Writeups.org (that’s the site you’re reading right now) is an encyclopeadia about fictional characters, mostly from comic books and video games. It’s cool. From time to time there’s also a video game strategy advice article because running the site is a *lot* of work and I take video game breaks to relax.
The following is a “what you need to quickly, competently ease into the game as a beginner” sort of article, as opposed to a “play this game like a bethonged demigod of carnage” one.
So here’s how I play when relaxing from building this site. I’m not going to cover the very basic thought (resources, modules, controls, etc.), and I’m assuming that beginners are sensibly playing on the Too Easy difficulty setting in order to learn.
My friend Josh
If you get DotE nowadays you presumably have the DLCs, so you have access to Josh ‘Ntello (a small pun in French meaning “Josh the brainiac”).
It doesn’t *have* to be Josh. You just need somebody who can unlock the Operate skill very fast so that means Josh, Wes , Opbot or Rakya . It just happens that Josh has a huge Wit score, making him a great user of the Operate skill.
With Josh or a similar character, the strategy is to rush them to level 3 (leaving the other character at level 1 unless things are real rough) to unlock Operate. Once Operate is unlocked, you can stop levelling the operator for now and focus on the other guy(s).
Once the operator has their Operate skill, the first move when exiting the elevator is to get a room with a major module slot, power it, put a food module there, and have the operator operate it for the entire level, without ever moving. The goal of this strategy – food, food, food.
A large amount of food allows you to aggressively level everyone else and keep up with the monsters’ strength. It’s not the only possible strategy, obviously, but it does make things simpler and on the Too Easy difficulty level it’s simple to deploy.
The second person needs to be a quick (high Speed), tough fighter. Because Josh isn’t too useful (except at the earliest levels when he’s higher level than your second character), they’ll have to work alone for a while.
Ken , Joleri , Hikensha or Troe are typical examples of such. But if you’re careful and not extra unlucky with gear, a lot of other fighty characters will do. Sara with good equipment, Chef Nanor with Speed-boosting gear, Golgy with attack speed boosts and a protective device…
Typically I’ll have Josh on operation and out of the way, my point person opening doors then running back to the kill rooms, and two kill room fighters (more on kill rooms later). One of the latter will be an operator working on a Science module.
Other setups are possible, obvs. You can *probably* manage by picking up the first two characters you run into, unless these include another pure operator (like Opbot or Dell – but not Rakya, who’s got a big gun and an AoE). Or a pure runner (like Golgy or an under-equipped Sara) if your point person is already favouring speed over fighting power.
Dust to dust
The key mechanic in the game is powering up the rooms so modules in them can run, and they won’t generate monsters when you open a door. However, you do not want to light up the whole map – beside, you won’t have enough dust. Instead, you want to *manage* monsters.
The usual way is to set up a “kill room”. This is a powered-up room equipped with a suite of minor modules – some defensive, some offensive. You will deliberately leave “dark” rooms next to your kill room, as soon as possible.
This way, when you open a door and trigger a monster wave, these will promptly walk into your kill room. Where you’ll kill them. Which’ll generate precious, precious dust.
Essentially, you are farming monsters for dust.
On “Too Easy” mode (you are a beginner, after all) most properly-levelled characters with at least 3 modules to support them will easily handle a roomfull of monsters pouring in. Two roomfulls should also be OK with more modules, a fighty character and/or good gear. If you have many minor module slots in your kill room you can favour offensive modules, as monsters on “Too Easy” die relatively fast.
Soon, your kill room will have to welcome 3 or more roomfuls of monsters. That’s a lot, even with two fighters in your kill room. So let’s massage the odds.
The first thing is to stagger the arrival of monsters. Frex you can leave one dark room right next to the kill room, and another one or two rooms away. The monsters from the closer room will pour in almost immediately. And the monsters from two rooms away will come when the monsters from the closer room have been dealt with (or are nearly dead).
Since you have some powered rooms between the dark rooms and the kill room, you can equip those with minor modules (if they have slots, obvs). A neurostun module to slow them down, a pepper spray to have them fight among themselves, offensive modules such as cheap prods to damage them…
This might go south if you have a pack of monsters coming in who want to attack minor modules, but minor modules cost little. And crossing a room with 4 prisoner prods does take its toll. If you can, have somebody with the Repair skill run into such rooms between fights to repair the modules, and check whether there’s dust laying around (from a monster that was killed by the modules).
