Beginner's Guide - Baldur's Gate 1
Author's Note: Functionally both Baldur's Gate 1 and Baldur's Gate 2 are the same game which means the Beginner's Guides I have for them will have useful information for you regardless of which game you play. I made the BG1 Beginner's Guide mostly for beginner and intermediate players with the BG2 guide covering more advanced strategies and information. To see my Baldur's Gate 2 Beginner's Guide follow the link provided.
This page here contains my Beginner's Guide for Baldur's Gate; this guide is the culmination of all the knowledge I have acquired about this series and AD&D mechanics over the last few years. I made this guide in an effort to help new players learn enough about the game to play on either Normal or Core Rules instead of on Story Mode which takes a lot of the enjoyment out of the game. At least for me the whole not being able to die on Story Mode ended up being boring which is ultimately what pushed me to learn enough about the game to... not be terrible.
In this guide I am going to focus on how to play the game effectively rather than giving you a break down of AD&D Mechanics and how BG1 and BG2 are designed. Most of the Beginner's Guides that I find online for this game involve character creation and talking about what kits are good and what stats you need etc etc - this one will be different. In this guide I will teach you how to actually play the game.
BG1 and BG2 have a lot to explain about them so I will be breaking this guide up into multiple parts. This page is the main index page which will give you a summary of all the Beginner Guides I have written for BG1; if you want a more detailed explanation you'll have to use the links below to visit each specific page which will have significantly more details.
All Beginner's Guide Info:
For those of you who want a TL;DR of everything I have learned... You're in luck because I actually can give you one. Selecting the right Priest & Mage spells and buffing before combat are the biggest game changers you'll find in this game. There are probably one to two dozen different buffs that are worth using before fights depending on the situation but in the interest of a TL;DR...
Animate Dead to make a personal army and then Haste (Wizard), Bless and/or Aid (Cleric), Chant (Cleric), Resist Fear (Cleric), Protection Against Evil 10' Radius (Cleric), Blur and/or Mirror Image (Self-Wizard), Stoneskin (Self-Wizard) and many more.
In particular the skills I would like to draw a lot of attention to are Animate Dead, Bless/Aid, Chant, Haste and Protection Against Evil 10' Radius. Especially in Baldur's Gate 1 Monster Summoning and Animate Dead are exceptionally powerful. What makes these skills so good in combination is because Animate Dead lets you summon somewhat powerful skeletons to aid your group.
These undead will be under your control for a total of 8 ingame hours which comes out to 40 minutes IRL. In other words, they'll be in your control for the entire time you're on the map. In addition to lasting very long you can also buff these skeletons with all the same buffs you can use on your party.
Each character can summon multiple undead skeletons and even in BG1 you're able to easily get 3 or 4 active at a time with just 1 priest and 1 mage. So, before any tough fight what you'll typically be doing is using multiple Animate Dead spells to summon as many skeletons as you can then following it up with Bless, Chant and Haste before charging in to decimate the enemies.
When you move up in difficulty this will become less and less effective, I know, however for Core Rules it's a pretty solid strategy that will allow you to beat most enemies in the game without much of an issue. It's also the best TL;DR strategy I can give you.
In my opinion using Animate Dead along with the buffs mentioned above is the single best tip I can give you to help you get better at this game. For those of you who would like a more complete list of all the buffs you should use prior to combat I recommend you check out my Pre-Combat Buffs Guide for more information. There are a lot of buffs mentioned on that page that are not here.
For those of you who still want a TL;DR below I have included a shortened list of the most common buffs I use before really really hard fights. Typically there are very few fights that require you to go all out in terms of buffing and creating pets depending on your difficulty so I typically do not take this level of preparation before combat.
Before Combat Buffs Quick List:
0. Stoneskin, Spell Shield, Shield
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)
8. Chant (Cleric)
Some buffs like Improved Invisibility, Shield, Defensive Harmony and Spirit Armor are worth using but didn't make the list because I did not want to make it too crowded. In my experience playing through BG1 and BG2 multiple times the above list of buffs will allow you to defeat nearly every enemy and boss in the game. There will be some enemies (like Dragons and Liches) that you'll have to use some additional buffs against but I will talk about them more in the BG2 Beginner's Guide since they're not found in BG1.