For Baldur’s Gate 3 players, this is a short guide offering a few basic principles to help players adapt to tactical style combat.
Ten useful principles
1) Deal more damage than you take
You always want to have more damage outgoing against the enemy squad than you want incoming. While this is obvious, it is worth remembering when actually *evaluating* any move you might make in tactical combat. Will this increase the amount of damage I am able to do or increase the potential damage I might take? This rule will be the one by which all other rules will be evaluated, and if kept front of mind, you will not go wrong in designing your own battle plans.
2) Focus your fire
Enemy units at 1 health can have just as much damage output potential as enemies at full health. Area effect spells like lighting bolt or fireball are great at putting out lots of damage, but taking out an enemy unit removes their ability to harm you. When in doubt, choose the attack or series of attacks most likely to eliminate an enemy unit, especially before they can take an action, reducing the damage you have incoming.
3) Retreat your damaged units (or heal)
As an inverse of the above rule, *your* units can continue to deal damage if they are still alive. If they are low on health look for an opportunity to (safely, avoiding opportunity attacks) disengage and lob damage from a distance. Keeping your units in the fight will allow you to do more damage.
4) Attack ranged enemies up close, and melee enemies from afar
All your player characters have some options for both melee and ranged attacks. Your fighters can use bows, and mages will have both close range and distance spells. Make sure to equip them for each eventuality. Granted, some characters will be *better* at close or range damage, but many enemies only have melee or range attacks. By getting close to enemy range units they either take disadvantage to attack you point blank, or provoke a free opportunity attack if they move away to shoot. Conversely, staying out of melee range of enemy close combat fighters allows you to pepper them from a distance. Attacking where your enemy is weak allows you to maximize your damage output and minimize your damage input.
5) Tie down their melee units with your high defense units
Some of your units will have higher AC (the number underneath their picture) and higher hitpoints. Wearing really good armor or having really high dexterity (dodge) improves this number. This means enemies are more likely to miss them or if they do hit, they have more hitpoints to stay in the fight. Make sure your melee units shoulder the hits while your weaker units take fewer attacks. Focusing the enemy damage on your units that can either avoid or shoulder it will keep more of your units in the fight, maximizing your damage output and minimizing your damage input.
6) Get behind their lines to hit their mages and archers
Conversely, try to have a unit that can get behind their lines and start picking off their high damage but weak defense units like mages and archers. Rogues can sometimes do this – as they are able to disengage safely using a bonus action from a melee scrum, or dash as a bonus action. Double weapons or sneak attacks can quickly take down weak mages. Alternatively, if you have a barbarian or fighter (Karlach is really good at this with the Athletics feat) you might have enough jump (z key) to leap up to ledges or behind the lines where their ranged units are located.
Note, that hitting enemy mages can also have the benefit of breaking their concentration on various spells that might be affecting your characters.
7) Use terrain
Terrain is a key feature in BG3. There may be chokepoint where you can hold off enemy units. Or in many levels there are significant height differences. Attacking ranged from on high can give you an advantage on attack roles, and taking the high ground may slow down melee units from reaching you, as well as giving their archers disadvantage. High ground also opens up the opportunity to shove (v) enemies to a lower level, both slowing them down and imposing falling damage – though be careful not to be shoved yourself! Using terrain well opens up many opportunities to do more damage to the enemy, and limit the amount of damage you have incoming.
Note, you can do much to either preposition your units before a fight or sometimes lure enemies to fight on ground a little more favorable to you.
8) Start a fight on the best terms for you
In addition to looking for the best terrain on which to fight, you can also start a fight on the best terms for you. This might be using a rogue to try and take out a few separated enemies with sneak attacks without provoking combat. (Good candidates are enemies with 25 hit points or less and out of line of sight from other enemies) Or you can get a surprise round and focus all your damage on their highest damage dealer before moving to regular combat. There are many possibilities here, but starting a fight on the best terms for you can maximize the damage you do to the enemy and limit the damage you take.
9) Have plans to deal with large groups of weak enemies
Sometimes large numbers of weak enemies will swarm you. This means your high power single attacks by a fighter only kill one small monster, rather then helping to bring down a larger more dangerous monster. Figure out what moves each of your characters might have to deal with larger numbers of enemies with fewer hitpoints. Mages are great here with area of effect spells, but fighters also have cleave which can hit many enemies at once. Even classes with no obvious area of effect abilities, like rogues, can be equipped with explosive arrows, bombs, or alchemist fire.
Note to, that you can often carry a few barrels of smoke powder and fire wine to use or preposition before fighting groups to deal a great deal of area of effect damage (just make sure you have some way to ignite it when you need to!)
10) Non-damage spells can help swing the damage balance in your favor
Some spells don’t have any damage output – hold person, sleep, charm person, grease – which might make them less exciting than lightning bolt or a fireball. Not so! Any spell that can incapacitate an enemy unit for one or more turns means that is one or more turns they are not fighting you. Using these spells well can decrease the amount of damage you have incoming, allowing you time to swing the damage equation in your favor.
- Baldur’s Gate 3 Action and Reactions for Combat
- Baldur’s Gate 3 Bonus Actions & Feats with Reactions
- Baldur’s Gate 3 – Tips & Tricks
- Baldur’s Gate 3 A Grym Fate Achievement Guide
- Baldur’s Gate 3 Basic Tips to Make Game Easier