How Good is Flagellant?

Hi, guys, how’s is going? Arananthi here. Today I’d like to introduce to you one of the new Mercenary Camp gumballs and talk about the fact that it is amazing in a very subtle way. Let’s go to the run.

Maze: Hell Frontier

Purpose: Farming Son of Satan and Hand of Balrog fragments. My tombstone is on F81, so this run has to go fairly deep.

Mainball: Flagellant — This Venture-type Gumball has a crazy number of abilities, all of which are activated once, give a small benefit, and have a HUGE drawback. To give you an idea of what I mean, here’s a list of which of Flagellant’s abilities I activated on which floor, and what they did:

  • Floor 1:
    • Halve your HP for the entire Maze (including all future HP gains) to gain a permanent 5% bonus to Attack and Power.
    • Halve your Dodge for the entire Maze to gain 5% Damage Reduction.
    • Ban yourself from using any Special Spells this Maze to gain a 2% chance to retain an enemy’s Soul when killing them.
  • Floor 55:
    • You cannot learn any more Venture Titles this run: Receive 1d2 Dragon Balls.
    • You cannot learn any more Dragon Titles this run: Receive 5 random Souls.
    • You cannot change your Armor anymore this run: Receive 3 random Swordsmanship Scrolls.
  • Floor 51, 2nd Passage (after Infernal Gate):
    • You cannot learn any more Melee Titles this run: When attacking, 10% chance to cause double damage.
  • Floor 79 (Immediately before last Boss I needed to fight, so I went nuts):
    • You cannot change your Gloves anymore this run: ignore enemy’s Physical Resistance 10%.
    • You cannot change your Ring anymore this run: ignore enemy’s Magic Resistance 10%.
    • You cannot change your Cloak anymore this run: Effects of Aid spells +10%.
    • You cannot change your Treasure anymore this run: Attack +3, Power +3, +15% damage vs. Bosses.

As you can see, none of those bonuses are huge, and all of those penalties are HUGE! …If you don’t build very carefully around them. So let’s talk about how I did that.

Soul Link 1: Crusader — Pop quiz, hotshot: how many Gumballs look at the words “Halve your HP” and think “YEE-HAW!!”?

Soul Link 2: Puppeteer — The interaction between Puppeteer and Crusader is complex and hard to take advantage of, but amazing once you master it. Basically, the Puppet’s unique damage shield is based on it’s Attack, which is based on your Attack when you summon the Puppet. So if you have Puppeteer and Crusader, you immediately spend the first dozen or two floors working hard to get the Puppet to kill itself. Then, you kill yourself…or get as close as you can without actually dying. I literally used Curses to deliberately take single-point-of-damage counterattacks until I was below 1% of my max HP, because that’s when Crusader’s bonus is biggest.

Then I used Bless (later, Blade of Ruin, which I love Hell Frontier for giving me 3 of with Diablo’s Soul) and summoned a Puppet with a ridiculous attack. The Puppet inherits 20% of your Attack, and it came down with an Attack in the high 50s on floor 18ish. The Puppet Shield is then 5x its Attack, so I was dancing around with a 250 point damage shield when I walked in on the F30 Boss with his 39-point attack.

And this interaction repeats every time the Puppet dies — so you want to keep the Puppet alive for a while, but you do eventually want it to kill itself so that you can use your presumably-now-much-higher Attack, boost it to hell and back with Crusader, pop a Blade of Ruin, and poop out a new, improved Puppet with an attack of like 124 or so, providing you with a damage shield of 600-ish points.

The best part is, once you have that crazy stupid damage shield, you can never heal yourself, and mulch your way through 10 floors of baddies taking down one per swing at near-Howling speeds without breaking a sweat b/c your Crusader bennies just sit there as long as you never pick up a red Potion. (Just watch your Puppet’s timer and make sure he doesn’t attack anything himself!)

