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Hades - Gameplay Basic Guide

Written by Solodric   /   Jan 6, 2020    


This guide is about both the gameplay basics of Hades (for those starting out) and potent builds (weapon / boon combinations) that work well. The goal of the guide is to help people recognize the value of each weapon and Olympian, to reduce frustration caused by using a weapon that seems weak and pairing it with poor boons for that build (giving the impression the weapon or olympian in question is just hopeless).

Run Builds and General Guide



Introduction



This guide is meant to be a living work, much like Hades itself. The basic goal here is to detail known powerful (and functional) builds; for those unfamiliar, a 'build' in Hades is a combination of Weapon (and weapon Aspect, more on that later), Boons, and Attributes (bonuses granted by the dark mirror in Zagreus' bedroom; essentially your core stats that are maintained between runs).

A good build is one that is both relatively easy to use/control (does not require pinpoint long-range precision while constantly dashing around the screen at breakneck speeds, for instance) and keeps up well with the damage/survival curve (in other words, you don't end up spending 15 minutes struggling to defeat the second boss due to low damage output, or end up unable to effectively harm the final boss). Other traits that builds will be rated on are their Acquisition (how reliable and easy they are to put together in practice), Versatility (if the build is only good against certain situations, like specifically being anti-crowd but poor against bosses, it has poor Versatility), and Modularity (how well this build can tie into other builds).

So, with all of that explained, let's get started with the analysis! Experience players can feel free to skip down to the Builds section, but I've included some analysis that might be thought-provoking even before that.

Attributes



When using the Mirror of Night, Zagreus is able to improve many core Attributes using Darkness (a permanent power-up resource found during runs). The Attributes in question are the following:

  • Shadow Presence: +10% backstab (up to +50%).
  • Cthonic Vitality: +1 HP per room (max +3).
  • Death Defiance: +1 Life (Max +3).
  • Greater Reflex: Dash Twice.
  • Boiling Blood: +10% Attack/Special damage to bloodstoned foes (max +50%).
  • Infernal Soul: +1 bloodstone (max +2).
  • Deep Pockets: +10 Obol (max +100).
  • Thick Skin: +5 HP (max +50).
  • Privileged Status: +10% damage vs twice-cursed foes (max +50%).
  • Olympian Favor: +1% chance of Rare boons (max +50%).
  • God's Pride: +1% chance of Epic boons (max).
  • Fated Authority: +1 room reward reroll (max).

After you have beaten the game for the first time, you will be given the option to replay with more challenging conditions. One of these conditions caps your maximum Darkness allocation in the mirror by a certain amount. Furthermore, starting out, you won't have all of these Attributes unlocked; you must unlock them with Cthonic Keys, which are relatively difficult to acquire in large numbers.

These two situations (starting out or doing a low-darkness challenge run) force you to tactically allocate your Darkness rather than purchasing everything available. Furthermore, even when you can have everything, some of the traits of the Mirror will change how you use certain builds. So let's discuss the implications of these Attributes now.

Shadow Presence

Additional backstab damage can be a useless addition, a situational perk, or a core part of your damage-dealing strategy depending on your build. Notably, Athena offers the Exposed curse, which massively increases backstab damage as well. Varatha, Zagreus' spear, is particularly adept at dealing backstab damage at range as it can be thrown through an enemy and then recalled through their back. Aegis, the shield, can also score backstabs by being bounced off of a wall into a foe's back.

Backstabbing foes is necessary against enemies with shields; these show up in Elysium (the third region). It is also fairly easy to score consistent backstabs with Aegis in melee, as that weapon can be used very rapidly with wild dashing and button-mashing to zip around a foe and clobber them from all angles. Varatha can also do this to a lesser extent (and from much farther away), while Stygius, in my experience, favors a more fly-by attack style that is less conducive to backstabs. Coronacht and Exagryph are not as effective for backstabs (aside from lobbing grenades past foes, in Exagryph's case) and that should be considered when building for it.

Cthonic Vitality

Health recovery is always at a premium in Hades, and this attribute allows the player to make small mistakes every now and again without it dooming their run. If your build favors extreme defensive tactics, this may be a waste of Darkness, if you've managed to get your incoming damage down to 0 for the vast majority of rooms (on the other hand, if you make one big mistake, taking 0 damage the rest of the time might let you eventually recover on your own with this attribute. Think carefully before forsaking it).

