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Liresh, wild orlan Shieldbearer of St. Elcga, Update 4

 

 

 

 

In the end, I decided to not do the White March for now, only getting my hands on Stormcaller, which involved ~3 relatively easy battles at Durgan's Battery. After that, I started Chapter 3 and entered Elmshore (once again, with upscaled content), avoiding all of the encounters to the north and south for now - I first wanted to gather some experience in Twin Elms, where I started doing sidequests and godquests. I decided to promise the souls to Berath (can never have enough resolve) - theirs was also the first godquest I did. After picking up Starlit Garb as well, I ended up returning to Elmshore. I didn't have level 11 by then, so no prayer against treachery when facing Adragans, but prayer against imprisonment was an option. Luckily, I was sometimes able to take out these dangerous foes without needing a defensive prayer thanks to quick focus fire and some stuns/prone effects/paralyzations:

https://imgur.com/31ZVKCc

I knew that the group of ogres, ogre druids and ogre matrons to the north of the area would be huge, but I didn't remember exactly how many of these I had to face. I realized right away that this was going to be a tough battle, so I wasted no time adding per-rest abilities such as statue summons into the mix. Important parts of the equation were getting my druid into a good position for relentless storm, keeping up Liresh's health (had to use some infuse with vital essence potions here), renewing my buffs multiple times and trying to use as many mental bindings/ringleaders as possible to weaken the opposition. Still, with two pets down, my damage reduced and it being hard to stop enemy spellcasting, things didn't look great:

https://imgur.com/1MlBowC

However, I was able to use Selissa to resurrect my animal companions with an other returning storm disabling the ogres to get her into position. Starting to throw in some cipher/druid AoE damage, I finally gained control of the battlefield:

https://imgur.com/0XtOmzK

The southern groups with multiple adragans ended up being relatively easy to deal with in comparison:

https://imgur.com/M1Xolza

I propably should've gone to the Northweald first. Turns out that the battles there are far easier than those in Elmshore. I completed a bunch of sidequests there (including Hylea's godquest, the peaceful way) and finally got my priest to level 11. Now, I was ready to take down Raedric II. I also discovered that you can mention to him that you're a Champion of Berath as well if you have Berath's Boon at this point. Nice!

Prayer against Treachery turned the fampyrs into non-factors. I took out Raedric first (using multiple mental bindings), because he can deal some significant damage with his fireballs:

https://imgur.com/mg4ThoU

Salvation of time kept my prayer up, and we got a ton of experience for this victory. Back in Twin Elms, we used some sneaky tactics to solve both Galwain's and Rymgard's quests with very little combat, by using some scripted sequences/skillchecks to make it to Sul, returning the same way and taking down the Bear and sneaking through the western part of the Rymgard temple, only having to fight 1-2 pale elves and talking down their leader. Nice. Finally, we entered the Burial Isle, but with prayers against imprisonment and fear, there's nothing we had to be scared of there:

https://imgur.com/uTqhx9O

At this point, I could jump down to Sun-in-Shadow and end this game - my party is level 12, and even upscaled Thaos really wouldn't stand a chance (he's not exactly the most powerful endboss ever designed). However, since I can't really play Deadfire right now (thanks to performance issues rendering the game basically unplayable for me), I might as well go for the Frozen Crown (again) and do upscaled White March content to draw out this run. I've also got some endless paths levels and bounty quests left to do!

 

Here are some talent updates: Liresh gained Healing Chain and Greater Lay on Hands, Kerion went for SM:Burst of Summer Flame and Superior Deflection, Selissa added SM:Consecrated Ground and Superior Deflection, Andur gained Amplified Wave, Mind Plague, Disintegrate and Greater Focus, while the rangers both added Stunning Shots and Apprentice Sneak Attack.

 

Also a general thought on no-reloading, which I think is very true for PoE1: To me, it seems that once you've figured out a set of tactics that work for you in this game on a certain difficulty level, no-reloading by using the same set of tactics over and over again seems far easier than for example in the Baldur's Gate Series. There simply aren't as many things that can randomly go wrong, not that many ways to make a mistake. Instant death effects barely exist (petrification can come close, to be fair), disables are less powerful and can be countered relatively easily, and if you have a priest, there are basically clear answers to almost anything the enemy can throw at you. I noticed this first (to my surprise) when, after completing the game on PotD once, I immediately managed to do the same thing again with Trial of Iron active. My later frozen crown run confirmed this suspicion, and this run cements it - depite my rustiness early on and some close calls, if you go for established strategies, they will work out 99% of the time, while things can easily go wrong in Baldur's Gate, because tiny mistakes matter much more and often result in immediate death. However, near-perfect execution is not required in PoE - once you've get the general strategy down, some sloppy play will rarely result in death. The exception to this might be the dragon battles - those beasts (except for the sky dragon, if you've got the proper levels) can take down an entire party in seconds, and I don't have any secure strategies for dealing with them in a no-reload context (and of course solo runs are a completely different story as well - things such as "The Ultimate" are still ridiculously difficult). Not sure how other PoE veterans think about this, but that's my general feeling.

