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BG2 Solo SCS Spell Guide

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BG2 Solo SCS Spell Guide


Spell guides: there are dozens already out there and while everybody's opinions differ, we all know that Magic Missile, Mirror Image, Skull Trap, Stoneskin, Breach, Protection From Magical Weapons, Project Image, Abi-Dalzim's Horrid Wilting and Time Stop are all you need, right?

Trouble is that nearly all the spell guides already written are for the vanilla game, where indeed a handful of powerful spells are all you need to conquer everything. See a mage? Breach him. Melee opponents getting to you? Stoneskin. Want to kill a bunch of enemies? Horrid Wilting. And so on.

When I first started playing with SCS I was amazed at the additional complexity of the AI. In particular the improved mages were remarkable. In the vanilla game I had never blinked at seeing a Yuan-ti mage. Now with SCS they were an utter nightmare, they hung around for ages, dispelled all my protections, and peppered me with Magic Missiles. The game had changed and the old tricks no longer worked.

At first I had no idea how to get through layers of magical defences. Then I read through the spell descriptions and gradually began to work it out. So I need a Secret Word to get rid of that. But first a Spell Thrust to remove this. And only then can I Breach. Do I have a Secret Word and Spell Thrust? Of course not. Who in the vanilla game even looked at those spells, let alone memorise them?

For the last few years I have exclusively played solo no reload. Party games no longer appeal to me, I know the companions, I love the roleplaying, the story is great. But I've already been there and now the challenge I'm interested in is the strategic combat aspect: to fight the full array of BG2 opponents at their utmost power, with their AI enhanced by SCS. And to do it without any kind of cheesy tactics or crutches, and most importantly, with just the one life. To survive everything they can throw at me and to find a way around it and ultimately to have the Bhaalspawn prevail.

I have lost count of the number of no-reload SCS games I have played. Most fail quickly (damn you Dire Charm!); some last longer (how the %*$! am I supposed to deal with the Shade Lord's aura?!). Some get very far and then succumb to restart-itis (Okay I'm in Suldanessellar but how cool would a Berserker-Assassin with Swashbuckler AC bonus but no armour and no traps be?).

One thing I've realised from my experience is that while all kinds of classes and combinations can do well if utilised intelligently, mage types have a far better chance of survival than any other class. Moreover, the sheer complexity of arcane magic adds a huge amount to the strategic element of the game. If you're ever going to beat a no-reload SCS, you need to understand the magic system.

I decided to write this spell guide from a specific perspective. This is not a vanilla BG2 spell guide, nor is it a guide for party play. This guide is for a solo character with SCS. My explanations and ratings for each arcane spell below are based on my experience playing the game under no-reload conditions. Naturally if you play with reloads, you might not weight so heavily towards some defensive spells that I rate highly. I should also add that I play with Item Randomiser, which I think is a wonderful mod which makes every game different. As such, I have not assumed that you will have specific equipment that would otherwise be easily or quickly obtainable and which would make certain spells obsolete.

Finally I should point out that this guide is written for BG2, ie SoA and ToB. If you're playing from BG1 then bear in mind that while the majority of the guidance and explanation is still relevant, some of the nuances are different. For example spells like Sleep are very useful in BG1 and totally useless in BG2, so the rating below would not be applicable for the BG1 portion of the game.

Two Types of Casters

In the descriptions below I make reference to two types of casters: pure spellcasters and fighter-types.

Pure spellcasters are those classes that rely almost exclusively on magic. These include single class mages, sorcerers, cleric/mages and most types of thief/mages. Pure spellcasters have to use spells to cover all functions: summoning, damage, defence, debuffing, crowd control etc. They therefore require a wide ranging spellbook and do not get too much mileage from spells that enhance combat prowess.

Fighter-types are those classes for whom magic complements their weapon skills. These include the various types of fighter/mages and swashbuckler/mages. Fighter-types have slightly different requirements from their spellbook: they do not need magic for their damage output, they can use their weapons and thereby get by with fewer damaging and summoning spells. Fighter types can instead concentrate on defensive spells as well as debuffing and crowd control. They are especially interested in spells that enhance combat capability.

While the value and utility of most spells are similar for spellcasters and fighter-types, certain spells have nuances that favour one type more than the other. I have noted these where applicable. Likewise some spells get a higher rating for one type over the other.

Explanation of Ratings

I have rated each spell out of 5, with 1 the lowest rating and 5 the highest. Below is an explanation of what each rating means.

1: These spells are either useless or of such limited utility that you will hardly ever need them. You will pretty much never need to memorise these spells.

2: These spells are of limited utility. They have some value and may be helpful in certain situations or for a specialised strategy. But on the whole they are not spells you will use regularly. You will rarely need to memorise these spells.

3: These are solid spells that will serve you well. You will likely use these spells regularly and they will be an important part of your spellbook. You will memorise these spells frequently.

4: These are strong spells and will form a key part of your regular strategy. You will be using these spells in any tough encounter and will memorise them on an everyday basis.