So your Puppet doesn’t benefit from your Dodge, but it totally benefits from your Damage Reduction, because it affects enemies’ Attack scores, not your actual damage taken. So the tradeoff of half my Dodge for 5% Damage Reduction was totally in my favor thanks to pet mechanics. And I didn’t have any Special skills, so the 2% soul capture was just butter.

Venture Title: Farplane Ranger (Lantern) — You can’t farm Hand of Balrog fragments without it! Also, I maxed this one out fairly early b/c once you max a specific Title out, you get a small benefit from Flagellant — in this case, a Dragon Ball. Yay! I got my wish from doing so, spent it on Gems, and banned myself from learning Dragon Titles because at that point, why not? 🙂 It was worth some pretty quality souls, including +1 Defense, +1 Attack, and one Blade of Ruin in soul form. Nice!

Melee Title: Duke of Destruction — Because why spend ‘real’ Blade of Ruin scrolls on buffing my Puppet’s attack when I can have them procced for me? I maxxed this one out midwayish through the run, and was rewarded with a clean 10% chance to deal double damage, which stacked with Anonym’s Sword’s 20% chance to do double damage for a healthy bump in my total damage throughput.

Magic Title: Legendary Mage — Because it’s kind of silly to take anything else alongside Duke of Destruction. I never finished this Title.

Artifact: Duke of Destruction’s Belt — Never take Duke without getting your proc% up to 45% with this beastie.

Potion: Nugget Potion — Because that 5% extra Crystal Find really does add up!

The Rundown: Very straightforward. With Flagellant giving me impetus to max out Titles fast, I did mostly just that. I one-starred up to FPR(l) on F1 before looting the Corpse, then filled in Explorer by F4, then Magic Bandit by F11 (this actually gives better EP in the long run than maxxing Magic Bandit first). Then I filled in Night Walker.

Then I had to take a break and get two stars in Magic Apprentice, a star in Novice Warrior, and two stars in Warrior Jr. before the F30 Boss so I would have some offense I could use against him. (That huge damage shield I mentioned is less useful in Hell Frontier b/c the Boss just straight ganks you after 9 turns regardless, so…yeah.)

After the Boss, I finished Farplane Ranger (took me a while b/c I kept spending EP on Gems and stuff for the Hand of Balrog), then did ALL of the Melee Titles up through 12-star Duke of Destruction before going back to one-star up to Legendary Mage and take all three +Round stars, which is all I got in before the F81 goalpost.

I got the Demon’s Gift Box around F50 Mark II (after taking an infernal gate from 55 to 35), then dumped all my Crystals into Light of Corruption to buy me more turns against the later Bosses. Other than that, I spend my Earth Crystals on corpse matrixes and Strongholds, and mostly just saved up everything else for more Light of Corruption.

Floor Strategy: Literally just tap an enemy, kill it, move on, making sure never to reveal an enemy if Puppeteer is about to attack. It doesn’t take a lot of strategy once you get the Phat Puppet trick down. 🙂

Boss Strategy: Basically “Electrostatic Field, Nuke, Icicle, BoR, punch until dead.” Add Timestop for F70 and F80. Again, pretty straightforward. Crusader + BoR = rampant death everywhere. 😀

 

So, How Good IS Flagellant? 

In the end, Flagellant is cool, but he’s weird — most of his tricks by nature only happen after you’ve already done most everything else you intend to do. Like you don’t lock down your Cloak slot forever unless you are 100% certain you have The Cloak to End All Cloaks.

And, his tricks seem pretty small — but then, when your plan is already coherent enough and solid enough to get you to the endgame without Flagellant, he really can add a surprising amount to a seemingly-complete build. It might not seem like much, but when it’s multiplied by Crusader and BoR, that 5% Attack boost turns out to be startlingly big (like +20 or more Attack!)

And if you can work out a situation where the penalties are either completely unnoticeable (like taking five of the six “can’t use this kind of magic” penalties while playing Apollo), or in the ultimate version are actually beneficial (like taking half-HP forever with Crusader and Puppeteer!), he becomes kind of scary badass.

So, Flagellant is stupid good — but only if you are stupid good at building around his crazy abilities.

