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Quick hints for beginners who find the combat intimidating


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Sensuki's already made a comprehensive and long guide for beginners, but I thought I'd jot down some quick notes based on things I've noticed people asking on these forums. If the thread doesn't catch, then let it fall into oblivion, natch. Minor spoilers follow, not tagged as such because the forum is.

  • If you wander off the signposted critical path, expect to be stomped. If you are, retreat and go somewhere else to come back later. For example, the Eothas temple dungeon in Gilded Vale will murder you hard if you go in alone at level 2.
  • The best form of defense is a strong offence. Tiptoeing generally doesn't work. Hit 'em hard with all you've got, and (usually) try to take out the toughest targets first. 
  • Aloth's initial spell selection is just sadistically bad. When you beat another mage, take his grimoire and copy in better ones ASAP. When rushed by a mob, try putting Aloth in the front and blasting with Fan of Flames, then running back and intercepting with Edér before he gets engaged. Look for easier-to-use AoE damage and crowd control spells quickly. 
  • Use everybody's per-encounter abiltiies every encounter. srsly
  • Pick talents and use weapons which bypass damage reduction. Many of the tougher enemies have high DR and you won't be able to put a scratch into them if you don't.
  • Understand how Accuracy works. Wailing away with light weapons, low accuracy, and low or no DR bypass will not work: you'll miss and graze a lot and the grazes will barely do any damage. If you have low accuracy, at least try to do massive damage and have DR bypass so the grazes will hurt. Alternatively, stack accuracy with Talents or by using a single one-handed weapon.
  • Understand the Defenses. If you're not doing any melee damage the enemy's Deflection is probably too high, so you need to buff your Accuracy somehow -- or debuff its Deflection. There are plenty of spells and abilities that do just this. Pay attention to the Defense each of your spells or specials targets, and select them based on your enemy's weaknesses. They're displayed in the box at top left when hovering on an enemy once you've fought them for a bit.
  • Master the opening salvo. Firearms are available early and they pack a punch, but the reload time is so slow they're only useful at the beginning of a combat. A salvo from three characters can often take down an enemy at the outset. Casters are especially vulnerable.
  • If it still feels frustratingly hard, turn down the difficulty.
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I use Aloth out in front to pull the enemies to me with a big, mean Rolling Flames. It does some damage, it can bounce around to hit them again, and since I have it set to auto-pause when an ability is finished I can immediately set Aloth to run back to the rear before the ball of fire is even halfway to them.

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One more that's come up repeatedly. Very basic but still clearly not clear to everyone:

  • Don't go toe-to-toe using a rogue. Instead build up a tank with maximum defenses, have him engage, then move in the rogue to murder the engaged enemies. Don't worry if the tank isn't doing any damage, that's not his job.

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That's what I'm trying to do.

Using Aloth as a glass cannon [...]

 

I'm trying to use him that way too, though unfortunately he's mastered the "glass" part much better than the "cannon" part. :/

 

(What with Shadows/Shades having a habit of teleporting right next to him....)

Edited by Ineth

"Some ideas are so stupid that only an intellectual could believe them." -- attributed to George Orwell

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Make sure you understand that as of this writing, some of the game mechanics (like Engagement and Interruptions) only serve to make it easier for the monsters to kill you. In the case of Engagement, for instance, all the monsters are at least as fast than you, so if you try to run away it's basically giving them a million free attacks per second at your butt. When you try to use Engagement to manage the battlefield, on the other hand, you will quickly discover that most of the really dangerous enemies in the game can ignore Engagement if they want to, either by spamming at-will teleport abilities or because they are so tough that they don't care if your tank smacks them in the butt. Engagement only works for you if the enemies are programmed to allow themselves to get locked down by your tank. Otherwise you've got to have some other strategy to protect the rest of your party.

 

The best defense is a good offense, and the best offense is to get all the abilities that inflict save-or-suck effects like stun, paralysis, or prone, kite the enemies toward you so they get all bunched up, use your save-or-suck spells on the enemies, and then shoot the enemies with guns and/or bombard them with the decent AoE damage spells. This sort of strategy is overpowered in D&D, where it's actually easier to successfully resist such effects.

