Burning Down the City of Steam — with Phoenix!

Maze: City of Steam

Purpose: 80/80 DP, bitches! Which in this case means collecting and using about a dozen magazines, ’cause I’ve done everything else.

Mainball: Phoenix — City of Steam is one of the few places in the game (maybe the only one?) that has a ranged opponent who lights you on fire. Phoenix turns getting lit on fire into a sweet 25 HP, which means as long as we can keep the damage dealt by those ranged opponents at 24 or less, we profit!

Soul-Link 1: Golden Titan — Re-read that last sentence, and understand. 🙂

Soul-Link 2: Earth Elemental — I want to PoE twice, and with Earth Elemental’s synergy, Titan Knight is a viable choice — which I want, because I want to take Heavy Armor Knight because of the whole “keep the ranged damage down” theme. Also, opening up tiles for free with both Titan Knight and the Earth Elemental Orb spell helps Phoenix deal damage to all enemies consistently with his every-8th-turn autonuke.

Magic Title: Planar Prophet — One of the key aspects of (ab)using Phoenix is taking advantage of the fact that he basically solos the first 39ish floors of any dungeon with said autonuke, which means you can invest hard in something that doesn’t pay off hard right away…like going balls-in on Planar Prophet and maxing it out so early that you can’t even use all of the floors you could go backwards, because  you aren’t that deep yet.

Melee Title: Knight of Faith –> Armored Knight –> Titan Knight — See comments under Earth Elemental. Also, Knight of Faith is more Power, which means more Phoenix burnination.

Venture Title: Rune Master –> Weapon Master –> Great Swordsmith — Honestly I waited until I had literally maxxed out my entire Magic and Melee titles before I even took a single star in anything higher than Treasure Seeker, so by the time I got here, I knew I wasn’t going to be doing any crafting (I’d disenchanted too much stuff already). This particular line is basically the default “I’m in deep and don’t know what to do with my Venture Titles” Title as it gives you some spells, some Defense, some offense, and 9 floors of “get past this floor free,” which is always a good thing to default to.

Artifact: Adventurer’s Harp — Boots of Titanosaur/Planar Prophet were off the table since I’d be wearing the Electric-Powered Set, so this made sense as a strong back-up Artifact.

Potion: Cactus Juice — Because FVCK YOU, “Power Grid Type V-H22”. FVCK the FVCK out of YOU.

The Run-Down: Somehow I forgot to write this part of the post, and I didn’t notice for like a month. So forgive me please! If I recall correctly, this was basically a completely bonkers, brokenly-easy run that resulted in almost complete unkillability thanks to continuously getting healed by the ranged burny robots. The only thing that made it even vaguely hard was that the robots kept getting killed by my auto-nuke, but not before they healed me all the way up first, so who cares? XD

Point is: farm City of Steam with Phoenix. Almost anything else you do is just superfluous. That’s how stupid powerful Phoenix is in CoS. Seriously.


Two Snapshots of Long Runs that got Stupidly Lucky thanks to Divine Dragon

I generally speaking prefer to blog about runs where lots of intense planning came together and awesomeness happened — but every once in a while, intense planning gets completely shattered by a stroke of luck that turns things completely on their head. Here’s a couple of quick summaries of my last two runs, where those strokes of luck defined things far more than my initial intentions.


Maze: Dracula’s Castle

Purpose: Get the last Boss prize on my list (F100 Bone Dragon), and max out Imperial Commander for the XP along the way.

Main: Angel Deity — You can guess where this is going.

Link 1: Spy — Yes, I’m doing this again. Big difference this time is…

Link 2: Hercules — Because I got him, and because Dracula’s Castle is the single best Maze to use him. That’s because if you hit F51 once, you get a 30% boost to all stats. Hit it again, and you get +1 Atk/Pwr and +10 HP/MP. Hit it a third time, you get another +1 Atk/Pwr and +10 HP/MP. But hit it a fourth time — which is only possible here, in Saint’s Tower (limited broom), and Desert Oasis (magic carpet) — and you get a second 30% boost to all stats. That’s my kind of power!

Magic Title: Pope — Because seriously, if you’re going to be throwing around Fists of Heaven, you might as well.

