Son of a Witch as a Roguelike: A Players' Guide

Started by Jubal, October 17, 2017, 12:05:05 AM

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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, and the Unofficial Equipment Guide, which have stats and advice on literally every monster and item in the game so you know how best to use them!

Basic wisdom

  • The first and most important rule: if you need to deviate from this guide, do so. Son of a Witch is a game that will throw unexpected situations at you, and you need to learn to react to that. Whilst this guide roughly discusses my strategy in the game, I never stick to it completely in any successful game - being able to adapt is crucial.
  • Most of the time, Son of a Witch is best treated as a survival game more than a combat game: your ability to deal damage quickly and accurately is secondary to your ability to dodge and heal. If you're dying a lot on low levels, it's probably a sign that you're not moving enough.
  • Remember that movement is in two planes, and they are fundamentally different. Attacks almost always happen basically in the left-right plane, which means that for dodging attacks the up/down plane is considerably more important.
  • Remember you can switch weapons! You're not obliged to keep doing whatever your character is good at. This especially applies to bows, where even if your archery is terrible, specialist arrows like ice, poison, and slowness can be vitally useful in robbing shops or fighting bosses.

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.

Character types


Combat & Combat Styles
The duke, the wanderer, the philosopher, the mariner, the warrior, the strategist, the storyteller, the wizard, the wayfarer...


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:

  • Clear Rooms (including treasure rooms)
  • Clear Boss Fight
  • Bombs
  • Shop Robberies
  • Potion Testing

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:

  • Altars - do these as soon as you have enough food/potions to fix the damage - they often give extremely good items.
  • Boar - do as soon as possible. You tame the boar by hitting it once, so the best thing is to try and do that whilst damaging it as little as possible. The easiest boar hunting method is to use a magic staff to hit it with a ball of magic from range. Avoid using a bow if you can or your boar will end up quite damaged before you even get onto it; a throwing axe is better to use than a bow here if you can find one.
  • Sword in the stone - leave until the bombs phase.
  • Hornets & bow - complete as soon as possible (but don't use the runestones yet).
  • Baseball axe contest - complete as soon as possible (but don't use the runestones yet).
  • Long jump - complete as soon as possible, though you may want to get speed boosts.
  • Bug stomping - DO NOT complete at this point, which means NOT going up and talking to the farmer because that triggers the quest instantly. Do this later when you've had more chance to find speed boosts.
  • Troll bridge - avoid for now, if you're not confident in your ability to kill the troll just pay the fee. If you want to know how to approach this battle, check the monster manual.
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.
The duke, the wanderer, the philosopher, the mariner, the warrior, the strategist, the storyteller, the wizard, the wayfarer...


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.

There are two special room types on the battlements:

The Dragon Room
Contains four dragons, two of which are petrified, and a life staff which you can use to unpetrify the other two dragons in a 4-player game. You get to ride the dragons! They're pretty cool and breathe fire. I think they eat food too for healing, so combo well with a strawberry staff.

The Secret Shop + Secret Treasury
A double bonus room. A pirate in the main shop will tell you about it if it exists; you need a silver coin to get there (from and only from the level's main shop room), obtained by buying all the items in any shop. When you use the coin you teleport to a second shop, which has a range of super cheap (1 gold each), gold-themed items: clockwork staff, magic chest, golden bow, 100 golden arrows, gilded predator hammer are all possibilities, and there's a free pig there too. Note that you need a silver coin to get back again: you can get this either by taking one with you, by buying everything in the cheap shop (which won't cost much unless there's a stack of golden arrows), or by killing the shopkeeper (with the usual bushido fight etc).

There's also a sealed door at the top of the room which you can blast with a bomb to get through: if you do so, you reach the secret castle treasury, a room with three chests and a very large army of guards. This is a very difficult fight considering the level and a good one to use a scroll on if you have one. Slow effects and area/mass damage are good too (sweep attacks with a poisoned weapon for example). Fighting this with a bow is especially tricky unless you're very fast, as you can't deal damage quickly enough. The three chests are gold chests and often have very good stuff in though, so I usually do try to fight this one out.

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.
The duke, the wanderer, the philosopher, the mariner, the warrior, the strategist, the storyteller, the wizard, the wayfarer...


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, who if slowed down can end up being *better* protected by their minions swarming around them. 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.