Aegis is the most obvious choice for ignoring this particular Attribute, as it is fairly easy to avoid all damage on the first two floors using it (especially paired with Athena); that being said, Aegis can also provide damage reduction that makes every hitpoint worth more.

Death Defiance

Similar in concept to Cthonic Vitality, the value of this attribute depends on how many hits you are prone to taking. If your goal is to get through the game quickly, defensive attributes such as these two might allow you to play much more aggressively than you would otherwise be able to get away with.

Greater Reflex

Dashing allows Zagreus to deliver more powerful attacks with every weapon except Coronacht (the bow) and makes him invincible for a very brief window; being able to dash twice massively increases his mobility, offense, and defense. This is always a solid purchase, for any build.

Boiling Blood

This is perhaps the most build-specific Attribute in the game. Bloodstones will only become lodged in foes if you first use them to cast spells, obviously; if your build doesn't use Casting at all, then this Attribute is effectively useless. Furthermore, Ares' cast ability (Slicing Shot, which spawns a blade rift) does not lodge in foes, making this useless regardless. Since Slicing Shot is often considered one of, if not THE, best cast in the game for most builds, this Attribute's usefulness depends strongly on your build.

That being said, one of the most important things to consider is that Boiling Blood makes casting useful even for non-casting builds if you can spare the time to lodge a bloodstone in a foe. The fact that it can hike your damage up by 50% makes it attractive in most scenarios to lodge a boss or miniboss enemy just to beat them down faster in melee, so it's worth considering if your build does not specifically revolve around Ares' cast.

Infernal Soul

More bloodstones to cast with; only really useful if you intend to cast in the first place. Boiling Blood can make this useful for melee builds, but without Boiling Blood it becomes useless unless casting figures into your build. That said, this is the core casting trait, and most builds should make some use of their cast ability, so this is often a good Attribute to have.

Deep Pockets

This frees up some cash for Zagreus to purchase healing items, short-term buffs, long-term buffs, or keys/darkness with. In other words, it can be used to either work towards permanent goals (darkness, keys, etc.,) or run goals (survival until the end of the run). It's very rare that this trait is not useful, but at the same time it isn't very likely to make or break a run, nor is it very build-specific.

Thick Skin

Like Cthonic Vitality and Death Defiance before it, this Attribute is most-useful if you use damage reduction and want to play aggressively, and least useful if you aren't taking any damage. Choose accordingly.

Privileged Status

Another damage-buffing Attribute like Shadow Presence and Boiling Blood, this one focuses on Status Curses. Curses are not easily stackable; the boons of at least two Olympians must be used to put differing Curses on a foe, and in most cases you must use two different techniques (Call, Cast, Attack, Special, or Dash) to inflict them. That said, there are many cases where doing so is trivial, such as Athena's Exposed Curse applying to Deflecting attack paired with a deflecting dash (meaning any enemy you dash near becomes Exposed), paired with any close-range Attack or Special that inflicts a differing Curse (Aphrodite also applies a Status Curse with her Dash, making it easy to pair for this Attribute).

Obviously, the usefulness of this Attribute depends directly on your build; at the start of a run, it has no use whatsoever, so it must be deliberately built into. This Attribute directly improves any build that uses multiple stacking curse effects.

Olympian Favor and God's Pride

These two Attributes make Boons more likely to have higher rarity (which multiplies their base effectiveness). All builds make use of Boons, but they do so to varying extents; a build that deliberately avoids using more than just a few boons (in favor of using Poms of Power to upgrade those boons substantially or focusing on Centaur Hearts for health) would theoretically not get as much use out of these. In practice, this is a moot point; these Attributes cost tremendous amounts of Darkness to max out, and effectively act as an end-game point-sink for spare Darkness.

Fated Authority

This lets you randomize the reward for a room, within certain limits. Temporary rewards (like a Pom of Power) can never be turned into permanent rewards (like Cthonic Keys), and it has no effect on the challenge within the room. This is another massive Darkness sink for end-game players.

