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I can't get on with playing the game with an evil party, primarily due to the mechanical limitations it places on you. Magically summoning guards that zero in on me sucks - clearly my reputation not only precedes me, but shouts my presence throughout the zone before I even get there!

Reputation is another bugbear for me. I can accept how reputation goes up if you do a good deed for someone - they spread the word, sing your praises, whatever. But if I kill them out in the middle of nowhere? Why does my reputation go down? Are the Flaming Fist working hand-in-hand with Jennifer Love-Hewitt or something?
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cervanntes: For BG1, I pretty much always include Jaheira, Imoen, and Viconia, simply because I always pick those three for my core BG2 party (substituting Nalia for Imoen until the latter is rescued). Depending on my main character, I typically pick the remaining from Khalid, Minsc, Branwen, and Dynaheir.

With BG2, I've tried most of the NPCs, and the line-up I almost always end up gravitating to by the time I rescue Imoen is Mazzy, Aerie, Viconia, Jaheira, and Imoen. I've always done very well with that group, and just like the way they interact with each other.
LOL, I made a similar BG2 party once, had a female paladin as the PC, named the save file 'Girl Power'.
Post edited June 18, 2012 by GoatBoySteve
I almost always play the canon party for BG1, but it always bothered me that the canon party involved 4 coupled NPCs, not to mention I'm not the biggest fan of Khalid and Jah. I think it would have been better if canon was Imoen, Minsc, Dynaheir, and Yeslick. They would be a complete party on their own, giving you more flexibility for the PC, and an extra slot to cycle around NPCs (like a thief when you dual Imoen).

For BG2, I always do Yoshi/Imoen and keep Minsc and Jah around. The rest depends on what I'm playing. I usually don't play a cleric, so I tend to take Vic (in my current game I'm romancing her with a Cav). Aerie is too whiny and Anomen is a prat. The last slot is usually rotating, depending on my needs at the time.
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GoatBoySteve: LOL, I made a similar BG2 party once, had a female paladin as the PC, named the save file 'Girl Power'.
You use only one save-file for the whole playthrough?

*edit: no criticism meant, i'm just curious
Post edited June 19, 2012 by DubConqueror
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GoatBoySteve: LOL, I made a similar BG2 party once, had a female paladin as the PC, named the save file 'Girl Power'.
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DubConqueror: You use only one save-file for the whole playthrough?

*edit: no criticism meant, i'm just curious
I was just going to ask that. Because that's just asking for trouble.
I played as an elven mage.

In BG I was joined by:

Khalid
Jaheira
Kivan
Branwen
Imoen

In BG 2 I was joined by:

Minsc
Jaheira, who I romanced
Keldorn
Aerie
Imoen, who was replaced by Yoshimo during her "absence"

I really hated how they dualed Imoen into a mage in BG 2 because between me and Aerie there really wasn't any need for a third mage in the party (although I could have used a full bird thief) but I could hardly kick the girl I grew up with and loved like a little sister out of the party.

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DubConqueror: You use only one save-file for the whole playthrough?

*edit: no criticism meant, i'm just curious
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Luckmann: I was just going to ask that. Because that's just asking for trouble.
Well, there always is quick save. :-)
Post edited June 19, 2012 by xy2345
My first time in BG 1 started with the classic n00b party, Imoen, Montaron, Xzar, Khalid and Jaheira. Monty and Xzar eventually left, so I replaced them with Minsc, who went berserk and had to be put down, so I eventually ended up with Kivan and Xan.

Since then I've done a ton of playthroughs of both games. I've done the canon party a couple of times, once with vanilla and then once with the NPC mod; I've done an evil playthrough of both games as well and am in the middle of a second evil playthrough of the first game. First BG1 was Assassin NPC, Kagain, Shar-Teel, Viccy, Edwin, and Eldoth (who replaced Imoen). That party was a lot of fun. My rep was pretty low, but knocking over Baldur's Gate was a blast. Kagain, Viccy and Edwin are obviously all excellent NPCs, Shar-Teel's no slouch either (thanks to the magic of Tutu and dual-wielding), and Eldoth, despite some crappy stats, doesn't make too bad of an archer, especially against mages. Second evil group has Xzar, Monty and Tiax so far, I believe (using the NPC mod). Tiax sucks but is a lot of fun. Xzar has the unfortunate honour of being "That Mage Who's Not As Good As Edwin," but Monty is pretty impressive so far, I'm liking having him around. Give him some points in stealth and have him scout and backstab, or throw some plate on him and send him to the front lines, or give him a bow and have him decimate from the rear. Very versatile fellow.

