Tips for playing on non-ironman Gzor's Nightmare difficulty.
Tips for Gzor's Nightmare
These are just some quick and unorganized thoughts that may help some people who are struggling with Nightmare but don't want to downgrade the difficulty or rely on a walkthrough.
The first half to two-thirds of Naheulbeuk are quite difficult, with a few specific fights being particularly troublesome. But at some point, if you're well-geared and have strong builds and use good tactics, the game can become very easy to the point of being somewhat boring (except for the final battle). That happens around when the party reaches the 6th Floor and can buy silver/gold gear from the vendors there.
- Use Randomia frequently, especially powers #1 and #2 (I used #3 once and #4 never). Don't let it fill and stay there because subsequent increases will be wasted.
- Save before the end of every fight. Sometimes immediately after a battle there is a second battle or you are forced to make a choice and you might want to reload.
- Fully explore every area, complete every side-quest before progressing, and always fully level your characters before fighting. There's cheap respec potions to optimize yourself later.
- After the first few chapters and you have some money, buy every respec potion you can. They are cheap and you may want to respec frequently to optimize or try different builds.
- Visit each shop at the start of every new chapter, and regularly buy gear upgrades and good but limited consumables (like ice bombs and regen potions). Gear sells for almost as much as it costs so you don't lose much by buying something and then replacing later.
- Use the Ogre's and Dwarf's passives to get more loot and earn more gold, and then respec out of them in the late game. Don't sell anything until the Dwarf has the second +gold passive.
- I didn't find any uses for junk besides a sock and a rope, so I think the rest can safely be sold.
- Try not to use potions to heal after battle. In the early chapters when the party is very poor, using the inn is generally cheaper than using potions/bandages. Sometimes it is possible to avoid the inn by healing at the end of a fight with spells and then using bandages.
- Get and improve everyone's healing skills (except the Wizardess' which can be kept at level 1).
- Agility stacking is legit. With a high enough Agility (and Ranger's Tactic: Protection plus other skills and gear that increase Dodge/Parry), characters will dodge or parry many attacks and they'll never miss (unless the enemy dodges or parries). Don't bother increasing Strength or Constitution on anyone as sufficient damage and defense will come from better weapons/armor, better active and passive skills, buffs, and general attack avoidance.
- There are some exceptions to full Agility stacking. The first exception is everyone needs some amount of Courage to go first every round, with the Priestess having the most so that she goes first and casts her AoE buff (which will give everyone +5 Courage). My Priestess ended up with 30 Courage (24+6 from gear), Ranger at 22 (to use Anticipation), Barbarian at 21 (to use War Cry +crit), everyone else at 20, and then Dwarf at 19 (so that he acts immediately after the Ogre tosses him).
- The second exception to Agility stacking is the Wizardess, who needs Intelligence to improve her spell damage. I generally went 50/50 Agility/Intelligence on her.
- The last exception to Agility stacking is the Priestess, who will not usually be attacking and doesn't use Precision with the chain lightning spell. Instead, stack Courage and Charisma on her.
- I cannot speak for the Paladin or Bard, but the Priestess and her heals and AoE buff were invaluable. Make her a heal bot plus the AoE buff and chain lightning spells.
- CC is king! Go for skill and spell upgrades (and ice bombs with the Thief's bomb passive) that cause Stun/Knock Down/Frozen instead of more damage. Enemies on Nightmare have a lot of HP and defense, so killing them outright with one or two attacks is not usually possible. A helpless enemy loses their turn and is much easier to hit, which more than makes up for the loss in damage potential.
- Range is queen! Generally speaking, if you have the choice between upgrading something's damage or range, pick range. The flexibility that additional range provides is incredibly useful. The one exception to this is the Ogre's Dwarf Toss, for two reasons. One, the Ogre's base damage is so high that the upgrade's +dmg% increase is a massive buff. Second, I generally didn't want to toss the Dwarf so far away that I couldn't heal him later.
- Ignore the party adjacency passives. They rarely come into play and your positioning should be dictated by the ever-changing battle, not those bonuses. The exceptions are the Thief's +crit, which is awesome, and the Ogre's +impact because he doesn't have a better option.
- +HP regen gear is much better than it appears. This is because it even works when the character is knocked out, meaning it will raise them up at the start of their turn! Spread out all +HP regen gear among your team until the late game when other silver/gold gear is much better. But always keep one piece on the Priestess who acts first and therefore cannot be raised with Randomia's #2 power if she falls at the end of a turn. Note, there is currently a bug with +HP regen gear where you must reequip it after every fight or the regen won't work.
- The standard procedure for most mid to late game fights is: Start grouped together and let the buffers buff the team, and then everyone else delays their turn to let the enemies run towards them while clustering together. Then, AoE CC/damage them with spells and abilities during the first and second turns, and then focus fire the weak ones down. The Dwarf and Ogre are frontline while Barb and Ranger are backup tanks. Spread out a bit to make enemy AoEs less effective and minimize friendly fire, but don't overextend.
- The exception to overextending is the Dwarf. At a certain point, he should be tanky enough to be tossed by the Ogre into a dangerous group of enemies and survive/distract long enough for the rest of the team to kill the enemies that overextended themselves. He can also be healed from afar if needed.
