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Good morning everyone.
I bought the game recently and I just started my first run. I've heard a four men party is more effective than a six one because of the exp sharing system,  so I plan to build a handmade balanced four men team. (plus it seems funnier in my opinion.)

 

However I think I need some help to balance my team in order to make it goes smoothly until the end game.
I don't want to stick with the classic coffeemaker Fighter/Thief/Cleric/Mage team, there is plenty of diverse classes and I want to try something more original.

I already have a Mage and a Druid. I plan to use the Mage as a "controller" specialized in crowd control spells, and the Druid as the main damage dealer of the group.

The idea of having a Paladin as a "frontliner" tempt me more than having a Fighter. With a Pal and a Druid, even if they have only a few support/heal spells, can they together subsitute a Cleric?

Thus, it leads to my main issue with this team: do I need a Thief or a Cleric as a fourth character? I don't know if the Mage in this game can learn the "unlock" spell which is mainly why we could toss the rogue in some previous D&D games for another class. If not, can I still play through the game without a Thief? Or is a Cleric an absolute necessity greater than a rogue? Or can I just get rid of these two for another unexpected class?

 

Right now the team is Mage/Druid/Something who can tank/Something else completely essential which I havn't thought of it.

I look forward for any of your suggestions and advice,

 

Frouwenlop

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Welcome!

 

1) Full vs restricted party size: I have not seen any advice for a four member party over a full party. It depends on how much of a completionist you are, of course. I like to kill every enemy (except when there's some advantage to not killing them), explore everywhere, unlock everything, and do every task and side quest. My full party of six reached max level early in Act 3 (the game has four acts). I've read that not everybody playing a full party reaches max level by the end of the game, but it seems to me like you'd have to skip quite a lot of content for this to be the case.

 

2) Gaining XP: The largest chunks of XP are going to come from quests, especially advancing the main quest. There's a stronghold you will unlock by the end of Act 1, and one of the upgrades to it will give you access to bounties that also give lots of XP, but you'll probably want to save these for your last few levels because some of them can be very tough. You gain XP indirectly by killing monsters. It's not actually for killing them, but for making progress filling in their info in the bestiary, which happens as you fight them. You also gain some XP for exploring and unlocking things.

 

3) Any class can unlock things, but some classes receive a bonus to Mechanics, which is the skill that determines what you can and can't unlock. It also (surprisingly) affects what hidden objects you can find by stealthing, making the skill very powerful to have on one character. The only advantage a rogue will have here is that his +2 Mechanics starting bonus will allow him to either get a higher total Mechanics score with the same skill point investment (gained as you level), or save some points that he can put elsewhere.

 

4) Your fourth member's class: If you're still determined to play with a party of four, it would probably be viable below PoTD difficulty. The PoTD solo runs tend to skip most fights in the game, as some of them would be very difficult on PoTD without a full party. So if you still want to play with four, I think your idea of a paladin tank, mage CC and druid DPS is very good. If I had to pick just one more, I'd take a cipher. My PoTD party has all of these, plus a priest and a fighter as a second tank. Below PoTD, you should be able to get by in most fights with just one tank, but there will definitely be situations where enemies are coming at you from two or more directions at once, and you'll have some challenge keeping things controlled. Well, the CC mage should help there, but the cipher's CC really synergizes nicely with the mage's. Your mage can cast Slicken for a decent-sized area of enemies, and your cipher can use Mental Binding to paralyze a single foe. A paralyzed enemy dies a lot faster due to the debuffs that go along with the CC, and Mental Binding is fast-casting, making it perfect to use on either a caster or an enemy that's running past your tank to attack your weak members. At max level, a cipher can start every fight with a ridiculous power called Amplified Wave, which both CCs and deals raw damage to all enemies in a huge area around an ally (like your tank). That said, the mage's CC will still be useful, as the cipher's powers depend on a mechanic called Focus, so can't always be cast. (I've written more extensively about ciphers in another post if you're interested.) Mages also get a high level spell that AoE petrifies, which is like paralyze, but also greatly increases the damage they receive.

 

5) Compensating for a lack of a priest: I use my priest mainly for buffs. He has a lot of buffs and they're nice, but not strictly necessary. Priests also do have a spell I love to spam at high levels (when your low level spells become Per Encounter) called Iconic Projection, which heals all allies and deals cold damage to all enemies in a long and wide line in front of the priest, but you can certainly get by without it if you have a druid spamming those good early damage spells at high level. The other thing I really value in a priest is Suppress Affliction, to suspend some very bad effects you will eventually start to encounter pretty often. However, there's a ring that has this exact same spell, so hold onto it if you're not going to use a priest. You may not use it all the time, but switch to it when a fight calls for it. The Lore skill is great to level on anyone (some would say everyone) aside from your mechanic. This will allow these characters to use scrolls, some of which do AoE healing like the priest's spells, although the area will be somewhat smaller than the equivalent spell cast by a priest.

