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What's your strategy of surviving the first few levels?

I have been playing this game for nearly two decades now, yet every time I start a new run, I am surprised how punishing the first couple of levels can be. No matter how well you play, you are essentially at the mercy of the twenty-sided dice. Going toe to toe with anything is a huge gamble - one unlucky roll and even the measliest gibberling will drop you in one hit. You barely have any equipment or spells worth mentioning, and even the best warrior has the THAC0 and APR of a blindfolded sloth. Run into something even slightly tougher and your chances of survival drop to almost zero.

Now, saving and reloading is an obvious strategy, but what if one is playing a minimal or no-reload run? I'm currently in the Nashkel mines and it seems that every second kobold encounter leaves someone in my party dead. All my gold is being spent on raising my dead comrades and the constant jog between the nearest temple and the spot where I left off is getting tedious. Have I missed something, or is there really no easier way of getting your characters through the first two levels?



FinnTheHuman

Comments

  • KaigenKaigen Member Posts: 1,567
    There are a few quests and XP sources in the early game that are completely safe, such as fetching the book for Firebead in Beregost or talking down Marl. Doing those solo with your main character before you start recruiting NPCs can give you a little boost in the early game.

    JuliusBorisov
  • ngreennzngreennz Member Posts: 4
    I just shoot everything. Against really threatening things like the Ogre (or wolves, etc) I use Montaron or someone as a patsy and run them around in circles while the rest of us plunk away until it's dead. When I pick up Jaheira and Khalid I've got a bit more breathing room, so I head down to Bereghost and do all the quests there that I can do on the "main path"; then I go to Nashkel and do the same thing. Once I'm done with the mines I'm set to take a break from the main quest and go rambling in the wilderness; generally the Gnoll Stronghold is first. I save the harder areas and the dungeons until after the bandit camp, usually.

    CaptRoryBelgarathMTHJuliusBorisov
  • LateralusLateralus Member Posts: 903
    Ballad said:

    I have been playing this game for nearly two decades now, yet every time I start a new run, I am surprised how punishing the first couple of levels can be. No matter how well you play, you are essentially at the mercy of the twenty-sided dice. Going toe to toe with anything is a huge gamble - one unlucky roll and even the measliest gibberling will drop you in one hit. You barely have any equipment or spells worth mentioning, and even the best warrior has the THAC0 and APR of a blindfolded sloth. Run into something even slightly tougher and your chances of survival drop to almost zero.

    Now, saving and reloading is an obvious strategy, but what if one is playing a minimal or no-reload run? I'm currently in the Nashkel mines and it seems that every second kobold encounter leaves someone in my party dead. All my gold is being spent on raising my dead comrades and the constant jog between the nearest temple and the spot where I left off is getting tedious. Have I missed something, or is there really no easier way of getting your characters through the first two levels?



    Ummm it's no secret that bows kill. Make your toughest character the tank, remember to use buff spells, potions, scrolls, etc. as needed and when available. Typically I don't pull any punches during the first few levels, I'll even read a fireball scroll before studying it (can't cast it from memory that early and you can buy it later) if I need to. Support your tank with a barrage of missiles. Not a bad idea to give the tank a potion of invisibility. Also make sure the tank is way out in front. Some creatures (particularly cave bears) hunt down the first person they see and they don't die easy. That's about all you can do, what gives RPG life? Dice rolls. Randomness, chaos, luck, call it what you will. All you can do is give yourself the best odds to succeed and move forward.

    Oh and characters of low level that can't wear helmets, should avoid close combat.

  • CaradocCaradoc Member Posts: 92
    edited April 2016
    -Do "safe quests" early on.
    -Until I hit level 4, I usually travel in a small party, that is 4 people max (me and 3 npcs).
    -Ranged combat is safer than melee so equip everyone in your party with bows, xbows. slings, darts etc.
    -Don't mind using scrolls, wands, potions etc as much as you can during those early levels. Later on you will have too much to make use any way. So no point saving them for later chapters. And wands can be always recharged (just remember not to use last charge).
    -Bassilliks are a great source of easy XP. You can level up quite fast there. Just remember to use the protection. ;)
    -Good early level spells that disable monsters: Sleep, blindness, color spray, spook

    BelgarathMTHJuliusBorisovQuique
  • AvlanAvlan Member Posts: 21
    Try to avoid melee combat at the earliest levels. Just kite with ranged weapons. Run ahead of the mob, turn back and shoot, repeat. Goes faster with more people in the party. There is a reason Ranged Weapons are so powerful in BG1. If you decide to tank them, use potions of healing as opposed to relying on heals. Early in the game, a mob can get a couple quick attacks and kill your tank faster than most heals can go off. Potions of healing are plentiful in this game, so use em!

