ToME: the Tales of Maj'Eyal

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2018 1:48 am 

Joined: Wed Mar 25, 2009 3:27 pm
Posts: 44
Recently I've been trying the Embers of Rage campaign. Because I'm silly I have been trying it on Insane. (I would have chosen Madness but painful experience with the Maj'Eyal campaign has shown me that Madness is usually too much.)

My interest is in winning without any special settings that affect gameplay (purely audiovisual changes are okay), without using guides (nothing against them, but discovering things on my own happens to be where the fun is for me), with a weirdo build and sequence-breaking quest path if possible (which it generally isn't on Insane), in roguelike mode, without any especially cheesy-feeling exploits, and without usage of the items vault. (The next time I attempt a Madness run I intend to relax that last constraint, though. Madness is just too much.) Because I am vain, I get some kind of special feeling of motivation to play with race-class combinations that according to the character vault have never achieved the type of victory I'm aiming for. This limits me somewhat in the Maj'Eyal campaign; for instance I never get to play as an archmage, and often not as an elf. In Embers of Rage there is much more freedom though; in that campaign even some really fun and powerful classes like rogue don't have ANY Insane or Madness victories logged as of this writing, regardless of permadeath settings or mod combinations! I guess Embers of Rage just isn't nearly as popular as the main game is. I think it probably should be though, because it is good!

I made many attempts at getting this victory, with all the EoR races and several classes. My first run was with a sawbutcher; that class is very powerful and has several non-cheating Insane roguelike victories already, but I just wanted to try it out, and I expected to eventually die anyway (I did). I may have made a few attempts with this class; I think I got pretty far once, even though I didn't know the campaign well yet. The class is pretty forgiving, thanks to its big damage, its big defense (Grinding Shield + Battlefield Veteran!), and its great mobility (Saw Wheels!!!). But my best sawbutcher only reached level 35, killed in the ruined dungeon by an oozemancer guardian or some such. Oh well.

I tried the gunslinger class after that. Gunslinger is really strong too! I liked that class. With it, I made it all the way to the Atmos council chamber I think? And probably beyond, too. But the Slumbering Caves are VERY dangerous, and eventually something brought me down. I don't think I ever saw the lowest floor...

I think at this point I was already starting to try to use race-class combinations that had not won on my settings before. Gunslinger had at least one race that hadn't won yet, I think?

I wanted to try a psyshot, but that class had already won with all races, and by this point I had unlocked some of the non-EoR classes in the EoR campaign, so I foolishly began wandering into those instead.

Some classes worked well, and some did not. I had a lot of trouble with Bulwark, for instance, though I expect a victory is quite possible. I tried Necromancer and ran into many problems with that as well. I wanted to see if I could be a non-minion-using necromancer, or maybe one who only used bone giants or something else weird like that; managing lots of minions doesn't seem to be much fun in this game (unless you're playing as a doomed; that strikes me as the only class thus far to really get this right). And I love the idea of draining health from enemies, so I thought I'd go for that one vampiric talent. But I just kept dying too much, so I gave up.

I played around some with Rogue, and did very well! As mentioned above, I quite like that class. It even feels overpowered almost? But whatever, it's fun so that's okay. You can do so much with Artifice, poisons, knives, and stealth... and traps too maybe, I didn't even get around to seriously exploring those! I love the grappling hook, and of course Rogue's Brew is great... and on top of all that you have tinkers!

I think my best rogue was one that had unlocked the Assassination category. I had wanted to exploit Coup de Grace as much as possible, since that scales with enemy power and is thus especially powerful (maybe) on high difficulties. But when I tried the talents, I found that Marked for Death was probably better! Still, both talents are useful and strong - not that I required them, with all the other powerful attacks a rogue can get! But it was fun, and it worked. I should have won on that run maybe, but I didn't, for some reason I have forgotten. Some late-game enemy (maybe the final boss?) surprised me with a big attack, or something... I don't know.

I also did well with Mindslayer. That seems to be a good class, although I find it hard to get my head around. I definitely could have won with that, but again, something surprised me near the end of the game and killed me off.

