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[Mages] I don't get it...

From the start, I've been reading about how amazing mages are supposed to be once you reach the higher levels, but I'm not seeing it. You could blame my inexperience with playing mages, but it's just not the case for me thus far.

To do some testing, I decided to create several characters in Throne of Bhaal - for the sequencers, contingency etc -, and I timed the very first fight (Illasera, the mage). Here are the results:

Fighter / Mage: easy fight. I dual-wielded the katana and saber, gave the PC a bunch of buffing spells and hacked away. Contingencies and sequencers helped halve the time to buff the PC at the beginning, but it still took some time. Did it thrice, and only got hit *once* in one try. I'd say it takes about 60-90 seconds to finish her off via F/M buffed melee. If you want to keep your distance and cast off a couple of offensive spells, it might take longer.

Mage (pure or otherwise): I did this several times, mostly with a Conjurer, but I did mix it up some. Somewhat easy fights, but a) most of them took a LOT longer than they should, and b) it hurt the PC more often than not. In fact, in one of the tries - pure mage PC -, I very nearly died, which is disgraceful in comparison to everything else. I tried sequencers with Skull Traps, Fireballs etc. Conjuration helped a bit, but again, the casting time alone made the PC vulnerable. I did buff at the start of every fight (armor, shield, spell shield etc). I did use Dispels often, but I stopped using Spell Thrust, Greater Malison etc because casting every debuff possible made the fights last even longer. Overall, it is what you could call "fun gameplay" as you get to stop the fight, consider your options, strategize etc but very ineffective and time-consuming. I'd say it takes about 120 or *a lot* more seconds to finish her off.

Plain fighter (a dwarf): Flail of the Ages and the Warhammer. Point and click once, watch it unfold. Not the most satisfying experience mechanically, but very effective at what it does. She was dead in 10 to 30 seconds tops. Mostly 10-20 seconds. No preparations other than a potion of Giant Strength when I felt like it.

What am I doing wrong?


  • BorekBorek Member Posts: 512
    Robe of Vecna and Amulet of Power should make most of your spells instant cast, Mages only become silly when you Project image then Improved Alacrity and cast half a spellbook back to back. With Staff of the Magi you can dispel on hit and turn invis + have protection from Evil, makes fighting enemy casters a breeze.

  • KhyronKhyron Member Posts: 392
    You're not doing it "wrong".. there's just different ways of doing it.

    One of the reason mages can be so powerful is not only de-buffs and such, but crowd control as well.
    Stun-locking your enemies, or down right instakilling them with a plethora of choices.. or casting protection from evil and summoning some demon to do the job for you.. or cheesing the every living daylights out of the game by going invisible and casting area effect spells into the fog of war.. there's nothing like 5-6 ice storms raining down on a bunch of enemies who do not even bother attacking you.

    However! Mages are not optimal for trash mobs, and illasera & co is kind of that.. where a standard fighter would cave in and die quite quickly when facing liches, beholders, dragons and such.. a mage would have many choices in how to defeat the cretins with just the normal effort.

    That said, i never really bother playing mages.. sometimes F/M for the buffs and spells that keeps giving me a sense of char progression, where a regular fighter would be copy/paste from 2000 xp to 3000000 xp.
    .. because regular mages demand too much attention and time outside of boss fights for me to bother.

  • VolatileVolatile Member Posts: 59
    If this is the case, then I'll take a plain sword and board grunt over a mage any day of the week. Mages are over-estimated.

    If a hammer-wielding dwarf can do it consistently and with no downtime what-so-ever, then there's little point in taking more than one - *maybe* two - mages in a party for the occasional Breach or some other debuff unavailable to yer good ol'Cleric.

    Mages are not effective offensively. They can dish out a lot of damage, but it takes too long to do it, the charge doesn't last long, and you're dead in the water if your burst is not enough to get the job done.

    At least this is how I see it after doing my own testing.

  • VolatileVolatile Member Posts: 59
    edited February 2018
    Also, the whole "bombard the fog of war" strategy is just cheesing the game, IMHO. It means you either knew the site of an encounter beforehand or quick-loaded your game to a point just before it. This doesn't qualify the mage as an overpowered class. It's more like cheating.

