There are two ways to go about race selection: Picking a strategy in advance, or keeping open to whatever the dungeon presents. You should probably pick your race considering the boss, but Halflings and Gnomes are almost always helpful.
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 rarely possible 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 in a random boss dungeon). You can significantly speed this up if you Scout: Altar.
- Preparation: Levels 3 to 7. It's possible to kill monsters of significantly higher level during this phase, to generate more exp by using the level-up steamroll and the 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 or can out regen them), and the battle begins. It can be useful at this point to be almost at 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.
There are several different approaches to character builds which generally fall into one of the following categories:
Focusing heavily on attack damage and one-time buffs, Strikers are characters that attempt to end their fights quickly with a few powerful physical attacks. Strikers only use spellcasting to supplement their damage, primarily relying on physical attacks. Character classes such as the Warlord, Rogue, and Crusader make strong strikers. Strikers tend to only want enough health and resistances to survive a single attack from enemies, and put no further effort into defenses, instead focusing on offense so they only need to survive that one attack. Temporary buffs that only last for one attack are very useful to striker builds, since their battles end shortly afterwards and they can then explore to recharge their mana and re-cast their buffs. Strikers benefit enormously from any item that increases their attack damage, and greatly enjoy the CYDSTEPP, ENDISWAL, and GETINDARE glyphs which allow them to tack on a few extra attacks with little additional effort. These characters prefer to fight low-health monsters such as Goats, Gorgons, and Warlocks.
The sister build of the Striker, the Brawler attempts to balance offense and defense to outlast opponents by sheer attrition. While they do not focus on ending battles quickly like the striker, attack damage is still the most important aspect for a brawler character. Permanent resistances are very useful to the Brawler, making deities that offer boons to that effect very valuable. Classes such as the Berserker, Monk, and Paladin make superb brawlers. Brawlers make exceptional poison fighters with the APHEELSIK glyph, and can often make great use of HALPMEH and BYSSEPS. Glyphs that deal damage directly are poor choices for brawlers, which need to use more mana-efficient options to win battles of attrition. Brawlers prefer to fight low-damage monsters such as Meatmen or Golems, but are heavily penalized for fighting monsters with debuffs such as bandits.
In some cases, the line between Brawler and Striker may become blurred. Since both builds prioritize attack damage foremost, opportunity and necessity may cause strikers to play like brawlers and brawlers to play like strikers. This overlap means you can often enter the dungeon with preparations that would suit either a brawler or striker and then develop on the build that makes most sense based on the boss and the deities, items, and glyphs available to you.
Specializing in either the PISORF or BURNDAYRAZ glyph, a dedicated caster eschews the normal focus on attack damage, instead diverting attention to max mana or other unconventional advantages. The caster will primarily rely on glyphs for damage, and survivability is largely a non-issue. This make utility glyphs that help your combat performance largely worthless, but makes the BLUDTUPOWA glyph invaluable. The Crystal Ball item is by far the best selection for a caster, although you'll need to save a decent sum of gold to abuse it. Casters can deal massive amounts of damage without ever taking retaliation from monsters, enabling them to casually ignore debuffs and massive damage that an enemy might otherwise have. The largest downside casters face is that they have trouble killing weaker monsters when performing level-up catapults, since their total focus on magic means their attack damage is going to be very low and they will either have to use mana or health resources to defeat weaker monsters that should be push-overs. This makes the swift hands class feature of the Assassin very useful for caster characters. Other strong caster classes are the Wizard and Bloodmage.
Casters should almost always play as an Elf, Gnome, or Orc. Elves and Gnomes grant additional spellcasting power, while the Orc's bonus to base attack greatly increases the damage he deals with PISORF. Orc Caster builds are very uncommon since there is no way to ensure PISORF or Binlor (without prepping him) will appear in the dungeon, and your entire character setup depends on that.
These characters, for whatever reason, do not have any particular attributes that make them well suited to one specific approach. Instead, they present a well-rounded character that alters his approach for different monsters and situations. Hybrids lack the specialization of other builds, and as a result are much weaker overall and will need to leverage their versatility to use their resources more efficiently. They also tend to suffer because they will want to keep a wider variety of glyphs, and will not gain benefits from having converted them until later in the dungeon. Classes such as the Fighter, Thief, and Sorcerer have the kind of versatility that makes for a good hybrid. Obviously your deity choice would be entirely based on your scenario.
