Baldur’s Gate Tactics Guide for Beginners

A basic guide to surviving combat in Baldur’s Gate, particularly in the first few levels where characters are weak and options are limited.

Basic Tactics:

  • General:

    • Stay at Range: Low-level characters typically should not engage enemies in hand-to-hand combat if they can avoid it. While melee weapons are just as strong as ranged weapons (if not stronger), most of the game’s enemies have only melee attacks. Equipping your entire party with ranged weapons will allow you to kill many enemies before they can even get a hit off, and some simple hit-and-run tactics and drastically increase party effectiveness against slower enemies. However, if you can’t get away from enemies, switch to melee weapons. Melee attacks gain a huge bonus to hit against characters wielding ranged weapons, so don’t try and shoot a guy while he’s stabbing you in the face.

    • Protect the Spellcasters: Casting spells takes time. If your spellcasters take damage while casting their spells, the spells will simply fail. So make sure to protect your spellcasters, either by running them away from enemies or by putting other characters between your casters and your enemies.

    • Do Unto Others: Ranged attacks and spellcasting are just as useful for your enemies as they are for you, but they also have the same downsides. If your enemies are archers, pull out a sword and go stab them. That bonus to hit will come in quite handy, and they’re not going to be any more dangerous now that you’re next to them. If your enemies are spellcasters, disrupt their spells by hitting them. The 1st-level mage spell Magic Missile is great for this, as it has a short casting time and automatically hits.

    • Keep Your Party Healthy: Obvious though it may sound, it’s important to keep your party at high health. Make sure your clerics are healing anyone who’s even remotely low on health (or anyone who’s injured at all, if you’re not in combat), and don’t be afraid to rest if you need to regain spells and hit points. Most importantly, drink a lot of healing potions. They’re much faster than casting a spell, and they’re plentiful. If a character is about to die, drink a potion. It’s a lot cheaper than paying for a Raise Dead spell at a temple.

    • The Better Part of Valor: Remember, if a battle is too difficult, just run away. Most enemies will give up after a while, especially if you leave the area entirely (by which I mean go somewhere that will take a loading screen to get to). Be warned, though, some enemies will chase you out of houses or caves, so you may have to run to another area on the overworld map.

  • vs. Heavy Hitters:

    • The Runaround: Enemies in Baldur’s Gate tend to decide on one target and focus on that target for most of the battle. Use this to your advantage. If an enemy’s target runs away, the enemy will usually give chase, allowing the rest of your party to pelt the enemy with ranged attacks. This tactic is usable against any type of enemy, but large, slow enemies that tend to come in small numbers (like ogres) are the most vulnerable.

  • vs. Hordes:

    • Splitting the Horde: The first thing you should do upon encountering a large number of enemies is run a few steps backwards (if possible). If you’re lucky, part of the horde may break off to attack you, leaving the rest just waiting around. If this doesn’t work, continuing to run may cause some of the enemies to lose interest, allowing you to pick off the overeager ones without having to deal with the whole group at once.

    • Chokepoints: Narrow spaces are your friends. Rock formations, bridges, even the map edge can make wonderful obstacles to limit your enemies’ movements. If you can find a narrow space, just stick a front-line fighter or two in it, back them up with a healer, and have everyone else let fly with ranged weapons. Sure, your tanks will take a beating, but it’s better than getting surrounded. Combine this with crowd control effects (below), and you’ll turn an impossible battle into a trivial one.

    • Crowd Control: Mages really shine against large numbers of enemies. Spells like Sleep, Web, Horror, and Fireball can kill or incapacitate large numbers of enemies at once. This is vital for dealing with large groups of enemies later in the game, and particularly for dealing with groups of ranged enemies, against whom chokepoints are useless.

  • vs. Spellcasters:

    • Break Their Concentration: As mentioned in the general tactics section, mages who take damage while casting a spell will lose the spell. Use this to your advantage. Attack spellcasters, fire off a Magic Missile when you see them casting spells, do anything to but let them get spells off. Left to his own devices, a mage is the most dangerous thing in the game. Make stopping him a priority.

    • Dispel: Enemy mages tend to use a lot of defensive spells. At the beginning of the game, they won’t have much. Later on, they’ll be nearly invincible unless you can break through their defenses. Spells like Dispel Magic, Remove Magic, and Breach can strip away the enemy’s protections and give your fighters a chance to do their job.

 

Party Composition

  • Classes: The average party consists of 6 characters and should have the following character attributes at least the following number of times. Note that some classes may fill multiple roles, and multiclassed characters may fill even more (although usually less competently). Other party compositions may be viable, but are generally either more difficult to play or simply weaker. Example: a balanced party might have a paladin (tank, physical damage, partial healer), a ranger (tank, physical damage), a cleric (tank, healer), a thief (thief), and two mages (offensive casters). A potentially viable unbalanced party might have a cleric (tank, healer), a thief (thief), and four wizards (offensive casters). The unbalanced party might actually be better at dealing with some situations than the balanced party, but it will be much more difficult to play such a party effectively.

