Spoilers are included in this guide, kindly composed by epicsimian.
I’ll cover how to quickly complete “The Devil is in the Details” achievement on any difficulty level in this guide on Baldur’s Gate 3.
I’ll also discuss some optional actions you can take if you want to gain more XP and prizes.
For context and informational purposes, I will also provide a lot of behind-the-scenes mechanics information.
How to get the achievement
If obtaining the accomplishment is your only concern, it is quite simple to complete on the Explorer and Balanced difficulties and somewhat simple on the Tactician difficulty.
The only requirement is that you kill Commander Zhalk before interacting with the terminal to complete the prologue tutorial part.
I’ve read somewhere that in order to earn the accomplishment, one of your party members must deliver the fatal blow. This isn’t accurate, as I am positive the game gives you credit for the kill even when, for example, the mind flayer delivers the fatal blow. However, I am unable to test this since I already have the achievement. Each person who confirms or disputes the accuracy of the information will be given credit. If anyone can test this and publish in the comments, that would be welcomed.
Confirmed by SpookySmile
You can accomplish this without performing any special character builds for your main character on any difficulty. Considering that Shadowheart has all you need for this, I do strongly advocate liberating her and rearranging her spells.
If your RNG rolls aren’t very bad, you don’t even need to use the nautiloid tanks on Explorer or Balanced difficulties. On tactician, I do suggest using the nautiloid tanks, though it could be worthwhile to follow the instructions to use them on any difficulties as a backup.
Change Shadowheart’s spells so that she now gets Command, Bless, Protection from Good and Evil, and Shield of Faith once you have saved her. You will only be casting two of them, but which two you cast will primarily rely on what class you gave your main character and what objectives (achievement, loot, xp, bragging rights, etc.) you are trying to pursue. I decided to just set these 4 spells for everyone to make things simpler.
Lae’zel should be upgraded to a crossbow if you are using the tactician difficulty setting. Although it’s not particularly significant, it averages 1 more damage than her shortbow. However, it doesn’t hurt to min max on a tactician. Additionally, take the nautiloid tank out of the room where you saved Shadowheart, and add it to Lae’zel’s possessions.
It’s also crucial to refrain from using any Shadowheart spells before to this battle. There are numerous healing stations throughout the nautiloid, including in her room and the room before the encounter, so you shouldn’t need her to heal you. Just refrain from using any skills on ANY character before this encounter that need a short or lengthy rest to recharge.
Everyone in the battle should concentrate on taking out the extra foes and collecting the nautiloid tanks during the first few turns of combat, with the exception of Shadowheart. This remains the same if you’re using a strategist, but Lae’zel should beeline for the monster. As long as she moves directly in the direction of the boss, you should be able to use her to help defeat the other foes. In order to avoid opportunity attacks, it is generally advisable to have her use a ranged weapon on the imps and hellboars for this. Some players may prefer to have their main character do this if they specialize in 2h weapons, say for example a barbarian. In which case just swap Lae’zel and your main character’s roles.
Shadowheart’s actions are going to be much more specific on every difficulty. She should jump down the stairs on the first round so she can go as far as possible in the direction of the boss. After that, use Command – Drop to disable the boss. With a worst-case Wisdom saving throw of +1 and a mere 45% chance to succeed, Zhalk has little chance of blocking this spell. You must decide if you want to save Scum or simply attempt command again the following round with less spells to enhance the mind flayer if he succeeds in saving. I’d definitely suggest save scumming for strategist.
She should approach the mind flayer up close on turn two. Which spell you wish to cast will determine how near. Bless is a good choice for Explorer or Tactician, but Protection from Evil and Good is better if you also wish to kill the two later-joining Cambions. Or you could cast Shield of Faith on another party member if you have any of these spells handy.
Depending on the order of initiative, Lae’zel (or your primary character) might pick up Everburn from the ground and begin battling Zhalk on turn 2, or else on round 3.
*Note that if you already have the achievement, don’t care about maximizing loot and xp, and just want the unique item, all you need to do now is activate the console and end the prologue.
For the rest of the battle have Lae’zel attack Zhalk, Shadowheart move around the room looting and clearing weaker adds or attacking Zhalk with Sacred Flame and your main character collecting and distributing nautiloid tanks around the mind flayer and Zhalk while attacking at range with a shortbow, crossbow, or cantrips.
*Note that on your initiative you can transfer an item from your inventory to any other character and it doesn’t require an action, also you can pickup or place the tanks without an action though to pick up the tank you have to be right next to it and to place it you have to be near the spot you want to drop it. The importance of this is that your main character or Shadowheart can immediately place a tank in Lae’zel’s inventory after picking it up and on her initiative she can place it down and still get her attack. This can be crucial if your main character has low strength for example and 4 nautiloid tanks will encumber them. It might also be worth having Lae’zel move Everburn from her inventory to your main character’s after you kill Commander Zhalk but before you trigger the console that ends the Prologue.