I think I had a pretty good corruptor at some point? I don't remember what happened with that. The site tells me it died at level 35...

I did quite well as an archer. That class could definitely win! According to the site, my best archer reached level 46 and was killed by a steam defense turret. Was I trying to learn what happens when you skip the quarry destruction quest? If so, I certainly learned. Those things are very much killable, but you can't be too casual around them!

One of my best characters was a doomed. That is such a fun class! I decided to get a little weird with that and pick the Mental Tyranny and Range Amplification Device prodigies. Other than that, I mainly focused on shadows. It was a good run, and could easily have been a winner! But the final battle took me down somehow. That may have been the first time I even reached it? It's a strange battle, and I wouldn't expect somebody to win it on their first attempt, if they were playing on Insane. I certainly didn't.

I tried Cursed too. That didn't go so well. I imagine it could be done, but I didn't like the feeling of it... there was too much struggle in the early game, I think? I gave up before getting very far.

I had a run as a summoner that went rather well, though it became somewhat tedious toward the end. I attempted something weird there, giving myself Elemental Surge, Arcane Might, and 5/5 in Channel Staff and Staff Mastery. I wanted to be a magical summoner! It worked okay, and got me all the way to the final battle somehow. I could maybe have won, if I'd known more about how the battle worked? Or maybe not, I don't know. Anyway, I didn't.

After all this there began a series of attempts with Kruk yeti shadowblades. Shadowblade feels sort of in between difficulties here, to me: It's easier to use than say Cursed was, but harder than Rogue. Shadowblade does feel like "crappier Rogue" to me, really. It's pretty strong though... I mean I've seen mention of ways to exploit Ambuscade, but I didn't happen to discover any myself, so that wasn't overpowered for me. In fact it felt a bit weak really, though I did eventually unlock it and use it.

Shadowblades don't work well with Embers of Rage in the very early game, unfortunately. You are lacking for too many things; you can too easily fall short on damage, defense, or both... I picked Kruk yeti because that race's talents work quite well with only one or two points allocated to each of them, and I thought that that would save me lots of points for the many other excellent generic talents available to a shadowblade who uses steamtech (especially Chemistry, Mobility, and Conveyance), but I just kept dying and dying and dying until finally I switched over to whitehoof.

At that point I suddenly began succeeding! Whitehoof gets a shield rune right at the start, which helps enormously in the Vaporous Emporium. The whitehoof mag+str bonus also really eased the pressure on me, and that movement speed bonus is always great. This change unlocked my progress and soon I made a character that reached level 50! I picked Arcane Might as a prodigy; that seems to be an obvious and natural choice for that class. Because I was forever running out of mana or stamina, I made Hidden Resources my other prodigy, and that served me pretty well. This character was strong enough to give me one more piece of information on how not to fight the final boss... and no stronger.

My next big success (almost) was as an oozemancer. I decided to do an Eyal's Fury + I Can Carry The World! + Superpower thing... I appear to have skipped both the class-provided blades categories. It wasn't great, but I did reach the final battle, and I was strong enough there to actually hold down a movement key as my character endlessly bashed on the boss, trusting my passive and automatic defenses to keep me alive. I could even reliably drain his health by doing this! Thus, this should have been a winning run. But it wasn't, and the reason it wasn't is that Vitality is overpowered. I could not keep this boss below 50% of his health, no matter what I did. Many other characters could have managed it, but not this oozemancer. I beat on him for a long time, occasionally stopping to scour my inventory for tricky items I could maybe use to defeat the healing, but eventually gave up and retreated to previous levels of the dungeon (which the god somehow allowed me to do, for whatever reason) in search of vaults that could possibly (though probably not) give me more tricks. But along the way I met Bethatira the gargantuan sher'tan and its deadly Furnace Vent attacks, and that was the end of me.

