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Darkest Dungeon EP11- Revisiting the Crew

It’s been a while so figured I’d update you on all the excitement from team BlogNation in Darkest Dungeon. What have the kooky blog kids been up to?

60 weeks, that’s what! That is a lot of fun I have had in this game. Around 40 hours and counting, which is still longer than I have spent in any game this year. Yes, the year is still young.

Page one of my roster shows everyone at level 6. Level 6 is the current max level. It also shows the whole crew at level 5 armor and level 5 weapon as well. Things are going very well for teams 1A and 1B. How is the rest of the roster?

Young and healthy, for the most part. Since I was able to cycle two teams constantly I didn’t really focus on bringing up the third and fourth teams. I ended up adding Paris to the team as I needed one more healer to work on teams 2A and 2B.

A quick look at the Graveyard shows no new victims heroes. I said this in the final few episodes but once you get past level one the game changes from mayhem and many deaths to managing your crews smartly – and for good measure. The time and effort it takes to get someone to level 6 it would be really heartbreaking to lose them. Losing a level zero or one it’s just as easy to recruit fresh.

I am going to go through all the buildings you can upgrade. You can see here my Blacksmith is 100% upgraded – the three areas this improves is weapon, armor, and cost of upgrading each. Hence why my whole team is 5/5. This is one I focused on upgrading fast.

The Guild was also a quick upgrade for me – this improves your team’s fighting skills, and the Training Regimen decreases the cost. As you can see where I am at right now in terms of money ($142400) money is no object – but before the high level sixes I couldn’t afford to upgrade everyone AND provision missions, so money is an issue as you level.

Separation of Church and State doesn’t really exist here. Everything is updated to get maximum stress release and maximum slots. As characters get quirks it may limit where they can de-stress and it’s frustrating if you only have two Penance Hall slots but three characters that need it. Which leads us into the…

….Sanitarium. Which I am now focusing on (and using a lot – which is good to have a third and fourth team). The Sanitarium REMOVES negative quirks. All of these guys have 6-8 bad traits now, but I can actually remove them at one per Patient Ward slot per weak. I am in essence now breeding super soldiers, all benefits, no negatives. Unstoppable killing machines! Somewhat funny to see both Aywren and Isey in here (since last time we saw them they both were in the bar together. Upgrades are expensive here and I am working to unlocking the third slot.

Who DOESN’T want a fully stocked Bar, Casino, and Brothel in their estate? (Ok, no one has to admit to the last one, but still, the first two is party time enough, right?) Vegas has nothing on the BlogNation estate!

The Survivalist area upgrades camping skills and options for in dungeon breaks. Currently there are double camp missions available so these are becoming more and more important. I am just one upgrade away from maximizing this now.

I stopped updating the stagecoach because I haven’t had a need for new recruits. Even if people start dying, a choice of four is really solid. I know I will end up completing this eventually, but it is second last on my list. That is my completionist side talking there, there really is no reason to do it. Of course I’m already almost at the point when I have most upgraded and nothing to spend anything on, so might as well!

So far I have found the Nomad Wagon pretty useless. Any trinkets worse than Red (Ancestral) usually has more downside than upside. Still, once I have more money and full upgrades it may be worth seeing if upgrades give us better trinkets for the team. If your team members die you get the trinkets back (because you loot their bodies) but sometimes you lose these through other ways – such as, getting drunk and losing them. This has happened to me a few times. That being said there isn’t much focus on gear or stressing about it. You also find a lot of them in dungeons.

I am quickly running out of things to do. I have most of my buildings upgraded,  all the bosses beat, and only three classes NOT level 6 yet. I have pretty much beat all of the Caretaker Goals. He should stop looking so stressed out (or is he looking crazy there? Is that a grin?)

All of the available dungeons (Ruins, Warrens, and Weald) are maxed out at level 4. The Cove and Darkest Dungeon are still not unlocked. So, besides a few new levels on some low level characters and some building upgrades I am effectively “finished” this game until they release new parts or the full game.

This is one of the downsides of early access. While I will have way more game to play once it is fully released this hard and fake “stop” is making a couple things happen – one, is that I am not playing the game as it was meant to be played. I would assume the other dungeons would be released and I’d be into bigger and badder areas, putting my dungeoneers at risk and facing greater afflictions. Instead, because I am at a hard stop I am actually making my team stronger by removing additions/quirks, building a better support network, and maxing out everything possible. I suppose someone could do that in the full game as well but I wouldn’t naturally gravitate to that game play – I am only doing it because it is ‘forced’ upon me.

This game is also misleading – it starts off such a gong show with so many deaths and disposable characters – and that initially attracted me to it. It’s fun trudging through those first couple of levels with fresh meat, not sure if they will live or die. Now, of course, the game is just party management and there is very little risk – there was a bit of one when fighting the last hag, but she always was tough. Besides that it has been going through the motions. I am not sure if they planned to always have it so deadly or if the ramp up was part of the fun and the reward was long term characters. Still, it will be interesting to see how the tune encounters going forward and where the risk scale tips for high level characters.

My team will be ready and willing (they don’t really have a choice) when the next dungeon opens.

Darkest Dungeon EP10: One More Adventure

[edit: made the pictures clickable to expand into a new window – forgot on the first draft, sorry!]

First off, this game is a lot of fun. It completely has that “just one more adventure” feel to it since play sessions can be done in 15-30 minutes. It can be addicting. I too have one more adventure to share before announcing the future of this series.

We have done 27 dungeon runs (Both successful and failed). They count those as ‘weeks’ in game. I have kept going in the game beyond this last episode and I am now somewhere in week 40. I haven’t touched my initial playthrough since I started this series and there really isn’t any reason to run more than one Campaign, from what I can see. Still, I suppose it makes sense for shared computers or if you have family and friends that want to play.

A couple of runs with low level team members unlocks the ‘Necromancer’ boss from the ruins (we killed the ‘Apprentice’ Necromancer last time!). This is how the dungeons work, they level up as you complete missions in them unlocking new, harder missions (and new, harder bosses). They have introduced a lot of varying quests but they are limited by what you can imagine – kill X of these, collect Y of those, destroy Z of these. That part isn’t that important because its not the tasks that your team is doing that is the attraction to the game it is how they are doing it – and how they are reacting to it.

