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CFM: I think the BG games are balanced pretty well. I can do almost the whole thing without dying/reloading (almost). And that's without exploiting the engine game cheese. In fact, I play using self-imposed restrictions (to further enhance the escapism entertainment), such as no buffing before fights that I know are right around the corner (unless it'd be obvious to my party), and only resting once a day (in the evening, more or less). ...And still the game seems pretty well balanced.
I should point out that this is assuming some familiarity with the game, and is unlikely to be the case on a first playthrough.

I remember, in the first dungeon level of Spellhold (BG2), sending a Wizard's Eye to scout, having it be crushed by an unfair trap, and somehow having my main character die as a result; I don't think that's fair. (The spell description says that gaze attacks would harm the caster, but that crushing trap does not look like a gaze attack to me.)

It also doesn't help that, when you die, you can't view the combat log, so you can't tell *how* you died.

(Also, apparently the Baldur's Gate Trilogy mod gives one of the enemies in the BG1 final battle Death Spell, which is not fair at the levels at which you encounter them.)

By the way, do you allow yourself the use of long duration spells like Mage Armor, Strength, and Stoneskin immediately after waking up (or, alternatively, when you first enter a dungeon)?
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CFM: If I were to do a fighin' priest....

If I picture the character as a dwarf or gnome, I'd do F/C.

If I picture the character as a half-elf, I'd do C/R.

I think the BG games are balanced pretty well. I can do almost the whole thing without dying/reloading (almost). And that's without exploiting the engine game cheese. In fact, I play using self-imposed restrictions (to further enhance the escapism entertainment), such as no buffing before fights that I know are right around the corner (unless it'd be obvious to my party), and only resting once a day (in the evening, more or less). ...And still the game seems pretty well balanced.

So while I'd agree with both sides' pro/con list, I think the min/maxing is not needed at all, and should take a backseat to how you envision the character. Seems more fun to me.

But I do love reading any related friendly debates, for this great D&D simulator game that so many of us love, so many years after its day in the sun has come and gone.
I play with some RP restrictions too. When you are in a dungeon I don't think its unreasonable to buff before hand. You are in a place where there are monsters and death traps at every corner, so casting buffs isn't really meta.

I'm not sure what to make of some of the stronger monsters and bosses. A reasonable game would give you some kind of clue, which doesn't happen too often. Take iron golems for example. How would a noobie know what weapons to use against them? He'll probably try zerging the golem and throwing spells at it, which would likely be unsuccessful.
Post edited January 30, 2017 by jsidhu762
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jsidhu762: I play with some RP restrictions too. When you are in a dungeon I don't think its unreasonable to buff before hand. You are in a place where there are monsters and death traps at every corner, so casting buffs isn't really meta.
Yes it is meta gaming *if* you're doing it when you know there is a fight coming up - a newbie would not do this at all -- and it's not role playing, either. It is *not* reasonable to buff at every nook, cranny and corner. You don't have enough spells. Besides, CFM specifically stated (my emphasis): "no buffing before fights that I know are right around the corner (unless it'd be obvious to my party)". Meaning, *if* your party was aware of, say, loud growling or something of the sort, they would take precautionary action. Your words "unreasonable to buff before hand" are implicit of meta gaming.
A few things the Ranger/Cleric have over Fighter/Cleric:
1) Iron Skins. It's not as fast as the mage version, so it should only be cast before battle. This gives the risk of it being dispelled early, but it's still nice to have. It's level 5, so it can be restored with Wondrous Recall.
2) Swarm spell lines. Even with the SCS nerfs, it can be cheesy.
3) Nature's Beauty. Permanent blindness without a saving throw. This can be even more cheesy than the swarm spells, if you can cast it.
4) Montolio's Cloak.

Advantages for Fighter/Cleric:
1) Better Thac0 and saving throws. However, they even out with Ranger/Cleric around early- or mid- ToB.
2) If you use the true grandmastery mod, Fighter/Cleric can get the extra half attack per round.

I'd only use a shield for BG1, if at all. I prefer the Defender of Easthaven in the offhand for BG2. In ToB, damage resistance and prevention (iron skins) are more important than AC.

The chance to get 20 con in BG1 is nice, but it's not really necessary. You can get a ring of regen at the start of BG2, and that can be rotated between all the party members after fights. SCS BG1 is fairly easy except the final battle, because everything is more susceptible to CC spells (like blindness and sleep).

If you want to do the Good Test of Selfishness option in Hell, starting with 18 dex is important. You get +1 from the manual in BG1, but you get -1 from Hell in BG2. So if you don't start with 18 dex, you have to do Hell through Watcher's Keep to get your 18 dex back. Also, keep in mind, there are several NPCs with odd numbered dex, such as Jaheira. I'd rather save the dex boost for them.

