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[help] Best practice buffs and offensive spells?

I'm mainly asking because I find some fights fairly tough that other people call a cakewalk even on normal difficulty and using levels and gear appropriate to them. I think it's because I don't use enough proper buffs. So with that, what would be your "best practice" list of party buffs for tough encounters?

For offensive magic, what would be your recommended list of spells for crowd control, debuffs, dispelling protections, summons etc to always keep memorized? I don't think I use my casters as well as I could be either.

Spells and abilities from items can also be on these lists. Just looking for answers relevant to BG2EE. By the time I'm coming into Chapter 6 in SoA I have so many spells and items with special abilities I can never remember to use half of them during a tough fight unless I really screw it up and then reload using everything I can possibly find in my spellbooks and inventory which basically empties me out until I rest



  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 12,009
    Haste + slow is a KILLER combination, and pretty much always useful.

    Web+Cloudkill and/or death fog is great for mid level mobs.

    Horrid WIlting is arguably the best aoe for just stacking damage.

    Insect PLague is basically an "I win" spell when fighting mages.

    That's about all I can think of for general use. I tend to be pretty sparing with my magic. If you want to post specific fights, maybe I can help more.

  • WrathofreccaWrathofrecca Member Posts: 98
    The biggest thing to troubleshoot is your group comp. Lets start there, who and what is your party composed of?

    Also, when you start a new game can you make up to 6 characters and if you're new to BG2 I recommend making a Sorceress if you understand BG2 spell casting (this is advanced) or an orc berserker or barbarian which is cheesy easy. Another good option is an Archer with short or long bow although crossbow is doable. If you can handle advanced, a Wizard Slayer with good alignment and 5 stars in axes can get Azure Edge once you rescue the Slaves in the Slum District. This axe isn't the best thrown but in the hands of an orc Wizard Slayer, it'll one shot most undead, it gains damage from str not dex, and it will interrupt enemy spell casters.

    There are several strong combos for spell casting and it's not just buffs that help. My favorite is 2 mages, greater malison + slow, fear, glitterdust, or eventually chaos first round, followed by repeated fear, slow, glitterdust or chaos spells to further try to affect anyone who made a saving throw. Debuffs are not effective vs magic resist mobs like golems, some vampires, beholders, and definitely drow who's natural magic resist complicate this. For buffs there aren't many I value or find necessary. Stoneform/ironskin, bless, chant, -draw upon strength especially on Player Char-, haste, and improved haste. The biggest spells are stoneform, draw upon strength, and definitely improved haste.

    Cloudkill doesn't even need web to be amazing. Insect plague is STUPID op and so you typically want a single class druid so you get tons of uses. It's very helpful to open with improved invisibility to initiate with it. I am a huge advocate that druids are stronger than clerics and this is one of the reasons. Just make sure you don't cast it on something with high magic resist. The initial cast is critical so if the first target flat resists, it won't spread but every other target automatically gets it if they're in range. It ends up doing a ton of damage because of this.

    Summons are also very strong. The druid spell summon fire elemental is stupid broken since it's automatically charmed by the druid unlike the mage version and has a chance to summon a giga elemental which just rampages. After that summon skeleton is amazing because they are immune to poison, fear, i believe mind flayer stun and eventually gain magic resist so they're the superior summon vs casters including mind flayers.

    That said groups with a pure class druid and cleric are very very weak in the end game, especially if they don't have a multiclass thief, thief/war preferred to thief/mage. If your group adds a bard or thief that isn't a hitter with low thaco, that will further compound the problem.

  • gorgonzolagorgonzola Member Posts: 3,678
    edited November 2020
    The spells that have to be memorized vary greatly according to the party level and the player's style.
    Some players buff a lot defensively, that is not a bad idea as long as it does not take so long that the first spells used are almost going to expire if are not actually expired before the party starts the fight, other players buff way less.
    But defensively there are few key spells that have to be used in certain situations.
    When facing dragons and other foe that cause fear fear protection must be used, to have half of your party run in fear instead of fighting is a real problem, it is wise also to protect the party, or at least the party members that go enough near the dragon against the damage done by his breath, i.e. protection from fire facing a red one.
    Chaotic Commands is really useful vs foe that try to confuse or dominate your, like Humber Hulks.
    the list of key spells is too long, but I guess you get the idea and once a certain kind of enemy causes you some problem seek a spell that protects you from that issue.
    A very important arcane protection spell, that sadly can be cast only on self, is Spell Immunity, it makes a single spell school completely ineffective vs the protected mage, i.e. SI abiuration makes the mage completely immune to spells that can dispel him and from Imprisonment, have kangaxx cast his many imprisonments to a protected mage and one of the hardest encounters becomes trivial.
    The summons depending on your level and on the level of the enemy can be actually be used offensively or simply as meat shield, you can use a cheap low level summon, maybe hasted, to kite a powerful enemy or to suck a very nasty spell or a dragon breath, it all depends on how you are good to position your characters on the ground and react to the evolving situation.

