Saturday, March 5, 2011

Baldur's Gate 2: Good Party Guide v.1.0

DISCLAIMER: This guide only considers Shadows of Amn characters. It doesn't take into account Throne of Baal expansion. Also, there are a couple of Neutral characters in this party, so it's not a 'pure' good party.

Ah, the good party. We all know how overpowered the evil NPCs are in this game. Despite their limited numbers, almost all of them are pure classes, so they fit straight into an 'ideal' party composition. Let's look a quick glance at them:

Edwin: Everyone loves Edwin to death. Not only is he the only pure mage class in the game(not counting his Conjurer specialization), he also has a necklace at grants him additional spells per day, effectively making even any of your custom-made mage characters jealous. He also comes with a memorable personality and a hilarious quest line.

Korgan: Korgan is THE Fighter. Even better, he's a Berserker, giving him the Enrage ability which, at the cost of being 'winded' after the Enrage ends, give him +2 Attack, +2 Damage, -2AC (it's 2nd Edition, so it's good), +15 HP, and immunity to all sorts of crap. Too bad he's strength is 18/77. Otherwise he'll be easily the strongest melee character in the game.

Viconia: Viconia is the only pure cleric in the game, which basically means she have the fastest access to clerical spells as well as being the few healer/support character in the game that can wear some armor. Too bad she's evil =(

Seeing how specialized the evil party is, we now look at our choices for the good/neutral party here. After some experimenting, I came up with some conclusion that is restricted only within my build; BG2 is an open game, and I don't really think any character is truly 'bad', but this build is what I consider an 'ideal' good party that can cover most grounds.

Go here goes:
Keldorn: Keldorn is the first obvious choice as the party 'tank'. Inquisitor is sickeningly overpowered as a class, because in exchange of close-to-useless spells, Cure Disease and Lay on Hands, he gets immunity to Hold and Charm, True Sight and Dispel Magic for almost free. See a Mirror Image? True Sight. Someone disappeared? True Sight. Everything else? Dispel Magic. Just sick.

Also you'll want to get him Carsomyr, the +5 Holy Avenger. Keldorn is the only NPC that can wield it and it gives him 50% resistance to magic, dispel magic on hit, and some other minor stuff. For an optimal good party, Keldorn is almost a no-brainer. Remember to ALWAYS give him the DEX gloves to boost his AC.

Mazzy: Mazzy is strangely good. Maybe because she can cast free haste as a special ability! If that's not good enough, Mazzy is the other pure fighter in this game, aside from Korgan. Unfortunately, her strength is seriously lacking (15), but items can still make up for it. Also she specializes (aka spent points on) in shortbows and shortswords, so the first thing I thought of was to have her carry all the shields in the game (since Keldorn isn't going to use them). Her specializing in bow allows her to be useful in ranged combat when her AC isn't needed.

Did I mention she has free haste?

Jan: Neutral Illusionist/Rogue character. Jan is really really good as a support character. He comes with his 'rogue' gear, which grants insane bonuses to his rogue skills. Unfortunately as an illusionist, he isn't very offensive unlike Edwin.

Jan also has a custom made crossbow which can shoot custom made ammos, which actually stun enemies!

Minsc: Remember me saying about how Korgan isn't the strongest melee character? Minsc is the reason. At 18/93, he has a slight edge over all the melee characters in the game. He also has a berserk ability much like Korgan! So why is Korgan/Mazzy better in anyway? Well, Minsc is ulimately a pure Ranger. That means, he cannot have any Grand Master Specialization. Then again, it's not a big loss. Furthermore, he gets priest spells eventually to help out.

Aerie: Alot of people are going to whine about this. Aerie is honestly not very good. In fact the only thing going for her is her cute voice. Otherwise, she's a decent mage/cleric, meaning divine spells and clerical spells are mostly open to her. She levels very slowly however, and she cannot wear armor (due to her mage multiclass). She fares pretty well, though, given her wide versatility, and the possible fact that she's the best NPC healer. I think she dies too fast though.

Also, the 16 INT and 16 WIS really stops her from being incredibly powerful.

Nalia: I don't like her since she's pretty crappy as a thief and doesn't have the 18 INT to replace Edwin anytime soon. Still, she's your best mage if you want a pure good party, and pure good parties selection have too many choices in the melee department. I didn't really use her much so I'm not sure about her thief capabilities.

Valygar: Valygar is pretty decent, yet not so decent. If you like to backstab, you might as well make your main character an assassin. However, he is probably the best backstabber NPC in the game given the fact that he is a Ranger which means that he has a better attack modifier (thac0). If you can't fit a backstabber into your team, you are better off using other NPCs.

Haer'Dalis: Haer is a Blade, which is one of the better bard kits out there. If you really want a bard in your party without making use of your main character, Haer is the only choice you get. Considering that Blades can solo the game (I tried it to a certain extent), Haer can be really powerful if you play him well. However, there isn't really anything unique about him otherwise.

Jaheira: Very solid Neutral NPC. She's a jack-of-all-trades and more. Although she's a Fighter/Druid, she can eventually cast her version of Raise Dead and also take the Critical Strike feat from the Fighter class. That combined with harm can occasionally cause devastating effects. You'll have to live with her bitching though. =/

So without further ado, here's what I think is the ideal pure good party:
You - preferably a spellcaster or thief
Keldorn - tank/debuffer
Mazzy - tank/archer/buffer (free Courage and Haste!)
Minsc - Damage
Aerie - Healing/Support
Nalia - Mage with thief support. Replace with Imoen once you get her back in the story.

Comments: This party seems rather shaky. It is heavy on melee, and very lacking in thief skills as well as magic (both arcane and divine). Damage doesn't come freely with this party too. Keldorn and Mazzy isn't really damage material in the first place so your character would preferably be a damage dealer. You COULD replace Mazzy with Valygar, but that would require you to micro him and abuse his backstab ability (run away, hide, return, poke). I've played an Assassin main character before, so I know how incredibly troublesome it can be.

If we allow neutral characters in the mix:
You - Up to you.
Minsc or Mazzy - Damage or tank/archer/buffer
Keldorn - Tank/debuffer
Jan - Amazing control and thief skills + spells
Jaheira - Great solid character overall. Buffer/Damage/A bit of tank
Nalia/Aerie - For arcane magic. Aerie is better imo since she sacrifices level 7 spells for 6 levels of cleric spells, which this party could really use.

Comments: The reason for the choice between Minsc or Mazzy is that since there are better choices for the back row, we don't really need to clutter the front row like we did with the pure good party (which you don't really have much of a choice). Jan takes very good care of traps and thief-related stuff. Jaheira grants you access to druid spells and can also backup as a Fighter. It's almost all you need

In closure, hopefully this guide will become more in-depth and ultimately cover all characters in future iterations. Feel free to post comments :)

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