Olympians



I won't cover every single boon in dry detail here, as that would take too much space and not serve our purposes (and there's a wiki for that). Instead, I'm going to summarize the abilities and strategy of each Olympian (and Chaos) with the following format:

  • Field Effect: The signature effect of this character aside from their curse/status effect.
  • Status Curse: The character's signature curse, if any.
  • Revenge: The character's Revenge effect (activates on being struck).
  • Focus: Where this character's boons tend to shine best (such as anti-group or defense).
  • Secondary Focus: What notable strategy or niche the character fills aside from their Focus.

Analysis

Where I delve into the overall usefulness of this character for builds.

While Duo boons will play a role in the Analysis section, for the most part I'll be focusing on each boon-granting character by themselves in this part of the guide, to form a foundation for Duos and other build-wide strategies later. Let's start with the two big outliers.

Chaos

  • Field Effect: None.
  • Status Curse: None.
  • Revenge: None.
  • Focus: Damage Output.
  • Secondary Focus: Acquisition / Defense.

Analysis

Chaos curses Zagreus to go through a random hardship for a certain number of encounters before he gets access to the Boon effect. These boons generally take one of three forms; most are flat percentage increases to the damage of one of his techniques (again, those being Attack, Special, Cast, Call, or Dash/Dash Attack), while a few of them focus on defense (life total increase or extra Death Defiance) and the rest improve Zagreus' rate of acquisitions during that run (better boons, more obol, more darkness). While using Chaos to improve DPS can turn a weak build that is lagging behind the curve into a power house, he's arguably more notable for being the undisputed king of raw acquisitions; you can easily stock up thousands of Darkness using his boons, or the thousands of Obol necessary to purchase diamonds/titan's blood near the end of the run.

Hermes

  • Field Effect: Dodge (Passive)/Haste (Dash).
  • Status Curse: Slow (Impact/Dash).
  • Revenge: Recovery (Dash to activate).
  • Focus: Speed.
  • Secondary Focus: Casting.

Analysis

Hermes' boons show up much more rarely than other Olympians (though it seems you are guaranteed to see them a few times in every run), and since his Legendary boons require that you have some of his regular boons first, getting them requires dedication during a run. Most of his boons speed up one of your Techniques, or grant you Haste/Dodge after Dashing, while two slow down enemies you run/dash into. That said, he also has a boon that makes casting fully automatic, and another that automatically retrieves dropped bloodstones; with the right build, this can be a killer combination (especially Ares' Slicing Shot cast, as it never gets stuck in enemies, and the right build can basically fling out Blade Rifts without pause during a fight and dish out tremendous damage). For non-caster builds, Hermes tends to offer welcome, albeit marginal, buffs. Notably, being much faster while slowing foes down significantly is very useful against some melee enemies (such as the third boss, and the final boss). Lastly, he can aid in health recovery.

Zeus

  • Field Effect: Chain Lightning (Attack/Cast)/Lightning Bolt (Dash/Special/Call/Revenge).
  • Status Curse: Jolted (Damages foes when they next attack).
  • Vengeance: Lightning Bolt.
  • Focus: Crowd Control.
  • Secondary Focus: Vengeance.

Analysis

Zeus' boons stack with themselves to create the ultimate anti-group storm, with lightning bolts raining down and chain lightning arcing between foes near your primary target. Do note that chain lightning and lightning bolts are two separate effects that also upgrade with different boons; you don't have to take both (and might not get enough Zeus boons to upgrade both if you do; in my experience, his boons are the rarest). When it comes to punishing foes for attacking you, Zeus is the champion; in addition to raining lightning down on the aggressor, Zeus has a boon to make your god gauge charge faster when you are struck (or when you deal damage), and Jolted punishes enemies directly for trying it. If you can bait a lot of attacks from foes without being injured (using Deflection, Dodge, simply avoiding the attacks, or blocking them with Aegis), Zeus can help you capitalize on this. Furthermore, his Duo Boon with Ares allows your Vengeance effects to trigger even without being struck (every few seconds automatically), making them less situational.

Poseidon

  • Field Effect: Knockback (Attack, Special, Call, Dash, Cast).
  • Status Curse: Rupture (damages foes when they move, including knockback).
  • Vengeance: God Gauge charge.
  • Focus: Spacing/Damage Output.
  • Secondary Focus: Acquisitions.

