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Questions about combat, strategy, micromanagement

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"If doubts and curiosity plague you, your skinning your knuckles on the wrong door."

- Durance



This is a good game and I enjoy the enthralling story, the interesting quests and the gorgeous art but the combat just doesn't work for me.

So I must be doing something completely wrong.


Why is the combat such a chore?


I have two wizard in the party and they just do the same thing all over again in every fight.

Lure the enemy close to the rest of the group with Rolling Flame, spam Minoletta's Missles at their leisure while retreating and wait for Edér and the rest of the group to fire their arquebuses and charge into melee.


But I have to micromanage every step, every time I'll find a group of enemies. As far as I can tell, there is no quickslot for magic, there is no command for "switch weapon and attack after firing arquebus".

Oh and as an added bonus the whole strategy is completely useless in tight corners because retreat isn't possible once I engaged in combat.

Most of the spells I find rather underwhelming, I never seem to grasp which damage type is best for which enemy, and which resistance make the whole debuffing thing useless. I probably just have to cheat to beat the Alpine Dragon. He is the reason I took the time to write this rant.

I never seem to resist any spell effect but I'm trying to maximize damage so I don't know what to look for.


If I mouse-hover over an enemy I see different numbers and resistances but as soon as I want to click and check the spells the information doesn't remain there.


Having only four available spells in the grimoire limits my strategies further. Additional grimoires would be interesting, but the have a very long cooldown, should I sent both Aloth and my main character running around like Benny Hill hoping for the spells to reset?

And I don't get more than four uses (or six with talents and/or artefacts)


It seems that most AoE spells can't be locked on a target, meaning that I just guess which route the path finding algorithm randomly chose this time.


Durance is my second tank, just because the range of his priest spells feel shorter than I wanted them to be.

He basically uses only two abilities: Consacrated Ground and Holy Radiance


If there is a door or bottleneck where the enemy can't pass, things get easier. With Boots of Speed and Fast Runner I can outrun even the craziest monks in Crägholdt Bluffs.


I can't buff my mages or my priest beforehand because most spells need active combat to be cast. Additionally, directly after combat all positive spells vanish instantly which is especially upsetting if you have a second group of enemies close by.


I've beaten the Adra Dragon by casting a vertical Force barrier, hobbling the dragon for over a minute and staying out of his munching attack radius while chipping away his health with long range arquebus fire. It took about 6 Force barriers and felt like hours - probably just 10 minutes in real time.


I wouldn't mind any of this if the combat would be more rewarding.

After all I don't get XP after a while and once you found gear you like, they enemies just drop useless garbage.

Things are made worse by the fact that kith (or humanoid) foes are susceptible to most spells and drop far better loot, so I took out most of the mecenaries in Crägholdt Bluffs at Level 11. Monster have far higher resistances but drop less interesting stuff.


In my opinion combat talents seem to be far too restricted, I want all members of the team to have an Arquebus. So I can pick "Weapon Focus: Soldier" and get +6 on Accuracy... yay...

In order to get most of that rather underwhelming talent I have to equip Great Swords and War Hammers.

Unique Estocs? Nope, a pike maybe. Most equipment just looks nice but I will never have any reason to use it. I haven't even started about Soulbound weapons.

And there isn't a class for mage's implements, no, wands, rods and sceptres are split into different categories. I'm seriously thinking of giving Aloth an arquebus too.


This is the first game where I desperately want to avoid fights and look for a peaceful solution just because fighting feels underwhelming.


There must be something I'm missing.

Please enlighten me or give me a cheat code so I can mindlessly stomp the dragon and any further combat until I reach the end of the game.

Edited by Khadgar42
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Cheats can be found here (most of them, anyway.)


That said, I find combat post 2.0 to be rather enjoyable. I think your main issue is that you have a strategy in mind that is inconvenient to execute in the context of this game's mechanics. I understand the rationale for wanting to alpha-strike with an Arquebus, but having one on all party members is unnecessary and pigeonholes you into making everyone pick the same Weapon Focus talent. This way, you miss out on several other great weapons. (Although it is also worth mentioning that Weapon Focus is not a mandatory talent; you can be effective in combat even if you miss out on the +6 Accuracy and there are people who never pick Weapon Focus at all.)


