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Cannot see how to get started with this game (BG1EE)

I have some idea what I'm doing as I completed both BG1 and 2 when they first came out. Felt a bit nostalgic about the game and thought I'd give the EE a go. I'm finding it brutal. I'm only playing on difficulty level 2, with level 1 characters, but I'm finding that pretty much all the mobs in the game are capable of one-shotting most of my characters. I also find that my own characters can easily go half a dozen rounds without hitting anything. This translates to losing a character (i.e. reloading) in half the combat (probably more than half, actually). Is this the way it's supposed to play out? Am I missing something? Should I be getting one-shot in half my combats; should I be missing well over 50% of the hits? At the moment, I'm just save-scumming my way though the game , and that's killing the fun, as I tend to prefer a hard-core approach (i.e., you die, you have to restart the game).

bevbrown42

Comments

  • HeindrichHeindrich Member, Moderator Posts: 2,959
    EE is no harder than Vanilla. In fact, I played BG EE just after BG 1 Vanilla, and found it significant easier because:
    1) Less brutal ambushes
    2) Auto-pause when in Inventory
    3) Tab to highlight containers and loot.

    But the beginning of BG EE can still be quite brutal. If u gear up properly, ur lv1 warriors can take a few hits from weak enemies, but all Thieves, Mages (i.e. those unable to wear heavy armour) will be vulnerable for most of the game, and early on, they can be 1 shot but just about anything. You got to learn to protect your vulnerable characters with your tougher ones.

    In my experience BG 1 is very difficult if u decide to 'go off the beaten track' very early in the game, as u might run into enemies well beyond ur level. I am normally a 'completionist' kinda player who tries to explore every corner of the map, but at lv1, u are just not gonna survive an encounter with a Vampiric Wolf.

    So I recommed that you stick to the roads early on, level up on the easier quests like saving/killing Dynaheir, before u head into the Nashkel Mines, which are fairly easy once u can survive a few arrows.

    booinyoureyesCrevsDaakbevbrown42Shikao
  • mzorichmzorich Member Posts: 34
    To me, part of what I love about BG1 is the difficulty, so I actually really like this aspect of the game. (I pretty much only do no reload runs at this point... and I don't always make it very far at that).

    However, I'll say this (hopefully it's not too obvious)... ranged weapons are REALLY your friend, especially early in BG1. If you don't want to use cheesy tactics, just make sure at least 1 character in your party has low AC (0 or less ideally), send him/her in to "tank", and have the rest of your party blast fools w/ranged weapons. Bows are great as you can attack at least twice per round.

    Dexterity is a very important stat for all your characters, as it lowers AC and raises the chance that your ranged attacks will hit. I hope this is at least somewhat helpful and not too obvious. :)

    bevbrown42
  • AltairAltair Member Posts: 127
    Yes, IMHO the key is to give all the best stuff to one tank with high physical stats (don't forget the free ankheg armor in Nashkel, a ring of protection, a belt, etc..) and to always put him/her in front. Then have one or two archers and the spellcasters ready in the back and have everybody target the same enemy at a time. This basic strategy usually works for me, particularly on insane difficulty.

    bevbrown42
  • Time4TiddyTime4Tiddy Member Posts: 262
    Sleep spell. Get the freebie ring outside FAI, memorize a ton of sleep spells, cast it every time there is more than one monster. Trust me. Five bow wielding hobgoblins become five sleeping hobgoblins. Four attacking wolves become three sleeping wolves and one waking wolf that you can focus fire on.

    Purudaya
  • FafnirFafnir Member Posts: 232
    What character(s) are you playing? What strategies are you using?

  • cervanntescervanntes Member Posts: 64
    As others have said, the first part of the game can be quite brutal. A gibberling here or there isn't usually too much of a threat, especially if you accept Imoen's help. The wolves, bears, and worse you might encounter if you leave the beaten path? Entirely different story. There is a reason Gorion tells you to head straight for the Friendly Arm Inn to seek out Khalid and Jaheira right from the start, and the cut scene after his death also urges you that way, as do most of the NPCs you encounter along the rode. In short, when everyone is telling you over and over to stick to the road and go get help at the inn, it's probably a good idea if you like living. Even then, you have one major obstacle before getting in, but picking up the little extra help placed conveniently along the way can help with that as well, even if you don't want to keep them. There are a lot of ways you CAN fight your way off the beaten path to the inn or Beregost and survive, but it's always a risky proposition at 1st level.