Analysis

Poseidon is the only Olympian (so the only boon-granter aside from Chaos) to directly assist in acquisitions. One of his boons gives you significantly better room rewards for the duration of the run, while another instantly grants you a substantial bounty of gems, obol, darkness, and health (this latter one usually pays for itself if you purchase his boon from Charon's shop, and will more than pay for itself if you have the House renovation to get obol from gems). Aside from this, his damage output boons increase the damage of your Techniques more than any other Olympian, and when paired with his ferocious knockback/rupture strategy (slamming foes into walls and dealing damage the whole journey there via Rupture), he is the king of the ring when it comes to disposing of enemies via raw attack damage. That being said, his strategy is useless (aside from the big raw damage buff provided) against big enemies who cannot be knocked back (though these are quite rare, the second and final bosses seem to qualify). It may seem counter-intuitive with a melee weapon to knock an enemy out of your own reach, but you can always dash after them and keep attacking; this is actually very useful against crowds, as it lets you isolate your target to finish them off quickly (and usually create massive splash effects that hit all of the other enemies away in the process). He notably lacks a damaging Vengeance effect, instead focusing exclusively on charging the God gauge when struck.

Athena

  • Field Effect: Deflect (Attack/Special/Cast/Dash/Call/Revenge).
  • Status Curse: Exposed (Enemy takes additional backstab damage).
  • Revenge: Damage/Deflect.
  • Focus: Defense/Riposte.
  • Secondary Focus: Death Defiance.

Analysis

First off, Athena is the only God that can replenish a use of Death Defiance with a boon, and she has two boons (one of which is the aforementioned) that improve Death Defiance. Aside from that unique trait, she also has a boon that lets you start encounters with the God Gauge partially full. The rest of her boons either add Deflect to one of your Techniques, add Exposed to Deflect, or reduce damage (from traps with one, or from enemies with another), aside from one boon that adds more damage to deflect. This is a very straightforward character; they make Zagreus much harder to hurt by bouncing projectiles back at the caster (and rebounding melee damage if timed right). Deflect also cancels out most field hazards, so with enough of Athena's boons Zagreus can maintain invulnerability (or quite nearly so) almost perpetually, in addition to rebounding damage on his foes. Her Call literally makes you invulnerable (or so it says; there seems to be a bug where certain things can damage you through it) while you continue to fight. While Athena's boons may not help you keep up with the damage curve, they certainly assist massively in certain fights, especially later in the game - and a backstab build just might find her Exposed curse the best possible tool for damage output.

Aphrodite

  • Field Effect: Charm (Call)/Weak (Attack/Special/Cast/Dash/Revenge).
  • Status Curse: Weak (Enemies do half damage).
  • Revenge: Damage/Weak.
  • Focus: Damage Mitigation.
  • Secondary Focus: Duos.

Analysis

Aphrodite is about as straightforward as it gets; she reduces the damage you take (via Weak or by a straight damage-reduction buff), increases the health you pick up, and increases your damage output (not by much). Aside from her unique Call charming foes (questionable usefulness in some boss fights), there isn't much more to say about her on her own. That said, Weak is a long-lasting, easily-inflicted curse, and most of her Duo boons radically enhance the effects of other gods' boons as long as the target is Weak; it also pairs extremely well with the Privileged Status attribute. Her Legendary boon can also Charm foes who are hit with Weak, her Duo with Athena slows enemy projectiles, and her Duo with Poseidon upgrades Poms of Power; all told, Aphrodite is an Olympian whose function and usefulness depend directly on whom you pair her up with. Rather fitting for the goddess of love.

Artemis

  • Field Effect: Critical Hit (Attack/Special/Cast/Dash)/Seeker Arrow(Attack/Special/Cast/Call).
  • Status Curse: Marked (Foe is much more likely to be critically hit).
  • Revenge: None (Artemis probably has too much faith in Zagreus...).
  • Focus: Spike Damage/Kill Chaining.
  • Secondary Focus: Casting.