In the same vein, you can have an “automated minor kill room” (AMKR) *after* the kill room, protecting the way to your crystal. Typically it’d be a neurostun module, and prisoner prods. This means that if a school of silic crystals (the small, floating blue 8-sided crystals) floats past your kill room as your guys are focusing on the bigger monsters that came with them, it’s OK.
The AMKR will deal with them so you don’t have to have a fighter leave the kill room in the middle of a big fight to catch them before they reach your crystal.
The necrophage crystophiles (looking like the Imps in the old DooM games) can survive an AMKR if there’s enough of them, so be careful about those.
AMKRs can also save your bacon if things go real bad. This usually happens when you get a large wave right after an electro-magnetic pulse disables your kill room(s).
In this case, it is sometimes feasible to have everybody but your fastest character fall back to the crystal room (in case there are a few crystal-seeking monsters left), let your fastest character fight alone for a few seconds, then peel.
The anti-hero monsters will likely chase your runner since that’s the nearest hero, but aren’t as fast he is – especially in AMKRs with neurostun modules. Have the monsters chase your fast hero back and forth through an AMKR.
Behind each door that leads to your crystal, there’s a series of rooms – we’ll call each of these series a “branch”. Sometimes, a branch might communicate with another branch. If so, open this door last. You want each branch to be isolated from the others to manage them correctly.
As I see it, there are three kinds of branches :
- Dark branch.
- Lighted out branch.
- Progression branch.
1/ A “dark” branch is where you leave many rooms dark to save dust and farm monsters. This means that it has your main, toughest kill room, preferably with an AMKR between it and your crystal and a few lighted room (self-powered rooms often suffice) to tenderize and/or slow down incoming monsters.
2/ A “lighted out” branch is a branch where you focus your dust. All rooms are powered up. It’s safe, secure, no monster can come from that branch. That’s also where you can drop some support major modules such as a shop, a tactical HUD, a LAN module, an unmanned industry module… but otherwise it’s done with and might as well not exist.
3/ A “progression” branch is a branch that is in the process of being lighted out, but you don’t have enough dust yet so there still are dark rooms. This is perilous. Your full-time operator is useless in a fight, and there’s a good chance two persons are manning the kill room in the dark branch because one ain’t enough.
So your point person is more or less alone to control this branch. This mean that you want to convert most rooms you manage to light up in the progression branch into an AMKR. This way your point person (who has good Speed, and preferably a bit of hit points regen) can do a fighting retreat from AMKR to AMKR.
Of course, this setup works if you have 4 guys (you might get unlucky on recruitment) and things do not go pear-shaped (for instance too little dust, or two levels on a row where you find artefacts very late in the level, or constant attacks by module-wrecking mobs, or a badly-timed EMP…)
In most cases — the amount of dust you get can vary a lot — you can process in this order :
- Open the first room, power it up, put the full-time major module operator with the food module in there. This is the beginning of your lighted out branch. Make it an AMKR if possible (i.e. there are enough minor module slots, and you’re not too low on Industry).
- Open a room on another branch. Unless the topography is all wrong, this is going to be your dark branch. Set up your kill room, and have at least two dark rooms in its vicinity to start farming monsters ASAP.
- When you have extra dust (enough to power up another room) and at least two dark rooms near your kill room, return to the lighted out branch and make it progress by another room. Power it up, this is where you’ll put the industry generator. Note that when you do that, you want one guy in the Crystal room. That way they can run where they are needed, being relatively close to both your dark branch kill room and your point person.
If all goes right, by the time you get to the third door in the crystal room, you’ll have a textbook dark branch and a textbook lighted out branch. The third, and perhaps fourth door will be progression branches due to lack of dust. For progression branch, you also want your fourth guy in the crystal room, ready to rush either to the dark branch kill room or into the progression branch depending.
On “Too Easy”, plopping down one food module immediately, one science module shortly thereafter, and an industry module when possible should ensure enough resources, assuming that the food and science modules are perma-operated.
Of course, you can’t do that in the *early* levels, for lack of Industry. It’s not a bad thing anyway, the early levels are small. That means fewer doors, and that means the benefits from a module are lower since they can’t “tick” as many times.
