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Non-HOF early game strategies and tactics <level 10

Discussion in 'Icewind Dale 2' started by SlickRCBD, Mar 16, 2014.

  1. AjaX Gems: 4/31
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    Trying to keep it as generic as possible-:

    1) Targos battles: Not much to it, since characters are all the same in the start, almost. Focus fire is a highly advised tactic, especially if your melee is a bit weak. If focusing fire, ALWAYS target the mage/cleric/elite first, in that order. Sleep is a really useful disable (and you should even get it on Sorcs in my opinion), and Burning Hands is excellent AoE damage. Later on, Chromatic Orb starts to shine. Mage Armor you should cast before potentially deadly encounters (Phaen, and the Targos attack).
    2) Shaengarne run: A marked difficulty increase from Targos. It is ESSENTIAL to take down Firestarters and Shamans first and foremost. Blow everything you can to bring them down. Sleep stays useful here in the start, Mage Armor lasts even longer, and now you start getting access to Prayer, Aganazzar's Scorcher, Snilloc's Snowball Swarm, Barkskin, and your stat-buffers (Cat's Grace, Bull's Strength; these will last a minimum of 3-4 in game hours now, which is fairly good). Use them, and often.
    The bridge is a really interesting battle. Personally, one effective way to tackle this is to load up on sanctuaries and save the (or buy from Oswald) Invisibility Potion (OR use stealth on your cleric). Once so decked out, enter the map and rush for the Bridge [Sanctuary essentially behaves like Invisibility. If you DON'T have enough Sanctuary spells, the other way to get the bridge on time is to just rush through everything anyway. It helps if your weak chars still have Sanctuary. It becomes much harder, and more monsters are around, but you have a chance of saving the bridge. Else, another tactic is to keep casting Sleep/Grease/Entangle on everything between you and the bridge]. Right after Xuki's evil villain dialogue, again rush to the opposite end of the bridge and try to bring down the ogres as rapidly as possible, using your standard tactics (try to disable Xuki in some way). The rest of the map can then be tackled at your convenience. Note that it is also possible to rest here after dealing with Xuki and the Ogres, but there are fair chances you'll be jumped.
    3) Horde's Fortress: It REALLY helps having a scout here. Send your stealthy guy in to determine the enemy position, and most importantly to determine the location of the drums. Almost all drums can actually be viewed across the chasms and shot with long ranged weapons (Bows, Crossbows, but not thrown weapons). Note that this WILL aggro the Shaman, but it's a far safer bet than the headlong assault. In case of Trugnuk, ensure that the far left and center of the map are clear of enemies, else they will reinforce him. He is an exception, in that if you destroy his drum across the chasm, he won't aggro, but the Ice Trolls will, and they are not as hard to deal with. Minus the drum and Ice Trolls, Trugnuk is tough but not nearly as annoying. By this point, your Chromatic Orb should be able to stun him. I would advise against using Grease and Entangle here, as they can fatally hamper your own mobility. If you kept Flaming Oil on hand (as you should have for the trolls), use one on Trugnuk when you see him casting Call Lightning. [General advice for this map: keep a tank or two at the rear of your party. You don't want your mages to get butchered.]
    Indoors you have your standard goblin fare battles, nothing exceptional. Use your buffs and attack spells liberally.
    The main roof should be tackled piecemeal if your party does not have high survivability. Kill as many as you can before retreating back down to the warrens, resting up, and returning to the fight. That's really all there is to it.
    Similarly, take the HQ room by room. Don't rush straight for the central room unless you WANT to get mobbed. Do a full run of the sides of the room and finish everything before taking on Guthma. And Guthma is, btw, VERY susceptible to Chromatic Orb's stun. Use it and chop him down with Power Attack / spells.

    Hope this helps.
     
  2. damedog Gems: 15/31
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    If you are using a monk, buff them to kingdom come. Mage armor, cats grace, owls wisdom. Always have someone up front to absorb the damage. And don't forget those stunning fists.

    If you have a decent stealth character, scout the area before charging in. See where the enemies are, and plan your strategy accordingly. If your stealth character is a rogue, place them behind the enemies but *do not let them attack first*- instead, let your warriors charge in and once they enter combat then let the sneak attacks fly. Sometimes a long weapon such as a spear or halberd makes the enemies much less likely to target your rogue after several sneak attacks i've found.

