Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Baldur's Gate 2 BG2 Best Character Builds Triple Multi-Classes Fighter Mage Thief vs Fighter Mage Cleric

Baldur's Gate 2 BG2 Best Character Builds Triple Multi-Classes Fighter Mage Thief vs Fighter Mage Cleric



Before we get underway, people keep asking me why I'm not writing for the Enhanced Edition version of the Bhaalspawn Saga, especially in light of the fact that I've written a walkthrough for Beamdog's expansion interquel, Siege of Dragonspear? Well, I've outlined my reasons in other posts but I'll repeat the prime ones here: First, I simply prefer the original campaigns by BioWare; Second, the original campaigns will always stand as the authoritative versions; Third, there are hardly any recent write-ups on the original campaigns and I don't want people to forget what they were like!

Purpose of this post: In this write-up I compare two of the most versatile classes in Baldur's Gate 2: the triple classes of Fighter/Mage/Thief and Fighter/Mage/Cleric. See also: Best Classes. This write-up only pertains to the vanilla campaigns as released and patched by BioWare. IOW, it does not take into account the changes and additions made by the Fixpack, Tweakpack or the Enhanced Edition.

Similarities of the two triples:

• Both triples have access to arcane circles one through eight which constitute the vast majority of the best spells in the campaign. That's right, both are limited to the eighth arcane circle and below - which actually isn't a big deal - but the problem is: they don't gain more Mage levels or Mage HLAs that allow them to expand their higher circle spell slots. This also isn't a HUGE deal if you keep in mind their role in the party; that is, to fill in for any glaring weaknesses the party may have over the course of the campaign by virtue of their unequaled versatility. However, towards the end of SoA, and in ToB, triples can certainly take over and stand in the spotlight - which gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling inside to have watched my Charname slowly mature into a juggernaut of destruction.

• Both can wear the Robe of Vecna, Amulet of Power, Ring of Acuity and Ring of Wizardry, and both can wield the Staff of the Magi and Staff of the Ram which are two of the best weapons in the campaign. (F/M/Ts cannot backstab with Magi but Celestial Fury is the backstab weapon of choice in SoA, anyway.)

• THAC0 progression is slower than single class and double-class warriors but caps out with a difference of only a few points. Why is that? THAC0 progression grinds to a halt at warrior twentieth level (i.e, at Base THAC0 of 0). Thus, at the end of the day, the difference in THAC0 between triples, doubles and singles isn't all that much except in the case of Kensai and Archer PRCs whose to-hit bonuses allow them to reach the godly negatives (-13 and -11). (Spells with level-based variables also generally cap out at twentieth.)

• The slower level progression of triples can be compensated by adventuring with fewer party members, but you don't need to.

• Heavy armor such as Full Plate can be put on after arcane buffs have been cast (can be useful in the early stages).

• Both only have access to two on-hand weapon switch slots which is a minor inconvenience.

• Both can attain Specialization in multiple weapons, and a godly ApR when dual-wielding under Improved Haste.

• Find Familiar adds a one-off and permanent +12 HPs to Charname if summoned in SoA and +24 if summoned in ToB.

Overall, triple-classed characters are for tacticians and players who like to maintain a flexible and adaptable playstyle over the campaign's course.

Hey, how about Gnome Fighter/Illusionist/Thief and Gnome Fighter/Illusionist/Cleric? Unfortunately, they are greyed out and not selectable in the chargen process. How lame. By rights, as Specialists, they would receive +1 spell slot per level and a few other minor perks, but they would be barred from casting Necromancy spells (it's their Opposition School).


Stats + Pros & Cons



Assumptions: I'm assuming Max HPs on lvlup, Specialization and Max primary stats in chargen. The following statistics for both triples are cited from the Throne of Bhaal XP cap of 8 million, without stat boosts from quests and tomes factored in. Aside from a generic weapon, items are not equipped on either character - just wait until they are! Major differences are highlighted in blue and expanded upon in the pros and cons sections.

Elven Fighter 18 / Mage 17 / Thief 22 



• Base THAC0: 3
• Base AC: 6
• HPs: 122 (Find Familiar adds a one-off an permanent +12 HPs in SoA and +24 in ToB)
• ApR: 3 (Base 1 + Specialization +½ + Warrior 7 +½ + Warrior 13 +½, rounded up)
• Lore: 56
• Spell Slots (arcane): 5-5-5-5-5-3-3-2
• Saving Throws: 3-5-4-4-6
Thief skill points: 715 (Elf + 19 Dex)
• Proficiency allotments: 12
Backstab: x5
• HLAs: 20 HLAs drawn from the Warrior and Thief pools.
• Key HLAs: Greater Whirlwind, Critical Strike, Hardiness, Assassinate (2!), Spike Traps, Use Any Item.

