A few pieces of advice/explanation.
Tips and Tricks
Quick Tips and Advice
1. Choose Knight.
I completed the campaign using the Knight. This class is fairly straightforward and starts with a higher defense stat. I have not experimented with the other classes, which seem to involve more strategy as far as using the map and opening tiles in certain orders (but also probably take longer to progress).
2. Level only attack and defense.
I put zero points in either perception or agility. I first maxed out attack, then leveled defense. You can probably do a mix of both, as needed. Reason: It’s easy enough to get quick damage reduction by socketing red gems in your equipment. More on socketing later.
Perception is important for builds that need to open tiles sequentially, or want to avoid combat. It’s possible to use perception and play a more finessed role with knight, but I went with power and survivability.
It’s unclear precisely what agility does. Does it improve the window over which you can successfully block? Does it simply reduce the delay between pressing the space bar and when your shield is at max block? If it’s the former, then there’s value to it. But my impression is that it’s the latter, in which case it’s pretty useless unless you are getting killed by ambushes or find yourself defending against multiple attacks with slightly different timing. I’d skip it.
3. Respec character is available, but not worth it.
You will be able to respec your character later, after you’ve progressed far enough to unlock the academy. However, it’s fairly expensive, (level*1000 gold), so I wouldn’t count on it.
4. Rubies in other gear for damage reduction.
Socketing rubies (red gems) in your non-helmet, non-weapon equipment dramatically improves your survivability at later stages. Stick with low-level rubies early/mid-game (See section on gems).
5. Don’t worry about clearing with 3 stars – just clear the regular dungeons at least until you unlock the blacksmith.
You can do two things there: pay gold and hexagrams to unsocket gems (don’t do this), or pay gold to level pieces of gear (do this). The blacksmith bonuses are nice and fairly cheap at low levels of improvement, so it’s worth pushing. But grind out some levels if you’re struggling.
6. Don’t unsocket. Just get new gear and gems.
You can unsocket gems from equipment at the blacksmith, but it’s prohibitively expensive (costs hexagrams, which are a very, very rare drop/treasure). You’re better off buying/looting a new piece of equipment on a run and socketing it with a new gem, if that’s what you need.
So don’t socket a super-nice gem in non-end-game gear.
7. Use gold at blacksmith to level gear.
The blacksmith will improve your equipment for gold. If you’re mid-game, it might be worth a level or two. If you’re late game, then 3+ levels might be worth it, though the benefits per level remain fairly flat while the cost rises quickly.
8. Put good level Topaz in helmet.
Gold is going to be important throughout the game. Early on, you might need it to buy some gear and level some gems, as well as open portals in the dungeons. Mid-to-late game, you’ll probably be doing all those and plowing gold into leveling your gear at the blacksmith, or possibly respecing your character.
9. Pick up relic amulet from merchant before it’s too late!
The merchant’s inventory appears to be level-dependent. The merchant doesn’t sell everything available at earlier levels. Of particular note: amulets that provide bonuses to XP and relic drops go away. I would definitely pick up the relic drop one, and maybe the XP one.
The relic amulet is important because it helps you secure key relics (like the 50% bonus to max health, bonuses to attack, etc.) for the late-game and endless dungeons. You can switch with a more combat-oriented amulet (or the XP amulet, though see the section on XP bonuses) once you’ve got a good mix of relics.
10. Choose axes.
I ended up settling on axes as the best weapon type, given the crit bonus and the absence of spellcasting. The animation is a bit slower, and I suppose that adds up over tens of thousands of combat.
11. Strategy for combat: attack, block, counter. Repeat as needed.
When you attack a creature, you can counter by timing your block such that your max block happens when they retaliate. The speed of retaliation can be slow, medium, or fast, depending on the enemy. If you do that successfully, the enemy’s portrait should have a gold border, indicating that you can counterattack.
If you successfully counterattack during that window
- You deal crit damage, which is much higher than base damage.
- The enemy will not retaliate on that counterattack.
So get into the rhythm of attacking by clicking on the enemy portrait, hitting spacebar to time your block, and then clicking again on the now-glowing enemy portrait.
Note: because you will sometimes miss the timing on max block, your second attack will sometimes be an ordinary attack. So watch carefully – you might need to block again!
Note 2: It looks like there’s some wiggle room as far as “max block”. I have a max block percentage of 100%, but I think I was getting counterattack opportunities on blocks above 85%. It’s not that 85% is a magic number – all classes start at lower than that level. It’s just that it does seem that, at least at higher block percentages, there is some wiggle room.