 

Of course, now that I've said this, I will propably immediately die in some White March encounter ;)

Edited by Enuhal
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Also a general thought on no-reloading, which I think is very true for PoE1: To me, it seems that once you've figured out a set of tactics that work for you in this game on a certain difficulty level, no-reloading by using the same set of tactics over and over again seems far easier than for example in the Baldur's Gate Series. There simply aren't as many things that can randomly go wrong, not that many ways to make a mistake. Instant death effects barely exist (petrification can come close, to be fair), disables are less powerful and can be countered relatively easily, and if you have a priest, there are basically clear answers to almost anything the enemy can throw at you. I noticed this first (to my surprise) when, after completing the game on PotD once, I immediately managed to do the same thing again with Trial of Iron active. My later frozen crown run confirmed this suspicion, and this run cements it - depite my rustiness early on and some close calls, if you go for established strategies, they will work out 99% of the time, while things can easily go wrong in Baldur's Gate, because tiny mistakes matter much more and often result in immediate death. However, near-perfect execution is not required in PoE - once you've get the general strategy down, some sloppy play will rarely result in death. The exception to this might be the dragon battles - those beasts (except for the sky dragon, if you've got the proper levels) can take down an entire party in seconds, and I don't have any secure strategies for dealing with them in a no-reload context (and of course solo runs are a completely different story as well - things such as "The Ultimate" are still ridiculously difficult). Not sure how other PoE veterans think about this, but that's my general feeling.

It doesn't get better with Deadfire. I can confirm your observations are 100 % correct. There's less to think about in Pillars, albeit the second one can go into details, but those tend to be rather trivial outside of Megabosses. That's why I play solo or in party of two and pick *gasp* non meta classes.

 

The first time I played BG:EE I put it on Insane. I had a lot of fun with that game(I am yet to play the second or even Spear of... what was it... Dragonbone?) and it felt like I needed to change my approach every time I went up a level. In the beginning it was mostly Sleep, but that had to evolve.

 

I am of the opinion that Pillars' franchise doesn't actually have enough variability in builds, classes and statuses. It has good polish, especially the second one, but oftentimes I've wanted more. That's why I can jump into games like Balrum or Underrail and have fun there in a way Pillars can never do it for me :).

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@Hulk'O'Saurus: How do you handle solo runs, and are they viable for no-reload purposes? Early game encounters in my experience tend to require heavy damage output and the ability to handle extreme pressure, and I'm not sure how a non-tanky class could survive in a no-reload run.

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I echo sentiment around no-reload play. PoE is easy to succeed no-reload...with a party. This can be seen by people achieving it on a second or third playthrough with a week of experience. Who ever succeeded in a BG2 no-reload in a week?

 

Solo is different because the threat of a single mistake or unlucky roll leading to death becomes a factor again. Whereas with a party a priest or paladin can rescue a stricken character with an exhortation or withdraw, you can’t do that solo. Which means you are back to the customary solo maxim of prevention rather than cure. You need immunities/unbreakable defences/debuff reduction to succeed. And sometimes even that is not enough. I once had a character one-shot by a tail slap from the Adra Dragon. Extreme example I know but it was a HIT (not a crit) for something like 568 damage.

 

For a solo no-reload I think PoE is about as difficult as vanilla BG2/ToB. It is still somewhat easier than a BG2/ToB run with Ascension + SCS. Maybe on PotD and if you are doing a completionist run, it would be around an SCS/Ascension difficulty grade.

 

So very much achievable but needs a lot of planning, experience and understanding of mechanics to succeed.

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Why, one of the achievements in PoE is Ultimate Solo :D. It wouldn't have been there if it wasn't viable.

 

Of course solo no reload is doable, too. But that ship was sailing a long time for me. Now I can't remember all the traps. Sometimes I die to traps. Not combat, mind you xD.

 

I'd say, give it a go. Play on it's highest difficulty solo, and soon you will be getting the hang of it. You can literally have two characters--one doing recon and the other one repeating the most successful tactics.

 

I actually think that in this regard Pillars is less complex than the BG franchise. There's still stuff you have to mind and think about, but I find solo play, or at least reduced party size to be more fun for me.

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@Hulk'O'Saurus: How do you handle solo runs, and are they viable for no-reload purposes? Early game encounters in my experience tend to require heavy damage output and the ability to handle extreme pressure, and I'm not sure how a non-tanky class could survive in a no-reload run.

I think your perception about needing heavy damage output in early game is not correct. Enemies do not have much endurance, you don’t need heavy damage. You just need good defences to be able to handle their pressure.

 

By common consensus the two easiest solo classes are chanter and paladin. Both have pathetic damage output in early game. So why are they easiest? Because Paladin directly has best defences of all classes; and Chanter indirectly has best defences of the lot (because he never needs to swing a weapon and can use his actions to defend).

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No excuse to die to traps! Put your skill points in Mechanics. Nothing else is essential, you don’t need Athletics at all, Survival 2 is plenty, Stealth 4 is fine, Lore 4 is fine. Mechanics all the way.

You see, I used to find pause on trap/hidden a bit annoying and was playing without it. My problem literally 3 days ago was me playing with one hand, squinting at the screen while sneaking around and having one leg on an adjacent chair. Oooh, I will go pick up those mushrooms in the corner... ops, trap in-between. Not quick enough xD.

 

Now I play with pause on find.

 

Putting everything into mechanics surely is safe in one regard, but foregoing some of the scrolls is not.

