Exilian Projects => Computer Game Development - The Indie Alley => Bigosaur => Topic started by: Jubal on October 17, 2017, 12:05:05 AM

Title: Son of a Witch as a Roguelike: A Players' Guide
Post by: Jubal on October 17, 2017, 12:05:05 AM
Son of a Witch as a Roguelike: A Players' Guide

So, I decided to write this guide to give some general gameplay tips and advice to those who are struggling getting through the levels on Son of a Witch. I am, for some crazy reason, one of SoaW's most successful players on challenge leaderboards. This is confusing for one important reason - my reaction times are pretty bad and I'm not used to beat 'em up games at all. What I am good at is playing roguelikes: RPGs where survival, discovery, and tactics are key elements through the game. It's with that roguelike-player's hat on that I'm writing this advice guide, to give you some hints and tips on how to build up your character, beat the bad guys, and - most importantly - survive through the levels!

This is the first part of a huge three part guide - the other two parts are the Unofficial Monster Manual (https://exilian.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=5372.0), and the Unofficial Equipment Guide (https://exilian.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=5385.0), which have stats and advice on literally every monster and item in the game so you know how best to use them!

Basic wisdom & combat tips

Building a character

The main thing to bear in mind as you advance through the levels is that you're trying to build a character who'll become capable of beating bosses. Of course your personal skill at the battles will have a huge impact on things, but the key point of roguelike play is that there's also a lot you can control by getting your strategy right. You don't need to "finish" character building at any point per se, but more things will get set in stone over time as you use runestones and develop weapons that are better than anything you could buy/pick up otherwise. I usually want to have my weapon choices etc mostly sorted by the end of the Castle level at the moment: if you're starting out, aim to have them sorted sooner in general. It's better to adopt and start building up a decent weapon than hold out for trying to find the one perfect thing you want which might not even exist in this instance anyway.

An additional point on top of that is that your character doesn't ultimately have to major in the thing they're originally designed for. Say, for example, that you start out as a knight but find a crossbow, two replication scrolls, and a golden bow on the first level, you don't like hammers much and there are no decent swords around. It's a perfectly valid and good gameplay choice to decide you're going to go for being primarily an archer and use the bow for most of the rest of the game! There's an advantage in doing what you're good at - namely, better starting stats - but there are often alternative options and character builds available.

So what should you look for or plan for when developing a character? My first and foremost piece of advice is "no shenanigans" - in other words, basically you want to be fast and hit hard, and the rest is secondary. Having 100 or so health is optimal, I think, but being able to dodge is more important than being able to absorb damage (which you generally can't) in this game. I would usually advise pretty strongly against trying to rely on any special effects like elemental damage as a core part of your strategy: too many enemies have immunities to various of them (if you focus heavily on poison, for example, it will stand you in very bad stead against the undead who are immune to it). Focus, instead, upon improvements to whatever basic stats or weapons you need for your main strategy. Of course there are a lot of free upgrades you'll find that may improve elemental damage, and there'll be situations where you can use that effectively - the point is, though, that reliable high-damage hits are the key thing in SoaW in general.

Level 1 - The Forest

The forest is your home, and you start in your own village, generally with some item given to you by the villagers/left to your by your mom, the eponymous Witch of the game's title. In many ways this is the most important level, and I'm probably going to write the most on it: you'll start finding out what's available in terms of potions etc, and there are a lot of bonus rooms that can give you things which seriously affect the rest of your planning. There are always at least two shops on this level (pet shop and item shop), and occasionally also a potion or scroll shop. I usually do the forest in the following order:

1. Firstly, room clearance. This is what it says on the tin: going round and beating every goblin in the forest. This generally isn't too difficult: the unofficial monster manual gives more guidance on the particular enemies. Goblins don't generally move fast, which is the good thing here. If you find a special room, some can be done at this stage, some left for later:

As you complete the rooms, start gathering up things you find. DO NOT DRINK POTIONS YET, except health potions if you need them. For other items, ideally find a good cleared room with no traps (your village can be OK to start with, but then nearer the boss fight can be good later) to start stashing things you find, as you probably won't be able to fit them all in your inventory. Use this room to put all the potions you find, any specialist arrows, etc etc: basically, if you found it then it should go in there. I usually make myself a "stash room" on every level of the game and find it really helps, especially as it means I know where I'm going when I need that poison antidote I left lying around etc.

