On the dangers of Watcher's Keep

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So, I decided to replay Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn again now that it is out for Android. Amazingly, this game holds up VERY well on a tablet. The only time I miss a keyboard is when I need to save a game, and even then, it's not bad at all. It feels like the perfect tablet game - even though it was once a AAA PC title.

Anyway, I never finished the game on PC. After I got married, I just never found the time for it. Now, though, I can pick up the tablet and play for a bit, then set it down. No need to hike off to the office. As such, I realized I never actually fought Bohdi - I pretty much stopped at the beginning of chapter 6, where you leave the Underdark.

Well, this time around all of the expansions were present - Throne of Bhaal and the Black Pits. This mean I could visit Watcher's Keep in SoA and pick up some experience and weapons. Which I did in chapter 2 (though I stopped once I cleared the elemental level, as the next level is insanely harder). It was a tough slog getting through the first area, especially with a low-level party, but I managed to pull it off without anyone dying. Got a ton of experience, and leveled up everyone at some point.

The second level, the elemental level, was even rougher. The party had to resort to a fair amount of cheese, mostly by sending in a sacrificial summoned creature to lure the elementals out one by one, where the party had a shot. Imoen was still captured, so Jan was the thief, and thankfully had had a very high "find trap" ability. That place was absurd - and that was before the Chromatic Demon. The only saving grace is that the party had done the fighter's stronghold quest, and had the flail of ages +3.

I digress, though. When the party got to the maze level, and got absolutely annihilated in the first room, I threw in the towel on WK, and went back to the main story. I did a bit of cheating to get the Planar Sphere stronghold quest and the Bard stronghold quest. I also did a bit of console work to allow my female PC to be able to romance Aerie and Jaheira. Jaheira's romance quest is intense and yields a ton of experience, as well as some tough battles with the Harpers.

To make a long story short(er), I ended up completing nearly every quest you can do by the end of Chapter 6 and all but the third seal guardians of WK. (That last group of guardians is INSANE, even for high level characters). Finally, I thought to myself, why not at least check out Suldanessellar and see how bad it is? I pack up all of the party's stuff, make a few last trips to Amn to sell everything not required in ToB, and head off to see Elhan with the magic lantern.

Now, I had already had a surprise with Bohdi in terms of difficulty. My party, having gone back and nearly completed WK, save for the final seal room, was pretty high level. I had no idea how high level until the battle starts, and ends, before I can get Valygar back to the rest of the party after stirring up (starting) the battle and dumping the Elven holy water in the blood pools. I had sent in a Planetar and a few Mordekainan's swords to "soften things up", and before I could get all the buffs on my party cast, I start seeing the experience lines. As they are walking into the room, I get the final dialog from Bohdi as she dies. When the party gets into the room, there is a single grim warder left who happened to be in a different room.

When the party gets to Suldanessellar, something similar happens. The whole city is infested with Rakshasa and golems. A few of them actually landed some damage, while most of enemy got mowed down like so many weeds having never landed a single blow. The party rolled the whole siege up in about two hours, including taking out a black dragon. I'm starting to get a bad feeling about this when, as I roll up to the entrance to the tree of life, my crew is at full health, and the only thing I'm out is a few minor spells. Still, this is the final battle with Irenicus - a level 30 mage of immense power.

Yeah. I overprepared for that battle too. A planetar and a couple of magical swords left at the platform started in as soon as the dialog was over. They took the brunt of his contingencies, while I took the party a bit further up the tree to start summoning. One more battle party with a second Planetar and a few more swords and it was over. Hell was a bit rougher, and I did have to resurrect Minsc once during that battle, but compared to Watcher's Keep, the final showdown with Irenicus was pretty underwhelming - though it was cool to battle him in slayer form.

Thus, I finally finished the game, but wow. The ending was a bit like a stroll through a warm, sunny park. I had no idea how overpowered my party had become by completing Watcher's Keep early. Fortunately, the challenge of that was immensely fun - it just made the end game way, way too easy.
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On the dangers of Watcher's Keep