Guide to Basics (How to Start)
Introducing You to AtO
After installing the game and clicking "Play" you will be taken to the new game screen. From here you will be taken to the team selection and choose your party members. For your first run you are restricted to the four starting characters which each fill a role on the team. These roles are;
Typically your tanker front liner who has the ability to generate block. They can also fill the role of damage dealer through stacking bleed stacks or lowering enemy resistances with debuffs so higher damage can be dealt and have a number of healing options which can also support the party.
Typically your poison stacking, stealthy assassination damage output gods, they also have an unusual song build that works on the stanza mechanic which can be a utility god. They can also fill in the tank role with access to a number of block cards as well as evasion and also have access to a number of of healing options which can also support the party.
Typically straight up damage dealers who have access to fire, cold, lightening, dark, mind, as their main forms of damage. They can also fill a utility role with a number of cards designed for energy generation across your team and have options to a few healing cards. The builds vary wildly for mages to be honest.
Typically your support characters who are slow so they go last and heal up any damage the enemy may have caused to your team. They can fill the damage role quite easily and some can be quite tanky. This class is my personal favourite as a healer is required outside of the infinity builds that will hopefully be addressed in due course.
Their are currently 10 characters available in the early access of the game that fall into these roles, the other 6 (outside the starting 4) are found during your play throughs and each have a specific quest that they would like your help with in order to join you and be unlocked for future playthroughs.
The team selection also gives you the option to view your characters stats and traits and starting deck by clicking on the scroll icon next to any character portrait and gives you access to the perk system by clicking on the purple star icon next to any character portrait.
So what are traits and perks?
Traits are the in game reward for earning experience points and levelling up. For each level up the player has the option to choose one of two options that tend to increase that specific characters power spike considerable and can influence your deck build. Some traits are better than others and some fit your builds better than others, trail and error is expected here to find the best upgrade path for you.
Perks on the other hand are gained after your finish a run and contribute to your next run, their are 36 perk points in total so the entire table is unlockable at max level, you can reset the table at any point so redistribute your perks at any point if you want to change your build up whilst you are levelling and again some perks are better than others but they all contribute. Perks fall into a number of categories providing you bonuses to health, speed, damage, gold, energy, resistances and charges (+1 to a charge for example means if you use a card that has a debuff effect such a burn that you will apply 1 extra burn stack with that card).
Your map is determined by the the "seed" of the map at the bottom of this screen, different seeds have different quests and some have different map nodes, their are 171 map nodes currently in the game so it will take multiple play throughs to see everything the game has to offer. The map legend is accessible at the bottom of the screen and you will see various different books on the map that range in colour from grey to blue to purple which indicate different quest events. Fights are fixed on this adventure mode of the game so once you have experienced a fight you will see it from the map screen and be able to plan ahead with your strategies on future playthroughs, the map also contains unseen corruptions that impact the fights by giving enemies some kind of boost to their stats/cards, the corruptions range in difficulty indicated by their colour and you are expected to think before you take on a corruption as they add difficulty to a fight that you may not be able to handle, these change from map to map as well so the same corruptions will rarely be seen on the same nodes. Corruptions are as follows;
Introducing You to the First Town
If it is your first game you'll be greeted by the tutorial which will quickly introduce you to some of AtO's mechanics and create your starting team for you through some story telling. The first and only place you can visit is the town. The town screen contains a number of useful locations that you will grow accustomed to after a couple of playthroughs. You have access to the following locations;
Here is where you can craft any cards you have unlocked during your playthroughs and add them to your deck and where you will spend the first 15 minutes of every game once you have the games mechanics better and have the resources to start crafting your own decks (dont worry it doesnt take long). Crafting cards costs shards and they vary in price depending on rarity.
Here is where you can remove any cards from your deck. It is free in the first town but comes at a price in the second and third town.
Here is where you can upgrade your cards. Every card in the game has a white basic version and can be upgraded into a yellow or blue card. The cost is exactly the same but carefully read the keywords on the cards until you know what you are looking for, some cards change cost and make themselves slightly weaker whilst allowing you to pick its target and others make the card stronger whilst limiting it to front monster or something along those lines (we'll hit mechanics later on anyway).
Here is where you pay for divinations to be done, these basically summon 3 cards for each character which you can choose one of or you can choose to receive shards if you dont like your options. These can be extremely powerful when you unlock stronger divinations that can summon epic cards giving you a stronger starting deck. Divinations cost gold but it is advisable that you spend that gold especially during your first few runs purely to unlock as many cards as possible to give you a wider pool of cards to craft earlier on. Their are 3 types available in the starting town which increase in cost due to the increase in rarity of the cards they can summon.