I assemble our dream team – Aywren, Isey, WelshTroll and the new level 3 Jeromai for added deeps. Right off the bat I am happy to see a couple new mob types again. It’s the little things that you end up looking forward to. This is my AOE team – both Isey and Jermoai have attacks that hit the first three enemy slots. This combination is perfect for the Necromancer boss since he constantly summons skeletons to protect him.

Here we are at the next boss fight. The first was pretty challenging, so expecting this to be more of the same with buffed up damage boxes. I am curious if they have any plans to change the boss mobs a bit to reflect they are a bit different (even coloring) – it would be a nice quality of life change, but not completely necessary. Since it is a startup project its interesting how often and easy I am with letting things like this slide. This could also be because of how much I have been loving the game.

Major crit from Jeromai and I love the battle cry! I wish they had a translated version or anodated so I knew if he was yelling “DEATH FOR GLORY” or “I LIKE MEATBALLS“. I bet its the Meatballs one – it is Jeromai after all. You can see Isey and Welshtroll having their stress lowered as a result of the critical hit that lead to death.

Aywren had the chance for the killing blow… but missed! Figured I’d throw in her fumble because well, if you can’t laugh at Aywren, who can you laugh at – right? =) If I would have told you that the first character we made in this game would still be going at this time it would have been a real stretch. The stars have aligned for Aywren (go by a lottery ticket!) Missed chance for glory here, but she will just be happy to be alive no doubt.

The necromancer ended up bleeding out from a Jeromai applied bleed a couple turns ago. Not nearly as dramatic as a beheading, but I’ll take the win.

Strike off another boss from the hit list. That is what there is to do currently – kill 9 bosses (3 different levels of each) and also under Caretaker Goals there is one to level each class to level 6. That will take time and be a tall order – especially since Lepers just fall apart when on my team. (badum ching? *groan*?)

The Cove and the Darkest Dungeon are still locked up. Hovering over them says “to be added later”. While I was able to unlock the Warrens and Weald pretty early the other two may be out of reach until release time. I am not sure at this point. To be honest this game doesn’t even feel like it is in early development – there has been no crashes and no glaringly obvious bugs. I am sure there are many going on under the hood, but they don’t pop up in any sort of visibility from a playing experience.

Here is an update of our current roster of who is currently living. You will noticed I made Thalen twice by accident – I have since deleted Berzerker Thalen because I had used Occultist Thalen already.

Here is our current graveyard (I have had to do some beginner photoshopping to get them all on one page. Typically it is a scrollable list). One for me, one for my Blogging crew {splashes a sip of uh, coffee on the ground}

This post is going to “end” the playthrough series in the current format. I am definitely going to keep playing and I will pop in an update here and there, but a 10 episode run on the blog is a good chunk – I’d love some feedback (I haven’t done one before, may consider doing another one in the future after a break) and while I didn’t get through my entire blogroll I did get through a fair number. The game just isn’t introducing anything that new right now – it is simply grind through dungeons, improve, fight bosses, rinse / repeat. The interactions here are still fun and the game play is still great but I just don’t think there is enough to report on 4-5 posts a week. By now I am sure you all get the fun, feel, and flavor this game has to offer.

I may still update once every week or so  – I am still playing this a lot and have over 30 hours into right now (more than I do in Dragon Age: INQ,  the other title I am currently playing). I can sneak peek you and say that I have two teams of bloggers up to level 5 already tackling the tier three bosses. I have been tracking deaths and adds and major new things and I think I can consolidate that into a weekly post for an update  just for fun. I don’t want to leave you all hanging and I really appreciate the following this series has!

So I am going to ‘end’ this series the way we went into it – two adventurers, Aywren and Isey. This time, instead of heading into danger and death, we are enjoying a well earned, semi-lukewarm beer. Because that is the only thing on tap that is positive near the Darkest Dungeon.

Darkest Dungeon EP9 – We Push our Limits

What is more inspiring than a ‘Powerful’ positive boon Hellion? Not much! I Hot on the heels of our victory against the Wizened Hag the troops build on being pure awesome. With new levels come new responsibilities and new challenges.

Also – new mob types. (Finally). Sadly Zubon dies early here – at least, knowing Zubon’s style, he died happy. There are probably dozens of fatherless children in the Hamlet now though. I must admit I am getting pretty seasoned on deaths and they are impacting me less and less. Instead of being sad we lost another blogger friend in game I am just accepting that hey, it’s going to happen. These mobs can duplicate themselves if not killed swiftly.

Belghast also dies. I can’t keep a Leper alive for the life of me! (would that make a good bumper sticker?). The life expectancy of new players are low. If they get through the first level they seem to be a lot more resilient, but its getting past that second and third run into level 2 and above where they become safer and more reliable.  I am going to try and keep level ones with level ones, level twos with level twos, and so on. Even more quest styles are opening up and the above was ‘Detoxify the Corpses’. The quest labelling is as easy as that. You can pretty much guess what we had to do.

JessicaCook (Liore, fixing that name!) is costing me a lot of money with her gambling. Lucky for her, she is a tank, so gets to be all high and mighty and tanky and needed. Tanks are prima donnas in all games so it seems. I have four team members up to level 3 now and their level color turns green to reflect their awesomeness.

The graveyard gets more company. Belghast’s death, ” bled out. Spitter” is curious. I am not sure if he was a Spitter or if a Spitter caused the damage that made him bleed out. We’ll never really know. I continue to Lament my inability to keep a Leper on the team. It’s not for lack of love (or trying). I’ll have to recruit another.

I have three level threes and a lot of confidence. Aywren, Isey, Leo, and WelshTroll. There is a high level mission available – Kill the Swine King! (we killed the prince already) and since these are the only four characters I have high enough to tackle it, I decide to give it a shot. I’m ready for next level challenges.

I am really excited to see new character models! Not as excited to feel how hard they hit. I only brought two healers due to level restrictions, but very thankful that I did. This was a really tough battle. I know I have mentioned the new models a couple of times already but as per the first 8 episodes of this series there were very few mob types so it became a bit boring to face the same baddies again, and again, and again. This is really refreshing, and they have some fun creative slants also by the above models.