    As for Early caster mobs, either have a member of the party who can control them(blindness, hold person, silence, command, etc), or avoid them until later when you can deal with them more swiftly. Make use of sleep if you can as well, try to save up the gold to purchase a wand of sleep early at High Hedge. It makes many of the large tougher group of mobs much easier to deal with.

  • SharGuidesMyHandSharGuidesMyHand Member Posts: 2,482
    Ballad said:

    I have been playing this game for nearly two decades now, yet every time I start a new run, I am surprised how punishing the first couple of levels can be. No matter how well you play, you are essentially at the mercy of the twenty-sided dice. Going toe to toe with anything is a huge gamble - one unlucky roll and even the measliest gibberling will drop you in one hit. You barely have any equipment or spells worth mentioning, and even the best warrior has the THAC0 and APR of a blindfolded sloth. Run into something even slightly tougher and your chances of survival drop to almost zero.

    Now, saving and reloading is an obvious strategy, but what if one is playing a minimal or no-reload run? I'm currently in the Nashkel mines and it seems that every second kobold encounter leaves someone in my party dead. All my gold is being spent on raising my dead comrades and the constant jog between the nearest temple and the spot where I left off is getting tedious. Have I missed something, or is there really no easier way of getting your characters through the first two levels?

    Are you playing in a completionist manner where you don't leave an area of a map until you've uncovered every bit of it? I would strongly advise against that - that's how you're more likely to run into OP'd enemies like vampiric wolves. Put yourself in your character's shoes (i.e: alone, traumatized, and alienated) and follow the path that the game urges you on. The first person that you meet after Imoen joins (Kolssed) advises you to stay close to the roads, which are comparatively safer. I recommend following a fairly straightforward path as the game directs you (i.e.: straight to the Friendly Arm, then through Beregost and onto Nashkel, following the roads all the way) until you've cleared the Nashkel Mines. I typically don't begin branching out and chasing subquests like Brage and Bassilus until I've done that.

  • drawnacroldrawnacrol Member Posts: 252
    edited April 2016
    Cast Web
    Use Bows + Magic Missle

    If stuck later in the game
    Fireball everything

  • Yann1989Yann1989 Member Posts: 92
    edited April 2016
    At the beginning, avoid leaving the road and recruit 2 NPCs, either Xzar and Montaron or Khalid and Jaheira. With Imoen, that makes a 4-members party, and from then you should be able to defeat weak ennemies. Try to level up a bit before going to the Nashkel mines.

    Hobgobelins surrounding the Friendly arm are a good start.

  • BalladBallad Member Posts: 198
    edited April 2016
    decado said:

    Buy any Potion of Mirror Eyes/Scrolls of Protection from Petrification, load up on ranged weapons and make a beeline for the basilisk area. Once there by making good use of Korax even a level 1 solo player can clear the map.

    Just remember to not let Korax get any of the killing blows (easy for him to do once he has paralysed a basilisk). you want all of the sweet sweet XP.

    Thanks! This is exactly what I ended up doing and it worked like a charm. I discovered you don't even need protective scrolls and potions - just let Korax stun the basilisks before engaging with the rest of your party. I managed to clear all but one of the basilisks plus Mutamin before the poor ghoul expired. The exp was enough to lift my party of 5 to levels 3-4. After this, getting through the Nashkel mines was easy even on Insanity and SCS. :smile:

    After clearing the mines, I decided to go Ankheg culling for some more sweet XP. Ankhegs can hit for as high as 30hp total with their acid damage proc but they're pretty slow. I found out that Branwen's Animate Dead works beautifully against these creatures. Just let the skeleton warriors engage while the rest of your party peppers them with arrows and slingstones. After some lounging around the cave entrance, my party had gotten up to level 5 overall, enough for Imoen to regain her thief levels (I had her dualled at level 4).