In other words…I’m in love. Thank you, and I’ll see you next week. 😀

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Recruiting the Son of Satan with Great Elf King

WARNING: SPOILERS

If you’re the kind of masochistic SOB who insists on figuring out how to unlock hidden gumballs without outside assistance, do not read this. If you are sane and reasonable, please continue. 🙂

 

Maze: Hell Frontier

Purpose: Recruit the Hidden Gumball, Satan’s Son.

Pre-Run Preparation: Take any other random Endless run in Hell Frontier, and die somewhere between F50 and F60. This is necessary for unlocking Satan’s Son!

Mainball: Minstrel — Hell’s Frontier has a ton of things to spend EP on, and Minstrel is enormously helpful. That, and I haven’t gotten all the big rewards from the Grand Harp (Minstrel statue easter egg) yet, so that’s a plus. Really, though, I wanted Venture main so that I could take Great Elf King (lantern) ASAP.

Linkball 1: Autobots — The Boss requires crushing with immense speed, as his Resistances quickly reach 100% and he kills you in 9 turns flat no matter what you do (short of Timestill) (or Stunning) (you can also Resurrect, but that doesn’t make his massive resistances go away), so having a big ol’ wrecking ball to swing at his face is necessary.

Linkball 2: Puppeteer — We’re not taking advantage of any of Hell Frontier’s assistance mechanics for the first 50+ floors, so we need to bust out the power playa, and Puppeteer is it. Because the Puppet’s Shield is 5x the Puppet’s Attack, and the Puppet’s Attack is 1/5th of your current attack when you summon it, it’s actually super-valuable to drop even your last Blade of Ruin right before summoning the Puppet so that it’s damage shield is significantly larger. Do that — you’ll be glad you did!

Venture Title: Great Elf King (Lantern) — We’ve got two Pet-summoning linkballs, but just as importantly, Hell Frontier itself provides frequent opportunities to summon elemental pets (and occasionally, at random, elementally-aligned Gumballs!). Also, we’re planning on taking Shadow Warrior, and all that stuff benefits significantly from Great Elf King (Lantern). So yeah, we’re totally going there.

Melee Title: Duke of Destruction (Shadow) — Really, we shouldn’t ever end up taking Duke if all we want is the Hidden Gumball. The real key is Shadow Warrior, which with Great Elf King (Lantern) creates Shadows with 78% of your current Attack when spawned. That’s pretty significant, even if they’re only hitting once and then dying.

Magic Title: Lord of the Elements (Fire) — Duke and the Shadows (new band name) will help us clear the floors easily enough, but we still need a little extra boost going after the boss, because nine turns is NOTHING. So we’re taking LoE(f) and using those Meteor Showers that Wizard gives us, alongside Autobots’ summons, to take him down fast.

Artifact: Belt of Duke of Destruction — Yeah, we’re probably not actually taking Duke, like I said, but we DO need the biggest boost to HP and Attack we can muster in order to max out the utility of our pets, and this will do it. And if we do decide to go deep afterwards, we’ll totally appreciate the extra trigger% for BoR.

Potion: Nugget Potion — It might seem silly, but that extra 5% Elemental Crystal find is HUGE in this Maze, especially when you’re going after Satan’s Son.

The Rundown: One-star your way to GEK(l) right away, then take the other two stars of Treasure Seeker as you can. Focus on revealing enemies in such a way that your Puppet hits them once, then you kill them — because you want to damage your Puppet, but you also want the EP from Minstrel. 🙂

Then save up your EP for a bit. You don’t really need levels at the moment, as your Puppet’s Shield should keep you safe from just about everything while you punch your way to F29.

Sidebar: Recruiting Satan’s Son — Along the way, until you actually recruit Satan’s Son, do not spend Elemental Crystals on anything except opening up the shops — and always open up whatever kind of shop (Light or Dark) that you have the fewest of in your inventory, as they often give you the ability to buy more of that kind of Crystal inside. Whatever Crystals they have, buy them all.

