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Pondering on HOF Solo builds

Discussion in 'Icewind Dale 2' started by page, Jan 16, 2017.

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    I'm willing to give it a try in a couple of days, but I still haven't decided what build would be the most beneficial.
    First, I don't want to finish Normal mode with new char and then export it to HOF - it's too much of a hassle. But then again I would miss out on plenty benefits:
    - potential quest rewards (Paladin, Banite, permanent effect potions)
    - some powerful items not available until late HOF (Drakkas, Cera Sumat, Chimandrae Slippers etc.)
    - scrolls (if I decided to get Wizard levels for flexibility).

    Decision whether should I play both Normal + HOF or HOF alone determines what builds are viable. One idea was to pick Deep Gnome and make him an Illusionist with a couple side classes to get higher AC (Rogue 1/2, Monk 1) and other sweet items (Paladin for Holy Avenger, Bard for horn), possibly even Cleric to access divine scrolls and Sorcerer to unlock opposing schools of magic (haven't tried it earlier since it's not needed if you have a party).

    But main problem with this approach is that getting extremely high AC levels (70+) seems unlikely. Let's check:
    - 10 Base
    - 4 Deep Gnome
    - 1 Dodge feat
    - 5 Expert feat
    - 7 Dexterity (more or less)
    - 9 Wisdom (more or less)
    - 11 juicy items (Crow's Nest, Sunfire Talisman, Indomitable Bands)
    - 6 Spirit Armor (much better duration than Shield)
    - 5 Ghost Armor
    - 4 Haste
    = 62 AC

    This is how it looks without Barkskin, War Chant of the Sith, cleric buffs and Tenser Transformation. We could cast that spell but I don't believe it's that good if you go solo. There is some room for improvement with smart DEX/WIS investment or even getting Bane/Paladin rewards, but it won't get us to promised land of 72 AC. The same applies if I dumped Monk derived AC and invest in Drakkas and shields.
    Another problem is that this character would absolutely need to finish Normal mode first to get most vital items AND spells before setting foot in Targos. I'd rather avoid two playthroughs at once.

    But on the other hand, if I decide to throw away AC considerations, would this character get enough survivability with summons, illusions and crowd control to survive in HOF and clear maps efficiently?

    I guess it's possible with Sorcerers and careful multiclassing. Dumping AC, disregarding Wisdom AND getting all needed spells at level up would erase problem of back-to-back playthroughs. Throwing a Paladin level as an Aasimar or even picking Human / Wild Elf to benefit from favored class would give him some flexibility, although not enough to become respectable Divine caster (I could be wrong on this). Unfortunately, this approach means I have to be very cautious with spell selection.

    Anyhow, what are your experiences with HOF mode solo? What solutions did you find interesting and what resulted in a failure? Is getting high AC with two playthroughs preferable? What items or spells did you find essential?

    Let the discussion commence :)
     
  2. coineineagh

    coineineagh I wish for a horde to overrun my enemies Resourceful Adored

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    Yes, definitely. The high AC preoccupation is neither crucial nor absolute. Due to enemy variety, there will remain foes who strike fairly often even if you have AC72+, and even with an AC of 60 or less, you still get a good deal of protection from that.

    Summons are great, because AI targets them preferentially. Most foes won't attack your solo character until the summons are defeated.

    Illusions and crowd control necessitate a choice for a caster class. Caster classes have even more difficulty raising AC, but their spell abilities are a better defense, really.

    For a solo character, I'd reccommend a sorceror or cleric. Neither need any particular items to be effective. HoF puts a build to an extreme challenge, and the strongest IWD2 classes meet that challenge best with strong spells, not AC. You should be putting interference above direct defense, and mages do this better than any physical attackers. Even more poignant is the fact that the best physical damage is dealt by units that are properly buffed to the extreme, in a way only clerics and sorcerers can.
     
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    Very good and quick response, respect!

    Although I didn't stress it enough in the OP, I'd like my solo challenge (first time solo on HOF, I've done it only with 3-5 chars squads before) to be fun. It means I value efficiency but also some variety, thus I consider only spellcasters. They're definitely better suited to do the job and versatile enough to dispatch enemies in more than one way.