Finally, once Zhalk is at ~35 HP have your characters move away from him (disengage/shove is required if playing on Tactician only) or more importantly move away from the nautiloid tanks and have Shadowheart cast firebolt at 1 of the nautiloid tanks once everyone is safely away.
Now you should have the achievement. If we determine that you do have to get the killing blow I would maybe advise waiting until like 25 HP instead just to be sure since Zhalk does get 4 saving throws vs the tanks that, depending on RNG, could reduce the total damage taken.
Detailed Fight Mechanics
Commander Zhalk’s Base Stats
- 20 Strength
- 18 Dexterity
- 16 Constitution
- 14 Intelligence
- 12 Wisdom
- 16 Charisma
- 105 Hit Points
- 18 Armor Class
- +4 Initiative*
- +8 Str Save
- +4 Dex Save
- +6 Con Save
- +5 Int Save
- +1 Wis Save
- +6 Cha Save*his initiative seems to be buffed specifically for this encounter. It seems likely that he gets advantage on his initiative check. He’ll go before the mind flayer like 19 times out of 20 in spite there only being a 3 pt difference in their initiative modifiers.
- Resistance Slashing, Piercing, Bludgeoning from non-magic source
- Resistance Fire, Lightning, Cold, Poison from any source
Impact from Difficulty Selection
Explorer – Cambions begin coming on Turn 7 (countdown timer on 8) and likely do their 1st attack on Turn 9
Balanced – Cambions come 1 turn earlier, Commander Zhalk +45 HP
Tactician – Cambions come 2 turns earlier and gain Firebolt cantrip, Commander Zhalk +90 HP, 2 Attacks / turn, and gains Opportunity Attacks
Analysis of the Stats
Most weapons and spells in your party are going to be ineffective on Commander Zhalk and the Cambions. Either because they have a high chance to miss or because they do half damage or both.
Giving Everburn to Lae’zel greatly increases her ability to contribute in this fight due to the slashing damage from her attacks no longer being resisted. The additional fire damage will be resisted still but is also bonus damage that she didn’t have before.
Shadowheart’s best attack vs the Cambions and Commander Zhalk is Sacred Flame. They get a dexterity save which is his 2nd worst save, and the damage type isn’t resisted. Firebolt should not be used against Commander Zhalk but will be critical for detonating the nautiloid tanks.
For your main character obviously it’s going to depend a lot on their build which weapon or cantrip they should use. Here is a chart of the best possible attack by class. DPR for Everburn done separately. Assumes no status debuffs on Commander Zhalk and +3 attribute modifier.
- Barbarian – 2h Battleaxe w/ Rage 2.3 DPR
- Bard – Vicious Mockery 1.5 DPR + Status Effect
- Cleric – Sacred Flame 1.8 DPR
- Druid/Nature Domain Cleric – Shillelagh 3 DPR
- Fighter – Light Crossbow from high ground 2.25 DPR
- Monk – Long Sword 1.5 DPR
- Paladin – Warhammer 2H 1.7 DPR
- Ranger – Light Crossbow from high ground 1.875 DPR
- Rogue – Light Crossbow from high ground 2.75 DPR
- Sorcerer – Bone Chill from high ground 2.25 DPR
- Warlock – Eldritch Blast from high ground 2.75 DPR
- Wizard – Bone Chill from high ground 2.25 DPR
- Lae’zel’s DPR with Longsword 2H 1.86 DPR
- Everburn on Barb during Rage 5.3 DPR
- Everburn on Lae’zel 5 DPR
- Everburn on other melee 4.5 DPR
A surprisingly good class for this fight is a Ranger. The reason for this is because of the utility they can provide with their kit in addition to their 1.875 ranged DPR. If you select Beastmaster you can summon a raven familiar which will deal .35 DPR (bringing the combined DPR up to 2.225) and blind Commander Zhalk on 1/3 rounds (35%) chance. The blind will not only increase the survival of the mind flayer but also, depending on initiative order, greatly increase the DPR of your entire party by giving them advantage on attacks. Additionally, you can select Keeper of the Veil to gain the Protection from Evil and Good spell. They can provide this in place of Shadowheart, and you can then cast bless with Shadowheart on Lae’zel, your ranger, and the mind flayer for even more DPR OR cast Shield of Faith on the mind flayer to give it more survivability (depends on goals).
Wizard, Cleric, and Warlock also make excellent choices due to their helpful spells and decent DPR. Note that unfortunately I’m not sure if it’s possible for a nature domain cleric to acquire a club or a quarterstaff before this encounter in order to take advantage of shillelagh.
*Note that when your party members have no enemies in between their initiative order you may choose who goes 1st. You will always want the raven to go 1st so that you can maximize being able to attack with advantage.
*Note 2: the blind will have no benefit to the mind flayer’s survival if you select both of the options I recommend since Commander Zhalk will already have disadvantage to attack creatures buffed by protection vs evil and good. You will still benefit from the advantage on attacks though.
