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Alcander's quest is stupidly hard [spoilers]


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Alcander's question was going well - with my main (tinkermage), the other tinkermage, and the sorcerer, all at level 13 - until I hit the last part with the 4x corrupted constructs and pylons. This room was literally more frustrating then the Redbeard fight at the end of A1. Even after changing the difficulty to casual and using 'healmenow'/'shieldsup' literally every round I barely made it. How on earth are you supposed to get past those $#%$ constructs to kill those godforsaken controllers? Is there a trick to this battle that I've missed? I thought I might be able to damage the constructs from the other side of the debris wall or something, but no joy.

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What I did was lure as many of the golems as possible back to near the stairs until they paused for a couple of turns, then rush past them to get to the controllers and kill them all with area-of-effect attacks and freeze turrets. Level 13 is on the low side, though; my party was around level 17 by the time I unlocked that quest, just by having done all the sidequests and cleared out all the areas up to that point.

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The golems have a couple of weaknesses (outside of going inert when the controllers die) -- they make a beeline for anyone they see, and they cannot see around corners. (Exception: if you dash around a corner, look at them, and run back they will follow you; but if they're beating up on one of your characters and the others are out of sight around a corner, they will not "know" to come looking for you.)

 

To beat that fight on torment, I had my shaman send a hellhound around the corner to draw two of the golems to it and retreat to the stairs (the "heal pet" spell has infinite range). Then I had Alcander and the blademaster run past that fight to where those golems couldn't see them, and concentrate on the enemy's temporal turret. They died shortly afterwards, but I simply had the shaman go downstairs (and thus resurrect everyone), then we came back up and did something similar again. That is, we had a summoned creature dash around the corner to distract every golem that saw it, sneaked two others past to kill controllers, and had the shaman hiding near the stairs to resurrect us in case we died. (The golems don't go back to start if you run downstairs, so on the second try I was able to distract three golems with my hellhound.)

 

That's part of the fun of this game -- some of the fights (the NPC shaman's quest is another) go from "absurd" to "winnable" if you make good use of the geography. The demon fight at the end of Avernum: EftP was similar.

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I used snare turrets to distract each pair of golems and then went after the controllers. While the golems are pounding the snare turrets there is usually a clear path passed them. Going down the room's west side lets you deal with one turret/pylon at a time from range.

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I did this with two Shadowalkers and just jumped right over the Golems without attacking them, and had Alacander plant a turret right next to them to distract them. The trick was getting the Golems to focus on the Turrent rather than run back to attack the shadowalkers. Once I got that to work, two shadowalkers can make pretty quick work of a couple hostile turrets and the controllers, and I found that once you start to gain momentum in this battle, it gets a lot easier.

 

That said, I definitely didn't get this one on my first try.

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I managed to do it fairly easily on torment by baiting the golems into attacking a healing pylon and a snare turret. After that it was basically a battle between my two ranged attackers and the controllers, which was fairly simple. Note: if they run away, just focus another one. Chasing them will lead you into more turrets which is bad, and the controllers will eventually rejoin the fight.

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  • 4 weeks later...

For what it's worth, I found the quest more tedious than hard. With two tinker mages in the group (and my third being Khalida), I could literally create a bunch of turrets and let them grind down the golems while the rest of us sat back throwing arrow and razor disks, with an occasional haste or something. Once enough of the golems were gone, I side stepped the rest and went after the controllers.

 

I'm tempted to re-do this one using Shadowwalkers so that I do have to think a little bit.

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  • 1 year later...

I am just playing through Avadon 2, and am on this quest. I must say that two major criticisms I have of the Avadon series thus far, are the general lack of options when dealing with encounters (i.e. you always seem to have to fight), and the recurring theme of ramping up the difficulty of boss battles to an absurd level. For me, both are indicative of lazy game design, and an appeal to the current generation of idiot gamers. The game is still fun, but ONLY because the story is interesting. Otherwise, the game mechanics are very very simple compared to the old-school RPGs that Jeff advertises his games as emulating. This is not Ultima VII. For that matter, it's not even Ultima III. And it sure as heck isn't BG. Gemstone Warrior was more fun, from purist point-of-view.

 

I am sure all of this has been discussed elsewhere, and I am just venting, so I'll focus this a bit more. At the very first entrance of the party into The Corruption, the caravan master tells us to avoid battles and essentially move stealthily in the region. Given the tough monsters in this region, this was good advice. And sure enough, I took it to heart. However, when I arrived at the first Miranda battle, I was SORELY overwhelmed, even when I lowered the difficulty to casual, from hard. I was left thinking, "why design this region for stealth, and then punish me for it, by frustrating the heck out of me?" In the same vein, harking back to Avadon 1, why offer the choice of challenging Red Beard, if the only way most players can win is through a two-hour (approximately) battle of tedious attrition, during which most people will need to use the cheats AND lower the difficulty. This is in part because most people such as myself, had no clue it would be such a cheaply designed encounter. I can only assume Jeff intentionally made that way.

 

Edited to add: Geez, the "Thing in the Basement" is also absurdly difficult. My characters are around Lvl 20, well equipped, and can still be killed within a few turns by this optional boss. Ridiculous.

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Complaining about the difficulty of optional fights seems silly. If you don't like the optional fights, well, they're optional. You can't beat Redbeard? Yeah, it's supposed to be really hard to beat Redbeard. You don't have to beat Redbeard to win. There are many criticisms of that fight, but I eventually came around on it, when I finally had a party built in a way to execute it properly.