Races that are back-loaded (that is to say, you benefit most by converting items and glyphs late), such as the Halfling, Gnome, and Goblin make for excellent hybrids. The Human and Elf are also sufficiently diverse to offer a strong option for hybrids.
God selection is essential to victory. 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: Binlor works as a source of magic resistance and resistance reduction, and is an okay source of piety. He grants a free PISORF on worship, which may be tricky to get piety with. You can get ENDISWAL for 35 piety, so it may be a good idea to prep Magnet:Defend if you plan on worshiping him. If you have the BLUDTUPOWA glyph then you can accumulate piety with Binlor faster than with any other deity. Constantly requesting Stone Skin and Stone Heart will allow you to rack up a great amount of magic resistance. Binlor is also a good desecration target, as long as you don't have any resistances. One downside to Binlor is that if the boss has high resistance, it's important you find the boss as soon as possible, as Stone Heart works on visible enemies only.
- Dracul: Dracul is a good selection for most melee classes, due to how much health he can bring to the table. By conserving blood pools and exploiting his Blood Tithe boon, you can get the equivalent of a dozen Health Potions, even more if you're a Bloodmage. Unfortunately, he HATES all holy magic (HALPMEH and CYDSTEPP) so if you rely on these he is not a good choice. The other reason he's useful is for if Blood Shield boon, which stacks extremely well with the Dragon Shield, but has a high piety cost. His Blood Hunger boon works well for striker builds, since you can overheal using life steal.
- The Earthmother: A somewhat useful deity by herself, but a great source of piety. The exp bonus from IMAWAL can work to your advantage, and you gain piety from it! Her Plantation boon allows you to get 100 Piety extremely easily, which can be used to convert to another deity. She also works well with The Pactmaker. As for her other boons, they provide decent leverage early game, but tends to fall off late game. Vine Form is a cheap source of HP at early levels. Clearance provides a cheap source of mana for the first few requests. Greenblood is a weak boon, but it's usable if you desperately need to get rid of curse. Entanglement can be used for cleaning up, since killing slowed enemies gives you an extra experience point. The Earthmother's also an easy desecration target, since a single Burn Salve negates her punishment.
- Glowing Guardian: A powerful deity for every class except Bloodmage and Assassin, or Tri-Sword/Alchemist's Scroll builds. Worship him as early as possible to get the most piety out of him. Absolution is deceptively powerful, allowing gain a ton of max HP, although it costs 1/5 of an item slot and some potential XP. Enlightenment can be used to your advantage, providing a nice bonus to everything, plus a complete curse wipe. Unfortunately he hates potions, and converting in and out of him isn't a great option.
- Jehora Jeheyu: A very strange god. His boons can be very powerful, but will deplete your potions so they must be used carefully. Piety gain is random; if you get lucky, he can give you inordinate amounts of piety. However, punishments are also at random! Try to get the Petition boon to end his punishments as soon as possible. He can also be desecrated easily if you time your level ups.
- Mystera Annur: Mystera works well for certain strategies. Refreshment is a powerful boon, providing roughly 5-6 Mana Potions worth of mana, so saving glyphs for mana replenishment is crucial. Mystic Balance is a strong boon that allows for 5 MP fireballs and 8 MP CYDSTEPPs, although it fares poorly with other cheaper glyphs. Flames and Weakening is an option if you desperately need magic damage. Magic basically equates to 1 almost-free MP. Don't worship her if the dungeon is full of magical monsters or mana burners, however.
- The Pactmaker: Not a real deity. The Pactmaker offers 5 pacts which decrease your piety, but give you god effects when certain things happen. If you cannot pay the piety because you have no other god, nothing happens. If you have a god, but can't pay the piety, you do not invoke the gods punishment. You can also use Consensus for instant piety gratification or for converting out of a deity. Works well with "piety farms" like The Earthmother and Taurog, as well as the Stone Sigil.
- Taurog: Taurog is a good source of piety, and benefits classes that beg for physical damage, especially the Berserker and the Monk. However, the mana penalty can be crippling and his boons will fill your inventory and prevent you from purchasing other items from shops. With Taurog, you can either worship him full-time and abuse his Unstoppable Fury boon or grab a few of his items and convert out of him before the MP penalty cripples you.