  • dunbardunbar Member Posts: 1,358
    I didn't 'get it' for a long time either (other than the obvious fighter/mage) because I don't devote as much attention to npcs as I do to charname. It wasn't until I eventually rolled a pure mage that I had to 'build' from the ground up that I started to really understand how spells worked, when to use them and in what combination/order.

    I still can't quit the f/m concept though and these days my favourite character to play is an assassin dualed to mage.

  • sarevok57sarevok57 Member Posts: 3,939
    i think one thing that might be hurting your mage experience is the micromanagement/ scripting you have for your current mage

    i've made my own custom scripts for the BG series, and these scripts will make it so your caster will cast any spell ( except for the mage elemental/demon summoning spells)

    so with that said, i just set my mage as the crowd control/ protection dispeller and it works wonders

    but as you say, you really don't need more than 1 mage, infact i have had many runs where i beat the game with half a mage ( a fighter/mage) was my only team mate and it still worked

    experience with game mechanics could also be the reason why you might be struggling a bit, some of us have been playing this game for almost 20 years so we understand the game mechanics super well

    i dont know how long you will be playing this game for, but the more you play, the more familiar you will get with the game, and the more you experiment, the more knowledge you will gain with the power of mages

  • GreenWarlockGreenWarlock Member Posts: 1,348
    A huge amount depends on your playstyle. I find the much vaunted mage to be tedious, spending way too much time casting boosts before a fight, hoping they don't expire before the last one is cast, before going into the fight to blow through all their potent spells, and be spent after just one fight (maybe two). The mage-blows-his-spellbook-in-a-single-fight is part of the mystique of oh my, mages are wonderful. If you want to hit over-the-top max power for an instant, then rest and do it all over again, a mage is hard to beat (and if buffing mages is bad, wait till you play a cleric...)

    With practice, your mage will manage several encounters between rests (if that is your playstyle) but will never be the consistent contributor that your front line durable fighter types are. Their biggest claim to fame is that it is much rarer for a mage to encounter a foe that they cannot find a way to hurt. In the later stages of the game when all foes seem to be sprouting immunities when not casting combat spells, the fighter types can feel pretty inneffectual, and this goes double for all they memorable fights with named foes.

    Personally, I like to play a whole 'adventure' (at least one full map and its associated dungeons) without resting, as that is what most matches my expectation of the game - so fighter types with their steady damage output are much more important to me - although ultimately I like a balanced party of casters and a thief behind me, as long as I have a solid wall of damage going forward at the front :)

  • sarevok57sarevok57 Member Posts: 3,939
    @Pantalion in the unmodded game, wands of fireball deals 6d6+6 damage with all 1s being rolled as 2s :)

  • RaduzielRaduziel Member Posts: 3,250
    Contains spoilers from SoD, but shows how a Wizard can end a battle without doing a single point of damage.

  • PantalionPantalion Member Posts: 2,137
    sarevok57 said:

    @Pantalion in the unmodded game, wands of fireball deals 6d6+6 damage with all 1s being rolled as 2s :)

    You're completely right, I forgot the different modes had different damage. Does Scorcher reroll 2s, or is it Fireball has higher minimum damage, and Scorcher 6D6+6 x 2?

  • Grond0Grond0 Member Posts: 4,186
    I thought the fireball was 6d6 with all 1s rolled being treated as 2s, while the scorcher was 6d6+6 x 2. Given that the scorcher does far more damage the only time I use fireball would be the pretty rare occasions when I want to bombard enemies from the fog of war.

  • gorgonzolagorgonzola Member Posts: 1,730
    Volatile said:

    If this is the case, then I'll take a plain sword and board grunt over a mage any day of the week. Mages are over-estimated.

    If a hammer-wielding dwarf can do it consistently and with no downtime what-so-ever, then there's little point in taking more than one - *maybe* two - mages in a party for the occasional Breach or some other debuff unavailable to yer good ol'Cleric.

    Mages are not effective offensively. They can dish out a lot of damage, but it takes too long to do it, the charge doesn't last long, and you're dead in the water if your burst is not enough to get the job done.

