How to Survive
Welcome to Stirring Abyss – General Mechanics
This game is not hard. If you ever played X-com, Incubation or Jagged you will feel at home fast. There is option to save and load at any moment, without ridiculous mechanics as in new X-coms. No limit to saves makes it a little bit too easy, but hey, who is forcing you to save or load it (and it’s nice not to have to resort to ctrl+alt+del to force quit without save). From the in-game menu you can load only last save. This is not working very well for autosaves after completing a scenarios like “Seal Defence” to reduce corruption and you just beat it, but don’t like the results of the Eldritch dice throw and want to reload it, you do the “Load last save” and see that corruption level was not lower as it should be. Or when you found the torned from within diversuit (who had torch at that time must have been lucky, hint: when you select the greedy option, you just pay for it with equipped medicaments, worth it) the result is lost upon loading “Load last save”. In such situation and others, go to main menu and there use Load option. You have whole list showing all of your saves. Here you can safely load the “Seal Defence” end save or others. It is nice to remind yourself to delete that save and exit save polluting the list- when not needed. Whenever you feel the game is not fair with the dice rolls you can try your luck again. Or Bard’s tale mechanic – no, this is not how it happened – load.
First thing to do when a mission starts is to save it.
When you complete a mission it is autosaved on board of U.S.S. Sallem.
Especially during “Salvage” mission it is handy to do few turns by dispersing your divers to cover more ground and spot places, then reload and do your tactic with saved turns and electric power.
Why? Because time is of the essence in this game. Why? Apart from health you have air. with each turn you spend 1 air. This is clear. You have also Corruption counter ticking away since the first turn. After certain number of turns it increases. When it increases the level of spawned enemies increases too. You can find it is good when it is in the middle so you wont get bored with challenges. But as it increases so does the spread of corrupted ground – or semen reefs as I like to call it. When you step on it, corruption counter increases. The higher the corruption level the more Vessels appear instead of normal un-corrupted Scyphozoa and from their corpses more semen reef. And cover more ground. You see the mechanic and algorithm, right?! So be quick with it, unless you want more challenges.
Craft a second Speargun ASAP, I did wait till I build Equipment room to allow 4 divers but I recommend to do it vice versa. It will give you much more tactical advantage, not to speak about dmg output.
Save before Scanning for missions, they roll randomly. Load when you don’t like the one you get. When you are low on Supplies go for Salvage mission. When you discover Soviet divers go for Salvage mission to get one of the 3 unique items that are worth it. From start go for Rescue missions. I am not sure how the roll works here, but I got in one game 1 more Commander, in second just the starting one and one more officer and all others were cooks. Funny and np to beat the game with it.
There are 4 classes: Commander, Science Officer, Warrant Officer and Cook.
In my two games I had just one Warrant officer and that was from story. But I had a lot of cooks.
Characters have skills and attributes. Some skills are unique for a class some are shared.
- Attributes: they are neat, give flavor, have some use. Each point below 15 will give you -1 %, each point above 15 will increase that stat by +1%.
- Agility: Critical strike chance, Melee aim
- Insight: maximum Sanity, Ranged aim
- Strength: maximum Health, % base Melee dmg
- Endurance: % dmg Reduction, Defence
For bot Commander and Science officer you can put all points into Insight, to better hit with Speargun and Darts skills, as only these two have skills for them.
For other classes you can go wild, perhaps Crit chance and Defence are what you will feel the most impact from there are some really good builds that you can create.
You start with Lieutenant Commander, this clas has speciality in command and speargun skills. Pretty handy are Skills like:
- Explosive Expert – you enrich one of your Speargun shots with explosive, area 3×3, with small initial dmg to central target (must be targeted on enemy). (7-10 dmg with spear, 38-44 dmg in 3×3 – dmg with upgraded explosion via enigma board) Cooldown 6 turns.
- Weapons Specialist – you shoot one Speargun shot as penetrating shoot that will do small dmg but disorient enemies (situational – really worth it). Cooldown 5 turns.
- Chaplain – cleanse 3×3 area of corruption, do small dmg to enemies, based on dmg done give absorption shield to divers inside area (good to clear path, or protect or to finish off, situational use, great skill) Cooldown 7 turns.
- Medic – will heal 50% of dmg done in last 2 turns. Cooldown 7 turns.