- In some battles, you start in a bad position and should not delay your first turn to let the enemies act first. In those battles, use each character's first turn to move them into a safer location together.
- Overwatch is not particularly useful. Not only do you not get to choose if or which enemies are attacked, it's easy to cancel, the character cannot parry, and they do not have a zone of control. I found mass Overwatch turns to be very underwhelming damage-wise and then result in the party being swarmed.
- The standard procedure for early game fights is: Focus fire enemies down and don't overextend. The party doesn't have enough attack, defense, CC, or healing to dictate how the battle goes, so you have to rely on killing each individual enemy as quickly as possible and also some luck. The Thief throwing 3x3 ice bombs was a godsend throughout the early and mid game, so buy all that you can.
Early Game: Agility and Constiution?
One reasonable suggestion regarding the early game is to not only get Agility but also add some Constitution for general survivability, then respec into Agility stacking later. While more HP is valuable against unavoidable magical attacks, I still think stacking Agility from the get-go is optimal:
- In terms of defense against weapon attacks, Agility is much better than Constitution. Avoiding an attack is strictly better than having the HP to absorb it. Not only does a character not have to waste their turn healing that damage (or money on potions), the target doesn't risk getting its status effect.
- Unavoidable damage from enemy AoE spells can be mitigated somewhat by good positioning. Then, if a character isn't getting hit by a spell, they aren't benefitting from the additional HP that the investment into Constitution was for.
- Constitution improves Stamina Regen, but that isn’t useful until mid game+ when characters have more skills. But by then you should be Agility stacking, and fights are usually almost over by the time the party is running low on stamina.
- Early game characters miss their attacks frequently. Increasing Agility is the best way to improve their accuracy and therefore end fights faster and more consistently. Not to mention the best defense is a good offense.
Final Boss Tips
The final boss fight has a unique mechanic where you must destroy his invulnerability shield before he can be damaged. On his next turn after you have successfully destroyed his shield, he will automatically recast it as a free action. He is deadly if approached the same way as previous fights, but not so bad if you ignore him and focus on his adds.
- This is a long fight, so consumables that last the entire battle are very useful. Bring HP and Stamina Regen potions (meleers, Priestess), Murderhobo potions (Barbarian, Ogre, Elf, Thief), Pop-Twit candy (Elf, Wizardress), and an Omniscience potion (Wizardress). My Wizardress and Priestess were never starved of mana, so I didn't bother with those potions. (Regen potions are particularly nice because you can get two regen ticks per round by delaying your turn).
- Besides dealing direct damage, Zangdar uses Magical-based CC like Hailstorm and a single-target Scare spell. Resisting the CC of these spells lessens his danger significantly, though he still does strong AoE damage. Having high Courage plus the Ranger’s Tactic: Protection skill is sufficient to resist them most of the time, but it’s still a good idea to change the Priestess’ healing spells to cure Frozen (Recovery, Lay Hands).
Fight General Tips
- Zangdar is invulnerable most of the time.
- Without his shield, he is still very resistant to CC. Perhaps not immune, but he resisted every Stun/Frozen/Knock Down attempt.
- Every time his shield breaks, he deals 5-30 global damage to all characters.
- It is possible to speed up destruction of his shield is by delaying a character's turn. Like regen ticks, a character can get two instrument plays per round by delaying.
- Breaking his shield quickly also requires grouping together, which makes the party susceptible to AoE attacks.
- Reinforcement waves start joining the battle during the third round, and every third round after (6, 9, etc).
Because of this, on my second attempt I chose to not try and burst him down but steadily damage him with the Barbarian’s Crom’s Brawn skill while the rest of the party dealt with the golem and reinforcements. With this, I was able to do 150-200 damage to him every 2-3 rounds while minimizing the global/AoE damage he deals and simultaneously dealing with the adds.
However, towards the end of the fight I realized that:
- Reinforcement waves are not infinite and there are 4 or 5 total waves.
Therefore, don't bother with Crom’s Brawn and just focus on killing Zangdar's adds first.
Fight Per Round Tips
- During the first round, buff the party with the buffers. Then immediately spread out your non-buffing party members and have them consume their potions. Utilize Randomia’s #1 power every time it is available to give characters additional actions to consume potions faster (or give potions to others).
- On the second round, attack the golem (and finish potion drinking). The goal is to kill the golem as quickly as possible while also minimizing Zangdar’s AoE damage and the amount of instrument playing (to minimize global damage from his shield breaking).
- It is possible to kill the golem before the first reinforcement wave acts. Do that, and then switch focus to the new adds. Try to kill each wave of reinforcements before the next wave begins their actions. The starting locations of each wave alternate between the back of the room and the front.
- Keep moving the more vulnerable characters (Priestess, Wizardress, Elf, Thief) around the room, forward and back, to stay in healing/buffing/support range while not getting swarmed by the new waves. The other characters should generally stay towards the middle of the room to intercept the adds and stay in range of healing.
- After all the reinforcements are dead, Zangdar is a piece of cake.