    Every-time you get a new spell level, always ALWAYS read every spell carefully. Unless you are a veteran of course. Sometimes a wonder of a spell is hidden behind indecipherable game mechanic speak. Keep spell length in mind, especially for buffs.
     
  3. Jeff W Gems: 1/31
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    From the prologue until the horde fortress when enemy HD are too high, sleep is the key spell. Continually cast sleep and then focus fire the enemies who are still awake.

    Command is another spell that's very useful early on. If you're fast, you can use this to interrupt spellcasters. If you have two clerics, you can command lock Phaen, Caballus, Orc Shamans, etc.

    There are several tough fights in Shaengarne where you start the fight surrounded. But with sleep/command you will prevail even with L2 characters (this is usually the case for me as I prefer the ECL races). Remember that you can instantly retreat if you're on the edge of the map.

    Once you get to the horde fortress, it really helps to have invisibility and web(entangle might work also). If you have a deep gnome and a level 3 wizard/level 4 sorcerer you've got these covered. Scout ahead and look for the witch doctor who controls the drum. Drop multiple webs on him from out of line of sight and then focus fire him down before he can walk to the drum.

    Once your wizards/sorcerers hit level 5, chromatic orb becomes a workhorse spell. Take SF and GSF: Evocation by this point and you have a potent L1 damaging debuff spell. It's also around this point that you can start with invisibility/web/fireball(skulltrap--better long term, worse until you get SF/GSF: Necromancy) shenanigans. Even "bosses" like Sherincal go down without a fight, unfortunately.
     
  4. Proteus_za

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    I know this is somewhat of a thread necro, but this is a very interesting subject to me.

    I have recently discovered the joys of the first level spell sleep - the first few levels will never be the same! I walked up to Caballus and smacked him while all of his minions were sleeping. Was great. It really makes a massive difference to difficulty.

    I don't find any of the second level mage spells to be that great, so this time round, I had one sorcerer pick Cat's Grace and the other pick Protection from Missiles. Protection from Missiles did prove useful during the bridge battle because it allowed me to rush straight for the ogres without worrying about being harrassed by the orc archers.

    Chromatic orb is simply amazing, as everyone says. One thing I found interesting is that the Rhemorhaz queen is vulnerable to the stun effect of a 6th level orb, but not vulnerable to the hold effect of a 7th level orb. It is surprising how effective that little orb is.

    I tend to have my multiclassed characters take their combat levels at first level. In other words, my sorcers and clerics take their paladin level as their first level. This gets them lots of weapon feats and a small boost in BAB. Considering that most of your damage especially early on in the game comes from weapons, I consider this a worthwhile trade off. With proper selection of spells going forward, your strong melee characters will carry you through. This time I did not get access to Fireball before Chapter 2, but the sleep spell still works on so many Horde Fortress enemies that it wasn't that difficult. Plus Protection From Arrows helped me in the courtyard - once again, it allowed me to ignore the archers and just melee everything. Plus sleep is still a useful disabler, even if Chromatic Orb is better for interrupting spellcasters.

    What I would also sometimes do is have my ranger/druid and rogue/wizard sneak up on a pack of monsters (especially Trugnuk). Even though the ranger cannot sneak attack, being able to get close enough to unless Oils of Fiery burning or something similar is still very useful. Plus, I found a morningstar of poisoned thorns early on, and it is quite a useful weapon against enemy spellcasters. They don't like poison much!
     
  5. SlickRCBD Gems: 24/31
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    For a wizard or sorcerer, that works. However, with other builds I try to take the class with the most skill points at first level.