 

If you're annoyed by the bumpy difficulty of the mandatory fights (i.e. the difficulty of one fight can be much greater or much less than the difficulty of the previous fight), I mostly agree with you about Avadon 1; the game wasn't balanced properly. The mandatory fights in Avadon 1 are super-bumpy. It doesn't matter if you pump the right skills, though, because, again, the game wasn't balanced properly (Dexterity is totally overpowered). I thought that Avadon 2 was balanced much better, though. (And if you're routinely playing on Hard, and your complaint is that the game is hard... well... I don't know what you expected.)

 

Also, there's no sense in which Avadon 2 "punishes" you for using stealth to get from one mandatory battle to the next. The first Miranda fight is hard, and maybe it's a bump in difficulty, but it's by no means impossible, especially once you understand the proper tactics.

 

So the solution is to go read Strategy Central topics. I promise you that both games will be quite easy on Normal if you have anything approaching an optimal skill selection.

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Well okay, I agree with that. But the game encourages it, at first, by making "random" encounters in the Corruption near impossible to win. ("Random" refers to groups of monsters sitting around that are not tied to any quest, per se) Don't get me wrong, I have leveled up since, and gone back and faced these initially hard-to-beat monsters. But it's frustrating when one "hits the wall" making one's way through a major quest, due to ridiculously ramped-up boss difficulty due to such an encouraged strategy. Heck, the Miranda encounter was hard even in comparison to "random" monster encounters beforehand, which I avoided in the first place, as much as possible. And to be clear, it's not as if there is some clever singular strategy that the player needs to find (although that would be poor game design, as well). Thus far, it appears as if these boss encounters are super-tanks. For example, there's not a great strategy (that I can think of) right now, for me to fight "The thing in the basement", because it's attacks are brutal; one of them does around 70-80 pts of damage to all of my characters in a wide radius that encompasses nearly the entire viewing screen. Another is a can't-miss charm spell. Her regular attack bludgeons any of my part members for 1/4-1/2 total hitpoints. Conversely, my character base attacks do 10-20 pts of damage to her, and she seems to have A LOT of hitpoints. Right now, there is no strategy to employ against her (regardless of how many potions/items I stock) other than to level up and "tank-up" my characters, and come back. It is not as if any of my spells are going to be useful against her. For that matter (and it's another conversation), it's not as if this game has a such a variety of spells, to offer a multitude of approaches to a given encounter. You essentially have spells that do damage, summon an ally temporarily (which really isn't innovative.. it's basic) and subdue via daze/charm/ensnare. I am sure I miss 1-2 other spell options, but still, that's not offering the player much beyond brute-force.

 

edited to add: It would have been nice to add the element of terrain as part of strategy during a fight. Yes, right now,there are some basics one may use, such as "funneling", and picking-off a few monsters, running to an exit, and then coming back.

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And to be clear, it's not as if there is some clever singular strategy that the player needs to find (although that would be poor game design, as well).

Combat tactic, no. Skill allocation, yes. You sound like you're low on Dexterity and possibly middle skill columns. It's definitely true that the game ends up crazy hard if you allocate your skills poorly, and what you're describing — doing very little damage, getting hit for a lot of damage, etc. — sounds a lot like poor skill allocation.

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Some encounters like that "thing in the basement" become easier above a certain level. Others like the random monsters in the Corruption just require enough Endurance so you can resist attacks or at least survive them. There isn't one right strategy, but there are a few wrong ones.

 

That "thing in the basement" is easiest if you have a tinkermage create attacking turrets and have everyone else retreat to recharge the turrets and heal themselves.

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Part of the issue with stealth is that you end up losing out on experience.

If you sneak around instead of attacking you end up much weaker the longer you keep that up.

 

One of the beauties of the level cap - you don't have to fight everyone just for experience. You'll max out anyway.

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Combat tactic, no. Skill allocation, yes. You sound like you're low on Dexterity and possibly middle skill columns. It's definitely true that the game ends up crazy hard if you allocate your skills poorly, and what you're describing — doing very little damage, getting hit for a lot of damage, etc. — sounds a lot like poor skill allocation.

Yeah. There are two important points to this in the Avadon series:

 

1) Understanding what the 4 stats do and not wasting any stat points. This means, in most cases, putting most of your points into a single relevant offensive stat (Str for melee, Dex for ranged, and Int for magical) and possibly putting a few into a defensive stat (End for HP, Dex for evasion of some attacks).

 

2) Figuring out which skills provide the most bang for your buck. There are some pretty huge differences here and it's not always obvious. Some skills are complete wastes of time, and others can make everything much easier. For example, there's a high level Blademaster skill that gives everyone in your party (including allies) twice as many actions.for a few rounds. Some of the Tinkermage turrets are disgustingly good (and not just the damaging ones), especially when combined with the above effect.

 

Relatedly, some classes are just better at surviving than others. Tinkermages and Shadowwalkers get probably the best defensive bonuses from their middle column skills. The easiest party for Avadon 2, taking advantage of the best abilities + least bad weaknesses, is almost certainly 2 Tinkermages + 1 Blademaster. If your main isn't a Tinkermage, any replacement will do.

 

I do agree that stealth is less viable because you don't earn experience for avoiding foes. Importantly, you also don't earn experience for avoiding sidequests. If you really just make a beeline for the next boss AND avoid fights with stealth AND don't do any sidequests, then you will actually be underlevelled. I'm not sure what the solution to this is from a game design perspective but the solution from a player perspective is obvious -- give up stealth, or go do some sidequests.

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Part of the leveling up problem is Jeff gives the beta testers the game in chunks of a few zones. Testers usually do almost all the side quests since they don't have anything else to do until the next game chunk. That means there isn't a tester that only does the main quest line and is under leveled.

 

I think Nethergate: Resurrection was the last game where someone ran through only the main quests first.

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