That’s because, in order to unlock Satan’s Son, you need three things:

  • A tombstone (left behind from when you died)
  • 3 Satan’s Hearts, when you get out of a Demon Giftbox, which you have to buy with 50 of each Elemental Crystal. This takes on average 50 floors to obtain, which is why I suggest you die somewhere below F50. I died on F50, and I got there on this run with 49 Air Crystals (and 50+ of all others), so I had to use a PoE and go back 29 floors just to have my Satan’s Hearts in time for my Tombstone. 😀
  • One Dark Elemental Crystal, which portalizes the Tombstone and allows you to feed it the Satan’s Hearts in order to draw out Satan’s Son. (No, you don’t get your Legacy this way, sorry!)

So focus hard on maximizing your Crystal gains, even though that means ignoring most of the fun stuff about the Maze. You can do all that once you have the Son of Satan in your group.

OK, back to the Rundown. Once you have a comfortable (~1000 EP) cushion, go ahead and snag three stars of Novice Warrior, then of Warrior, so your Puppet’s shield gets stronger and you can facepunch enemies to death easier. Then snag three stars in Magic Apprentice and three stars in Black Mage, so you can nuke the boss.

Then go back for one star of Magic Warrior and one star of Shadow Warrior. Then go back again for one star of Wizard, Fire Master, and Lord of Elementals. Then backfill Fire Master and Wizard, then take the Power star of Lord of Elementals. That should hold you over to around where your Legacy can be obtained.

Floor Strategy would be complicated, except Puppeteer makes it easy: go in a straight line toward each enemy, kill it (or let the Puppet hit it if you’re trying to kill the Puppet so you can reset its attack and thus make its shield more powerful), and repeat. The enemies here don’t really do much to you that Puppeteer can’t ignore, so just brutalize everything.

Boss Strategy is more delicate. Round 1, drop either Bless or BoR. Round 2, summon Autobots. Round 3, Icicle. Round 4, Electrostatic Field. If you’re confident you’re going to kill him with it, follow up with Disrupting Ray, then Meteor Swarm (this worked on F40 and F50 boss for me.) If not, skip Disrupting Ray (which will keep him stunned, which will prevent him from stacking on more layers of his unique debuff), and just hit him with the biggest nukes you have (usually Meteor Swarm and Fireball if you’ve followed the plan above).

All told, the only really hard part is making sure you get the crystals in time. Fortunately, all of your interactions with your own Tombstone don’t take any turns, so you can do everything you need to recruit Satan’s Son even right in front of the Boss, and he won’t do anything about it.

I paused this run here to come write this, but I’m clearly quite well set up at this point to explore much deeper, so I don’t think I’m going to quit yet. Especially since the Demon Gift Box also gave me a special item that granted me access to the new Demon Title. Time to playtest something new! 😀

Have I mentioned how much I love this game?

Let’s Playtest Merman!

Maze: Ancient Arena

Purpose: To playtest Merman at length, and farm some arena audiences along the way.

Main Gumball: Tarot — Because he’s my go-to when I don’t know what else to stick in the Venture slot. Also, I wanted Mage stats as my main, and Ghost Capitan was too expensive to feed up just for a playtest. :p

Soul-link 1: Merman — Which is the point, after all. What can this guy do for me?

Soul-link 2: Ghost Capitan — Because seriously, you’re not going to dink around ‘playtesting’ some Water-mage-ball without bringing the real water mage along for the ride.

Venture Title: Great Enchanter (crucible) — To make our iffy Attack useful a little further into the dungeon.

Melee Title: Duke of Destruction — Same as above, but this time with some counterattack-avoidance built in.

Magic Title: Legendary Mage — To synergize with both Merman’s custom spell Water Mist, and Duke of Destruction.

Artifact: Necklace of Legendary Mage — Because I didn’t realize that Merman brings a custom necklace with him even soul-linked.

Potion: Hell Crimson Reagent — Power is good, and Fire spell means Blade of Ruin. Sure, why not?

