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A6 fights are much harder than I remember


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I'm playing A6 on Normal difficulty with the pre-built party, and I'm currently around level 8-9 (the Slith levels more slowly as always).


Lately I'm finding that almost every other fight feels like a boss battle, and involves several iterations of my priest running away as the sole survivor after wittling down a few enemies. I'm just not sure if I made some bad skill choices, or I'm in an area too early (Fort Saffron currently)... what am I missing? My biggest enemy seems to be stunlocks, where practically every enemy in a fight is able to either stun, slow, charm or terrify my party and I barely get a turn in edgewise. Is there some way to avoid that? My priest doesn't have Unshackle Mind yet, and even if he did, he'd likely be too busy healing every turn to cast it often enough.


(I checked and I have food in my inventory, by the way, so it's not the starvation debuff.)


I've attached the skill screenshots... https://imgur.com/a/pxEUTBl

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Not really exactly answering your questions, but maybe sort of commiserating- I've always found combat in the second trilogy games to be... maybe not harder per se, but a lot more tedious and exhausting, than it feels like it should be. Every combat feels like it takes a few rounds too long; I feel obliged to run back to town to heal more often than I'd like (especially given the zoomed-in map that makes long-distance travel a pain).


I think the biggest (but not only) issue is the HP/resistance bloat that late-00s Spiderweb games generally suffered from (and which continued to be an issue, at least intermittently, till the late 10s). Enemies just have too much HP, and resistances increase across the board with level in a way that blunts your ability to keep up a consistent amount of damage in the mid-late game, making the HP problem worse. It's common (especially in 4) to run into mook enemies (especially eg slime-type monsters) who take more than a single round of concerted attacks to down, in drastic contrast to the snappy combat of 1-3 (where you can often just bluntly plow through mooks without even entering combat mode, and will often wipe out multiple enemies with a single multi-target attack, at least on easy/normal). In the later Geneforges, it's possible to build your character and creations to be so strong that you can still easily overcome most of the combats, despite the HP/resistance stuff, but I feel like the gap between a weak and a strong party in Avernum 4-6 is narrower than in Geneforge, and no matter what you do, combat tends to feel like trudging through molasses, you have less room to slip through encounters by being tricky (or cheesy), and exploration is often a matter of finding the one place you can currently make your way through. Maybe it's possible to do some crazy minmaxing and end up with a party that can trounce any encounter in a couple rounds, but with my what-I'd-like-to-believe-are-near-median skills and playstyle, this has struck me every time I've played the second trilogy games.


Anyway I usually just play 4-6 on easy instead of normal because of all this, since difficulty directly affects enemy stat scaling, and I feel no shame in doing so.

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I think I made it past a difficulty cliff or something, because now at level 11-12 after clearing the Gnass + Dharmon questlines (currently at Patrick's Tower) the fights are a lot more manageable again. A few points of Hardiness and Gymnastics also seem to have made my fighters much more durable, and giving my mage Minor Heal has done tons too. :)


Compared to previous games it feels like AOE damage has come a lot later, but tbf the first AOE spells (Icy Rain / Searing Spray) are sold in Patrick's Tower so that's on me for not going there first.

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