    At least this is how I see it after doing my own testing.

    according to my own testing a high level mage with the right gear can in a couple of rounds (that is what his PI has after casting IA) do an impressive direct damage, debuf enemies and breach/dispell them, buff your fighters and provide them with IH that makes them hit the double of the times, if there is someone survived to his barrage of magic missiles, flame arrows and ADHW. at the cost of a single lev 7 spell or if he likes at no cost at all as he can do loops where he recharges his own spells.
    an high level mage or even better sorcerer can fight the same battle solo and with a party in many ways, he has not to go every time for high damage, but he can do it if he wants, unless he is in one of the few areas where magic does not work.
    for the lower levels @Pantalion showed how useful the mage can be.

    that does not mean that a hammer-wielding dwarf is not effective, they are both so.
    to use one, the other or both is more related to the player's style, i like to have all arcane casters (or at least casters) in the party, and 1 of them an high level mage, others like to have more balanced parties and others like parties heavy on fighters with the minimum casting capability. all those approaches work.
    but a mage with a sequencer loaded with 2x lower resistance and GM and a couple of feeblemind memorized can close a dragon fight at the beginning of the 2nd or 3rd round, having a couple of mages the battle can be won right the first round, no way a dwarf fighter can do it. playing with mages means to know well the spell system and to be willing to use some micromanagement. i have posted some time ago the yt clip where a low level arcane caster kills the high level cleric of tactics mod irenicus dungeon and his fallen deva minion. without using special gear or high level spells. i can post it again if needed as images are much more clear than words when taking of the power of arcane magic. no way that a dwarf fighter of the same level can do it, he maybe can hide until the deva expires and then take out the cleric (lev 19 if i am not wrong).
    to really test the power and usefulness of a mage testing must have done only after a certain mastery is reached in using arcane spells as in every situation and at whatever level there are only few spells that can really turn the tide and other ones that are much less effective.

  • gorgonzolagorgonzola Member Posts: 1,730
    i often bomb enemies from fog of war, but only if my invisible mage or thief has spotted them. and i do it with skull traps or fireballs, not with long lasting aoe spells. i don't find it wrong, if you are able to scout and detect enemies while not detected you have a tactical advantage that you should not waste.
    using fireballs you use your tactical advantage, using instead stacked cloudkills you abuse the AI weakness that make the enemies stand still and die.

  • VolatileVolatile Member Posts: 59
    @Pantalion & @gorgonzola
    You're right: the right spell at the right time can turn the tide and make a tough fight seem trivial. This I understand well enough. However, the "casting time" of most spells is too slow for an effective chain of spells in a solo encounter. I know there's magical gear to remedy this, but it's not readily available for quite some time in the saga, meaning a mage will have to cope with it for a long time, flinging spells at a very slow pace. Meanwhile, most other classes are capable of handling immediate danger without too much hassle.

    And these are the main issues with mages: the casting time and the downtime from casting too many spells, leaving you stark naked in the middle of a dungeon or some other adventure.

    I'll give it a second try. You've given me new ideas, and I'm going to put it to the test. First, I'll try the shields - both - for dealing with her summons. This means popping up Mirror, Blur, Spell Immunity, Stoneskin (this one before the engagement itself), maybe one of the armor spells. I don't think Immunity from Magic Weapons apply as this is a mage duel and her summons are mostly critters. I'll then Breach her, cast Greater Malison, and then hopefully disable her in some way instead of focusing on damage dealing spells straight away.

    As you can see, that's a LOT of spells for one mage duel. These take time and leave you vulnerable without the assist of a party. The aforementioned dwarf - let's make it a Berserker, to trivialize the fight even more - could guarantee a kill without taking any damage in a matter of seconds.

    I DID manage to get a kill without taking damage as a mage, but the results were inconsistent: the mage either lucked out or not. You are far more experienced at this than me, so whatever tactics you suggest is welcome.

  • ArctodusArctodus Member Posts: 996
    @Volatile Well, mages require a lot of micromanagement. Also, they're at their best when you prebuff before a fight. When all your defenses are up before going into battles, mages are pretty much impervious to anything and then cast crowd control and damage spells.

  • VolatileVolatile Member Posts: 59
    @Arctodus With the notable exception of Stoneskin, the useful buffs are limited to X rounds/turns of duration. You'd be wasting spells most of the time. Unless you KNOW for sure you'll be needing it, but that's not how it's supposed to work (unless of course it's VERY obvious that you'll be in trouble come the next corner).

    You COULD scout ahead with a thief, tho. Hypothetically.