    bevbrown42
  • LucreLucre Member Posts: 16
    Thanks for the feedback everyone. At first, I tried a Kensai, (thinking for the long term), as I thought my previous experience would enable me to handle it (I don't remember it being this hard first time round). I've restarted with a simple Fighter. Still a pain, though. It still took several goes to get past the first mage outside the FA Inn without at least one character death. In the end I succeeded by running away and letting the guards kill him. I'm beginning to think that at the start of the game it isn't worth taking a large party just for the sake of it - you have to have party members with reasonable HP or they're inevitably going to be dying at level 1 - does this make sense?

  • Time4TiddyTime4Tiddy Member Posts: 262
    If you have a full party equipped with ranged weapons it will make the game much easier. Ranged weapons get a better to-hit bonus from dex than melee weapons get from str, so, early on, you'll hit more easily with ranged. You only need a 16 dex to get a +1 to hit with ranged, you need a 17 str to get +1 with melee. You can get +2 to hit with ranged if you have 18 dex, while 18 str still only give +1 to hit with melee.

    The trick with fighting mages early on is to hit them right away, before their first spell is cast - your best bet is a spell or the wand of missiles, something that won't miss. If you have Xzar, have him cast Larloch's. If you don't have Xzar, use the wand of missiles. Mages in the early part of the game don't have much spell resistance, and as long as you can do damage, you can stop them from casting those nasty insta-killer spells like lightning bolt. The level 1 cleric/druid spell Remove Fear, or the bard song is very important against low level mages, too. They love to cast Horror and then you will lose control of most if not all of your party and might as well re-load.

    bevbrown42
  • LucreLucre Member Posts: 16
    Update: I have now equipped everyone with ranged weapons, as has been suggested, and it seems to be going much better. Once again, thanks for the help.

    bevbrown42
  • LucreLucre Member Posts: 16
    Spoke to soon. Travelling from one area to another and I'm waylaid by bandits. Surrounded by ten of them. The game might as well have popped up with a message saying, 'Sorry you just died of a random event, game over, try again'. I mean wtf, this isn't X-COM!

  • HeindrichHeindrich Member, Moderator Posts: 2,959
    Erm... u are playing BG 1 Vanilla right? Cos yeah, that's the nastiest ambush in the game for a low level party. There is no way to survive... you can't even run away.

    However, unless they changed something with v1.2 for BG EE, I don't think you get that kinda ambush in BG EE...

  • LucreLucre Member Posts: 16
    Yep, it's pure vanilla EE, i installed no mods. To top it off, when I get to the area above Naskel, there's a hungry vampiric wolf waiting for me. Can't touch him (even after buying +1 arrows), so I have to run all the way down to Nashkel with my tail between my legs. The crazy thing is that I'm actually enjoying the game, in a kind of masochistic way.

    bevbrown42
  • keuunnykeuunny Member Posts: 15
    @Heindrich1988
    They definately have the 10 bandits with a bow ambush in 1.2, I have had many charnames turn to dust because of that. As recent as yesterday in my half orc fighter solo run who was ripping the sword coast open before turning into swiss cheese lol

    Heindrichlelag200
  • HeindrichHeindrich Member, Moderator Posts: 2,959
    edited November 2013
    Oh... when I said Vanilla, I actually meant the original un-enhanced game. Believe it or not, that's actually a lot more hardcore. For example, you cannot stack potions, ammo only stacks to 10, and when u access inventory, the game doesn't pause. So, say u carelessly stumbled into some spiders and somebody gets poisoned, even if u have a anti-dote in ur character's backpack, it's no good if it's not in ur limited quickslots, cos in the time u go to look for a potion in inventory, the spiders will have gobbled everyone. Oh yeah, also game ending ambushes were a lot more common, and u can't use tab to highlight loot and hidden treasure...