In my first game I know there was option to have skill giving extra action point ot a diver for maybe 2 turns. Not sure about this. I think I had to choose between that and Weapons Specialist.
Occultist: mark a foe, others will attack him, not sure how reliable this is, duration 3, cooldown 10
Crack Shot: passive, +10 ranged aim
There was an ability that gave a buff for diver, plus 1 action point for duration of 2 turns with cooldwon of 3 turns, something like that, but I didn’t get it in my 2 play thrus
They have useful Dart skills that share cooldown, can heal, can use explosives. Build them for ranged combat. The trick is to use dmg from darts to finish foes together with other skills. Basically – dart gun is full dmg, but takes 2 turns. So first pick what dart to throw. Use first turn for that. Then shoot with speargun. And you have fully utilized your dmg potential for the turn. All darts share 1 turn cooldown.
- Impeding Dart: does small dmg, reduces movement by 45% (hard to find good application).
- Dissolving Dart: small dmg, -5 armor, one of the mostly used, reduces armor – directly increasing next dmg done, great for sinergies.
- Numbing Dart: small dmg, can’t make attacks of opportunity, can have applications if you want to penetrate with a team, or save someone.
- Blinding Dart: small dmg, -35 aim, in my experience unreliable, but can save a team mate, you can always load till miss occurs.
- Dart Velocity: +15 dmg for any dart, must have since it will make from any dart almost equivalent of spear gun in dmg and don’t need to reload (at end you can have 24-27 dmg)
- Dart proficiency: darts no longer share a cooldown, good for any dart enthusiast, other sane persons don’t take it as there are almost always better skills.
- Medic: heal half of the dmg suffered in last 2 turns (cooldown 7 turns).
- Linguist: put a glyph on team mate, attackers will get disoriented if they hit him, good to boost your melee killing machine with, but must get hit in order to have effect, can be tricky
- Chemist: place a bomb at ground, create explosion in a cone (with increased explosion dmg from enigma board you get 34-43 dmg – which is something) (c 7turns).
- Psychiatrist: can charm an enemy, stronger are harder to charm (c7 turns).
- Geologist: create debris on ground to hide behind, I never had time to try this skill.
- Occultist: mark a foe, others will attack him, not sure how reliable this is, duration 3, cooldown 10.
- Witch Doctor: mark a target, reduce ain, if target doesn’t hit that round, it suffers dmg (-40 aim, 11-14 dmg) duration 3, cooldown 8.
Warrant Officer and Cooks – in my games both had same skills.
- Spotter: mark a foe, -5 armor, -10 defense, 3 duration, 6 cooldown, great skill, first you spent your first turn to “apply” dmg via this on range, this will always hit, then hit it with your spear gun or any other skill for extra dmg, great for many synergies
- Brawler: do 3 quick thrusts, to 3 targets for -25% dmg for each strike, usefull, cooldown 4.
- Goon: rending melee attack, -50% base dmg, +5 aim, will bleed for 3 turns, cooldown 4.
- Marine: provides immunity to physical debuffs, +5 armor, duration 3, cooldown 7, worthy skill for front assault.
- Jolly: passive, small % chance to trigger at start of each turn, heal small number of sanity (2-5) for all other team mates, not this one char, now when I think about it, not worth it, there are plenty of resources to heal sanity via medicaments or via supplies
- Ruthless: passive, +8% crit chance, flat (both melee and ranged) when you make a good build this is useful.
- Sadist: passive, gain sanity for killing enemies (5-10 something like this, good amount) good for tanks and killers.
- Slippery: passive, Immune to attacks of opportunity (there are better skills to pick).
- Strategist: in area 3×4 grant plus 1 action plus do not trigger attacks of opportunity, cooldown 7, must have skill.
- Opportunist: All attacks of opportunity will hit, when there is nothing better to choose.
Common for all classes
- Lab Rat: passive, medicaments have +50% effect (I used medicaments only few times, so depends on your play style).
- Gritty: +2 armor, all attacks do 2 less dmg, for melee characters good choice.
- Stoic: + 8 sanity.
- Swift: +15% movement speed, worthy to have on 1 or 2 divers to spread better.
- Spontaneous mutation: you get 1 mutation for free.
- Masochist: after receiving dmg there is a chance to reduce cooldown of all skills by 1, more dmg=higher chance, maybe if you have nothing better to take, otherwise not worth it
- Robust: carry plus 1 item in inventory of that diver.