This experience soured me a bit on the Insane-level Embers of Rage experience. I decided that from then on I would only use classes that provided reliable ways of countering Vitality. Still ignoring the tinker classes, I could easily see at least four: Archer, Corruptor, and (thanks to Dirty Fighting) both Rogue and Shadowblade. Somehow or other I ended up choosing Shadowblade again, which led me back to the whitehoof race.

Then I banged my head against the wall for about 100 more runs until I finally won. :)

(That is not as silly as it sounds; most of those runs ended at level 2, when I decided that the Kruk shops were too badly lacking in vital equipment and committed suicide by Metash.)

Here is the character that made it: ... a8b4e9a6d9
(The name was randomly generated by the game. The vault says I may have played offline, but I didn't as far as I know; that message always seems to get put onto all my long-lived characters, for whatever reason. I assume this happens to everybody...)

On this character, I skipped the Ambush category, having tasted it already on a previous character. I also, for some reason, decided to leave out all Dual Techniques talents, as well as Shadow Dance, even though those talents are good. I wanted to actually use stealth without forcing it... I still don't entirely understand how stealth works in this game, even though I ought to by now.

In that same vein, I tried to come up with a justification for investment in Phantasm, but I failed. Why would I want to drain my mana in order to reduce my damage?? Why would I want mediocre light-based attacks when I already had excellent physical and darkness attacks? I don't understand that category...

Also, I left out Hidden Resources this time, and went with Armour of Shadows instead. I think it probably helped? I like the idea of being able to slip into stealth in the middle of a battle, just because your own attacks produce so much shade that the enemy can easily lose track of you, despite being close enough to touch you! And I thought it would probably cause Soothing Darkness to turn off and on many times, thereby producing a very strong regeneration effect. And also of course there's that armor bonus. I imagine that this all worked out reasonably well. But I didn't pay close attention to it, so I don't really know... anyway, when I got through one of those tedious spiralling vaults where you have to dig out one enemy at a time, I would see behind me a checkered trail of alternating light and shadow, which was kind of neat. I dunno. Between this and Arcane Might, I feel like I picked the standard set of shadowblade prodigies. It must have worked; I won after all.

Looking through the other talents: I maxed out Shadow Feed; that's pretty great, and it lets you turn on Precise Strikes without major penalty too, which is nice. I maxed out Rush of course, because more Rush is always, always, always better. I unlocked Temporal magic, though I kind of wanted to try skipping it in favor of a simple shielding rune; I love Time Shield but you don't exactly require its healing effect, even as an undead character, when you have steamtech; and there is something to be said for saving those five points. But it's so good, and Essence of Speed is great too, so in the end I gave in. I never really bothered exploring the other two time magic skills though... they clearly have potential, but I didn't feel like fighting against enemy saves in trying to rely on them. I dunno, maybe they're good.

I mostly ignored Shadow Combat, even though it's a highly reliable way to add darkness to your attacks, which is nice when you're using Armour of Shadows. I didn't feel like its smallish chunk of extra damage was likely to be worth the mana drainage, except at the start of the game when I needed every bit of damage possible. Maybe it gets pretty good if you upgrade it maximally? I don't mind being without it though. You can get some pretty huge hits with other talents.

Likewise, I paid little attention to Shadow Cunning. Obviously it helps, but I didn't really know where my spellpower was going other than Time Shield, and adding one more talent point to Shadow Cunning only made my shield a tiny bit stronger.

I like the Duelist category. It wasn't impressive to me at first; nothing in it sounds especially exciting. But Tempo does seem to help significantly with stamina (I think), and Lunge is surprisingly good in a game where the strongest enemy attacks are often not weapon-based. I was able to fairly reliably disarm strong enemies, and with Dirty Fighting one can extend the disarming by a few extra turns on top of that. That eventually developed into one of my basic combos.

Lethality is rather good too. I don't really care about Blade Flurry; it sounds like a hassle. But Expose Weakness can help a lot sometimes, and Snap can save a life. It's a shame I didn't feel like I had enough points to go all the way to Snap and upgrade it heavily... I do quite like it.