Thanks to the NPC mod allowing me to have late game NPCs spawn outside of BG, I'm kind of tempted to make a Late Game NPC playthrough - Tiax, Quayle, Eldoth, Skie and Alora. That would be an interesting combination. A power-gamer's nightmare, but whatever.

Also, maybe an Archery group. Imoen, Kivan, Coran, Montaron, Eldoth, capped with an Archer CHARNAME.
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KingCrimson250: Thanks to the NPC mod allowing me to have late game NPCs spawn outside of BG, I'm kind of tempted to make a Late Game NPC playthrough - Tiax, Quayle, Eldoth, Skie and Alora. That would be an interesting combination. A power-gamer's nightmare, but whatever.
Unfortunately Skie didn't get much attention from the NPC mod, so I would advice against bringing her along. We had a good discussion about her here: http://forums.gibberlings3.net/index.php?showtopic=18915
Having both Eldoth, Skie and Garrick in the party is supposed to lead to interesting things, though.
I did an evil party myself, and Monty and Xzar was a blast to have around, and to me they are the core of an evil party if using the NPC mod. Monty will surprise you sometimes...How far have you got with that party?
Having both Xzar and Edwin is overkill, but using the NPC Mod and Sword Coast Stratagems Xzar is actually a more interesting character to have in the party than Edwin.
Kagain is an excellent fighter, but he doesn't get much screen time after finding the caravan (although he and Deslick is supposed to be a fun combo), so Shar-Teel is a good replacement.
Tiax is great fun too (for a while) if using the NPC mod, and he has an interesting quest. I don't recall the NPC Mod doing much with Quayle, though, but it's been a while since I played.

First time I played I used the default party too, but Xzar and Monty didn't leave; they were slaughtered by Uncle Khalid and Aunt Jaheira in Beregost. :-) Too bad TuTu couldn't reproduced that event. :-(
Post edited June 20, 2012 by PetrusOctavianus
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DubConqueror: No-one using mod npc's as must-haves for their party? For me (in BG1) Finch is more often used than Branwen as my cleric. For BG2 I don't have a 'canon mod-NPC' yet.
No. Aside from an ease of use mod that allows me to stack more arrows and potions and maxes my dice rolls at level ups I don't use mods.
I'm still torn on evil party for BG2. On the one hand, there aren't many options, and you'll have to round them out with Neutral characters if you want a full deck (usually Haer and Janny, though I suppose Failed Anomen could be an option. Apparently he's a lot less annoying that way) but you really don't NEED one. In between them, Korgan, Edwin and Viccy are absurdly powerful. Edwin now gets 2 bonus spells for EACH LEVEL (as in, every time he gets a new spell level, he gets 1 base+1 spec bonus+2 Edwin bonus, which comes together for a whopping FOUR spells. Four level nine slots at lvl 18 is ridiculous). Korgan is a preposterously tough fighter and his saving throws are through the roof. The guy singlehandedly killed Firkraag at lvl 10 in my game. Viccy actually isn't anything special, but she's the best cleric there is.

Make sure CHARNAME has some thieving skills and you can absolutely dominate the game with only those three (though be warned - if CHARNAME is a pure thief then you can't take the evil path in Chapter 3). I prefer an assassin, since it rounds out the party thematically, in my mind, but in terms of gameplay a DCed fighter>thief or thief>mage or even an illusionist/thief would probably be most effective. Or F/M/T. Gotta love those.
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GoatBoySteve: LOL, I made a similar BG2 party once, had a female paladin as the PC, named the save file 'Girl Power'.
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DubConqueror: You use only one save-file for the whole playthrough?

*edit: no criticism meant, i'm just curious
LOL, no, but I typically have a primary save file. I sometimes make others when I'm uncertain about something, but often they are named something like "sdsgsgd" (aka random keystrokes) or "Hmmm".
I tend to use a good fighter (or variant thereof, by which I include Pally, Ranger etc.), and I also only really play BG2: BG1 was a bit too empty for me. So, I tend to go with the same lineup:
Me
Good fighter (If I'm a Pally it's Valygar, if not Valygar or Minsc)
Anomen (I don't find him that anoying and the guy's solid as a rock)
Imoen / Yoshimo (This seems to be pretty standard)
Nalia (She is good, after all)
Aerie (My favourite NPC. Whining aside, she can be kinda fun, and I always give her Crom Faer, just for laughs.)
I once took Jan in the Imoen / Yoshimo slot, but then I felt like a tool when I had to turn her down in Spellhold.
I just realized I haven't thrown my 2 cents in.

I've never actually played BG1 all the way through and never played it at all with NPC's. I suppose I'd go cannon, one healer, one mage, one thief and plenty of fighters that way. If I'm importing to BG2 I'd go Ranger PC.

