New Players Guide

From DDwiki
Revision as of 11:18, 7 May 2015 by Lujo (Talk | contribs) (Hunt for bonus XP, to reach top!)

Jump to: navigation, search

Welcome to Desktop Dungeons! You've bought this magnificent game through the avenue of your choice, blazed through the tutorial, and... can't clear Venture Cave. Don't fret! Desktop dungeons is an incredibly complex game, with much to offer the human who masters its systems, but as a consequence has a very steep learning curve. The fact that you're here means you are willing to stick with it, though, and that is excellent! This page contains a basic explanation of the game's systems and strategies you can use to help ease you in to the game.

The single most important thing to know is that DD is a game about resource management. This is a game that punishes wasted resources. The second most important thing to understand is that everything is a resource. Items, health, mana, piety (you'll get to that later) and gold are not the only things you will want to manage. Exploration, experience, low-level enemies ("popcorn"), even your health is a resource to be managed!

If this sounds overwhelming, fear not! For most of the game, you only need to understand a small part of this to succeed, and things will come gradually.

You can read more advanced strategies there, or in the articles dedicated to each class, race and god.

The basics of the basics

7 basic rules to help you :

  • Try to kill monsters which are higher level than you. It will give you bonus experience, and you will need it.
  • Use glyphs (spells) with any character you play, regardless of the class name. The Fighter is a better spellcaster than he is a "fighter". Not using glyphs will make it quite difficult to kill higher level enemies. BURNDAYRAZ, a direct damage glyph, always spawns on every run.
  • Explore wisely : unlexpored tiles or blackspace can be a valuable resource.
  • Monsters heal when you are exploring ! So, unless you know that you can heal faster than they do, don't explore during a fight, and try to fully heal before your fight.
  • Leveling up will restore your health and mana. Killing low level monsters during a tough fight to refill both your health and mana is one of the cornerstones of DD play.
  • Prepare for your fights! Using glyphs like BYSSEPS or ENDISWAL and then exploring a few tiles before the fight will have you start it with a bonus and full health and mana.
  • Read the combat prediction. When hovering a monster the game predicts next blow result. It would be silly not to read that ! It also predicts how hits you will have to give to kill the monster. It is extremely useful...

Now, you can keep going for some more detailed advice

In-Dungeon Basics

Game Objective

Your objective is to kill the level 10 "boss monster" in the dungeon. If there are multiple such monsters, you must defeat all of them. They will drop trophies that you can sell.

Anything else in the game should be considered as resources to prepare the boss fight : unexplored space, glyphs, gold, shops, potions, gods but also monsters (they're XP powerups but they're tricky to pick up!). There are ways to turn even walls and bloodpools monsters leave behing when they die into a weapon!

Gaining Levels

Consider monsters as "hard to pick up XP boosters" : killing them adds to your experience bar, and experience allows you to level up. Every level-up makes you stronger and refills you health and mana.

Knowing exactly what you get from a level-up is critical to a deeper understanding of the game, as proper timing of level-ups is crucial to your success in a dungeon run. The benefits of a level-up are:

  • +10 max HP
  • +5 base damage
  • A full health and mana bar refill
  • A wipe of any poison or mana burn effects on the player

And additionally:

  • An increase in your health regeneration rate
  • An increase in your Burndayraz damage rate

And it also means that:

  • Every +20% damage increase is essentially +1 dmg per level.

Hunt for bonus XP!

First of all - if you're higher level than a monster you get first strike against it. This means that if you outlevel a monster, and have enough damage, you can kill it wihtout expending any resources. You can (and should!) do this while you're fighting a different, tougher monster.

Killing higher-level monsters gives you bonus experience, and you will need it : if you stick to killing monsters who are same level as you, you're not likely to have enough xp to rise higher than level 4 or 5. And what's worse - you won't have any easy to pick up XP powerups to munch on for a refill while you fight the boss!

Since leveling up instantly refills your health and mana, you don't necessarily want to reach the highest possible level before you fight the boss. What you do want is to level up efficiently. If you get bonus XP from higher level kills, this will leave a lot of low level monsters on the board for you to refill with while you fight the boss or a high level monster.