    I presume that easiest way of dealing with large mobs (for arcane spellcaster or Oghma/Talos cleric) is reducing their saving throws & Wail of the Banshee. Other spells with similar outcome would be: Chaos, Emotion: Hopelesness, Mass Dominate, Greater Command etc., coupled with summons. Some buffs (Executioner's Eyes, Emotion: Hope, Mass Haste) and protections on top of it (Mirror Image ftw, maybe Blink, Blur, Invisibility). Am I missing something? What spells would you strongly consider for HOF, given limited nature of sorcerer? Maybe Bull's Strength since there are SO many areas to cover statwise?

    I'm not too keen on investing in damage dealing spells. Even DBFB is used rarely in my playthroughs, and Spirit of Flame is the only elemental feat I would consider for this char. Horrid Wilting might be ok since I plan on using summons, but other damage spells look mediocre.

    I'm tempted to get 1 level in Monk (as you said, AC ~55, while far from enough, is slightly better than AC 19), maybe 1 level in Ranger (dual wielding isn't as strong as in BG2, but multiple bonuses are promising and Monk = no shield), 1 level in Bard (berserkers horn), 1 or 2 levels in Paladin (if I decide to pick Human or Aasimar some spell resistance might be handy). Dash, Dodge, GSF: Enchantment + Necro and ST feats are probably the strongest choices.

    And what about more balanced multiclassing in the vein of Baldur's Gate? Something along the lines 20 Wizard / 10 Cleric? Does it make any sense with low DCs for the other class?
     
  4. coineineagh

    coineineagh I wish for a horde to overrun my enemies Resourceful Adored

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    @page It seems you are already planning a sorcerer, and you have most of their best spells already listed. Evocation is a lot weaker due to enemy HP, but still worth casting now and then, especially against enemies with [fire] weakness. I never soloed HoF myself, because I like the party synergy too much. In fact, I never played with less than 6 characters. Which can be a pathfinding problem at times.

    A sorcerer still focuses on attack spells. It's vitally important that you choose the attack spells wisely. For example, Chromatic Orb targets the reflex saving throw, which makes it more effective against clerics than will or even fortitude spells.

    If you're willing to consider a cleric, the party-buffing spells become more significant for summons: Bless, Recitation, Chant maybe, and a host of others. Summons can be more than pushovers, if properly buffed. Cleric debuffs also work well, because many of them don't allow for a saving throw.

    Since you solo, you'll be advancing in level enough to make multiple mix-in levels more feasible, however, it's still heavy on XP cost. Every mix-in level of another class weighs heavier than the previous on XP advancement due to the leveling system. As such, I'd rate your ideas as follows:
    Further, I'd suggest that 2 levels Fighter and 1 lvl Wizard all give you an extra feat (3 total), so these might be appealing later on. A barbarian level increases your move speed, which might be significant for a solo character.
     
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    Since then I finished my previous HOF playthrough with a party and immediately started BG2 again, so this challenge will have to wait. But discussing possibilities definitely rocks my boat :)

    I thought sorcerer would have tremendous advantage thanks to Summon Monster 1. I think it's the easiest way to clear docks and get quick levelups. On the other hand there is still air elemental book at Elytharra, but it's harder to control. But sorcerer can use both.

    When it comes to Evocation spells I've never put much stock in any spell not named DBFB and Sunfire (on HOF). You're on point with fire weakness, DBFB is reasonably strong on these monsters, and Sunfire is just handy for those decoy types (but still there are 5+ castings needed to dispatch most groups).

    I could give cleric a longer look, you mentioned earlier they are the strongest class in the game - do you also mean solo? Clerics have almost the same set of summons as wiz/sorc, but no Mass Haste could be problematic. Not sure if Recitations/Prayers can make up the difference... but yeah, Dreadmaster DC is through the roof, what a shame they don't have Wail of the Banshee. Now THAT is effective :)

    All in all, I really like solo cleric concept, but I'm not sure there's enough meat there to outweigh greatest arcane spells.

    And yes, with such low WIS Monk level for that character wouldn't make much difference. After some consideration I agree with your other assesments, but why no Bard? I mean, 1 level for those barbarians and occasional song for summons isn't that, I guess :)
     

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