This page handles general strategies and gives some tricks to solve dungeons. But of course, every game is different, so you won't find there have a definite guide on how to win. Moreover these advice are for intermediate players only : true veteran had to forget everything to fully renew their play style and reach new height.
If you are new DD, you might want to read the New Players Guide first.
Important note : The word "wisely" or similar ideas are often used. It might let you believe that a wrong decision will doom your character... Ok, it will sometimes be the case. But you will be amazed how resourceful your hero might be. So don't take that word too seriously, keep playing even if you think that you screwed the dungeon, and you might discover that true power lies behind your mistakes !!!
The different phases
The dungeon exploration can be divided in 4 phases, each with their own challenges :
- The preparation : You are not in the dungeon yet, but you still have strategic choice to make. Which class/race/preparation will the best, or the most enjoyable ?
- Scouting : Your first few steps in the dungeon, when you are getting a feeling of the place. You are doing more exploration than monster fighting
- Build-up : When you start building-up your character and stacking resources for the final fight. This is really one of the place where the game is won or lost
- Boss fight : Unleash all you might to defeat the nasty boss (or bosses) in a firework of deadly blows, powerful mana and yummy potions.
But don't over-think it though : every single dungeon can be won by any class and without any preparation (playing as a purist). But for sure, some combination are easier than others...
main article : race
There are two ways to go about race selection: Picking a strategy in advance, or keeping open to whatever the dungeon presents. You should probably pick your race considering the boss (if you know what it will be), but Halflings and Gnomes are almost always helpful.
The races can be sorted in 2 groups :
- Those giving permanent bonus : Human, Orc, Dwarf. Convert early, and you'll get the benefit of the race for the whole game
- Those providing resources : Dwarf, Gnome and Goblin. Convert late, for a powerful spike during boss fight, or during build-up to win over high level monsters and trigger juicy XP bonuses.
A user proposed a while ago different character builds. But that classification is somewhat simplistic and probably an heritage of the old alpha version. It is not really used nowadays.
Another classification, still very limited compared to range of possibilities, could be :
- Striker : characters which prefer high damages, but won't be able to survive many hits
- Tank : characters which, on the other side will be able to tank much damages
- Caster : characters relying on an heavy use of glyphs to indulge damages
- Regen-fighter : characters able to heal faster than the monsters. They could mix various strategies (high damages, glyphs, resistance...
Though, don't take that selection too seriously : the same character will often change its playstyle as the dungeon unfolds. It will depend on the items, glyphs and gods he found, and how close you are to the boss fight.
Gold and kingdom
Remember that preparations will cost you gold. So, if your vault is near empty, you might want to go as purist.
You can also go try to kill the IN DEMAND trophy, take the bet on boss preparation, and score 1050 gold off the boss kill.
Prior to unlocking IN DEMAND trophies, Transmutation Seals can be used on boss trophies to convert them to their full gold value. Again, the "Bet on the Boss" preparation increases the cash gained.
Later in the game, PQI and flaming dungeons will also provide opportunities to make more gold.
Levels 1 to 3. It's rarely possible to kill monsters of significantly higher level at this stage, but it can be useful to do some quick scouting around the dungeon and find what Gods and Glyphs are available, as well as what Boss spawned (if in a random boss dungeon).
The length of scouting depends on your play style, but also on the dungeon. Some player would hardly kill any monster before they have cleared 25% of the map, and thus have more choice for early Buil-Up, some would try to level-up as soon as possible to avoid wasting black space. Even though it possible to fully explore Hobblers before fighting any monster and still win, for most dungeons, don't over explore though in scouting phase. Black space a valuable resource.
The most useful glyph for scouting is LEMMISE which reveal in priority altars, glyphs, the boss, subdungeons, shops, and other glyphs. Some class also provide extra information for scouting, such as the fighter, the wizard, the tinker and the half-dragon
Scouting mana investment
While scouting, you probably will have plenty of mana left. Instead of wasting it,WONAFYT is another useful glyph at this stage, enabling you to prepare a nice salted popcorn bowl : each summoned monster will grant 1 bonus XP, but could also be the occasion for a mid-fight level-up. If you are scared of wasting black space, it is also a solution to have your target coming to you (It is even more efficient if you have a balanced dagger).