You will also soon discover many other ways to get bonus XP, and you can read some technical details in the level article.

Mid fight level-up

The most critical part of this to understand is the health and mana restore, which is core to the most fundamental strategy in the game: the Mid fight level-up. To execute this strategy, you will need:

  • To be within a few XP of leveling up
  • Have a high-level monster you can get within killing range, but are unable to kill without using potions

The execution is simple. Fight the high level monster until you are out of mana and you can't take any more hits from it. Then, kill a lower-level monster to level up, refreshing your health and mana. Finally, use your refreshed resources to finish killing the monster, giving you the ability to kill it! This technique is very simple, but is the pillar upon which high-level play is built on. Learn it. Love it. Master it.

We call those lower monster "popcorn". You can read more about it. Also, if you manage to have enough popcorn to level-up twice in a fight, we call that a level-up catapult.

Don't forget : your sole target is to kill the boss. Other monsters are (usually) not your enemies, but boosters that you need make the best use of to kill the boss.


  • A combat exchange happens whenever the hero bumps into a monster.
  • The higher level combatant strikes first. If the hero and monster are same level, then the monster goes first.
  • The first attacker deals damage to the opponent equal to its attack power.
  • The second attacker, if still alive, then deals damage to the opponent equal to its attack power.

Important things not covered by these bullets are strike order modifiers. A player with First Strike will strike first regardless of levels, unless the opposing monster also has first strike. A slowed player will always strike last in battle. First Strike and Slow cancel each other out.

You can read more in the strike order article

Mana and Spells

  • Mana is used for casting spells. You start with no spells, and must find the spell Glyphs in the dungeon. (Certain, later, classes start the game with a specific glyph in their inventory.)
  • In order to learn a spell after you've found it, you must double-click it in the "on ground" slot, and it will appear in your inventory.
  • Casting a spell on a monster does NOT trigger a combat exchange.
  • Glyphs that aren't very useful to you should be converted by dragging them into the teal-and-red conversion icon. This will give you 100 conversion points, and possibly a benefit depending upon your race. Humans get more attack power, for example.

Healing and Restoring Mana

  • As you explore the dungeon, you will restore depleted hit points and mana. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. The unexplored dungeon is a scarce resource that heals you and restores your mana pool. Use it wisely.
  • For every square of the dungeon you uncover, you recover 1 mana point, and health equal to your level.
  • When you are poisoned, you will not gain health from exploring squares. Poison can be cured by drinking a health potion, casting a healing spell, or by gaining a level.
  • When you suffer from mana burn, you will not gain mana from exploring squares. Mana burn can be cured by drinking a mana potion, or by gaining a level.
  • Whenever you gain a level, your health and mana are fully restored.

Monster Health Regeneration

  • As you explore the dungeon, wounded monsters regenerate health. They heal 1 health point per level per square uncovered. (A level 4 monster, will recover 4 health points each tile you uncover)
  • No other actions — including fighting other monsters and moving around parts of the map that you've already explored — will cause monsters to regenerate.

This is also extremely important : exploring the dungeon will both heal you and the monsters. Thus most higher level monsters heal quicker than you do. So, it often not a very good idea to explore mid-fight to heal. There are other ways to get health during a fight such as potions or level-up. But of course, you will soon discover that this rule is not always true and that you can regen-fight some monsters (such as meat man))

Potions and Powerups

  • 3 each of the following items: Health Powerup, Mana Powerup, Attack Powerup, Health Potion and Mana Potion. A Thief will cause 4 of each to be created.
  • Basic Potions restore 40% of your Max Health/Mana, rounded down, except for Priest (Health Potion 100% effective, Thief(Health Potions also restore 20% Mana, and Mana potions also restore 20% health) and Blood Mage (Mana Potion 60% effective).
  • Every Health Powerup gives you 1 Max Health per Level. This scales as you level up, so don't hesitate when you see one -- pick it up! Dwarf's Conversion works in the same way.
  • Every Attack Powerup gives you 10% Damage bonus, which can be viewed by hovering your mouse cursor on your character's attack icon, left to your current damage. This, naturally, scales as you level up. Human's Conversion works in the same way.
  • Every Mana Powerup gives you 1 Max Mana. Elf's conversion works the same way.