The extra HLA is inconsequential in the end game. Even with a long fight, like the SCS / Ascension final battle, you generally won't be able to use all your HLAs.
Post edited February 01, 2017 by chandl34
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dtgreene: By the way, do you allow yourself the use of long duration spells like Mage Armor, Strength, and Stoneskin immediately after waking up (or, alternatively, when you first enter a dungeon)?
Hi dtgreene! If I wake up in a city or other civilized locale or whatnot, and it'd be weird walkin 'round sportin Stoneskins or Magic Muscles or whatnot... then no. But if I'm standin before the dark entrance to a foreboding dungeon, after some Common Villager has told me there's evil afoot and I should go-on-in... then yeah definitely. Same as the warriors that're readying their shields and swords and helmets within a probable hostile environment.

And I assume my wizard knows the approximate duration of his spells, as well as the approximate casting speed, area of effect, and other such details. I know that stuff because I read the spell description, while my character knows that stuff because it's gleaned from learning the spell during his miraculous instant-copy into his spellbook. Plus it's assumed he woulda practiced it once or twice, right? Like off-screen, kinda like how potty breaks are assumed?

Knowing your spells is the great tactical aspect of the Infinity Engine games, imho. I remember reading someone say he didn't like these games, because spells don't show the area-of-effect, on-screen, before the actual casting (such as fireball), and thus he kept smokin his own dudes too. I say that negative is actually a positive. Go out into a deserted local wilderness and chuck a few fireballs. Get a feel for the area-of-effect, practice your detonation placement, and actually get good at it like the 18-Intelligent wizard that you are, instead of relying on the game engine to do this for you.

How about you, dtgreene? I also dig your idea of a postmortem log. I too have been smoked in caster-heavy skirmishes, and was left wondering what it was that punked me.
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CFM: How about you, dtgreene? I also dig your idea of a postmortem log. I too have been smoked in caster-heavy skirmishes, and was left wondering what it was that punked me.
To me, I see this as a fundamental feature that the game should not have been released without.

It is, for example, pretty much standard in the roguelike genre for the game to, after you die, tell you what killed you. In fact, the original Rogue gives you a gravestone that gives you the cause of death (in a little test, my character got killed by a snake); later roguelikes actually let you view the combat log. (Shiren the Wanderer, for example, lets you do that.) Incidentally, it can be fun to try to get as many death messages as you can; remember that any source of damage can kill you (including things like throwing an item while levitating).

There's also the fact that, in Baldur's Gate and similar things, events happen too quickly to follow. Combine that with the fact that the results of a spell can come some time after the spell is initially cast (especially if the game is being paused frequently), and the Finger of Death spell that kills the character could have been cast some time ago, and as a result, the death feels random and unfair.

Really, this feature should have been included in version 1.0 in Baldur's Gate 1; instead, it is not even present (AFAIK) in the Enhanced Editions.
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dtgreene: There's also the fact that, in Baldur's Gate and similar things, events happen too quickly to follow. Combine that with the fact that the results of a spell can come some time after the spell is initially cast (especially if the game is being paused frequently), and the Finger of Death spell that kills the character could have been cast some time ago, and as a result, the death feels random and unfair.
As I tend to play Ironman, this is what I absolutely loathe about BG. Getting killed and not knowing why forces me to replay the moment, sometimes multiple times, to realize whether it was legit or some bug.
Fortunately, TobEx has an option to disable gameover on Player1 death. That allows to inspect combat log and determine what exactly happened.
Post edited February 02, 2017 by burn
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burn: Fortunately, TobEx has an option to disable gameover on Player1 death. That allows to inspect combat log and determine what exactly happened.
Will the game end if the entire party dies, or is there an option to get the game to not end when that happens?

(I was able to get the "no living party members, but game not over" situation to happen in Icewind Dale (I believe I did it by using Character Arbitration to remove the last living party member), and the game was effectively soft-locked (can't continue without a character to move), but I believe the interface worked fine, so that could be used as a way to view the combat log in that case.)
No, the game will not end (which means a soft-lock). There's a separate mod "game over only on party death" by Salk, but I'm happy enough with Tobex implementation.
Well, it's all down to role, isn't it? If you're building your protagonist to be a heavy tank, then yeah, Fighter/Cleric is probably the better option. On the other hand, if you want a ranged buff/debuffer who can switch to melee in a pinch (dual-wield optional), then Cleric/Ranger is a perfectly cromulent build. And party makeup will be a factor, too; if you've already got one or the other, then you don't need the protagonist to dupe it.

And I rather like the Ranger stronghold.
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MichaelPullmann: Well, it's all down to role, isn't it? If you're building your protagonist to be a heavy tank, then yeah, Fighter/Cleric is probably the better option. On the other hand, if you want a ranged buff/debuffer who can switch to melee in a pinch (dual-wield optional), then Cleric/Ranger is a perfectly cromulent build. And party makeup will be a factor, too; if you've already got one or the other, then you don't need the protagonist to dupe it.

And I rather like the Ranger stronghold.
Except that Ranger/Clerics get Ironskins, which makes them *far* better at tanking, especially in Throne of Bhaal where AC is no longer useful.

(Of course, they still won't tank as well as a Sorcerer at that point in the game.)