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BG Games - How do high level mages play?

LegendLegend Member Posts: 36
Hallo! I've posted around on these forums before.. but it was a while ago and I have no idea what my account was then, so nevermind that!

On to my question then... I've played through to the end of ToB a couple of times, but never as a spellcaster (and by that I mean a mage or sorcerer) - I'm really just wondering how exactly they play, as I hear so much about how so absurdly powerful they are in the latter echelons of the game. Please keep in mind I usually play solo characters, or at least if not, then very very small parties (one to three characters in the party maximum).

What makes the mages inherently so powerful as the game progresses?

Does a high level mage or sorcerer play very differently from one another?

How would a typical fight go against trash monsters? I mean when you're just 'exploring' the map - I'm guessing you'd run out of mass area-of-effect spells sooner rather than later.. do you end up having to rest an awful lot?

How about the more difficult fights? I know there is such a huge variety of encounters in the game, I'm really just looking for a 'feel' of the class.

Are all of the mage schools 'more or less' equally effective as the game goes on?

Is the class fun to play? Again obviously fun is very subjective, to me it seems having a toolbox of spells sounds pretty fun, trying to think of a way around any given situation. But does it play as 'fun' as it sounds?

--

I feel I could ask a lot more questions, but I don't want to ramble on - I think it's clear I'm just trying to get a picture!

Thank you very much for reading!

Comments

  • The user and all related content has been deleted.

    DreadKhan
  • LegendLegend Member Posts: 36
    Mm that's kind of annoying but fair enough I suppose.

    Still higher level mages have a lot of spells, it surely doesn't take too many to burn through the enemies does it?

    What I'm trying to say is, I expected they would need to rest a bit - but 'rest spam' sounds like a lot..

  • DreadKhanDreadKhan Member Posts: 3,859
    I'll offer a few strategies I used with solo arcane, but I'm no expert!

    In BG1, getting the Ring of Wizardry helps a ton right away, even if you just want to sell it. Solo sorcerer needs it less than pure mage obviously. Some think its cheesey and avoid. Also if possible get the belt from the ogre for arrow protection, VERY HANDY to survive the ring of archer ambushes.

    For early groups of enemies, use Sleep. Its very effective if used right. Its way better than damage spells early. In addition to sleep, use either throwing daggers or darts to kite enemies. You'll be forever killing a wolf or group, but it works.

    Use scrolls, wands and definately buy the One Gift Lost asap. You can sell it and rebuy it to rechsrge, but you shouldn't need to. If you sold the Ring, you can buy lots of scrolls easily. As soon as reasonable if good or neutral get the Archmagi robe. Wand of Sleep is worthy of consideration if pure mage.

    Note the penelty a few spells offer, specifically Chaos and Web. Both are devestating. Note you can double up webs, with a sequencer or just 2 casts. 2 Webs vs most non-spider enemies is good odds of lockdown. Buy Chaos scrolls if available, they're able to cripple whole mobs.

    Larloch's Minor Drain can be a handy interrupter vs enemy mages, so evil isn't a bad choice other than later robe. As in you'll cast Armour a lot more. Mirror Image can be a big help vs groups, but the Wand of Monster Summoning is a beast.

    Use Knock to open stuff. This is annoying w/out spammed rests, so I'd just accept some missed chests. I've cheated in a stack of Knocks, but you don't need to; I also cheated in a bag of Holding, good god did I ever have extra cash!

    There is a wand of Frost in the tree in the top left corner of the Nashkel Mines map. This is handy vs bosses, bug try not to freeze them to death iirc it can destroy loot. Great vs those various constructs, like those guys protecting Davaeorn. They generally have crummy loot anyways, just freeze them.

    Use invisibilty and a potion of free freedom to bypass the stupid spider map. So not worth bothering with.

    Afaik, one of the few enemies worth risking vs your familiarnis Basilisks, they are immune to petrification. Iirc, they might still switch to you, they've done it to a solo bard of mine, so save first. Oh, and Greater ones can poison bite, which'll kill your familiar, so save! Or start with 18 cons.

