Players that are not used to IceWind Dales or Baldur Gates tend to have a really hard time fighting casters. Don’t worry, there is absolutely no shame in that, and this guide is for you, who need some help at smashing some caster’s smug faces.
Guide to Fight Against Wizards And Other Spell-Casters
- There are a few terms like “saves” that I use from time to time.
- They are explained in the “Game Concepts and Party Building Guide” by DnD Detective, that I recommend you if you don’t understand them. He also go in depth about character creation and more advanced concept like multi-class and dual-classing.
Defensive spells and the simple solution
Proper spell-casters, and high leveled wizards even more so, tend to be hard to deal with in Icewind Dales and Baldur’s Gate due to the enemy combining protective spells to make themselves hard do kill.
- In IceWind Dale, the most commonly used protections spells used by wizards are Mirror image and Stone skin. The first one can protect the wizard against any attacks that isn’t a fixed area effect like Death cloud or Thorn (but it still protect him from spells like Fireball for example), and the second protect the mage against physical attacks for a number of attack depending on his level.
- Both together make it very hard for your warriors to prevent the wizard to cast spell and Mirror image make it especially hard for your spell-casters to interrupt the wizard with damage spells.
And the magic to counter that, it’s Dispel magic and Remove magic.
Most of the time, a Dispel magic/Remove magic or two will make short work of all protections spells in an area. In fact, you’ll only need Dispel magic and/or Remove magic to fight against magic protections in Icewind Dale 1, even against Malavon, the said mage being a very hard nut to crack when you didn’t prepare the said spells, or the priestesses accompanying Ilmadia on harder difficulties.
- You should always have at least one or two of each of those spells prepared once you gain access to them. Not only those can destroy your opponent defenses, but there is also a lot of enemies giving bonus to their allies and inflicting penalties to your team with magic.
- A teammate got charmed? Dispel. Hold person on your front-line? Dispel. A priest used Strength of One? Remove. The Warrior-mages you fight against use Stoneskin? Remove. Simple as that.
- Both of those spell are really useful and their usage is versatile enough to justify always having a few of them prepared in your team.
However, there is an obvious downside: Remove magic dispel negative effects on your enemies, and Dispel magic dispel positives effects on your allies on top of that.
Specialized dispelling spell from clerics
If you know the kind of spells and protection you’ll face, you can prepare more specialized spells against the said spells.
While it is not exclusive to poison from magic, Slow poison (2nd lvl) permit to basically remove poison effects on a single target, and Cure disease (3rd lvl) can cure a disease on a single target. Remember that Dispel magic cannot heal non-magical poison, like the poison from the phase spider’s attacks.
Remove curse (3rd lvl) permit to remove cursed items on a single target. Also, some effects from entropy magic can only be dispel through this spell, I think? Correct me on that.
Remove paralysis (3rd lvl) dispel paralysis on an area, whenever it is from a spell like hold person or a undead paralyzing touch. It doesn’t dispel webbed, entangled or hopelessness however.
Zone of sweet air is a level 3 divine spell to counter all cloud and fog spells. Beware that this spell doesn’t affect iron golem’s poisonous gaz, as it is not a spell (or at least, not in BG).
Lesser restoration permit to heal level drain. I don’t think any enemy inflict level drain in IWD, but in Baldur Gate there are monsters that does (at least in BG 2).
Neutralise poison (4th lvl) remove poison effect and heal a few HP on the target. Again, remember that Dispel magic cannot heal non-magical poison.
True seeing (5th lvl) remove illusion effects of all opponents in the region, among other Mirror image, Invisibility and Blur. It is useful when it come from the Helm priest kit, as he have free daily uses of it, but for others, Dispel magic or Remove magic is enough. Note that some enemies may cast it.
Greater restoration (7th lvl) is similar to his lesser equivalent, but it may also cure feeblemind, confusion or berserk, and also poison and disease. Dispel magic also work for those, and it doesn’t inflict fatigue on the caster, so it is better to use those rather than Greater restoration.
Spells protection spells: how to counter those pesky spells
This section is purely optional in IceWind Dales, and frankly mostly for Baldur Gates 2. As I said previously, a few Remove magic is enough in this game to dispel all protections on a caster, including the ones having spell protection spells. The exception is in Baldur Gates 1 and 2, where in some fights, you have mages that have protection spells working against Dispel magic and Remove magic (unless you try to kill non-hostile mages, maybe?).
- Spell protection spells are spells that protect against spells. Most mages that has those spells are neutral or friendly in IWD, and it is no surprise as such spells are very powerful.
- Minor globe of invulnerability, for example, immune the caster against level 1, 2 and 3 spells… and most of the spells you dedicate to prevent the opponent from casting spells, like Magic missile, Melf’s acid arrow or Miscast magic, but most importantly Dispel magic and Remove magic, are among those levels.
- In short, those spells are made to counter your spell-casters, and even the most basic one do it well.
