Nerdsworth Academy

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Dungeons of Dredmor | Builds of Fail and Victory

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Hi all,

It turns out that a couple of weeks without my main desktop computer wasn’t too bad. I am super-excited to be in my fancy new apartment and to have my main computer back up and running. Yay!

The selection of games that I had laid out in my previous post is quite solid. However, I ended up playing Dungeons of Dredmor: The Conquest of the Wizardlands almost exclusively. I had a couple evenings playing Master of Magic, and I tried The Secret of Monkey Island, but unfortunately my laptop started having audio issues which greatly reduced my enjoyment of the game. I’ll have to finish it up on my desktop.

What did I get from all of this dungeon crawling? I finally vanquished Lord Dredmor!!

Previous Characters

Here are few of the builds that I’ve tried since Dungeons of Dredmor first game out:

OG Sunhawk

Skills: Maces, Smithing, Shield Bearer, Master of Arms, Perception, Viking Wizardry, and… Assassination?

It’s funny as I haven’t even reached Lord Dredmor since my first playthrough, wherein I played a Viking Paladin. There was quite the smiting going on!

Everything started out great: my mace would knock foes back, giving me a bit of breathing room, while my heavy armor and shield skills would allow me to shrug off most blows and regenerate health quickly. Everything was going swimmingly as I walked through the dungeon’s levels on slow mode (yes, I didn’t realize you could speed up the game), up until many of the magical attacks bypassed my defenses. That made me have to take a lot of time walking back and forth to regenerate health, as I was paranoid about eating food and losing resources.

I engaged Lord Dredmor in vicious hand-to-hand combat with my holy mace. Things were going well, but my hubris killed me. As I went in for the final blows, he fired off one nasty spell after the other.

There came a moment when I realized that I was going to die the very next turn. I moved into attack and he killed me.,, with about 10% of his life remaining. I was so close, and yet so far.

Harry the Wizard

Skills: Promethean Magic, Blood Magic, Magical Training, Fleshsmithing, Ley Walker, Archaeology, and Astrology

After failing with my heavy Warrior build, I decided to go with something with more magery. I played a couple of rounds as Harry the Wizard: a pure spellcaster with the (somewhat cheesy) build that takes advantage of the powerful Promethean Magic damage spells while getting tons of mana from Blood Magic and Ley Walker. While getting through the first level killed me a couple of times, eventually I got Harry to the point where he had a ton of mana available and could hurl Obvious Fireballs with reckless abandon at Monster Zoos and come out of the flames completely unscathed myself.

However, in Dungeons of Dredmor, as in the real world, fire is a fickle ally. There is a certain spell that Harry knew, Gog’s Tactical Pyre, which creates a fire at a target location; a fire hot enough to burn through even the tested defenses of a fire wizard. And multiple pyres can be set at the same location, thus increasing the damage done to anything that steps into it.

Are you seeing where I’m going with this? Do I have to spell it out?

Yes, I walked into my own pillar of flames and died instantly. Harry believed he could bend the flames to his will to consume his enemies, but in the end, he was consumed by them. Fitting, is it not?

Serrissa the Communist Assassin

Skills: Burglary, Artful Dodger, Alchemy, Assassination, Communist, Daggers, Dual Wielding

One of my more recent character ideas is to play a stealthy Communist Assassin. I have had mixed success with this build; I very much like the synergy between daggers and the Guerilla Attack, which provides temporary invisibility: attacking for big damage and then following up with a second attack, or running away without fear of retaliation, is quite handy.

The biggest disadvantage of this build is that at the time I was playing there just weren’t that many daggers in the game. I literally went four floors before I found a dagger that was an upgrade from my starting dagger.

My first character using this build died in the Wizardlands as I didn’t realize that you could exit the Pocket Dimension by clicking on the icon again, and I tried entering “Home” into the portal generator and ended up in Diggle Hell, and was almost immediately beaten to a pulp by a Muscle Diggle. However, more daggers were added in the most recent patch that came out last week, so I may give this build another go.

Steamhawk the First Clockwork Knight

Skills: Smithing, Tinkering, Polearms, Battle Geology, Master of Arms, Shield Bearer, and Clockwork Knight

My most recent build aimed to take advantage of the Clockwork Knight skill set. I used the Sensible Swiss Defensive Stance for added defense and Battle Geology’s Plutonic Fist to get high melee attack power. Once I was at a high amount of block I started putting more points into Shield Bearer and Master of Arms for more armor and health regeneration.

Again, everything was going perfectly fine… right up to the point where I died instantly. I do not approve of Evil Vegetables.

I was on level 4 or 5 and had begun to block virtually every blow that was thrown at me. I mean everything. I was feeling like this was going to be the build that I’d finally beat Dredmor with. However, as I turned a corner I was immediately charged by a bloodthirsty rutabaga, who then preceded to apply 18 stacks of food poisoning (a nasty debuff that lowers your total health) on me. I immediately went to -1 / 5 hit points and croaked. I believe that the rutabags charging like this is a bug and has since been fixed in the most recent patch.

So, what do you do when you get killed by a vegetable? First I raged about the bug and rutabagas (the real vegetable) for a few minutes. Then I went to start the a new game and decided that Dwarven Moderation was too easy, so I cranked the difficulty level up to Going Rogue.

Because that’s how I roll.