There will always be one treasure room in the forest: in most iterations, you will get enough keys to use one of those to open it & all chests inside. Most possible treasure rooms in the forest only have one chest and/or have blue chests/boxes that may give you extra keys - so if you have 2+ keys and you can see the locked door, open it with a key rather than a bomb. If you have just one key, drop it before blasting the door with a bomb, or you might accidentally use the key up when you didn't mean to. There are also "hidden rooms" with rock doors that can only be cleared with a bomb. See the "common problems" section below on dealing with these, as they contain HUGE numbers of enemies.

2. Once you're sorted on that, it's time for the boss fight! All the first-level bosses can be completed without any upgrades at all with a bit of practice. That said, if you're new to this, you can skip this bit and do it at the end. The only advantage of doing it my way round is that certain drops by the boss can be useful in determining your strategy for the "tactics phase" that comes afterwards - especially the possibility that they'll drop the mana canteen or a good weapon, both of which might well affect your ideal future path through the game.

3. Bombs! The Unofficial Equipment Guide has info on using bombs at the end of the miscellaneous items section, so I won't repeat that - basically you're trying to maximise the number of rocks you blow up to give yourself the best chance of finding items. If you have a squirrel in the pet shop (there's always a pet shop on L1), then consider robbing that before using the bombs - runestones are really powerful and well worth using.

4. Shop robberies. Robbing shops really speeds up your character development possibilities, allowing you to get some useful kit and save up money (which you'll want in the dungeon level where shop robberies are pretty much impossible and prices are super high). The bushido enemy, who spawns when you attack the shopkeeper (see the monster manual for details), also often drops useful items like beers, antidotes, and - best of all - dragonfire potions, which are very useful in section 5 below.

You won't be able to rob the shops on every run: the bushido who emerges when you attack the shopkeeper is a powerful enemy and tough to beat. The main thing is to either have a one-hit win via a scroll, or to slow him down - my usual shop robbery method is to use iron arrows, if I've found any, to slow the bushido down enough that I can keep running and beat him at range. That said, cracking out those first two iron arrows is a very tight piece of timing: scrolls of barrel roll/peace to insta-win the battle, or lazy enemies scrolls to cut his movement quicker, or medusa arrows are much safer bets in general, or using ice arrows, which aren't that uncommon and allow you to just keep the bushido frozen as you slowly shoot him to bits. You don't need to be an archer at all for any of these: if you can get a bow and a bunch of ice arrows, go for it. If the shop is selling ice arrows, remember that picking them up and then robbing the rest of the shop is probably still cheaper than actually making the purchases.

One final method I'll note is using an escape scroll for a shop that has doors in significantly different places that can be both accessed (aka, of the 6 points where a door could be, any 2 non-adjacent points that you can get to the outsides of from each other). This will then allow you to duck into one door, get off a couple ranged hits, then run round just before he gets to you and start shooting from the other door. It's not a quick strategy, but it works. I've once or twice managed to do this trick using bombs to open the doors, but it's much tougher on timing and I wouldn't recommend it.

5. Potion testing
Before you test potions, get all your potions in the same room. If you've found or can get a dragonfire potion that's ideal - save it until last to remove any bad status effects you pick up from testing the potions. Use up all identify scrolls you've found before drinking anything - you can then discard any bad potions you find. If you don't have a dragonfire potion, make sure you have a free inventory slot or more in case you encounter avarice potions.

The final thing you need to do - and you'll need to do this on every level - is work out what you're taking forwards to the next level, which may be more or less difficult depending on how much inventory space you have. You need a weapon, of course, and I usually have at least two types. If I'm an archer, druid, or pyromancer I usually have a melee weapon as secondary, if I'm a chanter or knight I usually carry a bow. I sometimes carry a third weapon, especially if it's a bow - the chances of finding slow and ice arrows aren't bad, collectively, and they can be useful both in shop robberies and boss battles on the next level.

