I got good at Baldur's Gate 3 by refusing to play it properly

Baldur's Gate 3 clown
(Image credit: Larian Studios)

I am a fan of cheese in real life, but I adore cheesing bosses in Baldur's Gate 3. Whether we're talking about the three goblin leaders, necromancer Balthazar, or Sharran mother superior Viconia, my first playthrough saw me doing everything in my power to avoid playing the game as Larian had (probably) intended.

My reason for this was simple: I had no idea what I was doing. I chalk this up to my limited D&D experience, consisting of light-touch campaigns that never saw completion. I used online dice-rollers to avoid doing maths, worked off pre-made character sheets, and couldn't tell my cantrips from my spell slots to save my life. Baldur's Gate 3 would obviously be a bracing new world, and for the most part, I was pretty bad at it to begin with. But in coming up with creative workarounds to remedy my glaring skill issue, I've taught myself more about Dungeons & Dragons than I thought possible.

Warning: Spoilers for Act 1, 2 and 3 of Baldur's Gate 3

Getting gouda

Baldur's Gate 3 Gauntlet of Shar

(Image credit: Larian Studios)
Ast-ing for it

Astarion from Baldur's Gate 3

(Image credit: Larian Studios)

Cheesing it is one way of doing things, but being an absolute bastard to everyone in Baldur's Gate 3 is plenty fun as well.

Playing BG3 as a tabletop newbie is a singularly humbling experience, but it's the best set of virtual training wheels I've ever had. My problems start before I even meet my first party member, since I make the genius decision to play a Dark Urge character as my first foray into the Forgotten Realms. The story implications of doing so, paired with getting used to the game's isometric exploration and viewpoint, cause me to feel woefully underleveled until a decent way into Act 3.

The first boss battle I cheese my way out of is technically Minthara's, a drow paladin working with the goblins in Act 1. I shoot her down over a chasm, shattering the bridge as she crosses it. I am a very squishy level 4 monk at this point, and after dying at her hand in battle five times in a row, I'm close to breaking point. Consequently, this is how I learned to utilize everything in my visible surroundings when in doubt. Environmental kills can be such a godsend, especially when you're still getting the hang of what exactly you're doing, and that's how I come to be such good friends with chasms.

In BG3, chasms are sheer drops into nothingness. They also make great places to shove powerful enemies if, like me, you just cannot be bothered to fight them. My charisma leaves much to be desired, so talking my way out of trouble is tricky, and I've not yet committed enough Dark urge atrocities to have many inspiration points to invest in re-rolls. So, down the chasm goes Minthara, along with all her gear.

Later on in Act 2, I'm forced to kill Isobel and everyone at Last Light Inn alongside her. You'd think that would give me a nice XP boost, right? Not enough of one, apparently, because I find it absolutely impossible to kill Balthazar in the Gauntlet of Shar just a few hours later. My heart thrums as I rethink my plan of attack, and I go back over my spellbooks intently. 

Fake out

Baldur's Gate 3 Raphael deals

(Image credit: Larian Studios)

I take comfort in knowing that cheesing a boss in Baldur's Gate 3 isn't a bug, but a feature that deserves to be celebrated.

I don't have counterspell yet, being far too underleveled for a spell of that caliber, but Shadowheart does have one trick up her Dark Justiciar-armored sleeve: Fear. With all my party members hiding nearby, watching Balthazar as he monologues at Dame Aylin, I sneak Shadowheart up behind him and cast Fear. Instantly, Balthazar is paralyzed and unable to attack, instead running straight to the edge of this giant floating platform. What happens to be directly behind him? A chasm.

Swapping to my monk, I creep up behind Balthazar yet again and cast Fist of Unbroken Air. Into the chasm goes Balthazar. I've just killed him in two turns, and learned the importance of when to choose enemy hindrance strategies instead of going for all-out attack spells.

My newfound environmental utility smarts and spell savviness goes on to serve me well at Moonrise Towers, where I find myself painfully outnumbered on my way to confront Ketheric Thorm. It turns out that fighting Disciple Z'rell and a horde of cultists is really, really hard when you've not got the might of Jaheira and the Harpers (RIP) on your side. Instead of storming the castle's main hallway, I scan the entire building for a secret entrance and manage to creep all the way around the huge battle by way of stealthing through the kitchens. All that's left to do is Misty Step each member of my party halfway up the stairs to the upper floors, and I make it to Ketheric by battling only 5 enemies. Result.

The beauty of this game lies in its infinite possibilities. With so many ways to achieve the same end, I take comfort in knowing that cheesing a boss in Baldur's Gate 3 isn't a bug, but a feature that deserves to be celebrated. It was fun killing Viconia by having each party member sneak into battle one by one, and booting Cazador into the abyss much as I did Balthazar is never going to get old. I'll always think fondly of BG3's boss-eating chasms, but now that I have all my spells in a row and haven't, well, killed off half my companions, it feels good to play Baldur's Gate 3 the vegan way. Or at least, it's good to have the option.

Here's how our News Editor beat the toughest BG3 boss with actual D&D strats.

Jasmine Gould-Wilson
Staff Writer, GamesRadar+

Jasmine is a staff writer at GamesRadar+. Raised in Hong Kong and having graduated with an English Literature degree from Queen Mary, University of London in 2017, her passion for entertainment writing has taken her from reviewing underground concerts to blogging about the intersection between horror movies and browser games. Having made the career jump from TV broadcast operations to video games journalism during the pandemic, she cut her teeth as a freelance writer with TheGamer, Gamezo, and Tech Radar Gaming before accepting a full-time role here at GamesRadar. Whether Jasmine is researching the latest in gaming litigation for a news piece, writing how-to guides for The Sims 4, or extolling the necessity of a Resident Evil: CODE Veronica remake, you'll probably find her listening to metalcore at the same time.