 

Overall, this game offers a lot of freedom to play how you want, especially below PoTD, but even at PoTD once you get familiar with the ins and outs of the game mechanics and develop good strategies for different situations.

 

Have fun!

Edited by Nobear
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Heya,

 

Every character can be made to do a lot of things.

 

Few quick tips that will help you figure out what you do or do not need.

 

Lore = Scrolls. You make scrolls the whole game from your inventory screen by collecting stuff. Get one or two characters with a decent Lore count, and you're good. Lore 4 can carry you pretty far in the game. Lore 8 if you really want to use the later game stuff. Pretty easy to get to with bonuses from races, classes and backgrounds. Heal scrolls are easy. You also can make heal potions, unrelated to Lore. You can make almost all the buff spells too. It costs you copper to make them, but hey, it's a way to get spells without a character slot and any character can do it.

 

Mechanics = Traps, Unlock, etc. All characters can do this, not just Rogues. Pick a character, get their athletics to 3, then put the rest into Mechanics. Pick a race/class, etc, with bonuses to mechanics to speed it up early in the game. Once you hit Mechanics 10 nothing will withstand your unlocking and detrapping.

 

**********

 

Based on what you described:

 

Paladin

Druid

Mage

 

... I'd pick a ranged character at this point, either a Rogue, Ranger or even Fighter, or Cipher, etc. You want to pick off casters (priests, wizards) and be able to manage some stuff from behind your other characters.

 

Very best,

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Mechanics = Traps, Unlock, etc. All characters can do this, not just Rogues. Pick a character, get their athletics to 3, then put the rest into Mechanics. Pick a race/class, etc, with bonuses to mechanics to speed it up early in the game. Once you hit Mechanics 10 nothing will withstand your unlocking and detrapping.

 

I think your post is full of good advice, but I'd like to mention that my cipher has Mechanics 10, and there are certain traps she can't disarm in the lower levels of Od Nua. I know there are gloves that boost Mechanics further, but I decided that copying the steps to unrandomize "random" loot was a bit too cheesy for me, so I didn't do it and haven't found the gloves. The scrolls that boost skills are also very rare and cannot be crafted. Thankfully, the few traps I've found so far that I can't unlock are not deadly if I keep my party back and send my tank to trigger them.

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The idea of having a Paladin as a "frontliner" tempt me more than having a Fighter. With a Pal and a Druid, even if they have only a few support/heal spells, can they together subsitute a Cleric?

Thus, it leads to my main issue with this team: do I need a Thief or a Cleric as a fourth character? I don't know if the Mage in this game can learn the "unlock" spell which is mainly why we could toss the rogue in some previous D&D games for another class. If not, can I still play through the game without a Thief? Or is a Cleric an absolute necessity greater than a rogue? Or can I just get rid of these two for another unexpected class?

This isn't Baldur's Gate where you're in a lot of trouble unless you have an unlocker (rogue) and a negative plane protection caster (cleric) in your party, nor is there a knock spell in this game that lets your wizard automatically handle the game's locks.  Moreover, PoE's endurance system negates the need for post-combat healing and its casting system doesn't allow you to do much pre-combat buffing, reducing the importance of wizards and priests relative to BG/BG2.    

 

You can beat this game on any difficulty level with any party composition you want, in other words.  If you think it would be entertaining to use a paladin as your frontline rather than a fighter, go for it!  One tip I would offer, though, is that if you are a completionist who does every quest before hitting the end of the game -- and it sounds like you probably are -- then you will hit the XP cap earlier than you expect and will get 0 XP for the last part of the game.  (Even with a 6-man party, you'll hit the cap, though not as early.)  If you want to 4-man the game because you think doing so would be more fun, great, but I wouldn't suggest going that route solely to squeeze more XP out of the game.

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First of all, thank to all of you for the efforts you made for you detailed replies.

 

I have not seen any advice for a four member party over a full party.

I read it in a begginer guide from the site gamepressure. I quote you the part in case you are interested: "More isn't always better. You don't need to expand your party to six members. If you think that you have created a perfect 4-person team, then don't change it. Gained experience is split between all party members. The less members, the quicker they will level up."

 

As you explained earlier, I share this mania of doing every single quests and kill every single mobs too. So I'm more inclined to believe you when you say the splited experience won't be an issue for a long run. However that makes me wonder of something. I have set the difficulty to normal for my first game and you seem to believe that even at the maximum difficulty you can clean the game with a four men party. Thus that makes me think a six men party in normal mode could reduce drasticaly the difficulty of the game.

So I think I will stick with the four men party, I always liked the D&D or the "D&D like" games for their difficulty and I don't want this game to be too easy. (But I think I must clean the normal mode a first time before trying the hard mode, this type of game need us to have a good knowledge about the game design and the mechanics before trying harder difficulties.)