Analysis

The bashful huntress has an unexpected role as the master of cast builds; she can let you spawn extra projectiles, give you three more Bloodstone to cast with (doubling your ammo), force foes to drop their held bloodstone faster (arguably poor synergy with Boiling Blood attribute), and deal significant damage to foes when they do drop said bloodstones. While these last two boons synergize poorly with Ares (foes don't get bloodstones lodged in them in the first place with his cast), the extra ammo and double-cast boons can let you fill an entire stage with blade rifts quite easily (and their duo boon makes said rifts hunt down nearby enemies). Her Duo boon with Zeus makes dropped bloodstone shoot lightning, as well. Aside from this potent emphasis on spellcasting, Artemis boosts damage output in a way that doesn't interfere with other gods' boons; her Support Fire boon adds seeker arrows to three Techniques at once (Attack, Special, and Cast) but does not take up the slots for those Techniques, and while she has critical-hit technique Boons, she also has Pressure Points, which adds critical hit chance to all damage dealt. All told, Artemis can stand on her own or pair up with other gods (especially Ares) quite potently, and is rarely a poor addition to your boon list.

Ares

  • Field Effect: Blade Rift (Cast/Dash/Call).
  • Status Curse: Doom (After a delay, enemy takes damage).
  • Revenge: Damage/Doom.
  • Focus: Damage Dispersion.
  • Secondary Focus: Enemy Lockdown.

Analysis

Oft-mentioned in this guide for his unique Cast ability (because it never lodges bloodstones in foes), Ares' boons are some of the hardest to get a proper handle on for a new player, but can be some of the hardest-hitting in the game. Rather than boosting your raw damage output, Ares focuses on his Doom Curse, which inflicts substantial damage after a delay; notably, this curse does not stack with itself, so you must wait until it triggers to activate it again (there is a boon that makes it self-stack, but it doesn't add the full damage on successive curses, just a tiny bit). This means Ares does not favor a strategy of attacking a single foe until they fall, but dispersing your damage among all enemies present so they all take damage at the same time (and so you can rotate your Doom curse). A highly evasive strategy is favored, bouncing from foe to foe and never staying in one place for long. His Blade Rifts play into this strategy; dashing away from foes can leave behind a rift to punish them for chasing Zagreus, and his rifts can be upgraded to suck foes in and lock them down for massive damage and disruption. What Ares lacks in damage mitigation via taking out single enemies quickly, he makes up for by clearing entire rooms and resolving entire battles with shocking speed. He also has a kill-chain emphasis via Battle Rage (which doubles or more your next attack's damage after slaying a foe); if all of the enemies have been weakened at the same time, this can lead to you finishing off every remaining foe in sequence with single attacks (pairs well with extremely high-damage single-shot attacks, like the Hestia Aspect of Exagryph's charged shot). Ares also has potent, game-changing Duo boons with Aphrodite, Athena, Artemis, and Zeus.

Dionysus

  • Field Effect: Festive Fog (Cast).
  • Status Curse: Poison (Enemies take damage over time; stacks with self).
  • Revenge: Damage Resistance (when under threshold).
  • Focus: Damage Propagation/Field Control.
  • Secondary Focus: Keeping the Party Going (Survival).

Analysis

Dionysus may appear at first to be a weak choice, but if you acquire enough of his boons their synergy can be very significant. Poison isn't very potent at first, but it can be upgraded to slow foes and propagate across them; furthermore, when 3 or more foes are poisoned, you can get 50% or more damage increase from one boon, and his Legendary boon makes enemies who are poisoned and in Festive Fog take double damage, effectively boosting your damage to 300% total, in addition to the poison damage. Festive Fog also slows down enemies, which is even more significant when enemies are slowed by poison, effectively locking them down. Aside from this, Dionysus has boons that reduce damage at low health, regenerate your health up to a threshold, and restores health on Nectar pickup (which spawns a nectar when you take it, making this boon the only one that instantly heals you as well as the only one that assists in acquiring Nectar). These survival boons are useful even if you only take a single boon from Dionysus in a run (whereas his poison/fog boons tend to need more buildup), so consider them if you run across him late in a run.

Boon Synergy



This section is for discussing how different gods' boons interact. The most obvious type of synergy are Duo Boons, so those will form the basis for pairing discussions first, and then non-duo pairs will be discussed. Pairs that are covered already will be skipped for successive characters.