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You want lore 8 for certain battles to use some of the really cool scrolls like Moonwell. But lore is quite easy to boost for the battles you need it, whether resting, rites or equipment with lore boost. So lore 4 in early game and lore 5/6 in late game, once you have Mechanics in double figures, is fine.

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On No Reloading in PoE vs BG.

 

Any fair comparison of the BG and PoE no reloading experiences has to take account of the fact that we, Serg, Enuhal, Semiticgod, and myself, ,have added mods to BG (notably SCS) in the interests of finding suitable challenges. Setting aside that complication, I do think that no reloading BG is more difficult by an order of magnitude.

 

I started playing PoE very recently. Within a couple days of my first playthrough, I had completed my first NR -despite the fact that I'd spent very little time studying the game mechanics and reading expert posts. I've played, casually, in truth, and solicited tips here and there: That's all. Nonetheless, I already have some degree of no reload competence. I suspect that I'll complete a PotD NR shortly.

 

Learning to NR BG took longer. In BG there are more status effects and the implications of those effects are more troubling. No reloading requires completely shutting-down a wide variety of disabers and insta-kill effects, with each instance having a significant kill probability for an untutored player. A successful BG reloaded understands that the apparently duplicate status effects, spell protections, and spell protection removers are not redundant. Secret Word and Ruby Ray, for example, are not the same: you use them at different times and defend against them in different ways. A successful BG no reloader also understands that there are meaningful distinctions between, say, a school-less innate disabler and a schooled cast one and, further between schooled disablers cast at different levels. Taking all this into account the knowledge requirements for a successful run are significantly higher.

 

Is this a critique of PoE? Not at all. PoE was composed in a different era, to a different gaming market. And I think the game world does an excellent job of balancing complexity and simplicity, ease and challenge. A casual player can attain competence in PoE relatively soon, and at the same time, mastery does require significant study. That's a difficult balance to strike and PoE has done it well.

 

In the end, I'm glad that both games are here. I'm glad, too, that both are suited to no reload play and that we are, it seems, on the brink of establishing viable no reload communities in not one, but both communities. That's great. Variety is good. It's good to have more than one toy and it's good to have people to play with. Play is fun. Playing with others is better. May we continue to play together.

 

Best,

 

A.

 

@Hulk`O`Saurus. If you haven't tried and SCS/Ascension BG Saga playthrough, I'd highly recommend that you do so- it's definitely a gaming experience worth having. It would be great if you could attempt a no reload semi-soom and compare your experiences in that endeavour to those of us who have gone the other way: skilled BG players turned PoE novices.

Edited by Alesia_BH
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Yeah. Baldur's Gate might be much harder to beat no-reload than Pillars of Eternity, but that's because BG is hideously unforgiving; not because PoE is easy.

 

The funny thing is that the main reason I've taken an interest in PoE is because BG became too easy after so many years playing it. It's nice to go back to being inexperienced and having new things to learn about the game.

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Yeah. Baldur's Gate might be much harder to beat no-reload than Pillars of Eternity, but that's because BG is hideously unforgiving; not because PoE is easy.

That's a fair summary.

 

The funny thing is that the main reason I've taken an interest in PoE is because BG became too easy after so many years playing it. It's nice to go back to being inexperienced and having new things to learn about the game.

 

Same. There are two types of difficulty: one is the skill and knowledge required to attain mastery, the other is the likelihood of success given that you have attained mastery. BG is difficult in the former sense- less so in the latter sense.

 

I've attempted to maintain some semblance of difficulty in BG by employing restrictions, emphasizing style, and taking long breaks, but it still feels a little done to me, at this juncture. The prospect of learning a new game is more interesting to me than any challenges I might find in the BG world.

 

Best,

 

A.

Edited by Alesia_BH
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Liresh, wild orlan Shieldbearer of St. Elcga, Update 5

 

Previous updates:

 

 

I decided to start doing bounties for now. Thanks to my high levels, I didn't have much trouble. With me having extensive experience against huge groups of ogres, Nalrend the Wise, one of the tougher ones, didn't stand a chance:

https://imgur.com/XqNZpi4

While I was back at Twin Elms anyway, I decided to get my last Stormcaller upgrade by resting in the Sky Dragon's lair, also taking that opportunity to challenge the beast to combat. This is the only dragon I plan to kill, and the battle wasn't all that challenging, with no one taking significant damage:

https://imgur.com/tbppKa1

I used its eyes to enchant Borresaine, making it a superb weapon. Doing all the bounty quests also triggered a lot of stronghold adventures, including this very helpful little thing:

https://imgur.com/mZmpFwo

However, I still didn't use the Helwax Mold - propably going to use it on one of the White March items granting +4 to an attribute.

The one bounty that actually gave me some trouble was the battle against Lord Exarch Sserkal. I opened with prayer against treachery, but before my priest could cast another prayer, most of my party (including Selissa) was hit by a confusion effect that lasted a very long time, which resulted in a ton of damage for my backline. The moon godlike passive and shod-in-faith helped to keep everyone alive. Still, I made it through all of that, had my priest cast the appropriate prayer and ended up victorious:

https://imgur.com/91gObv7

With the bounties done, I entered the endless paths once again - by now, the fampyrs in level 8 didn't stand a chance (I also killed the final one to get new armor for Liresh). Not much of note happened in the next couple of levels, and for my final fight (since I didn't plan on killing the adra dragon), I unleashed the full power of Selissa (though only a couple of her buffs show up on screen here):

https://imgur.com/XtkgLmY

I talked with the adra dragon and defeated Falanroed for her, ending this questline and the remaining main game content. Now, only the White March remains.

