This guide is not about specifics, but aimed towards how i recommend to be thinking about the game.
Best Composition Guide
I don't like giving people explicit advice on what their party needs to look like - it limits the fun of exploring the game and forces them into a specific playstyle they might not even enjoy.
Since I've been asked many times, I'll still post my generic answer about the best composition: urtuk hunter, priest, shaman, javelinier, guardian, spearman, generic melee unit (mainly bloodknight after the buffs on the beta branch).
With that out of the way, let's move to the question I'm more excited аbout:
The game has 3 major challenges you need to overcome. If you can manage that, you will likely win the game (unless you do something stupid like me).
1. Challenge: Swampers
There are 2 problems you have to deal with when encountering swampers: poison and spearman.
The most obvious solution is armour. Force the floaters to attack an armoured unit by placing them into spots they can't reach your other units. Most noteworthy are spearman with projectiles blocker and footman with projectiles deflector.
Another option would be having ranged superiority: kill the floaters from safety. This will be very unlikely, unless you are overleveled or late in map 2. Or both. Early on, ranged units aren't the powerhouse they will be later on and can't oneshot enemies yet.
The most consistent approach (with basically every ranged enemy) is positioning. Look for a chokepoint on the map with enough space behind you to back off. Then fight behind that chokepoint, not directly on it! Force the floaters to walk in while standing far enough back to not be vulnerable, but close enough to walk on them the turn after.
Bonus points, if you manage to either block their first and only shot with armour, or if you strategically place the low hp unit they want to shoot at their max range, so they have to walk in even more.
Limited poison removal options are of course the priest and regeneration focus (preferably with fast thinker).
The other major threat are spearman. Always check their traits before starting a fight and look for critical counterstrike. If they have it, you can't melee attack them without oneshotting their armour, or you not only eat a crit, but also poison for 45% of your max hp.
Also check elites for first strike, while you're at it!
The 3 things that help you oneshot their shield are: shred armour (found on berserker and scavenger axeman), rend armour focus (from berserker, scavenger warlord or a focus mutator) and a weapon with high shatter like a big axe.
Therefore the 3 early game options would be berserker, warlord and axeman:
- The berserker needs a lot of help to sustain the counterattack on desolation, since everything hits very hard.
- The warlord does nothing special and is not a very good unit in general, but is an excellent early game solution to swampers!
- The scavenger axeman got a buff to his weapon and is now viable to deal with spearman. If you can transform him into a vampire, his shred armour trait stays and he has a billhook with even higher shatter instead.
2. Challenge: Necroreavers
Necroreavers are what most commonly end a run. While map 1 can be dealt with a single assassin and bleeding criticals for all your damage needs, necros are all bloodless and have a gigantic hp pool. If you don't prepare for them, they will most likely wipe you.
You are going to need a ton of damage, if you plan on facing necros. Any good, developed dps carry will do this job: bloodknight, bounty hunter axe, scavenger warrior (maybe), hunter, scavenger marksman - just pick your favourite high output unit.
Lethal blow is a good option, if you are having trouble with your damage. Most necro units can be stunned and give you double (used to be triple before the nerf) damage.
Having control in those fights is very important, as most of their units take a long time to take down. There are a lot of underused mutators in the game right now - just be creative!
- Ranged units with immobilizing crits.
- Bounty hunter with built in first strike and pushing crits. bonus for both pushing and immobilizing.
- Assassins mark + maul with stunning blow next to it.
- Engaging strike on mauls.
While not the fanciest unit, their first strike with a greatswords really hurts! You are going to need either a stun (and still have to tank 1 first strike), a charge to get around it, or shielding. Any other lockdown you have is better spent on other units.
Axeman aka Jumpy Boys
Preemptive strike or spearwall do very well against them. Keep an eye out for delirium, as it stops most of your control options.
Before they approach, be aware of how they could chain jump - if you position yourself without giving them a second target, you can reduce their threat by quite a bit.
The only threat is their grab - have stalwart units in front and you can largely ignore them.
Annoying and hit hard, but are still vulnerable to stun - watch out for both their bash and 4 movement. By this point, you should be able to deal with enemy ranged units however.
Very slow and abusable. Prime targets for shielding or aegis, since they dont attack very often. Mostly the last unit you want to kill (depending on the positioning of course).
3. Challenge: Valdor
If you made it this far, chances are that Valdor won't give you much trouble. The biggest problem is the damage requirement for necros after all.
Make sure to check every elite Knight for reflexive skin and every elite crossbow for first strike!
The main difference between swamper spearman and valdor units is the amount of armour they wear. Even if you can oneshot armour with a specialized unit, they still have 1 or 2 other pieces left.
At this point you either have a hyper carry with enough damage to not worry about it, or your armour dealing unit needs multi attacks from some source (strong VS, berserk, dual strike).
Not much to be said about valdor otherwise - deal with their armour and watch out for their crossbows.
What's the Best Urtuk
Urtuk picks 3 out of a pool of ~12 mutations and has really strong highroll potential for some classes.
Generally speaking, you want to decide between a utility carry or a damage carry.
Utility units are mostly units that don't need a lot of stats but scale off of their kit. The advantage of picking one as urtuk is, that they can use most of the mutations they can get - anything focus related (mind of a genius, fast thinker, improvizer, ...) is typically good on them. Most of the survival stuff (delirium, overdose, fast recovery, ..) is decent, too.
- Monk. Very strong utility scaling throughout the game. Don't just think about the flipping into pits! He can also flip enemies into your traps/backstab setup, allies out of being engaging struck or stuns in bad spots. Jumping around cliffs to distract half their team is excellent!
- Priest. Surprisingly good urtuk despite the health penalty, scales well with aegis spam. Takes of really hard, if you find a shaman!
- Assassin. Yes, you read that right. Assassin is the king of map 1 with bleeding, but doesnt do anything past that most of the time. This is the time you give him brilliant mind and turn him into a focus machine with flex mutator spots for status effects (tiring crits, immobilizing crits, poisonous etc).
Damage carries have insane highroll potential as urtuk, simply because of delirium.
Hunter. Top urtuk pick, hands down. If you roll delirium, he solo kills the whole enemy team on his own as full glass cannon dps.
Bloodknight. with the addition of masochist and repose on BK, it's suddenly a very strong class. Very good second pick for urtuk.
Anything else not mention is probably not worth mentioning. Most mutations aren't strong on a tank.
Once again - I'm not very interested in giving specific build paths or tell you when to spend every exact point on what attribute.
I usually advice people to think about what a character should accomplish - similiar to what i talk about in the stamina guide.
- Birdy is very strong on anyone who doesnt need the damage or health (duh): guardian, footman, scavenger spearman, bounty hunter, ...
- You have someone who is very disruptive? consider birdy
- Ranged units like a hunter can go glass cannon very easily, especially if you manage to get delirium on them. At some point vitality is useless, since they wont survive a single hit anyways. Usually people are very afraid to double down so hard, but it pays off, if you are careful.
- Crit builds are a viable option on some classes! as everyone knows, assassin loves everything with crits, since he is able to backstab 4 times a turn.
Anyone who can use pushing criticals can make for a very disruptive unit. On the same note: check out vampire assassins with swift hands, murdering sense and pushing crits.
Don't worry too much about the most optimal stuff you can do to break the game. Think about what the game throws at you and ask yourself: "Would this help me deal with it?" It would? Then give it a shot!