    At higher levels (15?) Animate Dead summons serious help, these guys can cream most SoA mobs with support. In BG2 you really need to be prepared to out-cast mages, so learn what counters what, and prepare accordingly. Get the Staff of the Magi asap to have an easier time. Free invisibilty is a big boon! Note, you can still use Web and Chaos, but you'll really want to double up in BG2. Mordy's Swords are handy, and note many enemies in buildings can follow you out, so you can potentially ready an ambush. Later, Planetars are beefy, but you might need 9th lvl spell slots for other things.

    Amulet of Power and Robe of Vecna are real gamechangers vs mages/casters in BG2, take advantage of fast casting.

    Shikao
  • UnderstandMouseMagicUnderstandMouseMagic Member Posts: 2,147
    You haven't only got the spells in your spellbook, you've got all the wands, items, scrolls, and summons to use instead of NPC, as well.
    Running out of AOE spells late game doesn't happen with a 50 charge fire/cloudkill/sleep, ect. wand.
    And what else is there to do with the money?

    I would have thought you could get a good idea of what it's like by playing a very small party, 2 or 3 including charname at most, and having one of the better NPC mage.

    DreadKhantbone1
  • Grond0Grond0 Member Posts: 6,999
    DreadKhan said:

    Afaik, one of the few enemies worth risking vs your familiarnis Basilisks, they are immune to petrification. Iirc, they might still switch to you, they've done it to a solo bard of mine, so save first. Oh, and Greater ones can poison bite, which'll kill your familiar, so save! Or start with 18 cons.

    If you like playing no-reload then beware about this - not all the familiars are immune to petrification, so check first :).

    In relation to high level tactics mages do have more options than most classes to deal with tough encounters. Here are a few examples:
    - summons can virtually win you the game on their own. At mid-levels skeleton warriors are great. At higher levels less so due to being abolished by death spell and their inability to hit things requiring +2 weapons (they can still be useful to occupy the latter though). Up a few levels and Mordenkainen's swords come into their own. Again they disappear to death spells, but they are immune to physical damage so they can tank a lot of enemies without danger. A few levels more and you get planetars who will make mincemeat of anything in SoA (and much of ToB). Buffing them with improved invisibility and improved haste and sticking a globe of blades round them gives them extra sticking power and damage. If you're worried about not resting too much then just use a project image to do the summoning for you.
    - I almost never use it, but timestop will deal with most enemies. I was partly put off it many years ago due to bugs meaning that some enemies (dragons in particular I seem to remember) couldn't be killed during timestops - I don't know whether they've been addressed in the EE. Energy blades can be an efficient way of finishing things off during timestops if you're short of damaging spells.
    - PW:blind will disable almost anything in the game for a few rounds. You may need to reduce magic resistance first, though. A spell trigger with 3 lower resistances in will normally do the job, but there are a few things that doesn't work with. The Ravager for instance requires pierce shield instead - you can try sticking that in a chain contingency or just cast it separately while enemies are concentrating on summons.
    - talking about chain contingencies, that's a whole topic on its own. You could go for the old classic of 3 x ADHW targeting the nearest enemy sighted, or produce instant summons or refresh your high level buffs, or lots of other things.
    - maze and imprisonment can be good against single targets.
    - for a fighter/mage in particular the black blade is fun. The lack of APR means it's less effective for a pure mage, but still worth having a go for a laugh. Add in tensors to ensure you can hit.
    - if you're in to direct damage then don't forget sequencers and triggers. A 3 x skull trap in a sequencer will wipe out most enemies.
    - for something a bit more exotic explore your shapechange options. Surely you've never lived until you've sucked the brains out of dangerous enemies as a flayer.
    - one of my favorite tactics is bombing groups of enemies with incendiary cloud (maybe adding a firestorm from a planetar as well). If you have mods like SCS installed they may be better at trying to dodge that, but there are ways around that if you choose your area well and add in the odd summons (or show yourself with fire resistance active).
    - think you're due to run out of spells and don't like resting? Consider your options with a wish or two to refresh spells. Be aware that doesn't always work (but using project image and multiple wishes you can get the odds heavily in your favor), but if you're into infinite spell strategies then there are ways to utilise spell trap to get your spells back. Wild mages can abuse their ability to cast any spell via 1st level and get guaranteed spells back using limited wish.
    - if you're using summons or damage spells from distance you may need few if any buffs of your own (particularly if you're abusing invisibility from the staff of the magi - if you're patient that's all you need for nearly all encounters anyway). If you like to get up close and personal though you will want to have buffs. Don't forget to lock those in with spell immunity and spell shield.
    - you may like to see enemies confused, scared or perhaps just exploding into chunks. Save or else spells such as chaos and symbol fear are fun with groups - particularly combined with malison. For single enemies you might like to gamble with something like FoD.

