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  1. #1
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    Here are my take-aways after playing through the first couple acts several times.

    So, I'm one of "those" people who - when faced with a new CRPG - plays through the first chapter or two repeatedly trying out different characters, companions, classes, playstyles, etc.

    When I *first* loaded up Kingmaker, and tried to play through with the NPC companions, and without going for an optimized character of my own, I found the difficulty a turn off. When I replayed it with an optimized MC and an optimized party of Mercs, there wasn't much challenge to be had. Played on "Challenging".

    So, I ended up completing a good portion of Chapter 2 with: An optimized Human Barbarian/Tower Shield Specialist Main Character (19/16/16/7/10/7) intended to go 7 TSS (for armor training 2) and to get Pounce from the Barbarian's beast totem. In hindsight, I might have gone with a Mad Dog variant instead of a straight barbarian. A Human 2Handed Weapon Fighter/Barbarian (19/13/16/7/12/7) intended to go 2HF15/Barb5. An Archon Aasimar Herald CallerX/Fighter1 of Erastil with the Animal Domain and a Wolf Companion (15/12/16/7/18/10). An Elven Rogue/Wizard/Arcane Trickster (8/17/10/20/10/7). And a Human Ranger with a Leopard companion (Human and Fey favored enemies and I don't regret Human, but maybe should have picked something else than Fey? Forest favored terrain - if I knew how to distinguish plains and highlands on the map, I might have gone with one of those) (15/18/12/10/14/7). And an Archon Aasimar Druid/Empyreal Sorc Mystic Theurge (10/14/14/10/20/7).

    This was my experience. I didn't have to use buffs for most fights. Most of the time when I did, a simple Bless, and maybe an Enlarge Person was enough. A few fights demanded more. Sleep was very useful. Crowd Control is great, but a potential nuisance if it can hit your guys too because of how people can move around during the casting delay. My two Fighter/Barbs and my Ranger did the most killing. Overall, for the first 5-6 levels especially, optimized fighter types will carry your party. Which is why it's so frustrating that none of the NPC companions are optimized to do that. I've no doubt casters become godlike at higher levels, as in PnP, but early on fighters rule the roost. You might have noticed my party of mercenaries were similar to some of the NPCs - just better optimized for their role than the NPCs. Valerie > MC. Amiri > 2Hf/Barb. Harrim > HCx/Ftr1. Ekun>Ranger. Octavia > Rog/Wiz/Arcane Trickster.

    Here are my key take-aways from my early playthroughs.
    1: The enemies are largely boosted significantly compared to PnP, and you WILL end several fights with multiple characters down for the first couple levels. In Tabletop, you'd end up re-rolling a bunch of characters because you can't afford Raise Dead yet and your campaign would probably end before your fourth session. This persists until your characters reach around Level 3-4, by which point you'll have acquired better gear (masterwork or +1 weapons, full plate for those using it, Rings of Prot, etc.) and had most of your class abilities come online that weren't up from the start.

    2: Animal Companions are great. In hindsight, playing with ACs, I could have done without the second melee specialist fighter - I'd still have had 4, 1 Fighter/Barb, 1 Cleric/Fighter, and 2 ACs. But they're relatively squishy compared to PCs, so I highly recommend getting the ones with Trip or some other special ability that incapacitates. And even if they could have replaced that second fighter late game, I'd still have had to get through the early game with only 1 fighter and 1 cleric for melee capabilities.

    3: There needs to be better instruction on how to adjust the party AI without needing to micromanage every battle. As it is, they just charge as soon as combat is initiated. Even if you've, for example, set the fighters in place with the intent of holding a line. Unless you pressed "H" for Hold Position, of course. But my point is that their default is simply to charge, rather than to only respond if directly attacked - like the AI options you were given in Black Isle games.

    4: You need at least 2 melee fighters to draw attention and keep enemies off your casters and archers. They don't both have to be tanks, but if one of them isn't a tank, they should be your "off" melee, the second one in while the first takes the brunt of the attention. Melee characters should either use a 2H weapon, "sword and board" (weapon & shield), or TWF with sneak attack depending on build.

