31 January 2014

How to beat a Roguelike: Pixel Dungeon part 2

A lot of modern roguelikes (and I use that term in a very broad manner - once again screw the Berlin interpretation!) have nice graphics and easy-to-learn interfaces that make them accessible for more and more players - who then run against a wall of difficulty. Don't despair, in this series of posts I shall shine some light on those that I have played and beaten and give some tips regarding strategy and practice on each individual game.

Last time I wrote about the first two bosses of Pixel Dungeon, how to get there and how to beat them. This time we'll delve further into the depths, seeing what we can do about the other three bosses and their minions. After you beat the Tengu, the game curves up a little, getting more difficult. If you have beaten the Tengu, however, you get a book that lets you specialize your character class further - and that is something you get for every future play-through on that class. What to do to get through the caves though? Read on!

The shop after the Tengu hopefully lets you stock up on health potions. Another thing you should be on the look-out for are scrolls of magic mapping, which will make surviving the hell-levels later on much easier. Also, you need potions of poison gas and potions of paralytic gas for the bosses to come. Everything else is optional although I never sell a wand of firebolt, because the ability to start a fire is VERY valuable.

The caves feature three new types of monsters (although they may spawn earlier sometimes): Bats are fast, regenerate health whenever they hit you, are difficult to hit and sometimes drop health potions. Kite them into a corridor and beat them to death with any melee-weapon. Should you be a caster-type, set them on fire and they can't even put themselves out in water because they aren't touching the ground. Gnoll berserkers are tough creatures that do a lot of damage once hurt enough to become enraged. If this happens, try to hit them with something precise like magic. If you cannot reliably fight these creatures, then bad luck or bad play have gotten you here because they are a gateway-enemy. Cave spinners are annoying things that are difficult to hit, run away after poisoning you and drop webbing that can get you stuck. If you cannot fight these, feel free to try and avoid them if possible. If you have the right equipment, the bats of the cave can be a good source of health potions, as the flies were in the prison levels.

There is a side-quest in this level, a troll blacksmith wants you to get him some dark gold, which is easy enough but the reward is complicated. If you have a second armor or weapon of the type you're using and that is identified and not cursed, you can use it to upgrade your equipment. If not, don't bother, it will only cost you valuable food-time to run around doing this guys work.

The boss on this level is a dwaren mining machine gone rogue. I suggest dropping an earthroot seed, stepping on it, if you have it quaff a potion of cleansing right before it reaches you and then simply bash it 'til it drops. Make sure it doesn't stand on water and kill it quickly because it can regenerate health. If necessary, use health potions. There really is not big trick with this one, you'll just have to beat it.

The dwarven necropolis can be rather frustrating to get through. Should you be in possession of a high-level wand of firebolt or a good combination of armor and weaponry, you may want to rush through them but I'd say the grinding is not over yet. Dwarven monks can disarm you but this doesn't count for throwing weapons. Do not engage the casters at a range. Golems are powerful but alright. Fire elementals set you on fire so stand in water while fighting them and stash your scrolls somewhere not on your body. Also, they are immune to fire, which can be rather problematic for a firebolt-based wizard...

The sidequest here is by an imp that wants you to kill six of the golems. As you are probably going to do that anyways and the reward is a random +4 Ring, this quest is well worth doing. Keep in mind that you sell the ring, if you don't like it.

The boss here, the dwarven king, is easy if you have a few potions of toxic gas. Toss them in the middle of the two spots where he will go to spawn his minions and position yourself in the middle of the hall near the entrance, so that you stay just outside of the cloud of gas. Fend off the weakened skeletons attacking you here. If you want to speed things up and have fire-bloom seeds, throw them onto the spawning-points before the king gets there. When the fumes start to recede, toss another bottle. Should you run out or have skeletons still after you once the king is dead, retreat in one of the corners so only two of them can attack you at a time.

The hell levels. This is it. Grinding is over. Luckily, there are only three actual levels to beat before you reach the big boss. There is a store here and it occupies the entirety of level 21, so no monsters here. Try to have three scrolls of magic mapping. Find some paralytic gas. Get one torch. Be well equipped (if you got here, you probably are). Upon entering a level, read a scroll of magic mapping and then plot the least dangerous course straight to the exit. Remember, monsters spawn only in rooms, so corridors are safer at the beginning of a level.

Succubi are not a problem if you have a powerful wand but very annoying to kill in actual close combat. Scorpions will not attack you when you're next to them so keep pushing them in order to avoid their crippling attacks. Those eye-laser-beholder-thingies are simply mean. Try to run for it. If you have reached the exit, you may want to check out rooms around you but do not go too far. Be ready to flee.

Level 25 holds the last boss of the game. Beat it and you have won. The boss consists of three individual parts, an eye and two fists. The eye is passive but the fists will shoot at you and engage you at close range. This is what you brought that paralytic gas for. Try to catch both fists in the cloud and then use ranged weapons to soften them up. Run in for the kill but remember that standing in water is essential with the burning fist and the rotting fist as well, once it wakes up and starts hitting you back. The best weapon for this is a well-upgraded wand. Oh, yeah, remember that you (hopefully) have health-potions and you won't need them beyond this point so use them.

Once the hands are taken care of, kill the eye. Whenever you hit it with a physical weapon, it spawns a larva that will attack you. If you are a mage with a wand, this is not your problem and other characters can fight them well enough one-on-one, just kill them before hitting the eye again because you don't want to get swarmed to close to victory. Without the fists, the eye shouldn't be a problem. Kill it and you have won the game. Go get your amulet and be happy about it.

It will take a lot of attempts to do this. I have beaten the game with all four character classes but only one single time with the huntress, so I advise against using her for any beginner. Even if you're very good at this, it will take a ton of attempts to score a victory but, with a little luck in the item randomization, it is very much possible to beat this game in about one or two hours of riding public transport or something similar. Have fun! Next week, I'll tell you how to beat FTL like, 33% of the time!

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