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How do you win at chess?


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I love this mod, but bloody Hades is that chess game ever brutal. I've never liked it much to begin with because it teleports you into a fight without a chance to prepare, but with SCS installed, is there actually a way to win this thing without cheesing or flat out cheating? (I found some forum topics on this, but they're from 2007, so like thirty SCS versions ago.)

For reference, I am going in with a level 8 group headed by a Kensai and Minsc, with Imoen, a cleric and two mages. I do not usually have to reload at all (though Durlag's Tower really is a lot more challenging than in the vanilla game).

I start the chess fight by chucking in three or four simultaneous fireballs (and fireball-like objects), which all but wipes out the rooks and disrupts the casters. But almost before that's over, those hasted knights (? the ones with the swords) reach CHARNAME and absolutely destroy her. Sure, my armor class is only -4, but I was still surprised at how quick they take me out. They also seem to have absurd saving throws, making it impossible to disable them. The only time my main ever survived the first two rounds of combat was when I chugged a potion of invisibility right off the bat. Of course, the knights then proceeded to tear through my casters, and I still had no way of killing the enemy king.

Am I just doing this wrong, or is this fight super unfair with SCS? I usually love the tactics involved in the SCS fights (especially against mages), but there seems to be next to no room for tactics here as I'm not able to freely move my characters without getting fried by lightning bolts. There is also no time to prepare, because as soon as you finish the fourth enemy from the third level, you are teleported to the chess board and the dialogue starts, and as soon as the dialogue is finished, all the chess pieces rush you at once.

The tactic that worked best so far was making my main invisible, then running across the board and just attacking the king in melee. But by the time I managed to get him Near Death, the knights had killed four of my remaining party members, which I feel is not a good enough trade.

Anyway, I'm confused and a little annoyed by this encounter. So far, every battle in SCS was somehow solvable by doing reconnaissance with an Invisibled character in advance, then choosing a suitable strategy before going in. In contrast, this one just feels unfair.

Edited by BettaGeorge
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I know of lots of people who have beaten it, so there are viable strategies. The readme gives my own: refuse to play Durlag's game, and slug Potions of Absorption to avoid the effects of the chessboard.

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Then maybe I am doing something fundamentally wrong. Even if I get an entire buffed, invisible and lightning-immune party across the board, surround the king and have at him, the other pieces still take me out before the king dies. Sarevok was a cakewalk compared to this.

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I would either

(a) ask on the Beamdog forums, where there are quite a few players who do no-reload SCS runs (they seem to hang out there more than here); or

(b) decide that particular battle is badly balanced for your personal play style, and turn the difficulty down for it. 
 

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In case Google ever leads someone here: You can cheese this fight at least on Tactical difficulty by pausing the instant you are teleported to the board, then queuing up your entire party to hit the center of the board with Fireballs or potions of explosion. Unpause to let the dialogue trigger. Close the dialogue. Everything but the king dies. Occasionally a knight survives, finish it off with missiles or whatever. Cross the board to dispatch of the lone king. Terrible from a roleplaying perspective since you have to know what to do in advance, but after the fifth reload, I don't care anymore. The key, by the way, is the pausing before the dialogue triggers, since queuing up the Fireballs after the dialogue will miss the hasted knights, meaning 36d6 less initial damage.

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The only way I could manage to win this fight on insane was also using a lot of fireballs on the beginning, otherwise the knights would just destroy me in 2 seconds. 
I know that you already won the fight with a similar tactic, but this video at 28min shows a good example anyways. 

 

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Prebuff beforehand (which means you should do ooze room last, cast your buffs, then quickly destroy the slime with wands of heaven/fireball), and then yeah, napalm strike ASAP. Fireballs might miss one or both of the knights if you're not precise, but it's still possible to kill them afterwards, if you focus fire (again, wands of heaven, flaming arrows, hold person works too IIRC)

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Guest Icarus300

Most tougher SCS fights cannot be won without metagaming/precise prepping beforehand. That's just how it is.

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It depends on the difficulty setting and your playstyle. If you're on INSANE, that's probably right.

It is a very long time since I played the chess battle myself, but I don't recall needing to metagame or use the zillions-of-fireball tricks. But perhaps something has shifted that makes it harder; I'll have a look. (And I don't play on INSANE myself - more like HARDCORE).

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Guest Lelouce

Hi. To win this battle without any loss, the first thing I do is that everyone in my party drinks a potion of invisibility, and that way, as long as I don't move, nothing can happen to me. The ennemies come but don't see me so I'm fine (I turn off the AI so that my party does not attack). Then I make my party immune/resistant to electricity (If I remember correctly Item Revisions nerfed the potions of absorption to 50% resistance). I bring all my party behind the king so that there are no ennemies between him and my party. After everyone in my party has a strategic place, my thief backstabs the king and immediatly after that my fighters attack him as quick as possible (with the haste spell) and my mages use their best damaging spells. The king dies in a few seconds and all ennemies disappear (the two clerics only disappear after they have finished incanting). It also works without backstabbing, it just takes a little longer.

It is also possible to abuse invisibility with potions or the Sandthief's Ring, just send your thief alone against the king (the rest of your party must stay invisible too), always wait 6 seconds after you use a potion or the ring before backstabbing, that way you can immediatly become invisible again after your attack.

It's not fair but it's the only way I found to win without anyone dying in my party.

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I found Web spells to be most useful for this battle.  One or two of them should immobilize quite a few of the pieces.  Then concentrate on those that are still moving.

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