The Playtest — With Legendary Mage, Water Mist lasts 6 rounds instead of 3. With Ghost Capitan, Water Mist deals (Power*.525) damage per round. All while reducing enemy Attack and Accuracy by 40% and restoring 5% of your own HP per round. And it comes from a spell that everyone reasonably expects to have hanging around in the double digits all the damn time.

It’s actually surprisingly good at killing the audiences in the Arena — until you run out of actions you can take. Since it counts as a buff and is overwritten by any other buff, the typical strategy of ‘cast two dozen Blesses’ doesn’t work. And there are vanishingly few spells you can cast with no legitimate target if buffs are off the table.

I was able to harvest 100% of the non-named-Gumball audience members from F5 to F75. I only left named gumballs behind on F65 and F75, too.

Water Mist does make a staggeringly good opener on a lower-level floor where what you want is to activate Duke of Destruction without dying in the process. Reducing enemy Attack and Accuracy by 40% is just what the doctor ordered to get some free deaths on the table to kickstart counterattack immunity.

I thought I might even have a chance at nabbing some Spartan fragments for my trouble — but while this build can dance through floors all day long, it has some trouble with Bosses, and the F80 boss took me down despite my massive Icicles drilling holes in his brainpan while my Water Mist kept up a constant minor tick of life swing in my direction.

Ultimately, the Merman has a second fatal flaw: giving up Cure for a spell that does so much more than restore HP means you use the spell up doing things that aren’t restoring HP, which means your supply of spells that can bring you back from the brink of death is a lot lower than you think. Even with Tarot’s healing and defensive abilities, every floor past 69 was an optimization exercise in how to best conserve HP so the 30% heal I’d get from the one Water Mist I cast would keep me out of harm’s reach.

80/80ing Borderlands with Future Cat

Maze: Borderlands

Purpose: Get 2 Dragonling Skulls, kill 49 enemies with Skeleton Drake, and use 21 Bone Staves. (These were the quests I had left to get 80/80 in Borderlands)

Main Gumball: Future Cat — to get the 30-floor backslide from Time Machine, the bonus bone parts from FC’s Dimension Door, and the Monster Timer/Resentment-Venting Hourglass for disabling the boss for extended periods of time.

Soul-Link 1: Odin — the bonus to all spell effects is nice, but really Odin is here for his one-round boost to all spell durations.

Soul-Link 2: Three-Eye King — to speed up the dullest part of the run with Howling. Skyeye is just a bonus.

Venture Title: Night Walker – Evil Bandit – Farplane Ranger — Acquired as early as possible. I took 1 star in each title straight to FPR, then went back and filled in Evil Bandit to get the XP reduction suit, then back to Fortune Finder so I could find and kill mobs quickly. Then I took all three stars of Magic Apprentice before moving on to Melee.

The Borderlands is one of the best Mazes for Lantern Farplane, because every stack of skulls you raid or worship gives you a soul. Those souls cast Stoneskin, Blade of Ruin, grant or restore HP, grant Power, and more. I used the Stoneskin and BoR souls to conserve spell scrolls on floors and bosses from 70 to 91.

Also, the Frankenstein corpse gives you a soul that gives you a 100% success rate on a single Altar. (Because I was using Future Cat, I didn’t put a single bone into the Bone Chime until I had maxed out the Bone Armor and the Bone Boots, and then I built it an leveled it up to level 10 all on a single floor using the Frankenstein soul.)

One more thing! FPR gives you 2 Night Wicks every time you take a star — and Night Wicks instantly kill one of the Borderlands’ boss’ annoying little Dragon Eggs. (So do Future Cat’s Hurricane Straws!) Save them up for the lower-level bosses, because they’re super-helpful!

Melee Title: Magic Warrior – Shadow Warrior – Duke of Destruction — After finishing Magic Apprentice, I took all three stars of Intern Warrior followed by all three stars of Warrior. Then one star each of Magic Warrior and Shadow Warrior, and it was on to Duke of Destruction, then all three HP stars to max the trigger chance, then all three Power stars to max the duration.