    And finally - have fun. There's lots of experimentation you can do beyond the above suggestions and one of the joys of mages is the many ways in which you can play them.

    semiticgoddessShikaoThacoBellAndreaColombo
  • DrakeICNDrakeICN Member Posts: 623
    If you are a pure spellcaster, consider dragon disciple. More HP, early acces to an AOE fire attack, HP regen, you can cast fireballs on yourself and AC bonuses.

    If you consider bards pure spellcasters, go for a blade (duh), or a jester (supposedly you can use the confuse while invisible, havent tried myself). All other bards are kindof useless in solo, unless you summon a lot, I guess?

  • LegendLegend Member Posts: 36
    Thanks so much for all this informaton guys, it's exactly the sort of information I was looking for!
    DreadKhan said:

    I'll offer a few strategies I used with solo arcane, but I'm no expert!...

    In BG2 you really need to be prepared to out-cast mages, so learn what counters what, and prepare accordingly.

    Amulet of Power and Robe of Vecna are real gamechangers vs mages/casters in BG2, take advantage of fast casting.

    Thank you for your help DreadKhan! I wasn't really looking for stuff about BG1, simply because I've played it a lot (a lot more than BG2) and mages didn't seem to have enough, hmm, complexity? in the game to really play as I thought they might in BG2 and beyond. What I mean is - I thought a mage in BG1, and one going into ToB, would be completely different beasts.

    You've said about 'out casting' mages in BG2, that really appeals to me! Having a sort of magic war. I'm not entirely sure what you mean by it though! They cast mirror image, so you cast true sight sort of shannanigans?

    You haven't only got the spells in your spellbook, you've got all the wands, items, scrolls, and summons to use instead of NPC, as well.
    Running out of AOE spells late game doesn't happen with a 50 charge fire/cloudkill/sleep, ect. wand.
    And what else is there to do with the money?

    I would have thought you could get a good idea of what it's like by playing a very small party, 2 or 3 including charname at most, and having one of the better NPC mage.

    I'd never even considered all the wands and extra scrolls you'd have. That does sound it would make life a lot more 'fluid' - less rest, cast, rest, cast etc.

    The thing is, I didn't really want to make a playthrough and go to 'high levels' just to see what a mage was like, without much feel of how it played. I was thinking about making my new charname a mage, which is why I was asking all this.

    Last time I had a high level mage NPC I remember I just used them as a fireball stick and didn't experiment with them at all, and I know that was just a hundredth of their potential.
    Grond0 said:

    In relation to high level tactics mages do have more options than most classes to deal with tough encounters. Here are a few examples: .....

    This is all so helpful! I had forgotten about the sequencers especially, and they do seem really appealing - I suppose just because of the amount of choice and experimentation you have with them. I was also worrying (a little) about having to re-cast buffs every time I rested, but you've explained a couple of ways around that too. You said at the end that the joy of mages is the many ways you can play them - I guess that's what's drawing them to me the most, it also appears to be where their power comes from, which I wasn't 100% sure on - but it does seem to be having 'a tool for any job'.