 

The party is now level 14, and we got some more talents: Liresh - Sacred Immolation, Shielding Touch; Kerion: SM: Returning Storm, Veteran Recovery; Selissa: SM: Dire Blessing, Veteran Recovery; Andur: Time Parasite, Stasis Field, Detonate, Veteran Recovery; Rangers: Twinned Arrows for both, Heart of the Storm for Stormcaller, Brutal Takedown for Persistence.

Edited by Enuhal
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Gray Sidoh

Hearth Orlan

Kind Wayfarer Paladin

Aedyr Aristocrat

 

Might: 14

Constitution: 10

Dexterity: 10

Perception: 15

Intellect: 10

Resolve: 19

 

 

Difficulty: Normal

Settings: Maim on Zero Health; No Injuries on Zero Endurance

Mods: None

Special: No Per-Rest Abilities

 

After a couple runs on Normal ended at the early game cave bear and some druids (which surprised me, since we had taken down so many drakes shortly before) and their area-effect spells, I've decided to try a new run with a twist: no reloads and no per-rest abilities. The only spells we can use are per-encounter abilities like Second Wind and abilities that rely on charges like a cipher's Powers or a chanter's Invocations; normal spellcasters like wizards, druids, and priests are pretty much useless.

 

Our Watcher this time is Gray Sidoh, a tanky Orlan paladin. She used to be a wizard in my past PoE runs (I identify with tiny scholars, so I play a lot of gnomes), and I normally prefer mage types, but a paladin at the helm is a key part of our strategy in this run.

 

https://imgur.com/g7ehWWO

 

How are we going to survive major fights and sticky situations without the stronger per-rest abilities? The answer lies in ciphers. I've found that a high-Might, high-Perception, high-Dexterity cipher with low Intellect and no armor can make a spectacular damage dealer thanks to their Biting Whip talent for an extra 20% damage output that normal fighters cannot achieve. I'm going to create three custom ciphers in this run to serve as archers. They'll deal lots of damage very fast from a safe distance.

 

Problem is, unarmored ciphers with low Intellect have terrible, terrible defenses, especially Will. A couple bad hits could wreck them. The solution? Three custom paladins at the front to use Liberating Exhortation to use two key per-encounter abilities: Lay on Hands and Liberating Exhortation, which will keep our ciphers safe from damage and disablers.

 

The early game isn't too complicated. Once Gray Sidoh loses her only two friends at the start of the game, I slip past all fights until I get to Gilded Vale, where selling off our extra gear is enough to buy us three new characters: Lothra, the human paladin, Zovai, the moon godlike paladin, and Rius, the wood elf cipher.

 

https://imgur.com/P5Ttv1b

https://imgur.com/8hDp7mH

https://imgur.com/OQxWNXf

 

The paladins are most important at the start of the game; I need the tanks before I can secure the safety of the archers. I can't afford the next two characters, so we do some light questing. The ciphers have spectacular damage output and can wipe out most basic critters in seconds with little chance of a miss. It isn't long before we hit level 2, granting Biting Whip to our cipher and Weapon and Shield Style to our paladins.

 

A few hundred more gold, and we can afford our last two party members, a pair of Amaua twins, Vivenne and Viora, both ciphers. Being twins lets me justify giving them identical stats.

 

https://imgur.com/lUQe5JC

https://imgur.com/yk6ESqF

 

Since Gray Sidoh has hit level 3, the new ciphers start at 2 and therefore have Biting Whip. With three high-powered archers using hunting bows, we can obliterate key enemies like Ludrana early on.

 

https://imgur.com/KLamupK

 

The damage output is actually kind of absurd. Dealing more damage also buys us more Focus, and using Soul Shock on one of our tanks can deal hard-to-resist shock damage to multiple foes at once! We zap the Guls at the beach.

 

https://imgur.com/6XgPwZX

 

Our tanks aren't quite invincible, as a Forest Lurker shows us when it easily smacks Gray Sidoh to the ground, but they're sturdy enough to buy lots of time for our archers to clean up most battles. Unfortunately, when we get flanked, the archers are easy pickings for moderately tough early game enemies like Phantoms. Viora dies in two hits when one of them surprises us in the Gilded Vale crypts.

 

https://imgur.com/jDrz4HM

 

Otherwise, we can stomp on almost anything. There's nothing quite like having a trio of ciphers flinging out Amplified Thrust spells to knock back big critters like Forest Trolls. The damage is incredible, and it doesn't even require resting.

 

https://imgur.com/9dxxE2I

 

The game has been proceeding very fast, which I find rewarding.