Levels 3 to 7'. It's possible to kill monsters of significantly higher level during this phase, to generate more exp by using the level-up steamroll and the experience catapult. The goal is to create the appropriate conditions for the final boss(es) fight(s) : ready to use resources (piety, conversion points, popcorn,potions...), high enough level close to level-up, boons accumulation, inventory composition...
The build-up phase for the boss battles is highly significant, as it requires maximizing exp gain, minimizing resource usage, and choosing an appropriate strategy. It's worthwhile to note that while dungeon exploration is itself technically a limited resource, it is often desirable or even necessary to exhaust all dungeon exploration during this phase to maximize exp gain, unless intending to use a APHEELSIK glyph or regen tactics to defeat the boss(es). In dungeons where there are two bosses, it can be helpful to try to leave a corridor, corner, or area unexplored to allow for regeneration between boss battles.
When reaching level 6 to 7, it's often beneficial to have explored most if not all of the dungeon, and begin creating an "exp farm." By weakening several lower level monsters to within a single hit from death, they can be finished later to gain exp for further level steamrolling. Note, it is less useful or even dangerous to leave creatures with the First Strike ability weakened as a part of an exp farm, as they will deal still deal damage to you when you come back to finish them off.
Main article : Exploration
Always remember that during Build-Up, black space is your main resource. Black space is mana and is health. And you will transform that health and mana into damages, experience, objects... for the final fights.
So don't be shy in exploration, but explore wisely (easier to say than to do, no ?)
To be done
Select carefully your monster for next fight.
There is on important rule when taking items : the occupy room in your inventory. And the only way to get rid of them, is to convert them. On the one end, it is a conversion bonus triggering your race bonus. But on the other hand is would be silly to clutter you inventory with objects you don't need now, or to be obliged to convert an item too early to make room for another powerful artefact...
So think twice before picking something-up, and think twice too before converting an object.
In the same way, spend you gold wisely in the shops.
Single-Use Glyphs are a special case of inventory management. If you know early on in the game that you will be worshipping Taurog, you can still get limited use from some glyphs. The effects of CYDSTEPP, BYSSEPS, and GETINDARE will persist after you convert them, and those effects activating will not anger Taurog (or Binlor, for that matter), so it can be very beneficial to pick up and activate these glyphs (especially CYDSTEPP for non-Fighters), before beginning worship, then convert them afterwards for piety and the racial effect.
LEMISEE is another situation where you might want to convert early, once you done enough exploration with it.
Depending upon the hero's class and which glyphs and items are available, there are different ways that a low-level character might be able to take out a quite high level character. When such an opportunity arises, it is beneficial to follow through when your hero is at the lowest possible level. The experience formula greatly rewards going after creatures above your level.
- For example, a level 1 hero killing a level 9 monster gets 81 experience, and will suddenly catapult to level 6.
- A level 2 hero killing the same level 9 monster gets "only" 65 experience, and will wind up at level 5.
Main article : gods
Gods are among the most powerful features in game, granting powerful boons. Actually, a good god understanding is one the key for successful vicious dungeon runs. But they might be scary as they will dislike some of you actions, or even punish you if your piety gets below 0.
They are not equal : some will interact better with some class (you'll get more information in the class pages), some will be more efficient if you worship them early(Glowing Guardian or Jehora Jeheyu), some can be worshipped or converted to in late game (Dracul, or the Earthmother), some hate when you kill some monster types which might be important in your dungeon.
So the trick is to understand what they could do for you, when is the right time to worship them, but also keep in mind that you are not obliged to always do what they wish you to do if you have enough piety in stock. Remember also that if you have more than 50 piety points, you can convert from one god to another (if there are more than 1 altar in your dungeon), which might entirely change your play style but also open new opportunities. Note that you will keep the traits the god offered you when converting.
If you urgently need some piety, other altars can be desecrated. The cost punishment for it might be high, it sometimes is extremely useful.
Here is short review of existing gods:
- Binlor Ironshield: Binlor is a god of resistance, resistance erosion and might. It is mainly fuelled from wall destruction. When played correctly, it will help you tanking huge damages aggravate your attack. When used correctly, the knockback effect granted by the stone fist might be incredibly useful.
- Dracul: The dark god which helps you healing from blood pools and weak monsters. You'll hit stronger, but loose max resistance and max health.
- The Earthmother: An extremely powerful god, but which will clutter the map with plants. Used properly, you can get huge amount of piety from her, transforming it into mana, multiple corrosion layers, first strike or resistance.
- Glowing Guardian: A good god to worship early for XP bonuses and health and mana regeneration in late game. It will clutter your inventory though.
