Health and Attack
Health is a resource to attack enemies. Attack Power is a melee power of your character, which consist of two capacities: Base Attack and Bonus Damage%. Because health is directly converted into damage dealt, whose efficiency is determined by your attack power, the attack power and health is closely interwined. Some defensive options like resistances have their own sites somewhere in this complicated relation.
Maximum Health, or a Health Bar, determines how much you can burst damage without exploring a single tile. Because the health left becomes irrelevant if you cannot tank one more hit, expanding maximum health a bit is sometimes not very meaningful, but at a threshold it becomes more meaningful. Of course, this threshold depends on your enemy's attack power.
Expanding maximum health has no effect on your regen-fighting ability. Instead, it makes your %-based healing options more powerful.
There are two options on maximum health: the one per level type and flat type. One per level type contains health boosters and Dwarf's racial bonus. These bonus recalculates every time you level up; so taking these upgrades early does not mean you'll be weaker on higher levels. Let's say this called one unit health. The following list contains all general methods to boost the health bar. Raising the health bar doesn't heal you up; the health booster is an only exception.
- Level-up: recalculates your maximum health based on your new level. Standard characters starts with 10 unit health.
- Health Booster: when picked up, increases 1 unit health permanently. This also heals you up, depending on your current health percentage.
- Dwarf: 80 conversion bonus increases 1 unit health.
- The Earthmother: provides flat maximum health boost.
- Glowing Guardian: provides flat maximum health boost.
- Jehora Jeheyu: provides a large flat maximum health boost, but requires you to sacrifice a Health Potion in trade for each +20
- The Pactmaker: flat +1 maximum health at the cost of 3 , each time an enemy is slain.
- Priest: starts with +3 unit health.
- Patches the Teddy: provides random benefits when you level up; one possible bonus is a permanent flat +5 maximum health.
- Bloody Sigil: provides flat +5 maximum health and +1 regeneration rate when in inventory, but deducts 10% damage bonus.
- Pendant of Health: flat +10 maximum health when in inventory.
- Troll Heart: adds flat +2 maximum health whenever you level up; bonus is not lost when the item is converted.
- Hero's Helm: flat +5 maximum health plus some other benefits when in inventory.
- Dwarven Gauntlets: adds flat +2 maximum health whenever you level up, and +20% damage bonus; the health bonus is not lost when the item is converted.
- Orb of Zot: provides +3 to maximum mana and +5 maximum health until used, but is very expensive.
- Alchemist Scroll: provides flat +8 maximum health at the cost of 3 gold whenever you quaff a potion, but can be activated only once per level. Bonus is not lost when converted.
Also, there are several ways to overheal yourself. Overheal is capped on 150% of your health bar.
Similar to mana restoration, nearly all health restoration methods are based on percentage of your maximum health. Exploration, Life steal, Sorcerer and HALPMEH are the only exceptions.
Unlike mana, you should not care about the special 'thresholds' that mana bar cares about. For example, having an even maximum mana is critical to mana restoration by since it rounds down, but health bar is already too big so it does not make big difference.
Though there are many health restoration based on health bar, your general method to restore health is exploration, which does not care about how big your health bar is. The following list contains all general methods to restore health.
- Level-up: when you level up, your health and mana are fully restored
- Health Potion: restores 40% (100% for a Priest, 10% for a Chemist) of your maximum health.
- Life steal: a special way to restore health, granted by several methods.
- Sanguine: a special way to restore health based on your maximum health. This will be explained later.
- Fire Heart: charges up every time you cast a spell, and can be activated to restore a certain percentage of maximum health.
- Rock Heart: restores 1 unit health when one or more walls are broken.
- Glowing Guardian: restores health (and mana) with .
- Jehora Jeheyu: restores health (and mana) with and .
- Dracul: provides various ways to restore health with many boons.
- Sorcerer: restores 2 health per mana spent.
- Rat Monarch and Goatperson: both have special ways to restore health and mana.
- Exploration: restores 1 unit health and 1 mana per square. Health restoration is disabled by poisoned.