Maximized Loot and XP
Challenge and Considerations
The cambions offer comparable if not better loot than Commander Zhalk although it’s not unique. They will each give 300+ GP each and multiple rare consumables. 1 of the best items I’ve received from them was a Very Rare Arrow of Dragon Slaying. Very Rare is purple colored magic item and is the rarity just below legendary. I’ve also found elixirs, arrows, scrolls, and potions. In addition to the loot they also give 75 xp each.
That having been said I would say that the cambions offer a greater degree of challenge than Commander Zhalk. For 1 Commander Zhalk only attacks the mind flayer and when the cambion’s arrive the mind flayer will either be dead or actually attacking your party most likely. For 2 the cambions arrive with 5-7 turns left before the ship crashes meaning that you have to be quick about dispatching them.
The ideal out come of this encounter (with the goal of maximizing loot and xp) is to Kill Commander Zhalk 1st and then kill the 2 cambion’s and mind flayer in any order. If the mind flayer dies before Zhalk you will not get XP for it.
Interestingly I think it’s actually easier to kill the cambions on Balanced difficulty than explorer difficulty. This is for a couple of reasons. The cambions come 1 round earlier, giving you an additional round to kill them. Commander Zhalk and the mind flayer have fewer HP which makes it difficult to keep them alive until the cambions arrive. In practice this means that you need to kill Zhalk, kill the mind flayer and then fight both cambions who are essentially at full health.
My general strategy for maximizing loot and xp is to make the mind flayer as tanky as humanly possible in order to get the additional DPR it provides for Zhalk and the cambions as well as keeping the cambions distracted and consuming their combat actions. The goal is to kill commander zhalk on the round that the cambions are coming into melee range with the mind flayer. Additionally, you want to kill commander zhalk without the benefit of the nautiloid tanks as you really need to save those for the cambions.
For the reasons mentioned above I recommend attempting this on balanced difficulty. I like to give the mind flayer Protection from Evil and Good and Armor of Faith and also disarm commander Zhalk thus ensuring that the mind flayer is not only alive but also still pretty healthy and tanky when the cambions arrive. I also like to save all of my other cooldowns, such as weapon attacks that cooldown after a short rest, for the cambions. Partially because killing Zhalk too early is also a problem in that the mind flayer will attack you if the cambions aren’t there attacking it.
If you’re trying to collect the loot around the room and clear the other additional enemies then I recommend doing it during the Zhalk portion of the fight so you can really focus fire down the cambions when they arrive.
The biggest challenge in the Cambion phase of the battle is keeping the mind flayer and the cambions focused on each other and not on your party members. A great way I’ve found to do this is hold left shift key and keep your characters out of the red sight areas that the enemies have. You can shoot at them over the stair case railings and keep out of sight forcing them to fight each other.
I just finished this on balanced difficulty with a rogue as part of my Jack of All Trades play through. It was definitely a lot harder with the rogue than the ranger but still doable.
I also recommend building your main character specifically for this fight. The reason I say that is because you’re going to get over 600 gold from the cambions plus hundreds more gold worth of loot and it only costs 100 gold and clearing a dungeon near the beach to respec your character. However, it is not worth choosing your race for this fight as you will not be able to change that when you respec. So make sure to choose the race/class that you want for your build.
- Cleric with spells similar to Shadowheart and Sacred Flame
- Ranger with Beast Master and Keeper of the Veil
- Warlock with eldritch blast and Protection from Evil and Good
- Wizard with find familiar, Protection from Evil and Good, Bone Chill, Mage Hand, and Mage Armor, freeing up the cleric to cast bless and command.
How many endings are there in Baldur’s Gate 3?
According to YouTuber FextraLife (thanks GamesRadar), one of the game’s key writers, Chrystal Ding, said that she worked on Baldur’s Gate 3’s conclusion for six months and that there are 17,000 possible ending variations for players to experience.
Is Baldur’s Gate 3 better than Divinity 2?
Baldur’s Gate 3 surpasses Divinity Original Sin 2 with a new environment, dice-based skill checks, and class-based combat mechanics. Although some people might favor the latter’s treatment of the environment and classless individuals, these new limitations encourage even greater inventiveness in both discourse and fighting.
Can you romance in Baldur’s Gate 3?
There are therefore no limitations on characters getting some affection, such as a reptile Dragonborn or a dwarf with a small stature. Mass Effect and Dragon Age by BioWare (the developer did create the first two Baldur’s Gate games, after all) are the games that people will most frequently compare to Baldur’s Gate.
Is Baldur’s Gate 3 good solo?
Although Baldur’s Gate 3 does enable multiplayer, the single-player adventure is where the game really excels. Playing alone is the greatest way to explore the dynamic game world, companion NPCs, and deep storylines.
What happens if your character dies in Baldur’s Gate 3?
A character can be brought back in a variety of ways! The end is not death in Baldur’s Gate 3. Given that, y’know, they’re dead, you have a few choices for bringing back deceased characters, all of which are quite easy. A character is knocked down when their hitpoints are 0.
What is the max character level in Baldur’s Gate 3?
What’s the max level in Baldur’s Gate 3? Players can currently “reach Level 12,” according to the Baldur’s Gate 3 developers, although this may very well increase in the future.