- Sturdy: +15 hp.
Plus there might be some I haven’t encountered.
Basic Battle Hints, Tactics and Enemies
Don’t spread too much, max two groups. Concentrate dmg to execute enemies as fast as possible once spotted. Don’t step on semen reef – corruption on the ground.
Main weapons of choice:
- Knife – every diver has it, takes no inventory, one strike = 1 AP, increase dmg via Enigma Board, totally worth it (dmg after upgrades 22-28).
- Speargun – equip every diver with one, your tactical options will sky rocket, have 2 shots, reload takes 1 AP, shot takes all you AP, when you are spending more then one with the shot, your accuracy will be increased, always do something first, then shoot, to maximize AP worth, (dmg after upgrades 35-41)
- Chainshot Speargun – at first you have -10 accuracy, you fire 3 spears, each with its own chance to hit, each shot is approx 55% of normal Speargun shot. 2 shots. Reload takes 1 AP. Shot takes all you AP, when you are spending more then one with the shot, your accuracy will be increased, always do something first, then shoot, to maximize AP worth, (max dmg 21-24 per spear).
Take into account how much health enemies have and how much dmg you are doing with what. Example: when you need to do two Speargun shots, meaning deliver two high dmg strikes, then don’t waste a knife strike between two shots, you will need two knife strikes and one Speargun shot to spend AP meaningfully. Or one Spotter ability and one high dmg and one small dmg. Or Dissolving dart and one Speargun shot can do the magic (sometimes one more small dmg is needed). Calculate with this mechanic in mind. You will find that at certain points in game enemies will be left with sliver of life. In such cases you need to upgrade dmg output via Enigma board.
Enemies and strategies to counter them:
- Scyphozoa – evil jelly fish; dangerous as a peon.
- Spine Skulkers will disengage all the time, you can charge them. Despite popular theory they are not afraid of light. With Marine skill turned on they pose no threat.
- Murkfiends have a lot of HP and do good dmg, they are worthy opponents, but nothing dangerous.
- Vessel (Scyphozoa contaminated by semen) start destroying it only when you know you will kill it that turn, otherwise expect nasty explosion. When they die, they spread Corruption. Once damaged they explode at the end of turn.
- Voidspawns or Fanthom Seers or Harvesters are enemies showing when it starts to get serious. Too bad it ends there. Keep Corruption low and you will not see many.
- Voidspawns mostly pose threat because they pop-in to existence near you, in pair, in worst moments and their hobby is to devour a diver.
- Fanthom seers are funny enemies with 3 abilities. 1- Placing purple bombs on ground that tick till next round, bang in second. 2- Join 2 divers together via Chains of Fate? Uuu scary, they never live long enough to profit from it. 3- purple energy projectile, on normal it takes approx 15 sanity. You will always want them to use the other two. Prepare supply in Juke-box. Or attack with Sadist.
- And final Harvester. They always end their live in second turn, so don’t have enough time to harvest from my divers to be dangerous. They have few nasty abilities. Dispose of fast and with extreme prejudice. People say they are dangerous.They never lived long enough in my games.
Almost forgot about enemy Soviet divers, the worst enemy in game, they use what you can and have also mutation at disposition. Nasty and hard to predict.
Then there are bosses but they are fun, I don’t get the fuss around them. They are almost easy. Never killed anyone from my divers. Just watch out, don’t be too daring. Be sure to spam Spotter and Dissolving darts and you wont believe the dmg output you are doing. When you get eaten just grab the document and focus at one target at a moment. Just try to have eaten someone with Spotter or Dissolving dart. This really is not such a hard game. Only very nice game. Load when you need, learning curve is short thanks to the fact there are not so many items, abilities, enemies. Enjoy.
What rooms to repair, build.
- 1- first repair Officer’s quarters to have access to Enigma board.
Skip Crews’s Mess for now.
- 2,3- after either repair Crew’s quarters to auto heal 8 HP after each mission (when you finish a mission and return to Salem each diver autoheal that amount – which is handy) or build Pattern Sequencer to better explore. Both are worth it. After the first build the second.
- 4- Battery room, you will need energy at this point (or was it even sooner, not sure now).
- 5- Dissection room to have twice the clues for each kill – a must have.
- 6- Equipment room to have 4 divers in missions.