    5: Give everyone a ranged weapon. Even if they won't use it 95% of the game, it's better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. Also, have at least one character focused on dealing ranged damage that doesn't come from spells (yes, an archer). Spells are wonderful, powerful, potent things in your arsenal. And later in the game, your casters will have so many that running out probably won't be an issue. But until then, having someone who can shut down enemy casters at range is money in the bank. Bonus, they can also act as the "puller" (mmo terms) to instigate a fight before enemies notice you. Ranger or Fighter are probably best at this, depending on if you want early access to Improved Precise Shot.

    6: Give everyone 3 Mobility, and at least 1 point in a "camping skill" a.k.a. World, Nature, Perception, or Stealth. Past that, specialize. Characters who might need to re-position in combat a lot should throw a few points into Mobility every so often, to help avoid AoOs, but overall your characters should specialize in getting good at their particular skills.

    7: Kingdom Management really needs a better tutorial/instruction system. It's not very intuitive at all.

    8: While the NPC companions aren't optimized, and I wouldn't want to roll with them on the higher difficulty settings, they actually do represent (at least, the combination I listed earlier of Amiri/Harrim/Ekun/Octavia/Valerie) most of what you need for your party (2 melee - Val & Amiri, 1 archer - Ekun, 1 Divine - Harrim, 1 Arcane - Octavia, +skills - Octavia). That actually leaves you pretty free to build anything you want, as you could fill any role (or even take over one of those roles, and use the extra space for another character).

    9: Mercenaries. They shouldn't cost so much, for a variety of reasons - some of us just want to build our own party to take through the game, some of us dislike the NPCs we're given, some people are min-maxers, powergamers, etc. And you should be able to start the game with them. As it is, they're expensive, and start "behind" in experience (having only the amount necessary to be at your level) so, unless you edit your save, they'll be slightly slower to level up.

    10: Give your casters Precise Shot. Not Rapid Shot - they'll never be doing huge damage with a ranged weapon, or those dinky cantrips (except maybe your arcane trickster) but with Precise Shot they can at least contribute to damage when they can't cast a spell that would be useful at that time.


    Now I'm off to figure out what new character I want to build for what I hope will be my "complete" playthrough!
    Last edited by mcknightva; 10-10-2018 at 08:12 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member HenriHakl's Avatar
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    While the NPC companions aren't minmaxed to the utter limit; given that most you have with you from level 1 to 3 or so, you get to control the vast majority of their build and they are generically fine for most build plans.

    I think on higher difficulty most "classic" min-maxing strategies won't work so well. You'd have to pull out some more cheesy strategies. And for that I think you can use mostly any base (and by extension the NPC companions).

  3. #3
    I dont find that the difficulty comes from using or not using optimized characters, so much as it comes from being under or overleveled for certain encounters. I struggled early on because I rushed to the major encounters in act 1 without doing any side content, and I think I was a level or so under as a result. Early levels are very significant in DnD 3.X.

    By midgame I'm steamrolling most content with the NPCs, not even needing buffs any more. But thats because I started doing all the side content possible before story encounters, and am a level or so ahead of the curve with decent gear.

    I never won or lost an encounter because Valerie has a stupid stat spread for the role she is supposed to play (which she does--whatever the so called "roleplaying" justification is for deliberately gimping her, it's wrong, unhelpful, un-fun and it needs to be ridiculed out of existence in CRPG development). The NPCs are all good enough for Normal difficulty, which the game is designed around.
    Last edited by Gelatinous Noob; 10-10-2018 at 07:11 PM.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gelatinous Noob View Post
    I never won or lost an encounter because Valerie has a stupid stat spread for the role she is supposed to play (which she does--whatever the so called "roleplaying" justification is for deliberately gimping her, it's wrong, unhelpful, un-fun and it needs to be ridiculed out of existence in CRPG development). The NPCs are all good enough for Normal difficulty, which the game is designed around.
    That's pretty much what I was trying to say by those remarks. But also to suggest that the NPCs might not be as capable of handling the higher difficulties. Trying to lay it out as a neutral assessment.