Zeus

Duo Boons:

+Poseidon

These two have the Duo Boon Sea Storm, which causes knock-away effects to spawn Lightning Bolts. This means it behooves you to take mostly Knockback boons from Poseidon, with only one Lightning Bolt boon from Zeus to ensure the duo boon is available; focusing too much on Zeus will make this boon weaker, since it doesn't apply Knockback to Lightning Bolt effects, only vice-versa. In general, these two make crowd-clearing a snap together; slamming enemies, applying Rupture, and hitting them with empowered lightning bolts (which might strike twice), and then potentially repeating it (Poseidon has a boon that makes knockback apply twice), is a horrendously devastating combination. Not much more needs to be said; this is one of the most straightforward synergies in Hades.

+Dionysis

Their Duo Boon is Scintillating Feast, which causes lightning to strike periodically in Festive Fog. This means you need Dionysus' Cast boon, but nothing else from his side (though the poison/double damage festive fog boon makes this even more intense). The combination of slowing enemies and propagating damage across them is incredibly effective against crowds, and since poison can stack on a single foe the duo aren't ineffective against single targets/bosses, either. That said, neither offers significant strike damage bonuses, so you'll be relying on Jolted and Poison to deal a lot of your damage outside of Dionysus' damage multipliers. Zeus' emphasis on Revenge and Dionysus' damage mitigation also work well together, letting Zagreus survive more punishment and make the enemy pay for every inch.

+Artemis

Lightning Rod causes dropped Bloodstone to emit lightning bolts, which allows Artemis' casting shenanigans and Zeus' crowd-clearing to merge together well. Artemis prefers to embed Bloodstone in enemies and then tear it back out for large damage, and the extra lightning bolts will ensure that after this occurs the enemy will immediately take more damage (and take on the Jolted effect to boot), making every Cast a potent attack. Pair with the damage-multiplying Boiling Blood attribute and lay into bloodstone-struck foes for additional damage per second, and ideally use the Poseidon Aspect of the Stygius sword to knock bloodstone free when necessary for quick kills/bloodstone drops to activate this duo. This could also work well with the Hera aspect of Coronacht, as that allows you to load bloodstones/casts into your arrow shots. This pair is obviously ideal for a dedicated Caster, but there's a lot to be said for a critical hit/damage propagation build as well.

+Athena

Their duo boon makes Athena's Cast bounce between enemies, laying down more damage and more effectively disrupting enemy casters. That said, the main strength of this pair comes in getting Athena's deflection paired with Zeus' crowd control; Athena pairs relatively well with any strong offensive god, and the duo boon here just sweetens the deal. Neither are ideal against strong single targets, however, leaving a notable weakness in this strategy.

+Ares

The last of Zeus' duo boons is likely the most game-changing; Vengeful Mood allows your Revenge boons to proc every 3.5 seconds regardless of whether you've been struck, allowing an otherwise defensive build to have strong, reliable DPS. This boon is obviously most-useful if you've managed to accrue several Revenge buffs, one of Zeus' strong points. Otherwise, these two mix extremely well, both having a significant emphasis on wiping out entire groups of foes at once rather than one at a time; they share the weakness, however, of lacking single-target focus and thus struggling with bosses (though Blade Rift works fairly well in that regard). Dispersing damage and getting Doom spread out across the foes while bringing massive amounts of chain/bolt damage onto them is a strong strategy in general, especially for weapons/builds that strike very quickly.

No-Boon Pairs:

+Aphrodite

Dispersing damage while reducing enemies' attacks is quite a useful pair of traits, but without any Duo boon to give more heft to Aphrodite's Weak curse, this pair may not be the best. That said, at least Jolted and Weak can work together for Privileged Status, improving Zagreus' damage, and Zeus' emphasis on revenge effects goes together brilliantly with foes doing half-damage due to Weak.

+Hermes

The perfect addition to a Zeus/Artemis or cast-focused Zeus/Ares pair, Hermes can bring your magic game up to the next level. If you aren't big on casts with your Zeus build, though, Hermes doesn't serve much purpose beyond speeding up your footwork or attacks.

+Chaos

Need that low single-target damage fixed? Chaos can make that easy, provided you can handle his curse. This pair rips through single foes and groups alike, and if you throw Poseidon into the mix it becomes a joke. Alternatively, you could radically increase your Cast damage on a Zeus/Artemis build for maximum spell supremacy.

