Saturday, February 16, 2013

Icewind Dale 2 - Revisited (Part 2 - The Beginning)

Quick reference:
Tank = Deep Gnome 28 Dreadmaster/1 Rogue/1 Monk
Talos cleric = Drow 17 Stormlord/4 Barbarian/4Fighter/5Sorcerer
Diplomat = Tiefling 2 Rogue/14 Druid/14 Bard
Sorcerer = Aasimar 1 Paladin/29 Sorcerer

First Steps
Ah low level and gold woes! Of course, I didn't expect my team to start even with a simple full plate armor readily available to me. Anyhow, Studded Leather is good enough for my tank due to his high DEX. At this point he seems pretty ridiculous: 22AC at level 1 without shields and buffs, and is able to cast Mirror Image and Blur. My Talos cleric seem to suffer a bit though. Her low DEX means that she will have to live with crappy Chainmail armor. Since she will still be at the front row, I gave her the shield you can 'steal' at the Palisade, leaving her with a very average 18AC. Hey I'm poor! It didn't take me long after her first level up that I should've really given her 1 Fighter level so that she can be proficient with axes.

The initial Targos was pretty uneventful, if not irritating because there are some locks I cannot pick at the start. Having a dedicated diplomat starts to pay off a bit; I managed to avoid the fight against the Iron Collar dudes in the tavern and jacked up the price of some barters, which is really important this early in the game. The innkeeper is really stingy though, only 50gp for getting rid of a noisy ghost in his inn. At least the nice elf lady (Ulbrec's wife) is a bit more generous. Otherwise it's all fine and dandy.

Battle at the Palisade
I made sure to wipe out Phaen of the Rags before the battle. My party's resources are limited so less enemies is better for me.

The battle itself was kind of hard. My tank was still level 1 with 10HP. Even though he wasn't getting hit that often, a couple of lucky criticals can still kill him. Because of that, focusing on smaller minions before the bigger ones seem to work like a charm. I also realized that I should have taken Burning Hands for my sorcerer. I had completely forgotten how useless Magic Missile + Chromatic Orbs were at level 1, and I took them because they were awesome at later levels. Because of that I had to use all 3 charges of the Wolf Charm from the drinking game at the docks, so that the goblin sorcerer would stupidly magic missile them instead of my party.

And my tank STILL hadn't leveled after the fight. I'm starting to worry about the 20% experience penalty should I ever find the need to take the monk levels. Hopefully it's not anytime soon. It shouldn't be.

Shaengarne Bridge
Ulbrec is mad, asking up to 6 level 1-2 adventurers to overtake a critical bridge that is obviously going to be held by a battalion.

God the entrance is hard. There is like a gazillion guys trying to hit 1 gnome. After dying a few times, I finally managed to defeat them, causing my guys to level up. Here I manage to grab the Bard level for my diplomat, the Fighter level for my Talos cleric and finally one more level for my tank, effectively doubling his HP. The rest of the area is much easier after the level up. I made sure to cast Command everytime I see an orc shaman cast spells and beat the crap out of him.

It is around here the first sneaking mission came about, which is easily solved with the deep gnome once per day ability of turning himself invisible. At this point I realized what a ridiculous scout he is. High AC, invisibility, cleric spells, mirror image, good damage, I'm sending him to scout fog of wars before I engage my enemies. My diplomat is having problems now trying to stand  near the fighters and granting them bard songs and doing nothing else though. Too bad you cannot hide while you sing.

The troll fight is pretty hard. He hits more frequently and harder than I would've liked. I don't have a rogue who can steal the blade from him without him noticing so I have to fight. I realized how much I needed entangle at this point and how useless Summon Nature's Ally I is. Also, Ray of Enfeeblement could really help in this case; it's flat -15 STR in this game for whatever reason.

I had a pretty big level up at the Harpy/Boar area. My sorcerer have one extra spell (I took Ray of Enfeeblement), my two clerics hit level 3, opening the door to level 2 spells which are immensely useful. The Talos cleric is becoming a beast with her new Returning Throwing Axe, Bull Strength and Destructive Blow. The High Priests who immediately cast Beast Claw, Summon spells and Cures are pretty trivial, casting the almost instant Command spell whenever they start casting crap. Yes I memorized Command to the max. The newly acquired Hold Person and Horror spells helped too.

The actual battle of the bridge was pretty easy with the new levels, except for one bitch that suddenly cast fireball in my face, wiping half my party. I did not manage to save the bridge though, since I neglected to buy potions in case of critical hits so I 'cheated' by resting in the middle of the battlefield (which makes no sense).

Goblin Fortress
The outside of the fortress wasn't particularly hard, considering that there is a free place for you to rest every time you are low on resources. The mini-boss fight at the top right hand of the map is tough though, with a couple of ice trolls, ogres, an orc shaman and a bunch of archers and wolf-riders. As if that wasn't bad enough, they would randomly orbital strike wolf-riders in the middle of the battlefield (screwing up my positioning) as long as there is an orc shaman beside the War Drum. Fortunately, that particular War Drum is snipe-able from across the bridge without attracting attention, so most of the problem is taken care of.

The warrens of the fortress (the Goblin Warrens) isn't that bad. 2 levels of things to kill, none of them particularly difficult. Scouting with my gnome proved so invaluable that it becomes the norm. As I level up and gain access to Barkskin, more powerful Chromatic Orbs, Fireball and Animate Dead, fights can become trivial at best, with annoying AI aggro management possibly screwing my plans. This dungeon is quite funny because the fights get easier as you progress, so level design-wise it seems strange. I remembered that the very first fight when you enter the dungeon can be pretty tough. The rest, not so much.

The exterior and interior fights after making out of the warrens can get a little overwhelming. Thanks to scouting and the awesome Entangle + Fireball spam combo, huge fights can whittle down to small brawls when done correctly. Deep Gnomes and Drows as frontlines are truly awesome, as they have spell resistance in case you misfire your fireball. If I didn't like them being in the front, I could always cast a couple of Animate Dead (really dumb spell in many ways) and let them draw aggro before letting lose my combo.

The Guthma fight is incredibly underwhelming. He failed my Chromatic Orb saving throw and was stunned for 3 rounds. With my drow's retarded Attack Bonuses (fully buffed with Bull Strength, Destructive Blow, Strength of One, Bard Song) and Faerie Fire cast on him, he went down so fast I mistook him for another bugbear. With my sorcerer free to do anything at this point, she simply fireball-ed the mirror imaged orc and goblin shamans continuously until they are dead. So much for mirror image!

This party really went through a lot. At the start I felt worried that this party might not make it, but towards the end, it really got a lot simpler as I gain access to better items and spells.

I think it is safe to say that having all the monsters attacking a Deep Gnome with 28 AC fully buffed with mirror image is perfectly okay. I also equipped him with Witherbranch Boots (immune to Entangle) and Houndstooth Collar (immune to Panic and Fear) so he can walk in and out of my druid's Entangle spell and silly spells like Horror don't affect him.

The rest of my party is running on 16 AC or less, with my Sorcerer running on a whooping 9 AC. If you are reading this and wants to build the same sorcerer for tabletop, don't be an idiot and stop right there. 9 AC will have you begging the DM for dear life at level 1. However, this is a computer game where AI can be abused a little, so 9 AC is fine as long as I am careful. Plus, the overpowered instant-cast Chromatic Orb helps a lot, as well as both my cleric's instant Command spell.

Now that Targos is safe, apparently my party thinks it's a good idea to fly in an airship in medieval-fantasy setting piloted by a half-delusional absent-minded gnome. I wasn't surprised we crash landed.


No comments:

Post a Comment