Melee Title: Imperial Commander — Because XP, and I figured I could get away with it.

Venture Title: Great Swordsmith (Crucible) — Because I wanted the +15% bonus Holy Bolts, and those Swordsmith’s Runes make for an easy route to F100.

Dragon Title: Evil Dragon — I knew as soon as I saw this pop up on my list of Wishes that I was going to take it. This was a HUGE benefit for my run, and here’s why: “high level spells” counts any spell of 4th or 5th rank. Guess what? Angel Deity has the only proccable 4th-level spell in the game, and Evil Dragon instantly doubles the damage it deals. Can you say Bwaaahahahahahahahahahaaaa!!!?  I knew you could!

Artifact: Gloves of Great Swordsmith — Because 2 more Swordsmith’s Runes is 2 more floors I get to laugh my way through.

Relics: Mutu’s Belt, Eternal Cup, and Confinement Cage — Because I need to go back a bunch of floors, and I want something to do with all of the blood I’m going to be gathering once I max out these Relics. (I ended up also nabbing a Crown of Holy Glory and maxing that out, also, because Light Magic and extra Undead damage make for lots of fun.)

Potion: Mixture of Light and Dark — Let’s do this thing.

The Run Down: Not going into huge amounts of detail here. Basically, I calculated out exactly how to maximize my titles for the highest possible Attack, Power, and HP at the time of reaching F51. Then I recalculated them on F46 (fourth iteration) when I landed the Dragon Titles and thus had access to the extra bonus from Lesser Dragon, and abused those two 30% boosts for all they were worth. Walked onto F52 (after doing 44-49 five times and 48-51 four times) with all four of my Relics maxed out, over 3k HP.

I never saw another Shadow Stone, and I never cared. I did pick up an Air Book at some point though.

So I started busting out all the craziness from Pope and the Evil-Dragon-boosted Angel Deity, and it was literally no challenge all the way to F100. Took out the F100 boss with this exact sequence of spells: Electrostatic Field, Disrupting Ray, Holy Bolt, Timestill, Electrostatic Field, Disrupting Ray, Holy Bolt, Icicle, Electrostatic Field, Disrupting Ray, Holy Bolt, Timestill, Holy Bolt, Holy Bolt, Holy Bolt. Didn’t take a single point of damage. 🙂


Maze: City of Steam

Purpose: Max out the damn Manual. Again.

Main: Dwarf King — Because I wanted Fighter stats in the long run, but I also wanted to max out Planar Prophet on the cheap. The lighting proc was a nice side benefit, and though I didn’t plan for it, the 5 Quenching Essences didn’t go to waste, either.

Soul Link 1: Cactus — Because I was going to melee my way down, and to hell with those stupid spikey bots.

Soul Link 2: Machine Herald — Because nothing says ‘I pound faces’ like a 50% Attack buff right off the bat.

Magic Title: Planar Prophet — A must for maxing out the Manual.

Melee Title: War God of Hell — I kind of figured, what the heck, let’s add another proc to the proc so I can proc while I proc. No real intent here.

Venture Title: Great Swordsmith (anvil) — Yeah, this is where things all went against plan in the best possible way. I was going to go Great Enchanter (crucible) because I’m still trying to figure out exactly how that bonus damage works, but things got swutched.

Artifact: Boots of Planar Prophet — Who needs the Electric Powered Set when you’re going to punch all the faces? I WANT FLOORS.

Potion: Hell Crimson Reagent — Because a little extra Power is a good thing, and Hell God of War.

The Run Down: So I got stupid lucky with Dragon’s Wishes for the second run in a row, and after portalling backwards from F59 to F4, I got my seventh ball on F5, and got Most Cruel Equipment: Sorehead Knight suit.

At this point, I had maxxed out Planar Prophet and the entire Magic title set, and I had one star of Novice Warrior. I was going to shoot straight to Hell God, but landing this set immediately shifted my priorities to Great Blacksmith, because you can upgrade the Sorehead Knight suit.

It took me until F58 mkII, but I did it. The Ordinary Knight Suit gives a total of:

  • +410 HP,
  • +38 Attack,
  • +100% Attack(!!),
  • +100% Accuracy (no enemy can dodge),
  • + 3 Defense, and
  • +80% Damage Reduction(!!!!!!11!1oneone!!)

