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Hey guys,


Need some help understanding combat. I've played a lot of RPG's but mostly keep replaying BG1/BG2. Love those games.


When playing PoE, I don't know what my characters should be doing. I ahve 6 party members. My main characters is a Wizard. I have Eder, Durance, Grieving Mother, Kana and the druid guy.


When engaging combat, I usually just select all and then right click an enemy to attack. Then I give specific orders. For example, I'll tell Eder to try to knock down an opponent or activate some defensive stance. Then I'll perhaps buff the party with defense with Durance. After that I'll look at the spells I want to cast but that's one of my issues. I don't really know which to use and if they had any kind of effect. I try for CC (cold spell from 1st level Wizard) but it lasts for such a short amount of time that by the time it hits and my characters go to make an attack, the enemy is on their feet again.


I guess I'm looking for some combat tips. I want the combat to be fun but I'm getting discouraged because most fights my guys are going down. 


Any help is appreciated.

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I feel your pain. Or I felt it anyway. I was in exactly the same place when I started PoE. PoE Druid is nothing like BG. And Grieving Mother/Cipher took me three run throughs before I finally got the hang of her and the class.


Actually your approach is how I kind of still handle battle. I try to get as many attacking one enemy at a time as I can, use Durance to buff and heal, and the Druid to also send some CC sort of spells like the Returning Storm, Infestation of Maggots, and Insect swarm in the lower levels. Even Dancing bolts at the lowest levels. But by the time you get Grieving Mother and Hiravias you should be pretty far along.


Since there is no potion drinking, scroll casting, and even some spell casting until Combat _starts_ (not just seeing an enemy) I usually set my party just out of the fog of war (always "sneak" to avoid attention first) set and or cast a trap by a rogue and or the priest just in front of my party, send my fastest moving, longest range shooter ahead, and fire to officially engage, then run back like a MF. Rogue with escape or smoke screen (or whatever it is called) comes in darn handy for this.


With combat started and some distance for the enemy to trek I usually have enough time to buff with spells and potions and cast a summons or two if I need.


If your wizard is high enough to have Pull of Eora, that is a great spell to cast on top of a trap to help make sure someone sets it off. I also tend to drop the druid spell Wicked Briars on top of that and any kind of Wall spell, even Chill Fog.


For CC, the Cipher can cast Whispers of Treason and Phantom Foes at low levels. Wizards can cast Bewildering Spectacle and Confusion spells. Slicken and Web spells are my best friends in the early game.


Even Instill Doubt and Despondent Blows spells can help reduce their accuracy, so don't let yourself think the Priest is without means. Even Halt can help an ally get away long enough to drink a potion if needed.


With six in the party I usually divide the duties up as two melee, two range, two slinging spells.


The cool thing about Kana is he can melee or range attack even while singing. That's pretty helpful. Grieving Mother seems suited for range to keep her productive while waiting for Focus to build back up. Although I did pretty good once with her using a two handed sword.


Combat mechanics are definitely different in PoE than BG. I am sure others here have great and better strategies than mine.


You can also avoid most combat encounters. I find that anathema in an RPG, but hey, that's just me. But don't feel like you have to kill everything to gain experience. Not all encounters require a fight and those that don't usually award the same experience either way.


[eta: And some allies can only be recruited if you didn't kill everything in sight.]



Edited by JFutral
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Well, one could write a long long wall of text on this topic.

Without much thinking I will list the first things that come to mind:

- pick a playstyle. Either go with all-sturdy party, or heavily specialize (such that each member is really good at 2-3 things without trying to be a jack-of-all-trades).

- theses things include: body-blocking, per-encounter cc, per-encounter dps, buffing, per-rest stuff.

- heavier armor slows you down. Often it's a good idea to leave backline members in just robes or even simple cloth.

- since they are going to have low DR/deflection, you will have to take measures in order for them to not get hit at all.

- usually this involves lots of cc and having a blocking frontline, consisting of at least 3 bodies.

- frontline equipped in enchanted plate doesn't care much for small-hitting attacks of xaurips and such.

- while the bigger threats should get instantly hard-cc'ed.