  • Don't go further than you can manage. I personally never manage this rule and always overestimate myself, which kills off a LOT of my characters.
  • Sweep & stomp tactics. If you have a stomp of 100dmg+ and the violet sword, just keep using sweep attacks and stomping to get a kill and replenish your rage meter again. Repeat until done.
  • Staff of the Dead - if you can get one, you can build an undead army, which is absolutely the best way to deal with the catacombs. Focus on Vampiresses and resurrecting bosses as the first port of call. Note that there are some rooms where enemy undead wizards will be behind barriers, though, so you still need to be ready to open paths for your army before they get cursed into nothingness.
  • Barrel roll and peace scrolls. These are the easiest ways to clear a room - they're uncomplicated and do the job perfectly.
  • Gamble scrolls. These are another way to clear a room - potentially a far more dangerous one, as they can create bushidos and other genuinely dangerous enemies that you'll need to have some way of fighting. They're better than nothing here, but not ideal.
The duke, the wanderer, the philosopher, the mariner, the warrior, the strategist, the storyteller, the wizard, the wayfarer...


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 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.

Altars seem to be fairly common on this level; there are no other special rooms at present.

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. The medusa amulet of course is invaluable on this level and allows you to fight with rather more impunity. The lack of ranged enemies on the level makes it mostly a fairly good one for ranged characters.
The duke, the wanderer, the philosopher, the mariner, the warrior, the strategist, the storyteller, the wizard, the wayfarer...


Achievement Hunting

A fair number of the achievements are straightforward to complete - those that require simply playing a number of games, or defeating certain bosses for the first time (covered in the Monster Manual), and so on. In this section, we'll look at some of the more specific ones that aren't so simple, like side-quests or just difficult feats to achieve. There are also several that require playing through whole variant modes of the game, and the "other game modes" section will help with those.

The following achievements I'm either classing as "easy" (or at least, likely to be completed within a normal winning run of a certain character type), or are covered elsewhere in these guides: Prologue, Who's The Boss Now, Lost Pet, Dragon Slayer, Bandit, I'll Be Back, Archer's Quest, Healer, Execution, Persistent, Undertaker, Exterminator, Bodyguard, Double Back, King Arthur, Connoisseur, Happy New Year, Succession (See Monster Manual Pt 1: The King), Player, Veterinary Physician, Expert Swordsman, Victory, Sharpshooter, It's Hammer Time, Sorceress, Knight, Pyromancer, Druid, Shepherd (see Monster Manual Pt 2: War Sheep), Archer, Skeleton, Barbarian.

Here are notes for the others, presented in a rough difficulty order (determined by looking at the Steam stats of which ones players have completed more):

Safety Escort
A fairly hard escort mission through the battlements and much of the castle, to unlock the Pyromancer. Your escortee is slow moving and vulnerable - use scrolls and bombs to skip as many battles as you can, opting to fight only the easier ones. Don't pick up your escortee until the end of level one, to minimise the number of battles you're taking her through. Be prepared to take more hits than usual - jumping in front of a throwing spear now and again may be helpful. The magic map is very useful here, as it allows you to ensure you don't go through more rooms than you need to. Once you reach the castle level, the Pyromancer (and thus end of the quest) is always in a shop, so if you get a silver coin somewhere on levels one or two then you can sometimes teleport there directly which makes life easier.

Eye of Ramana
Again, an extremely tough escort mission, though at least if you get the undeath staff you can resurrect your charge. Similar things apply as with Safety Escort, except you're doing it in the lower catacombs. Finishing battles fast and knowing the map well are vital here - a very overpowered wizard is usually a good character to do this with, and an undead army to soak up the damage is helpful too. Until you complete this mission, the drop rate for the Staff of the Dead is 100%, so it's worth completing the catacomb boss fight first and always having some undead with you. It may also be worth trying the other necromancy missions (Necromancer, Dracula, and Undead Friend) before you complete Eye of Ramana, as once you've completed this achievement the drop rate for the Staff of the Dead drops to much lower (you can however test for it by hitting f1 at the start of a game: a readout will tell you whether the Dracula achievement is possible, that is whether the lower catacombs and staff drop are both present).