Remember to sell your extra stuff to merchants (unless you have 4 items or less in your inventory, and your team is not filled-out yet). If the merchant offers dust for an item, only sell if you’re going to lose the item anyway (because you have more than 4 in your inventory) or you’re critically short on dust. It’s better to hold out for a merchant paying in food or science.
Some monsters will attack artefacts (the things in room where you can research better modules). If an artefact is destroyed while a research program is going on, you lose the invested science. OTOH if you open the last door on the level while research program(s) are running on one or more artefacts, the research will immediately succeed, even if multiple turns of research were left.
When researching, favour resources-generating major modules. Next comes the shop, which keeps the merchant safe and can generate a little bit of dust (if crewed by a merchant).
Minor modules of special import are the neurostun module and prisoner prods, the basics of an AMKR. Prisoner prods are also good in a kill room if you have free slots and haven’t researched better offensive modules. The big thing with prods is that they’re really cheap, so you usually can afford to litter the dungeon with AMKRs.
Two excellent things to have in a kill room are the bio-organic transference module and the dust field generator, which’ll make your kill room guys last much longer and drastically reduce the need for heals. Remember, you want your dark branch kill room to endure a 5-room monsters wave.
High-level tear gas is also a good choice for the third minor module slot, though neurostun might also be considered if your crystal room feels too exposed and you need to kill everything while they are still in the dark branch kill room.
You can freely equip any gear that provides you with a skill, then see what the skill does on the character sheet of the person who equipped it. Otherwise, most skills would be rather mysterious.
Even more miscellanea
Some monsters will attempt to bash open doors. Usually, on Too Easy, you can afford to kill the bulk of the bad guys in the kill room, then rush your point person to the door-basher in time to kill them (because everybody is high-level because you’ve been producing all the food you can). Ditto if there’s a mob that stayed behind to attack an artefact, or fight an unrecruited hero.
Do study the special skills of your characters, there often are wonderful “oh crap” buttons for when you are hit with the maximum number of monsters (it goes up to 5 waves, the number rises as you go up the dungeon).
For instance I usually keep my friend Josh ‘Ntello at level 6 so he has the Armchair General special skill to boost the DPS of the fighters for a short while, allowing them to kill more quickly and not be overrun by the horde.
Another fantastic “oh crap” button is Chef Nanor’s Cooking With Gas. This one if even worth sacrificing science points to restore its cooldown if you get two max-size monster waves in a row and don’t think you can handle them. Or Sara’s Turtle Up, compensating for her dismal Defense once she has come to reinforce a kill room against a huge wave. Everybody has something useful.
Likewise, consider gear carefully. The point person needs DPS and Speed, the major module operator needs Wit, the person in the dark branch kill room needs DPS and staying power (and will sacrifice Speed to get those), and the last fighter will need a mix (depending on their weak and strong points).
Yet more miscellanea
A high-Speed character will make crystal evacuation at the end of a level much easier. It’s usually best to have your highest Speed guy do it, unless you’re short on dust, meaning there are too many dark rooms close to the path to the exit (even though you’ve powered down the other room to free dust to power up rooms that threaten the evacuation path).
In those cases, you will have to fight it out on the way out, so having somebody useless in a fight but still having decent Speed carry the crystal might make sense.
Hit pause and assess the situation whenever you hear the low health sound (though it might be the health of an unrecruited character). Calmly assess the situation, and see if there’s a way to save on healing fees (for instance by retreating).
The types of monsters seem determined when you enter a level. So if you get big waves of modules-destroying monsters, this’ll probably keep occurring until the next level. Plant a LAN module somewhere and plan accordingly.
The last floor is often very low on dust and heh, it’s not like you need to harvest resources anymore. As soon as you find the elevator, evacuate and win.
Again, these are basics, for beginners, on Too Easy. As the difficulty ramps up the game becomes rather technical, and you have to be a lot more careful to brace against large waves and other adverse events. Your consumption of resources becomes much higher, as well, which means that death spirals happen much more easily.
But our suggested approach should greatly reduce any time spent flailing around, and get you at the point where you’re learning how the game works and how to proceed. It’s also useful if you want to play to relax, on Too Easy and without getting too frustrated.