

    Apologies, I wasn't trying to imply any bias on your part! It's just kind of the way the chips fell on that one, so to speak.

    I understand that it just so happens that the more challenging encounters in BG happen to be mages, and that's entirely aside from anything to do with SCS.

    DavidW
  • jsavingjsaving Member Posts: 1,067
    edited August 2020
    Even with insect spell nerfs, I think SCS overall makes druids stronger than they are in vanilla. Between improved shapeshifting, token-passing, and the broader spell list, druids can make a much more consistent and meaningful contribution to party DPS and have a sufficiently versatile spell list that you can consider carrying one in place of a cleric, which I wouldn't even remotely consider in vanilla.

    I agree that insect spell nerfs prevent SCS druids from carrying out what's really their only useful function in vanilla, but I'd argue the fact that druids were ever in that niche reflects a cascade of design errors on the part of BioWare including a lousy selection of scimitars/daggers/clubs, inexplicable spell omissions, overly weak wildshape forms, and an idiosyncratically strong implementation of insect spells that made them some of the only spells you'd want to cast as a druid (with woodland beings and ironskin their only real competitors). I see the argument for partially undoing those nerfs but would disagree that druids are at or near the bottom of the power curve in SCS (though they're closer to the bottom of it in vanilla).

    Post edited by jsaving on
    borntodieAdam_en_tium
  • NeverusedNeverused Member Posts: 785
    VanDerBerg wrote: »
    Also, I don't think Druid's anywhere close to the lower side of the power curve: they're a solid support class that's not meant to be DPS, and they still have tools to disable opponents and buff their teammates.

    Who all is less powerful than druids, in your opinion?

    Monks, Swashbucklers (most thieves, actually, after a certain point in the game, especially with the cheesy spike traps nerfed in SCS); I’d rate Clerics as less powerful than Druids, overall. For the non-warrior classes and monk thrown in for the heck of it, my power rankings would be something like Mage = Sorcerer > Bard > Druid/Shaman > Thief > Cleric > Monk. Specific kits or whatnot might mess this order, and multiclasses slot somewhere in there, but I’m not fully sure where.

    Comparisons to any of the warrior classes is a bit difficult, since they do significantly different things.

  • VanDerBergVanDerBerg Member Posts: 212
    Now I am genuinely interested why do you consider druids more powerful than clerics and monks.

  • NeverusedNeverused Member Posts: 785
    Monks just don’t feel great in party play, from what I’ve found, especially in SCS. Low hitpoints and no critical hit immunity means they simply can’t be used in melee half the time: they have to resort to mirror images from Ilbratha or from being a Dark Moon Monk. Magic resistance is nice and all, but difficult to pump to 100 from what I’ve experienced, and there’re a number of effects that can’t be magic resisted and have to be saved against anyways. I’ve never had a monk in my squad where I’ve felt that he was actually pulling his weight: sure, he can use darts, slings, or Firetooth, but a thief does almost as well with those and has utility besides. Yes, stunning blow’s a thing that can affect mages and some other nasties, but the things that are really dangerous either have good saves or are immune to a Monk’s attacks at that point in time.

    The high level cleric list just seems... bad to me. I might be missing stuff, but I rarely found myself casting anything over 5th level as a Cleric. Their lower level stuff is solid, such as Raise Dead, Hold Person, Silence, Remove Paralysis, Animate Dead, Holy Smite and Remove Fear, but a lot of that loses its luster by the end of SoA, and then... Blade Barrier? Greater Command, if you don’t actually hit allies with it? Holy Word is good, I guess, with a 50% spell failure rate... I’ve tripped more of my own Symbols than I’ve caught my opponents with... I dunno. You can go the self-buff route with Clerics, but you’re stuck at 4 APR, and that’s with burning an Improved Haste that could go to a better target. There’s some good stuff there, but compared with Call Woodland Beings, Iron Skins, Pixie Dust, Fire Elementals, Insect Plague, Creeping Doom and Nature’s Beauty... I’d give the edge to Druid.

    Turn Undead is another thing I guess I should mention, since there’re so many vampires that can be turned, which is nice... but then again, a single Fighter with Pro. From Undead and the Mace of Disruption does an equally good job for the heavier undead infestations. Popping a lich with Turn Undead is admittedly hilarious.

  • DavidWDavidW Member Posts: 817
    Neverused wrote: »
    Popping a lich with Turn Undead is admittedly hilarious.

    As a point of interest, that's an example of something I intentionally don't nerf.

  • jmerryjmerry Member Posts: 2,051
    Actually, with monks and druids together in SCS, it's incredibly easy to pump magic resistance to 100. Just equip a greater werewolf token to the monk (at level 20+). Add a fire resistance ring, and summons are nearly the only thing even a mage with high-level abilities can use. Kill the summons off when they show up, and otherwise don't sweat it.

    (Shapeshift tokens were updated in v33. This exploit wasn't touched. The all-werewolf party still works.)

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