- Tikki Tooki: Good choice as a later game deity, as he enjoys you slaying lower level monsters, but a big no for tanks. His Dodging and Poison boons are useful, and Reflexes gives you two powerful potions at your disposal. Tikki's Edge can also be abused if you saved a lot of low-level monsters. The best part of Tikki Tooki is that his boons give you gold, so you can afford buying powerful items and abusing gold-consuming items like the Tri-Sword or Crystal Ball.
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 or regen tactics to defeat the boss(es). In 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.
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) although this is very hard to do,. 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.
First Strike Finisher
First strike will often allow you to kill a monster you couldn't otherwise beat. Cast it just before the final blow, and the monster gets no retaliation hit.
- Keep in mind that you still take a retaliation hit if the monster has first strike as well.
Hitting a monster with fireball before combat will often reduce the number of hits it takes to kill it. Can be used with first strike to take on otherwise dangerous foes without taking any damage.
With very few experience needed to gain the next level, you can fight a tough monster, and then when you can't fight any more, kill a low-level monster in order to level up. This will restore your health and mana without healing the tough monster. You can then go back to killing the tougher monster with full strength. It is possible to level up more than once during a single fight. This usually requires the player utilizing the "Experience Catapult" strategy first (see below) so that he has a lot of low-level monsters to kill. Nonetheless, keeping track of how many experience you can get from the available monsters is always a wise thing to do.
Battle of Attrition
If you have enough attack to do more damage in one hit than your enemy is able to regenerate in the time it takes you to regenerate the damage that he does with a single hit, you can heal between attacks and still be able to have a net effect of his health decreasing. Be careful however, that it might be very exploration consuming.
- A way to determine if you are able to damage your foe quicker that he would heal, is to compare the number of tiles you would need to recover from one of his strikes (damaged caused his attack / health you recover per explored tiles), and the number of tiles he would need to recover from one of your strikes (damaged caused by your attack / health he recovers per tile you explore). If you need less tiles than he does, you will heal quicker. Don't forget to take your spells in account !
- Even if you heal slower than the enemy does, sometimes exploring one or a few blocks mid-battle can regenerate your HP/MP for additional hit/spell so that you can deal enough damage to kill the enemy.
Attacking an enemy and then poisoning it and exploring (or using the LEMMISI glyph) allows you to take on enemies that would otherwise outlast you in a fight. If attacking with magic you can use this technique to beat a foe that would otherwise kill you with one hit.
- This technique relies on either of two abilities. You can last as long as you can survive a single hit, so if your HP or resistance are as high as possible, you will be able to outlast harder hits.
Death of a Dozen Flames
- Cast BURNDAYRAZ.
- Cast APHEELSIK.
- Explore until you have enough mana to cast both again.
- Repeat as needed.
- Cast CYDSTEPP.
- Explore until you have enough mana to cast APHEELSIK.
- Attack monster until CYDSTEPP protects you from a fatal blow.
- Cast APHEELSIK.
- Explore until you have enough mana to cast CYDSTEPP.
- Repeat as needed.
Depending upon the hero's class and which glyphs and items are available, there are different ways that a low-level character might be able to take out a quite high level character. When such an opportunity arises, it is beneficial to follow through when your hero is at the lowest possible level. The experience formula greatly rewards going after creatures above your level.
- For example, a level 1 hero killing a level 9 monster gets 81 experience, and will suddenly catapult to level 6.
- A level 2 hero killing the same level 9 monster gets "only" 65 experience, and will wind up at level 5.
If you know early on in the game that you will be worshipping Taurog, you can still get limited use from some glyphs. The effects of CYDSTEPP, BYSSEPS, and GETINDARE will persist after you convert them, and those effects activating will not anger Taurog (or Binlor, for that matter), so it can be very beneficial to pick up and activate these glyphs (especially CYDSTEPP for non-Fighters), before beginning worship, then convert them afterwards for piety and the racial effect.
If your vault is near empty, but you know where to kill the IN DEMAND trophy, take the bet on boss preparation, and you can score 1050 gold off the boss kill.
Prior to unlocking IN DEMAND trophies, Transmutation Seals can be used on boss trophies to convert them to their full gold value. Again, the "Bet on the Boss" preparation increases the cash gained.