Pretty easy, just wander around the first level as a knight until you get pinned by a shaman, kill the non-shaman goblins, and then stomp yourself to death when the shaman drops the doll. Easier to do if you've got potions that boost stomp damage. It's pretty easy to end up getting killed by the meteors instead of your own attacks though, so beware of that.

Getting the chain reactor item early is important for this one; running around and enemies lined up right so once you kill one, their on-death released bombs kill each other, is also useful. This may be best done in the Master Blaster challenge, where the bombs won't hurt you.

Tomb Raider
There are various ways to clear out the Old/Lower Catacombs; they're mostly covered in the section above on that area. High powered magic or undead armies are the most standard ways. Archers will find this the most difficult, I think, as it's tricky to kill the enemies fast enough.

This is quite a hard one - I suspect it's easier to do on the I Am The King barbarian challenge than in a regular game, as you can then take your soldiers around the forest and protect them better from goblins, whereas in a normal game they'll be harder to save, especially from the dungeon level floor traps. An alternative possibility is to have trap-stopping pets plus the clockwork staff so you can at least protect them from the floor traps.

Play through a full game as the pyromancer and you should get this one fine.

Quite easy to achievement-hunt, though rare to get in a regular game. Just restart until you get the bag of bombs, use all your bombs to blast doors, and you should have this complete by the castle level.

Green Flame
This one's quite straightforward, just keep restarting as either druid or pyromancer until you find whichever the other staff is, then find some mana potions so you can invoke the fire special, drink 2 small manas (or 1 big), then invoke the poison special *whilst the fire staff is in your hand* - that is, you want to poison-buff the fire staff, NOT the poison staff (and the fire staff can't buff anything other than itself). You should then be able to fire green poisonous fireballs.

Lord of Thunder
This is quite an easy one as long as you find the thunderstriker sword reasonably early on. Like with Marksman below, the real trick is to get a group of enemies bunched up enough for this to work: the catacomb level shop battles may be a good option for this as the bats come in large numbers, or if you have a peace scroll then the throne room on level 3 (let the king summon a load of guards THEN peace-scroll them all and you should have plenty to use for the achievement).

Merchant of Death
This (killing a bushido with a stolen melee weapon) is fairly tough. I think my advice would be to use a wizard or a fast-moving archer with poison arrows, and do things to speed yourself up: the aim should basically be to get the bushido down to 1hp at range and then just do one well-timed hit with your newly stolen weapon.

This needs a mana canteen and life staff in the final boss battle, which you can then use to revive the dragon master's dragon after you knock the dragon master off it. Fortunately the Life Staff isn't that uncommon and is a pretty beefy (8dmg) weapon, so any mage should be fine for hunting this achievement.

See "Gold Rush" below: this is just a weaker version of that.

Orb Rain
Basically for this you need a wizard and a run with plentiful "magic split" potions. You'll also need to get a fair way through the run to get seven or eight such potions, so you'll either need to have some magic buffing combos or be prepared to fight a full game in melee or archery. Use replication scrolls on magic pearls or magic split potions when you find them to speed the process up.

Do-able but takes a few tries, since killing any enemies with a bomb is a bit tricky. Slowing some enemies down and getting them bunched up by running round them is the key here. Also, doing it in a room with a lot of enemies, as some will usually split off so the "main cluster" still has to have 5+ enemies in it. If you have a peace scroll then consider using throne room on level 3 (let the king summon a load of guards, then use the scroll, and you should have plenty to use for the achievement).

Easy, just takes a while. Keep walking into rooms, tagging someone, killing them via the doll, rinse & repeat for ten rooms.

You need to play through most of the game to get this achievement, but it's quite easily done in many/most normal games - each of the seven levels has one locked door, and an average of about three locked chests (boosted by eg the dungeon which will usually have 5-7), so 20 through the game is quite do-able. The reindeer pet might be useful here to avoid you running out of keys/letting you find them in rocks (or the dwarven ring of course).

One way to get this is with Money Is Power potions, which if you follow a money-heavy strategy can get you that high by late game (though remember it's a status effect, so be careful of getting curses that you can't remove for fear of losing your buffs). You can also trigger it by using the mana canteen and twilight staff (or bare bones amulet, stack of small mana potions, and staff) and repeatedly using the staff's ability on one room. With a mana canteen you'll need around 50 mana stored up to get to the 1000% mark.