My favorite build started out with an Arquebus alpha-strike in mind, but when I got around to actually playing it, I never opened any fight with an Arquebus shot. Not one. I find that sipping a potion of Deleterious Alacrity of Motion is a much better opener, as the attack speed bonus is a massive boost to your DPS.


Priests have some crazy good spells in the buff department; if all you're using Durance for is tanking and Consecrated Ground + Holy Radiance, you are missing out big time. Devotions for the Faithful gives everyone within the AoE a whopping +20 Accuracy bonus that stacks with the +15 Accuracy from Scoll of Valor by design. I don't think I need to tell you how good +35 Accuracy is on everyone in your party. Crowns for the Faithful is about the best defensive spell in game; Prayer Against Treachery is fundamental against Fampyrs and Dank Spores (and so is Prayer Against Fear when fighting Dragons or Prayer Against Infirmity against Spirits); Champion's Boon can turn your DPS members into one-man slaughter houses. That's just to name my favorites but Blessing and Dire Blessing are pretty good too, for example. And of course Suppress Affliction is always handy.


Scroll of Valor and Scroll of Defense are very good; Scroll of Paralysis can trivialize any fight.


Wizards are probably the most powerful class in the game. Forget Rolling Flame and get cranking on Deleterious Alacrity of Motion + Llengrath's Displaced Image + Slicken/Fireball spamfest. Replace Fireball with Shadowflame as soon as you get it, then resume fireballing their asses when you run out of Shadowflames. Their CC spells are amazing: Ghost Blades, Curse of Blackened Sight, Confusion, Call to Slumber, Arkemyr's Capricious Hex, Gaze of the Adragan. The list could go on (if you want to turn your Wizard into a melee powerhouse, you can.) Minoletta's Minor Missiles only look attractive because they remind you of AD&D Magic Missiles, but it isn't as good as a spell as, say, Fan of Flames.




You can use party A.I. for trash mobs but it won't alpha-strike with an Arquebus before switching to a melee weapon. BUT you could use A.I. on your frontliners while you micromanage your Wizards and Durance. 

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"Time is not your enemy. Forever is."

— Fall-From-Grace, Planescape: Torment

"It's the questions we can't answer that teach us the most. They teach us how to think. If you give a man an answer, all he gains is a little fact. But give him a question, and he'll look for his own answers."

— Kvothe, The Wise Man's Fears

My Deadfire mods: Brilliant Mod | Faster Deadfire | Deadfire Unnerfed | Helwalker Rekke | Permanent Per-Rest Bonuses | PoE Items for Deadfire | No Recyled Icons | Soul Charged Nautilus


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Hmmm, wanting an Arquebus equipped on every team member seems like suicide to me. I'm not the best at combat and don't have a whole lot of tips to give you. But, I can tell you everyone with an Arquebus is a bad idea.


Games like this require a lot of management and pausing. The new update gives some AI options, but I still prefer to have total control over all my team. 


If you are starting out and only have one or two companions currently, create one at the first inn you come to. That will help until you fill out the rest of the companions. Or, save your money and make all your companions exactly the way you want.

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There is a optional keybinding for "Switch Weapon Set".  I just tested it, and it works across all selected party members.

Also, if you hold your mouse over a spell and push a key that doesn't have a keybinding attached to it, that spell is bound to that key (so long as you have that character selected).


I believe grimoire cooldowns can be reduced with a talent.


Scouting encounters ahead of time can help you decide when/if/how you want to link encounters together to give your buffs more mileage.

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My suggestion is expand your strategy.  Because it does get cumbersome using the same abilities so use other ones and see how that works.

In a real time system like this we have to micro manage.  I personally like the way Divinity did it with everything in real time except combat where you could choose your strategy in a turn based mode.  Because in PoE the only way you are going to make full use of your abilities and spells is to first know them by memory so you do not have to scroll over each to see what it does and second to pause and give instructions very often.  Which in some ways is really great.  In other ways it can be really difficult to get in a rhythm around it.