  • ArctodusArctodus Member Posts: 996
    edited February 2018
    The durations are fine if you buff in the right order : longest duration to shortest duration. And you fully buff only in the toughest fights, because long lasting buffs are enough for trash mobs. Yep, scouting with a thief (or anyone under invisibility) before going into a fight is also mandatory if you don't know the encounters from memory.

    As I said, using a mage to its maximum power requires plenty of micro, but used that way, they're pretty much unkillable. I remember that a no-reloader took a simple team of two mages all the way through the final BG2 fight and the first time one of them took some small damage was deep into SoA. And it was on an install with SCS. Mages are not the best offensive class : fighters deal more consistent damage overall. However, they're the best defensive class bar none, with some crazy good damage potential when they set themself up for it (sequencers and contingencies can be crazy good).

  • PantalionPantalion Member Posts: 2,137
    sarevok57 said:

    so i checked up the wand of fireball in NI and saw some pretty interesting results:

    based on what i could gather, the scorcher part of the wand deals 6d6+6 damage with all 1s being rolled as 2s while the fireball part deals 6d5+6 damage with all 1s being rolled as 3s, very peculiar

    Huh, that is interesting. If the "minimum damage" is handled the same way luck's minimum damage is then the damage could also be 3, 4, 5, 6, 6, 6 per die, rather than 3, 3, 3, 4, 5, 6, for an average damage of 31 per fireball rather than 26. Either way it's hitting a lot harder than advertised for both attack options though.

    Do any of the other wands have unadvertised perks like this?

  • sarevok57sarevok57 Member Posts: 3,939
    i remember using wands of fireball in durlag's tower against those skellies on the platforms beside the big fireball trap and the x5 ogre mages in that one house in BG the city, and my wands don't seem to be doing that much damage

    against the skellies, who are just low level filth sometimes it takes 2 fireballs to take them out

    and against the ogre mages, sometimes it takes 3 fireballs to take them out ( but i would assume that on average ogre mages have better saves than skelly filth)

    so for me, it looks like the wand is dealing less damage than advertised

  • chimaerachimaera Member Posts: 701
    edited February 2018
    Volatile said:

    If this is the case, then I'll take a plain sword and board grunt over a mage any day of the week. Mages are over-estimated.

    If a hammer-wielding dwarf can do it consistently and with no downtime what-so-ever, then there's little point in taking more than one - *maybe* two - mages in a party for the occasional Breach or some other debuff unavailable to yer good ol'Cleric.

    Mages are not over-estimated, there is just no need for anything but auto-attack in unmodded ToB due to a) overabundance of powerful magical equipment and b) general enemy stupidity. And unmodded Illasera in particular is lacking challenge, since apparently she was designed in consideration of players who start ToB with a fresh character.

    Though I'd rate a gnomish fighter/illusionist higher than a pure spellcaster.

  • VolatileVolatile Member Posts: 59
    @Pantalion I'll try your strategy for dealing with mages: Shield, Death Fog, MM for interrupts, Globe of Invulnerability, Blind etc.

    I can't do it straight away, but I'll post the results here.

  • SionIVSionIV Member Posts: 2,686
    edited February 2018
    Why are mages so strong?

    1. Best defensive abilities in the game.
    2. Best crowd control abilities in the game.
    3. Best AoE damage in the game.
    4. Best summons in the game.
    5. Very strong single target damage.
    6. Utility spells like identify, invisible, etc.

    The only thing that the warrior does better than the mage is single target damage, and even then you can kill a dragon instantly with greater malison + finger of death. The mage does everything else better than the warrior.

    The more knowledge you have of the game, the stronger the mage class becomes as you'll know what spells to bring to which encounter, and how to use them efficiently. The mage is just about the only class that can go through a difficult encounter naked, without taking a single point of damage.

  • semiticgodsemiticgod Member, Moderator Posts: 11,259
    About the xd6 damage with all 1's counted as 2's: that's not really possible in the Infinity Engine without applying luck penalties or some complicated percentile rolls. What the wand did in certain versions of the game was deal 2d3 damage instead of every 1d6. This 2d3 roll dealt 2-6 damage, but the dice rolls weren't quite the same: luck penalties would apply twice to a 2d3 roll compared to a 1d6 roll, the influence of luck would stop scaling after -2 or +2 luck, and the spread of damage would be closer to the average for multiple d3 rolls.

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