I’m still slowly going through the various areas in Shadows of Amn and making mental notes of differences in the game as well as trying out a few new things that I missed with my previous runs (such as doing the full romance quest line with Jaheira). As I attempt to rush through several areas for fun, I’ve come up with a few simple strategies that I want to share in this post.
Before delving into those strategies, I would like to mention a few things I might’ve missed in my previous post. One thing that I absolutely love in the Enhanced Edition is the larger number of stacks for potions and items. Increasing the stack limit for potions and ammunition is an absolute godsend. I find it silly that there was an imposed limit per stack when in reality it needed to be measured from weight. So the increased amount definitely provides more room in your backpack for critical items until you can get bags of holding, etc.
Another feature that I discovered today was how rangers and paladins can use the Amulet of Power. This issue is pretty big to me in Shadows of Amn since there’s a large number of level draining enemies (most notably vampires). So by permitting this item on these classes, NPCs like Keldorn and Minsc becomes far more viable (especially if you decide not to take an undead hunter as your main like in my case at the moment).
The other thing that I think has been patched up that I can verify now is the cloudkill out-of-sight tactic. I read that newer/patches versions of the game won’t allow certain powerful monsters to be easily knocked off when you’re using spells like cloudkill out of sight. Hence how they automatically “heal”. It does make certain fights like the red dragon fight tougher but I’m guessing that the tactic was an oversight when they first released the game. Well, that’s one of the interesting benefits of playing online these days.
At any rate, one thing that I picked up in this play through is the utter importance of defense over offense, especially magical defense. The game can be quite frustrating with regards to how you deal with magic wielding enemies. So the way I’ve tried to handle combat in those situations is to put up as much magical defense as possible. Any type of magical resistance that prevent spells from nailing you will be the thing that will save your ass the most. Some of the worst spells in the game like Imprisonment are essentially one shot spells that will nuke your guy instantly. Even with high saving throws in a normal AD&D game, this version tends to “cheat” and “fudge” the rolls quite a bit. So your only true guarantee of survival is building up enough of a magical barrier to prevent those one shot mechanics from overbearing you.
Another cruel aspect in this game comes through the sheer number of crowd control spells you’ll encounter. Most of them relate to hold person, stuns, confusions and charms. There are quite a few items that can protect enough of your characters through a portion of these abilities but the only method to ensure your safety are through spells like Free Action or Chaotic Commands. For the most part, you shouldn’t buff yourself up after every fight; just the major ones.
One little trick that I pull quite often is to make sure my party has haste enabled when fighting spell casters. Those that have slightly longer lasting defensive spells that shield the caster from most attacks can be nullified if you run out of the room for a while. When you return the spellcaster’s defenses should go down enough to the point where you can zerg them. It’s cheesy but quite effective.
Beyond these things, I think I haven’t seen too many deviations from the normal game. I still would like to try picking up the new NPCs but it’s a little tough in the way my party is structured. So if I were to experiment a little more with the game, I would have to do so at the expense of a new game.
One thing I’m starting to think about is creating an evil aligned party. With the Blackguard introduced into the game, there’s an entirely new dynamic when it comes to generating an evil aligned party. I would be missing my ranger/cleric but I can always look into bringing in someone else in generating an interesting evil aligned party. I would have to look closely at what I can do with other classes that were introduced and experiment on dual classing to make up for a few of the staples in my party.
Either way, there’s still a lot to do with this game. I’m not really trying to min-max my game play nor do any hardcore style pushes. I simply want to experience the game through different classes and combinations. The Enhanced Edition does add more dimensions and I’m eager in figuring out all the nuisances that separate it from the original.