Mana Man
Take a melee character and be prepared to not use any mana abilities, drink any mana potions you find immediately, and take the lizard as soon as you find it, and this one's perfectly possible.

This is mostly a skill test - it's not that uncommon to be able to one-shot enemies as an archer, and you just need to get enough of them lined up to put an arrow through them all. If you're quick enough for it, the vampiress bat swarms in the dungeon level shops or the level 3 throne room (plus a peace scroll or it gets too dangerous) offer a reliable source of large numbers of enemies that you can plug an arrow through. The overdrive barbarian challenge offers fuller rooms that may have more possibilities for completing this quest, too.

Gold Rush
Avarice is your friend for completing this one: other than that, just take every gold-gathering option you have: the pig pet, the magic chest, the gilded predator hammer, the portable foundry. Don't use an archer for this - a melee character is ideal, as you won't be losing combat power by using the magic chest if you find that, and you can use the Gilded Predator as your main weapon if you find that. If you have Money Is Power potions, that's ideal as it will mean your gold quest actually builds your character up effectively. Another tactic, if you find a bare bones amulet early or can carry some blood runestones until you do, is to use one of those and then keep pumping out gold with a then 1-mana magic chest. This coupled with avarice can make huge amounts of money (also nb using the chest makes the Lizard a better pet than the Pig if you're doing it efficiently: pig produces 15 gold/battle, Lizard produces 100/3 = 33 gold/battle as long as you're using that mana on the chest).

In A Rush
One of the really, really tricky achievements to get, reaching the dungeon in 5 mins - I'd recommend using the pyromancer or skeleton archer (probably the latter) for very fast battles, use any scrolls you find to skip boss battles as those take up far too much time. Your starting item really matters here - the three that really work for this are unicorn horn if you're happy fighting with low HP, as that lets you one-hit everything pretty fast, the magic map as that means you can be sure you're heading directly for the boss fight, and the bag of bombs as that means you can skip some rooms. Expect to take at least ten or so attempts at this one, though, it's one you really need to hunt for and practice on.

Poison immunity stock-up - basically there are two ways to get numbered poison immunities, antidotes are the best (+5/potion), and can be replicated, the other is the healing staff which gives +1 per use, meaning that if you've got a mana canteen you can stock up most of what you need that way (especially with a bare bones amulet in the mix). This one might be best to do opportunistically - if you find 2-3 poison bottles and the healing staff early in a run, carry them forward just in case.

Zoo Director
Any successful run where you get the wolf on the first level should be fine for this. If achievement hunting, just re-load until you get a wolf in the lvl1 shop then play as normal.

A run with blur potions should get you this one - you might need two blur potions for the achievement, but they're the key to it, regardless. Alternatively, if you have a mana canteen you can use the stormbringer wand/staff item from the castle which the wizards there carry - its ability is to speed up, so you can repeatedly use that to give yourself a boost. Blur + replication scroll can also help if you're really hunting for this achievement. As the long jump often appears on Level 1, doing lots of reloads until you get a good combo of stuff is fine here, though you'll sometimes find you have a super quick character on the ice level one in a normal game, especially if you carry a stormbringer with you.

Kill a boss in one hit - this means, ideally, using the retaliator sword on one of the lower level bosses and charging it up a lot by getting yourself hit. See the section on the retaliator sword in the equipment guide for more on this one. You can also do this if you have the mana canteen and Twilight Staff in the mid-late game, by boosting your stats to well over 1000% and using a powerful weapon (like, say, an upgraded bow).

Fight some enemies with the stoneheart sword, charge it up regularly, and this isn't hard at all (except the "get yourself to the last level and survive there" bit, that's fairly tough). Best done with a melee hero, so you can build up rage better - if you want to play it safe, leave it to near the end of a battle when you've only got an enemy or two left, then petrify one of them, switching back to your more powerful main weapon to build up the rage you need to recharge the sword's ability. Medusa arrows of course also contribute to this but it's rare to find enough of them to actually finish the achievement as an archer.

Friends Till The End
This is a fairly tough one - you'll want a non-mage character, a boar, and a life staff, OR a chanter and a boar and to keep using the strawberry staff to heal your mount. My successful run on this was using the latter, though I've also done the former - either way, ranged characters are probably the way to go as you want to be taking as few hits as possible yourself - the boar can die surprisingly quickly, especially if you get knocked off it during a boss battle. If you have an Escape or Gamble for the ice level boss battle, definitely use that; you only need to get to the start of the desert level to use the achievement.