    JuliusBorisovMontresor_SP
  • moody_magemoody_mage Member Posts: 2,052
    Good going. The scrolls/potions are more for backup as if not carefully micromanaged Korax can be a bit squishy.

    Wow that's a lot of Ankegs!

    Ballad
  • The_CheesemanThe_Cheeseman Member Posts: 175
    First, go recruit Jaheira and steal her potion of invisibility. Then kick everyone out and go to the basilisk map alone. Get Korax, chug your invis potion, and follow him around slaughtering all the basilisks. It's entirely possible to kill all of them and Mutamin before his Charm wears off. This will get you to level 5-ish.

    Go to High Hedge and buy the wand of sleep. Anybody can use the wand, and Ankhegs are suceptible to sleep. Head to the Ankheg hive and use the wand to murder all the Ankhegs (use the tight corners to break line of sight and if they save in order to avoid their ranged attacks).

    Once you finish this process, go recruit the characters you actually want to use, and they'll be near max level.

    BalladFenghoang
  • magisenseimagisensei Member Posts: 316
    For a team of newbie adventurers (being at level 1-2) your best bet is to hit and run with missile weapons assuming you are able to use them and have bought them for your team (assuming a team of 4). During the early parts of the game you should just have enough money for some half decent armor and the tower shield (assuming they can lift it) and viola you have a tank to hide behind and pepper safely from a distant.
    So bows and missile weapons are a must to be safe - arm everyone with them as soon as possible.

    Spells that prove useful if you just have Jaheria - is "entangle" - just tie up all your foes and safely hit them with missile weapons.

    As for melee - try to do it as little as possible -without a good AC (of 0 or better) its going to be painful. Unless you are facing some small fry monsters (1 or 2 gibberings but they can be painful if there are a lot of them).

    Now if you have a mage with you (expanding your party to 5 or 6) then spell options increase your survival rate dramatically - e.g. sleep does wonders at these levels, also grease - basically AOE spells that can at least temporarily disable monsters are good and the first levels scrolls are mostly easy to find.

    Facing real challenges like an ogre... well even in a party of 6 facing it is dangerous (6 vs 1) - hit and run, and use a decoy. And make sure you do not open the entire shadowed area so the ogres friends can join - take them down one by one if possible (sure its a cheat of sorts but its survival as well).

    Talking your way out works as well - never think that bashing is your only option.

    RUN ! If all else fails... RUN!

  • DevardKrownDevardKrown Member Posts: 421
    After Candlekeep i grab Imoen
    Xzar and Montaron
    Kill the Mage before Friendly Arm (only real danger)
    Invite the Grumpy and the Stupid Halfelf , lighten everyone of their potions, and remove them.
    Avoid everything towards bergeost.
    Talk Down marl, bring the beardy his Book
    and as a Fresh lvl 2 i go Basilisk hunting , Korax stuns them so they are dirt easy to Hit. 1700 xp for the small Ones and 7 k for the big ones , just avoid the adventurer group.
    grab a stone to flesh at the temple for 300 extra xp and a rep point.

    without haste and not knowing the map ( so slowly crawling forward) i made 27k xp before korax though im yummy.

    that bumbs you to lvl ~4 and out the Get hit and drop dead Zone.

  • BlomdorBlomdor Member Posts: 26
    edited April 2016
    As so many others have said, ranged attacks are extremely effective. I usually feel too guilty to tell poor Imoen to get lost in any of the games, so she's a mainstay of my party, and she is very competent with a shortbow early on. If I don't mind him rushing me a little with his demands to visit Disney World the bandit camp, I like to take Kivan along as well. Anyone who can use some kind of ranged attack does, until somebody can at least handle a couple of wolves for a few rounds.

    I like to put off the Nashkel Mines and goof off in the wilderness for as long as possible, just because it's fun to do. Many of the quests one finds in the early towns provide quick and easy experience as well. Until I've gained a level or two, though, I stay alive mainly by avoiding melee combat with anything and going through a lot of arrows.

    There's another trick I recommend: the first level mage spell Sleep. It is ridiculously effective against low level enemies. At higher levels, of course, it becomes useless, so it's nice to take advantage of it here, so early in the game.