And more character models and challenging enemies! This is amazing and fun to see. Further exploration is being rewarded with better opportunities to face death. We will not falter!

Speaking of death, here is Aywren killing the Swine King. It was the exact same character model as the Swine Prince, but he hit a lot harder (and often). Like 10% of a well-oiled 40 man raid team we kick ass.

Check another box off the boss battles. and we have another Level 3! We also have some shorter interim goals of killing the proper Necromancer and then heading back into the nightmare that is the Hag. There is a third level of boss fights also already in the game as well. Roger Edwards witnessing of “unsavory” activities in organized prayer is a bit unsettling (flatulence perhaps?) and I don’t even what to go there on what that can be.

Although this play through is winding down we still have to replace the dead. Welcome THALEN to the group!

Darkest Dungeon EP8 – We Get Revenge

With the disaster of a run last episode I decide to refocus my efforts on improving the team. Originally this was bringing in ‘fresh blood meat talent’  but i am quickly learning the path to success is investing in your people. Turns out experience is important. For a real world analogy here I was running our team like most public software companies run their businesses. There is always tons of young, fresh meat ready to do the work so who cares if you kill (“fire”) a few high paid performers? I decide to run this troupe less like EA and more like Valve!I focus on grinding out some adventures and improving the skills, equipment, and trinkets of the crew.

Zubon ‘sexual appetite’ update (yes, this is a thing here – our HR department is pretty lax): his ‘debauchery has reached new heights – whereabouts unknown’. Lock up your wives and daughters (and husbands and sons) – we don’t discriminate here at BlogNation. Either way, Zubon should be proud for reaching new heights to begin with. Our new employee focused regimen is producing results!

Leo/Asmiroth joins my ranks of level 3s. Our team is getting stronger quickly. The issue with this is that level 3s can’t do the level 1 boss fights – so it removes him from the running to be a hero in this episode. The sweet spot is those level 2s to get the Wizened Hag down. Refusing to work once you reach a certain status within the ranks feels very pro-union-ish, and I am not sure if that is the best way to go. Still, I respect (ahem) the wishes of the crew and let the senior leaders of the organization say no to the ‘easy’ tasks.

Oh look – WelshTroll is gone off drinking again. See? Consistency! Nice to see him and Zubon leading the morality side of our troops. Wilhelm is having visions of beings controlling our destiny and I wonder if that included me sitting on my couch, drinking a coffee while I write this. Still, good to see he is afraid of inspired by me. There aren’t many jobs out there where your boss would be okay with this level of vice but hey, its a stressful job (and they will probably be dead soon anyway). I am more forward thinking than Google – it’s not like they have their own brothel on campus!

With higher level adventurers come higher level and varied mission types. Originally there was just Scout misssions (90% of all rooms), Skirmish Missions (Win 100% of room battles) and Boss fights. Add “Knock Down the Shrines” to that list. We are diversifying as a team.

Miss Cook (Liore) just cost me 1000 gold. That is almost 10% of our bankroll. Readers know of my desire to run this troupe safely profitably, so that is annoying. Still it is these in between flavour items that really make it fun. Bhagpuss is gone on a personal vision quest. Probably to Daybreak studios to figure out what is going on with the future of EQN. At BlogNation Inc. we support out of office activities and encourage getting buried in your comfort zone. We call this “in the box” thinking – it is very new wave and the future of team building.

Beyonce is going down I tell you. After several missions I have upgraded my skills, weapons, and armor and have a two healer setup (Occultist and Vestal) ready to go. We are ready! The team has been able to run freely for a while and they have the best tools and stress free mindsets to tackle any challenge!

OK maybe we aren’t ready. ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME. Tesh dies FAST as he gets put in the cauldron back to back to back, and I can’t even get a heal off before he is killed. Dammit. WHY TESH! WHY! This calm, understanding leadership role I have been thrust into is BS. I WANT RESULTS! Maybe letting your team do whatever they want, whenever they want is the wrong approach…

…or maybe it is the right approach. The team perseveres and win while Aywren takes a cauldron bath. I was one second too slow on the Hellion (not J3w3l, Jeromai!) deathblow screenshot but YES WE WIN! I am expecting a Kanye interruption now that Beyonce is defeated. Sometimes you just have to get out of the way and let your people do their jobs.

Ah Tesh. Still, amazing to see Aywren (the first character/employee) still going strong and dependable. WelshTroll as well, Mr. Drunk and dependable (I wonder if his IRL friends describe him that way?) Jeromai gets a bump to the A team because of his class skills and killing blow capability. WE ARE VICTORIOUS! I top up everyone’s 401k with a small bonus.

Well, partially victorious. Victorius enough to have beaten the first 3 minor bosses. Oh look! There are MORE bosses. One step forward, three steps back. And to semi-quote fictional Lieutenant Aldo Raine – “We are in the Boss Killing bizness. And Bizness is BOOMING!”. At least we have figured out what it takes to be successful in this crazy world of dungeoneering . I may franchise this out next. We have a thing.

Here is our current graveyard. Randomly enough they are all different classes which shows death (and myself) do not discriminate (see J3w3l? see?) and the Wizened Hag fight is clearly the main populator of this space. Hopefully we don’t have to visit here much more often. I start to plan around building set teams to push forward and handy reserves not far behind. It seems pretty clear I will need good levels of organization to get through even tougher bosses. You already noticed that I added Jeromai (Hellion) as he starred in this show – I purposely levelled him up fast because I wanted the Hellion skills to help with the Hag. I also added Belghast (Leper) and Pasduil (Hellion) to the team. There is no preferential treatment here, I am an equal opportunity employer. Everyone will have their own fair chance to die, in due course.

Darkest Dungeon EP7: Knocking on Heaven’s Door

Team Blognation (aka Team Invincible – yes, I am trying to jinx us here!) is on quite the roll and I begin to start focusing on the main Quest Goals. Kill the bosses of which, I have already killed the Apprentice Necromancer.  I am doing less of the funny crazy montage speeches (as by now I am sure you get the picture) but they still add a lot of fun. Hopefully I find some new ones to share.