- it's a good idea to stun/paralyze enemy big frontliners, while charming/confusing enemy spell casters / backline

- the general rule is you charm/prone targets that you don't want immediately deal with; and stun/paralyze those who you want to focus fire (because of heavily reduced defences) or who found a gap in your frontline.

- with enough cc, and decent frontline, your backline becomes safe to the point where you can heavily reduce their RES/CON, allowing them to become even more offensive, and as result end fights faster and waste less of frontline's health pool.


- I would advocate for enchanting your frontliners armor vs slashing or piercing. Crush dealing enemies usually hit for higher amounts and instead of tanking you would hard-cc them anyway.

- If you want for shades to pay less atention to a specific character enchant his armor vs front. Also it's a good idea when you rush your party to attack, to unstealth frontline but keep backline stealth until enemies engage.

- Find Shod-in-Faith that a great per-encounter heal. Give it to the most crited team mate (preferably with high health pool as well), barb or monk are just perfect.

- Enemies don't care for how much damage a party member did; but they always factor-in the distance square. The farther your backline is - the less chance an enemy will abandon an engaged frontliner and will rush to your squishies. There are few scripted exceptions through, but not much. In this situations use hard-cc + focus fire.



For example in your case, you might have the following lineup:

frontline: Durance, Eder, Kana

midline: Grieving Mother, Hiravias

backline: Wizard


The problem I see is that your composition doesn't have enough enough per-encounter damage prior to level 9.

Another is that I really dislike Durance stat spread, because 19 RES is really asking for putting him in front, but 9 DEX along with plate armor will make him cast quite slowly. Thus you will have to have two equipment setups for him: one for regular fights and one for boss/hard fights.


Decent/optimal builds for your party composition:

- Eder: Lady of Pain could work because GM's CC and Huravias' Storms will help with survivability. But I would advocate for pure tank here, since you need someone to solo tank dragons, while your team burns him from afar.

- Kana: The Drake's Ambassador suits him nicely. Plate. 1H + Small Shield. Emphasis on Dragon Thrashed chant and buffing scrolls. Party cc effects that also lower enemy reflex will greatly help in applying his chants.

- Durance (per-encounter): offtanking with 1H + Small Shield. Plate. All you need from him is to cast Painfull Interdiction at the beginning of each encounter.

- Durance (boss-fights): midlane with 1H + Small Shield. Durganized Robe. DAoM potion. Buff your party as fast as you can, after that throw Painful Interdiction and start spamming Shinning Beacons.

- Grieving Mother: Plate + BotEP or Aloth's Leather Armor/Blaidh Golan + Llawran's Stick + Vulnerable Attack.

- Hiravias: ranged spellcaster. If an enemy breaks to him, let GM paralyze and Hiravias finish him off in stelgaer form. Emphasize on Storms. Painful Interdiction will make it easier to stun enemies, while your stuns will make it easier for Kana to Dragon Thrash everything.

- Wizard: since your party lacks on per-encounter damage department, you have to specialize in blasting with implements. In easy fights use Gyrd Háewanes Sténes or Golden Gaze. In harder ones: Kalakoth's Minor Blights. While in boss fights: unleash your spells.

Edited by MaxQuest
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Thanks for the advice! I will try to put them into play. 


What's happening when I play is I'm looking for a DD spell but cant really find them. They are more in line with debilitating effects, which is ok as long as I get some use out of them. As I said, I will try what is said and see how it plays out.


Thanks again!

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One thing I had to really get used to that's really different than BG, is the benefits of food to boost attributes, as well as resting at different inns. IIRC, boosting intelligence should help the duration of spells.



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The big difference between the BG series and PoE is the engagement system (which basically only exists to punish squishy characters - they should really get rid of that) and the low duration of buffs.

What this means is that in PoE permanent/long lasting effects (from talents/gear/etc) are very important, and you should pay attention to them when building your character. This also means that in PoE your individual non-autoattack actions are VERY important (consider turning on the "pause after ability use" option if you're feeling overwhelmed). The low duration of buffs means that you need to economize your actions and think about your moves very carefully, especially for spellcasters like Durance and Grieving Mother. This becomes more important later on in the game and at higher difficulties.
Generally, in PoE you do NOT want to get drawn into an extended fight with something. Hit fast, hit hard, hit right.