Poseidon

Duo Boons:

+Dionysus

The boon Exclusive Access forces all boons you encounter to be Epic or better. Like all acquisition boons this should be acquired early and sold before the end, if possible, but this boon deserves special mention for the capacity to completely warp a run by eliminating a large portion of the RNG from boons. Aside from that, these two can be difficult to use together; Poseidon focuses on dispersing foes and dishing out tremendous damage quickly, whereas Dionysus prefers enemies clumped up, propagating poison and trapped in fog. The ideal way to weave them together is to develop a fighting style that relentlessly pushes enemies into a corner with the Festive Fog and poisons them repeatedly. Hera's Aspect of Coronacht may allow you to load a Festive Fog shot into a knockback arrow, and quickly follow it up with a poison-dispersing Special, as an example of this strategy in action. Dionysus and Poseidon both have acquisition-related powers (Nectar in Dionysus' case), so focusing on these two may yield excellent long-term rewards.

+Aphrodite

Another acquisition-related duo boon, this one upgrades poms of power by 1. Otherwise, these two gods merge pretty simplistically; Aphrodite drains the foes' ability to harm Zagreus while Poseidon provides the knockout power. Like with Zeus, if you want to use Aphrodite effectively you should pair her with a god with a better Duo boon for her Weak debuff, and then add in Poseidon if you want, if possible. In practice, the combination of high damage output and low incoming damage makes Zagreus pretty survivable, though.

No-Boon Pairs:

+Athena

Deflecting enemy shots while bringing down the house is the perfect matchup. The only problem is that you can't have deflection and Poseidon's splash effect on the same moves, so you'll need to pick which to put each on; backstabbing Exposed foes may also be hard when you're sending them hurtling across the screen, so you may not want to bother with that curse. That said, no god uses Athena's Call as productively as Poseidon; his unmatched damage output, paired with invulnerability, allows Zagreus to tear down anyone - even the final boss - with impunity.

+Artemis

Like Ares, Poseidon's projectiles often don't get stuck in enemies, instead being used for explosive effect. This makes him a poor match for Artemis' caster-oriented abilities. Critical hits and seeker arrows get along as well with his combat style as anyone's, though, and can push his obscene damage even higher.

+Ares

If you prefer to disperse your attacks rather than slam one enemy to death, this pair can be quite effective. In Asphodel, you often can't chase enemies out into the lava you slam them into with Poseidon, and this is where Ares' doom effects shine (along with his potent single-target damage output with Blade Rift) alongside Poseidon.

+Hermes

An extra dash pairs quite well with Poseidon's chase-and-slam strategy. Aside from that, this pair is nothing notable.

+Chaos

The ultimate single-target damage pair, and also the ultimate acquisitions pair.

Athena

Duo Boons:

+Aphrodite

Spent Spirit slows down enemy projectiles, making it easier to aim deflections. Aside from that, these are the two most defensive gods in the game, and pairing them together can make Zagreus extremely resistant to damage; on the other hand, aside from backstabbing off of Exposed and using Privileged Status, Zagreus will struggle desperately to keep up with the enemies damage-wise. Definitely an endurance-run pair.

+Artemis

Their duo boon provides a very reliable means to sink critical hits, giving +35% chance after a deflection, and this makes it much easier to trigger Artemis' Marked curse and keep wracking up the crits. This pair turns Athena's defensive stature into a terrifying offensive; hit a Marked for with Exposed and then backstab them with a Privileged Status critical hit (Marked+Exposed for Privileged Status) and watch thousands of damage drop on your foe. Survivable and deadly, this is a good way to go.

+Ares

All of your Exposed-inflicting attacks now inflict Doom, meaning you can basically dip Ares and then use Athena for all of your Techniques and immediately get the benefit of Ares' boons as well, effectively. This is a stupidly potent Duo Boon for a pair that already works brilliantly together; Athena can keep Zagreus alive while he disperses damage among all of the enemies, wracking up Doom and backstabs consistently. Highly recommended for most builds.

No-Boon Pairs:

+Dionysus

This gives a variant on the Ares strategy, inflicting poison/fog on foes while keeping safe. The synergy here isn't very strong, though slowing foes down can make it even easier for you to deflect their attacks or backstab them.

