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Strategies for Hard or Trial by Iron with Expert

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So I've dabbled already a bit since release to find an appropriate difficulty level (I normally stick to the hardest, but no reload settings like Path of the Damned offer very little appeal to me) and in the end I settled for hard with expert mode with a Wood Elf Ranger (I tried both the bear cave and that huge lot of wolves in Valewood, even with returning with companions like Aloth, but it was so hard I figured if I played the game on this setting I would be crawling along at such a snail's pace it would be a chore. This is from someone who played Icewind Dale 2 on Heart of Fury mode with level 1 characters quite happily).


However, it's still really damn hard - vastly harder than any game I've ever experienced on a hard or very hard mode. I'm currently trying to clear out the Temple of Eothas for Buried Secrets (an early game "easy" location, right?), and I've got to the point where you have to take out two Skuldr Kings and I'm finding it borderline ridiculous. I've recruited two extra dwarvern fighters on top of Aloth and Eder and my damnable Resilient Companion Bear and I'm not getting anywhere (and yes I'm slowing the combat down,  pausing regularly, using choke points wherever possible with my defensive guys and using all my per encounter abilities - even using all of Aloth's per rest spells). My own player character as well as the dwarves have also been min-maxed for best effect. I'm sure through pure attrition I will get there with this encounter, but currently it's pretty damn dire (not even thinking about what else the Temple has in store for me). The bear gets knocked out in moments, the dwarves aren't a great deal better and it's only via Eder and his "second chance" armour that I think I might even progress at this point.


I've heard that heaving a Priest is pretty damn handy, but even so I would have thought I should be able to manage at this stage. I guess did invest poorly in Aloth's second tier spells under the impression that Obsidian would have made all spells more or less equal in terms of combat effectiveness, only to find Ray of Fire is more or less useless and I'm pretty sure I should have gone for something like Rolling Flame instead (my other spell being Necrotic Lance, which is semi-decent but far out-damaged by Fan of Flames); also I realise Expert mode gets rid of your AoE regions which I'm still getting used to.


Having said all that, what gives? Must you literally have a Priest and min-max the hell out of people to survive on hard? My own definition of a decent hard mode should be where you don't have to min-mix entirely to be successful, which really doesn't feel like the case here. Do I have to have things like a Priest to stand a chance, even on those earlier areas (I'm sure I get a decent voiced Priest companion soon anyhow)? Or should I have just left the Temple of Eothas until later - was I wrong to assume an early stage dungeon should be do-able on hard when you first find it? On the AMA Sawyer mentioned that the Gilded Vale was not as hard as Baldur's Gate, and he only found he had "difficult fights" later on - I guess other people must be finding it a cakewalk too on hard but it certainly doesn't seem that way and in some ways complete min-maxing (which does seem mandatory) does detract from role-playing in some respects (i.e. my character must max these attributes to stand a chance at the detriment to other ones, rather than making a more balanced "normal" person which some people enjoy to role-play). Is there a hump you get over on early levels of hard, then it gets easier (better access to weapons, more abilities and talents, etc.)?


Beyond all my specific questions on difficulty, is there any strategies you've found particularly useful on higher difficulty? Is there any YouTube videos you could direct me and others too to get a sense of what's going wrong? I'm not suggesting anything like hard mode should be made easier, but it does seem like a very tricky beast to master and so advice would be greatly appreciated.

Edited by Jojobobo
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Do you need a priest? No. Would some type of healing help, yes. Druid/Priest/Chanter/Paladin


I beat the temple on hard at level 3 with myself, Aloth, Eder and Durance. I was a rogue. I actually had no issues with the skalder Kings, it was the two level 10 shades and one shadow pull that caused me the most grief. I did use traps, potions and consumables to get through however. Hard difficulty means you need to remember all the tricks available to you.

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Difficulty spikes are pretty common, from what I've experienced and read. I managed the Skuldr king fight with Eder, Aloth and my Rogue at level 3 but just barely. And that was using a couple scrolls I found as well. Eder had 8 HPs at the end of that one. Later on there are Shades that routinely waxed a party of six I had on my first attempt at the game. And they were levels 3 and 4.


Difficulty really depends on your party makeup and the abilities/talents you choose. I've not had one in my party yet, but apparently a Cipher will make a world of difference. Also open up with a barrage of ranged attacks and if you have a Rogue make sure you get a shot in during the first couple second of combat, as this will count as a sneak attack for more damage.


Of course, like most RPGs I've seen in the last few years there are a number of people complaining that Hard setting is too easy.


Anyway, another thing to consider is if you're finding an area too difficult, do some other side quests first and come back. The temple is one of these areas, I think. Very easy to get into there at a level that's too low to complete it.

Edited by Ink Blot
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I just managed it using a anvil and hammer kind of technique; get Eder up front first as the defensive mode allowed him to have much greater engagement than the other two fighters, box the group in with the bear and fighters on the sides, send Aloth round back to crisp things with Fan of Flames.


Still that took a lot of trial and error with other tactic to get right (I'm talking maybe an hour plus on the one encounter). I think a thread like this is a good idea for developing different strategies with different classes that work in variety of situations.

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