    Offensively there are 3 categories of spells, the ones that control the enemy, like stun or confusion, the ones that do direct damage, like magic missile or the horrid wilting, and those can be targeted on an enemy or have an area of effect, that let you cast them even if the enemy is invisible and maybe damage more then an enemy with a single spell, and the ones that summon helpers.
    then there are spells that boost offensively the party or a character, so are offensive buffs. Among them haste doubles the speed, thing that let you attack and retreat very fast, thing that is in itself very powerful if used in a smart way, but gives you also an extra attack/round, it affects all the characters and summon in his AoE, but then they are free to move in other places remaining hasted, improved haste affects only a party member, but doubles his ApR, if a strong fighter with many ApR is buffed so his already good damage output doubles.

    The clerics have unique on self only combat buffing spells, that improve their HP, Thac0 and damage done, more on how to buff the clerics can be found here:
    When past the first levels a cleric goes to mlee he does it with 25 STR (+7 thac0, +14 damage), with a base thac0 like a fighter of his same level and with more hp then when not buffed, but his buffs don't improve his ApR, a mage must cast haste or improved haste (but only if he is dual welding weapons) him to make his buffs more effective.

    the druids have the spells of the insect line that are very important when fighting casters, as depending on the spell used cause a 50 or 100% spell failure, if you silence this way a mage or a dragon half of the work is done.

    I give you a super useful link, it is old and deals with the old not EE spell system, so some of the things does not work any more with EE, but most of the stuff is still valid in EE. A lot of information there,n you can grab more insight on the magic system there then in any other single place I know.

    I hope it helps you.

  • gorgonzolagorgonzola Member Posts: 3,678
    About the party composition and the various possible strategies there is a lot that has to be told, and completely different parties can be as effective. Some players like to pack up strong fighters, give to them the best weapons and all the items that make their saving throws better and kill fast before they kill you, with that approach it is usually better to focus on the enemies one by one in many situations, and the casters role is mainly to buff the fighters and de buff the enemy.
    Others like a more balanced party, with at least 2 good damage dealers, fighters, rangers or paladins, at leas a mage and a divine caster and possibly also a thief, i mean a real one, that can explore hidden, stab, set traps and dispel illusions (basically a free True Sight how many times/day you want), thing that leads to a different play style, the spells and the thief skills are used for more then buffing and de buffing.
    I have played a lot with all arcane casters parties, parties like charname FM, Jan, Aerie, Haer Dalis, and Imoen or Nalia as main mage, and this leads to an other play style, as a party like that can become effective mlee only with a lot of buffing, but it gives the utter versatility and a terrific casting power, when you have 5 or 6 people cast a spell then use the rest of their round to physically attack is like to have Improved Alacrity way before your main mage gets lev9 spells.

    You have to experiment and find out what works for you and mostly what gives you fun, some parties are high maintenance, require a lot of micromanaging, and I like it, some other players hate it.

  • MaurvirMaurvir Member Posts: 922
    As an aside, if you install SCS and its improved mages, most of the tricks you use in vanilla quit working (or don't work nearly so well). Insect plague, for example, becomes only marginally useful and eventually peters out as a mage killing strategy later in the game. True, it is vastly OP in the vanilla game, so this really just makes it another tool.

    Also, you can no longer count on Kangaxx just standing there wailing on a protected party member while the rest of the party pounds on him. SCS makes him substantially smarter, and he will wander around the crypt dropping Imprison on the rest of your party. Which is as it should be - the stock vanilla "exploit" of casting SI:A and DW on a single party member and having them stand in front him while he uselessly casts spells against them was always dumb. Sure, it worked, but you might as well have just picked up some scrolls of PfU and been done with it.