Here is where you buy items for your characters, they are split into 4 types which are weapons, armour, accessory and potion which you will unlock by seeing them in your shop screen and during your playthroughs in merchant shops and after finishing certain battles. You can reroll the items at a cost but I think it is better to spend your gold on divinations before items. You will also gain access to pets through the armoury once you find them and have the option unlocked through the upgrades section.
You will also see a town upgrades section above the cart which is split into 6 categories to improve the towns features which in turn starts making your future runs, to buy an upgrade you need to find crates throughout your playthroughs which can be acquired through corruption fights and boss fights and events. The upgrades are split into the following categories;
These upgrades range from being able to craft more/better cards and making them cheaper.
These upgrades range from making removing cards cheaper after the first town and lowering the cost of curing injuries (which are bane cards in your deck).
These upgrades range from making transforming upgraded cards into their counter parts cheaper and making upgrading cards cheaper.
These upgrades range from making the cost of divinations cheaper and giving your access to stronger divination types.
These upgrades range from giving you access to rarer items in the shop and lowering the cost of items to lowering the cost of rerolling the shop to see different items.
These upgrades range from increasing the amount of resources you can carry from your last game (flat percentage increase) and unlocking other functions such as the pet tab in the armoury and a caravan node to skip the first map.
You will also see your characters portraits which you can click on to check out the information about your characters such as deck, levels and traits, equipment, stats and perks (this access is accessible through most screens).
Starting Your Playthrough
So let me start off by saying this game is intended to kick your ass the first couple of runs, your main goal in the first few runs is similar across all games in the roguelite genre, you aim to unlock as much content as possible whilst learning about the mechanics of each encounter. You are not supposed to be able to clear the game on your first attempt and you will see that pretty much all the negative reviews are "game too hard bad game", give it time and I assure you that you will laugh at yourself after a few runs.
Starting out the game you have limited knowledge about its mechanics and limited access to the more "deck making" cards to play around, your starter decks are average and intended to give you a feel for the game not stomp everything in one turn, you will learn when to attack, when to defend, buffs and debuffs, you will die until you do. The first map can be quite punishing to the starting decks so do not worry about your combat ratings on your early runs just focus on keeping your party healthy and whittling away at the enemy, focus one at a time and move on to your next node until something wrecks you.
The easiest route on map one is the northern route as long as you dont visit the bandit camp that contains a boss, This path will provide you with a rest spot so you can recover your health or remove injuries for failed event skill checks. You want to hit the following nodes;
I wont go into detail about the fights on these nodes as I dont want to spoil the experience of learning but all of these are managable for the starter decks as long as you dont take corruptions and take it steady in battle, dont try to rush and focus fire. Once you get a better understanding of the game mechanics switch up your route to tackle more difficult fights
Key Info Breakdown
Their is alot to take in and digest in this game but remember keywords are important and not paying attention will force the game to kick your ass.
Damage is broken down in multiple different types and as you can imagine so are resistances. Debuffs that inflict damage are classed as damage types but are not direct forms of damage like spells so do not benefit from bonuses damage that may be caused by another debuff (case in point spark damage and the wet debuff). As mentioned the game has alot to take in so lets break down what things are.
Affects any card with a sword icon.
Affects any card with a hammer icon.
Affects any card with a bow icon.
Affects any card with a metorite icon
Affects any card with snowflake icon
Affects any card with a spark icon
Affects any card with a brain icon
Effects any card with a holy bolt icon
Effects any card with a dark flame icon
Alongside the resistances are buffs and debuffs that have different effects that can impact the course of the battle, changing your damage and resistances whilst applying DoTs and other powerful harmful effects, they are as follows:
An effective DoT that deals direct HP damage at the start of a characters turn. Lowers by 1 at the end of each turn.
A buff that that increases damage and healing get by 1 per stack, also increases healing received. Effective on healers to deliver massive heals across the team. Lowers by 1 at the end of each turn.
Comes into effect on the turn it is play and disappears when the round is over. It stops incoming damage for the size of the stack, any left over damage goes to HP.
A buff that prevents one harmful debuff per stack from activating on you.
A debuff that has 2 effects, first it increases the damage received from fire spells every 6 stacks equals +1 damage and secondly it applies fire DoT damage at the start of a characters turn, this damage hits block before it hits HP, lowers by 1 at the end of each turn. This is passive damage is not affected by perks/traits/items outside of applying more charges to the card used.
A debuff that has 2 effects, first it increases the damage received from cold spells every 3 stacks equals +1 damage and secondly it effects characters speed, every 6 stacks reduces a characters speed by 1 which can affect turn order for the round.