Tesh made it back from his religious mission but WelshTroll is still on his bender. I am starting to worry about him. The good news is that he is that consistent you can always count on him to disappear for a few days. Yes, the confidence that that is the guy healing the whole crew!

Things are going awesome. I am LOVING the Hellion! Great balance on the class. They have a wicked attack that hits three enemies at once (that seems to crit often), but you take a -20% damage debuff after you use it. You do have a +20% Damage buff (but that is your action for the round). It’s a high risk, high reward class. Sounds just like J3w3l!

With my eyes on the Swine Prince we send a real solid team into the Warrens – Aywren, GrumpyElf, Dr. Raph, and Leo

The first boss had pretty simple mechanics – he would create a skeleton ally every time he attacked. The Swine Prince has tons of HP and his sidekick (named Wilbur) doesn’t do much damage but kept ‘marking’ party members. Marked members take more damage from the big guy. I found that annoying and killed the little guy first – which put the Swine Prince into a permanent ‘enraged’ state and he hit a lot harder and faster. I managed to get the group to safety but had to restart the entire instance. Now that I understand the mechanics, I’ll take another stab at it.

Disaster strikes and GrumpyElf joins our other blogger friends in blogger game heaven. (In blogger heaven you get 1,000,000 page views a day and EVERYONE leaves a critical and thought provoking comment on all of your posts. Just a FYI).

The others finish off the Swine Prince (and then Wilbur) and the quest is complete. They take a camp and clear out the rest of the dungeon (remember, expeditions are expensive!) and Leo reads a nice passage.

With Welshtroll returning and trying something new in his life (sobriety) we turn our gaze to the Wizened Hag. We are on an unstoppable roll. The Hag shall fall!

Is it just me or does she resemble Beyonce a bit? Crazy in Love? Regardless she is cooking up a storm, and we are NOT invited for dinner. We are going to crash this party.

Ok it looks as though we weren’t invited to dinner because we ARE dinner. The Mechanic for this fight is equally frustrating and interesting. One of her attacks is “into the pot” which performs it’s namesake. It can hit any party member in any of the slots, and seems completely random. The person-stew takes damage more frequently than turns happen and you have to hit the pot and do 15 damage to get them out. If you don’t do it in time, it will sometimes spit them out at zero health and they are in a ‘Deaths Door’ resist check scenario. This can happen to the same character twice in a row. Thankfully, only one character can be in at a time.

Part of the extra challenge here is that the Cauldron can’t be destroyed (I tried, it regens) and it takes up enemy slots 1 and 2. The Hag takes up Enemy slots 3 and 4. My tank (Syncaine) can’t even hit the hag because he doesn’t have a skill equipped that hits slots 3 and 4. So I spend a lot of time trying to not die here and sort this out. It normally takes at least two hits to get them out, and if one of your damage dealers is in its even harder. All the while, the Hag is still doing additional damage with her attacks.

Sadly, it’s too tough. J3w3l AND Syncaine die. I have no choice but to retreat again.

The graveyard is starting to fill up fast. Still I feel pretty confident – the other two boss battles weren’t too hard and now that I have a handle on what goes on during the fight I really feel like I can be successful.

I realized that I killed Syncaine because he was in the cauldron when I retreated. I hoped it would pull him out (it didn’t) so that is a big mistake on my part. I really like Leper tanks but they haven’t been readily available to me at the Stagecoach, and I just went and killed off the only one I have (had). I load up with a solid team with AOE that hits slots 2-3 so I can hit both the Cauldron and the Hag at the same time. I also ensure everyone has a skill loaded up that hit the back lines in case we get the chance to unload on the Hag (you can only swap skills in town). I feel confident that with the reach I have we’ll be victorious! I do appreciate how the Graveyard reminds us how our heroes met their fates.

The results show otherwise. The healer gets in the Cauldron twice and the Hag picks on the heal-less team members. Dr. Raph dies and everyone else is really low. I am forced to retreat again. This is the first roadblock I have faced in the game. I realize now that the proper plan is to grind out some levels, invest in the Blacksmith (better weapons and armor) and the Guild (higher level skills) and make sure everyone in the group is level two. I also decide that I should probably bring two healers to help offset the major damage done in the Cauldron mechanic. I exit the Weald defeated – but have a good plan of attack for when I can go back. This game is no longer fun and faceroll, and I have a new level of determination to kill the Beyonce lookalike.

With the losses to our team I recruit Roger Edwards (Plague Doctor) and Bhagpuss (Grave Robber).

Morale is low. Losses are high. Bank balance is bleeding. Can we regroup? Stay tuned!

 

Darkest Dungeon EP6 – We Kill a Boss

Onward and upward! Riding high, I figure it is time for our team to take on some real challenges. Boss missions!

Except they are gated to keep it a challenge. I can’t use my level three adventurers for an easy kill (see above, even I am denying myself!). Looks as though I have to use level two or lower adventurers. I have lots of those, thankfully! I am not sure if i like that idea, of artificially keeping the challenge high. Sometimes in RPGs there is a certain satisfaction to going back to an area when you overpower it to get sweet, sweet revenge. I would think in a game such as this that is a lot about permanent death and dismay that that revenge factor would rate high on the fun scale. I have faith in the team anyway, so not that critical.

The Necromancer is the first boss of three in the Ruins. Imposing figure, and I wonder what challenges he holds? Really excited (and curious) to see how this unfolds. So far there have been a standard 5+ types of mobs in each of the dungeons and the game does lack a bit of variety that way. Bosses, hopefully, will not only introduce new mob types but also some fight mechanics and/or strategic challenges.

Complete disastrous start. In the first room I lose Syp. How are we going to take down a boss with just three adventurers? No matter – we will press on. This event was expensive to provision and even if we can’t kill the boss we are going to break even (or MAKE money). That’s right, I am GM-Accounting this. Push on team! For glory! For treasure! For Syp! (for profit!)

At least LEO was inspired by my calls to profitable action! All I had to do was send him a spreadsheet of probabilities of success versus increased death. Plus I promised I’d keep him on the back line of the attack, so he could always retreat if things got bad.