Edited by semiticgod
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Since disengagement is so dicey and simultaneously so important for our ciphers to be able to do, I buy a big-ticket item for the first time and put the Cape of Withdrawal on one of our ciphers. Gray Sidoh hits level 4 and takes Weapon Focus: Peasant to improve the endurance-healing hatchet, Hearth Harvest, and we proceed to Caed Nua. Even against groups of Wurms and Xaurips, our three tanks can hold the fort pretty well, and our three ciphers can deal massive area-effect damage with Mind Blades.

https://imgur.com/cjwzVLz

Still, a nasty encounter with a Pwgra reminds us of the vulnerability of our ciphers. The Pwgra falls quickly, but its area-effect damage-over-time spell takes down all three of our ciphers right after it dies!

https://imgur.com/hOKGogS

But when our ciphers fall, our paladins survive, and we manage to win all sorts of fights much faster than I ever have before. The Biting Whip Talent makes ciphers scale so much better with Might, Dexterity, and Perception. They hit level 4 when we reach Defiance Bay, opting for Draining Whip as their next Talent to provide more fuel for their damage spells, and we use the wood from the forest critters and a spare Peridot to craft up some Scrolls of Defense, though only Gray Sidoh currently has the Lore to use them.

Viora, our third cipher, gets knocked out early in the Sanitarium fight due to a forced flanking, but then real life intervenes and I have to quit the game before finishing the fight. Fortunately, since you always start the fight in the same position and pre-buffing in PoE is limited to snacks (which I didn't bother doing in this case), we can restart the fight under the exact same conditions, granting me no metaknowledge advantages besides what I learned in my Easy mode run. In fact, Viora dies the exact same way the second time around! The only difference is that she dies to 26 damage from a Crazed Patient instead of 23 damage from a Crazed Patient.

https://imgur.com/PjDos7v

I need to get our fragile ciphers out of the way, but we have little room to maneuver and we've got multiple encroaching from several different directions. By carefully choosing our positioning and disengaging before we get hit instead of after, our ciphers take only a bit of damage before reaching safety. Gram still gives us grief, however (Baldur's Gate pun!), as he keeps chasing one of our ciphers and is only at Badly Injured.

https://imgur.com/T4wT4o5

In the end, sheer, overwhelming offensive power clears the map pretty quickly. After Gray Sidoh hits level 5 and gets Liberating Exhortation, we head to Heritage Hill. Spellcasters are dangerous for our party considering how important our fragile archers are for our damage output, but wizards, unlike druids, are fairly easy to kill before they can cause much trouble.

https://imgur.com/8okkSBr

Bad positioning still gets two of our ciphers knocked out, but not before they wreck the enemy with Mind Blades.

Soon, our other two paladins hit level 5 and also choose Liberating Exhortation, while our first cipher, Rius, gains a level and learns Soul Ignition and Ectopsychic Echo for some stronger damage spells for big targets. We also bump up their Lore to 4 so they can all use Scrolls of Defense. Without per-rest spells, we need everyone to be able to use scrolls.

In my previous run, I waited until much later to deal with Raedric, but I think we're in good condition to deal with basic melee grunts in a controlled, low-magic setting like Raedric's hold. I'm worried about Osrya pulling some tricks on us with her spells, and make sure everyone is well-fed before the fight, but again we find that enemy mages just can't stand up to heavy pressure from ranged attackers.

https://imgur.com/zltfKm3

Notice that two of my paladins aren't doing anything. That's because they're mostly there to soak up damage and provide rescue options like Lay on Hands and Liberating Exhortation, and they don't have the high Dexterity or the light armoring needed to take action at a moment's notice. This means that in volatile encounters, it's more important for our paladins to be able to cast a spell right away than it is for them to actually deal any damage. There's a big difference between being able to cast a crucial spell in 1 seconds instead of 3 seconds.

Also, if I just have them wait in a wall formation, I can have them immediately rush to engage any enemies who might approach our archers.

Viora and Vivenne join the rest of the party at level 5 and learn Soul Ignition and Puppet Master. Their low Intellect means that the domination effect of the latter won't last nearly as long, but their high Accuracy will mean it's very reliable, which means any low-Will enemies can be turned against their buddies if I ever need to decrease pressure on a given party member.

After all, this party has extremely high damage output. Fights don't last as long with this party, so we don't need longer durations for our spells.

Despite crushing Raedric's guards with relative ease, I'm still concerned about Raedric himself, and therefore chow down on a lot of food and make sure everyone has Scrolls of Defense on hand (now that we're at level 5, everyone in the party has at least 4 Lore and can use most of our scrolls). All three paladins are decked with full plate and our Endurance and Constitution food buffs will keep us a little safer from surprises. All three ciphers have switched from clothing to Fine Robes, since they grant 7 Damage Reduction in exchange for only a 15% Recovery delay--a bargain, considering the normal 1 DR to 5% Recovery penalty trade-off.

I choose a very specific formation before I speak with Raedric: I position two paladins at the nearest guards, align the ciphers a few steps behind them, and send out Gray Sidoh, our sturdiest tank, to draw attention from the rest of the enemies. Notice the clear geometric shape of our party members, matching the enemy's. Also notice Gray Sidoh opening with a Scroll of Defense--having sturdy defenses and no other important roles means that Gray Sidoh is ideally suited for using scrolls.

https://imgur.com/CuL2luR

My fears of the Archmage prove unfounded. Moments after Mind Blades take down the enemy priest, another volley blasts the enemy mage to chunks.

https://imgur.com/65tV59i

I've checked the record screen and the largest number of kills, the highest experience value of kills, and the highest damage all comes from our three ciphers. Mind Blades just does so much damage to herds of enemies. Raedric's heavy armor and strong stats aren't remotely enough to keep him safe.

https://imgur.com/OU13pAj

 

Back to Caed Nua! I think we're doing pretty well, and there's a war bow I want to track down again for our ciphers. I was pretty sure the ogres were just sluggish melee grunts I could strike from range, but then I find a druid hanging out with Zolla--apparently a new enemy in Normal mode. Keenly remembering how our three ciphers all died to a druid spell not long ago, I retreat from the Tanglefoot spell and lure the enemy into a choke point. We're doing lots of damage, but the ogres have sky-high Endurance. We're not making fast progress like we normally do.