- 7- doesn’t matter, build what you need, but definitely you will need at some point Crews’s Mess to heal HP with supplies and Jukebox Room to heal sanity with supplies
Enigma Board and Clues
I am a research junkie in games, in this it is worth it.
Get as many clues as possible, eat jelly fish, vessels, build Dissection room soon. Pick choices that will take/dmg your sanity and give clues. You will have a lot of supplies, but not enough clues.
Mechanical tree: What I focused at and can advise is to first upgrade maximum air +6.
After increase dmg for both Speargun +15% and Knife +20%. Then Eldritch dice +2 from another branch and back here. Then dmg again Speargun another +20%, Knife another +25%. Those are techs I recommend to think about at first. Later on from Mechanical tree you can get Defence +8. This is insane, you could spent all your point in level up in Endurance to get a lot of Def, but this way you just spent the clues. This will show. Enemies will really hit you less often. If you have points and your most wanted are now upgraded get the armor +3. It is nice to get less dmg. Or get 40% autoreload chance for Spearguns if you have clues, when triggered it saves 1 AP which is nice. Upgrading explosives dmg will increase also dmg for explosive skills – Explosive shoot the Commander has, or Science officer Chemist ability.
Biological tree: Get +10 HP. Not that you need more HP, but you have to unlock the other technologies and to spend clues to pick from 3 mutation and not 2 is not worth it – why? – use load. Improved Defensive posture is very good upgrade, you get +50% absorption and it lasts +1 turn – really worth it – now it turns to useful skill. Blood in the water 1 and 2 are very good, but again to unlock the second you will need to increase your HP +15. First will give you +5 aim second +8 aim – invaluable time save. Blood Letting +50% crit dmg – is like coup-de-grace.
Eldritch tree: Get from Endritch the Auguary 1 and 2 upgrade for dice rolls. Get Carnage +5 crit chance. Get Chronoclasm – 33% on skill cooldown – turns battles a bit around (sometimes insanely).
Those are all the techs I was able to get. Experiment and enjoy.
Should I play with mutations? Definitely. No downside. Some can break the game a bit, but hey mutations.
- Gills: passive, 15% chance at start of turn to get +3 air. With this mutation your O2 problems will bubble away. Normally when you play you will sometimes get under pressure because of O2, with this little extra, you can stop worrying about O2.
- Revenant: 10% life steal, with this and Sadist and some other fancy skills you can build a terminator.
- Mind over matter: +20% dmg reduction, 20% of dmg+2 substracted from sanity, tried it, hated it, not worth it, each attack that lands on you will dmg sanity by 2+, imagine getting a dot 😀
- Macabre Gluttony: eat corps, get some of the fun effects, you can heal hp, get air, heal sanity, get some buffs, or get some clues, small jelly 2-4 clues, big jelly 4-7 clues (if I remember correctly) progress is not painless 😀
- Dark reflection: create a reflection of yourself, it will attack randomly on its own with knife only? for -30% dmg, will slow down enemies close by 40%, now I can not recall,does it take dmg, or foes don’t attack it? it was unreliable to use, not worth it, that is what I recall
- Extra Limb: +2 Strength, +1 inventory slot, good for melee attacker
- Second Hearth: regenerate 20%, I recall it was more random then anything, but hey you have another heal, this one for free if you want it
- Abyssal grip: swap hand for tentacle, you can pull, you get +4 melee dmg, but can not use Spearguns, and that is huge disadvantage, bad trade in my book.
- Colony: passive – enemies close to you get dmg at end of your turn; Active- command the swarm to attack a target, 9-12 dmg, small dmg, not worth it, maybe if someone can work the passive out (I don’t want to be close to enemies as a rule and at end of my turn foes are usually dead, not for me)
- Void Touched: get action points after episode of insanity, there is a rule, don’t get your sanity down to have the epizode in first place. period
- Herald of decay: corpses near you will explode on random, it’s like playing Fallout 2 with Jinxed :D, unpredictable, but fun
- Crusher: change arm to Crab hand, +12 melee dmg, +2-8 direct dmg, not able to shoot Speargun, maybe worth for one insane melee killer
- Reality mirror: reflect 40% of dmg back to attacker, can have ranks? I rather not get dmg, so I never used it, better to have higher defence and armor then to operate with this mechanic, but who knows with the ranks.
Experiment, it’s fun.