Duke of Destruction + Odin + Legendary Mage (which comes next) means that whenever Duke of Destruction triggers, you get 14 rounds of Blade of Ruin — which with Fortune Finder is almost always enough to kill all remaining enemies without taking any counterattack damage. This is your survival mechanism.

Magic Title: Conjurer – Earth Master – Legendary Mage — I went the Earth Master route to get bigger Stoneskins and maximize the benefits of the one Portal of Earth. Also, Conjurer is one of the best tools for keeping your MP up over the long run.

Really, though, the big benefit of Legendary Mage is that it effectively gives you extra actions to use against the bosses, because you don’t have to renew your buffs as often. Between that and extending the duration of Blade of Ruin to ‘the rest of the level,’ this was an obvious choice.

Artifact: Amulet of Legendary Mage — The bonus you get to Legendary Mage gives you a Timestill, but really that’s not why I have this. I have this because I knew that I was going to be filling my Glove, Helm, Armor, Accessory, and Boots slots (between Future Cat and Borderlands items), and I wanted to maximize my Power, which meant leaving my Ring slot open for a +power item and converting my Amulet slot to +Power by taking this artifact (normally Amulets only give +MP).

Potion: Hell Crimson Potion — +Power, +MP, and +Fire magic all in one package means I get the stats I want and bigger Blades of Ruin. Win/win!

Other Gear: Once you get the Future Cat set, wear it! If you need the extra Armor, wear Bone Armor and just swap in Hiding Cloak when you step down the stairs, then switch back immediately. Don’t wear the Bone Chime until you’ve leveled up to 10, and then only if you have obtained the Time Machine and can go back 30 floors.

Floor Strategy: Kill ranged mobs, then go straight toward and kill non-ranged mobs one at a time. When you reach floor 71+, if the ranged mobs are more than 4 turns (2 of their attacks) away, consider killing them with magic instead to reduce damage taken. Use a PoE or Time Machine on floor 59 (use Howling now), then use the other once you get deep enough to kill off Howling (in my case it was floor 84), so that your Skeleton Drakes can build up their kill count with relative ease.  Do not use any Ice Shields or Aurora Barriers. This is important for later!

Boss Strategy: Always pop a Bone Staff on turn 1. Attack the Dragon Eggs, and just suck up the boss’ first attack. If the Skeleton Husky/Drake dies before the Nightmare Shield breaks, pop another one. Make the boss skip his 2nd attack with Icicle. For floors 30/40/50, just suck up his 3rd attack. He should be dead before his fourth. For floors 60+, skip his 3rd attack either with Resentment-Venting Hourglass or Timestill (either from a normal cast or from Future Cat’s Monster Timer).

For the final push to get multiple Dragonling Skulls in one go, we’re going to cheese the hell out of the Floor 90 boss. Pop the Drake, kill the Dragon Eggs with Nether Wicks (focus on full-HP eggs so your Drake will eat one), and then literally spend every turn you have dumping out every single Aurora Barrier and Ice Shield in your book, pausing only to pop new Drakes when your existing Drake dies, or new Fields if your Electrostatic Field runs out. (You want to come into this fight with 30+ Bone Staves.) I got my 2nd Dragonling Skull out of my 14th Bone Drake, and finished the boss literally by accident with 12,000+ HP because Aurora Barrier and Ice Shield stack infinitely. The F90 boss will have zero chance to stop you, and with that many Bone Staves, you will get 2+ Dragonling Skulls unless you have the worst RNG ever.

In my case, I had to go to F91 afterwards because I had to get one more kill out of a Skeleton Drake to get the full 80/80.

Final Notes: I thought I was going to hate this run, but all of the tricks in Future Cat’s bag combined with the power of the Duke/Legendary Mage combo made this actually really fun! Applying your brain to figuring out when to use each of FC’s gadgets for maximum utility is the kind of puzzle that makes Gumballs and Dungeons a great game.