    If anything, I'd say the game (even on Challenging) starts to lose... well... challenge with an optimized group of custom-built characters. And I'm sure that even the poorly built companions (not all are poorly built, but some definitely are - and I don't just mean "non-optimum") can steamroll encounters when they've got a gear and level advantage.

    But really, the difficulty is such a minor part of what I was saying here, there's no point focusing solely on that one topic.

  5. #5
    Senior Member No One of Consequence's Avatar
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    Overall a lot of good to very good points in my opinion.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by mcknightva View Post
    That's pretty much what I was trying to say by those remarks. But also to suggest that the NPCs might not be as capable of handling the higher difficulties.
    Not much point in arguing that more challenging, non-standard difficulties are, in fact, more challenging and require more optimized strategy. Game is intended to be played on normal, and the NPCs are adequate for that for the most part.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gelatinous Noob View Post
    Not much point in arguing that more challenging, non-standard difficulties are, in fact, more challenging and require more optimized strategy. Game is intended to be played on normal, and the NPCs are adequate for that for the most part.
    Yep. Adequate. For the most part. We agree.

    Anything to contribute as far as the rest of the post?

  8. #8
    Senior Member Argantis's Avatar
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    If you want more money just get Z-Zip and open the save file then edit the player.json. The parties money is at the very bottom of the file and pretty obvious when you look at it.

    I always edit myself 90k plus whatever I have when I first reach Olegs to buy the best gear available ETC.

    I am not much for min / maxing the NPC's, I have learned to live with their flaws. Harem is especially good if you take him Fighter Cleric, he can become a front line off tank / buff bot. I like taking Ameri, she is too good to leave behind. Linzi is gimped but you can replace with Octavia later in chapter one. Octavia is already set up to be an Arcane Trickster and has a nice stat spread. Ekundayo or whatever his name is in Chapter 2 is also very good at range. Tristian is a healbot but I would probably take an NPC cleric or keep Linzi there along with Harrim to both "half-heal".

    I usually go with 4 front line fighters. Valerie as a main tank, Harrim next to her for heal spam. On the front line right I have Amiri, her perception is good and she works well from that position for flanking ranged and casters. On the left side of my front I have my main character. So far I am favoring a Traditional Monk. The prebuilt palafin, Melku is pretty good there too. Two Handed Fighter with a Great Sword is also nice. Like I said, I am not much into multi classing. So I am not going the Armored Hulk, Vivisectionist, whatever route. I like my main character to have high perception too. With Amiri, and Harrim there along with the main character it will cover a lot of ground. The undead wench is pretty viable too but I just cant bring myself to play evil.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by mcknightva View Post
    Yep. Adequate. For the most part. We agree.

    Anything to contribute as far as the rest of the post?
    Not much that I'd bother arguing, other than I don't find micromanagement to be nearly as much of an issue. How much micro does it take to park your tanks in front of a blob of enemies, flank with your damage dealers, and call for the occasional spell from the backfield? Thats par for the course in games like this, and adequate for 90% of the combat in the game. Anything it's not adequate for is an elite encounter and supposed to be management intensive by design.

    Also I'd just point out that your observation about characters in the early levels getting incapacitated a lot is also business as usual for the game system. Low level characters have low HP pools vulnerable to critical hits, and lack the tools they need to really come into their own. Low level combat in DnD based systems is always dicey until the characters develop the stats to resist the whims of RNG to a degree, and a deeper bag of tricks.

    The rest I either agree with or dont feel strongly enough about to counter argue.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Iymurra's Avatar
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    Usually? not much micromanagement needed.
    If you're pulling a Thick Skinned Dread Cyclops around the corner and away from the Channel Negative Energy traps and all your characters are constantly trying to run back around the corner even though you've told them to shut the hell up and stay put like 7 times already... a lot more micromanagement than you should need.

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