Pros:

• Receives +1 seventh and +1 eighth arcane circle slot over the F/M/C.
• Gains non-trivial utility experience points for performing thieving tasks such as Open Locks and Find Traps. You're looking at 30,000 UEP in the Prologue alone.
• Can use any item (UAI) which opens up all kinds of possibilities, including EZ mode 100% MR and AC cap attainment.
• Spike Traps are the best boss-killers in the campaign (again, EZ mode).
• Can get 10 ApR under Improved Haste thanks to Belm, Kundane and the Scarlet Ninja-to (UAI). And that with Critical Strike or Assassinate. Gets access to the Tuigan shortbow (+1 ApR) nice and early for a bit of casual sniping.
• Elves get +1 THAC0 when wielding Longsword, Longbow, Short Sword, Bastard Sword, Scimitar, Katana and Two-Handed Sword, but not Short Bow (don't ask me why).
• Gains access to Mislead and Polymorph Self backstabs in the mid-levels. Wait. How do polymorph backstabs work? The ogre form wields a backstab-capable spiked club. Anyway, backstab as a general mechanic is very powerful in BG2 since it allows you to take out the biggest troublemaker before the combat encounter begins. That's usually a Mage and they are rarely protected by Stoneskin.
• Detect Illusion is a useful Thief skill that replaces the need for True Sight and other anti-illusion spells. It can be used without limit and at no cost.
• Exploit: Heavy armor such as Full Plate can be put on after modal stealth has been activated (and then be stealthed in).

Cons:

• Cannot cast divine spells naturally.

Half-Elven Fighter 18 / Mage 17 / Cleric 19



• Base THAC0: 4
• Base AC: 6
• HPs: 134 (Find Familiar adds a one-off an permanent +12 HPs in SoA and +24 in ToB)
• Lore: 71
• ApR: 3 (Base 1 + Specialization +½ + Warrior 7 +½ + Warrior 13 +½, rounded up)
• Spell Slots (arcane): 5-5-5-5-5-3-2-1
Spell Slots (divine): 11-11-9-9-6-4-2 (a mere 18 Wisdom)
• Saving Throws: 2-5-4-4-6
• Proficiency allotments: 10
Turn Undead: 19
• HLAs: 16 HLAs drawn from the Warrior and Cleric pools.
• Key HLAs: Greater Whirlwind, Critical Strike, Hardiness, Globe of Blades, Summon Deva (and other HLA spells).

Pros:

• Doesn't need quest rewards, gauntlets, girdles, Crom or Slayer to attain 25 Strength. Just cast Righteous Magic and DUHM, the latter of which will scale to 24 Dex and 24 Con in addition. (Good-aligned F/M/Ts will lose their Bhaalspawn DUHM special ability in Spellhold and never get it back.)
• Will remind you of a Kensai thanks to Righteous Magic maxing the weapon damage roll.
• Extensive divine spellcasting repertoire that includes invaluable wards such as Chaotic Commands, Negative Plane Protection, Protection from Evil 10' Radius, Free Action and Death Ward, allowing the F/M/C to laugh in the face of many of the most powerful foes known to Realmslore. Note that Chaotic Commands protects against Stun and Maze.
• Can combine divine and arcane spells into sequencers and contingencies. That is too good.
• The Robe of Vecna and Amulet of Power allow for fast healbotting and buffing on the fly (Bless, Chant, Heal, Regeneration etc.)
• Easily attains 100% DR due to Armor of Faith erroneously stacking with itself (doesn't need Defender of Easthaven or Hardiness). Barbs, eat your heart out.
• Can somewhat make up for the lack of Thief levels with utility spells such as Sanctuary, Find Traps, Knock, Glyph of Warding, Skull Trap and Invisibility.
• A humble Turn Undead level allows for the disruption of mid-tier undead, but not liches. However, F/M/Cs have access to the underrated Sunray for disruption purposes, and there is always the Deva and IMoD to fall back on.