This is one of the really, really tough ones - completing the whole game in 30 mins. A shortcut run (that is, using the Vampire's Shortcut in the forest level) is almost certainly the best way to do this, and I'd recommend the Pyromancer as your hero because the fire ability finishes battles that much faster, especially given the importance of the catacombs as your second level (where poison won't work). Fast battles are 100% necessary here, so the fire attack is well worth having. One thing you can do which I'd very much recommend is, once you've found a setup that has the shortcut, to save and reload the seed for a particular level (use the chat feature and /seed with the seed you want, on character creation screen) ; this allows you to do fewer reloads (because you can rely on the shortcut being there) and to keep doing the same run to learn the level layout as you go. Remember to use scrolls for boss battles to speed those up, too.

This is one of three achievements which essentially involve going and clearing out the lower catacombs using the necromancy staff. This one requires you to use its casting ability fifty times, which is a LOT, so you'll need to have the mana canteen & probably the lizard pet. Of course arguably this might become easier if you have a bare bones amulet, but I wouldn't recommend that unless you've also got a lot of blood runestones and shielding related kit - going into the lower catacombs without the ability to take a hit or two is generally a pretty bad plan!

Not a terribly difficult one, but you need to reload until you get the fox in the level 1 pet shop if you want to go for this one. Make sure you drop all keys before going near chests or treasure room fights if you really want the achievement: accidentally using a key when you need to be using the fox is very annoying. Don't take any pets other than the fox, even if you find the wolf - unless the fox is right next to you there will be a lot of chests you can't get it to reach.

This is fairly tough as it requires you to effectively clear out the catacombs (with an "undead army") and have plenty of mana while doing so so you can keep resurrecting lots of vampiresses until you get ten. You'll need the mana canteen as well as the staff to have a good chance - and even then of course the catacombs are tricky. The Lizard is a good pet for this as it just gives you that much extra mana. Remember that you can hit f1 at the start of the game to get a readout on whether a given level has both catacombs and the staff of the dead in it.

This has to be done via the Daily Challenge. It requires you to essentially clear out the lower catacombs on a run where they exist and then win the game, so it's rare and, as you can't reload, will take some persistence to get. Unless you have the lower catacombs present then I don't think this is possible: my scores tend to max out in the mid-80,000s otherwise.

Undead Friend
This should be pretty easy as long as you get the undeath staff and the mana canteen. Paying attention to which member of your shambling horde you need to keep resurrecting is probably the hard bit - the obvious ones like the resurrectable bosses are, unfortunately, going to die less often, possibly not often enough to get you the achievement.

Oh look, another "clear the catacombs" type achievement. For this one, the map is especially useful, so you can go directly where you need to be headed. As you'll be doing it with an archer, albeit presumably a high powered one, it's probably more important than usual to have a chunky undead army wandering around with you.

Quite tricky, though of course the *really* hard bit is getting the character unlocked for it to start with! You need to be fighting bosses to get up a 30 combo on the barbarian axe, you can clear a whole full room of goblins and only get to the mid-20s (though one alternative way to do this which I've not tried would be to do it in a 2-player run, get the barbarian to drop the axe and let a chantress use it - with lower starting melee skill the combo could last longer without getting too strong and wiping the enemies too fast). Anyway, the obvious/best way to do this is a boss fight, and the ideal is almost certainly the Violet Knights - just get them both in the same place and keep chopping away at them, they've got enough health, will stay stunned, and while the axe combo is activated the guards won't be able to hurt you at range. Starting with the Head Start challenge can be a quick way of doing this that gets you into that boss fight faster without having to fight through three levels first.

Most of what I said for Gonzales applies here, but this one is actually slightly easier as pace doesn't matter. It's still very tricky, of course, and you'll need a good run on the forest level to have a reasonable shot at it. Learning a particular shortcut seeded level is a sensible way to do this. Letting yourself get avarice-cursed a lot in the dungeon, if coupled with money is power potions, can be a good way to rapidly buff your character for this sort of game, too.