    I've gone straight to the basilisks before as has been suggested, but for some reason I find that first, immense, slow but steady climb from level one to level two to be strangely satisfying and I find myself reluctant to rush it.

  • PartyLikeANinjaStarPartyLikeANinjaStar Member Posts: 15
    I always give the entire party ranged weapons and only fight in melee if it can't be helped. You can usually take down most enemies before they close in. If it's a tough enemy (like the ogre with the belt fetish), you just spread the party out and fire. When he closes in on one person, have them run. The ogre will close in on the next closest person so have them run while the first runner turns back around and attacks. Rinse and repeat. Works on any tough enemy.

  • SirBatinceSirBatince Member Posts: 809
    sell the ring of wizardry and diamond to solve the money problem, then go kill all the rabble in beregost (including firebead!) for auto level up. Then start playing normally.

  • ChidojuanChidojuan Member Posts: 211
    Auto pause auto pause and more auto pause. I recently started using this on an Insane play through. It keeps you involved even more in my opinion while not breaking immersion. And it lets you stop and assess before being attacked immediately. Great strategy without being cheesy.

  • GreenWarlockGreenWarlock Member Posts: 1,354
    2nd level can make a huge difference to survivability, especially for warriors. There are several warriors you can pick up early who are 2nd level, or close enough - Jaheira, Kivan, and Adjantis. Likewise, Kagain in Beregost has a 20 constitution, which means he will actually regenerate - he will enter every map after travels on full hits.

    Also as noted above, there are some easy XP to be gained early in non-combat quests, especially talking down Marl when you know the routine. I make sure to do everything I can in Candlekeep, then pick up some easy quests in Beregost. Joia's ring is also fairly easy - but does involve combat with foes slightly more dangerous than gibberlings.

    Beregost supports a lot of small doses of cheap xp when Imoen goes on a lock-picking spree. This is a new feature for the enhanced editions, but make the most of it! Ideally before growing your party if you are trying to boost the early xp.

    If playing no-reload, be sure to make good use of all of those potions you pick up. When playing with quick save, the feeling of peril is somehow lacking, and most potions are seen as an alternative income source. Playing no/minimal reload, you really appreciate the importance of a healing potion, which at low levels is as good as a total heal!

    I tend to pool my money and buy items that will have a pronounced impact on the party, but make sure to pick up the free kit that is just lying around. There is a +1 ring of protection on the second map out of Candlekeep, a ring of Wizardly near the Friendly arm inn, and a handy suit of armor concealed around Nashkel (the latter is the only one I did not find for myself). For the Enhanced Edition, a magic mace, the Stupefier, was added in Beregost as well.

    In many cases, you can arrange a party-on-one combat that leans heavily in your favor. For example, Silke can be a dangerous opponent at low level, especially if she gets off her lightning bolt. However, you get time to position your party before the fight starts, so make sure you are spread out, and that she is taking damage too regularly to cast spells without disruption - she goes down quickly and is worth a reasonable xp boost.

    Generally, unless playing a multi-class character, I want my main PC to be 3rd level before heading down the Nashkell mines, just so that I don't need to worry too much about kobold archers getting lucky. I certainly don't want any other party members to be stuck at 1st either, although will risk them at 2nd.

    Before you know it, the party is 3rd level, you are dreaming up new abilities, and the game kicks up a gear where you can enjoy cruising around more of the maps, rather than agonizing over and micromanaging every encounter. But those early levels are, in some ways, the most fun part of the game.

    BalladCaptRory
  • Ark_ToleiArk_Tolei Member Posts: 69
    Use exclusively ranged weapons until you have at least plate armor, except when facing enemies that have ranged weapons themselves. For those enemies charge with a character using your best armor and a large shield, and have everyone else use ranged attacks to bring them down. If you're dealing with a creature that can only be struck by magic you can try melee kiting, but it's far more dangerous, and impossible in multiplayer.

