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I'm playing a strictly good party (indeed, I just had to give the crestfallen but neutral Jaheira the boot recently--felt bad about it). Here's how things stack up now--ahead of my approaching departure for Spellhold:

Me (Cleric/Ranger)
Keldorn
Minsc
Sir Anomen
Nalia
Aerie

Now, I'm pretty set on keeping Keldorn, Minsc, and Aerie. I'm also dead set on getting Imoen--and so booting either Nalia or Anomen to make room for her. I need to determine which of these to keep and which of them to kick out.

Option A--Keep Anomen and boot Nalia: This is a cleric-heavy party, but gives me one cleric that has high-level potential (rather than two half-clerics) and gives me more front line power. The downside is that I'm left with one slow-blooming mage (the multiclass Aerie) and one late blooming mage (Imoen). I'm not sure if that's enough mage power to get through the game.

Option B--Boot Anomen and keep Nalia: Now I'm looking at three mages, but only one who has the top potential (Nalia). But I'm also left with only three decent melee fighters, and I'm not sure whether the two half-clerics (Aerie and I) will offer enough divine power to get through the late game. There's also something just a wee bit silly about having both Imoen and Nalia together, since they're practically twins.

The question: which looks like the better option, A or B? (I'm sure that there are other options that are better for party balance, but I'm only interested in these two options.)

Some further questions: (1) Do two multi-class clerics offer sufficient priest power for the game? (2) Could Imoen and Aerie cut it together as the only mages in the party?

Some further background info: I've just entered Chapter 3 at 0.9 million experience points for my main character. I've completed half of the main/stronghold quests, but I haven't assumed control of a stronghold. I haven't yet touched the Windspear Hills, Umar Hills, Planar Sphere, or the Astral Prison. I've completed the majority (but not all) of the other quests around Athkatla. So...this gives you a sense of how much EP potential is still out there for Imoen.
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Hippias_Minor: I'm playing a strictly good party (indeed, I just had to give the crestfallen but neutral Jaheira the boot recently--felt bad about it). Here's how things stack up now--ahead of my approaching departure for Spellhold:

Me (Cleric/Ranger)
Keldorn
Minsc
Sir Anomen
Nalia
Aerie

Now, I'm pretty set on keeping Keldorn, Minsc, and Aerie. I'm also dead set on getting Imoen--and so booting either Nalia or Anomen to make room for her. I need to determine which of these to keep and which of them to kick out.
Nalia is better than Anomen from a quest + power point of view... I don't like the guy but thats not a good reason to kick him and he is only usful if you need a turn undead character.

Minsc is the weakest link in this party because of his mind and I'd suggest Mazzy for two weapon damage or Valygar for scouting
It's a role playing game, so stop over analysing and role play. It doesn't matter how good or bad your characters are, the game is playable and winnable with absolutely terrible characters -- I do it all the time.
I've beaten the game with a Swashbuckler (me), Minsc, Jaheira, Haer'Dalis, Aerie, and Imoen (replaced Yoshimo). I also used decidedly sub-par tactics at the time, and completed every quest I could find before heading off to Spellhold. So the two half clerics and the two mages in the same party were just fine, and Haer'Dalis spent a great deal of his combat time singing.

So either of your parties will be fine. For a bit more variety, maybe take Anomen over Nalia so you can use a wider range of the available weapons (especially the end game stuff).
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Hippias_Minor: I'm playing a strictly good party (indeed, I just had to give the crestfallen but neutral Jaheira the boot recently--felt bad about it).
Her actions and dialogue or so ostentatiously good the Tweak Mods give you the option of changing her alignment. FWIW I agree with them. Whether you use a mod or a savegame editor it's perfectly valid from a RP perspective to make her Neutral Good.

Plenty of other NPCs to use of course.
Thanks much, everyone! Very helpful info--sounds like either way will work. If two half-clerics presents no problem, I might just go with the arcane sorority option. But I suppose I have a little bit of time yet to make up my mind.
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Hickory: It's a role playing game, so stop over analysing and role play. It doesn't matter how good or bad your characters are, the game is playable and winnable with absolutely terrible characters -- I do it all the time.
This guy gets it.
As Hickory said, you can play through with basically anyone. Lots of people play solo, having only their PC.

