There are two ways to go about race selection: Picking a strategy in advance, or keeping open to whatever the dungeon presents. The most broadly useful races could be considered Halfling and Gnome when playing challenge dungeons. This is because you are virtually guaranteed to use BURNDAYRAZ to kill one boss, and melee attacks to kill the other (see Boss Battling).
One strategy that can be effective is to play the game as if there were 3 distinct phases to it: Scouting, Preparation, and Boss Battling
- Scouting: Levels 1 to 3. It's not possible (with the exception of the Factory) to kill monsters of significantly higher level at this stage, but it can be useful to do some quick scouting around the dungeon and find what Gods and Runes are available, as well as what Boss spawned (if playing Normal or Ranked modes).
- Preparation: Levels 3 to 7. It's possible to kill monsters of significantly higher level during this phase, to generate more exp (level-up steamroll and experience catapult). The goal is to generate enough bonus experience to be able to reach levels 9 or 10.
- Boss Battling: Levels 7 to 10. At this point, dungeon exploration likely stops (unless you're using a poison glyph against a boss), and the battle begins. It can be useful at this point to be 1 experience from the next level, allowing the player to use the level-up steamroll to instantly heal to full health and mana, possibly even multiple times during the fight.
God selection is risky business. Nothing is worse than picking a god only to discover that the selection is going to prevent you from winning. On the other hand, getting a god early usually means more piety and access to better boons. Whether or not you should grab a god as soon as you see them is a factor of your race, class, level, items, glyphs and the state of the dungeon. Here are some general rules for each:
- Binlor Ironshield: Hardiness is excellent, his other boons are situational at best. Not a bad choice for a warrior type, though generally inferior to Glowing Guardian and Taurog, plus Jehora Jeheyu if you don't need to rely on first strike. He is somewhat friendlier towards warriors who need to cast spells on occasion than Taurog, as the piety hit for using glyphs is minor. Not worth taking as soon as you see his altar, wait until you've acquired some gold and determined that there aren't better gods around. After you take him you should be able to generate a ton of piety eating walls.
- Dracul: Usually a great pick for spellcaster and thief classes. High HP warriors (dwarves, particularly) can afford the HP hits and benefit from every boon. Don't pick until you know two things: that there aren't many undead, and that the end boss isn't a heavy hitter. In the former case, picking Dracul could be literal suicide, in the latter it's very possible you'll never get to the point that you can survive a single hit from the boss.
- The Earthmother: Very sketchy deity. IMAWAL is a waste of mana and XP and can easily make the game unwinnable. If you are playing a balanced character (relying on normal attacks and magic), it is possible to carefully kill exactly ten monsters that are out in the open, IMAWAL two others, and then use Plantation and Stoneform to get a whopping bonus for the rest of the game (while crossing your fingers there aren't many goats/snakes on the map), but most of the time you are better off picking a more flexible god.
- Glowing Guardian: Excellent deity for every class except Bloodmage and Assassin. Always time your worship so the full heal upon joining is put to good use. Pretty difficult to generate the 100 piety to get the whopping health bonus from Absolution, but even if the worship just leads to two full heals or a full heal and a CYDSTEPP it can be well worth it. Particularly good for a Warlord as they can often generate enough piety with their own CYDSTEPP to achieve Absolution, which is an especially great boon for that class.
- Jehora Jeheyu: Great for tanks, either fighter or priest type. Avoid like the plague with Rogues, Blood Mages, or anyone else who has acquired useful resistances or first strike. Polymorph is usually not going to help much and Bolstering is iffy (though nice for Halflings), but Madness and Retaliation are both great and Chaos is a hail mary that can often steal a victory over the last boss from an otherwise hopeless situation. The earlier you pick JJ the better.
- Mysteria Annur: No other deity is as likely to ruin your game as MA. Absolutely, positively never pick her with any class but a heavy spellcaster elf (or, rarely, gnome), and not until you have BURNDAYRAZ. It's also good to convert most of the glyphs you find, saving only BURNDAYRAZ and BLUDTUPOWA (and HALPMEH/CYDSTEPP if you have Mana Shield), before joining. Even when conditions are optimal, though, the nerfing of your melee attack will often cost you the game. Be incredibly careful with your mana as you don't have your melee attack to fall back on. MA is particularly good if you have Mana Shield, as you can use it to weaken or kill enemies without penalty. If you can safely pick MA early it is well worth getting Faith, and you will often be able to afford Weakening if you need it (magic resistant boss, lots of golems, etc). Otherwise just start with Magic then work towards Flames.
- The Pactmaker: The only deity that is always a good pick. If you find Pactmaker, especially if you find him early, take him. It is ideal to wait to worship him until you have revealed at least 50 tiles at level one or 250 tiles at level two. (Note that exploring 250 tile may offset the benefit of Learning by making it difficult to heal by exploring.) His bonuses aren't anything earth-shattering, but Experience gives you a source of emergency healing if you go into fights with <= 10 xp to the next level, while Health and Mana are both solid boons for most characters.
- Taurog: Amazing deity for fighters, berserkers and half-dragons and often great for priests, vampires and rogues. If you can forego magic except for dire emergencies, he's all upside. Penetration is a life saver for levels with lots of wraiths and goos, Mageshield is fantastic if there are lots of magic-users, Fury and Command are solid, and Rage is incredible. Particularly on magic-heavy levels it's easy to generate massive piety.
- Tikki Tooki: Almost as risky as Mysteria Annur and equally situational. He's a natural fit for Rogues and Assassins, but his better boons are somewhat wasted on them (note that his Dodge boon does stack with other dodge abilities). Best with characters that can kill or weaken enemies heavily with BURNDAYRAZ then finish them cleanly with GETINDARE and BYSSEPS, so while somewhat counter-intuitive he often makes a better deity for Elf spellcasters than MA. Never take unless you can be sure to immediately build up a nice piety pool. If you hit zero piety all enemies gain First Strike and your game is probably over.