    Anyway, that bandit ambush was unlucky, I didn't think it still happened cos I never experienced it in my first BG EE playthrough, and found the random encounters pretty tame overall compared to BG 1 Vanilla, where I'd cross my fingers and pray each time I travel. I strongly suggest that u go to rescue/kill Dynaheir before doing much around Nashkel. The wildnerness region on the way to the Gnoll Stronghold is populated by relatively easy enemies, and the Gnoll Stronghold itself is a nice training ground for low level parties, since Gnolls are easy.

    If u are playing Good (highly recommend in first playthrough), pick up Kivan in High Hedge if u haven't already. He is OP for BG 1. Also as people have already mentioned, make sure u target spellcasters first and keep disrupting them, cos a lot of spells can be game ending for a low level party.

  • Time4TiddyTime4Tiddy Member Posts: 262
    edited November 2013
    Lucre said:

    Yep, it's pure vanilla EE, i installed no mods. To top it off, when I get to the area above Naskel, there's a hungry vampiric wolf waiting for me. Can't touch him (even after buying +1 arrows), so I have to run all the way down to Nashkel with my tail between my legs. The crazy thing is that I'm actually enjoying the game, in a kind of masochistic way.

    That vampiric wolf, like the bandit ambush, is bad luck. There are a few spots where you can get a "random enemy" spawn which could be 4 kobolds, 2 bandit archers, or 1 vampiric wolf (for example). There are only a couple of places where vampiric wolves are static (always present) and not on the way to Nashkel.

    Try to remember those random enemy spawn points, they are often areas that also re-spawn. Static encounters will never come back, but the random spawns can come back as quickly as, you moved ten feet away and then your backmost party member went backwards two steps.

  • HeindrichHeindrich Member, Moderator Posts: 2,959
    Lucre said:

    The crazy thing is that I'm actually enjoying the game, in a kind of masochistic way.

    lol I know what u mean. As long as a game is not needlessly difficult in a tedious or fiddly way, and there is method to the madness, and u have the chance to keep learning and improving, I really enjoy a challenging game. Like I learnt the blast radius of a Fireball after Dynaheir first tried it, and blew up everyone, and I learnt to NEVER use Lightning indoors after that incident in the Nashkel Mines...

    It's perfectly normal to struggle a bit at the start, and the learning doesn't really stop for hundreds of hours to come, though thankfully it shouldn't stay so frustrating for too long.

    This is an excellent and entertaining LP for BG 1 by my favourite Youtuber. Obviously don't watch ahead of where u are in ur game so u don't get spoiled, but this clearly shows how others also struggle with this game. :)

    bevbrown42
  • cervanntescervanntes Member Posts: 64
    That bandit ambush is definitely one of the nastiest encounters for early levels, but it is survivable. If I had to pick the one thing that makes the earliest levels easier to survive, I'd pick the Sleep spell. If you can get your hands on someone that can cast that spell early in the game, things will be a lot easier. This is doubly true if you find a certain magic ring hidden in a very early area that lets you cast extra first level spells. But I actually agree with your latest post -- it may be crazy, but the challenge is why I keep coming back to BG after all these years. The plots and subplots of the game are neat, the characters are excellent, and the challenge high enough to encourage planning things out and thinking things through rather than just hacking and slashing. I'm not talking about min/maxing, but simply needing to stop and think about ways to beat a tough situation. In most situations there are dozens of ways to beat tough odds, and finding a way (preferably one that isn't pure cheese) is what keeps the game interesting for me.

    p.s. Those bandits...nasty guys, yes. Sleep helps a lot here, but unless you have multiple casters, it's still going to be a very difficult encounter. Here's what I usually do to survive that ambush at early levels. First, I try to get off any disabling spells I have that can take out ranged users (sleep, spook, color spray, command, blind, or even glitterdust or hold person if a bit later in game -- sleep may be the most useful, but any of the above will at least buy you time or take one or more enemies out of the fight temporarily. Every bit helps) At the same time, have anyone that isn't using disablers advance on any bandit that is still able to shoot -- engage as many bandits that aren't disabled as possible at melee. Why? To get them to put away those bows. As dangerous as being at melee may be for your character, letting them shoot at you is almost always way worse. Once your spellcasters are done disabling (if they can), they should also be advancing any remaining unattended archers if there are any, or ganging up on bandits via spell and missile one at a time if the bows are out of the picture. If I can survive the first round without anyone dying, I can usually make it all the way through the encounter alive with these tactics. I may have to burn a couple of healing potions, but I'll make it.