5: These spells are essential for your character to thrive and survive. These are the spells around which you will form entire strategies. You will need to prioritise these spells and ensure you never leave base without them.

Post edited by Jaheiras_Witness on


  • lunarlunar Member Posts: 3,413
    Very solid work. I love scs and tend to play minimal or in some cases where I am not that happy with my pc, no-reload games as well. A few nitpicks:

    I did not know horror had +2 saving bonus, that makes the spell weak sauce. Still I have found uses for it occasionaly. BUT, and this is a big but, any enemy party with an enemy cleric (and there are lots in bg2, even fodder like hobgoblins have their shamans) in it will be immune to this spell as the cleric will come pre-buffed with remove fear. And can remove fear if you dispel the protections.

    I thought mage hold person had -1 save penalty, instead of -2. I remember seeing it like this while toying with spell files via DLTCEP. Hold monster has the -2 penalty to save, though.

    Enchanted weapon spell is wonderful to have in Spellhold challenge from scs:when all your items are taken from you by Irenicus, +3 weapons created by this spell help tremendously until you escape the Asylum.

    Fireshield red and blue are actually quite powerful, scs mages love casting the two of them via sequencer when they are facing heavy melee, and it is a pain. A real pain. My poor fighters suffer a slew of cold and fire damage when they hit the mage. Even if you hit the mage with a spell like secret word or such, if you are close enough the fireshields will hurt you. And the damage quickly stacks up to worrisome levels, especially when the enemy mage has both of them. (purple shield effect) One tactic may be casting protection from magical weapons and wade into a group of enemies with two shields active. The damage from fireshields ignore magic resistance as well so you can punish some pesky drow.

    I did not know Greater Malison bypassed MR. Good to know.

  • Jaheiras_WitnessJaheiras_Witness Member Posts: 598
    Thank you :). Yes, Horror has a save bonus and I noted the point about enemy priests casting Remove Fear. You may be correct about Hold Person, I will check and amend.

    Good point also about Enchanted Weapon. As for Fireshields, you can dispel with Breach or just use missile weapons, the Fireshields do nothing if you keep your distance and use missiles. An arrow of dispelling will get rid of them too.

  • BerconBercon Member Posts: 486
    edited November 2014
    Sunfire doesn't bypass magic resistance in enhanced edition, making it pretty weak, especially if you have party/summons along.

    I also wouldn't personally rate Spell Thrust as high since it only dispels only minor protections, spell immunity and spell shield. Spell level 4 has less useful spells that you spam (no fireballs/skullstraps etc.) so Secret Word is usually the better choice imo. It also dispels everything except Spell Trap.

    For SCS spell caster combat this might be useful cheat sheet:

    Post edited by Bercon on
  • elminsterelminster Member, Developer Posts: 16,207
  • lunarlunar Member Posts: 3,413
    Sunfire spell does not bypass MR in enhanced edition, if I am not mistaken. It was never supposed to do so, it was just a bug in the game engine that any spell that you target directly on yourself bypassed MR (so you can get affected by your own spells if you wanted to) and sunfire is a caster-targeted spell is fixed in EE. Otherwise it is hugely more powerful than its icy counterpart Cone of Cold as CoC can not bypass MR. CoC does much more damage at lvl 20, though.

    Pierce Shield is essential in some key fights, where enemy is immune to Lower Resistance and Pierce Magic but not to Pierce Shield. Demogorgon, Ravager in ToB, and maybe the big boss at the end of ToB? You need Pierce Shield to lower their magic resistance so your spells can touch them. So an essential solo sorc pick, IMHO.

    Energy blades is a very useful spell in some situations, but its electrical damage does not bypass mr. I find it odd as even lowly melf's minute meteors fire damage bypasses mr and a HLA can not.

  • BerconBercon Member Posts: 486

    Spell Thrust dispels ALL spell protections of level 5 or lower. Secret Word dispels ONE protection of up to level 8. Both are absorbed by Spell Shield and negate it.

    This means that Spell Thrust should be your go-to spell to debuff lower level protections, as you get rid of all in one go. Secret Word should only be used against the following 3 spells: Globe Of Invulnerability, Spell Deflection and Spell Turning. Everything else is already covered by Spell Thrust.

    Good points. Excellent guide and reference :)

  • chickenhedchickenhed Member Posts: 208
    What an AMAZING guide! Thank you! I will be referencing this CONSTANTLY.

    Quick question. You said:

    Secret Word should only be used against the following 3 spells: Globe Of Invulnerability, Spell Deflection and Spell Turning. Everything else is already covered by Spell Thrust.

    I thought Globe of Invulnerability protected you against lvl 1, 2, 3, and 4 spells. Wouldn't that mean that Secret Word would not work against it?

    Thanks again for this! Spectacular stuff!

  • Jaheiras_WitnessJaheiras_Witness Member Posts: 598
    Thanks! GoI is like all spell protects against spells other than those spells specifically designed to remove it. So while GoI protects against most level 1-4 spells, Secret Word will remove it.