A debuff that increases blunt damage by +1 per stack. Lowers by 1 at the end of each turn. Lowers by 1 at the end of each turn.
A debuff that has 2 effects, first it increases shadow damage by +1 for every 3 stacks and secondly it has a direct damage dealing effect upon reaching 24 stacks where the stacks are cleared and it deals damage to the target and then explodes to adjacent targets for just over half that amount. This becomes relatively easy to stack with the right deck. This is passive damage is not affected by perks/traits/items outside of applying more charges to the card used.
A debuff that gives -6 to speed, may affect turn order. Lowers by 1 at the end of each turn.
A debuff that reduces healing received by 50%. Lowers by 1 at the end of each turn.
A buff that avoids damage received for 1 attack, each stack equals one attack.
A buff that increases speed by 3, may affect turn order. Lowers by 1 at the end of each turn.
A debuff that makes you gain one less energy at the start of the next turn, can be a side effect of the Stanza buff. Lowers by 1 at the end of each turn.
A buff that makes block last another round. Lowers by 1 at the end of each turn.
A buff that is a double edged sword, for each stack of fury character has they increase their damage output by 3% however fury will crate bleed stacks equal to the fury stacks at the end of the turn so can quickly kill off a character if they are not managed properly. Lowers by 1 at the end of each turn.
A buff that increases speed by 6, may affect turn order. Lowers by 1 at the end of each turn.
A debuff that affects the player more than the AI. It has 2 effects, the first is an increase to Mind damage received for every 3 stacks the second only affects the player and increases the energy cost of cards by 1 for every 9 stacks. Lowers by 1 at the end of each turn.
A buff that allows a character to draw 1 extra card at the start of the next turn. Lowers by 1 at the end of each turn.
A buff that increases Fire, Cold and Lightening resistances by a flat 30%. Lowers by 1 at the end of each turn.
A debuff that increases the damage taken by 1 for each stack on the target (This does not increase the damage of other debuffs such as bleed/poison it only affects direct damage dealing cards). Lowers by 1 at the end of each turn.
A debuff that deals direct HP damage at the end of a characters turn. Lowers by 1 at the end of each turn.
A buff that increases damage and healing dealth by 5% per stack. Lowers by 1 at the end of each turn.
A buff that increases slashing, blunt and piercing resistance by a flat 30%. Lowers by 1 at the end of each turn.
A debuff that recovers the attackers HP by 1 per stack and lowers by 1 for each attack received and by 1 at the end of the turn. A different type of healing that usual as your healers much more aggressively.
A buff that increases slashing and piercing damage by 1 per charge. Lowers by 1 at the end of each turn.
Comes into effective in the next round of combat by creating block that is equivalent to the stack size of the shield from the previous round.
Reveals enemy cards 1 per stack, allows you to plan ahead and also adapts into some very fun builds.
A debuff that reduces speed by 3, may affect turn order. Lowers by 1 at the end of each turn.
A debuff that has 2 effects, first it increases lightening damage by +1 per every 3 stacks and secondly it applies lightening damage to adjacent targets with damage equalling total stacks. This is passive damage is not affected by perks/traits/items/other debuffs such as wet do not apply its bonus to this debuffs damage outside of applying more charges to the card used.
A buff that has 3 stages, each stage allows you to play different cards and provide a character with +1 to mind and piercing damage per level of stanza, the level increases each turn up to Stanza 3, after level 3 you will be hit with the Fatigue and Stress debuffs which lower your energy and card draw for the next turn.
A buff that has 2 effects, first it increases damage and healing dealt by 20% per stack and secondly it makes the character untargettable until broken. Stealth effects do not stack often as almost all cards break stealth on play.
A debuff that makes a character draw 1 less card next round.
A buff that makes all enemies target the taunter. 1 stack provides taunt until the characters next turn, be careful that your armour doesnt drop half way through the enemies attacks becuase the round ended.
A buff that deals 1 piercing damage per stack to an attacker, attacks lower thorns by 1 and they lower by 1 at the end of the turn. The damage they deal is prevent by block.
A debuff that lowers all resistances by 10%. Lowers by 1 at the end of each turn.
A debuff that lowers damage and healing dealt by 50%. Lowers by 1 at the end of each turn.
A debuff that has a couple of effects, first it increases lightening damage (direct damage dealing spells not other debuffs like sparks) by 1 per charge, secondly it completely removes all burn from a target whilst also preventing any future burns, 1 stack per burn. Lowers by 1 at the end of each turn.
Card Info Breakdown
Cards also contain keywords that affect how they can played and even how often they can played. Keywords to look out for.