  • HeindrichHeindrich Member, Moderator Posts: 2,959
    @cervanntes

    It sounds as if we have a similar attitude to this game, and enjoy it the 'right way'. Yeah, I am judgemental and I do not approve of powergaming or cheese. :D

    I played BG 1 (both Vanilla and EE) with the canon party. Dynaheir is not the best caster, and I also didn't have a cleric, so I didn't have some useful spells. I also didn't know what I was doing a lot of the time. Believe it or not, I never used Remove Fear or Resist Fear until I reached the Underdark in BG 2, because I thought it was something u use after ur party had been Horror'd (and yes I never noticed the 'Resist' wording) and didn't realise it could protect the whole party. lol


    Time4Tiddy
  • Time4TiddyTime4Tiddy Member Posts: 262
    @Heindrich1988

    I also played BG vanilla for probably 10 years before I realized that you should cast Remove/Resist Fear before any battle against mages or clerics. I always thought it was a wasted spell slot when I could be memorizing another cure spell or acid arrow! :) Man, does it make the game easier.

    The bandit ambush is actually less bad now than it was in BG vanilla. I remember back in the day, if I got the bandit ambush, I'd just load saved game immediately. I think they reduced the number of bandits or it used to be bandits AND dogs or something. Either way, it doesn't seem nearly as bad now. The wyvern ambush on the other hand, that is a game stopper even for a high level party who knows what they are doing. I hate that one SO much.

  • BelgarathMTHBelgarathMTH Member Posts: 5,600
    edited November 2013

    Erm... u are playing BG 1 Vanilla right? Cos yeah, that's the nastiest ambush in the game for a low level party. There is no way to survive... you can't even run away.

    However, unless they changed something with v1.2 for BG EE, I don't think you get that kinda ambush in BG EE...

    @Heindrich1988, that ambush is indeed back in version 1.2 . In my latest run, I encountered it *twice* on the way to the Friendly Arms Inn, and had to reload both times. They really need to remove that random encounter from the game, because there is no way for a first or even second level party to survive it. You can't even get past it with a sleep spell, because the screen comes up with the party surrounded, with at least half the bandits out of range of the spell, and they *all* target Charname.

    Heindrich
  • HeindrichHeindrich Member, Moderator Posts: 2,959
    @belgarathmth

    Ah... I see. That is bad news. I suppose the pre-patch BG EE ambushes were too easy, which I felt were more of an inconvenience than a challenge, but it's kinda silly to include game-ending events that forces the player to reload through no fault of their own.

    In an ideal world, games would be released bug-free and then be left alone. Patches often provides enhancements, but it really annoys me how modern games are constantly changing, which often mess up saved games. (cos as u know, I tend to take my time with games lol)

  • jukagajukaga Member Posts: 49

    Sleep spell. Get the freebie ring outside FAI, memorize a ton of sleep spells, cast it every time there is more than one monster. Trust me. Five bow wielding hobgoblins become five sleeping hobgoblins. Four attacking wolves become three sleeping wolves and one waking wolf that you can focus fire on.

    I was going to say Sleep spell as well, it's your best friend for the first half of BG1, and damn useful later on. Deals with those archers nicely.

  • LadyRhianLadyRhian Member Posts: 14,694

    Oh... when I said Vanilla, I actually meant the original un-enhanced game. Believe it or not, that's actually a lot more hardcore. For example, you cannot stack potions, ammo only stacks to 10, and when u access inventory, the game doesn't pause. So, say u carelessly stumbled into some spiders and somebody gets poisoned, even if u have a anti-dote in ur character's backpack, it's no good if it's not in ur limited quickslots, cos in the time u go to look for a potion in inventory, the spiders will have gobbled everyone. Oh yeah, also game ending ambushes were a lot more common, and u can't use tab to highlight loot and hidden treasure...

    Anyway, that bandit ambush was unlucky, I didn't think it still happened cos I never experienced it in my first BG EE playthrough, and found the random encounters pretty tame overall compared to BG 1 Vanilla, where I'd cross my fingers and pray each time I travel. I strongly suggest that u go to rescue/kill Dynaheir before doing much around Nashkel. The wildnerness region on the way to the Gnoll Stronghold is populated by relatively easy enemies, and the Gnoll Stronghold itself is a nice training ground for low level parties, since Gnolls are easy.