    • Tanks: At least 2, preferably 3.

    • Physical Damage Dealers: At least 2 (usually the same characters as 2 of the tanks).

    • Healers: At least 1, preferably 2.

    • Thieves: Exactly 1, with high ranks in Find/Remove Traps and Open Locks.

    • Offensive Casters: At least 2.

  • NPC Alignment: Be mindful of character alignment (Lawful Good, Chaotic Evil, etc.) when forming a Baldur’s Gate party. Characters of conflicting alignments (particularly Good and Evil) may not get along with one another, and may get into fights. Furthermore, if your party Reputation rises too high, Evil characters will leave the party. If your party Reputation falls too low (difficult to do in the course of normal gameplay, unless you randomly murder civilians) Good characters will leave the party.

 

Recommended Spells (in order of preference):

  • Mage/Bard

    • 1st level: Sleep (BG1 only), Armor (BG1 only), Magic Missile, Identify, Charm Person, Protection from Petrification (BG1 only), Find Familiar, Spook

    • 2nd level: Web, Invisibility, Horror, Mirror Image, Knock (if your thief has low Open Locks), Resist Fear (BG2 only), Detect Invisibility (BG1 only)

    • 3rd level: Skull Trap, Monster Summoning I, Dispel Magic, Haste, Dire Charm, Remove Magic, Fireball (BG1 only), Slow

    • 4th level: Stoneskin, Monster Summoning II, Confusion, Improved Invisibility, Emotion: Hopelessness, Secret Word, Minor Sequencer

    • 5th level: Breach, Chaos, Monster Summoning III, Cloudkill, Lower Resistance, Fire Shield (red or blue).

    • 6th level: Pierce Magic, Improved Haste, Chain Lightning, True Sight, Mislead, Summong Nishruu

    • 7th level: Mordenkainen’s Sword, Finger of Death, Khelben’s Warding Whip, Spell Sequencer

    • 8th level: Abi-Dalzim’s Horrid Wilting, Maze, Symbol: Stun, Symbol: Fear, Bigdy’s Clenched Fist, Spell Trigger

    • 9th level: Time Stop, Spell Strike, Bigby’s Crushing Hand

  • Sorcerer

    • 1st level: Magic Missile, Identify, Charm Person, Spook

    • 2nd level: Web, Invisibility, Horror, Mirror Image, Knock (if your thief has low Open Locks), Resist Fear (BG2 only)

    • 3rd level: Skull Trap, Monster Summoning I, Dispel Magic, Haste, Dire Charm, Slow

    • 4th level: Stoneskin, Monster Summoning II, Confusion, Improved Invisibility, Emotion: Hopelessness, Secret Word, Minor Sequencer

    • 5th level: Breach, Chaos, Monster Summoning III, Lower Resistance, Fire Shield (red or blue).

    • 6th level: Pierce Magic, Improved Haste, Chain Lightning, True Sight, Mislead, Summong Nishruu

    • 7th level: Mordenkainen’s Sword, Finger of Death, Khelben’s Warding Whip, Spell Sequencer

    • 8th level: Abi-Dalzim’s Horrid Wilting, Maze, Symbol: Stun, Symbol: Fear, Bigdy’s Clenched Fist, Spell Trigger

    • 9th level: Time Stop, Spell Strike, Bigby’s Crushing Hand

  • Cleric/Paladin

    • 1st level: Cure Light Wounds, Doom, Protection from Evil, Sanctuary, Command Word: Die

    • 2nd level: Slow Poison, Hold Person, Find Traps, Silence 15’ Radius, Chant, Aid

    • 3rd level: Cure Medium Wounds, Dispel Magic, Holy Smite, Remove Paralysis, Zone of Sweet Air

    • 4th level: Cure Serious Wounds, Death Ward, Lesser Restoration, Negative Plane Protection, Protection from Evil: 10’ Radius

    • 5th level: Cure Critical Wounds, Raise Dead, Chaotic Commands, True Seeing, Flame Strike

    • 6th level: Heal, Physical Mirror

    • 7th level: Resurrection, Finger of Death, Symbol: Stun, Symbol: Fear, Greater Restoration

  • Druid/Ranger

    • 1st level: Cure Light Wounds, Doom, Entangle

    • 2nd level: Slow Poison, Charm Person of Mammal, Find Traps

    • 3rd level: Cure Medium Wounds, Dispel Magic, Summon Insects

    • 4th level: Cure Serious Wounds, Death Ward, Negative Plane Protection, Call Woodland Beings

    • 5th level: Cure Critical Wounds, Ironskins, Chaotic Commands, True Seeing, Insect Plague

    • 6th level: Heal, Dolorous Decay, Physical Mirror

    • 7th level: Creeping Doom, Nature’s Beauty

 

For more detailed information, either contact Jarrakul on Reddit or check  http://www.playithardcore.com/pihwiki/index.php?title=Baldur%27s_Gate.

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