Affects all of the players team.
Affects all of the AI team.
Using this card will put X effects on the target.
Only targets the enemy at back of the team.
Bounces to the target next to them, lowers damage and healing by 50% per bounce though.
Remove a card from your hand.
The opposite to reveal, instead of showing you cards from your deck to choose from discover anything will create cards out of thin air for you to choose from to add to your deck for that fight.
Remove certain debuff or amount of debuffs, this removes the first applied debuffs so will feel random if you are not keeping track.
Gives extra card draw for playing this card.
Only targets the enemy at the front of the enemy team.
Exactly the same as grant, both provide something for playing the card.
Affects both player team and AI team.
Exactly the same as gain, both provide something for playing the card.
Select a character on your team of choice.
Bounces to adjacent enemies, jump increases the damage or healing of the card played by a set percentage usually stated on the card per bounce.
Removes beneficial stacks from the target (buffs), always remove entire stacks corresponding to the purge amount. Purge 3 = 3 stacks.
Select a character on the AI team of your choice.
Randomly picks a character on your team.
Randomly picks a character on the AI team.
Causes the effect of the card to go off multiple times on the target.
The opposite to discover, this will show you card from your deck only.
Certain cards cannot be played without reaching certain requirements, these are usually stealth and the various levels of stanza.
Only affects the character playing the card.
Shares your X with other party members, this effectively halves one targets stacks and gives them to another character, so sharing 50 armour would remove 25 to give to another character.
Receive negative effects from the card, be that damage or debuffs.
On turn this card will summon another unit to the field if their is space.
The card will disappear after use.
Early Game Deckbuilding
After a few attempts you'll start to accumulate resources that carry over from your last run (You can store up to 3 games worth of treasures at present) so you have the ability to start crafting a few cards to improve the starting decks with any cards you've seen during your playthroughs and divination unlocks.
The basics to deck building are to have an idea in mind and build the cards that contribute to that idea so focus on the easier early decks to make, a warrior who delivers bleed damage, a scout who delivers poison damage, a mage who delivers fire damage and a healer who focuses on either blessing or sanctify. You will very quickly realise that at present to clear the normal game you dont even need defence cards (I personally only run 1 or 2 barricades for defence on NG+).
As with all roguelite titles the starter decks are not designed for an optimum playthrough and have a number of clutter cards costing 0 or 1 such as.
Intercept, Fast Strike, Defend
Their are 10 cards you can look at replacing for other card draw cards such as Heavy Strike and War Paint or for other bleed effect cards like Sever Artery or Rampage or Butchering or Carnage or heal effects like First Aid and Blood Feeding (I like to build magnus as a melee attacker, defence isnt really needed in the base game so you can remove everything except barricade and still finish all fights with full health, bleed cards are pretty easy to find as their are a number of them and he starts off with barricade and great energy generation so pretty easy to get up and running early on).
Slice, Aimed Shot, Rupture
Their are 10 cards you can look at replacing for other card draw cards such as Sprint and Vigilance or other poison effect cards like Toxic Rain or Viper Strike or Poisonous Shot or Poisoned Daggers or stealth cards like Camouflage and Sneaky Strike. (I like to build Andrin as a poison debuffer, constantly adding to his poison with block from deflect, loads of card draw and utility managing other decks, a basic poison build is pretty easy to achieve as you start off with everything you need outside of poison cards which their are loads of so start unlocking them immediately).
Fireblast, Frostbolt, Charged Battery, Elemental Ward
Their are 11 cards you can look at replacing with energy regeneration cards such as Tome of Intellect or Equivalent Exchange or fire spells like Flare or Ember Rain or Searing Touch or Scorching Ray or healing cards like Cauterize. (I always advise keeping one charged battery as it provides energy generation. I like to build Evelyn as a frost mage however a basic fire build is easily obtain because their are alot of fire cards and fire should help you easily clear the first boss).
Heal, Barrier, Flash Foresight, Flash Heal
Their are 13 cards to can look at replacing for other with other card draw cards such Dawnlight and Dilute or better healing spells like Benediction or Panacea or Binding Heal or Vitalize or more damaging spells like Holy Smite or Holy Storm or dispel type spells like Mass Dispel and Dispel (I like to build Reginald as a blessing stacker on himself so he ends up delivering massive heals and damage, probably the easiest build to obtain as a new player as it is quite cheap excluding Mass Dispel).
Aim for decks to be between 15 and 20 cards in total size so you arent endlessly cycling your hands to find the cards your deck is built around, smaller deck sizes will also help you decide easier if you can pass a skill check. These basic decks are enough to clear the game quite easily.
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