+Hermes

A third dash works very well with Athena's deflecting dash boon, and depending on the weapon added attack speed might be a lifesaver when paired with deflection, but Athena's cast isn't strong enough to justify seeking out Hermes for that reason.

+Chaos

Damage and defense, sword and shield. This can be a game-winning pair, easily, if you get the right damage buff out of Chaos.

Aphrodite

Duo Boons:

+Ares

Their Duo Boon makes Doom trigger on Weak foes every time you re-apply it (for lessened damage), making Ares' effects far better for single targets (Though damage drops off the more you hammer a single target, so it's still not great). Aside from that, this is a sword-and-shield pair that lets you work over groups quite well between Ares' tactics and Aphrodite's Charm effect, but falters against bosses.

+Artemis

+50% critical damage to Weak targets is a very useful Duo Boon, and the two form a solid sword/shield pair otherwise, effective mostly against single targets rather than groups (though Artemis' kill-chaining helps with that). Pairing these two up with Ares as a third results in Casting of insane power (Blade Rift as the basis) and ferocious anti-group and anti-single capability.

+Dionysus

Their Duo Boon lets you stack Poison even more times against Weak foes, which makes it even more effective against single targets; if you have Poison on Dash or Attack and Weak on the other Technique, you can dash around a single foe and hammer them repeatedly to ensure both status effects keep racking up (and hit them with Privileged Status and backstabs for good measure, in the process). Solid against both single targets and groups if pursued dedicatedly.

No-Boon Pairs:

+Hermes

Aphrodite's Cast is useful for mass-inflicting Weak (especially if you're trying to trigger Charm), and Hermes can assist with that. Aside from that, the added mobility assists with Aphrodite's damage-mitigation, but does little to help with her poor damage output.

+Chaos

Now we're talkin'. You can rescue an Aphrodite-heavy run from the damage gutter with a solid Chaos boon, if you can survive the curse.

Artemis

Duo Boons:

+Ares

Arguably the best duo boon in the game, this makes your Blade Rifts seek out foes and chew them up. Ares' boons can then make the blade rifts larger, more damaging, and suck enemies in, while Artemis' boons can give you extra ammo and summon twice as many Blade Rifts; pair these two off with Hermes for the ultimate caster build, capable of flattening even the final boss with Casts alone. The fact that Ares focuses on anti-group and Artemis empowers Zagreus for anti-single, and they both focus on kill-chaining (marked target after kill, +100% damage from Ares, double-damage crits for days) just adds to the overall potence of this pair in terms of wiping out opposition, whether with weapon or magic.

No-Boon Pairs:

+Dionysus

Aside from getting more Bloodstones to hurl Festive Fog with, there's very little synergy between these two. While Dionysis focuses on spreading damage and confusion and creating a self-propagating poison situation, Artemis focuses on wiping out single targets and then chaining to the next; pairing these two off presents some challenges that might only be solved with the right weapons or other boons.

+Hermes

These two, together, are the indisputable master of casting. Aside from that, moving extremely fast can make it much easier to seek out a Marked target and end them swiftly, as well as evading damage while you set up crits or hurl seeker arrows.

+Chaos

Who doesn't want massive base damage multiplied by a massive crit? Useless against weak enemies (massively overkills them), but a nightmare for bosses.

Ares

No-Boon Pairs:

+Dionysus

Poison and Doom? With that kind of damage over time, not to mention Festive Fog paired with Blade Rifts that draw foes in, you can pretty much lock the enemy down and stare at your watch until they die. Still, the two can't apply status effects on the same attack, so you will have to find the right weapon and strategy to ensure you get all of your effects off at once. I recommend Blade Rift on your dash, Festive Fog on your cast, Poison on your Attack (since it's faster and stacks with itself) and Doom on your Special (because Specials tend to be slower and hit multiple enemies).

+Hermes

Automatically retrieving your bloodstone after blade rifts can turn you into a holy terror. Just saying.

+Chaos

For when delayed damage isn't enough, make them feel your wrath immediately, too. Still, not the best pairing, since the two strategies are a bit at-odds.

Dionysus

+Hermes

Auto-retrieving Bloodstones for Festive Fog is quite useful, and additional movement speed when enemies are slowed by Poison/Festive Fog can let you run rings around your foes.

W.I.P.

Written by Solodric.


Game:   Hades