To counter those spells specifically, you have:
- Spell thrust (3th level arcane spell) dispel all level 5 and lower spell protection’s spells.
- Secret word (4th level arcane spell) dispel one level 8 or lower spell protection spell.
- Pierce magic (6th level arcane spell) do the same as Secret word but also reduce magic resistance by your mage’s level for 1 round per mage level.
- Khelben’s warding whip (7th level arcane spell) dispel one level 8 or lower spell protection spell plus another one at the end each round following that for 3 rounds, for a maximum of 4 spell protection spells dispelled.
- Ruby ray of reversal (7th level arcane spell) that dispel one spell protection spell of any level, even the level 9 Spell trap spell.
- Pierce shield (8th level arcane spell) is similar to Pierce magic, but it reduce the magic resistance by 10% plus one per mage level for a duration of one round per mage level and it dispel one spell protection spell of any level.
- Spellstrike (9th level arcane spell) is a version of Spell thrust that is capable of dispelling all spell protection spell on the target.
In general, I tend to have one Pierce magic or Pierce shield as they double to some extend as a Lower resistance spell, and as mages rarely have more than one spell protection spells capable of deflecting Remove magic on them, it is far enough. Also, note I know no enemy that has Spell trap on him. At the very least there are none in IceWind Dale.
Other arcane “dispelling” spells
- Emotion: Courage (4th lvl) dispel fear effects on top of giving it’s boost. Useful against royal mummies’ Symbol: Fear.
Emotion: Fear (4th lvl) inflict fear and dispel Emotion: Courage if the opponent has it.
- Emotion: Hope (4th lvl) dispel hopelessness effects on top of giving it’s boost. Usefull against royal mummies’ Symbol: Hopelessness.
Emotion: Hopelessness (4th lvl) inflict hopelessness and dispel Emotion: Hope if the opponent has it.
- Breach (5th lvl) dispel all specific protection spells (Resist fear, Fire shield, Protection from the elements…) and combat protection spells (Protection from normal missiles, Stoneskin, Mantle…). One of these can destroy all defense a target may have against your warriors’ strikes.
- Detect illusion (3rd lvl) dispel all of your opponent level 3 and lower illusion spells in an area (mainly Mirror image and Blur), and Oracle is the 5th level version dispelling your opponent’s illusions up to 5th level in the region.
Interrupting spells, the basic
Each time a caster take damage, he must make a saving throw to not loose the spell.
This mean that the damage inflicted to the caster is not important when it come to interrupting his casting: the number of time he is hit is the important factor.
There is no problem if you can reach the spell-caster in melee, just bash him to death, but more often than not, they are not alone, thus this option isn’t always available.
Ranged weapons, a lot of them
Here some information about rate of fire from ranged weapons.
- Throwing axes, sings and crossbow have a rate of fire of 1 per round.
- Throwing daggers and bows a rate of fire of 2 per round.
- Darts have a rate of fire of 3 per round.
Warrior classes (fighter, rangers and paladin) obtain an additional 0.5 attack at level 7 then another 0.5 attack at level 13.
For weapon proficiency, specialization give you 0.5 attack per round, and grand mastery give you 1 attack per round.
So, if we take, for example, a warrior with grand mastery at the long bow, short bow or throwing dagger, he can attack up to (2+1+1.5) 4.5 shots per rounds.
The same warrior with grand mastery of crossbow, sling or throwing axes will make 3.5 shots per round.
For the bow, the archer (ranger) and fighters that can attain grand mastery with ranged weapons are the best choices. Especially the archer: increased hit chances and damage on ranged attacks plus the ability that can inflict cumulative penalty to a target, and you can get a deadly combo with the bow.
Throwing axes and daggers have the advantage of being the same weapon skill as the melee equivalent.
Dwarven defender with axes is a great idea as it give him up to great mastery of a ranged weapon on top of his main weapon. Same idea for the berserker and grand mastery with both axes and throwing axes.
The Wizard slayer (fighter) is noteworthy when it come to interrupt spell due to his ability to inflict increasing miscast chances with each hit, but this kit become rather weak late-game when not fighting spell-casters due to the inability to use any enchanted item other than weapons and armor (for example, you can’t use the various enchanted gauntlets that boost THAC0, nor rings or amulets, nor belts…).
If you can, have at least one character with a bow, one with a crossbow and one with a sling. Each side got special projectiles with very useful effects such as fire or acid (against trolls), poison (biting bolt), additional hit (piercing arrows) and other special effects (summon a goblin, Silence, Otiluke’s resilient sphere…).
Unfortunately for the dart, they cap at the maximum of 5 attacks per round. There isn’t much difference in term or pure attack numbers between specialization and grand mastery, so it isn’t worth the cost.
However, the dart is perfect for any other class and kit that want a ranged option but can only attain competence or specialization with the dart.
Even with only being competent they’ll have 3 attacks to interrupt the opponent’s spell, and with specialization, this will give them 3.5 attacks per rounds. More than enough as long as you are able to hit the target.
A noteworthy class for dart throwing is the swashbuckler (thief) that have a bonus of 1 to hit roll and damage for every 5 level. This actually make the swashbuckler quite deadly with darts, even without specialization, and that without sacrificing any potential except for 1 weapon mastery point.
Other class that are good for dart throwing are warrior classes that can use darts but not attain more than proficiency, as it permit to have the same 4.5 attacks as a grand master at the bow. Multi-classed warriors come into mind.
Seriously if you haven’t, try the darts. It is a fun weapon to use, and it’s very effective against spell-casters. It’s also good to destroy Mirror images and Stone skin if you don’t have any magic left to dispel those.
Preventing cast with spells
The basic spells to interrupt spell-casting are Magic missile and Mordenkainen’s force missile. Instant casting time and multiple hits make them perfect at the job.
It is however the easiest spell to counter: a simple Shield spell will absorb either of those, and Entropy shield will stop all missile attacks, spell included. Not all enemies will cast shield, though.
Spells that deal damage through time like Melf’s acid arrow can also be a good choices as they may interrupt future spells on top of the current one.
If the target doesn’t move into melee, spells like Thorn or Cloudkill are great at it too, as they hit the target once per round as long as the spell continue.
Spells that paralyze, charm, put the target into sleep and so on are also great at preventing him to cast while making him vulnerable to attacks. Hold person, Command, Charm person, Stinking cloud, Web… all those spells can be mage-killers if they fail their save. Unfortunately, wizards have good saves against wand and spell… which is why Stinking cloud is so great against wizards: the save is against poison, not against spells. Note however that it is useless against undeads.
To prevent the enemy to cast any spell at all, you can also use specialized spells like Silence (countered by ‘Vocalization’ spell), Miscast magic (inflict an 80% chances of miscasting) and Deafness (inflict a 50% chances of miscasting).
Note that for any spell that can be saved against, it is a good idea to use spells like Curse or Doom on the target to reduce his chance to save against your assault.
Abilities like Poison weapon from Assassins (thief kit) and Black guards (paladin kit), the thieves’ traps in general or the attacks of the Wizard slayer (fighter kit)’s ability to inflict increasing miscast chances with each hit are all good pick to interrupt a caster.
There is also the Dragon disciple (sorcerer kit)’s fire breath that can not be saved against and some of the monk’s and monk kit’s abilities.
But the most reliable way is using special projectiles and weapons’ or skills’ effects to inflict poison or bleeding and others, inflicting damage through time to the target. Spell-casters, wizard especially, tend to have lower constitution than most, and thus have hard time resisting most of these.
Maybe the most effective way is to use a thief back-stab. Once magic defenses are down, most spellcasters can be one-shot, or at least severely wounded, by a thief backstabbing attack.
This may also put them low enough in health for spell such as Power word: Stun or Symbol: Death, whose effects depend on the targets HP.
Weapons that inflict poison, sickness, stun, sleep and so on are perfect to kill wizards.
Unfortunately, with the exception of a few ones like Presio’s dagger +2 and weapons from the Trial of the Luremaster, most of the weapons that have such effects are random loots, so you can’t really prepare a run by thinking that you’ll find them.
You can technically reinitialize the loot of an area by loading before the first time you enter them, but this is a pain to do so and suppose that you know where to find the items in questions.
For instance, I obtained the Venon Battle Axe +2 in my last run. It has 20% chance of inflicting a poison that deal 1 damage for every 4 second for a total of 25 damage at 100 second… but it’s a random loot, and I didn’t have any axe wielder.
Worse, I even forgot where I found it as I cleared a whole region before identifying it, and didn’t note it’s effects until I took a look at it later in the game. Again, I didn’t have any axe wielder, so why would I have cared?
So, yeah. There is a limit to that. You can still have different set of weapon in your inventory and change them when you fight a caster, so there is that.
So… yeah! Dispel magic and Remove magic are your main tools to reduce magic protections to nothing. The others are mostly optional, but can be great when you don’t want to dispel 3 spell’s buff for 1 negative effect that can be easily removed.
Having ranged weapons of a large variety is good as it give a lot if options, and darts are great for non-warrior classes that don’t get a lot of additional attacks per rounds.
There are a lot of spells that are great to reduce hostile caster’s potential to make your life a nighmare. And class abilities and weapons that deal damage through time are great against casters.
I hope this guide was useful. IceWind Dale and Baldur Gates are too good as games to pass on them just because you are not a DnD fan or a veteran of the games.
I remember that when I was young I played the prologue again and again to make my character stronger because I didn’t use spells like Sleep or Dispel magic enough and couldn’t pass any hard fight. Because of that I missed most of the game for years, and I almost missed the greatness of those games.
Don’t let the difficulty and complexity scare you and/or stop you from having a fun time. Once you understand what you do and you are prepared, most fights that where hard at fist will become a breeze… or at least, they won’t be as hardcore as they seem at a first glance.
Recommended for You
- Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition – In-depth Party Creation Guide