Cons:

• Difficult to roll for due to having 5 prime stats.
• Slower leveling.
• Limited to unfashionable slings for ranged weapons but there are lots of great, easy-to-find slings itemized - remember, Seeking and Everard slings factor in Strength damage and F/M/Cs have no lack of Strength.
• "Only" 9 ApR with Improved Haste dual-wielding and GoES.
• Needs a lot of pre-buffing to fight on the front lines in the early stages.
• Cannot wield bladed weapons, meaning it can't wield Belm or Kundane for +ApR (only GWW will give it 10 ApR). Celestial Fury is out, too. But really, the best weapon damage type is not slashing or piercing - it's blunt/crushing. And that means Gnasher, Flail of the Ages, Magi and Ram.

Conclusion: Both triple multi-classes are very versatile in party or solo play, and which one you choose depends on the needs of the party, and your personal tastes. The Fighter/Mage/Thief is superior from a powergaming point of view due to the easy combat encounter design of BG2 that not only devalues divine buffs and wards but also lets backstab and Spike Traps run riot. UAI is also a major perk due to the powerful itemization that adds even more flexibility to Charname. Thus, I acknowledge the theoretical staying power of the Fighter/Mage/Cleric but in light of the campaign design the Fighter/Mage/Thief is probably going to be favored by most players. You can't go wrong with either, though. Enjoy!



EoP

4 comments:

  1. In 2nd ed I believe only half elves get triple class multis. One of their unique perks. (Also the racial limit cap rule that was not enforced in BG thank god, half elves get higher caps and is the only non human to get an capped class with bard........ don't ask).

    I love love LOVE F/M/T but I would never play one in a party, it just progresses waaaay too slowly. By the time your other Mage is casting Time Stop the triple is barely slinging 5th level spells. But it's usually my go to solo class.

    I mod in the kensai kit. I know I'm a power player loser lol but it's just too much fun. I'm gonna be wearing robe if vecna anyway plus the Mage and thief just have way too much synergy with kensai to not.

    The overpoweredness is limitless. Non detection mislead Kai back stabs? Stone skin improved haste tensers assassination with kensai bonuses?

    The biggest weakness of this class is not even its fault. It's the UI not able to handle all of its options and only give you ONE weapon slot which is not enough!! I never use the quick spell slots it would've been nice to be able to customise my UI bar. Also having to manually switch between dual wield and 2handed (staff of magi) is a huge chore.

    On the other hand F/M/C is not on the same tier. Trading thief for cleric is a losing trade. Bladed for blunt,,, about the same. Thief skills are useful but not crucial, backstab is fun and can make many fights shorter if the Mage is taken out of. Turn undead makes several areas (eg Bodhi's lair) trivial especially soloing. I'm not fond of cleric spells I guess that's just my play style. I would rather be great all the time than average most of the time but seldom excellent. Cleric buffs generally don't last too long, have loooooooooooooong cast times for negligible benefits (looking at you Bless) and requires many rounds of stacking, so by the time you're all set up you only have like 2 rounds of all buffs. I hated that. That's why I prefer to backstab (which is pretty much at will) than buff for 2 minutes and grind my way through a fight.

    One fun thing it can do though is cleric spells in sequencers and triggers. It's a way of being able to get several buffs up but it has to be refreshed all the time. One of my favourites is a sequencer of Doom + Greater Malison + Glitterdust for up to -8 save penalty. Then cheese dragons with Finger of Death + minor sequencer with 2 Chromatic Orbs (it's an instant action) = dead dragon.

    Plus UAI. FMC is still stuck with crummy cleric restrictions though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe that's true of tabletop AD&D (I don't have the PHB handy), but the Fighter/Mage/Thief triple class is definitely available to Elves in Baldur's Gate (assuming a non-Lawful alignment). In addition, Fighter/Illusionist/Thief should have been an option for Gnomes, but it's grayed out/unselectable. I would assume the same is true for IWD, too.

      Delete
  2. I usually only play solo runs, and removing xp cap.
    i think in later stages of the game (esp. tob), thiefs drop too much compared to high class clerics. almost every enemy has true sight anyway, so bye bye backstabbing multiplier

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Providing the thief is in conventional, modal stealth mode and not under the effect of magical invisibility, the Cloak of Non-Detection will ward against divinations such as True Sight. Of course, that is assuming you can find the cloak, which I believe is itemized in Chapter Four of BG (Cloakwood Forest) and Chapter One of BG2 (Den of Seven Vales). And of course, the cloak will not ward against the innate true-seeing of demons.

      The other problem for backstabbers is that many enemies in BG2 are simply backstab-immune (demons, golems, beholders, dragons etc.)

      Still, I think BG2 offers enough backstabbing targets to warrant the playstyle. It's better to go with a Kensai 13/Thief, though.

      Delete

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