I never feel that I can justify unlocking Combat Veteran. It looks okay to me but it always feels like a waste. Maybe it isn't? I don't know.

In Combat Training, I maxed out Dagger Mastery and put a couple of points into accuracy, but gave only one to Thick Skin, despite my instinct (which is to maximize defense of all sorts at all times). I had long since learned that the Steam Powered Helm and the Ring of Lost Love will give a non-antimagic character 20% resistance to all in nearly every Embers of Rage run, and to that one may easily add pain suppressor salves, and (usually) a few other miscellaneous sources of resistance until one reaches, say, 60% or 65% resistance. And it only takes one point in Thick Skin to increase that to almost 70%. Embers of Rage is overpowered I guess! Or rather, it uses a different scaling system than the main campaign does. Or something like that.

Racially, I wanted every talent of course. They are all good. But I also really wanted the Life Support Suit, and as much Mobility as possible, and Conveyance, and more... so I had to content myself with 5/5 in the main racial talent and only 1/5 in each of the next two. I didn't even try the last one... I don't suppose that an extra little flat defensive bonus would have helped me all that much on Insane, but I still wanted all that stuff. Shady cornac and Ungrol the alchemist, where are you? I want your talent points!

In Physics, I went 4/2/1/0, mainly (I think?) for Crystal Plating, Crystal Edge (nice for a rogue type!), Silver Filigree (nice at the end of the game!), and above all, the mighty Rocket Boots. Ahhh Rocket Boots are so great. Every character must have them. There is no other foot-based tinker. All hail Rocket Boots!

In Chemistry, I went 5/4/2/0, mainly for salves (of course) and for the Life Support Suit. The salves are always worth it; they are really great, and I guess I'd usually prefer an injector and a nice set of salves to any other inscription... probably? Anyway an undead character surely needs them. I'm not as confident about the suit, but it's definitely good. On my last good shadowblade run, I think I leaned on the Untouchable until almost the end of the game, before finally moving to the Life Support Suit, and I kinda think it wasn't an upgrade. The Suit is great, but the Untouchable is in a class by itself I think. If I found it again I'd probably just stick with it. It probably needs nerfing? No matter here, since I didn't find it in this run.

My Mobility loadout was 2/1/2/3. I think that Disengage and Tumble change from okay to excellent at 2/5, though I'd love to bring them both up as high as possible since they are awesome... Evasion I don't really care for, though I suppose it can be used well. I only activated it occasionally, in times of great peril when it clearly wouldn't hurt and had some small chance to help. Trained Reactions is occasionally super strong (and probably lifesaving), but it has a cooldown... I tried to get that one to just the right level where it would work as strongly as possible while not triggering too frequently. I doubt that I succeeded, but whatever, I'm sure the talent helped me.

In Conveyance, I surprised myself by going 1/1/1/0, though I love all four of those talents. Probability Travel is a pain to actually use, but it can certainly save a life... I guess I just didn't feel able to justify the allocation of all that mana. Phase Door kinda sucks at 1/5, but I probably used it here and there; I'd love to bring that one to 5/5, but I turned out to have almost enough escape abilities without it. (One never has exactly enough escape abilities, but it's possible to have almost enough.) Teleport was the workhorse, since it's really strong at 1/5 and doesn't gain much with upgrades. I'm sure I used that many many times.

I completely skipped Survival. It's a good category and I want everything in it, but tinkers and the yeti muscle quest make it less powerful than it would normally be. The crucial talent I always want most from there is Track; I think I probably spent a muscle on that one, though, rather than using a category point and three talent points. Or maybe I stuck with wands of clairvoyance? It doesn't much matter.

I even more completely skipped Divination. I've never explored that category much; it seems good but I don't ever seem to see anything exciting enough in it to justify the unlocking of it. I'm usually glad to take Premonition when it's handed to me, but I can never tell how much that talent is actually helping me, and a shadowblade has many other uses for mana...

Finally, I added Conditioning, at the cost of a muscle. I only went 1/2/0/0 in that category, but just two points in Unflinching Resolve can go pretty far, even when you already have frost salve and three medical injectors. Stunning is a terrible, terrible thing.