If you are using Durance with only 2 spells as a tank you are under-using the single best buffer in the game.  He also has a seriously awesome AoE fire tick for all the spirits which is fantastic for weakening the second line as they are stuck trying to get at you.  In addition some of his end buffs are just soooooo good at what they do for you in combat its pretty amazing.  Someone already posted a really good description of how awesome their buffs are above so I will not add to that.  Suffice to say his prayers are the difference between having your party CCed and stupid and owning the battlefield when you face creatures that do a lot of CC.


As for the Alpine Dragon.  That is the most legit fight in the game... imo and I HOPE they never nerf it.  You can complete it without violence and I do not think unless you are really up for the challenge they intended a lot of people to go toe to toe with that thing and live to tell about it.  Until perhaps WM2.  And after fighting Sky Dragon which just made me want to smash things how easy it was I was very much impressed that they actually made a true Dragon.  This is an immortal creature thousands of years old with serious power in it and Alpine actually feels that way.  When I fought Sky Dragon I think I stared at the screen for a good 3 minutes after it died basically shocked that I just killed a Dragon in no time at all and no one even died or even got knocked out.  Of course I felt the same way when I fought the first Drakes I encountered.  I mean Wurms sure but Drakes they also should be a good challenge.  Felt like swatting flies with a low level and not too equipped party.

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Thanks for the replies thus far.

I do understand that my tactic isn't the one the game devs had in mind. I realise that each time I find I useless weapon that just sits in my backpack, beatifully crafted with a proud backstory but I'm not inclined to use it, ever - not even in the next playthrough.

I realise that each time I win a combat by outmanoeuvring the path finding A.I. or exploiting my boots of speed running like benny hill, away from the danger.

Anyway, who wants to wield a soulbound quarterstaff and kill beetles with it when you have a Scepter and an Arquebus.


I'm using Minolettas Missles, not (only) because they reminded of the infamous AD&Ds magic missles but because they are the only spell (apart from rolling flame) that have adequate range.

Melf's Acid Arrow and Fireballs were my main attack in AD&D games, and magic missiles only got interesting after there  are 5 of them per spell.

Thanks for the tip with the keybinding, I will try that immediately.
Oh and I will try to use better buffs and Durances spells, but I still feel the combat is not rewarding.


What is the reward of the combat? What am I missing? I don't feel good after killing 15 Ogres, I feel exhausted and unfulfilled. Maybe it's better with a magic quickslot keybind or something.
But anyway, there is a rather harsh XP cap, I get junky ingredients (awakened wood, yeah, I have a whole forest of that now) and apart from some kith opponents the loot is junk. If I want to enchant things I need extraordinary ingredients that are so rare and hard to get that by the time you get them unique version of the weapon are already piling up in your backpack.


Why do I find loads of Unique Implements, swords and pistols, but not a single unique Arquebus. (I know they are in the game, but why do I need to wait for them until ACT III to get close to them?)
Why does the Alpine Dragon rely on mobs? The units protecting him are my problem. He doesn't even dare to face you alone? The Adra Dragon wasn't much better, at least his cave wasn't encroaching so I could snipe out the obnoxious pests trying to protect him.
Why does a dragon need Xaurip bodyguards? You are one of the most powerful beast in the game world but you send in your Xaurips to die for you.

But look at me rambling, I know what my problem is...

What motivates you to pick a fight in this game?
I have zero motivation to kill anything other than a unique or quest related kith not because I'm generous or kind, but because it's not giving me any satisfaction.

I remember games where a single mage could clear out the whole room with a well placed high level spell, but if one survived he was dead, hopelessly so, thus he need backup, a priest to buff him, a tank to draw attention away from him, a sneaky rogue to backstab unlucky survivors. I am not able to use any character well in this game. They have so many strategies and options and none is appealing to me because I don't find them useful.


Edèr alone defeated the dark spores. The rest of the party hid away, while he took his trusty arqebus shooting at the spore, getting dominated, reloaded, getting dominated again, shooting at the spore again, rinse and repeat. I had time to have lunch and afterwards the spores where no more.

Fampyrs actually are quite susceptible to knock downs and interuptions but normally a volley of 4 arquebus shots stop them dead in their tracks.


Stunning, buffing and lowering resistances is not my playstyle, I want damage and destruction. I yearn for long range attacks and I want to prepare for battle and get buffed before the combat starts.