    If u are playing Good (highly recommend in first playthrough), pick up Kivan in High Hedge if u haven't already. He is OP for BG 1. Also as people have already mentioned, make sure u target spellcasters first and keep disrupting them, cos a lot of spells can be game ending for a low level party.

    Arrows and ammo stack at 20 in the original BG. Not 10. :) And oh, filling Imoen's inventory with arrows for the both of us. Oh, the memories!

  • LucreLucre Member Posts: 16
    Well, despite a shaky start, which seemed much more difficult than first time round all those years ago, I finally finished the game. When I say “finished”, I mean “finished the main plot” because I couldn’t be bothered with most of the Tales of the Sword Coast stuff. I stopped at around 110k XP. I’m now having fun in BG2EE.

    In case it’s of interest to other newbies, some of the things I learned are as follows:

    1. You can actually run away from most encounters, if you need to.
    2. At the start of game you may well have encounters that you can’t win. Being surrounded by ten bandits, all evenly spaced, is just plain nasty. I’m not a great fan of the “flip a coin; oops, you’re dead” mechanic, but it doesn’t happen as often as I’d thought at first.
    3. Totally agree with the posters above about bows and slings. I used ranged weapons almost exclusively till around level 3 or 4, when I found melee weapons started to become powerful enough (and armour effective enough) to be worth it.
    4. Another point mentioned by other posters is the “Sleep” spell. I found this did work very effectively in the early levels.
    5. Switch off the AI and micromanage the fights.
    6. Oddly enough although I kept stocking up on spells like charm and dispel magic I found them largely useless, and pretty much stopped using them. I don’t think charm or hold person ever worked on a mob that I actually needed to charm or hold; and dispel magic never seemed to remove any debuffs from any of my own characters. Maybe I was just doing it wrong.
    7. It’s also really easy to kite powerful melee-only mobs. I found that with this technique I could take down ogre beserkers, bears, dire wolves, etc., with a low level party. One character got the aggro while the other five stood huddled together armed with bows and slings. The kiting character then ran rings around the other five (literally) while they bombarded the mob with arrows. Occasionally (but not often), the mob would aggro another character, and the newly-aggroed character would have to take up the baton. This strategy also worked fine with packs of two difficult mobs (and a lot of micromanagement). Totally cheesy tactics, but effective nonetheless.
    8. Sometimes, the RNG just has it in for you. One time, after a really difficult battle, I had to rest up, and I got ambushed eight times in a row while trying to rest. That pretty much used up all my healing potions.

    All in all, I thought it was a fun experience, although I’m enjoying BG2 much more. My two major gripes with BG1 are set out below. I’d be interested to hear the views of others on these gripes, in case I’ve maybe missed a way of dealing with them.

    (i) It seems very difficult to prepare properly for fights unless you already know what’s coming. I found that once I’d run into a group of magic-using mobs, it was too late to buff. But the buffs are mostly so short term that you wouldn’t want to cast them until just before the fight starts. That suggests adopting one of the following strategies:
    (a) After you have seen what’s coming, you reload, cast the appropriate buffs, and start fighting.
    (b) You follow a walkthrough which tells you what’s coming. In case it’s of interest, I found Haeravon’s guide for BGEE very useful. (Google “haeravon BGEE” to find it.)
    (c) You scout ahead with a stealthed character, so that you know what’s coming. I guess this is what the game expects you to do, but I found it too tedious to be bothered with it.
    (d) You turn the difficulty down to “normal”, so you can go storming into just about any battle without buffing. For the most part this was my own strategy.

    (ii) I didn’t like the detect traps mechanism. I got Imoen’s detect traps up to 100 as soon as possible, but I still found that I missed many traps, unless I travelled really really slowly. This was despite having “pause on detect traps” switched on in the options. In the end I decided to ignore traps, and for the most part that worked. Occasionally a trap would result in a death and I’d reload. My hatred of traps was the main reason I skipped Durlag’s Tower. Sadly, this aspect of the game doesn’t seem to be much improved in BG2EE.