Yes. Getting the Ordinary Knight Suit literally makes the rest of the run for you. I waltzed through the rest of the Maze (PoEing a second time at F99 just to annoy myself), maxed out the Manual, and quit on F101 just because I couldn’t be arsed to go any further.


Those two runs were completely nuts — unplannable, but exactly the kind of “jackpot!!” feeling that makes Gumballs and Dungeons so damn addictive and entertaining. W00t!

Maxxing out City of Steam Manual while Testing Earth Elemental

Maze: City of Steam

Purpose: Gotta get that manual maxxed out! Also, we’re getting the XP quest “Max out Great Enchanter,” ’cause it’s my last Adventure Title. Just as importantly, we’re playtesting Earth Elemental to see if it makes it any easier to devote your Magic Title to Planar Prophet. (tl;dr: It does!)

Main Gumball: Odin — We’re doing City of Steam right, in full magic mode, bitches.

Soul Link 1: Earth Elemental — Sweet, sweet Earth Master synergy, here we come!

Soul Link 2: Machine Herald — Because I hadn’t played him yet, and I figured a near-constant 50% Attack boost would help me melee my way down without using too many scrolls/MP.

Magic Title: Conjurer –> Earth Master –> Planar Prophet — Because the whole point is to see if we finally have something that synergizes effectively with Planar Prophet. Also, manual maxxing.

Venture Title: Rune Master –> Weapon Master –> Great Enchanter — Gotta get that sweet Adventure Mastery trophy. Also, we’re going to need some extra damage to keep punching faces in the lower floors as our Attack isn’t going to keep up very well, and this’ll help.

Unexpectedly, one of the hidden power-plays in this run turned out to be Rune Master. In City of Steam (and Avallon Fortress, too), the Crucible actually gives +25% low-level spells (instead of +15%) — and over all the many floors I traveled, that ended up being super strong. I quit with more than 40 Cure spells in my inventory, and that was after averaging 2.5 per floor for the last 17 floors.

Melee Title: Knight of Faith –> Armored Knight –> Titan Knight — Because Earth synergy is the name of the game, and this will give us a regular, if not predictable, way to add damage based on our enormous Power to our face punchings.

Artifact: Crown of Pope — All of my in-Title artifacts are magic-slotted, so I can’t take any of them and still use the Electric-Powered Set. So of the melee slots, I wanted to take either a Crown or a Belt because they’re the two slots that usually don’t give anything but HP. I had my eye set on a Lightsaber for an Accessory, and a Belt of Electric Arc because Odin, mothafokka, and so the headgear was my option. And I was determined to go Full Mage, so we went for the Magic-oriented headgear.

Potion: Potion of Great Designer — Manual maxxing, plain and simple.

Other Gear: Totally ended up with the Green Lightsaber and the Belt of Electric Arc. I also ended up carrying around a Book of Water for a good portion of time as well. Managed to find Dragon Scale gloves and Sapphire Armor so I was busting out phat Disrupting Rays to go with my phat Electrostatic Fields. Really the thing that I loved the most gear-wise, though, was the Fishbone Spikes — the City of Steam consumable item that pops out an Earth Spike and gives you a permanent 1% bonus to Earth spells. I think I burned through at least 18 of them. Any time I could hit 3 or more enemies, out they came. I kept all the consumables until I had one of every Science, though, so that I could eke out every benefit possible.

The Run Down: I started by maxxing out Magic Apprentice, then took one star of Wizard and Conjurer, than maxxed out Earth Master, then (gritting my teeth) I stuck around and maxxed out 100% of Planar Prophet, including two Artifact stars. By the time that was done, it was F54, and as it turned out, I had just enough PoE power to go all the way back to Floor One…so i did!

Starting over again, I maxxed out Novice Warrior, then one star in Knight, three stars in Knight of Faith for more Power, one star in Armored Knight, and then took Titan Knight and all three of the +trigger% stars. Around floor 55 (take 2), I switched over to Venture titles and took one star each of Fortune Finder and Explorationist, then maxxed out Rune Master. One star in Weapon Master, and then one star in Great Enchanter.