As previous posters have said, in combat you'll want a dedicated frontline to help keep mobs off spell spammers. Personally I find at least two to be ideal, though one also works if you play at lower difficulties. Your frontline should have high DEFLECTION, the PoE counterpart of AC. High numbers in other defenses is also a big plus. Killing power is another big plus. These characters don't need to have high deflection all the time, but they should have the option to switch to a defensive setup whenever needed.

Your spell spammers, usually found at the back so they can cast their spell undisturbed, are there to help control the flow of combat. This is where status effects and damage types come in - pay attention to the little icons that show up on the right of the character portraits at the bottom of the screen. This tells you what to watch out for/what to protect yourself against, important for classes with defensive AoE abilities like Durance or Kana.
You should also pay attention to enemy stats (which show up either in the Bestiary or when you mouse over them). This tells your their immunities, defenses and damage reductions (revealed when you attack them), and what status effects/damage types to use against these particular enemies. This is important for characters that specialize in attack abilities like Aloth and Grieving Mother.

The "middle row" is a sort of no-man's land that is more build-specific than anything, IMO. This is for characters who want to hit things but who normally don't want to get hit back.

PoE gives you a bit of freedom in regard to how you play different classes in a large part because of how accuracy works. As others have mentioned, accuracy is VERY important for damage dealers because all debuffs/damage require good accuracy to land properly. Accuracy = BG2's THAC0 AND spell DC. 

But if we go by the basics then classes basically have a "default" role: we have the frontlines (Fighters, Barbarians, Monks, Paladins), the spellcasters (Wizards, Druids, Ciphers), the flexible caster classes (Chanters, Priests) and the specialized damage classes (Rogue, Ranger).

Edited by scythesong
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Durance's place in the party, and equipment, is something I could never figure out, myself. Maybe this time I'll try packing him in some heavier stuff and putting him up the front. I usually leave his robes and give him an arquebus. But he gets his ass kicked more than Aloth if any ranged attackers focus on him.

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I feel you OP. If you play a lot of D&D rule games like BG/NWN, PoE will take a little getting use to. The following is my take on the combat system in PoE:


1. Firstly, think of combat in PoE as a turn based tactical game like Banner Saga, Final Fantasy Tactics. Instead of "turns', you have to manually pause a lot. There is even a whole option page to customize auto pauses. 


2. PoE combat is more about resource management than tactics. Unlike D&D rules like BG/NWN, you have to play this like a Korean MMO; ie Tank, healer and support. You will almost always take damage and always do damage, thus managing heals and regen is key. For example: If the Attacker has 20 accuracy and the defender has 20 defense, it all comes down to the D100 roll. You will notice that -ONLY- a roll of 15 and below will result in a miss. Meaning, 85% of the time, the attack will do either 50%, 100% or Crit damage. Sames goes for debuffs. Each point of accuracy/defense advantage increases your chances by 1% thus theoretically, you will need more than 85 points in defense than the enemy to escape damage for sure. 


3. Because of the MMOish trading damage system, a lot of skills works really well; especially debuffs. So what if they take only 50% of the debuff, it is still a debuff and subsequent debuff will have a better chance of scoring its full effect. Daze, Blind, Fear, Terrifying, etc. Very effective. Use them. However, this also means that enemies will also have an easy time charming/dazing/paralyze you because you simply cannot raise your defense high enough to be safe from them. Pay attention to the Priest's Prayer for immunity spells - you will need them especially on higher difficulty. Like those BS banshees that teleports and spam AOE paralysis, the game throws 2, 3, 4 of those at you and if you are not protected, you are pretty screwed.