    Command is a godlike ability that puts an end to any single enemy that's below level 5. If your protagonist is a cleric you can have up to 3 per rest, which is enough to incap multiple maps worth of difficult foes. If you don't feel liking kiting an ogre you can easily kill it in one round with command, with no saving throw. I mostly use it for archers, though because they're the most dangerous foes at level 1. It's great for mages as well but most mages seem to be above level 5. It's particularly amazing against clerics since makes it easy to interrupt their spells (you autohit while they're down, the command itself doesn't stop the spellcast, only delay it) as well as land damage.

    When put in a difficult position where you can't avoid taking damage with someone, remember that in unmodded BG you cannot be one shot unless you have at least 15 max hp. You will automatically resist enough damage to take you to 1 hit point if you had full hp before the attack lands. There's no meaningful difference between having 4 max hp and 10 when fighting an ogre on insane difficulty (actually there is, cure light wounds heals 8 damage so the 10 hp character will need 2 heals per hit to avoid death), and a rogue with 18 hp is actually in more danger than they were with 12 because a lucky crit from anything that's reasonably strong can kill them. I was recently crit for 48 damage by an ogre berserker on insane, so on insane having low max hp can actually be extremely good for your health.

    You can use this knowledge to spread your damage out and ensure that a lucky hit cannot kill you.

    Kobold commandos and other enemies with elemental attacks can 1 shot you, of course (physical damage drops you below full, then the elemental damage kills you). Kobold commandos are the most sadistic creature ever invented.

    If you find yourself facing off against an overwhelmingly powerful opponent for whom kiting isn't an option and command is ineffective (undead) doom can be a lifesaver. a doom+protection from evil combination on your tank could make the difference between the enemy hitting on a 16, or only on a 20, cutting damage taken to 1/5th of its original value.

    And supposing you were to find a protection from evil scroll on the long dead corpse of a nearby enemy only after you and your friend die several times to a vengeful spirit and finally defeat it through shear grit and determination? Don't mention it to him, it will bring only pain.

    CaptRoryBallad
  • GrimLefourbeGrimLefourbe Member Posts: 635
    I think this is new but I noticed that sirines spawn by pack of 10 when resting on the lighthouse map. They are vulnerable to the sleep spell so if you still find the game difficult you can power level yourself through resting and killing the sirines over and over.

    Might as well use story mode though imo.

    GreenWarlock
  • QuiqueQuique Member Posts: 62
    Caradoc said:

    -Do "safe quests" early on.
    -Until I hit level 4, I usually travel in a small party, that is 4 people max (me and 3 npcs).
    -Ranged combat is safer than melee so equip everyone in your party with bows, xbows. slings, darts etc.
    -Don't mind using scrolls, wands, potions etc as much as you can during those early levels. Later on you will have too much to make use any way. So no point saving them for later chapters. And wands can be always recharged (just remember not to use last charge).
    -Bassilliks are a great source of easy XP. You can level up quite fast there. Just remember to use the protection. ;)
    -Good early level spells that disable monsters: Sleep, blindness, color spray, spook

    I agree with caradoc (plus he was succinct, which is much appreaciated).

    With a no reload game you might as well rest a lot if you wanna keep those health bars full and spam the few spells you have available.

  • matricematrice Member Posts: 86
    edited April 2016
    Kill the siren that kiss to death one of your character. she is slow, you can do it alone, and for the only random encounter that could happen, well you don't care as you can make the whole travel while being super close to the border of the map (and anyway you will most likely never find one + you'll don't get random encounter in between the map if you take the shortest path)

  • RaduzielRaduziel Member Posts: 4,716
    One easy way to kill Silke is using Imoen's Wand of Magic Missile.

    You'll just need a little bit of timing to shoot everytime she starts to cast. As a bard she don't have too much spells.

    Two character can easily kill her using this method.

  • GlorfindelGlorfindel Member Posts: 65

    I tend to pool my money and buy items that will have a pronounced impact on the party, but make sure to pick up the free kit that is just lying around. There is a +1 ring of protection on the second map out of Candlekeep, a ring of Wizardly near the Friendly arm inn, and a handy suit of armor concealed around Nashkel (the latter is the only one I did not find for myself). For the Enhanced Edition, a magic mace, the Stupefier, was added in Beregost as well.

    I like this. Plus, I like to pick up Viconia immediately. You can get a suit of plate mail armor for saving her which is helpful early on. Then I grab Ajantis real quick who is already level 2.

    CaptRory
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