Around floor 70, I started backfilling: first Conjurer for the MP gain, then Knight of Faith for the Power, then I basically just backfilled everything from cheapest to most expensive, ending up filling in the last of Great Enchanter at F96.

The floor strategy was challenging — I had no way to deal with all the Damage Reflect robots except for spells, and I was pretty concerned about keeping my MP up. So I carefully, carefully used all of the Frag Grenades and Flamethrowers and Grenade Launchers — not to mention the aforementioned Fishscale Spikes — to clear the spiky sumbitches for as long as they lasted. Then I let the Lightning Bolts and Fireballs flow like water, only using my Earth Elemental Orb when it’s spread-damage effect or tile-flipping effect would be valuable.

Without Rune Master’s extra 10% bonus, I would have ran out of Bolts and Balls around F75. As it was, I ran out around F80 and resorted to mostly Earth Elemental Balls…only to discover that I probably should have been using them for a while before that because they were much stronger than the low-level nukes thanks to Earth Elemental+Earth Master+all those Fishscale Spikes. I would have used less MP per kill if I’d switched around F70.

All of the non-reflect bots I facepunched using Machine Herald’s 50% attack bonus + Great Enchanter’s 50% damage bonus until F80 or so. I facepunched the low-attack Repair bots all the way down. From F80-F87, I used Metal Charizards to avoid taking counterattack damage by keeping Blade of Ruin up for seven straight floors. Past F87, I just magicked down absolutely everything.

End Result: Painfully, I found myself in a deathtrap on F97. A magic-cancelling trap was all the way across the floor from the door, and three high-damage ranged units were guaranteed to kill me before I got there. I had no tricks left up my sleeve, and I had already Revived once thanks to a nearly-identical situation on F88. I wasn’t going to Revive again — I have pride — even though it meant that I died with 2 Sciences left to go before I maxxed out the Manual.

All that way, and all that awesome synergy and amazing fun (and seriously, this was one of the funnest runs I’d ever had!), and I was unlucky in one simple but ultimately purpose-foiling regard: I never found a second PoE. That would have made the Manual-filling-out thing easy.

Oh, well. Guess I’ll have to try again with Water Elemental and Archbishop. 🙂

City of Steam Boss Prize w/ Death Knight

Maze: City of Steam

Purpose: Kill the level 90 boss for the boss prize, and get whatever DP we can along the way.

Main Gumball: Death Knight — Usually a “bad” Gumball, because the transformation DK causes (normal mob into a Skeleton with no features except Atk and HP) also happens to undo debuffs, which sucks once you get to floor 76-ish where you need to start tossing Curses and Blinds on stuff before you punch it in the face, just to save HP. But with this build, we’re counting on killing most of the mobs without punching. The purpose of Death Knight here is to cancel the annoying Damage Reflection robot and the cooperative-buffing of the Steam Mecha trio.  Honestly, if I were doing this run again, I’d probably take Red Dragon or Predator in it’s place.

Soul Link 1: Shadow Assassin — The engine of the build. With Shadow Assassin and Dark Arbiter cooperating, the vast majority of attacks trigger Dark Ripple. This allows us to open up as many enemies as possible, then avoid as much damage as possible by attacking the lowest-Attack mobs and using Death Ripple to kill the rest.

Soul Link 2: Lich King — Lich King is a strangely powerful Gumball. It takes a lot of investment to level his Faith up to 20, but even without any leveling up, the benefits you get from the first 10 levels of Faith are huge. As you level from 10 to 20, you get enormous Power boosts, some extremely useful spells, and a boatload of HP and MP. The capstone, of course, is the insane Key of Destruction, which sets our total Dark Ripple trigger percentage at 95% for near-total win.

Among those ‘extremely useful spells’ are 3x Armageddon. That might not seem huge, but when combined with the literally 24 Dark Ripples you get from taking Conjurer and Dark Master titles, that’s three deep-dungeon floors you can clear in seconds without taking any damage at all — and that matters, because this build’s healing ability is minimal. (Similarly, the 3 Hexes and 2 Timestills are great tools for keeping the Bosses attacks at bay!)

I got to level 20 Faith basically by sacrificing every single 4- and 5-star treasure I got from killing bosses to the Statue. This dungeon gives crap for treasure, so that’s what it took!