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^ you'd enjoy my current party setup, then. I'm on my smartphone now though; tomorrow after work I'll try to record a video to show you how I play.

"Time is not your enemy. Forever is."

— Fall-From-Grace, Planescape: Torment

"It's the questions we can't answer that teach us the most. They teach us how to think. If you give a man an answer, all he gains is a little fact. But give him a question, and he'll look for his own answers."

— Kvothe, The Wise Man's Fears

My Deadfire mods: Brilliant Mod | Faster Deadfire | Deadfire Unnerfed | Helwalker Rekke | Permanent Per-Rest Bonuses | PoE Items for Deadfire | No Recyled Icons | Soul Charged Nautilus


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I'm so bad....  I just want combat OUT OF THE WAY asap.  Therefore, for me, the 2.02 AI works perfectly.  My party does what it's supposed to and I practically never come close to wiping.  What I like is exploring, reading, and enjoying the world.  Combat can take a hike.

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It is pretty nice, on easy mode with the AI, the combat should largely just resolve itself, if that's not someone's cup of tea. Still shudder at playing back in 1.X, having to pause after every single kill to order dorks to attack dorks, unless it was the rare time 'select all, attack dork' was what I wanted to do. And manually reload 4 different weapon slots. That was fun too.


As for me, I seek out the fights, as that's what I'm here for. The fight itself is my reward, the gear or whatever, meh, don't really care how I get, so long as I get to fiddle with it.

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The game was designed with tactical fights in mind, but this should let you nuke big with minimal pausing.


Switch to Arbalests for 12m range and knockdown on crit.

Ranger, Rogue, Pally, and Chanter can still perform well passively played - lean toward encounter use abilities over per rest. Since you don't like CC and Rogue need 2 for optimal dps, skip the Rogue.

You'll want a Chanter anyway for +25% party damage boost so your DPSer can blast things into the dirt.

Pally, Ranger, Chanter, Wiz, Cipher, Druid.

Retrain your companions to min-max MIG and DEX - INT if they have AoEs. You won't have or need a lot of CON or RES.

Wear gear to boost the above stats, overseer rings to increase AoE range and +10% melee or spell damage gloves. 

Enchant weapons to at least exceptional with +25% lash effects. Add +25% vs a specific bestiary if room. Wear the lightest armor possible (or none).

You can't prebuff, but you can pre-cast environmental death hazards like chill fog, malignant cloud, ningauth's ice pillar, the lvl 7 priest firerain AoE, ectoplasmic echo, tactical meld, and set traps.

Skip +accuracy talents for +damage and +reload.

Play on easiest difficulty.

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As promised.






OP said they like "damage and destruction" as opposed to buffing/debuffing. Of course it is not possible to buff before combat in PoE (unless you make use of the relevant option in the IE Mod, which I do not) but here I offer my alternative: Open the fight with an Amplified Wave to buy enough time for a quick buff, and keep the party together (let the enemy come to you, not the other way around) so your Priest can keep buffing while you wait for enemies to come.


You'll notice that my micromanagement is rather sloppy. For example, I rarely use my Cipher's powers besides my Amplified Wave alpha strike, and I don't spam Torment's Reach with my Monk as it would be sensible to do. I micro my Wizard and Rogue semi-decently, but that's about it. On easier difficulties, you could get away with a lot more sloppiness in terms of micromanagement (in fact, I could've gotten away with worse micromanagement in this fight as clearly shown in the video, since none of my men were ever down.)


On a related note, opening the fight with Amplified Wave usually buys you more time than shown in this video. Enemies in Cragholdt Bluffs are all high level and have good defenses; most enemies throughout the game stay down longer.

Edited by AndreaColombo

"Time is not your enemy. Forever is."

— Fall-From-Grace, Planescape: Torment

"It's the questions we can't answer that teach us the most. They teach us how to think. If you give a man an answer, all he gains is a little fact. But give him a question, and he'll look for his own answers."

— Kvothe, The Wise Man's Fears

My Deadfire mods: Brilliant Mod | Faster Deadfire | Deadfire Unnerfed | Helwalker Rekke | Permanent Per-Rest Bonuses | PoE Items for Deadfire | No Recyled Icons | Soul Charged Nautilus


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