The haul has been good. We camp knowing that the Necromancer is in the next room. It can’t hurt to at least peek in and learn mechanics, can it? Look at how Leo is down to basically zero stress. The impact of a character with an in dungeon ‘boon’ is incredible. They are rare, but amazing when it does happen. It usually ends up calming the entire group and slowing any mental decline. This screen also shows the Respite points, yet spent to further improve health and mental states.

And here he is. Just another 8′ creature in a bathrobe. Easy peasy lemon breezy. I am certain that is some sort of laundry list. I am also far more interested in what could be in that giant treasure chest in the middle of the room.

Ok, the Necromancer “wields evil like fire!”, and every time he attacks he spawns a skeleton creature. I suppose that makes sense, because NECROMANCER (duh!). Aywren has a bit of AOE but GrumpyElf is all single target greatness. I focus Aywren on the adds and keep GrumpyElf on the boss. standard WoW-style boss fight, right?

Exactly. Except with more loot. He (they) are no match for our 25% depleted team! Aywren, GrumpyElf and Leo are triumphant! So is our stash of treasure and goodies. If we had a stock price, it would be at an all time high.

Syp is still dead. May he rest in peace.

Oh WelshTroll, you and your disappearing on drunken benders. (remind me to visit you next time I cross the pond..)

What is interesting here is not only that Murf is no longer alone in the Graveyard, but that it says Syp ‘fell to the hand of an ally’. More disturbing is that before he died he exclaimed that “I can take care of this myself!” or something along that line. He was afflicted with ‘Hopelessness’ at the time of his death and I am left wondering if he actually committed suicide? A tragedy either way, but that would just be craziness. Those of us that think we know Syp think we know he would never do that.

I forgot to let Zubon destress after the prior mission and he refused to pray in the Abbey. When I brought him to the tavern, he refused to drink and gamble as well. The above is a montage of Zubon’s apparent sexual appetite. To be clear I am not claiming any real word similarities, just pointing out the in-game obvious!

Getting low on healers with Tesh on a religious sojourn and WelshTroll lost due to a bender, so checking my blogroll I recruit SYL to to the team! I am four episodes ahead right now (can’t stop playing) and I promise you that more death and glory await this merry band of misfits adventurers!

Darkest Dungeon EP5 – We Hit a Stride

Something crazy happened after Murf’s death. We hit a huge string of good luck and prosperity. Now, I am not saying that he was sacrificed, or anything absurd like that, but the crew did use it as a rallying cry. Episode 5 largely has our group prospering, collecting treasures, and looking and acting like a well knit group.

Wanted to show you a detailed Character screen. You see I have racked up quirks on both sides of the spectrum and how that affects my base stats. It also shows where I prefer to stand, what combat skills I have available, and what Camping skills I have available. It also details my resistances and scores for disarming traps (among others.). Equipment is upgradeable through the blacksmith and there are two ‘trinket’ slots for items you can find. I haven’t equipped many of the ones I have found as they always have a boon AND a negative. This game is about balancing the power.

Like I said, a lot of quest completes, no deaths, lots of success. The team is rallying along! After my first experiences with this game I felt it was hard to get good squads and whatnot – but I am quickly learning that I am a capable general and my team is holding up really well under the various stresses they are exposed to.

Even the random items, which are normally cesspools for bad luck, are bestowing gifts. EVERYTHING IS GOING RIGHT.

Time to enter a new dungeon. The Weald has a lot of fungal type creatures. I still haven’t unlocked the fourth dungeon but assuming that will occur once I clear enough of the three I can enter.

We are still getting various negative states, such as Masochistic here on me. It’s adding nice flavour and character to the dungeon runs. I am still finding it comical when party members argue back and forth under various negative quirk-states. It hasn’t grown old (yet?).

WelshTroll gets a boon – this is only the second one I have received on this campaign, and they really make the dungeon run easier when you do. (compared to the 2-3 negative perks per run, so its around 30 negative, 2 positive. Nice scale of balance!). One character with a postive halo over them can keep the stress level of the entire group down. WelshTroll here is becoming my favourite healer. Aywren has some competition for “bestie”.

I am just glad they don’t have a sound effect for that ([creepy grunt]) yet equally curious what that would sound like.

Here is the camping screen – two things happen. Eating, and then secondary camping skills. Some are to lower stress (group wide or individual) some to gain health (group wide or individual) some to guard from a nighttime attack. Some even help yourself (but hurt others in groups – such as the Leper removing his mask. Lowers his stress, raises entire group stress). There are also buffs. There are some synergies in camping and a lot of options per character. You get 12 ‘Respite’ points and each use costs a number of points depending on effect and who is doing it.

I get a lot of extra roster space with all of these good fortunes so welcome JessicaCook and J3w3l to the team! I also notice above I lost Tesh as he left in search of a holy vision. I hope that isn’t permanent – we shall see if he returns. End state for me is when all Bloggers are dead, of course. Right now we have several level 2s, a level 3, and everyone has been incredibly successful.

Writing that in such positive terms will not ruin my next few play throughs though, right? I mean, I feel like I have pretty much mastered this game*

[*foreboding foreshadowing]

Darkest Dungeon EP4 : Murf Tells the Future

You shouldn’t have said anything Murf! Very obvious foreshadowing there. I knew this was going to be a tough run for the team with so many out of commission – but we need to push forward. There are glorious treasures awaiting!

I just realized I never did show the main screen entrance to the game – this just helps to set the tone even more, although I assume by now you get that. This intro really shows the importance of building a um, long-term, cohesive team. Or that the characters are just meat sticks. Somewhere in between maybe?

Bad news early – I can’t run with just three. I need to pull a high stress party member out of rest and into action – looking at my roster, Aywren has the lowest amount of stress (and by lowest, I still mean really high. Just not maxed out like the rest of them). Still, she has been phenomenal and I need  her to step up. I have to actually complete a mission to get the items I need to expand my roster size so this doesn’t happen again in the future.

I notice the Warrens has opened up! This is good because in the Ruins all I have is a ‘Medium’ length skirmish mission and a ‘Short’ exploration. Explorations have always taken a lot longer and are a lot riskier in my experience. Thankfully, the Warrens is a ‘Short’ skirmish so I grab my team and head there. I have never done the ‘Weald’ although I see it is also open now too. Lots of options, but short on bench strength.

Sounds like a nice place to vacation! There are a lot of pig-folk in here and I get ready for the stank.