  • abacusabacus Member Posts: 1,308
    Bookmarking the Hell out of this thread!

  • GrandGourouGrandGourou Member Posts: 3
    Bercon said:

    Great support, thank you !

    What is the difference between "dispelled" and "cancels" ? In both case protection is removed isn't it ?

    PS : sorry for my poor english, i'm french ...

  • BerconBercon Member Posts: 486
    Dispelled means that your spell does what the description says, for example in case of Spellstrike it removes all spell protections from target. Spell Shield is a special case that protects you from protection removal spells such as Spellstrike, so instead of Spellstrike dispelling all your protections it only dispels Spell Shield and leaves everything else intact i.e. they cancel each other out.

    If you have Spell Immunity, Spell Turning and Spell Trap cast on yourself and somebody casts Spellstrike on you, you are left with nothing. If you additionally have Spell Shield on yourself, Spellstrike will dispel/cancel only Spell Shield and rest of the protections are left intact.

  • GrandGourouGrandGourou Member Posts: 3
    Ok ! Thank you, now it's clear ! Your spreadsheet is so useful for me ! Thanks again ;)

  • BelgarathMTHBelgarathMTH Member Posts: 5,611
    @Jaheiras_Witness‌ ,wow, what a fantastic spell guide. Thanks for your hard work. I just spent my whole Sunday afternoon reading this instead of the Sunday paper. I'm glad @Bercon bumped it by posting the Wish table, because I missed this thread when you first posted it back in November. Btw, thank you too for the Wish table, @Bercon

  • athanasathanas Member Posts: 27
    Thank for the table! Just wondering the meaning:-)
    Options from Wish spell are randomly taken from the column corresponding the WIS, right? But what does mean the last three lines?
    Bercon said:

    / Breach E Stats (25) P \
    OR < > OR
    \ Rest & Remem. P Mass Raise Dead P /

    (sorry for broken formating)

  • BerconBercon Member Posts: 486
    I think it refers to the last two rows of WISH.2DA that both use line number 27 which is probably a bug. I'm not sure which one the infinity engine picks. I don't think its random, so it should be one of those rows every time.

  • MeyahiMeyahi Member Posts: 143
    Great guide, incredible work. You should post it as an arcane spell guide in gamefaqs for BG2:EE since most people will look for faqs there.

  • ScourgeScourge Member Posts: 97
    Great guide. Now please, make the same guide for those who use Spell revisions ahahah <3

  • Jaheiras_WitnessJaheiras_Witness Member Posts: 598
    You're welcome all, I enjoyed writing it, and yes, I need to put it into a document and make it available for download at some stage.

    Can't do one for Spell Revisions because I don't use that mod! Might do one for Divine spells at some stage though.

  • ScourgeScourge Member Posts: 97
    my suggestion is that you should start using it. You will enjoy it.

    Oh, and by the way, you should publish this guide on gamefaq. ;)

  • Jaheiras_WitnessJaheiras_Witness Member Posts: 598
    I've had a look at Spell Revisions before but it's not for me. I can see what it tries to do, make more spells useful, but the means is simply to make everything hideously powerful, and that's unbalanced even taking SCS into account. If you look at the spells they get higher and higher saving throw penalties, such that a Finger of Death has a -6 save penalty (!). The saving throw categories also become very random, you have saves vs death, breath and spell almost randomly, instead of a consistent save vs spells.

    As a human player it becomes even more tiresome as you now have to aim to get even more saving throws to around -8 to be safe. And AI opponents (even with SCS) do not have the means to defend against such powerful spells. It makes magic even more powerful, when in reality magic is already unbalanced.

    If you like it, fair enough, go ahead and enjoy; it's just not for me.

  • MeyahiMeyahi Member Posts: 143
    I'm bumping this since it has been quite helpful for me even though I've been playing the for a very long time.

  • DemivrgvsDemivrgvs Member Posts: 315
    edited January 2015
    @Jaheiras_Witness Spell Revisions goal surely isn't "to make everything hideously powerful", quite the opposite, but I admit the 3E-like save penalties was a big mistake (and thanks to players feedback now SR has a much better save system).

    Just so you know, for the new version of SR (which is also BGEE compatible) we reverted that and thanks to a huge amount of beta testing we have finely tuned the save penalty or bonus (re-introduced for few cases) of each spell.

    The saving throw categories also become very random, you have saves vs death, breath and spell almost randomly, instead of a consistent save vs spells.

    It's not random at all man:
    - diseases, poisons, death effects, etc. require a save vs. death/poison
    - reflex-based effects require a save vs. breath
    - mind-affecting effects require a save vs. spell
    - alterations effects require a save vs. polymorph/petrification
    Does it look "random"? :)

    Btw, I'm obviously biased, but I'm 100% sure that if you give a chance to V4 there's no way you'll regret it. ;)

    Post edited by Demivrgvs on
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