12. Plan on reaching level 30
Skill points: By clearing levels naturally, you should reach about level 30 or so by the end of the game. (I clear floors completely – it will be lower if you do not.) So plan accordingly for both attribute points and points for your four skills. To be honest, none of the Knight skills are absolute must-haves, as you’ll be using your primary attack most of the time. I would put a few levels in stun to increase its duration, useful only for boss stages that have two bosses (stun one while you attack the other). I think leveling the mana/hp exchange bonus is potentially useful, too. I did level the passive damage to nearby enemies after successfully counterattacking first – can’t recall if it made the early/midgame easier or not. I first leveled the undead group attack skill first, but that may have been a mistake.
In retrospect, the priority should be:
- Enough levels in the stun attack to get you maybe three turns (Note that attacking a creature removes stun, so it’s really only useful in a couple circumstances).
- Fully level the mana/hp passive.
- Whatever you want.
Notes on XP
As mentioned before, you should be able to make it to about level 30 by the end of the game, which should be plenty. It gets really hard later one to level. If you look at the character sheet above, I need a total of a million XP to hit level 34. I believe I leveled to 33 somewhere around 800k. So XP per level is definitely growing exponentially if a full fifth of my total XP is involved in the previous levelup.
Because the XP required to level grows significantly with time, I don’t think the XP bonus gear is worth it. I *might* craft a set if I really want to take this knight to 40 (he is at 33 right now), but I honestly don’t want to think about how much time that would take. The gains are also pretty modest for even top-level gear, and also sacrifice a lot of armor compared with plate. The endgame boots the merchant offers has +3 agility and +20% XP gain. By contrast, the best plate boots has +3 armor and +10% spell find (that’s before socketing/bonuses from blacksmith). Gold is more useful than XP for the helmet spot.
Note: if you are going to really farm XP, you might as well pick up the bonus to XP amulet either as loot or in the store. The merchant will *stop* selling it once you reach beyond a certain level, so you should probably hang onto one in inventory if you’re really going to go that route. Endgame merchant has the boots that offer 20% bonus to XP and a golden shield so you don’t have to keep those.
Another reason why farming XP is a drag: you need your rubies for damage reduction. That competition makes socketing a helmet with a high level ruby prohibitive.
But let’s say you do all those things. How do you actually farm XP?
If you really need to grind XP, use the amulet that gives you more relic drops, go into an endless dungeon that you can handle. Early on you will hopefully pick up the earring and dice relics, which improve your chances of getting more relics. Then farm, farm relics until you pick up a full set of research notes relics (which give you 50% bonus to XP each). Seems like a drag but probably the only way to really get to Level 40. And the potential 500% bonus to XP from research notes relics dwarfs the 10% from the amulet, the 20% from the leather boots (both pre-blacksmith). But if you really want to squeeze out every last XP, at this point switch out your relic amulet for your XP amulet, and also your boots/helmet socketed with a red gem.
In combat, you will notice that enemies have different reaction times after your attack lands. There are roughly three tiers:
- Slow (axe animation, red or blue fireball or boulder): examples include orcs, red beholders, and ogres – take about 1 or 1.5 seconds after the strike.
- Medium (melee – sword or claw animation, poison): examples include bats, skeletons with swords, most beasts – take about 0.5 seconds after the strike.
- Fast (ranged/magic animation – arrow, electricity, frost bolt): examples include skeleton archers, electricity (yellow) beholders – immediately after your strike lands.
Note that the clock on the retaliation starts after your strike lands. Keep this in mind, as it can be confusing if you switch from a sword/wand weapon to an axe/halberd. Your animation changes, but track the sound/visual cue of when you hit.
- For the slow ones, with an axe, it’s easy. Wait for their projectile animation for their attack to hit you, then hit the space bar. With base agility the delay between pressing the space bar and raising your shield should correspond to the time it takes for the axe animation to complete.
- For the slow boulder/fireball ones, you have to pause a bit between when you hear your strike land and when you press your space bar.
- For the medium ones, I press the space bar just after hearing the strike.
- For the fast ones, I try to time it such that I’m pressing the space bar at about the time my strike is landing.
Note: the distance to the enemy *does* affect the travel time for some (non-magic?) projectiles. So if you’re attacking a skeleton archer at the far end of the room, you may have to pause just a bit (not quite the length of pause required for medium speed enemies)
With the exception of the ambushing creatures (snakes, the thief rat, and possibly the bear boss), you’ll be able to see the revealed creature on the tile before you attack. This means you should be ready to anticipate when you have to hit the space bar in order to successfully max block their attack in response to yours.
Note: telling the difference between the types of speeds of creature is easier in some cases than others. All orcs attack with the slow animation. The beholders show up in four colors – potential confusion between the red and yellow ones, but after a while you should be able to tell them apart. The rat/kobold like creatures are terrible – apparently based on whether or not they are facing left/right, their color, have a monocole, etc., you can tell… maybe.