Aywren’s composure doesn’t last long. She quickly becomes terrified and lets me know at every turn. Even more frustrating is that she keeps swapping spots out from the front, wasting turns and attacks, and sometimes just outright refusing to do anything. She is a different kind of anchor this time. More like cement shoes.

And Tesh finds her fear addictive and falls into it as well. Between the two scaredy pants fighting on who ISN’T going to fight, and who is retreating and being big wimps I am about to pull my hair out. I have no clue what “MNAHN’T GOF’NN” means but I but it isn’t a brave battle cry. Thankfully, Murf and WelshTroll are being solid party members, as always.

Selfish? Murf? Say it ain’t so! Every fight he is taking turns off because he wants to preserve experiments. This can’t get any worse, right?

….right.

Here we are in the last room, in the last fight, and hurting bad. It’ wouldn’t have gone quite so bad if Tesh and Aywren weren’t so scared, and Murf wasn’t so self consumed. This prayer of WelshTroll’s is the only thing standing between life and death.

And it doesn’t work. Here, Murf and Aywren are BOTH one shot away from dying, and it isn’t my turn (so I can’t retreat). See Murf? That is the last you will see of him. Next attack is an AOE and Aywren passes the ‘Death’s Door’ check and Murf fails. First blogger down. I get to retreat and save the others though, for a small solace. No upgrade rewards though.

Cue Yorick style soliloquy for the fallen Murf. Nice skull.

Here on the return to Hamlet screen you see the result of the other’s rest – Syp was caught cheating while gambling and can no longer gamble to unwind. Syncaine and Isey lose some bad traits with their stress levels down.

A quick visit to the graveyard shows Murf, all alone. Thankfully (er..) that will no doubt change soon.

Now that we all have a good feel for the way these games play out I am not going to go frame by frame on each mission – I am going to speed it up a little bit. I’ll report back on deaths and new recruits and when new things crop up (such as boss fights!) but I’ll need to really gear down and get to work with this crew. The fate of BlogNation is in my hands, and I think I need to push them a bit harder for results!

Sorry Murf. We’ll miss you.

 

 

 

Darkest Dungeon EP3 : The Group Fights (With Each Other)

[Reminder: clicking on the picture opens a new tab with an expanded view. The pictures are set to scale with the browser and I noticed on mine the text is a little small to read]

Columbo style: we had a very successful third run through the Ruins. Syncaine, GrumpyElf, Myself, and Leo. I chose another Skirmish level to keep it simple and work the team up levels. I have a couple “tutorial” slides still – things I missed in the first two play throughs – but then we get to the nitty and gritty fast!

The mini map here shows a successful “scout”. Scouting can occur when you enter one of the big rooms – and it literally shows every item in between and in rooms around you. Sometimes I have only seen a single line and room, but here they get 4 rooms and pathways. This is really handy (obviously) as you can disarm traps this way, and see what sorts of issues you are going to run into depending on which way you go. You can’t force a ‘scout’ check it just seems to happen.

The above slide is to show an attack animation – they are pretty simple and both attacker and attacked jump to the forefront, the attack animation plays, and damage is shown in numbers. Any genius guesses on what the red skull means?

Good confidence when your healer exclaims they need a healer. Sorry Leo, you are the one and only healer in here. Suck it up! Midway through this Ruins run the entire team lost it. It started with GrumpyElf and juat spiralled everyone else. It was an interesting combination of Paranoia and Abusive traits and I am happy to do a montage of the back and forth arguments the team had while we attempted to finish up the dungeon run.

GrumpyElf went over the edge first and really did the word “Paranoid” justice. What got even more interesting (and fun) was when the other three became ‘Abusive’ and weren’t really loving the whining of GrumpyElf. GrumpyElf is a big chatterbox and was really dragging down the morale of the others. The fun one is the last one he said there “Don’t you touch me” – this was during an attempted heal by Leo, which he refused (and needed) – goes to show the real kind of impact the stresses can have on your gameplay. Sometimes the characters become uncontrollable and do things such as attack random targets, pass their move, etc. Calamity!

It spiraled into total jibber jabber of everyone talking back and forth as we plowed through the dungeon.

Feel the love, feel the love. Thanks Syncaine! Syncaine definitely has a sarcastic tone to his put downs.

Even I got into the action but that is a pretty weak dig on a Leper (although very accurate) The good news is that we actually cleared the objectives and won, everyone with a full stress bar and several mental issues to sort through. The bad news is everyone I have is recovering except for three people.

Compounding that bad news is that I spent my upgrades in the wrong spot. There is no way to advance time (that I can tell) to get my other party members back except to do another dungeon. This next one will certainly be extra challenging with only three characters (and no “tank” to boot) but I did add our first Occultist, Tesh  who has the biggest single target heal in the game that I have seen so far. I need to get them far enough into the next Dungeon to at least expand my roster so I don’t pay for the resource mismanagement mistake.

Murf, here is your time to shine.

Darkest Dungeon : Blogroll Edition, Part Deux

Here is to hoping a lot more bloodshed joy and craziness treasures for our merry band of adventurers. Let’s see how BlogNation’s second foray into the Ruins turned out!

[note: clicking on the graphics will open them larger in a new browser tab, they scale automatically in the body by webpage and I’ve noticed they can be hard to read in some.]

The above graphic shows the status of my roster, the four chosen individuals for the next mission, and which dungeon we are going in. Murf is clearly still not ready to leave his prayer time at the Abbey. I accept his weakling pleas and decide to bookend two experienced adventurers (Aywren, WelshTroll) with our newest bloggers to the team (Syp and Dr. Raph). I like this setup as there is good internal “aoe” with the Grave Robber and Jester (they can attack two mobs at once) the solid Crusader tanking, and Vestal healing. Guaranteed win, right?

The provisioning screen is what you can buy to bring with you on the adventure. For longer adventures there are wood bundles for campsites. There are always bandages to stop bleeds, antidotes for poisons, etc. You can fill your packs (and blow your cash) quickly this way, so just stick to the basics. Eight torches and food plus a shovel for short adventures, double it for medium.