- HALPMEH: restores 4 unit health (5 if Paladin).
Your attack power is a multiplication of base attack and (100% +bonus damage). Base attack is 5×(your level) by default, and bonus damage start from 0%. You find three damage boosters which adds +10% bonus damage in a dungeon, so your bonus damage ends up at 130%. Balancing between these two is important for making a powerful melee character. See orc page to compare those two.
Higher attack power means your health becomes more efficient. To become 10% stronger in attack power is roughly equal to have 10% maximum health, speaking of burst damage. But unlike the maximum health, it increase the power of regen-fight. High attack power also increases the value of Quicksilver Potion, Reflex Potion, First Strike and Death Protection.
Base attack is harder to obtain, and becomes less effective as you level. Being Orc is the only practical and reliable method to gain large enough base attack. The list below shows all general methods of increasing your base attack, except temporary effects.
- Level-up: +5 base attack. Monk only gets +3 and Rat Monarch only gets +1.
- Orc: +2 base attack per 80 conversion points. See orc page for detailed description.
- Fine Sword: +4 base attack.
- Spoon: +1 base attack.
- Hero's Helm: provides +2 base attack and some other bonuses.
- Trisword: provides +2 base attack. This items becomes temporarily more powerful when you quaff a potion, but it degrades.
- Sword: provides +2 base attack.
- Taurog: gives you Skullpicker which gives you +5 base attack.
- Dracul: some boons provides +1 base attack.
Bonus damage is easier to obtain. Here's the list of permanently increasing bonus damage.
- Damage Booster: +10% bonus damage.
- Human: +10% bonus damage per 100 conversion points.
- Berserker: starts with +20% bonus damage, and have another +20% while fighting against higher level enemy.
- Rogue: starts with +40% bonus damage.
- Assassin: starts with -20% bonus damage, but have +40% damage against poisoned enemy.
- Warlord: +30% bonus damage if under half health at the exact striking instant. See Strike Order.
- Knockback: not exactly a bonus damage, but if you can knockback the target to something, it's equal to have a bonus damage.
- Badge of Honour: +10% bonus damage until used for Death Protection.
- Dwarven Gauntlets: +20% bonus damage.
- Perseverance Badge: +10% bonus damage.
- Patches the Teddy: provides random benefits when you level up; one possible bonus is a permanent flat +5% bonus damage.
- Binlor: provides knockback and Might, which all acts like a bonus damage.
- Taurog: all his boon except death protection grants +5% bonus damage, at the cost of -1 maximum mana.
Think about balance. For example, let's say you have 100% damage bonus (you are probably a human). At this moment, +10% damage bonus is not very meaningful. It effectively powers you up by only 5%. The item or glyph itself is probably more important than their conversion points. At an opposite manner, if you are a Gorgon and have -50% damage bonus, +10% damage bonus is extremely meaningful, it powers you up by 20% by result. This is one another reason why Binlor Ironshield is extremely helpful to a Gorgon. The same rule applies to base attack.
Base attack will not decrease below 1 no matter how much you are weakened. If your base damage is 1 and you have negative damage bonus, your total attack power becomes zero. It's also possible to have zero attack by, for example, having 2 base damage and -60% damage bonus, but it's not meaningful. Zero attack can be exploited by infinite TT piety build. Unfortunately Rat Monarch cannot use this build because zero attack still activates enemy's corrosion damage, unlike player's corrosion.
Desktop Dungeon also features various ways to armour yourself. Similar to increasing attack, increasing defense is making your health more efficient, that is, you deal more damage per health. There are three methods to armour up, Physical resist/ Magic resist, Life steal and Damage Reduction.
Resistances are very interesting defensive approach; unlike other stats becoming less effective by strengthening it to very high range which is just explaned above, getting high resistance is becomes effective more and more until it reaches to the maximum point. (If there was no maximum point, reaching 100% resists would auto-win any dungeon) This approach is called Resistance Stacking, and is a default approach to many difficult and long dungeons. These are the ways to obtain permanent phyical or magic resistances:
- Berserker: starts with 50% magic resist.