My favorite BG2 party would probably go:
Ranger>Cleric (PC)
Keldorn
Any given melee warrior until I get the ToB-exclusive character
Yoshi/Imoen
Aerie
Minsc (modded to Archer kit)

If I'm playing it straight I'd use Minsc for the melee warrior and use Mazzy for my ranged fighter. I have contemplated dualling the ToB-exclusive character to a thief to get UAI, give them holy avenger and ditch Keldorn instead, but have yet to do it.
Post edited June 21, 2012 by GoatBoySteve
Not sure I have a 'favourite' party (having only played through twice with a different party each time) but:

Good Party:
can't go far wrong with canon for BG1 though I'd prefer dropping Khalid for Kivan if I could keep Jaheira (which can be done of course by leaving him dead/in an unimportant building but I didn't do it last time)
For BG2 I stuck with Jaheira,Minsc,Imoen/Yoshimo and added in Aerie and Keldorn (swapped him out for Mr.S last time but not sure that was the best move). Keldorn's True-Sight and Dispel Magic were life-savers and he's a decent fighter too with good equipment.
(My PC was a fighter/mage and Imoen was a Theif->Mage so with Aerie as well I had plenty of Arcane magic options and Aerie+Jaheira gave enough healing options)

Evil Party:
BG1 - this time I added the banters from BG1 NPC-project so it added a lot to some characters - Monty and Xzar were awesome, Viconia (who also had one of the best banters with Xzar), Edwin, Shar-Teel and a PC Assassin (my new favourite class).
BG2: Edwin, Korgan and Viconia + Assassin - took care of everything, was even easier than the Good team (watching rep aside). No fillers needed. With only 4 party-members they level up quickly and Korgan makes mince-meat out of enemies in melee, backed up by Viconia. Edwin hangs back and the assassin runs around back-stabbing or using a bow from a distance.

I'm now on a new playthrough of BG1 with a druid PC and taking on all the NPCs in a revolving door fashion (this makes it a bit harder but it's an interesting challenge trying to cope with a less than cohesive team). So far I'm liking Kivan and Branwen - Xan not so much as he's got less offensive spells.
I've been playing through BG1 a second time, and thinking about this a lot. Interesting to read all this.

(I'm playing an unmodded, "vanilla" BG1).

I think it's hard to play evil in BG1. The reputation system, the fact that "being evil" really waters down to "being an obnoxious idiot" mostly, the fact that the story (trying to be vague) ultimately doesn't really make that much sense if you're evil. But one nice thing about the game is that the evil NPCs seem to be the best. I've never played "evil" in BG1, but Kagain looks like the best tank, Edwin the best sorceror, Montaron the best thief, Viconia the best cleric, etc. I don't know about any other evil NPCs, but it wouldn't surprise me if they were great, too.

The first time I played BG1 I beat it with the canonical party. I think that's a hard party, actually, for beginners. Minsc is best used as a tank but if I remember right his starting Dex and Constituion ain't all that great for a tank. I have him in this playthrough too and I've constantly had to give him the best armor, rings of protection, etc just to keep him going.

Khalid is even worse. I seem to remember his starting stats as a muddle -- which seems to suggest he's meant to be kind of multi-purpose but in practice makes him tough in the opening game. Worse, if he gets hurt enough he constantly freaks out and runs away in a panic.

In this current playthrough (this is the first time I've played the expansion pack) I've kept the canonical partly but swapped out Khalid for Bronwyn in Nashkel. The addition of a cleric (one of my favorite classes in DnD) helps a lot, both as a second healer/buffer but also she packs some offensive power. Jaheira does, too, but her build is kind of odd and I think (I'm no expert, mind) you end up paying for it in some ways. (Slower levelling up.)

We'll see how it goes. I've speculated that I may play through this one last time someday, in which case I'd use a party that would be the most fun for me, whether it makes sense in the game or not:

Me as a fighter/tank (I usually play sharpshooters, so this would get me out of my comfort zone.)

Kivan as my sharpshooter

Jaheira and Bronwyn or Viconia. I like the combo of the two, and while Jaheira has problems in BG1 I still think she's a great multi-purpose character. In this playthrough I managed to pickpocket Drizzt and got the Scimitar +3, that's helped Jaheira contribute a lot.

Safana, just because she sounds sexy and that amuses me. I don't like Imoen, she comes across to me as semi-psychotic with all that relentless chippering about. (I have no idea if Safana is a good thief or not.)

And Dynaheir. Who isn't the best sorceror around, but I like her character portrait and voice acting, so I'll keep her about. Frankly I like her much more than Minsc, who also gets on my nerves.