As for non-weapon items (which can include carrying staffs just for the mana ability), I usually try and take some sort of poison protection forward if I can, given one of the second level boss battles requires it. Keys are another must - I basically always carry as many as I can on every level, which pays off in the Dungeon especially. Things that will build your character long term should, if you're aiming to get to the high levels, take next priority here - retort, magic chest, gilded predator, and enchanters' warbreaker are all particular favourites, as you can be generating more useful things using them.

Common Problems

How do I deal with Shamans I can't reach?
Firstly, make sure you're always carrying a melee weapon, ideally a sword - it hits fast and each hit disrupts casting. Secondly, beat enemies in the right order - if you can easily get to where the shaman is, deal with the other enemies first and just keep moving; if you can't, get moving until you can. Thirdly, ensure you have 1 or 2 inventory slots free at any given time which you can then use to pick up dolls. Finally, be prepared to move and take damage if necessary. That room with loads of fires down the middle? Some days you just have to walk through them to slap the shaman round the face with a sword a few times. It'll really hurt your character, but hurt is better than dead.

How do I deal with the hidden treasure rooms?
Method 1 is "use a scroll", which is a perfectly valid option. Method 2 is the trickier one and is how to actually "beat" the room, so here goes. Blow the door as soon as you find it, if you have a bomb available. Walk into the room - it will almost always be full of goblins, including a ton of shamans. Run around briefly - give ALL the shamans just long enough to lock their voodoo dolls onto you - then get the hell out of there again before things get messy. Then go complete another room - the removal of the voodoo doll effect is triggered by battle end, so this will avoid you getting "dolled" in the massive battle. Now, complete the rest of the level, including getting any speed boosts you reasonably can - and THEN go back and do the fight. You'll need to move fast to start and dodge a lot until the shamans drop their dolls - after which, as long as you stay further from the dolls than the shaman, you should have a good chance at beating the remaining enemies. I don't have a 100% record on beating these rooms even with this method, but it's the best way to negate the shamans which are the most dangerous part of these hidden rooms.

Level 2 - The Battlements

The battlements are probably the level about which there's least to say. There are only two types of enemy here - castle guards, and guard captains - and they don't come in huge numbers and there aren't many special rooms. Pretty much rinse & repeat level 1, with the exception that I often do the treasure rooms etc first, and depending on what weapons I've found I may be more actively looking for potions and runestones rather than new equipment already.

Level 3 - The Castle

In the castle, you have much larger battles going on. For many of these you don't need to wade into them, especially if you haven't got the gilded predator or enchanters' warbreaker. The main problems one gets here are dealing with the two new enemy types, the Sky Wizard and the Orc - see their Monster Manual entries for more details.

In terms of traps, there are plenty of poison shooters here, so unless you're poison immune already, having poison protection at the ready is ideal (that, or be prepared to fight several battles whilst poisoned).

You get some bonus and quest rooms in the castle, as follows:

The Good Princess - a surprisingly tough one, you get 5 regular goblins dropped in to kill her and have to defeat them, but 3 are coming from one side and 2 from the other. This is perhaps best done in melee with an effect-based sword - run over, start poisoning/flaming the three on one side, then run back and deal with the other two, then go kill the three. Unless you have the rangers' quiver, it's very hard to kill them with archery skills. You can also of course use a scroll here, though I find it's usually possible without.

The Evil Princess - requires you to kill everyone in the throne room and return the sceptre to her. I usually do this via a scroll, if I can find one. If you can't, start by using a bomb on the king and ensure you have any buffs possible to kill the king and the wizards as fast as possible. Consider eg using turrets if you have a turret staff, which you can plant before starting the battle.

The Tavern - currently just an empty room with lots of ale in it, pretty useful for healing purposes though an empty tavern feels kind of creepy to me and I keep wanting there to be some kind of barkeep or drunkard NPC in there even if they're absolutely pointless, just for scenery's sake.