    All in all this thread has given me a such lot to chew over, so a big thank you!



  • DreadKhanDreadKhan Member Posts: 3,859
    Wasn't entirely sure which game you meant high level in, perhaps I should pay more attention! Anyways, many of the tactics that work in BG1 will work in 2, but you really might need to use Greater Malison to get the most mileage outbof spells. GM and Chaos will carry through pretty far.

    For lame dart kiting, get the Crimson Dart, but this is a tedious if potentially useful strategy.

    One way to outcast is to simply finish your spells first every time; amulet and robe will help. The other is indeed to have a counter for their spell and combat protections. Try to use the weakest spell able to effectively do the needed job. This means reading up on how the spell defense/counter system works out, and there are guides on this forum to help. You'll also want to read the spell descriptions.

    Anyways, vs serious wizards you need to dispel/counter their various defenses before your spells will be effective. Non-solo wizard can often just use Breach and let their allies whack the caster, but unless you've got some summons, nobody can help you, so Breach goes from Win Button to being a tool.

  • DrakeICNDrakeICN Member Posts: 623
    edited July 2017
    DreadKhan said:


    Anyways, vs serious wizards you need to dispel/counter their various defenses before your spells will be effective. Non-solo wizard can often just use Breach and let their allies whack the caster, but unless you've got some summons, nobody can help you, so Breach goes from Win Button to being a tool.

    Eh... not entirely true. You get one spell and one attack in each round, so spell, throw dagger, spell takes the same time as spell spell. Dont believe me? Test it!

    Also, you can use melfs minute meteors. They deal shit dmg, but interrupts spellcasting true enough, and you get 3 APR and +5 THACO.

    Also shapeshift spider, but this takes planning, as it takes one round to cast AND one round to shift, but it doesnt last very long, so you cant buff spider before a fight. Also note that you cant cast spells while in spiderform... but you CAN use scrolls! So, being shapeshifted is quite OK as long as you got the golds for scrolls.

    There is also the lemur tactic of invisibility. Many mages have no "dispel invisibility" spell or truesight or similar spell, so you can turn invisible and wait for their buffs to expire. Not all buffs though - stone skin, for instance, lasts 8 hours.

    Spook works very well if the enemy mage is not protected from spells, as it is a fast cast lvl1 spell, that gives -1 penalty per 2 levels to enemy saving throws. Unfortunately maxed out at -6 penalty at lvl 12, but still good.

    Chaos is another good trick - it has a -4 penalty to saving throws and is AOE AND lasts forever!

  • semiticgoddesssemiticgoddess Member Posts: 14,833
    Minute Meteors give 5 APR, not 3. They strike as +6 weapons in the unmodded game, so they'll go past anything short of Protection from Magical Weapons. Note that while the fire damage will bypass Stoneskin and magic resistance, it strikes as a level 3 spell and will therefore not get past lich spell level immunities or a Minor Globe of Invulnerability (though it can burn through spell deflection/trap effects with enough hits).

    StummvonBordwehrDreadKhan
  • DrakeICNDrakeICN Member Posts: 623
    Anyways, my point is that in my experience, using physical attacks against a mage after you debuff him (even if you yourself is a mage, and thus have low THACO) is often a very valid tactic.

    Also, I forgot to say last time, if you are a sorcerer (or wild mage), you can also pick up the spell "Spell thrust" - it is just a level 3 spell, but deals with some of the more annoying spell protections. If you are a wizard, however, this spell is rather shit, as you never know when you might need it, so either, you waste spell slots by memorizing it for no reason, or when you do need it, you have to few (read: none) memorized. But, if you as a wizard find spell thrust scrolls, DO NOT sell them. Keep them for when you need them.

    Likewise, detect illusion is a quick cancel of mirror image, but a waste unless you are a sorc.

    Also, there is detect invisibility, a mere lvl 2 spell, that beat some (most?) invisibility... but again, unless you know...