Melee Title: Dark Arbiter — I took one star in all of the lead-up Titles before promptly maxing out Dark Arbiter’s Power stars to get the 40% total Death Ripple trigger chance. Then I went back and filled in the rest of Novice Warrior and Warrior. Next, I took all three Attack stars, from Dark Arbiter. I took a break to max out both Fortune Finder and Apprentice Mage, then went back and filled in Shadow Warrior and Magic Warrior in that order. Finally, I maxed out the three HP stars of Dark Arbiter before moving on to the Magic title.

Magic Title: Conjurer -> Dark Master -> Dark Priest — After completing the Melee title, I took one star of Wizard, one star of Conjurer, then maxed out Dark Master. Then I backfilled Wizard and Conjurer, and finally took Dark Priest. Within Dark Priest, I filled in just the Power stars, then moved on to the Venture titles.

Venture Title: Rune Master -> Weapon Master -> Great Swordsmith — The purpose here is the obvious: avoid damage through the 15% chance to cancel counterattacks (and with the Swordsmith’s Runes in the lower floors). I took one star each in Explorationist, Rune Master, Weapon Master, and then the main title of Great Swordsmith. Then I went back and filled in Rune Master because why not, and then started in on the Attack stars of Great Swordsmith to get a few Swordsmith’s Runes.

Artifact: Armor of Light Oracle — I knew that the Maze would give me either a Helmet (Fawke’s Mask) or Gloves (Thorn Fist), and the Necklace, Ring, Cloak, and Boots (the Electric Age set). I also knew the Gumballs would give me an Accessory (Contract of the Dead and eventually Key of Destruction). That left me the Belt and Armor slots, and I chose the Armor slot entirely because I wanted to max out my Defense early, as these mobs don’t joke around.

Potion: Cactus Juice — I chose this entirely because I hate the hell out of those damage reflection mobs that show up like 2-3 per floor for almost the entire dungeon. Even given the Dark Ripple and Contract of the Undead abilities keeping the damage reflection to a minimum, I still am glad I chose this potion.

Other Gear: In terms of the Manual, my general strategy is to get one point in every science as quickly as possible in order to get all of the small side benefits of using the Maze’s consumables (especially the Clockwork Spiders!). Then I fill in all of the cheap ones in order of usefulness, saving all of my magazines until every cheap science is full. Then activate all of the magazines to get the most savings out of them.

Floor Strategy: Uncover enemies until you hit a ranged mob or you can’t uncover any more. If using a single Blind at that point will let you uncover 2 more enemies, do it. Then smack the lowest-attack enemy until everything is dead. Heal as necessary. It’s pretty simple.

I only used the Airship for Boss fights until floor 80 — then I cleared floors 81-90 using a combination of the aforementioned Armageddon+Dark Ripple, Airship clears, and careful use of Blades of Ruin (through Charizard first, then normal)/Swordman’s Runes.

I would have used a PoE at floor 79, but I didn’t have one. But I got one on floor 84 and used it immediately for a 29-floor drop-back, which I desperately needed to get up the resources to defeat floors 85-89. Yes, I was that close to dying! 😀

Boss Strategy: Also simple. Call the Airship to defeat the Airship. Cast Electrostatic Field, then Disrupting Ray, then either Icicle (preferably) or Hex (less so). Beat face until the Boss is ready to act again, then either Stoneskin and suck up some damage or Timestill if you won’t survive using Stoneskin. At F80 and F90, consider throwing down an Aurora Barrier after your initial Icicle/Hex. Don’t ever forget that with everything you’ve invested into your Dark Ripple, the only thing comparable to a facepunch is Implosion. Fortunately, the boss is ridiculously simple — no special anythings at all once you clear the first airship part. Just make sure you check your airship’s energy on FX9 and top it off if it’s below 90%.

Final Notes: This run started as an attempt to get to F90, but it was also an attempt to find a legitimate purpose for Death Knight, because you know, he sucks sweaty Bantha nuts. Ultimately, what I ended up doing was getting my Boss Prize, and proving that Shadow Assassin is so damn good that he can compensate for having a crap gumball like Death Knight main. If Death Ripple worked on undead, this would be the team everyone would be using to get Dark Dragon. There is only one logical conclusion: