Beginner's Guide - Baldur's Gate 2
Author's Note: Functionally both Baldur's Gate 1 and Baldur's Gate 2 are the same game as far as mechanics go which means that you'll probably find value from reading both guides. If you'd like to see what information I have in the BG1 Beginner's Guide follow the link provided.
On this page you'll find my Beginner's Guide for Baldur's Gate 2. This guide contains all of the knowledge I have picked up and learned about AD&D and the Baldur's Gate series over the last few years. I created this guide along with the guide for BG1 to help new players like myself learn more about this game so that they can play on Core Rules or even a harder difficulty. Unlike most of the other Beginner's Guides or New Players Guides online I will not be talking about character creation and what class kits are good and all of that... This guide is going to focus solely on how to play the game.
Some examples of things I cover in this guide are what spells are worth using for the Priest and Wizard archetypes, what buffs are worth using before combat and general strategies for combat. I've split this guide up into multiple parts as well which you can find links to below. This way you can skip ahead to the exact information you want and ignore the rest.
For a TL;DR summary of all the information in this guide keep reading this page. I'll do my best to give you a crash course in how to get better at this game... Though I can't guarantee it'll be a TL;DR considering there is so much to talk about.
All Beginner's Guide Info:
If your group of characters is level 15 or lower I would recommend you start with reading the TL;DR section on my BG1 Beginner's Guide. To give you a recap from what you learned there, the most important characters in your party are going to be your Divine and Arcane spell casters. So, Priests and Wizards. You're going to have to buff up before almost every fight and some fights on harder difficulties will require different buffs. Fear Resist is not always needed, for example.
On harder difficulties the only characters that are going to be able to survive well in melee combat are the tanks or Wizards/Priests buffed out the ying yang. Typically I always have Thieves use ranged weapons and anyone who is incapable of taking hits in melee. Also, one character in your party should be using Flail of Ages in this game for a multitude of reasons: It's good, you'll every so often encounter Golems that can only be damaged with crushing (this deals crushing). Every so often you'll encounter Trolls that can only be killed with Acid or Fire (this deals Acid & Fire).
There are a few other pieces of equipment that will make or break your party such as Robe of Vecna, Cloak of Mirroring, Defender of Easthaven, and the Sling of Everard. You can buy all of the items except Cloak of Mirroringin Athkatla from various vendors. Flail of Ages you complete The De'Arnise Keep Has Been Invaded and you'll be able to make the flail during that quest.
Cloak of Mirroring is obtained from the Underwater City which you should visit during Chapter 4. This item paired with Shield of Balduran will allow your character to solo every Beholder. Most of the other items on this list are just good items but this pair is absolute cheese.
I could talk a lot more about equipment but that's just a basic overview. Let's move onto buffs since they're the second most important thing behind your equipment. Below you'll find a list of buffs that I borrowed from my BG1 Beginner's Guide. This list of buffs is typically what I use before any fight that I suspect of being slightly above average in difficulty.
While this list is not quite my "let's go all out" buff list -- it's pretty close to it. Many of the spells on this last a really long time too - multiple fights even. That'll be up to you to pay attention to what spells last long and when you need to recast them.
Before Combat Buffs Quick List:
0. Stoneskin or Iron Skins (Druid)
1. Animate Dead on Wizard/Cleric or Conjure Animals (Druid)
2. Bless and/or Aid (Priests)
3. Mirror Image or Blur (Wizard) and Armor of Faith (Priests)
4. Chaotic Commands (Cleric; cast this on the tanks)
5. Protection Against Evil 10' Radius (Cleric)
6. Remove Fear (Cleric; if needed)
7. Haste (Wizard) or Improved Haste on melee (Wizard)
8. Chant (Cleric)
During Baldur's Gate 2 you'll get access to a few different spells that you didn't have access to in BG1 like Improved Haste and the Wizard Minor Sequencer, Spell Sequencer and Spell Trigger spells. The Sequencer series of spells allows you to "sequencer" multiple spells and then cast them all at once. For an example: Minor Sequencer can only do low level spells, I typically do Magic Missile x2 with it because I am bland.
Minor Sequencer: Magic Missile x2, Blur and Mirror Image, Web x2
Spell Sequencer: Lower Resistance x2, Great Malison is a good combination that I use frequently. For pure damage I would recommend Skull Trap x3 or Flame Arrow x3 if you want to make it single target. When it comes to protections Fireshield Blue and Red with Improved Invisibility works good, that will mostly deal damage to your attackers though and not protect you as much. This is also operating under the assumption that you already have Mirror Image and Blur up otherwise you'd want to use that instead. (Defensive - against casters) Minor Globe of Invulnerability, Improved Invisibility, Minor Spell Deflection -- (Cleric/Mage Debuff) Doom, Greater Malison, Lower Resistance
Spell Trigger: (Fighter/Mage) Stoneskin, Protection from Magical Weapons, Improved Haste -- (Against Mages/Bosses) Pierce Magic x2 + Breach // Lower Resistance x2 + Breach -- (Defensive) Spell Immunity (Abjuration) and Spell Deflection -- (Fighter/Mage) Improved Haste, True Sight, Mislead -- (Crowd Control) Greater Malison, Chaos, Chaos -- (Crowd Control x2) Greater Malison, Chaos, Slow -- (Defensive & Damaging) Animate Dead x3 -- (Defensive/Damaging) Stoneskin, Fireshield Red & Blue
Now for Contingency; much like with the Sequencer series this spell allows you to "store" multiple spells that will fire off instantly when a certain condition is met. The 2 most used conditions that I do (and that I see online) are See enemy and Helpless. You'll typically use See enemy when you want to load some damage spells into the Contingency and you'll want to use Helpless when you want defensive spells.
Contingency: (Mage - Protection) Stoneskin -- Improved Invisiblity -- Minor Spell Deflection -- Mirror Image. (Mage/Cleric Buff) Bless, Chant, Remove Fear are all good to use with See an enemy conditions.
Chain Contingency: (Mage - Protection) Protection from Magical Weapons, Spell Turning, Spell Shield -- (Mage - Damaging) 3x Abi Dalzim's Horrid Wilting when see an enemy -- (Cleric/Mage) Heal @ 25% Health Trigger along with 2 buff spells you also like -- (Mage Protection/Damage) 3x Mordekanian's Sword when Helpless -- (Defensive) Protection from Magical Energy x2, Protection from Magical Weapons
There are hundreds of different combos that I don't name here that you can use with these spells but this is enough to get you started and make you overpowered as can be. If you'd like a more indepth run down of these spells and some more combinations you should check out my BG2 Pre-Combat Buffs Guide.