The preparation phase for the boss battles is highly significant, as it requires maximizing exp gain, minimizing resource usage, and choosing an appropriate strategy. It's worthwhile to note that while dungeon exploration is itself technically a limited resource, it is often desirable or even necessary to exhaust all dungeon exploration during this phase to maximize exp gain, unless intending to use a APHEELSIK glyph to defeat the boss(es). In challenge dungeons, where there are two bosses, it can be helpful to try to leave a corridor, corner, or area unexplored to allow for regeneration between boss battles.
When reaching level 6 to 7, it's often beneficial to have explored most if not all of the dungeon, and begin creating an "exp farm." By weakening several lower level monsters to within a single hit from death, they can be finished later to gain exp for further level steamrolling. Note, it is less useful or even dangerous to leave creatures with the First Strike ability weakened as a part of an exp farm, as they will deal still deal damage to you when you come back to finish them off.
Leveling as a "regeneration" point is often under-used by less experienced players. Leveling up is similar in effect to exploring 13 (or more if you have an increased max mana) tiles of dungeon, but without allowing enemy monsters to regenerate.
(Will add more later)
These values are with no damage powerups, and often times the disparities can be bridged with glyphs / race / class / deity bonuses, or by fighting monsters with less than the standard 100% health for their level (Gorgons, imps, wraiths, ...). The three most basic combos are the two-one, the two-two and the four-one. Some race/class/deity setups are capable of doing far more advanced combos, but these are the basic underlying methods available to all.
As a note, monsters with lower starting health can often be killed at even lower levels than the charts suggest. The example of a level 8 gorgon falling to a level 4-5 four-one attack comes to mind.
The "two-one" attack: Two fireballs, followed up by a melee blow. Damage dealt is calculated by (4 x 2 x player level) for the fireball damage, and (5 x player level) for melee damage. This technique is most effective early-game.
|Player Level||Damage Dealt||Monster Level||Monster Health (100%)|
As the chart shows, at most early levels it's possible to kill monsters of one higher level with a simple two-one attack. An early item such as a Fine Sword can make this tactic effective well into level 5.
The "two-two" attack: This technique is similar to the one-two attack, but requires First Strike, CYDSTEPP, healing, or enough health to survive two attacks from the monster. When successful, however, it allows for easily killing monsters two levels higher. This technique is most effective mid-game, although coupled with a level-up, it can be chained into a four-two or even a four-four attack for slaying extremely high level monsters.
|Player Level||Damage Dealt||Monster Level||Monster Health (100%)|
The "four-one" attack: By leveling up mid-combat, the player can use 4 fireballs in a single battle against a monster (even 6 or 8, through gear / deity / race / class / etc.). This technique is highly effective, but often harder to use.
|Player Level (start/end)||Damage Dealt||Monster Level||Monster Health (100%)|
The ideal position to be in when starting a boss battle is at Level 7 with 34 / 35 experience, with proper runes, and all health / mana potions remaining, and an exp farm containing 96 experience worth of monsters (enough for level 10). The first phase of the boss battle involves the player, using all available health and mana points (but not potions) against the boss before killing weakened monsters to gain a level. This phase ends when the player no longer has enough weakened non-boss creatures to gain another level, or has reached level 10.
Phase two of the boss battle involves the player using other available resources (health & mana potions, etc.) to defeat the boss.
In dungeons with two bosses, it can often be effective to kill the "hard hitting" boss with magic attacks during phase one, as they usually have lower max health. This allows the player to save as many health and mana potions as possible for the "tank" boss, who generally doesn't retaliate as powerfully.
Most challenge dungeons have 2 bosses: one hard hitter, one tank. An effective strategy can be to kill the hard hitter with fireballs while using an exp farm to advance from 7 to 10, then fighting the tank with your remaining resources.
- Normal / Ranked => Strategy depends on the boss.
- Snake Pit => Hitter: Gorgon, Tank: Serpent
- Library => Hitter: Warlock, Tank: Dragon
- Crypt => Hitter: Wraith, Tank: Zombie
- Factory => This is the exception. Physical damage works better on both, and life drain is often the easiest 100% success.
- Level one: Because of playing as an Elven Rogue, level one of the campaign allows for strategies that include two-two, four-two, and even six-two (six fireballs, two melee) attack styles. Coupled with the types of monsters present in this level (Goats and Gorgons are both highly susceptible to two-two and two-one combos), making this level easier than most challenge and ranked dungeons. Pick up any items along the way that allow for increased max mana, or mana potions, but keep spending to a minimum as you'll need your gold later if you intend to beat the entire campaign. Collecting a CYDSTEPP glyph makes this level an almost guaranteed victory (it's very useful against the boss).
- Level two: With a similar mix of creatures in this level, the Elven Wizard is actually best served in most situations through extensive use of physical combat glyphs, such as BYSSEPS, GETINDARE, CYDSTEPP, and HALPMEH. HALPMEH becomes especially mana efficient, healing 3 points of health per level at the cost of 2 mana points. The boss is a Tank boss (low damage, high health) with some magic resist, so picking up life drain (Vampiric sword or worshiping Dracul), or making good use of an exp farm and physical combat glyphs are often the safest way to win.
- Level three: The Elven Berserker combination is also highly effective at killing higher-level creatures to level-up steam roll and build an extensive exp farm. If the (CYDSTEPP) glyph is available, defeat the boss by chaining death protection and physical attacks. If not, chaining fireballs followed by a one-off death protection (Zombie Dog, Badge of courage) physical attack can be enough, or even just chain casting fireballs can be enough if the right shops are present (Keg o' magic or Orb of Zot).