This is my current favourite build, though I’m no world-class expert. It is strong at dealing with traps and with large groups. On the other hand it is not packed with hit points and/or quick healing, so play cautiously and keep your life topped up.
First, remember to activate one of the DLCs in Steam – it’s free but not activated by default.
Now the build:
- Egyptian magic.
- Magic training.
- Ley lines.
You can use any melee weapon. You don’t have melee skills anyway so they all get the same lack of bonuses. But early on go for max damage per blow. You absolutely want to kill quickly, because you can’t take much damage.
Since you’re not much of a melee person, make sure to always attack first by letting the monsters close in. Keep in mind that this is not DooM but a roguelike . So at any point you may run into an unfairly deadly, randomly generated predicament. Proceed cautiously, especially if your Trap Sight Radius is low.
Don’t forget to burglarize all vending machines.
Keep stashes of tinkering equipment in your pocket dimension (you will find the relevant gadget on level 1 of the dungeon). Such as :
- Ingots (and ores that you’ve turned into ingots)
- Tinkering parts (mechanisms, stems, wires, pressure plates…).
- Powders and the like (salt, brimstone, gunpowder, salpeter…).
- Gems for encrusting.
- Cheese and bread to make omelets and sandwiches in the ingots machine.
- Potions and wands that are components for bolts (check the DoD sites).
- Special-purpose consumables such as potions of purity.
- A stash of food and a stash of booze.
You can slam some doors shut when chased by something that’s too big for you and need to recover for a while before you resume chipping at their health. You can also use traps you disarmed and picked up. In both cases you’ll need to have a free space between you and the monsters though.
Bolas might also work, as well as some wands creating obstacles or pushback.
The low-end drinks can be kept in a stack to be turned into lutefisk later on. This is done using the horadric cube, which normally drops on level 1 (sometimes 2) of the dungeon. If it doesn’t keep an eye on crafts vending machines.
Learn the innumerable icons – this is the main UI issue. Whenever you pick an item, look up the icons on your character sheet to understand what they are. Also spot the difference between damage boosts and resistance boosts. The latter have the same icon, but with more rounded edges.
The rainbow graffitis allow you to access Wizardlands, which are mini-dungeons. Monsters are generally easy there. Just don’t pull any lever (unlike with the real dungeon) if you have a choice, and be aware that some (properly labelled) traps can be of much higher level than in the real dungeon. Don’t monkey with them.
With this build, your priorities are mana regen, spell power, life, life regen, trap affinity – in *roughly* that order.
Take the skills in the following order:
You start with it. Normally, starting with this build would be rough as you have no melee weapon and only so many wooden bolts. So don’t activate the Asp Glyph right away, and make Narco your primary weapon early on. It costs little mana, you can spam it, and it’s great at kiting.
Once you have a good melee weapon (say, a spear), you can activate Asp. You’ll be taking on most isolated monsters using melee for a while, and Narco will stop being as important.
We’re doing several things here :
- Keeping your burglary skill up to keep your traps affinity (and traps sight radius) ahead of most traps, turning them into a source of experience and money rather than death.
- Turn all locked doors into a source of experience rather than noise and damage.
- Turn all locked chests into a source of experience and loot rather than obstacles and frustration.
- Use all this experience to keep abreast of the difficulty.
- Accumulate lockpicks since you now only need them for chests. I keep a stack topped up at about 25 for chests, and another stack with the overflow to be turned into lutefisk on the lower levels.
This isn’t a *critical* skill. But on level 1 of the dungeon you need every scrap of equipment, and Shove will give you access to artefacts on a one-square “island” (there’ll prolly be one on level 1) and to the interior of prison cells (there’ll prolly be several). Which is nice.
It also doubles as a minor “oh crap” button to get out of a jam, especially combined with the minor crowd control of Narco and the fact that the Shove stuns. And could be useful if something you need has spawned on top of an immovable object.
More trap affinity to keep traps harmless and experience-generating for as long as possible.
Furthermore, Lockup is a great crowd control and tough mob control ability. It is indispensable to, for instance, open evil chests. With lockup, when running into a strong bad mob you lock them into place, fall back, then shoot them with crossbow bolts (and spells when you’ll get them). It can also split a group, lock an add out of the fight…
If you get a resist, run away and reapply once it’s off cooldown. You can also use Narco.
Great tool since you don’t have a lot of hit points (some bosses can one-shot you) and need to control the opposition.