 

https://imgur.com/yX8YX5C

 

Worse yet, the ogres have a pretty reliable knockdown ability, and apparently can hit multiple targets at once with their huge clubs. Even with a Scroll of Defense to improve our stats, Zovai gets knocked off her feet. Notice the curious bug in the last line of the dialog box.

 

https://i.imgur.com/bny9dKg.jpg

 

Lothra takes heavy damage in spite of her Potion of Iron Skin and also loses her balance. Zovai, back on her feet thanks to Liberating Exhortation, bails out Lothra with Lay on Hands, but the ogres are still in good condition. Zovai gets hurt, too, but stays afloat, I think in large part to her Moon Godlike healing abilities.

 

Finally, our ciphers generate enough Focus for another volley of Mind Blades, and the tide of combat shifts in our favor.

 

https://i.imgur.com/U1DbtGW.jpg

 

A little more chipping away, and Zolla falls.

 

We skulk around with Rius, our first cipher, disarming traps with her high Mechanics skill, and run into some oozes. We see a weird graphical bug when one of the oozes dies: its sprite expands while the game is paused, until the whole screen is covered with black and grey polygons of some sort.

 

https://imgur.com/mfbJ3LT

 

To my surprise, another druid shows up on the map, and this one is much more aggressive than the previous one. After I disregard its Tanglefoot spell, it lashes out at us with Talon's Reach, dealing huge damage to almost everyone in the party. Just a few seconds into combat, and we're already losing.

 

https://imgur.com/Gwn43dl

 

Time to go. I'm not going to risk getting hit by another spell and seeing Gray Sidoh and one or two ciphers going down. I don't think we could win this fight if more than one or two party members fell this early on. We scurry away, taking advantage of the ogres' inferior movement rates, and heal up in the north end of the map. One solitary ogre hunts us down, but we're in solid condition by the time it reaches us. We blast it to pieces on the bridge.

 

https://i.imgur.com/nybQwbe.jpg

 

Then the fight ends. I thought the enemy was still chasing us, but apparently only that one ogre bothered to follow us. I consider re-engaging the ogres without resting, but with three characters' Endurance bars in the yellow, I decide to go ahead and rest up before going back to the druid.

 

This time, I know better than to rely on damage spells alone. Ogres have too much Endurance for us to bring down quickly; it gives them too much time to land a hit, and since their damage is concentrated in large blows rather than spread out over faster, weaker blows, it means that bad luck can make things much worse than in a normal fight (plus, bigger hits make damage reduction less meaningful).

 

Instead, I take advantage of the ogres' poor Will defenses and nail one of them with Puppet Master. Despite our ciphers' poor Intellect, their high Accuracy lands us a critical hit, which means 50% extra duration. One of the ogres is ours for 18 seconds!

 

https://i.imgur.com/n6PPt9P.jpg

 

The dominated ogre does huge damage to its friend, and soaks up a lot of damage that would otherwise befall our party. Soon, both ogres collapse, and the druid isn't strong enough to stand up on its own when our ciphers are flinging out Amplified Thrusts.

 

https://i.imgur.com/5EyIub6.jpg

 

I head downstairs, ready to take on the next challenge, but then I reconsider. Our party has been doing very well, but those ogres did pose a credible threat, even if we did crush them in the end. Past experience with Od Nua has shown me that the levels exhibit some distinct spikes in difficulty, and while we were able to come out ahead against the ogres, the ogres were much tougher than the enemies we had been fighting right before them.

 

I decide to back off and leave the area. Being cautious in general is a good idea in a no-reload run, but it's also incredibly important to see several steps in advance, and catch things early before they get out of hand. The time to play it safe is when the party starts to stumble; not when it starts to fall.

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I've changed my mind about disengagement in PoE. I noticed it dealing early kills to my party in my first run, but that wasn't because disengagement was inherently dangerous--it was because I only tried to disengage when I was already in bad condition. Disengaging early, like we did in the Sanitarium, is an important preventative step, even if it's not a good cure. Disengagement is worth doing early on to secure an advantage in positioning. It's a long-term investment in pressure management rather than a rescue option.

 

Also, part of it depends on the speed of the enemy's attacks. An enemy that attacks quickly but does less damage gains rather little from disengagement; it only gets one extra attack out of many. But for slower, heavier hitters like an ogre, that disengagement attack is a huge benefit because it comes out instantaneously, completely ignoring normal attack rates.

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Is there a way to post images directly, but enclose them in spoilers so they don't clutter the thread? It would be easier if we could click on a spoiler to open an image on the same page, rather than clicking on a link to open a new tab to view the picture outside the thread.