Altars - as on level 1, always use them because some of the outcomes are REALLY good. Some are kind of meh, but the possibility of getting a book or an amulet is too good to waste.

The castle has no bombable rocks at all - remember you can't blow up the pillars - so basically save any bombs you find for use in the dungeon (though note the guidance on carrying bombs into dungeon fights below - specifically "don't".

The boss fights all have monster manual entries, so I won't say too much more on them here. after the boss fights there's the throne room, where the King will update you on what's happening in the next two levels. You can attack the King & court, but beware - the King can regularly summon guards, so it's very easy to get swamped unless you can take him down quickly.
Title: Re: Son of a Witch as a Roguelike: A Players' Guide
Post by: Jubal on November 21, 2017, 09:29:46 PM
Level 4 - The Dungeon

The dungeon has some pretty specific stuff in it - almost no shooting traps here, but spike traps instead (and rolling spike-balls). Like in the castle, poison is a very common dungeon problem, especially as the brigands all use poisoned weapons (and some spike traps are poisoned. The other massive issue in the dungeon is thieves, who will jump on your back and drop your stuff out. This often isn't too bad, except if a) you're an archer OR b) you have bombs, which they'll set off rather than just drop. To deal with these, archers - make sure you have a hand weapon or two and switch to them immediately if you get jumped, and for all characters, NEVER CARRY BOMBS WITH YOU. You'll have plenty of time to bomb-mine the level once you've cleared it out.

This level has one bonus room so far, the gambling wheel, which does a double-or-nothing 50% chance with all your money. Generally, my playstyle gives me enough money by this stage that I don't need to use it for the things I most desperately need - I'd advise buying all the things you can afford, then trying to double your remaining money if you want to. You won't need money on the catacomb level, so you'll be able to regain some cash down there. There are also trap/chest rooms, which you'll see marked with a chest on the map - other than the door-unlock chest room, dungeon chest rooms never have enemies in, which is really worth remembering if you're low on health and not sure where to go next. The trap rooms do contain traps, but generally these aren't hard to deal with after a few goes - walk over spike traps just after they've triggered/as the spikes are retracting.

The chests in this level are the first coin chests you'll have come across. Hopefully you've been collecting keys because there are plenty of them usually, especially in the locked room, each giving a certain amount of gold (4-6 coins). Spike traps are placed in all the shops and will permatrigger if you attack the shopkeeper, so you WILL need to pay for stuff here (and prices are painfully high). Remember that if you have a dog, any shops other than pet shops can be stolen from happily - the dog will fetch any items you need.

When facing the dungeon bosses, I usually start with carrying in a poison dagger - there are lots of them around. I've often got a +10 or so poison bonus by this point, which is enough to be pretty useful, especially against the Trickster. Snailbite arrows are pretty useful against the Butcher, but less so against Felgin the Ringleader or the Trickster. More info on all three bosses can be found in the part 2 of the Unofficial Monster Manual.

When deciding what to take to the next level, remember that dragonfire potions and beers are a lot more useful in the catacombs than anywhere else in the game.

Level 5 - The Catacombs

The catacombs are the place of the undead. Killing skeleton mages quickly to avoid them cursing you too much is a major factor here. The only traps are ceiling traps - there's no way of disabling them at present, and they only trigger for player characters. Some rooms have rather a lot of them: in general, avoiding them is the best thing, and moving fast enough to . They're always longer lengthways across the screen, so if you need to pass one do so in the up/down direction. Status effect damage is a massive problem here: the mages can curse you with almost every bad status effect in the game, and the undead warriors' blades can cause hiccup and poison. As such, dragonfire potions are really valuable, as are beers and poison cures.

Shops in the catacombs are run by vampiresses who require payments in blood. If you've got scrolls or a powerful enough character, I'd advise paying them in re-interment for their owners instead. When you attack the vampiress a huge swarm of vampire bats will appear, so you need to be pretty powerful and pretty quick for this.