Ah, and inscriptions: I went with injector, injector, shield, shield, and controlled phase door (with a lightning rune substituting for the last until I actually managed to collect it). I love shields, especially ones that may be used instantly, and there are never enough escape powers. The game starts you with a manasurge rune, which is very helpful at first, but once you have Shadow Feed (and ideally also a Power Distributor tinker), you can live without it, which I am very much willing to do. I don't like actively using manasurge runes ever; it's a hassle. And things like shields and teleportation runes are much more useful I think.

As for the campaign:

I built up a pretty good routine across my many attempts at victory. First, I would immediately secure and/or travel to the Kruk town, leaving the first dungeon if necessary, and try to buy some offensive power at the armor shops. Sorrow gloves and searing (leather) armor are great; a pair of storm gloves is acceptable. Usually you'll find at least one decent thing, and if not there's always Metash. As a second priority, I'd look for life-bar-extending armor. After that, I'd go for an infusion upgrade, although on a whitehoof that part has to be skipped. Finally, if any money was left over, I'd probably spend it on steamtech training, just to save myself a bit of trouble later on (because without it you have to manually withhold tinker schematics from melting). (Oh and I'd generally get archery training too, just in case I wanted to use a steamgun someday. I never actually used it though...)

Then I'd go to the Vaporous Emporium. The yeti caves are much safer, but the emporium has Ancient Automated Archives in it, and those must be reached as early as possible I think. Shopping at them is nice sometimes, but even better, you can wreck them afterward and usually gain a level or three. This serves the same function as the popular technique of drowning neutral townsfolk, but unlike that technique, it isn't especially overpowered or fiction-breaking. Naturally a Kruk-allied warrior might have reason to vent his/her rage against an Atmos machine!

Then I'd shop, trying to get as many new schematics from the Kruk town as possible, whether they are useful or not (on the assumption that this will make it more likely that future upgrades to steamtech talents will unlock relatively rare tinkers), but of course prioritizing the most useful ones, such as (for a shadowblade) Acid Groove, Rocket Boots, Focus Lens or maybe Headlamp for the Dominion port, and obviously all of the salves.

Then on to the yeti caves and the Sunwall outpost. The outpost boss would sometimes give me trouble, but usually I could manage with him. The greater danger is the temptation of opening those horrible vaults that often get generated there. I always do open them, but I lost many characters that way... The sun paladins in them are no big deal, but mages and vindicators can be very dangerous. With the mages, I'd just try to rush in and crush them before they could damage me too much. With vindicators, I'd try to lead them carefully across the map, occasionally firing with a wand of conjuration or some such. (If no such weapon was available, I might just lead a vindicator into a corner and then teleport away, leaving the vault unguarded and the vindicator unchallenged.) Moving close to a vindicator is very bad because he will sometimes destroy you with some heavy attack (Flash of the Blade I think?) or heal himself. If you stay far away, he'll only make sun paths that he is too stupid to follow well, and will not heal... for some reason. It's not too bad, with most characters, but sometimes there are mistakes.

Also I would occasionally kill the orcish companions you get there, out of spite. This seems to be somewhat in character for a Kruk-allied warrior, especially since these companions will often blind you with their stupid sun infusions.

Ideally, I'd get the Sunstone from the boss and then have a decent source of steam (mainly for Rocket Boots) for the rest of the game. I'd often put it on my hotbar, since it's not the greatest of amulets in other respects, and you don't usually need steam regeneration as a non-tinker. If I didn't get this, no problem, I'd just rely on level-up and (eventually) some other steam-related equipment (usually the boots) to provide me with steam.

Next comes the Dominion port, minus treasure spots and vaults. Most characters can open the treasures in this dungeon and win the fights that ensue, but it's too risky I think; I learned to skip that stuff, and to note the existence of vaults (using inventory tags). If you do this, then the dungeon is pretty easy; the bosses at the end aren't too terribly strong, though they can sometimes threaten you. After their defeat, it is important (I think?) to refrain from actually blowing up the port, since there are still treasures to be gathered there.