    If you do manage to beat spell resistances, melfs acid arrow is phenomenal, as it is also a mere lvl 2 spell, but deal damage over time, which A: is actually rather decent, given that mages have low HP and B: occasionally can interrupt spells.

    Eh, you know what. For beating enemy mages, it is probably better to roll a sorc (or wild mage) than a mage, as you counter whatever is thrown at you WITHOUT wasting memory slots for dmg spell in case it turns out you dont need em.

    semiticgoddess
  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
    DrakeICN said:


    Also, I forgot to say last time, if you are a sorcerer (or wild mage), you can also pick up the spell "Spell thrust" - it is just a level 3 spell, but deals with some of the more annoying spell protections. If you are a wizard, however, this spell is rather shit, as you never know when you might need it, so either, you waste spell slots by memorizing it for no reason, or when you do need it, you have to few (read: none) memorized. But, if you as a wizard find spell thrust scrolls, DO NOT sell them. Keep them for when you need them.

    Spell selections are way way way more important for sorcerers than wizards. Your logic seems contrary.

  • DrakeICNDrakeICN Member Posts: 623
    edited July 2017

    DrakeICN said:


    Also, I forgot to say last time, if you are a sorcerer (or wild mage), you can also pick up the spell "Spell thrust" - it is just a level 3 spell, but deals with some of the more annoying spell protections. If you are a wizard, however, this spell is rather shit, as you never know when you might need it, so either, you waste spell slots by memorizing it for no reason, or when you do need it, you have to few (read: none) memorized. But, if you as a wizard find spell thrust scrolls, DO NOT sell them. Keep them for when you need them.

    Spell selections are way way way more important for sorcerers than wizards. Your logic seems contrary.
    I believe we speak of two different things: you, of what is in your memorized list. I, of what is currently memorized. Wizards have the egde on the first, sorcerers have the edge on the second.

    The second is the "here and now" what do I need - which for a wizard often is "Shit, I have this spell, but not memorized ATM". I guess it is solved once you get wish rests, as you can pause and change the list as you like, but I consider wish rests a lemur tactic, so I do not use it. Also, it is a late game thing...

    EDIT: To clarify, many spells are for wizards NOT good, because you never know when you might need it, so you memorize stuff you are sure to need, and not them. Sorcerers, however, can afford having in their list spells they seldom use - even though they only get a handful of memorized spells for each level. So, yes at a first glance, it might seem counter intuitive, but it actually is not. For someone who has never played a wizard and dont know what to get, though, I suppose a wild mage is a better choice than is a sorc.

    2:ond edit: For instance, phantom blade is a typical no-no for a sorcs, but a yes-yes for a wizard, while "detect invisibility" is a typical no-no for wizards but a yes-yes for sorcs.

    3:rd edit: Another perfect example is "armor". It is good for a wizard as a starting spell, but it is a waste for a sorc, as you later will find better gear. Sorc can chose "shield" instead as the magic missile protection never grows old, even as they find better gear. Well, I guess there is the spell turning cloak, but still...

  • UnderstandMouseMagicUnderstandMouseMagic Member Posts: 2,147

    Minute Meteors give 5 APR, not 3. They strike as +6 weapons in the unmodded game, so they'll go past anything short of Protection from Magical Weapons. Note that while the fire damage will bypass Stoneskin and magic resistance, it strikes as a level 3 spell and will therefore not get past lich spell level immunities or a Minor Globe of Invulnerability (though it can burn through spell deflection/trap effects with enough hits).

    But MM do hit liches and demi liches...
    (confused)

    tbone1
  • Grond0Grond0 Member Posts: 6,999
    @UnderstandMouseMagic meteors do two different sorts of damage - physical and fire. The fire damage is a spell effect and subject to spell defenses or immunities - it won't hurt liches. However, the physical damage strikes as a +6 weapon and can therefore hurt liches (and even demi-liches).

    ShikaoUnderstandMouseMagicStummvonBordwehrsemiticgoddess
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