  • LadyRhianLadyRhian Member Posts: 14,694
    The part about traps is certainly true. You sort of have to inch along, waving your mouse over the area ahead to detect them. It's slow, but it's also kind of like looking for traps in the actual D&D game. Your character actually has to look to find them, and you can't just walk around willy-nilly. Also potions of Master Thievery and Perception help greatly at boosting your thief skills, especially the second one for trap-finding. There are *not* enough of these in the game, however.

    Basically, the slower you move your thief, the easier it is to find traps (assuming you have the appropriate level of skill or a magic buff on your thief).

    Also, you don't need stealth to scout out ambushes if you have a potion or ring of Invisibility. In BG2: EE, the Magic Eye spell is a great scout. It just does nothing to detect traps. There is a priest spell called "Find Traps". it's second level, but if your PC isn't a cleric and you take only Jaheira, you'll miss out on it. Other good spells for dealing with mobs are "keep them in one place" spells like Web (second level mage spell) and Entangle (First Level Druid spell). They aren't perfect, but if you have your caster turn invisible and cast these spells on the mob, you can stand off and pelt them with arrows/bolts/axes/knives to your heart's content until they die. Just be sure not to put your own characters into the area of effect… unless they have a ring of free action.

    If you do ever decide to do Durlag's Tower (the top part is marginally easier than the dungeon), take the second level spell "Protection from Petrification" and kill the basilisks on top of the tower to find a very nice +2 Scimitar hidden in one of the chimneys.

  • BelgarathMTHBelgarathMTH Member Posts: 5,600
    Jaheira and all druids have Find Traps. :)

    Since the second level spell tier is a weak spot for druids, I often fill a lot of those slots with the Find Traps spell. It has some advantages over regular thief detect skill.

    The biggest advantage is that when it ticks at the beginning of the round, it reveals traps over a much larger area of effect than the thief skill. Another advantage is that you can keep the well-armored Jaheira or a PC fighter-druid (or cleric) in the front of the party, then bring your thief up from the back lines if a trap is found.

    The disadvantage is that it only detects the traps. You still have to have a properly skilled thief to disarm them.

    Also, I find that the biggest problem beginners have with the detect traps skill is not understanding that it only ticks once at the beginning of the round, and has a very short range - about six apparent feet in front of the thief, in a small cone-shaped field of vision.

    That's why you have to creep your thief forward just a little bit at a time down new corridors, until all the traps are found and disarmed. If the thief moves more than just a bit, he or she will likely walk right into one or more traps before the round ends and the skill ticks again.

    Agreed that the process is tedious, but it does add a lot of realism to the game, I think.

    If you just don't want to need find traps and open locks in your game, there's a mod called "Tweaks" that has components where you can choose to remove all traps, open all locks, and identify all items. I didn't like that, myself. The one time I turned those features on, I felt like it just took away the reason for thieves and bards to exist, and the game lost something important.

    HeindrichKurumi
  • LucreLucre Member Posts: 16
    Interesting comments, thanks. I must admit I hadn't appreciated that detect traps is only ticking once per round - I had assumed it was continuous. That explains a lot.

    I had seen the mod that removes traps, but I can't bring myself to use it. Even though I don't like the traps, they are a part of the game, and I feel I have to deal with them.

    BelgarathMTH
  • butsambutsam Member Posts: 46
    edited December 2013
    If you have any inclination at all of playing an Archer (ranger kit), I have found it to be a very easy way to start BG1 compared to other options. Enemies have a harder time killing your main character since they tend to focus on the front-line people, and the chances to hit are pretty high as are the attacks per round so your character still contributes quite a bit...particularly if you go with an Elven Archer with max dexterity and put as many points as you can into bows (I think you can put 2 at the start...eventually you can max it).

    I am with you for not liking traps, but for a different reason. I don't mind having someone to be on the lookout for traps, but I do not like being essentially forced to have a thief (since nobody else can disarm them). The thief was fun the first several times, but now I wish I could vary it up more but still remove traps. I'm not consoled by people who can find but not disable traps. It seems that in general there are a lot of options to perform any other basic task in the game (melee, priest-like spells, mage-like spells, ranged combat), but when it comes to traps, there is only 1 option, the thief. It is alleviated somewhat in BG1EE and BG2 with the addition of kits, but still it is certainly the most limited major component of AD&D 2nd Edition rules.

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