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Where I got Shredded: A Chronicle

Discussion in 'Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition' started by gibberishh, Jun 3, 2022.

  1. gibberishh Gems: 3/31
    Latest gem: Lynx Eye


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    I have a sentimental liking for thieves. And I absolutely love backstabbing. A buffed high-level thief can backstab for ~120 damage on a normal hit. With a crit, they are insane. I have seen damage numbers just under 200.

    So, in another thread, I sprouted the idea of attempting to complete an IWDEE campaign with a 'thieves guild' build. I'm glad to announce that I was able to complete the entire game in insane mode including HoW and TotL. This was my 4-person party, as originally proposed:
    • 2 pure-class Assassins (x7 backstab at high levels).
    • 1 Cleric/Thief (x5 backstab + Draw Upon Holy Might + other cleric buffs).
    • 1 Mage/Thief (x5 backstab + various invisibility spells + buffs + disabling spells).
    There was no designated tank. My 'strategy' was to either clear out a small area super quickly or die. Some areas allowed hit-n-run-n-restealth, most areas did not. As long as I aggravated no more than 8 monsters at a time, I expected to be able to survive without difficulty. I never play with 3E sneak attack in IWDEE, only pure backstab.

    Special note: I completed all of Easthaven in HoF mode to level up quickly. HoF was turned off for the rest of the game, only difficulty was set to insane.

    Cleric/Thief first focused on trap disarming and lock opening points. Everyone else focused on Hide and Move Silently (H&MS). Once H&MS were at 125 each, they put 100 points into Set Traps. [A little less than 100 -- their races gave them a few innate points.] Then continued bumping H&MS, as did the Cleric/Thief.

    A self-imposed rule was to not lure enemies one at a time in a trickle to mob them with my four thieves. I had to take on mobs as the game presented them and either lure them all to my traps in one bunch, or kill them where they stood. Another rule was to not leave a map until it was cleared -- i.e., don't hit a bunch of monsters, run away to a different area, hide and return. I could restealth only if the map itself had corners I could run behind to hide or if I wanted to consume resources such as an invisibility potion, scroll or spell.

    Simply hiding and backstabbing (plus a little normal combat) was able to take care of approx 60-65% of the game. It's worth pointing out that contrary to my expectations, many boss-type creatures were unable to see invisibility! When mobs got a little large (more than 8 monsters), disabling spells took care of whatever was left after the initial backstabs -- I estimate this must have been about 20% of the game. In areas where mobs were too powerful, traps cleared them out. If my 60% and 20% estimates are correct, then traps must have been invaluable in 19% of the game.

    Then there was the 1%, where I got completely shredded: the Sahuagin Temple and Icasaracht. Damn, those guys are hard. There are just too many enemies in the temple for a party of this kind. This is when I really wished I had a 6-person party, especially a second Mage/Thief, maybe even a Fighter/Thief. (In my usual parties, my mages and druid are able to take care of most of the mob with tanks clearing out whatever gets through their AoE spells.) Took some trial, error, planning, failing, re-planning, etc. I was even tempted to lower the difficulty several times.

    Even False Pomab and Behlifet didn't feel as tough as the temple or Icasaracht. However, I did HoW and TotL from within the campaign, so by the time I got to Behlifet, I was the highest level I could possibly be.

    Morals of the story: the game will eventually find a way to punish unbalanced parties. Don't try this at home. My appreciation of backstab has grown even greater, if that was at all possible.

    Surprising 1-shot kills using backstab (I have not updated my game beyond v1.4.0 and have no mods/hacks installed):
    • All badge holders
    • Poquelin at the end of the Black Temple
    • Beholders in Castle Maludarek (the damn eyestalks can't see invisibility and apparently have a back!)
    • Terikan (he's a lich fugodsake)
    One nasty surprise was that Bronze Sentries see invisibility. Grrr.

    Another teeth-grinding aspect (already discussed in another thread) is that Sanctuary doesn't grant you invisibility for the purposes of backstabbing. You cannot backstab out of Sanctuary. But it does grant you invisibility for the purpose of disarming traps! Searching for traps, disarming, turning undead -- none of these break Sanctuary, but hitting a monster out of sanctuary does not count as a backstab. Double grrr.
     
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