 

In D&D, all other things being equal, you've got a 45% chance of totally resisting any hostile effect (default DC is 10 before modifiers), while in Pillars you only have a base 15% chance of totally resisting a hostile effect--and scoring a graze on a save-or-suck effect like prone or paralysis is still a death sentence in practice, especially since many such effects in PoE cripple your defenses and leave you susceptible to follow-up attacks that can extend the time that you're left helpless and unable to act. It's also worth mentioning that almost every effect in Pillars works regardless of what type of creature you're fighting. Slicken trips up floating intangible spirits as easily as it does amorphous oozes (how exactly do you tell when an ooze is prone? Or blind?), and mindless skeletons get afraid from Chanters singing the spoopy song just like everything else. So there is absolutely no reason not to spam stuff like Slicken and the Cipher's Mind Crush like it's going out of style, especially if you also take advantage of the "everyone is proficient with everything" and "everyone with Lore can cast Wizard spells" rules in Pillars to load up everyone with guns and damage spells to unload on their prone, paralyzed faces.

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As a beginner,

having never played DnD or any other game like this, I can say that the thing that's helped me the most so far is to up Aloth and my main dude (cipher)'s stealth and sneak around and position everyone individually before every fight... but I go through what seems like a lot of camping supplies and I rarely have a battle where at least one of the people in my party is not knocked out.

 

Quicksave is my friend.

 

There really aren't any good tutorials that I've found online for how to actually fight / do battle successfully. All the videos I've seen are 80% dude talking character selection / growth 20% dude actually in a battle with something.

 

What'd be really cool is if someone were to make a video where they didn't open the Character sheet or Inventory menus at all and just walked you through how to successfully complete a battle without having any characters knocked out.

theres-no-fun-in-the-galactic-empire_o_9

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Stick with it. I find myself relying less on stealth as I go actually. Try using the fan-shaped spells, for example put Aloth and Hiravias if you have him up front, have them open up with them, then run back and block with Edér. For many of the tougher mob fights that makes things drastically easier. If you're going through a lot of camping supplies it's a sign you're doing something wrong.

I have a project. It's a tabletop RPG. It's free. It's a work in progress. Find it here: www.brikoleur.com

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Eder is your tank.   Turn on his "Modal" ability, Defender, so he can engage up to 3 enemies.  My Hireling Fighter, Trick,  has a "Modal" - Gaurdian Stance turned on which buffs everyones Deflect.  By 4th level Eder can pick a talent that adds +1 engage so he can tank 4.  I have my custom formation set up like a sword.  Eder in front, Fighter NPC behind him, Kana + Durance  side by side 3rd row, Myself (Cypher) + Aloth side by side 4th row.

 

You sneak in and Eder engages almost everything....then the buffs, nukes, cc's are all casted...any peelers will be engaged by my other fighter.

 

Durance and my Cipher can lay down all kinds of CC and buffs.  Kana is just big and ugly with a gun and i'm not sure how to use a Chanter yet.  Aloth nukes a single target or fans flames or puts a crit bonus spell on the boss.  Durance helps keep Eder up with heals and Eder has a Health pot to chug in case.

 

Space Bar is your best friend and if you aren't using it frequently you are doing it wrong.  Try fighting Maerwald without pause and you will wipe.

 

Pro-tips:  1)  Even easy fights use all your micromanagement skills for practice so they become second nature when you go up against a boss enemy....practice practice practice.

 

2)  Always sneak and if the pace is too slow, Click "D" and double up your speed while sneaking.  When fight starts you can click "S" and slow it down again.

 

3)  Bind a key to enable interactions ON so you don't have to keep spamming TAB.

 

4)  Bind "~" to select ALL PARTY, instead of Backspace, for moving around and rebind Console to something else like Page UP.

 

5) READ what ALL your spells do.  READ what kind of Defenses your Enemy has.  Use appropiate spells.

 

6) F5 is your second best friend after Spacebar.  Always save save save before every thing.  You might not like the the outcome of a conversation, for example, so reload and change it.  Save Save Save..

 

Have fun and take your time.

 

 

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Eder is your tank.   Turn on his "Modal" ability, Defender, so he can engage up to 3 enemies.  My Hireling Fighter, Trick,  has a "Modal" - Gaurdian Stance turned on which buffs everyones Deflect.  By 4th level Eder can pick a talent that adds +1 engage so he can tank 4.  I have my custom formation set up like a sword.  Eder in front, Fighter NPC behind him, Kana + Durance  side by side 3rd row, Myself (Cypher) + Aloth side by side 4th row.