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@Hulk`O`Saurus. If you haven't tried and SCS/Ascension BG Saga playthrough, I'd highly recommend that you do so- it's definitely a gaming experience worth having. It would be great if you could attempt a no reload semi-soom and compare your experiences in that endeavour to those of us who have gone the other way: skilled BG players turned PoE novices.

Maybe one day :). I am enjoying Balrum at the moment. Siege of Dragonspear is after that. I will be playing my solo Wizard in between, still. But all in all, I will not be rushing to claim that price :).

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IP5ok2U.png

m0x5eY5.pngtBxm170.png

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Is there a way to post images directly, but enclose them in spoilers so they don't clutter the thread? It would be easier if we could click on a spoiler to open an image on the same page, rather than clicking on a link to open a new tab to view the picture outside the thread.

Yes, there is:

Put your link like you do it now (on imgur copy a direct link), brace it with [img*= link] and then brace the whole thing with [spoiler*] ... [/spoiler*] (all without *).

 

Like this:

TlyVmqV.jpg

Edited by Serg BlackStrider
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Jazz Wit, Solo Coastal Aumaua Chanter (Hard), Part 1

 

So I am ready to start my run and introduce my character ahead of some play this weekend :dancing:

 

This will be a solo run on Hard. I have two mods, IE mod (for loot shuffler and faster movement in stealth) and UP mod (for some bugfixes around DoT effects and the slightly faster potion drinking to alleviate the drinking bug). Neither has any drastic effect on gameplay (at least I have not selected any options in IE mod that would distort gameplay). More details on options selected are in these screenshots:

 

2.jpg1.jpg3.jpg


 

The brave Jazz Wit:

 

4.jpg


 

Max MIG, CON and INT, dumped DEX, RES is slightly below average. Built for survivability. I take the only chant and phrase that matter until level 9, 'Come, Come Soft Winds' (does small amount of AoE raw damage, stacks with itself) and 'By Reny Daret's Ghost' (summon Phantom). Merchant background for Mechanics and Lore, which will ultimately be the highest skills.

 

Quick glance at the character sheet:

 

5.jpg


 

I have highlighted skills and defences. My aim for skill progression is to get to natural (before story bonuses) Athletics 1, Lore 7, Mechanics 13, Stealth 4, Survival 2. I have mapped out the skill points available and necessary to do this, so this is well planned in advance. Mechanics is for traps and caches, Lore is for scrolls, Stealth is sufficient to avoid a few fights here and there, Survival is enough for 20% healing bonus (and I can take the occasional Accuracy bonus by using an item to boost Survival before resting), and Athletics is irrelevant to me.

 

As far as defences go, focus in early game will be to boost deflection. I will be using the biggest shield I can get without a care for what it does to Accuracy, enchanted as soon as possible, and talents that also boost deflection. You can see Fortitude is already very good (thanks to max MIG and CON) and this is the key defence I will be looking to maximise for survival. My Reflex defence is terrible due to dumped DEX, but will be alleviated by taking weapon & shield style at level 4. Will is (largely) irrelevant for solo.

 

A couple of highlights from the camp. 

 

6.jpg


 

My very first attack roll is not only a crit, it is a roll of 100! That's a good omen.

 

Fighting the raiders:

 

7.jpg


 

Two things to note here: firstly the positioning of my PC to get as many enemies as possible into the AoE of the chant. Note the lighter yellow part of the circle is the extended range of the chant due to my high INT score (without the high INT, I would not be affecting any of the opponents from this position). Secondly, slow mode is active. There is an option to activate slow-mode automatically at the start of combat. I highly recommend this option for all new players (and indeed veterans, I always still use it). Combat in PoE is fast and you cannot always tell what is happening. Slow it down to give yourself more of a chance to see what is happening. Later on once you are more confident, you an switch this option off if you like.

 

Anyway, I completed the camp (roleplayed to select dialogue options that did not save Heodan) and the ruins of Cilant Lis. I reached level 2 at the machine and put all skill points into Mechanics (now 5), selected White Worms invocation and Veteran's Recovery as talent. This is an invaluable talent for solo and is my first pick for any class other than fighter or wizard. Jazz Wit is now alone and will remain so for the rest of the game, and I took my first rest in the ruins to get rid of the fatigue.

 

Next session will be at the weekend. To end this one, I thought I would showcase a few crafting options that people who are considering solo should pay attention to.

 

For any solo character, item use is an important part of the game. You do not have access to the range of skills and talents that a full party does so you have to find ways to plug the gaps. Items and consumables help you do this. For a Chanter in particular, this aspect of the game is one of the greatest strengths of the class. Because your chants are passive effects that take place independently of your combat actions, you can actually spend the time in combat using items rather than attacking or casting a spell. That is why this class is so strong defensively: when you never have to swing a sword, you have plenty of time to use items that improve your defences instead.

 

Let's start with these 3 potions (and start making a note of the crafting ingredients):

 

8.jpg9.jpg10.jpg


 

Wizard's Double is a very powerful effect for the first third/half of the game. The +40 deflection can last for the entire fight if you do not take a hit or critical hit (grazes do not dispel it), and the +40 deflection makes you hard to hit. Against opponents whose primary threat is physical attacks it is a great defensive resource. Note that any hit (which can be status effects against other defences) dispels Wizard's Double, so it will not be much use against opponents who attack your other defences. Mirrored Image is the next potion in this line, which gives you a smaller deflection bonus but which is only partially dispelled as you get hit (deflection bonus reduces by 5 for each hit). Llengrath's Displaced Image is the final and strongest potion in this line, with a large Reflex bonus as well as Deflection, it does not get dispelled on hit, and it lasts for a very long time. 