The catacombs sometimes have altars in. There's also a room with an undead boar in it that appears sometimes: it's best to pick this up at the end of the level if you can, so it's fresh (as fresh as a long-dead porcine can be) for the ice mountain level, in which you'll want it to counteract the sliding effect of the ice. The other notable special room for the catacombs that appears sometimes is the entry to the lower catacombs: this entry is always on the top side of the screen, and is a locked door (that can be solved with a key or bomb, just like normal locked doors).

Level 5a - The Lower Catacombs

The lower catacombs are a completely different challenge to most other parts of Son of a Witch. Every room will be packed full of enemies, including lots of undead wizards. You need to not only be killing everything, but be doing it extremely quickly, to advance far; most rooms will be harder than any boss battle by far in terms of difficulty. If you have clairvoyance potions or a magic map available, they are far more useful here than almost anywhere else, as you'll most easily be able to find treasure rooms and the boss room that way. The boss room always contains Undead King Salamis and a few lesser undead; Salamis is fairly tough but the boss fight is still probably the easiest lower-catacomb battle. Ensure you have as many dragonfire potions as you can, because you're going to get cursed a lot. If you want to go deep into the lower catacombs, always a) ensure you're literally carrying at least one dragonfire potion in case you get cursed with avarice and b) think very carefully before drinking dragonfires, because you probably at most only have one for every 4 or 5 battles - remember that there can be other ways to get rid of curses like poison and hunger.

Title: Re: Son of a Witch as a Roguelike: A Players' Guide
Post by: Jubal on November 21, 2017, 09:40:52 PM
Level 6 - Ice Mountain

Ice mountain has one incredibly obvious feature - namely, ice. The mountain bit is actually a lot less clear. You'll notice as soon as you get there that you're slipping and sliding all over the place. This isn't too bad for wizards using orb staffs, especially if you have plenty of bounce or spread shots or fission orbs which make it less important exactly what you're hitting - it's much tougher for archers and melee characters, perhaps especially the latter. For melee characters, using effect damage means fewer landed hits still have a decent effect, or if you're using a combination like Violet Sword + Stomp Attack then that's still pretty good here. Hammers are generally not great unless you're really one-hitting enemies with them. Mounts negate the slippery effect, as noted earlier, so if you have one of those, good job, you'll find this a lot easier. Slime blobs will also give you a sure footing, though at the cost of some speed. Other than that, check what the different enemies are capable of in the monster manual and remember that practice makes perfect, as with most aspects of combat in this game.

Hopefully by this point you have the mammoth amulet and are immune to freezing. If you don't, beware, because the Ice Mages and Baby Yetis are both all over the place and using freeze-heavy attacks. Area effects like books are pretty useful here, as are poisoned weapons if you've got a well upgraded poison level by this point. Whilst the summoned pogonips (ice fogs) used by the mages are annoying, there's no penalty from them that lasts beyond the battle, so if you can poison enemies then get out the way for a bit, by all means do so.

This level doesn't yet have much by way of special rooms. The long jump also found on the forest level can be found here - note that if you run at it with a mount, your mount will run into, and be damaged by, the spikes. Shops on this level are (at least currently) like those on levels 1-3, with a bushido guard. The locked rooms seem to often have ice shooters in, so again, immunity to freezing is one of the most useful things you can get here.

Level 7 - Desert

The desert is of course the final level. The main "area effect" here is a unique status attribute called thirst, which works much like hunger or poison in that it slowly drains your health. Thirst gets added to you every time you walk into a new room, and can be removed by drinking any potion of any type. The best way to deal with it is probably to build up a big stack of small health potions on the previous levels - as long as you have the stock ready, thirst shouldn't be a huge problem for you.

In terms of enemies, be aware of the redhaired shielder/assassin unit, as their swords can petrify you with a single hit. If you can ensure there's always a dragonfire potion in your inventory, do - that and the life staff are the only two ways of removing petrification, and you have to use them quickly before your body is entirely turned to stone.
Title: Re: Son of a Witch as a Roguelike: A Players' Guide
Post by: Jubal on November 21, 2017, 09:41:33 PM