Discussion of the final boss fight, with tips for defeating him.
Guide to Final Boss
This guide contains spoilers regarding the final boss, as well as suggestions on how to beat the game on the normal difficulty setting, which allows you to bypass a significant amount of gameplay to finish the game as quickly as possible. If you do not want spoilers and/or want to play the game as intended, you should not read this guide. Note that the methods included in this guide are not “cheating”, merely ways of exploiting design oversights in the game.
The Final Boss
When you reach the end of The Dungeon, the game’s third area, you will encounter the Archdemon, the demon lord you have been seeking to resurrect. Long story short, he’s already awake and none too interested in helping you out, launching a boss fight. This fight is not intended to be winnable the first time you try it, since story-wise you are still a loyal thrall of the Archdemon. Once you are defeated, you will start the game over again as normal. However, after encountering and being defeated by the Archdemon once, you unlock hard mode.
Whenever you start a new game you will be able to choose between normal or hard mode. Normal mode is the default mode where the Archdemon is intended to be undefeatable, while hard mode features more difficult enemies but a defeatable final boss. Generally, it is easier to get XP on normal mode because you can clear enemies more quickly, and hard mode’s more difficult enemies may force you to use more rest places for healing rather than forgetting/improving spells.
Okay, so you aren’t supposed to be able to beat the boss fight the first time around. How is it possible to ignore fate and do so anyway? Let’s start by examining what makes the fight difficult.
The Archdemon has 400 HP, the “one mind” buff that prevents temptation, and deals high damage, pretty standard fare for a boss fight at this point. What makes the Archdemon so challenging are two of its passive abilities. The first, “dignity”, is an unremovable passive buff that prevents the Archdemon from taking more than 50 damage in a turn, meaning that it will take a minimum of 8 turns to defeat him. The second, “obey”, is an unremovable passive debuff the Archdemon casts on his first turn that prevents you from blocking. Practically speaking, it means that all attacks from the Archdemon will completely ignore your current shield stacks and directly affect your HP. With his high damage and his “dignity” passive preventing you from beating him quickly, your survivability is limited, even with the maximum possible HP the “weakening” debuff active on the Archdemon.
The Archdemon’s abilities are:
- Seize: Always used only once on the first turn, this applies the “obey” debuff to you. The debuff is unremovable and totally negates your block stacks against the Archdemon’s attacks (they still work against his summons).
- Hellfire: His main damaging ability, Hellfire deals 18x3 damage by default and will apply two stacks of “focusing” on you, which increases your damage taken by 50%.
- Absolute Authority: Increases the Archdemon’s “power” buff two levels, permanently increasing his damage, and also gives him two stacks of “purify”, preventing debuffs.
- Summon Demon: Summons a lesser demon. The summon will have 50HP and does all the normal things a lesser demon does, but does not start out with any of the positive status conditions lesser demons normally have, such as the 30 initial block stacks, the “purify” stacks, or the “toughness” buff that preserves its block stacks.
The fight looks something like this (the exact same pattern repeated across multiple runs):
- Turn 1: Archdemon casts “Seize”, afflicting you with the “obey” debuff.
- Turn 2: Archdemon casts “Hellfire”, potentially defeating you unless your maximum HP was increased and/or you have debuffed him with “weaken”.
- Turn 3: Archdemon casts “Absolute Authority”.
- Turn 4: Archdemon casts “Summon Demon”.
- Turn 5: Archdemon casts “Absolute Authority”.
- Turn 6: Archdemon casts “Hellfire”, defeating you.
Issues to Solve
While there are several strategies that will allow you to win this fight, they mostly boil down to satisfying two conditions.
- High damage output. With the Archdemon’s high damage and ability to ignore your block stacks, you need to beat him as quickly as possible. This means that you want to be able to reliably put out the maximum of 50 damage/turn to defeat him in the minimum possible number of turns.