4. Combat can be a drag if you do not do enough damage because there is simply too much regeneration going on in PoE, a negative effect of the MMOish trading blow combat system. So, pay attention to their DR and immunity. Equip your characters with backup weapons that does different damage from your primary. One thing I find most confusing in PoE as a new player is figuring out vulnerability. If you mouse over an enemy, you will see that the enemy has a base DR value. Then you will see under that, DR for Slash/Pierce/Crush/Fire etc. The enemy is vulnerable to attacks in the second roll that are lower than its base. Meaning, if an enemy has a base DR of 10 and Slash DR of 5; it means it is weak against slash.


5. Range attackers. At least half your party should be range attackers only because pathing is really bad. When you are walking around, your characters have a small collision box, meaning 2 of them can walk side by side but once combat starts - they suddenly start blocking each other and that can make movement and getting melee attackers into position a pain in the behind. Thus, range attackers are important.


6. Pause, use the auto pause and use pause a lot. Characters in PoE are very stupid. Sometimes after using a spell or a skill, they will simply stand around and do nothing or go do something that will get them killed. You will need to micromanage them. OP said that debuffs dont last long - yes they dont because if you dont overcome their defenses, chances are the debuffs are only at 1/2 duration (roll < 50) and if you do not pause the game, you likely wont have time to take advantage of them. 


Finally, unlike D&D rules where lots of characters can hold their own. In PoE, your entire party need to fight as one. The fighter knocks an enemy down to interrupt them and to draw aggro while your range attacker takes advantage of the situation. Knocking a character over and then beating them yourself like in D&D games simply dont work well in PoE.


Remember, Sir Pause-a-lot is the most powerful entity in all PoE  :yes:

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The "middle row" is a sort of no-man's land that is more build-specific than anything, IMO. This is for characters who want to hit things but who normally don't want to get hit back.

That's why I sometimes like to put my range attackers like Sagani and Kana in that area. If an enemy gets through to the spell caster, they are close enough to engage if necessary and with decent enough melee stats to actually make a difference.


Although once my wizard has finally unlocked all of Gyrd Háewanes Sténes, there isn't much he can't hit.



Edited by JFutral
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There are a lot of good tips in the posts above. I've only played a bit on 3.x (and only up to level 6) so someone please correct me if things have changed.


Expanding on the debuffs, I like to use players to work together with debuffs. E.g., have Aloth cast Chill Fog or Curse of the Blackened Sight then Hiravias cast Sunbeam. If Chill Fog hits (and, as explained above, it usually will for at least 1.5 seconds), it reduces reflex, which Sunbeam targets. Then have other party members target reflex because Sunbeam also blinds (for 15 seconds, longer than Chill Fog), which reduces the opponents' reflex saves. Get in other debuffs when this one is close to ending. Or you could go the other way with Hiravias casting, e.g., Vile Thorns or Grieving Mother casting Whispers of Treason (both target Will) then Aloth casting Curse of the Blackened Sight.



It might take a bit to learn how to time multi-debuffs (e.g., Aloth, Hiravias, and GM here) that but after you play a while, you get a feel for how long fast, average, and long spells take. I found this list to be extremely useful in planning attacks




I like PoE because so many party members can help debuff opponents. Use auto pause if you don't have enough time to act before debuffs expire.


The other thing is that when I'm struggling, I like to have two healers. They aren't pure healers but that is their first priority, especially making sure that the other healer does not go down. I make sure that they both have plenty of heal and revive scrolls and that they stay at the back. It can make the fights take longer but I don't have to worry about losing a fight. It's a good way to test how well various tactics front line tactics, weapons, etc. work.

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Your approach is totally fine and correct. Doing it this way will make the game so much easier that even PotD is easy (after a few levels).


If you now add a lot of accuracy before casting your debuffs you will reach the point where even dragons are jokes for a party on PotD. You need knowledge about stacking rules for that (and it can be confusing because the rules are not very transparent or consistent). For example with a paladin + a priest you can stack Zealous Focus + Inspiring Liberation + Inspiring Radiance + Devotions of the Faithful for your caster. He will have an accuracy bonus of 6+10+10+20 = 46 for his first CC spell (like Chillfog). Then comes your second caster (who will benefit from Devotions + Radiance + Zealous Focus = +36 ACC, too) who targets reflex with Sunbeam and so on. And then you can follow up with damaging spells that target reflex (like Fireball or whatever).