 

Once you can craft these potions in good numbers, you can and should use these in every non-trivial battle.

 

The next potion is the most important of all and one of your quickslots should be permanently allocated to ensuring you have a full stack of these available in any fight:

 

11.jpg


 

Moving onto scrolls. The following is a level 1 scroll that is nevertheless crucial to success:

 

12.jpg


 

The reason it is so important is because fear effects impose very large Accuracy penalties in this game (among other things), so when under these effects you can soon find yourself unable to do anything to your opponent. And since opponents who cause fear can often do so infinitely (banshees, dragons et al), you could find yourself in a terminal situation where you cannot hurt the opponent and it is therefore just a matter of time until they defeat you. These scrolls are not the only way to deal with fear but are likely to be your most reliable avenue. Definitely have them available before facing opponents you know can cause fear.

 

The following two level 2 scrolls are the meat and drink of solo no-reload. Craft them, use them, craft them, use them, over and over again, as often as you can, in every battle if needs be (get the picture)?

 

13.jpg14.jpg


 

And this level 4 scroll is healing and defences rolled into one. I generally prefer to use Defence and Protection scrolls instead of this, but it comes into its own in situations where you cannot help take damage or where there is a risk you could be disabled for (shortish) periods.

 

15.jpg


 

Also at level 4 are these two great disabling scrolls:

 

16.jpg17.jpg


 

Finally this is not a scroll you will need everyday but can be crucial in the toughest of battles:

 

18.jpg


 

Couple of final things to sum up: note how so many of the really important consumables are defensive resources? Damage is cheap, defences save lives :yes:. And did you look at the crafting ingredients? Start collecting/buying Admeth's Wyrt, Skuldr Ears, and Dyrcap. A lot of the other crafting ingredients are widely available and you are unlikely to run out. But I can almost guarantee that if you really want to maximise consumable use, you will run out of these three ingredients because of how many important potions/scrolls require them. So if you see them, pick them up or put your hand in your pocket ;).

Edited by Jaheiras Witness
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@Jaheiras Witness: Do you think it's feasible to solo a mage no-reload by relying on those items? I like the idea of a solo run, but I'm not really interested in a conventionally tanky character like a chanter. I've been enjoying offensive-oriented strategies in PoE because fights end so quickly and so dramatically. I was hoping that higher-level mage spells would make it possible to steamroll certain encounters.

 

I'm surprised to see Dexterity used as a dump stat, but now that you describe your strategy, it makes sense. I thought of action speed as very valuable in the sense that it can provide quick rescue options and responses to bad situations, but a properly constructed turtle would be able to weather most storms, and not need to be able to take action at a moment's notice.

 

On closer consideration, kiting seems a little more viable than I had thought. The right character build could actually get some really crazy bonuses to defense while disengaging from attackers. These are the bonuses to disengagement you can access early in the game:

 

Graceful Retreat +12

Fleet Feet +20 (and +3 movement rate)

Fast Runner +5 (and +1 movement rate)

Cape of Withdrawal +15

 

Put together, that's a +52 bonus to defense when disengaging, as well as +4 to movement rate. It has some steep costs, though: two Talents, a cape, and a level 1 mage spell that only lasts 30 seconds. Still, that seems pretty wicked. A sufficiently high movement rate might well allow a wizard to escape enemy pressure through careful movement.

 

Combine a high Deflection with Wizard's Double and it should be possible for a mage to avoid damage for many seconds, enough time to use spells to turn the tide. Does this seem realistic?

Edited by semiticgod
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A wizard is one of the strongest classes and can absolutely be succesful. There’s a heavy reliance on spells though and getting certain combinations of spells cast quickly and succesfully, which is not everyone’s cup of tea because it requires 1) resting after every battle (at least for first half of game) and 2) risky. If you don’t get it right, margin for error is small. But if you can get through that, a high level mage is indeed a wonder to behold.

 

I am not sure about the concept of a kiting mage. It may work early game but when you start facing fights with 6+ opponents, you may not be able to run even if you have the speed to get away. Then there’s the disengagement damage and recovery is also slower when moving. I think more likely you have to stand and fight.

 

A wizard is well equipped to do this though. You have Arcane Veil as a talent (probably first pick) which you can later improve to Hardened Veil. This gives you a huge, undispellable deflection bonus against everything except guns. Trouble is it is just 2/rest and has a short 10 second base duration, so you will likely use both instances every fight. You activate this first thing in battle to buy you time to get Wizard’s Double/Spirit Shield et al up, and then you can go on the offensive.

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Nice to meet BG-Veterans here in Eora! I've played BG quite often during the last two decades (nearly ;) ). Next run will include Siege of Dragonspear. Reading about your andventures is very inspiring.

 

@Jaheiras Witness: I never used only one phrase, so here comes the stupid question -- do I have to put three times Come, Come, Soft Winds into one chant or is one time enough?

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