Other Game Modes

This section will provide tips for playing the game in Hard Mode, Easy Mode, the twelve Barbarian Challenges which give you specific and unusual handicaps on how you play the game. These correlate to the following achievements, presented in a rough difficulty order (determined by looking at the Steam stats of which ones players have completed more): Piece of Cake (Easy Mode), One Shot (BC XII), Compendium (BC II), Trolling (BC IX), Poisoned (BC X), Cursed (BC VII), Drink All Potions (BC V), Master Blaster (BC III), Overdrive (BC VIII), I am the King (BC IV), Head Start (BC I), Survival (BC XI), Magic Casters (BC VI), Master of Melee (Hard Mode: Knight or Barbarian), Master of Magic (Hard Mode: Sorceress, Pyromancer or Druid), and Master of Archery (Hard Mode: Skeleton Ranger or Archer).

Easy Mode
Not much to say about easy mode - it's quite a different game style, with no inventory or potions, just stat upgrades via runestones. Avoiding poison may oddly be more important than in the regular game as it's less likely you'll have healing equipment for it on hand, so be mindful of that. Instead of silver shillings for buying everything in a shop you get a blood runestone which is fairly neat. Also remember that the light blue chests, which normally have some fairly OK but not spectacular things in, often have at least one stat upgrade runestone in easy mode, and you have way, way more health, so sacrificing some health to get to one is a much better deal than in the regular game.

Hard Mode
There are a variety of tweaks in hard mode, and three achievements for completing it as different character types. Guarding against poison is more important in this mode as it lasts longer, so the healing staff is a fairly important item. A few more powerful items and potions won't show up, so you're more likely to be using less high-powered characters, too. Finally, remember that shop robberies are trickier in this one - once you've robbed one shop, all shops have hostile guards immediately, so carrying around e.g. a bow and some slowing arrows can be hugely important (and of course not forgetting that the bushidos will be there and getting caught off guard in what's normally a safe room!)

The Challenges:
Head Start (BC I)
Win from starting in the castle - not too bad as these challenges go, though not easy either. Getting rapid power-ups is important here, OR finding some weapon powerful enough that you don't need them. A lightning sword + lightning rod, especially if you can duplicate the latter, would stand any character type in good stead: if Money Is Power potions are present, letting your character get a couple of avarice curses from the skele wizards wouldn't hurt either. The retaliator sword can be very good for the boss fights, too. Maps might be useful, especially if you have any scrolls or quick ways to finish the boss fights, they'll allow you to avoid battles you don't need to fight on the Ice & Desert levels.

Compendium (BC II)
Compendium is one of the most unusual variants among the challenges - the game plays in a straight line, you get bonus inventory slots, and you have to take on every boss in order. I beat this with a melee hero, but you'll likely need some tactic switches to win - carrying a bow with ice and slow arrows is easy since you've got lots of inventory space, and probably vital to take on some of the bosses. Try to buy everything from shops when possible to get some Silver Coins, which you can use to skip rooms and even bosses in later levels.

Master Blaster (BC III)
You pretty much need bomberman potions to have an easy run of this, though it's probably possible without if you're really good with bomb timings. The bomb stick is a really annoying weapon, you produce a decent number of bombs of course and you're immune to bomb explosions but the combat damage being so low is a pain (unless you have bomberman potions and are chucking a whole ring of the things). If you have Ice Bomb, get the Icicle too - it applies to your little thrown bombs too, and freezing everyone can be really useful. You can also poison-buff the bomb stick as the shaman which is a decent tactic. The weapon's strong attack knocks down enemies, and you can use that to make them still before dropping bombs on them.

I am the King (BC IV)
Well, you're going to have a whole bunch of troops, so that's nice. On the other hand, you have a pretty useless main weapon. Good strategies here include playing as shaman and poison-buffing it, or as knight and just trying to upgrade it into a decent combat weapon. The clockwork staff is also potentially very useful for stopping your troops getting killed needlessly by floor traps (dungeon level especially). Since you can knockdown with the scepter, high stomp damage is useful here. You can also use eg a flaming sword in the secondary slot and do flaming sweep attacks on your enemies which can work well. The weapon's strong attack knocks down enemies, so another viable strategy is to get a stomp pet (Horse) and stomp damage potions (Heavy Bones, Iron Flesh) to be able to kill enemies in two hits (knock down + stomp).

