Just finished a successful Labyrinth run.
I consider the Labyrinth to be one of the harder of the 'Hard' dungeons. While superficially similar to the Rock Garden or the Shifting Passages, it is much less forgiving. The Rock Garden regularly replaces walls with golems, which helps open up the maze and provides a pile of extra xp. The Shifting Passages starts out as a nearly open field, and offers the player a lengthy grace period before the maze starts to assemble itself. The Labyrinth doesn't do any of that, and exacerbates the closed space by having the boss chase you through the halls and blocking your routes. The narrow halls force you to accept sub-optimal battles and make regen fighting very difficult. I find that the biggest danger isn't getting blocked by a high-level monster, but rather being forced to fight lots of low-level monsters and losing lots of potential xp.
As usual, I am only going to use preparations that a first time player would be likely to have. Just as with the Shifting Passages run, I want to beat the Labyrinth on its own terms. I will not use ENDIWAL, PISORF, or WEYTWUT, and will convert those glyphs on sight. Moreover, I must kill the random sub-boss before taking on Rex, since collecting Rex's trophy is necessary to complete the game.
For this game I used an elven Warlord. The Warlord is a reliable class that can win even when forced to play badly. Choosing an elf is a dangerous but potentially powerful option. The extra mana is almost meaningless until I hit 20, whereupon the Warlord suddenly becomes one of the best burst fighters in the game. It's even better if you can hit 25, because then every mana potion gives you exactly enough to recast CYDSTEP. The danger is that if you don't get enough conversion to reach 20 (or don't do it fast enough), then your entire racial trait is basically wasted.
I started with the sensation stone, warrior's badge, shop scroll, 50 gold loan, and the health-to-attack preparations. The Sensation Stone is an expensive option, but there's no point in following this strategy unless I'm willing to go all in. The gold and extra shop are to provide even more conversion fodder. If the last patch hadn't broken the alchemist, I probably would have packed either a conversion seal or a compression seal as well.
The attack to health preparation should be a standard move when playing as a Warlord.
A very nice start. You don't always get to start out with a level 2 monster in the Labyrinth, let alone an easy one like a goat. I also found and purchased the Midas Gloves and Fine Sword. The gloves are an excellent item that quickly pay for themselves and have a large conversion bonus.
I also found Taurog, whom I absolutely don't want to worship. The mana penalties would be a disaster, and his best boons (the resistance items) aren't very meaningful when you are relying on CYDSTEP.
Terrific luck! I found yet another goat-2, as well as the ever-useful Badge of Courage.
You have to think ahead in this game. I can kill that serpent, but doing so will leave me two points shy of a level up and saddle me with poison. It's best to explore some more and hope to find a different level 3 monster first.
Much better, I can kill the zombie, and then hopefully find enough black space behind him to recover and kill the serpent.
Change of plans. That gorgon-4 is a much better target, both in terms of xp and in terms of opening new space. After taking out the gorn-4, I will level up, and should be able to take the gorgon-5 standing right next to him. That should level me up yet again, meaning that I will come out of this at level 4 and with full resources.
The plan works perfectly. After exploring, I find a mana pendant, which puts me very, very close to the 20 mana goal. There are a bunch of cheap junk items in those two shops, but I have neither the money nor the space for them yet. I need more time for the Midas Gloves to do their thing.
I also discover that the only way into the deeper maze is by going through a level 1 mook. Having no choice, I attack the gorgon.
As you can see from the bloodstains, there were a lot of low level mooks choking that hallway. Frustratingly, many of them were level 4. Fighting equal level monsters is about the most resource-intense way to gain experience in the game. Low level creatures can be one-shotted, and high level monsters replenish your resources with quick level-ups, but equal leveled monsters just wear you down and give you only marginal returns.
As you can see, I end up encountering a gorgon-6. This would normally be an easy kill, but those mooks wore me down. I could use a potion to progress, but there's a better way. If I kill that dragon-1 near the center of the screen, I'll open up some more black space and hopefully can get enough mana to beat the gorgon. The best part is that killing the dragon will leave me one point shy of a level up, meaning that I can still collect the full bonus from the gorgon.
The plan works perfectly. As I continue exploring, I find that the passage is blocked by a serpent-5. That is almost the last thing I want to fight right now. I hate being poisoned when still so far away from leveling up. I explore some more to the south hoping to find a better option, but there just aren't any. I will have to fight the serpent and use a health potion to cure the poison.
Here's another tricky situation. I need 3 more mana to beat that goblin. I could use a potion, but there's a better way. Killing that goat-1 near the bottom will open up exactly 3 new tiles and still leave me below the level up threshold.
Just beyond the goblin, I find a potion sub-dungeon. I go ahead and kill the guardian and take the potion, being careful to explore the minimum number of tiles. I'll want that extra black space later.
I also cashed in my Midas Gloves and then bought some junk from the shop. I now have 20 mana and can bulldoze any non-boss monster in the game.
A gorgon-9, and me at full resources! Terrific luck!
And now I have Rex's attention. I have enough resources to beat him here and now, but then he won't drop the nose ring. As frustrating as it is, I must endure his cat-and-mouse games until I find the other boss.
I decide to check the uppermost black space first. It turned out that the corridor was packed with monsters. I had to play lots of back-and-forth games with Rex to get this far. Along the way, I killed 2 7s and 2 8s, as found a goat-9 lurking in a corner. While it's not the boss, I'm relieved to have now accounted for most of the high level monsters on the map.
A subtle point about this screenshot. Notice how I'm attacking the goat from the left instead of from the bottom? That's because Rex always appears at right angles from you, never diagonally. By attacking from this square I guarantee that Rex can't cut me off.
This is probably the trickiest decision that the game presented to me on this run. I am almost certain that the boss is somewhere behind the gorgon. However, if kill it, there is a good chance that Rex will appear behind me. This will trap me between Rex and the other boss, while also leaving me with depleted resources. My plan is to kill enough mooks so that I am 8 points or less from leveling up. That way, killing the gorgon will top off my resources. At that point, I won't care if I get cut off from the rest of the board or not.
I really want to break my rule and grab that ENDISWAL, but like a good little boy I convert it instead. That brings me up to the magic number of 25 mana, which will be super important later.
It was a good plan, but I screwed it up. Somehow, I miscounted the xp and ended up 2 points short. There are plenty of popcorn monsters out there, but now I can't reach them. I'm forced to confront the sub-boss with much less resources than I was expecting.
It ends up being okay. With 25 mana, each blue potion translates into an extra CYDSTEP, as well as a 30% damage boost. Although the fight was very wasteful, I defeat the serpent and now can confront Rex with a fully topped off level 10 Warlord.
DIE REX DIE
And that's one way to beat the Labyrinth. This would have been much easier if I had been allowed to use the utility glyphs, but I still ended up finishing with resources to spare, even after making a colossal screw up near the end.
If you are struggling with the Labyrinth, I'd recommend following my basic strategy, but ignoring the restrictions on the utility glyphs. Try using the Magnet:Defend preparation and keep restarting until it gives you ENDISWAL. With an early ENDISWAL and a little bit of practice, anyone can beat the Labyrinth.