That being said, if you're power playing I'd take Valygar over Minsc, there are lots of STR enhancing items in the game to make up for the difference and with his high DEX Valygar has similar AC even in lighter armor. His weapon prof will also conflict less with your lineup and he can backstab with warrior thac0! Just saying...

Also, you might want to bring potions along to boost Nalia's thieving skills, she doesn't have as many levels in thief as Imoen. Alternatively you could bring Yoshimo in place of Anomen or Nalia and trade him out for Imoen when you get her back...
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GoatBoySteve: As Hickory said, you can play through with basically anyone. Lots of people play solo, having only their PC.
This may be true for an experienced player (or for someone who sets the difficulty to Story, but someone who would care about the party's combat performance wouldn't), but is certainly not true for a newcomer. For example, a party that lacks a thief is going to have serious trouble with the traps in the game (which I consider to be a design flaw, but that's another issue entirely). A party that lacks a cleric will have to rest for ages to recover health. A new player won't know which spells are good, or how best to use them, and therefore would not be able to do well with a party containing only mages (or a solo mage, for that matter), and would not know what spells to choose for a sorcerer. Then there's also the issue that stats are basically set in stone at character creation (unlike games like Wizardry, Bard's Tale, and Might and Magic), and the whole weapon proficiency mechanic that requires a novice player to make permanent choices without full knowledge of the gameplay implications.

Also, there are some people, like me, who enjoy creating good parties, and who enjoy to talk about them, see what ideas other players come up with, see what works (which can sometimes be quite surprising), and what doesn't.
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GoatBoySteve: As Hickory said, you can play through with basically anyone. Lots of people play solo, having only their PC.
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dtgreene: This may be true for an experienced player ..., but is certainly not true for a newcomer.
Yes it is. I was once a newcomer, and I have *never* power played this or any other game. I always play sub-par characters in my games; I hate overpowered 'saviours of the world'. Anybody can play with any character, you just have to learn to live with mistakes and failure.
Very good to know that Valygar is a power upgrade over Minsc. I doubt I'll pick him up, though, for a couple of reasons. First, as I'm going, I'd come across him rather late (even later than Imoen), so he might not be an upgrade at *that* point. But more importantly...Minsc is my guy. Don't think I can part with him, and I don't think I could feel good about prying him away from Aerie, his "new witch." :)

I'm still tossing around whether I like option A or B above more. I think I *like* Nalia more than Anomen, and having an arcane sisterhood at my back would be a novel thing for me. It might also force me to explore the magic system more, which I'm discovering is extremely nuanced in this game.
I just want to add that mages are far more useful than clerics in this game. I was always underwhelmed by the spell choices for druids/clerics and they never had enough firepower to contribute to killing enemies fast. I played:) with both Jaheira and Viconia in my group by the way. The rest was me fighter/mage, Minsc, Jan and Edwin
Post edited August 09, 2017 by greeklover
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dtgreene: This may be true for an experienced player ..., but is certainly not true for a newcomer.
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Hickory: Yes it is. I was once a newcomer, and I have *never* power played this or any other game. I always play sub-par characters in my games; I hate overpowered 'saviours of the world'. Anybody can play with any character, you just have to learn to live with mistakes and failure.
I would say even more. Only by playing an under-powered character you really learn the game. Because you have to overcome all the challenges. If you want a simple game with no challenges than buy BG:EE and just play the story mode.
Nalia is next to useless. She's a poor-man's twin of Imoen. You don't need her, even in the early game. Other mages such as Arie do spellcasting as well as Nalia, and Yoshimo is a superior thief hands down. It's acceptable to pair Arie and Nalia for extra mage power and to allow Arie to divine spellcast while Nalia mages.

But Nalia pales in comparison to Imoen. If you have Imoen you don't need nalia. Ditch Nalia.
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eVinceW21: Nalia is next to useless. She's a poor-man's twin of Imoen. You don't need her, even in the early game. Other mages such as Arie do spellcasting as well as Nalia, and Yoshimo is a superior thief hands down. It's acceptable to pair Arie and Nalia for extra mage power and to allow Arie to divine spellcast while Nalia mages.

But Nalia pales in comparison to Imoen. If you have Imoen you don't need nalia. Ditch Nalia.
It's a shame they made Nalia a dual T/M. She would have made a much better thief than Imoen with her 14 STR and same DEX/CON, not to mention that BG2 doesn't have a permanent pure thief NPC, only "half-way" Yoshi.