With money in hand from the pirates' hoards, I would return to the Kruk town, to clean out the tinker shop of any remaining schematics that I hadn't learned yet, and maybe to peek into the armor shops again in case they'd gained any gloves of dispersion. (I think they restock once in a while? Maybe it's good to visit again later, I don't really know... but other than gloves of dispersion, there probably isn't much there that's worth thinking about past the early part of the game.)

At around this time I'd peek into the Sunwall Observatory path area, in order to generate the monsters there. It is nice to keep them a little weaker than necessary I think; you don't lack for experience in this campaign, I find.

(I'd often do the same with the Sunwall city itself, also around this time, solely for the sake of keeping Aeryn weak. She can be a problem...)

Then the ritches. The first level is easy, aside from any vaults; at this point I'd usually feel daring/lazy enough to actually enter vaults instead of merely noting their presence. Usually I would even survive them. Some must be retreated from early (and appropriately noted) of course. The second ritch level is the first proper introduction of rare monsters to this route. Accordingly, it is usually too dangerous to clear out, but if explored very carefully, it will sometimes be beatable at this point. Sand-crushing tactics can help, and are easy to perform thanks to the sand-digging tinker you'll have by this time. This does not feel too cheesy to me, because it seems to fit the fiction: The ritches are obviously adapted to sand, but that doesn't mean they are adapted to the rapid digging out of huge quantities of it so as to produce unstable tunnels. They must have some other manner of digging, one that produces stabler (and probably smaller) tunnels, perhaps much more slowly, and I don't mind (in fact I enjoy) using my much crappier tunnels to destroy them.

Before generating the third ritch level, I would leave, because that level and the fourth are generally pretty easy to deal with thanks to the way they isolate enemies from you most of the time, and so it's good to maximize the levels of the enemies there. Instead, I'd go over to the Eruan area, and grind up a little more experience there. The enemies there aren't too terrible, though you do have to be careful around the horrors and a few of the dragons. Worms that walk, dreaming horrors, and nightmare horrors seem to be the worst; sometimes I'll have to just abandon a dreaming horror, which fortunately isn't a very difficult thing to do when you have Teleport. The basement level is tougher, since it's nothing but horrors... but you don't actually have to kill them all (though often you can) in order to reach the lowest level, of course; and you might as well seek the lowest level, having gotten so close.

I like to make my first muscle purchase a healing power, either Healing Light or Healing Touch, depending on my stats. A shadowblade could easily benefit from both, in fact! But not this one, because I was a whitehoof. So I would usually just get Healing Light, and then maybe Chant of Fortitude for the health. I like health a lot. The type of people who write guides seem to think that you should never care about your maximal health except when you're choosing your armor, or something like that, but I put points into Constitution anyway. I'm a rebel and you can't understand me! I like Chant of Fortitude.

Beyond that, my muscle strategy for shadowblades was generally to take Unflinching Resolve or Conditioning third, and lastly either Dream Walk (one more escape power - almost enough!) or some kind of mapping power, either Earth's Eyes or that Divination one that works like Earth's Eyes but uses magic. If you get the Burning Star then you don't need to spend a muscle on mapping, which is nice... in this character's case, I didn't get that, but I did find the Eye of the Forest (a helmet that provides Earth's Eyes), which surprisingly does work for a whitehoof, though its cooldown is pretty bad and I didn't like switching to it. I think I did end up feeling well enough about my mapping power, thanks to that, to get Dream Walk, though I barely ended up using it. (But maybe barely was enough to save my life?? I don't remember!)

Next comes... whatever dungeon level is feasible. The first level of the whitehoof cave is fine, though the second is very much not; the remainder of the ritch caves may or may not be safe to conquer; the treasures in the Dominion port may be safe to collect. Whatever works. It is good to gain as many levels as possible before approaching the observatory.