 

You sneak in and Eder engages almost everything....then the buffs, nukes, cc's are all casted...any peelers will be engaged by my other fighter.

 

Durance and my Cipher can lay down all kinds of CC and buffs.  Kana is just big and ugly with a gun and i'm not sure how to use a Chanter yet.  Aloth nukes a single target or fans flames or puts a crit bonus spell on the boss.  Durance helps keep Eder up with heals and Eder has a Health pot to chug in case.

 

Space Bar is your best friend and if you aren't using it frequently you are doing it wrong.  Try fighting Maerwald without pause and you will wipe.

 

Pro-tips:  1)  Even easy fights use all your micromanagement skills for practice so they become second nature when you go up against a boss enemy....practice practice practice.

 

2)  Always sneak and if the pace is too slow, Click "D" and double up your speed while sneaking.  When fight starts you can click "S" and slow it down again.

 

3)  Bind a key to enable interactions ON so you don't have to keep spamming TAB.

 

4)  Bind "~" to select ALL PARTY, instead of Backspace, for moving around and rebind Console to something else like Page UP.

 

5) READ what ALL your spells do.  READ what kind of Defenses your Enemy has.  Use appropiate spells.

 

6) F5 is your second best friend after Spacebar.  Always save save save before every thing.  You might not like the the outcome of a conversation, for example, so reload and change it.  Save Save Save..

 

Have fun and take your time.

 

 

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Eder is your tank.   Turn on his "Modal" ability, Defender, so he can engage up to 3 enemies.  My Hireling Fighter, Trick,  has a "Modal" - Gaurdian Stance turned on which buffs everyones Deflect.  By 4th level Eder can pick a talent that adds +1 engage so he can tank 4.  I have my custom formation set up like a sword.  Eder in front, Fighter NPC behind him, Kana + Durance  side by side 3rd row, Myself (Cypher) + Aloth side by side 4th row.

 

You sneak in and Eder engages almost everything....then the buffs, nukes, cc's are all casted...any peelers will be engaged by my other fighter.

 

Durance and my Cipher can lay down all kinds of CC and buffs.  Kana is just big and ugly with a gun and i'm not sure how to use a Chanter yet.  Aloth nukes a single target or fans flames or puts a crit bonus spell on the boss.  Durance helps keep Eder up with heals and Eder has a Health pot to chug in case.

 

Space Bar is your best friend and if you aren't using it frequently you are doing it wrong.  Try fighting Maerwald without pause and you will wipe.

 

Pro-tips:  1)  Even easy fights use all your micromanagement skills for practice so they become second nature when you go up against a boss enemy....practice practice practice.

 

2)  Always sneak and if the pace is too slow, Click "D" and double up your speed while sneaking.  When fight starts you can click "S" and slow it down again.

 

3)  Bind a key to enable interactions ON so you don't have to keep spamming TAB.

 

4)  Bind "~" to select ALL PARTY, instead of Backspace, for moving around and rebind Console to something else like Page UP.

 

5) READ what ALL your spells do.  READ what kind of Defenses your Enemy has.  Use appropiate spells.

 

6) F5 is your second best friend after Spacebar.  Always save save save before every thing.  You might not like the the outcome of a conversation, for example, so reload and change it.  Save Save Save..

 

Have fun and take your time.

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^ Triple post

 

Watching my friend play this, I noticed some things:

- Use Choke points (e.g. doorways). Most dungeons have these, you can bait enemies from larger rooms. Having to deal with 1-3 is a lot easier than getting the tank surrounded by 7.

- Use per-rest abilities freely If you have fast access to Inns (If you feel like you won't survive otherwise). The dungeon in the Gilded Vale became a lot easier when we started to take breaks and return to the surface. This might be too exploity for some.

- Pay attention to the formation. While there are no 'aggro' mechanic, enemies most likely attack the guy in the front, or the one they see first. Exploring the dungeon we found our squishies in the front line way too often.*

- Don't try to change your position when engaged (free attacks for everybody)... my only problem with the engagement system this far, but I guess I need to play it myself and get to know the skills/abilities better.