We take this, yet we’re NOT going to use it much for now. Or rather, we’re only going to use it in two instances :
- When facing a trap we can’t automatically disarm. Trap affinity also helps looting traps by outlevelling them, FWIW – so having Imhotep on could turn an auto-disarmable into an auto-disarmable and lootable trap.
- When we’re about to cast the sand cloud (next) and we need all the damage output we can get.
Why are we not using it at all times ? It boosts trap sight too, right ? Well :
- You’re progressing slowly and carefully, so trap sight isn’t that valuable.
- The glyph eats up mana, which you can’t replenish quickly enough for now.
- The glyph interacts with the asp glyph to turn your toxic damage into a one-square damage cloud, then into a larger damage cloud. Which could easily become the main source of damage *you* take, until you have sufficiently high resistances. Latter glyphs bring resistances that nullify this damage.
So why take something we don’t get to fully use ? Because of the next skill.
Call the sandstorm
We’ve been rushing this so you have it ready before you hit your first monster zoo. Have all the glyphs you know (Asp and Imhotep for now) up when casting as they greatly increase sandstorm damage and size. Drink a lot of booze to manage the cost of the sandstorm and glyphs.
The sandstorm is your big bomb. Your M.O. will eventually become “open door, lob sandstorm in” unless there are but a few monsters.
But since the sandstorm means keeping all your glyphs up for maximum oomph, and glyphs eat up mana, you’ll want lots of mana regeneration. As well as spell power, obvs.
You still do most kills melee, but it’s the sandstorm that’s your master blow.
The sandstorm is devastating once properly levelled. Just make sure not to get caught within the main effect, or the poisonous aftereffect ! Higher level glyphs and resistances will allow you to walk through your own sandstorm, but you sure can’t do that now.
It’s like free beer ! Activate it after you cast sandstorm.
Glyph of Anubis
With thaumaturgic tap you can now keep Asp and Anubis up, with Imhotep thrown in when needed. Regularly recast Thaumaturgic Tap to buffer the mana costs, especially when walking long distances.
Conduit/Call of the Nile
We want Call of the Nile ASAP, but there’s the issue of mana flow. You will probably need to take Conduit first, unless you got lucky with mana regen items.
One great thing about Call of the Nile is that with everything up (Asp, Imhotep, Anubis, Nile and perhaps a few item) you are immune to the poison clouds that proc via Imhotep. So fighting amidst poison stops being a problem and becomes, in fact, a good source of damage. It also does life regen !
However it has to be recast every 64 turns (which is annoying) and lowers your Conflagration and Righteousness resistances. You’ll also need a hit of Thaumaturgic Tap after casting Call of the Nile, but if you’ve found some mana regen (say, a Naturey Orb) you can probably make your Egyptian stack so far work without Channeller.
The poison cloud when you cast Call of the Nile isn’t for show. It does damage. Don’t cast it when you’re, say, next to a shopkeeper.
We’re now aiming to complete the Egyptian stack, which will likely require Channeler from the Ley Lines skill to keep up with your mana burn rate. The full Egyptian stack, and the way it reinforces the sandstorm, is something to behold.
Tinkering is how you keep up your Trap Affinity rating, which you’ll likely have to do before finishing Egyptian unless you found some good Trap Affinity items. Tinkering will also unlock some recipes that might fill a hole in your gear, but it’s here chiefly so you can max it then start making crossbow bolts and a high-end crossbow.
Archery raises your crossbow damage and crossbow bolt recovery rate. It is used to root and shoot tough bosses (use Lockup, Sandstorm them, then crossbow away if the sandstorm won’t suffice), and as firepower when you have to go full burn (say, against a zoo) and need to wait for more mana.
As monsters get tougher and your ability to take on them in melee deteriorates, your crossbow with its tinkered bolts with a good recovery rate becomes increasingly useful.
Magic training is chiefly there for Licence to Cast, which silences spellcaster (including Lord Dredmor). But you’ll also want to fill it out for mana management and Sandstorm power.
Burglary has some nice-to-have abilities (especially the teleport), and is a source of Trap Affinity once you’re done with Tinkering.
Psionic also has useful but not fundamental stuff, which costs little mana. The heal could be great if you don’t pack enough life regen to reinforce Call of the Nile, and Pyrokinesis is a great single-target damage spell.
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Article written on the 15th of July, 2016.