- Jehora Jeheyu: A very strange god. His boons can be very powerful, but will deplete your potions so they must be used carefully. Piety gain is random; if you get lucky, he can give you inordinate amounts of piety. However, punishments are also at random! Try to get the Petition boon to end his punishments as soon as possible.
- Mystera Annur: The god to improve your glyph casting.
- Taurog: Taurog is a good for melee fighters. It will clutter your inventory with powerful objects. An easy to use god, which will provide your useful death protections in late games.
- Tikki Tooki: Good choice as a later game deity, as he enjoys you slaying lower level monsters, but a big no for tanks. It loves money, and will help you hitting hard tough monsters.
- The Pactmaker: A different kind of deity which can be worshipped at the same time as other goods.
Levels 7 to 10. At this point, dungeon exploration likely stops (unless you're using a poison glyph against a boss or can out regen them), and the battle begins. It can be useful at this point to be almost at the next level, allowing the player to use the level-up steamroll to instantly heal to full health and mana, possibly even multiple times during the fight.
The ideal position to be in when starting a boss battle is at Level 7 with 34 / 35 experience, with proper runes, and all health / mana potions remaining, and an exp farm containing 96 experience worth of monsters (enough for level 10) although this is very hard to do,. The first phase of the boss battle involves the player, using all available health and mana points (but not potions) against the boss before killing weakened monsters to gain a level. This phase ends when the player no longer has enough weakened non-boss creatures to gain another level, or has reached level 10.
Phase two of the boss battle involves the player using other available resources (health & mana potions, etc.) to defeat the boss. This is sometimes called to spike the boss.
In dungeons with two bosses, it can often be effective to kill the "hard hitting" boss with magic attacks during phase one, as they usually have lower max health. This allows the player to save as many health and mana potions as possible for the "tank" boss, who generally doesn't retaliate as powerfully.
First Strike Finisher
First strike will often allow you to kill a monster you couldn't otherwise beat. Cast it just before the final blow, and the monster gets no retaliation hit.
- Keep in mind that you still take a retaliation hit if the monster has first strike as well.
Read more in the Strike Order article
Hitting a monster with fireball before combat will often reduce the number of hits it takes to kill it. Can be used with first strike to take on otherwise dangerous foes without taking any damage.
If you have enough attack to do more damage in one hit than your enemy is able to regenerate in the time it takes you to regenerate the damage that he does with a single hit, you can heal between attacks and still be able to have a net effect of his health decreasing. Be careful however, that it might be very exploration consuming.
- A way to determine if you are able to damage your foe quicker that he would heal, is to compare the number of tiles you would need to recover from one of his strikes (damaged caused his attack / health you recover per explored tiles), and the number of tiles he would need to recover from one of your strikes (damaged caused by your attack / health he recovers per tile you explore). If you need less tiles than he does, you will heal quicker. Don't forget to take your spells in account !
- Even if you heal slower than the enemy does, sometimes exploring one or a few blocks mid-battle can regenerate your HP/MP for additional hit/spell so that you can deal enough damage to kill the enemy.
Attacking an enemy and then poisoning it and exploring (or using the LEMMISI glyph) allows you to take on enemies that would otherwise outlast you in a fight. If attacking with magic you can use this technique to beat a foe that would otherwise kill you with one hit.
- This technique relies on either of two abilities. You can last as long as you can survive a single hit, so if your HP or resistance are as high as possible, you will be able to outlast harder hits.
With very few experience needed to gain the next level, you can fight a tough monster, and then when you can't fight any more, kill a low-level monster in order to level up. This will restore your health and mana without healing the tough monster. You can then go back to killing the tougher monster with full strength. It is possible to level up more than once during a single fight. This usually requires the player utilizing the "Experience Catapult" strategy first (see below) so that he has a lot of low-level monsters to kill. Nonetheless, keeping track of how many experience you can get from the available monsters is always a wise thing to do.
It often seems more efficient to fight only one monster at a time, entirely devoting your mana and health bar to this fight. But in some case, it is actually much more efficient to fight two or more monsters at a time. Popcorn for mid fight level up is an example. But more are listed in the Brawling article.
Power builds and other odd tricks
This section lists particularly powerful builds tricks and niche strategies, which -honestly- no sane person could have imagined. The fact that they have been developed tells a lot about DD Community's fading sanity.
Level 1 Boss fight
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