Traps can be found by characters that are good at the ‘Scouting’ skill – and if noticed you can attempt to disarm. Aywren has found the more traditional way to disarm a trap. Traps cause damage, apply bleeds, and sometimes trigger poisons.

This graphic shows a stress gain to the characters as a result of a critical hit from the enemy team. The stress mechanic can hit many in your group depending on the action and oftentimes, the reaction of your group. When people start verbally abusing each other (or rather, “if” they do) it can also affect stress levels between the individual party members.

Conversely, critical hits by YOUR team and critter kills can lower stress levels. Oddly enough, by the look of the past two screenshots Dr. Raph isn’t one to be affected on the stress meters much (either way). So far.

Early on, things are looking grim. Our main tank is out of health and high on stress, and most are banged up. There is no in between fights way to heal except for camping (which can’t be done on short missions, and can only be done once on medium ones) and eating food. Eating food adds 1 to 2 points and isn’t cost effective. Normally you just go into the next fight and focus on getting heals on during the fight.

This screen shows what happens when you burn your torch down. It’s safer for traps (and stress) to keep those burning bright. Light is just a right click in the inventory away – as long as you have torches. Some spells and attacks add to the torch level, but not too effectively.

Remember when I thought Dr. Raph seemed to not be affected by stress situations? A critical hit that results in a stun (yellow halo effect) is enough to push Raph over the edge! At zero health your hero doesn’t die automatically, it puts you in a “Death Blow” situation – where any additional damage triggers the chance for the character to die off. Dr. Raph is in one at this very moment. (finally.. someone snaps…)

Raph fails the psyche check and becomes irrational. This is a semi-temporary state for as long as the stress level is high. The only way to lower stress in a dungeon is to camp (medium and higher length only) and/or have valiant things happen. Some effects can go away in the Hamlet (via the Abbey or Tavern) but for the most part, these can stick around. What does an irrational character do?

Start talking silly during battles, for one. I suppose close to death and high stress may make you recall a kinder time with teacakes.

Maybe some moments of delusion as well. The sad/funny part is that her getting super high stress levels set off a chain reaction for the party as a whole…

And Syp becomes hopeless…

.. and a bit snarky.

While the rest of the group goes bad, the psyche test on Aywren turns the other way – she gets stronger, more vigorous! I knew I liked her for a reason!

Her Vigorous attributes and positive power of speech helps lower the stress of the entire group.  Looking at the state of the group above, and with one guaranteed fight left, I abandon the dungeon. You can abandon the dungeon at any time (and can run away from any fight) but quitting means you don’t get all of the rewards and the stress levels of the adventurers raise because of being a failure.

Not a bad haul, considering the early exit.

The team picks up a lot of bad along with the good. Syp and I are going to be married at the hip with our shared issues. Poor Dr. Raph is going to not be as useful in the Warrens (the next dungeon) as the Ablutomania issue will come forward as it is inhabited by pig-folk and tends to be pretty messy.

Murf still has three levels of stress so he is going back to rest – time to gamble! You can improve the quality and power of those stress relieving activities by investing in the facilities. I’ll be without Murf another adventure. Aywren refuses the Brothel (red X) and there was no room left in the Abbey. I can’t afford to upgrade any of the facilities (the failed dungeon doesn’t help) so I’ll just have to leave her on the bench until I can find an activity she enjoys. Shame too, as she has been a rock so far.

With people stressed out and/or recovering I have to beef up the team – need 4 for the dungeons! The Blogroll adds Grumpy Elf (Bounty Hunter) and Leo (Vestal) to the team. GrumpyElf comes with some baggage as he believes he is posessed by demons. Syncaine is going to get his first taste of tanking for our next adventure.

What happened in today’s run is typical of the game so far – things can go downhill very fast and very hard as negatives chain react off of one another. I have gone through most of the basics of the game in the first two dungeon play throughs and future posts will focus more on major things – deaths, craziness, new adds (etc.) I just wanted to show the parts of the game and how it plays out – we’ll stick to major and impactful events going forward!

Darkest Dungeon – Blogroll Edition

So, buying early access to the Darkest Dungeon was due to a fun review by Aywren over at Clean Casuals. Many that I respect, such as Leo over at Leo’s Life make a very fair argument that there is danger in buying in early and while I am wary the honest truth is a lot of the fun I am having in gaming right now is split between AAA titles (DA:I, The Last of Us) and yet-finished games (Project Zomboid, The Darkest Dungeon). I spent a TON of time in Landmark in the past as well, although my interest has largely waned there (for now) I have received a lot of value for my dollars on early access and pay for alpha – so far. I haven’t dabbled in H1Z1 but I suppose it’s just a few stability patches away for me, as I am a big fan of the genre.

I have played 11 weeks in DaDu (must acronym, we must, and DD is taken for all sorts of other things) and it is a quirky bunch of fun. At some point during the first campaign play through I thought it would be fun to record a new campaign – with a twist. All of the Dungeoneers are going to be from my blogroll. The twist is that in my 11 week campaign I already have 8 dead party members with all sort of mental and physical afflictions, and some still living. Chances are our favorite blog writers will also meet unwelcome fates. Perhaps I need to define “fun” a bit broader, but I feel it is time for an adventure together. Against their will.

I set some basic rules. The first is that after the first two characters (which will show up in the story section here) I will add new characters from top of my blogroll down – at that exact moment that I am needing new characters. They will be added assuming that they haven’t been added yet and they aren’t dead yet. Thankfully the game has a handy graveyard to visit the fallen. Since my blogroll updates automatically when people publish it will make for a good bit of randomization.

The second rule is that I won’t run away unless it is really dire (which is the way I played the campaign). If one is low, but three are very healthy, then we trudge on and hope for the best. I also don’t stop for any stress related issues to the character’s psyche.

Third is that I don’t knowingly push the group further than completion unless they are in good shape. I’m not purposefully going to hurt our blog community named characters for the sake of interesting story telling!

Lastly, anyone over three stress points or more after an adventure will get paid relief in the tavern or the church. I’ll explain that mechanic in more detail. This isn’t going to be a tutorial as much as a story event but I’ll fill in some explanations along the way in the first few adventures. I will take a lot of screenshots and do my best to archive the adventures of the group here.

Name of the campaign? That is simple!

A new campaign!