Having two healers is fine. However, I prefer healing effects that don't need to be cast in a special moment like Lay on Hands - because most of the time it's too late then. Although Lay on Hands is very good, I concentrate on continuous healing effects that don't need any action at all ("regeneration" effects like Veteran's Recovery and Ancient Memory for example) or spells that can be cast at the start of combat - even if nobody is injured yet - and which stay active for some time: Consecrated Ground, Moonwell, Nature's Bounty, Garden of Life and so on.


This way you don't need to use precious "action time" for healing but can concentrate more on buffing/debuffing/dealing damage in the actual fight. If you look at it this way, I like to have multiple healers in my party which are all not focused on healing but bring some (stackable) healing to the table. But this is just my personal preference. 

Edited by Boeroer
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Thanks. I have played before but it was the 1.x build, which seems pretty different. I'm currently using my first party that I abandoned in Defiance Bay because I got bored even though I wasn't leveling up in order to make the combat more challenging. I started doing solo POTD runs on 1.x. That was fun but real life intervened so I ended up only doing about 2 and 2/3 runs.


I got interested again because of the Deadfire campaign. I'm playing WM with an under-leveled party (the one I'd abandoned in DF) and it's pretty fun so far. Sometimes it's hard and I can't always tell if it's bc I'm not used to the changes and don't remember how to fight or if I'm intentionally under-leveled (i.e., I have enough XP to be many levels higher than I am). I'm pretty sure it's some of both. My unusual playstyle is one reason I try to preface my remarks: I don't have the experience others have with higher level talents, abilities, spells, etc. (e.g., when I played at higher levels it was solo with a druid, wizard or chanter under 1.x and you had lower level spells as per encounter for the druid and wizard) or nearly as much experience with party play or the 3.x build as many ppl here.


I do use ancient memory and Eder has the recovery talent. I use Consecrated Ground too. It's hard bc I  don't get many talents and have to be very selective (and I don't like to camp out so I can't use spells freely). I recently leveled up (to make combat easier) and re-leveled my party members (except Aloth bc I'm too lazy to relearn all his spells). Before that, none of my characters had any of the new talents bc I was playing with a party that was built under 1.x. I think I put Acolyte's Recovery on someone and took Gallant's Focus on my main. I did have a nice surprise when my main (a druid), who is wearing Sanguine Plate, had frenzy. It's fun to use frenzy while spiritshifted.  One of my characters also has the Shod in Faith boots so that helps too. I agree that it's more fun if you don't have to manage health/endurance so carefully. That's one reason I just leveled up a bit: I don't know if it's bc I'm still relearning PoE or if WM is a lot harder than DF (or Act 2) but I needed the extra levels to make playing fun.


I need to learn the stacking rules. Some of the ppl here are very helpful with that. Another thing I have to re-learn is the equipment. PoE isn't as equipment dependent as some other games but it is important. That's one reason I like to read the build suggestions. Reading how others have taken advantage of equipment - playstyle - build - party synergies is very helpful for me. E.g., using weapons with overbearing in order to inflict prone and have frontliners help with CC. Using equipment to help with CC is something that might help OP as well.


Thank you for all the tips you provide here.

Edited by oaktownbrown
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I agree with the equipment statement. I look at my inventory or when I loot and if the color is grey or normal, I don't even look at the item anymore. If its golden, I take a look and do a compare. There is not a huge difference in stats but I know from previous posters that even a small .10 multiplier is a huge damage increase. I dont have the patience to do the math and will just look at the damage range after equipping the item.

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Well, one could write a long long wall of text on this topic.


All good advice but I will say my personal preference is to have most of my party in at least medium armor. Light armor is rarely used unless it's awesome like the Savior's Hide. The heavy front glass cannon back line approach isn't as good in WM1/2 thanks to huge amounts of enemies and encounters which often have you being hit from multiple sides. Playing on POTD I find Durance eats dirt a little too often if I have him in light armor for example.


But it does seem to depend on class too. For whatever reason Aloth rarely gets targeted no matter what armor I put him in. But Durance always seems to, so he's usually in at least med armor. 

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