 

*I think the AI prioritizes the weaker characters when they have low health. At least the shadows in the dungeon started teleporting to the priest and mage after the were near dead. They never did it when they were uninjured. I have no proof though.

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Upon reaching the Black Hound Inn in Gilded Vale, hire the Munchkin Twins for your party.

Wild Orlan
Fighter
8/18/6/20/6/20

Equip these bad boys with kite shields and hatchets, run them out well ahead of your party, then actually play the other 4 party members as you wish.

Don't forget to choose every single defensive skill there is on level up for these little munchkins.  The fact that they exist at all is a testament to something, I'm sure.


 

Edited by Midas Touch
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I'd like something to explain how weapon speed and interrupt actually work. Is a chanter with the concentration debuff actually a good idea? How do you take advantage of it? How does weapon speed interact with damage (why doesn't the game show bloody DPS)? What does interrupt actually do?

 

For bonus points: How do I actually tell the weapons apart and figure out which I should use for what type of character? Right now, it feels a bit arbitrary, especially within a class. For example, what's advantage of wands/rods/scepters  over bows/crossbows/guns(?)?

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@Epsilon Rose: lotta questions, will try to answer.

 

Chanter and Interrupts: Maybe. Depends on what the rest of your gang is doing and the enemy. If you're mobbing a boss, you can actually stunlock him this way. Have done it. You need to set things up so that the enemy's Concentration is lower than your Interrupt, and you hit at least as fast as he does. Sensuki has also described dedicated Interrupter builds which apparently work pretty well. (Conversely, it's possible to get stunlocked if you have low Concentration and get mobbed.)

 

Weapon speed/damage: depends on the enemy, since damage reduction (DR) is applied to every hit. If you've got a fast weapon which does 15 damage and hits twice as fast as a slow weapon which does 25 damage, it'll be more effective against an unarmored opponent. Against an opponent with 10 DR the slower weapon will win out, because two hits from the fast one will only do 10 damage whereas one hit from the slower one will do 15. The add DR bypass to the mix.

 

Figuring out which weapons are the best is all part of the fun IMO. Some things though -- scepters, rods, and wands let wizards make Blasts which is cool. Bows/crossbows/guns don't but have faster shooting rates (hunting bow) or more damage (most guns, arbalest). Since you will always want a Weapon Focus, that usually determines which weapon to give which character. None of the weapon groups are bad, and there's lots of good weapons available in every group. 

I have a project. It's a tabletop RPG. It's free. It's a work in progress. Find it here: www.brikoleur.com

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@Epsilon Rose: lotta questions, will try to answer.

 Thank you. I think that all makes sense, though I wish the speed had an actual number in game. Do you think you're better off with a single big weapon or a pair of fast weapons for stun-locking via interrupt?

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 Thank you. I think that all makes sense, though I wish the speed had an actual number in game. Do you think you're better off with a single big weapon or a pair of fast weapons for stun-locking via interrupt?

 

Depends on the enemy's Concentration and Deflection. A dedicated interrupter build dual-wielding stilettos would be lulzy against low-deflection, low-concentration enemies (which aren't that hard anyway, but hey), same guy single-wielding a stiletto would be pretty effective against a high-deflection, low-concentration enemy, and same guy with a two-hander should be able to interrupt a high-deflection, high-concentration enemy a lot of the time, especially if it attacks slowly, like an ogre for instance. Slap on Concentration or Deflection debuffs as indicated. The enemy's attack speed factors into it also: you'll be able to interrupt a slow-attacking monster effectively with a slower weapon.

 

This is all theorycrafting from me BTW, I haven't actually tried an interrupter build. I have stunlocked ogres though by mobbing them.

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I have a project. It's a tabletop RPG. It's free. It's a work in progress. Find it here: www.brikoleur.com

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Well i dont even use a wizard, my druid is the nuker, my barbarian does most damage even with an offtank build.

 

The most important thing to do when going into a bigger encounter is to use the cleric. Cast the lvl 1 spell that boost DR and later on the one that reduce enemy acc and boost your own(lvl 4 spell). Use his encounter Heal/burn enemies with him early-(get the tallents that burn enemies and boost your accuracy).

 

Pretty basic but do that and the rest doesnt matter that much.

Edited by khadoran
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