Knight and a few other classes/skills (which can be obtained from epics) do some damage to nearby enemies upon completion of a successful counterattack. However, I recommend using single combat. You can open up as many enemies as possible before attacking, and you do get benefits from that. However, there are some downsides:
You expose yourself to enemies that won’t wait passively.
- Ones that will attack after 4 turns.
- Ones that will tell others to attack.
- Ones that spawn new enemies.
- Ones that stack buff themselves every few turns.
- Ones that will attack you if you attack another creature.
That’s a lot to keep track of, and the damage bonus even when maxed out isn’t much by the late game. Will potentially be different for other classes.
You can summon a skeleton archer (3 mana), a golem (6 mana), or a dragon (12 mana) if you discover those spells on the level. They can be helpful – the dragon is quite powerful.
However, be careful if you and the summon are attacking the same creature. It may have been a misclick on my part, but it seems that sometimes the ally will take the counterattack away from you by attacking your target before you can, which will turn your attack into a normal attack, which means the enemy will retaliate. That can take you off guard and leave you vulnerable. I’d attack the same enemy only if you’re able to one-shot the damaged foe.
You can turn on your summoned allies and kill them for XP! I haven’t checked if you get XP if they die due to enemy attack.
You will occasionally discover a human in the dungeon. These are allies. You don’t get XP from killing them, so I would leave them alone. Exception: the rogue does steal some of your gold; kill them to get it back.
Gems are pretty important. You’ll get tons of low-level ones when questing. You can use the mystic, unlocked pretty early, to craft higher level gems.
Here’s a description of what each gem does, and how they scale.
Red gems (Rubies)
- Helmet: % increase to experience (increments of 10%).
- Weapon: flat bonus to mortal damage (increments of 3).
- Other: flat damage reduction (increments of 1).
Yellow gems (Topaz)
- Helmet: % gold find (increments of 10%).
- Weapon: % spell damage (increments of 10%).
- Other: flat bonus to attack (increments of 1).
Green gems (Emeralds)
- Helmet: % spell find (increments of 5%).
- Weapon: % critical damage (increments of 10%).
- Other: flat bonus to damage (increments of 1).
Purple gems (Amethyst)
- Helmet: flat bonus to mana (increments of 1).
- Weapon: flat bonus to undead damage (increments of 3).
- Other: flat bonus to health (increments of 3).
Important: Don’t immediately craft the highest quality of gem you can, especially for red gems. Early-game, you might want to use level 1 or 2 red gems across multiple pieces of equipment. Because it takes 3 gems (plus gold, and also hexagrams beyond level 6) to create a gem one level higher, and because all the benefits scale linearly, you are far better off crafting several level 2 gems over a single level 4 gem.
- You will switch out your equipment soon enough. As you progress, you’ll start looting better gear, and so you’ll eventually say goodbye to any gemmed equipment. You *can* use the blacksmith to extract gems, but that costs hexagrams, which are super rare. You’re better off just selling the gemmed equipment to the merchant and putting a new gem into the new equipment.
- The benefits of gems are linear, while the number of gems required to reach higher levels of gems is exponential.
You have your helmet, your weapon, and six other pieces of equipment. The damage reduction applies to red gems socketed in the six “other” pieces.
- 6 tier 1 gems: 6 damage reduction.
- 6 tier 2 gems = 18 tier 1 gems: 12 damage reduction.
- 6 tier 3 gems = 54 tier 1 gems: 18 damage reduction.
- 6 tier 4 gems = 162 tier 1 gems: 24 damage reduction.
- 6 tier 5 gems = 486 tier 1 gems: 30 damage reduction.
In early game, you won’t have 500 red gems. It’ll probably be closer to 18. For the equivalent of 18 tier 1 red gems, you can either get 12 damage reduction from 6 tier 2s, or, if you leveled them, you would have 2 tier 3s, worth 6 damage reduction.
Late-game, you’ll be swimming in gems. My gear had pretty much T4 or T5 red gems in all the other spots. It was still impractical to craft T6s or higher, though if I ended up playing this another 10 hours that would be the ultimate outcome.
What gems to use where:
Gold is very, very important. XP simply doesn’t scale well, and so the difference in XP is marginal at best. Besides, you’ll need those red gems for damage reduction.
Because counterattack crits provide most of your damage output, and because you won’t be one-shotting much, even at later levels with optimized stats, you’re probably going to want to use the otherwise marginal green gems here for an added boost.
Damage reduction helps a lot early/mid/late game. As explained above, keep them at a level such that you can socket six “other” gear types. As you get new equipment, consider leveling up some higher tier red gems and socketing them. Once you get endgame gear, use as high a level as you can, keeping in mind that it’s still optimally efficient to have all your “other” gear socketed with about the same tier of ruby.
There *might* be a case for using a couple purple gems late-game to help with the health buffer.