Then, the observatory, if possible. Nothing special there; the bosses are the only major feature of it, difficulty-wise, and they are usually no big deal. You just have to not die right at the start, and then you're probably more or less safe-ish. It's a potentially very dangerous area, but as long as you only invade it when you're really ready and you carefully avoid attacking too many enemies at once, it's pretty straightforward.

Sometime between the clearing of the ritch area and the assault on the Sunwall, it's probably wise to visit Kaltor's shop. The gems from the ritch nests can be sold (with a few held back to make tinkers with) for enough money to buy a few good things there, and then you can sack the place for more good things. I would usually dig a diagonal path into the wall in Kaltor's room, followed by a small diamond, followed by another little diagonal hook-shaped nook, before attacking any of the giants. This seems to increase safety (for the player character) greatly. I think Kaltor probably shouldn't let you break open his walls though; he should turn hostile when you start mining, or just cry out a warning and force you to stop, or something else like that. It's pretty silly. Oh well, I think I can generally beat his crew even without that trick, and if not then it's always easy enough to just leave them be and come back a few levels later.

After this, maybe a peek into the ruined dungeon to generate enemies there, or maybe not; and then the orc internment camp. Mindwall is usually either unbeatable or easily beatable at this time, but either way, he isn't usually very dangerous. I guess you're supposed to use that annoying undroppable hat you get from the observatory, but I don't seem to need it. I just use water salves or whatever and beat on him, and maybe win.

Within the camp, most characters (especially whitehooves with Mobility) can pretty safely and easily sneak around the edges and try to beat the mind-control pillars without killing any orcs. So I usually do that. I guess you'd get more experience by fighting the orcs; that might be a wiser choice. But if you have a lot of strong attacks that can wear down the pillars fast, you're probably okay just sneaking around. I don't deeply love roleplaying or anything, but it does feel nice to purely rescue the orcs. And then you can have lots of them helping you with any powerful ogres that remain, though that help isn't usually needed I suppose.

Next, I clear more dungeon levels as possible, to gain more power that I may use against the deadly Lady Aeryn. Whitehooves, the ruined dungeon, and the primal forest are helpful here, though occasionally some random whitehooves may still be too powerful. It's dangerous to go into the treetop section of the forest at this point, but I have usually been able to survive that. If I do that stuff and still don't feel strong enough, I may invade Ureslak's lair, which is not too terrible a place to go now as long as you're really careful. And there's lots of experience available there.

Finally, Aeryn, and from there, the rest of the campaign. Aeryn is a bit overpowered I think? Or maybe not. Actually well she's really strong, but I can consistently beat her (albeit often with difficulty), which I guess is pretty much just right. But it's nasty to be suddenly educated for the first time on the enormous power of her offensive prodigies; that's the main thing that bothers me about that fight. Oh and if she gets a critical hit, she can occasionally inflict about 2500 damage even through decent armor and resistances... okay yeah she's slightly overpowered on Insane. But oh well. Anyway, the main thing I think is just to disable her as much as you can (Lunge is great! and gloves of dispersion or a purging weapon, obviously) and avoid standing between her and a nearby tree (because she'll hit you into it). If you've run out of good grinding places and you still can't fight her, you can always try to teleport into the main town area and gain another level or so there before you return to her. She stupidly does not try to stop you. But you can't go further until you've beaten her...

Once she's down for the first time, everything else is open. You can surely beat her again in the basement, and then you'll be free to collect your powered-up Ring of Lost Love, which of course is always great to have. And the remaining dungeons may be tackled in any order (though I do prefer to complete the quarry quest, having learned the hard way what can happen when you don't, and to consider the temporal disruption dungeon to be postgame content, since it's a bit dangerous and doesn't seem to provide any extremely valuable rewards). Oh and don't get close to the quarry bosses without checking their prodigy lists first...