    For second level mage spells, mirror image, horror, and web are the most worthwhile ones at this stage of the game. Blur lasts too short a time at this point, but is good for the end-of-chapter fights (though it usually runs out before the end). Ghoul Touch has potential for a spellsword, but not for a squishy wizard. Don't ignore it for a multi-classed character that mixes things up in melee. It's almost as good as the cleric's Hold Person for a spellsword character, but horrible for a straight squishy wizard.
    Protection from arrows can be useful, but only protects your decoy.
    Blindness was great as a first level spell in 2E, but not powerful enough as a second when it has to compete with multi-target Web or Horror. Simply web an archer or mage and kill him with ranged weapons to achieve virtually the same effect as blindness and possibly catching some of the enemy's friend's as well. Web is quite useful for crowd control, and since the mages don't have many spells yet, they can aim their crossbows at anyone caught and held by the web for a guaranteed hit. Let the other party members with better BAB concentrate on the active baddies while the mage shoots his missile weapon at the webbed baddies. If they make a save, change targets. Horror's advantage over web is that it is party-friendly and won't impede your melee fighters from charging. It's disadvantage is that it makes the enemy afraid rather than paralyzing them, and thus are harder to kill before they get back into the fight.

    The other two spells to memorize in certain situations are Aganazzar's Scorcher or Melf's Acid Arrow. You need them if you used all your oils of fiery burning, flasks of oil, and potions of explosions and have to face trolls. The druid can use Sunscortch, and you can memorize Burning Hands and fireball as well.
    In 2E rules Melf'sAA was great as it was guaranteed to interrupt a mage's spellcasting as their concentration would be broken for one round after they took damage, and Melf's Acid Arrow would inflict damage every round. However, in IWD2 most of the time it hits when the mage is NOT casting, so it is no longer as useful as they don't even have to make a concentration check, and have a good chance of doing so even if you get lucky and it hits when they are casting.

    The buff spells of bull's strength and cat's grace get lots of praise, but can also be cast by other classes. On the other hand Eagle's Splendor is something your WIZARD should put in his spell book, but not a sorcerer. Cast it on whoever is going to deal with a merchant to get a small bonus to the gold you get buying (discount) and selling (extra gold). It's a small thing, but a little extra gold never hurts in an IE game (it could weigh you down in the Gold Box games and in P&P). Obviously you should not keep this memorized as a standard combat spell, but only use Eagle's Splendor when you are planning on selling your loot or buying something.

    So while I agree most are not that useful, I find I can't get enough castings of Mirror Image, Blur, Web, or Horror. Even blindness is a good disabler to use against an archer, cleric, mage, or anyone that attacks from range rather than melee. It just can't compete with the mult-target Web.

    Oh, for Mirror Image, keep in mind that unlike in Throne of Bhaal or even Shadows of Amn where every mage worth his spellbook you come across and most of the clerics have a scripted True Sight (and stoneskin) that makes illusion spells useless, in IWD2, True Sight is a rare spell, reflecting the expensive material component in P&P that makes it expensive to cast and thus your illusion spells are quite powerful. Mirror Image is just as powerful as Stoneskin.
     
  6. Proteus_za

    Proteus_za

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    I have my sorcerers learn Cat's Grace and Eagle's Splendour, but not Bull's Strength, because the clerics can learn that.

    Why Eagle's Splendour? Instant +2 saving throws to 3 of my party members plus +2 to the DC of both my sorcerer's spells. I keep it up all the time on them.

    I used to use Melf's Acid Arrow, but this playthrough I decided that the damage was not worth it. I think the next spells I take will be Web and Horror. I used to use Horror a lot, but this time I am using other disabling spells, such as Hold Person and Chromatic Orb. Web + Free Action sounds like a fun combo though, I've never tried that. I've never liked Agnazzar's scorcher because the damage doesn't really improve as you level up, and it hurts party members.

    I use sunscorch or Flame Blade or Flame Blade. Or those single target fiery potions, I forget the name.

    Protection from Arrows means there is no point in casting blindness on enemy archers. Because both of my sorcerers know it, it is relatively easy to make the entire party invulnerable to missiles. Remember, it improves as you level up, eventually providing protection against +5 missiles for a very long time. And unlike melee damage, ranged damage does not get a buff in HoF mode. There aren't that many cases where it is useful, but when it is useful, it is amazing. The battle for the Shaengarne bridge is a good example - while walking towards the bridge, Orc Archers will engage you. Protection from Arrows allows you to ignore them.
     
  7. Nnimrod Gems: 2/31
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    Uninhabitable... I laughed :)

    only thing I didn't see anyone else mention - Use the collar dropped by the worg rider in the palisade battle. It casts beast claw, which is +4 STR and an extra attack, it's the best weapon you'll have for a long time.
     
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