Steamhawk the Second Clockwork Knight

Skills: Smithing, Tinkering, Polearms, Battle Geology, Master of Arms, Shield Bearer, and Clockwork Knight (again)



My second run through with this build went even better than the first. I quickly got my block up as high as possible and then started working on getting my health regeneration up. Going up to Going Rogue meant that it was imperative that I focus on health regeneration, in order to get it as close to 1 hit point a turn as possible. As luck would have it, I picked up an artifact Emerald Ring which helped a lot. Using a polearm meant that my enemies were often knocked back which gave me the breathing room I needed. This is somewhat of a double-edged sword (or polearm) though, as sometimes the polearm would push away enemies that I wanted to kill as fast as possible; I ended up giving spellcasters breathing room as well.

After I got my basic defenses, I invested in several skills which I immediately found invaluable: Clockwork Knight’s Rocket-powered Punch and Battle Geology’s Seismic Uppercut. These gave me a way to pick off spellcasters and other dangerous enemies without having to wade into them. Seismic Uppercut is particularly nice as it does some damage to enemies in between you and your target, and it doesn’t rely on the path between you and your target being unobstructed like Rocket-powered Punch does, though the Punch also knocks enemies back.

Another nice combo of this build is to combine Charge of the Steam Brigade with Earthquake for considerable AoE damage. The only downside is that if you don’t kill everything right away, you may be in trouble as you’d be surrounded by enemies.

Having both Tinkering and Smithing gave me access to the powerful Clockwork gear pieces, which I slowly collected throughout the course of the game. I also made sure to get access to a Mirror Shield as soon as possible, as I knew that magical attacks would be the greatest danger to my build.

By the end of the game though, crafting seemed to have lost its value: from levels 12-15 I found a huge number of very, very powerful artifacts. At one point, I found an axe that did about twice as much damage as my spear had been doing, and did a wide range of magical damage to boot. I dropped my polearm for the axe and continued onward.

A godly axe.

This axe basically doubled my damage, even while losing my Polearm stat bonuses.

I shied away from the Wizardlands for the most part, only completing perhaps three or four of the levels, but I did use the Pocket Dimension extensively for storing just a few basic, essential crafting materials. (That’s a lie: I’m a bit of a packrat).

My game got bugged at one point and I was unable to enter the Pocket Dimension. This forced me to wait for the patch to fix the bug, but then I ended up losing my mountain of materials I’d built up. I still ended the game with more stuff than I knew what to do with.

This was my first game where I used encrusting extensively. In particular, I used the Tinkering encrusts to get bonuses to my vision radius and the “Offensive Shielding” encrust from Smithing to make my Mirror Darkly shield have a considerable punch. I threw a couple smaller ones of some other items (who doesn’t love to cover their armor with meat a la Lady Gaga?), and at one point ended up getting a rather mild instability of exploding into flame, but luckily by that point my fire resistance was high enough to handle it.

The hardest part of the game was the monster zoos filled with spellcasting monsters of the lower levels. Even with a reflective shield and medium resistance, five or six monsters hitting me for 5-8 each turn chewed through my health pretty quickly. Given that I didn’t have much in the way of area of effect attacks, I had to be patient and use Rocket-powered Punch and Seismic Uppercut to thin the ranks of the enemies, before charging into battle to finish off the stragglers.

I opened up my attack by firing several Bolts of Mass Destruction. I've never actually used them: they nuked a fairly wide area.

I opened up my attack by firing several Bolts of Mass Destruction. They nuked a fairly wide area.

The killing blow on Lord Dredmor.

The killing blow! Nothing like a stone fist to the chin for the win!

As I approached the final levels, I started to grow bolder. It’s funny how I started to feel the same way that I had felt during my first game: “I am so great, there’s no way that Dredmor will stand a chance!”

Given that I died to Lord Dredmor in my first game, I consciously tempered my enthusiasm and played conservatively. I opened up with a few Bolts of Mass Destruction. I used all of my healing potions and invisibility potions to reset the fight as much as I could. I used my ranged abilities to do damage and then skirt away. I have to say that Battle Geology’s Petrification is amazing against Lord Dredmor: it paralyzes him for quite a few turns, and although he resists most of the asphyxiative damage, you can do some serious damage (or run away!) in the mean time by hacking away at him.

In the end, I finished him off with a Seismic Uppercut.

Killing Lord Dredmor gave me such a sense of satisfaction. I had played this particular character for the last couple of weeks and had played very carefully. No other character, since my first, had even gotten to him, and that was way back when the game was only 10 levels deep. That I managed to vanquish Dredmor on the hardest difficulty setting was just the icing on the cake for me.

The long list of my failures is capstoned with victory!

The long list of my failures is capstoned with victory!

Future Builds

I’ve got a few ideas simmering in my head about what to try next. I definitely want to experiment with Vampirism, perhaps mixing it with Killer Vegan. Also, I need to try some more Wizard-focused builds, particularly with the skills that I haven’t even tried yet (such as Mathemagic, Psionics, Magical Law, and Golemancy). And then of course, I need to use Piracy at some point. Yarrr! I just need to think of a way to use all of the extra gems that I’ll be collecting.

There is definitely a lot more game to be played in Dungeons of Dredmor, and I wanted to give a shoutout to Gaslamp Games for making such great roguelike: it’s fun, humorous, deep, and yet still accessible.

I look forward to many more dungeon-crawling adventures!



    Sunhawk said: 5 October 2012 at 01:42

    I hope they continue to go well. I always find that builds in Dredmor work great right up to the turn I realize that I am about to die! 😉

    Let me know how it ends up.

    Thanks for the comment & thanks for reading!

Essence said: 18 December 2012 at 23:30

Congrats! I’m sure Ruigi would love to hear the story of his skill being used as the centerpiece of a Dredmor-winning build — come visit the forums and tell us about it! 🙂

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