 

Eventually BlogNation will stick. It has too. Heck, even Red Sox fans are smart enough to figure it out.. back to the Campaign!

From the first playthrough I know you start off with two characters, and I gave the honor of the first Crusader to Aywren from Clean Casuals because she inspired me to buy the game in the first place. I took the second character, the Highwayman, as myself. The interface is clean and simple, and your party only faces to the right. Kind of like a reverse medieval Nascar. The emotional impact on your characters is often as brutal as one of their 20 car pileups.

Hopefully you get a proper taste on this play through over the next several weeks.

Aywren and I. Good looking team!

And we are off. The picture above shows the art style – it is something I have really enjoyed about the game. It is simple but fits the setting. Hint: the setting gets pretty grim.

Aywren has my back.

Minor issue, right?

At one point during our trip to the Hamlet Aywren became really low on health and she hid behind me. A lot of confidence in her as my main tank already. She also made the fun comment about “There will be no blood left for the leeches” after getting hit and I am sharing that because a portion of the fun is the reaction of the characters. While this one is very tame compared to others you will see it still shows a bit of the flavor.

Thankfully we are victorious! One of the fun parts of the game is that when you level you have a chance to get positive or negative traits. After our brief encounter Aywren got a positive one – Clutch Hitter – and I had both a positive (Steady) and a negative (Dipsomania). I had no clue what Dipsomania  meant, and thankfully the tooltip showed me I have intense cravings for alcohol. [caught a spelling error there, my version is correct. Extra points?] They may have me pegged. Clearly I am a closet alcoholic because I have the ‘Steady’ trait as well. It will be interesting to see what those traits mean in combat scenarios – and they do play out often and with sometimes disastrous effects. Fortunately, this was just the tutorial portion so it went smoothly and easily.

A party of two isn’t nearly as much fun as a party of four (the default size, at least in the lower levels) and my blogroll was updated – the next two are WelshTroll and Murf! (congratulations?) In between adventures you can visit the stagecoach where a new batch of potential future party members await – you can scroll their their traits and skills and select based on need. Or just choose top to bottom like I have. WelshTroll is the Vestal, a cleric style archetype and Murf is a Plague Doctor, who tosses all sorts of poisons and concoctions. I am not going to editorialize here with any real world crossover similarities.

You can also improve these (and other buildings) with the loot and rewards you find. It is a fun little part of the game.

Our new party put together goes on our first adventure together. So far there are two mission types you can start with – Skirmish (clear all room battles in the dungeon ) and that is often a random amount (I have had 3-5) and the second is explore 90% of the dungeon tiles. Early on, Skirmish mode is much easier. I have seen ‘short’ and ‘medium’ missions.

Before starting off on the mission you get to pick your party members, pick your order, and provision. Provisions are things you buy that you take with you, but they are all expended after the dungeon (completed or not) – so don’t overbuy. On short missions typically 8 torches and 8 rations plus a shovel to move debris will suffice.

In the above graphic the torch burns down and needs to be replenished from your inventory The bottom right is the tile map of the areas of the dungeon you can explore. Positioning is important because different classes can only attack different slots of the order for the other side. Melee only need to be in the first two (typically) and ranged can reach much further. Different skills can move you forward and back and different attacks can also rearrange your enemies – it is all part of the strategy. As well, you can use the ‘move’ action and put yourself in a different place in the line. It does count as your attack though.

This was interesting – when you find random items (books, bodies, backpacks, etc.) you can typically click on them and collect items – or spring traps and get hurt. So far, I have tried to open/use 100% of them and they seem to err on the side of bad. That makes sense in this setting. Still, you have to click them all. I dare you to try not to. Back to the above – as I approached one of these items Aywren said the above and looted it without me controlling her – and the items didn’t go into our shared inventory, they went *poof*. I hadn’t seen that yet so I opened her character screen and lo and behold:

Aywren is a Kleptomaniac. I’m sure she will be proud to hear that. The tooltip explains they she is prone to stealing items. Aywren is really starting to grow on me. I hope she doesn’t die too soon in these adventures.

Murf on the edge…

 

We trudge through our first adventure without a single death or psychosis – which is amazing and a shame at the same time. The picture above shows how close to snapping Murf actually was – the white bar is the “stress” bar. When characters max out on the white bar they have a chance to gain a negative trait which includes things such as Masocism and Hopelessness.  There is also a much smaller chance they will rise above the stress and gain a positive traid such as Courage. This affects (in often serious ways) the outcome of your adventures. Anyway, I was really hoping to see Murf snap here but he persevered, often by the clutch healing of WelshTroll who not only stayed the highest health but had the least amount of stress.

The stress mechanic really separates this game from others and makes it super quirky and fun. I guarantee it will happen during subsequent adventures and I’ll definitely be hovering over the screen grab when it does.

The result of our adventures is some stress and some new traits. I have become a Hemophiliac, Aywren has received the positive Hard Noggin trait, and so on. These all stack with existing traits. You can remove some (for a hefty cost) in the Sanitarium in the Hamlet, but that doesn’t sound like a lot of fun now, does it?While you immediately get all of your health back you need to “de-stress” your characters to try and avoid the inevitable stress calamities. The two places are the Abbey and the Tavern – with different activities at each. These can also be upgraded for various benefits. Depending on the level of stress there is a cost and a time they are unavailable to you (which is why you end up with a large roster in this game – due to deaths and downtime, it is needed). Still – there is risk here as well. Gamble too much and you can get addicted, and yes, I had a character get Syphilis in my other campaign from the Brothel. This game doesn’t give you a break anywhere. Murf and Isey go to the Abbey to shake off the horrors they were exposed to in the dungeon.

Down two adventurers means back to recruiting for me, and my blogroll shows Dr. Koster (Grave Robber), Syncaine (Leper), and Syp (Jester) have been added to my band of merry persons.

Hopefully this play though set a nice stage – it definitely didn’t capture the brutalness and  hilarity of the game when things start to go worng (and they always seem to in this game…) I think it is because I have a lot more practice from the first campaign, and the first dungeon isn’t that incredibly hard – plus I had luck and randomness on my side.

Who will die first? Who will get some crazy affliction? Stay tuned, I’ll update during the week!