    That said, I do suggest SCS, because by default, BG/BG2 mages are generally complete idiots.

  • gorgonzolagorgonzola Member Posts: 3,678
    edited November 2020
    @Maurvir , I personally don't play ScS as it changes the magic system. To use insect plaque is not a trick, is to use a completely intended and legittimate spell, ScS transform it in a sort of joke, just to talk of the particular example you gave. And about Kangaxx and the mages you are perfectly right, the vanilla AI is so easy to be exploited, but this is true for many other encounters, use some kind of cloud like cloudkill from the fog of war, having spotted unseen the enemy before or just because you know that the enemies are there from previous runs and the enemy will not react and will take all the damage of the cloud.
    I prefer Tactics mod, that gives better AI to the enemies, but using the original spell system, there you find druids casting at you the insect plague, also there Kangaxx move and use imprisonment, and other spells by the way, not only on the nearest to him, there minor spawn appear a split second before the regular ones so the minor spawns take the damage of your traps and make putting traps near known spawning points, where you are supposed to be ambushed, ineffective.

    But I suppose it is a matter of taste, I prefer to play with the original magic system, using Tactics and my self refrain to avoid blatant exploiting of the AI weaknesses, most of the nowadays players prefer ScS and as long as we are all happy and have fun it is fine.

    But the OP is asking suggestions for the vanilla game
    Bracchus wrote: »
    I'm mainly asking because I find some fights fairly tough that other people call a cakewalk even on normal difficulty and using levels and gear appropriate to them. I think it's because I don't use enough proper buffs.
    I personally find vanilla a cakewalk even on insane difficulty, and by the way I still have a lot of fun playing it, but I perfectly remember when I started to play, 20 years ago and without any knowledge gathered from internet or even the manual, as I had only the 4 installation CDs that a friend that was not playing the game anymore passed to me.
    The first run was very tough, I started on easy, died a lot straight in the opening dungeon, then i switched to normal difficulty half way SoA, as I begun to grasp some knowledge about how to play the game.
    It took me probably 3 or 4 runs to dare to play on insane, it took me much more to learn how to deal with some particular enemies that for some reason was particularly tough for me.
    I had many peekaboo battles with beholders shooting at them poisoning bolts and hoping that they would not save before discovering that some summons like the fire elemental and the skeletal warrior are very effective against them, I was frightened by vampires and mind flyers and it took me a very long time to figure out how to defeat kangaxx, as I never figured out that 2 types of green scrolls and SI abjuration protect from his imprisonment. That battle required always some luck and some or many reloads, and every time I had to cast some freedom spells from scrolls as some party member got imprisoned.

    I suppose that the OP is in a similar point of the learning curve, and buffs and de buffs are surely a part of his problem, but also a balanced party composition, how to use effectively the spell system beyond buffs and debuffs, where to place your toons on the battleground, i.e. avoiding that a single dragon breath damage and push far all your fighters at once, giving him the time to reach and kill the ranged/casters, how to use strategically the summons and many other things are parts of his problem that are as important.

    All us, or at least most of us, have been there, to the point that the very basics of the game has to be learned, and with the help of a forum like this and all the knowledge that there is on the net it is not so hard or long to do it.
    But until then while I suggest to avoid cheap tactics that give the victory with no effort, like setting traps near spawn points or still blue dragons or bombing from the fog of war, as it slows the learning process, you never learn how to deal with the enemies in a fair and not exploiting way, I think that vanilla is a perfect play ground to learn. ScS, Tactics mod or whatever other way to make the game harder can come later, now all is needed is a little application, a little study and avoiding the trap of exploiting too weak AI flaws.
    It is true that let's say Tolgerias or Firkraag become much more easy if an insect plague hits them, but for a novice player it is not so easy to do it, the spell has a long cast time and the druid must not be disrupted as he cast, a perfect opportunity to learn how to place your guys on the playground, how to use good timing, how to control yourself who is the meat shield that takes the damage and buys to the druid the time to send the insects to the enemy. The game becomes easier then with that spell nerfed and made almost not effective, but the basics of a sound tactical playing are learned.

    Obviously that is only my humble take of the thread's topic... :)

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