One important strategy for the Embers of Rage endgame, for my style at least, seems to be to actually go into all the vaults you find, at least until you become able to touch (or nearly touch) the resistance cap. But of course you need to be careful sometimes, and it can certainly be tedious... Once I lost a really nice character in one of those nasty spiralling-cell-chain vaults, when I managed to meet (and subsequently find unbeatable) both that unique gluttonous orc dude in one cell, and Ak'Gishil in another. I freed both, continued treasure-mining for a while, and then was too unlucky with teleportations to survive when they both happened to find me again and pin me in place at once. And also you need to be careful, always, in the Slumbering Caves, because the enemies there are just generally overpowered. One time I met a named dreaming horror in the boss level, that was pretty terrible! I don't even remember whether I was capable of killing the stupid thing; it had an extra set of Mindslayer shields or something, on top of the usual dreaming horror durability... yeah, named deraming horrors are awful. Nightmare horrors remain absurdly strong as well. Titanic horrors' shadows can occasionally cause enormous destruction. Melting Point has some weird feature (or interaction with something else?) that allows it to occasionally trigger like ten or twenty Furnace Vents at once, so it's good to be careful around named enemies with that. And potentially, almost any named enemy could maybe have such a strong weapon attack, along with a talent that relies on (and amplifies) weapon damage, as to be able to kill you in one hit even through your 70% resistance to all. I want to defeat all the enemies, but in this dungeon (and only this dungeon) it is clearly better just to get as much treasure as one needs and then hustle through the rest of the place. THIS is why I was willing to spend a muscle piece on a mapping talent.

The boss fight is kind of awful on Insane. All four participants in it get random talents, even though the god parts probably shouldn't; it's pretty silly to have a giant dead eyeball spraying fans of knives at you or whatever. And Vitality on a god part is just an insult - though it doesn't really make any difference, as far as I know.

The worst things to find here, according to my limited experience, are Vitality on the high priest, as mentioned above, and that temporal ripples thingy that one of the god parts has (I think it was the eye?). That thing provides way too much healing... I had terrible trouble with it. I wanted to get far from the god parts to render their powers relatively ineffective, but of course Amakthel has other ideas about that. I wanted to move them far from me, if I couldn't move far from them, but they are "immobile". So here, thanks to information gained from experimentation done in clumsy steps by my several previous characters to have progressed this far, I employed the cheesiest of the tactics involved in this run. After what that high priest did to me on previous runs, I felt okay about verging on cheating in this fight...

First, I dug a tunnel around the edge of the final chamber, running roughly from the top-middle of it, to the right, and then down the right side, joining the chamber as far down as possible. Next I put on my Spring Grapple. Next, I dragged all three god parts, one at a time, from the main chamber up to the section of tunnel just north of the chamber, making sure to arrange them so that each one would plug up its section of tunnel, while still having a little space on either side of it. I think I put the eye between the hand and the mouth, because it seems to summon the worst tentacles? But I forget. It doesn't matter too much anyway, since once they're all stuck up there, the tentacles are generally unlikely to reach you regardless, unless you wander foolishly close to them. And you don't really have to be close, though Amakthel will still jerk you around from time to time. (It's usually okay when he teleports you - the priest will often catch up quickly, or he'll have teleported along with you to begin with, or you can go find him again, and then the battle will resume in your new location, with the god parts still separated from you by one or more blessed walls.)

This is how I was able to corner the high priest with my oozemancer and just pound on him by holding down the movement button. Normally I suppose you'd have the god parts harassing you from behind if you did that, but once they're put away in a side tunnel, they become a non-factor aside from the occasional angry teleportation. Good old steamtech!

Other than describing that trick, I have nothing special to say about my final fight as the whitehoof shadowblade. I brought in Dirty Fighting, but the priest did not have Vitality this time, so I didn't even need it... he was tough, like an elite boss is supposed to be, but I gradually wore him down and was never in extreme danger. Eventually I beat him!

And that is the story of how I became a good person who has won a few times at some video game.

PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2018 9:52 am 

Joined: Fri Jan 01, 2016 2:23 pm
Posts: 100
Excellent read! Learned a few things from it :)
Congrats on becoming a good person (and beating EoR insane lol).

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