- A method of mitigating, nullifying, or recovering from his damage. By default, his attack will do 54 points of unblockable damage, and you will need to tank it 2-3 times. The damage you take will also increase as the fight goes on and he adds summons, increases his “power” buff, and “focuses” you. If you don’t have a way of lasting at least 8 turns through this barrage, you have no path to victory.
Clearing the Fight
So how do you satisfy these conditions?
There are many ways to consistently output 50 damage/turn for 8 turns. Since consistency is so important, you want to avoid builds that take several turns to “ramp up” (like bleed builds) or burst damage builds (like Mana Residue or Black Hole). AoE builds are also less valuable here, since the Archdemon’s summons are not very strong and he does not summon very frequently. Probably the best build for consistently doing this is a cycling build that relies on card draw, power/morale enhancers, and using Chill to deal very high (potentially infinite) amounts of damage in a single turn while mitigating enemy damage with the “weaken” debuff.
An ideal endgame cycling deck would have 3-4 damage enhancers (1x Hatred, 2x Amplify, 1x Weak Knees optional), 4-5 damage sources (1-2x Chill, 1x Magic Missile, 1x Sadism, 1x Quick Shot), 2 card draw spells (2x Infusion), and 1-2 defensive spells (1x Mana Shield, 1x Wall of Ice). Additionally, you can add any number of Mana Stream spells to speed things up. The deck does not “need” any particular artifacts to work, but is greatly improved with the Earring of Charm, Dog Collar, Overflowing Staff, and Spell Book to improve consistency and mitigate damage. For a more in-depth guide on this deck, check out “Deckbuilding to Win” by CattMeister.
There are basically three ways to potentially survive the Archdemon’s damage.
- The first is to mitigate his damage with the “weaken” debuff and to have very high max HP. With all of the Banana (+4HP), Cheese (+5HP), Cherry Cake (+12HP), the max HP starting bonus (+8HP), and two skill points in the “Endurance” skill (+10HP) you can get up to +39 max HP, giving you a total of 79HP (I believe there are also events that allow you to increase your max HP, making this total potentially even higher). However, even with the “weaken” debuff you may not be able to survive two hits from the Archdemon, making this the least consistent option.
- The second is to recover HP. There is the “Necromancy Wand” event on the second and third floors where you encounter a necromancer’s staff. If you take it, you suffer a -12 max HP penalty but get 3 “Drain Life” spells that cost 1 lust and drain 2 HP. While these do not do much on their own, they can slot into a cycling deck to improve their damage and healing. Together with high max HP and using “weaken” to debuff the Archdemon can be a winning strategy, though it requires a lot of things to go right.
- The final and best option is an absolutely busted spell, “The Mistress”. For the cost of 2 lust, it reduces all damage to 1 for that turn. This spell is not affected by the “obey” debuff and will reduce each instance of damage taken to 1, so the Archdemon’s Hellfire attacks will still hit you for 3 damage total. When upgraded, the spell loses the “extinction” effect and gains “passive”, meaning that once drawn, it will remain in your hand until you use it and it is shuffled back into your deck. Because it does not interfere with your draws once upgraded, it slots into the cycling deck well, making the cycling deck with “The Mistress” in one of the defensive card slots the most consistent way to do this.
If you are able to defeat the Archdemon, you will earn the achievement and gallery entries for beating him even though you are not playing on hard mode, eliminating the need to play hard mode at all unless you want the challenge.
Hard Mode Differences
The Archdemon has the same amount of HP, the same abilities, follows the same pattern, and does not do much more damage than before. The only things I noticed are that when he casts “Seize” on the first turn it will fail because of the hard mode buff (allowing you to block his damage as normal), and the lesser demons he summons are slightly beefier. Also, his “Absolute Authority” ability will sometimes give him stacks of “invincible” which limit all instances of damage he takes to 1. This does prolong the fight somewhat unless you are using an infinite cycling deck or something else that can attack 50 times in a turn, so pace out your sustainability skills appropriately.