Gold and Items

  • You gain gold by finding it in piles in the dungeon.
  • If the Bazaar is unlocked, shops will spawn in the dungeon.
  • New items can be unlocked by completing quests or class challenges.

Conversion points

Converting objects will give you some bonus depending on your race. So convert at the right moment to become more powerful :

  • If you find a glyph you're not going to use, drag it to the conversion box for 100 conversion points.
  • If you find or buy an item you're not going to use, drag it to the conversion box for its specified amount of conversion points.
  • If you fill up your conversion bar with extra points left over, they will carry over.
  • Your necessary amount of conversion points and bonus is determined by your race


Preparation is the choice of objects that you decide to carry with you before starting a dungeon.

  • You can choose to "finance" your adventurer by bringing preparations.
  • Preparations are a large variety of things that help your adventurer. Anything from scouting altars, to staring with a fireball glyph, to bringing a cool special potion into the fight.


  • Every adventurer has 6 inventory slots.
  • Each slot can either hold one large item or 5 small items.
  • Items like potions, charms and pendants are small space.
  • Most items, including glyphs, are large space items
  • Once an object is in your inventory, to only way to get rid of it, is to convert it. And is then lost for ever ! So, only pick up what you need now...


There are no gods when you start the game. But you will soon unlock them. They are one of the most powerful feature in the game.

  • Gods in Desktop Dungeons are like most gods in other rogue-likes. They each have there own bonuses and penalties.
  • Different actions can either gain or lose piety (depending on the good)
  • Piety is used to purchase boons, which give the player good effects.
  • If your piety goes below 0 you invoke the god's punishment, which usually isn't a good news...
  • In extreme situations, you may want to desecrate another god's altar : desecrating an altar grants some piety and pardon from the next three piety losses you would receive, but invokes the other god's punishment.
  • Gods are unlocked by completing their subdungeon(s).
  • Once you unlock a god, they are put into the randomizer for which gods will spawn.
  • The number of altars that appear in a dungeon depend on the number you have unlocked. You will begin with 1, and will end with 3.

Basic Hints

  • Always fight the highest level monster you can defeat. This requires doing some quick math to determine how the combat will play out before you engage and realize you're in over your head.
  • Exploring the dungeon is the main way you will regain health and mana, but it is a limited resource.
  • Potions are very useful to immediately gain health and mana, but you usually need many or all of them for the fight with the boss.
  • Keep in mind that wounded monsters gradually heal as you explore the dungeon. You can't just smack a monster, run and heal, and repeat. However, the regeneration will sometimes benefit you more than him...
  • Use your level ups for all they are worth, they cure bad status and return you to full HP / MP, so don't be afraid of being poisoned / manaburned by a monster you'll level up after killing
  • The first-strike spell is useful for finishing a monster off. It gets no retaliation shot if you kill it.
  • The fireball spell is useful for softening monsters up before combat
  • Do not kill your adventurer unless you cannot escape, because they will keep their gold and sell off their loot.

Kingdom Management

Finishing a Dungeon

  • When you exit a dungeon, through the main staircase or by taking the trophy, you will immediately send all of your gold into your vault. Then you sell off all your items, normal things for half-price and the trophy for full.
  • Your Kingdom Vault cannot exceed its limit, 400 gold at the start but progressive more as you upgrade your bank.


  • With all of the gold you will be racking up in your vault, you upgrade your kingdom.
  • There a 3 main things you can gain from upgrading a building.
  • You can gain a new class, and a monster.
  • You can gain a new race.
  • You can gain new preparations.
  • See buildings for more details.

The Adventuring Locker

  • One special type of preparation is the adventuring locker.
  • If you bring items out of a dungeon, you can drag them into a locker and pay 50 gold to "locker" it.
  • If your adventurer dies with the item, converts it, or destroys it in any way you can pay a 50 gold fee to "re-locker" it instead of looking around for it in shops.
  • Locker spaces are limited, so you may have to boot something out to put something in.