Drink All Potions (BC V)
What the range of potions is is pretty important here. If Iron Flesh is common in the mix for example, you'll probably die of being unable to dodge anything pretty quickly. I'd probably go for an archer for this one, as there aren't many potions that will seriously hamper your fighting ability. Remember that you can occasionally carry potions into an already unlocked/bomb-blasted room to stop them being an issue. Consider carrying healing and life staffs, as you won't be able to cart antidotes and dragon fire potions around with you.

Magic Casters (BC VI)
A hard one that's best done, beautifully enough, with a caster, I think: the key thing in Magic Casters is to kill your enemies fast before they get off an absolute ton of area-type spells. Be prepared to do a lot of dodging behind obstacles as well, especially when facing necromancers or crystal wizards (as you will in the catacombs and castle, respectively). In those levels, the ethereal bow and the indirect-fire staffs (meteor and stormbringer) are particularly useful as you can fire at the enemies from in cover. I used the pyromancer on my successful run of this, and relied on mowing down the shamans on lvl 1 rapidly (I also found an early bare bones amulet which allowed me to use fire all the time, but a sufficiently powerful regular-type wizard wouldn't necessarily need that). By the final level, which includes EVERY wizard type, you need to be clearing rooms very fast indeed to stand much of a chance. Being able to deal wide-ranging damage is important, which is why I'd particularly recommend a powerful wizard here - the risk of, say, concentrating on taking down a skeleton mage and then ending up killing yourself by hitting a dropped voodoo doll is pretty high.

No Backtracking (BC VII)
This isn't too bad. You do however either have to a) not mind playing with a ton of curses OR b) have cunning strategies to avoid going back through doors. We'll of course focus on b here. A run with the fox pet early is hugely helpful on this challenge, as it means you can get normal upgrades with far fewer cursed keys. The other extremely useful item is the bottomless bomb bag, as you can use bombs to blast back through doors. Carefully selecting which doors you go through is very important, too - remember that doors only lock from the side you came through them in this scenario, so if you're careful you can often set up one-way system loops that allow you to traverse areas of the map fairly normally, using bombs to open

Overdrive (BC VIII)
The first level of overdrive is perhaps especially tricky as you're likely to get very full rooms dealing with multiple shamans - this does, however, potentially mean that your character can advance pretty quickly if you have the right set of potions etc available. Getting good at judging when the Shamans are going to drop dolls, or using bombs and ending other battles to get yourself un-tagged from the dolls in a different room, can be important on the forest level here.

Survival (BC XI)
This is probably one of the toughest of the 12 challenges - get hunger and thirst in every battle. Finishing battles fast is important, and thirst is the worse of the two so getting a retort early and using it often is usually a very good/important part of surviving here. High stacks of gold diet potions can also be very helpful, and remember that beer removes both hunger and thirst simultaneously.

Mushrooms (BC X)
This one is really tough: boosting your max health is really important as mushrooms and beers top you up to whatever the max is, so if you find blood runestones then use any replication scrolls you find on those. Other than that, get used to fighting with no health - if you're low on health restoratives, fight the normal battles without and use health for the boss battles.

Trolling (BC IX)
Trolling is mainly about speed - you need to be able to easily outrun bushidos by the later game, when there are lots of them in the desert as well as the jackal-gorillas. Use a ranged character - a high powered archer who can one-shot the bushidos by endgame, or a powered up mage, are the ways to go. Most of the enemies in this don't have much ranged power, but some of them are pretty quick, so just make sure you can outrun them. The trolls in the forest level are most easily beaten with an archer.

One Shot (BC XII)
This is, oddly enough, actually easier than the base game and is probably the easiest of the 12 challenges. You start with 1hp and a max hp of 20, so finding runestones on the first level is vital. If you do that though, you're no worse off, and most of the enemies are down at 1hp so it makes most of the levels pretty easy. I'd advise playing with the pyromancer as it's already designed as a low-health character. It's very easy to clear the catacombs out in One Shot because of the 1hp thing, so this mode might also be good for getting some of the other necro-related achievements.
The duke, the wanderer, the philosopher, the mariner, the warrior, the strategist, the storyteller, the wizard, the wayfarer...


The duke, the wanderer, the philosopher, the mariner, the warrior, the strategist, the storyteller, the wizard, the wayfarer...