- Monk: starts with 50% physical resist, have higher resists cap (75%, all other classes have 65% cap)
- Paladin: starts with 25% physical resist.
- Gorgon: starts with 25% physical resist.
- Tower Shield: +10% physical resist.
- Elven Boots: +15% magical resist, but it's very expensive.
- Dragon Shield: +18% to both resists. This is the most efficient way to reliably and prematurely earn resists by far, out of class traits.
- Patches the Teddy: provides random benefits when you level up; one possible bonus is a +4% resists to both.
- The Pactmaker: gradually increase both resists with .
- Binlor Ironshield: his boons increases your magic resists efficiently.
- Glowing Guardian: his boons increases your magic resists, but it's not very efficient and cogs your inventory space.
- Dracul: gives +15% on both resists.
- Taurog: +15% on physical and/or magic resist, but cogs your inventory.
Even though resistances are very hard to obtain and stack, why resistances are so important? Because this is the only way to improve your melee ability if you already have high attack power. As described above, if you already have high base attack and bonus damage, stacking those have little effect on your melee power. When you have 100% bonus attack, +10% attack bonus only powers you up by 5%. But if you buy a Tower Shield to have +10% physical resist, your melee ability becomes 11% more powerful. Of course this gets even better if you stack resists. This also improves your regen-fighting ability.
The one-time physical resistance, Stone Skin, is more like a one-time healing whose efficiency depends on the target's attack power. This does not become efficient when stacked on top of other resistances.
Life steal is a unique ability to heal yourself, or block some damage. You steal life by 1 unit health when attacking an enemy (2 unit health if versus lower level) per life steal. Life steal allows you to overheal. This can be a method of healing if you use bloodcows or popcorns.
When you are actually fighting versus your target (unless bloodless), this works like cancelling out a flat amount of damage, similar to Damage Reduction. Because it is flat, it becomes more efficient when fighting versus enemy with low attack power, such as Meat Man or Forest Troll.
Life steal synergies with resistances extremely well. Because resistance is considered in calculating damage, then life steal is done, life steal becomes more efficient when you have resistances. For example, let's say you have life steal and it recovers 10 points of damage, and the enemy's attack is 50. Then it blocks off 20% of its damage (you are 20% stronger), just like having 20% resists. But if you have 50% resists, then you recover 10 points of damage with 25 incoming damage, which is same as blocking 40% of its damage (you are 40% stronger). Or, just like having another 20% resists on top of 50%.
There are only a few ways to obtain Life steal ability.
- Vampire: starts with 1 life steal, and +1 stack per 120 conversion points.
- Vampiric Blade or Draining Blade: +1 life steal.
- Dracul: adds some life steal by sacrificing maximum resists.
Damage Reduction is one another defensive ability. Like the life steal, you block off a flat amount of damage, so it becomes more efficient if the enemy has low attack power.
However, unlike life steal, damage reduction have no synergy with resistances. This is because damage reduction is first calculated, then resistances kick in. But this does not mean Platemail is inefficient when you have resists! It's just equal, no synergy nor anti-synergy. For example, let's say you have 20 damage reduction and enemy's attack is 50. Then it blocks off 40% of its damage (you are 40% stronger). If you have 50% resists, then the damage done is (50-20)×50% = 15, and you are blocking 40% of its damage (you are 40% stronger). This concludes resistance and damage reduction have no interplay; the efficiency of damage reduction only depends on your enemy's attack power.
There are only a few ways to obtain Damage Reduction ability, and most of them are negligible at higher levels.
- Shield: -2 damage reduction. You can prepare one and find another one in the secret blacksmith subdungeon.
- Platemail: -2×(your level) damage reduction. This is the only way to achieve high damage reduction.
- Taurog: gives you Wereward which gives you -5 damage reduction.
- The Earthmother: provides some damage reduction, but cost increase each time you take the boon.
One interesting thing is it can reduce damage done by Retaliate: Fireball. Since retaliation has low damage, damage reduction (especially Platemail) works better. This is what a life steal cannot do.