When my party encounters a group of unaware enemies, I want to sneak up on the enemies, get everyone into position, then attack together. How do I do that?

My naive approach so far is:

  1. Before initiating combat, put all party members in stealth mode (Shift-C).

  2. Enter turn-based mode for the entire party (Shift-Space).

  3. Position party members as desired.

  4. When everyone is ready, attack with the character I want to attack first.

The problem is, when the first party member attacks, only that member enters combat. Meanwhile, all other members exit turn-based mode automatically (why?!), and then they all group up while I'm still giving orders to the first attacker, ruining the positioning and stealth! Furthermore, they only get involved in the fight if I explicitly switch to one of them, which is somewhat awkward, or they get spotted while regrouping, which is worse.

Consequently, my slightly refined approach continues:

  1. After the first click of step 4 (without ending anybody's turn), as fast as I can, without waiting to even see what the outcome was, switch to a different party member by clicking on a portrait on the left.

  2. As fast as I can, hit Shift-Space to put the non-combatants into turn-based mode. They'll be in the middle of regrouping, so the faster I do steps 5 and 6, the closer they will be to their original, intended positions. But they usually move several meters even when I'm pretty quick.

  3. Attack with the next party member.

But then the problem repeats, because now only two members are in combat and everyone else exits turn-based mode and once again starts regrouping. This makes tactical engagements very difficult, and it seems absurd that I should have to fight the UI this way.

Is there a better way? For example, is there a way to force all of my party members to remain grouped, so that they all enter combat together, even when spread out?

The wiki page on turn-based mode says nothing about these issues. I haven't gone trolling through other wiki pages because I'm trying to avoid spoilers.

I found a related reddit thread and stream thread but neither contain an answer this question.

So far, the main suggestion is to ungroup party members as step 0, which can be done by pressing G, then using the mouse to separate any summoned creatures from their summoners by clicking the little link between their portraits. This does improve the situation because it eliminates the problem of characters regrouping on their own.

However, part of what I want is for all party members to get the benefits of surprising the enemy, which typically results in my characters getting to attack twice before the enemy can respond. Even with all characters ungrouped, it seems that only the character that initiates combat gets to attack twice this way, since the others join in only after the enemies have been alerted by the first attacker.

Upon subsequent testing based on the answers, the answer by Joachim to ungroup first does indeed solve most of the problem, so I'm accepting that one. The answer by Philipp says I can preserve the "surprised" condition by not ending the first attacker's turn until others have attacked, which does seem to be true; I must have made a mistake in earlier attempts. Upvotes and thanks to both!

2 Answers 2

  • Before you engage, you can separate your characters by either dragging their portraits on the left side out of the row (in which case separation is indicated by the chain breaking), or by right-clicking their portraits and selecting "Ungroup" There should now be more space between the portraits. You can also Toggle Group Mode, i.e. (un)separate all party members, by pressing G.

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    When they are all separated, they won't move towards each other on their own accord, and you can guide them separately.

    This is also extremely useful for scouting and disarming traps.

  • Next thing to make sure of, is to not end the turn of the initiating character until all other party members are actively participating (unless you want other members to join in later, of course).

  • For me, it doesn't actually matter whether I engage the enemy in Turn-Based mode or in Real-Time mode (I wonder if it depends on the Difficulty level, as I'm playing on Balanced difficulty, but I wouldn't know why that would matter).

  • Once the enemy party is alerted, one or more of them might turn and notice party members that you had hidden behind them. They will still have the Surprised status, allowing for that initial non-challenged round, but if you want them to remain hidden, be aware of this.

  • The advantage your party has over enemies is also somewhat dependent on their Initiative, in the sense that once they enter combat they might end up later in the row, with the consequence that they could be attacked (by enemies with a higher Initiative who lost their Surprised status) before they are able to act in the second round.

The steps that always work for me (trying to be as thorough as possible):

  • Ungroup (G) and Hide (C for individuals, Shift+C for the entire group) the members of your party you want to engage the unaware enemies with.
  • You can switch between Turn-Based and Real-Time modes (of course, in Turn-Based mode it's easier to deal with surprise movements of enemies).
  • Place your party members individually, taking heed of the enemies' lines of sight. Remember to make use of higher ground and obstructions for strategic positioning.
  • Once you're ready to strike, let the first character perform a visible/ audible action (unless the enemies are currently neutral, it doesn't even need to be offensive, as long as you attract their attention, such as casting a protective spell).
  • That acting character will now roll for Initiative, and so will the Surprised enemies.
    Your other characters will remain undetected (unless, again, the changed lines of sight inadvertently caught them and they engage as well).
  • You can now freely move your unengaged characters around, in Turn-Based or Real-Time mode. Being caught by Surprise, some enemies' positions might have changed, allowing for or requiring a different approach.
  • Once they perform actions (anything that unhides them, really), they will roll for Initiative, and join the fight.
  • 2
    Ok, this solves the problem of the characters regrouping, which is an improvement. But they still enter combat one at a time, losing most of the advantage of the "surprised" status since the benefits are only available to the first attacker. Mar 3 at 0:36
  • @ScottMcPeak They do separately enter combat (only those party members that perform an action or are seen while hostile enter combat, so that makes sense), but before they do, you can position them individually, so they can still surprise enemies. It might be useful to enter turn-based mode before the entire encounter, to make it the default state.
    – Joachim
    Mar 3 at 10:00
  • 3
    What might also be useful is to not end the turn of the initiating character before everyone else has entered combat. It's not the most intuitive way of playing, but that's a side-effect of having a real-time/turn-based engine in which you can switch at will between the two :)
    – Joachim
    Mar 3 at 10:04
  • In step 2, I do enter turn-based mode before the entire encounter. The game puts them back into real-time mode as soon as any character enters combat. And I do not end anybody's turn! Step 5 is done while it's still the initiating character's turn. Despite all this, only the initiating character gets to attack twice (due to enemies being surprised). Mar 3 at 10:17
  • 1
    The additional details you've added are appreciated, and are consistent with my observations from additional testing. It's reassuring to have all this spelled out! Mar 4 at 0:59
  1. Put the whole party into stealth mode
  2. Ungroup your party members and move the first character into position without them getting detected.
  3. Enter combat not by entering turn-based mode, but by performing an aggressive action with that one character.
  4. Only that one character should be in combat, but the other characters aren't and can still move in real-time. Now all the enemies should have the "surprised" condition, which will disappear as soon as they have their turn. So how do you prevent them from taking their turn? Just don't end the turn of your current character.
  5. Now while your first character is still within their turn, do the same thing with each of the others: Get into position in real-time mode and join the combat by performing some form of attack without being detected before attacking.

If you did everything right, each of your characters should have gotten their surprise round before any of the enemies had a chance to respond.

But keep in mind that there are some enemies who have some special features that prevent them from ever being surprised.

  • Is it essential to avoid going into TB mode in advance of combat? TB lets me easily sneak past patrolling guards by using Dash, while RT does not. Mar 3 at 14:05
  • It seems to work to initiate combat from TB. Non-combatants still get kicked back into RT, but I can re-enter TB for then when switching back. Mar 3 at 17:48
  • @ScottMcPeak Well, you can. But if you start attacking from turn-based mode, then you might waste some of your character's movement. And you risk losing the surprise when the enemy does their move and happens to run into one of your character.
    – Philipp
    Mar 3 at 18:07

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