Plus if I get bored because I reached the level cap too quickly, I can always create a new level one rookie at the late stage of the game. (That could be fun to struggle trying to make survive the poor rookie during a fight where the full level max geared/pumped-up party would crush some demons/elementals/beholders ect..)

 

My mage is already specialized in the Lore. So for the mechanics I think I'll choose a dexterity based character for roleplaying purpose.

As agreed earlier by Theurgist, I will use a Paladin for the tanking issue, the Mage for CCs and the the Druid for killing everyone who had the misfortune to stay close to eachother.

So that gives me an open space for either a Thief, a Cipher, a Ranger or a Monk.
I'd like to use my last character as an off-tank, more to avoid my casters to be surronded than to really be able to tank everything. I've heard the Monk could be a good off-tank but I've also heard the Ranger have his famous animal companion wich could fulfill this role at the early stage of the game.
The cipher don't appeal me that much, a fighter illusionist thing seems a bit overpowered based on your description. I'll make further more research about these two classes and I think I'll end up with a well balaned team.

Anyway, I want to thank you again for your advice and if your want to add anything else, don't hesitate. (;

Frouwenlop

Edited by Frouwenlop
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It sounds like you've got good ideas to start having fun with PoE. I won't spoil anything here, but you'll be interested to discover some twists in both the story and the enemy types that make this game unique. So when you mention demons and beholders, there will be enemy types that wreak similar types of havoc to your party, but it'll be fun to discover what forms they take and what roles they play in the story.

 

BTW I'm Nobear. Theurgist is my title that's based on how many posts I've written. Peoples' names show above their titles.

 

About skills: You will eventually have more skill points on your characters than you need just to get them to 10 in one skill (like Lore or Mechanics). I've found it very useful to have 3 Athletics on all my characters. This will let them avoid a few (but not all) of the injuries they could get from failing Athletics checks. It also minimizes the combat fatigue gain. Basically, a character with 0 Athletics will soon get a Fatigue debuff that grows in severity over time and is really bad to fight with. 3 points means you will usually only get Fatigue when you travel long distances, and hardly ever by fighting.

 

Then there is Stealth, which I'm personally a fan of having at least some of on all my characters, a little more on the frontliners than the back row. It will help you steal things of course, but it will also help with pre-combat positioning. Your ability to get into a good position at the start of a fight can make a bigger tactical difference than you might think. Not everyone puts points in Stealth, but I find it better than the alternatives. Survival unfortunately isn't very strong in this game. It only increases consumable duration by 5% per point.

 

Another thing you might find useful to know about skills and stats in general is that the ones on your main character are sometimes checked in dialogue to determine which options are open to you for responding to a situation. Many of the scripted events, unlike dialogue, allow you to choose a party member to perform an action. These scripted event checks are more often physical (e.g. Str, Con, Dex stats and Athletics skill), where the significant dialogue choices tend to more often be mental (e.g. Res, Per, Int stats and Lore skill).

 

About your fourth member: If you're playing with four members, a ranger could be a great choice to put another body on the battlefield. Yes the pet can die quickly in certain situations, but on normal it shouldn't be too bad. If you choose a bear pet and the Resilient Companion talent, he won't be so bad as an offtank. I'd suggest making a custom formation that helps your paladin tank most of the enemies, with the pet slightly off to the side to catch the remaining ones. This setup would have the advantage that your ranger can still do good DPS while adding a workable offtank for normal difficulty. I have not played a Monk, so I will let someone else talk about monks.

 

Edit: There are situations in this game where you can choose to fight a potential enemy or side with it. Even as a completionist who normally likes to kill everything, there are definitely situations where it may be more advantageous to let someone/something live. This game allows you to make these decisions yourself, either based on what you think will be more advantageous, or based on RP or what you feel like doing. Enjoy!

Edited by Nobear
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Well, I added the Beholder to the list mostly to do a figure of speech in three but if there is indeed some similar creatures, I'm glad to hear that, I always loved those ones.

 

Thanks for your advice about the skill mechanics, I'll follow them while building my characters through the game.

 

Yesterday I tryied out the Ranger with the resilient companion perk as a fourth party member, its works extremly well with the bear. Besides, with the Lay of hands perk of the Paladin I don't have any lack of healing for the moment.

I think this team sinergize great with every characters and I'm inclined to believe I can reach the end game without a fifth one.

Thanks again for your help, Nobear. (;

Frouwenlop

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You're most welcome.

 

Beholders... there aren't any creatures very similar in appearance or background, I just meant in the types of powers they have. Beholders tend to mind control and speak telepathically... Anyway, discovering the unique things about this game is part of the fun, so that's as much as I'll say about that!

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