Power-Farming Oasis Gems with the Hand of Balrog

Maze: Desert Oasis

Purpose: Getting some Gems from Genie’s Lamp (and also the Divine Dragon if I can manage.)

Mainball: Nobunaga — you’ll see.

Soul Link 1: Archaeologist — The Hand of Balrog is an artifact that grants +5 Attack, +10% Attack, and +100 HP. Archaeologist increases that by 250%, meaning +17.5 Attack, +35% Attack, and +350 HP (which in turn grants you another 23.333 attack via Nobunaga). 23.33+17.5=40.833, *1.35= roughly 55 points of Attack just for equipping that one item. Not counting any further multiplication of any other points of Attack you may have. That’s some insane offense and some insane survivability for a pretty simple combo!

Soul Link 2: Zeroes — There are two basic ways to think about having a stupid high Attack. The first is “how can I make it stupid higher so that I can facepunch F80 mobs to death?” The second is “how can I turn this into a tool that will kick ass and take names?” In Desert Oasis, the major threats are Cacti and Scorpions, which you really don’t want to facepunch — Zeroes lets you kill them by punching stuff next to them, and is unique in that he’s the only AoE facepuncher (i.e. he doesn’t use or even care about your Power) in the game, making him a great pairing with the Archeolrog.

Venture Title: Great Swordsman (Crucible) — When everything you want to do involves facepunching, dropping your “getting counterattacked” rate from 80% to 66% is a pretty important survival mechanism. Also, going through Rune Master means more cheap nukes to take out those Cacti that don’t get dropped by Zeroes’ special ability. On a deep run, I’d’ve used the Swordsman Runes to laugh my way through floors 91-99. 🙂

Melee Title: Knight — Yep, didn’t get any farther than this.  If I was to go deeper, I would have taken this up and around to Fighter for Boss-killing into deeper floors.

Magic Title: Magic Apprentice — Ditto.  If I were taking this run down all the way, I totally would have taken this to Light Bishop for the extra points of Attack and the ability to stay alive, and gone through Water Master just to make sure I had enough Icicles.

Artifact: Hand of Balrog — It’s the Hokey Pokey of this run. It is what it’s all about!

Potion: Aladdin’s Lamp Oil — 100 HP means a few more Attack from Nobunaga, and the Golden Lamp Oil is appreciated as well.

The Rundown: I started by getting three stars in all three base Titles just for the general utility. Then I one-starred out to Great Swordsman (crucible) first, to get that sweet 35% total counterattack reduction, then filled in Rune Master for the extra low-level nukes so as to take out any annoying Cacti that didn’t die to Daybreak Cannon.

Then I took three stars of Knight, filled in Explorer and Weapon Master because why not, and…ended the run on F60 with 3 Holy Oil without even paying attention.

I also purchased literally every Lamp Oil, Flag of Sudan, and Persian Powder that came up in the Camel Store, which was probably 20-30% of my total EP spend.

Floor Strategy: Uncover all the enemies you can, and punch the one with the lowest Attack (not including Cacti or Scorpions), hoping Daybreak Cannon will kill the rest. Repeat until you’re out of enemies, pausing to either nuke or Persian Powder down any Cacti that you don’t kill with Daybreak Cannon.

Boss Strategy: Punch it in the face. Over and over. If you get below half health, hit the thing with Icicle instead of facepunching when it’s counter is one, and keep punching. I killed the F30, 40, and 50 Bosses w/o Icicle, because 350 bonus HP + 30% from Knight is enough HP that if you start a fight with full HP, it takes more than a few Boss attacks to get you below half.

How Good Is Archeolrog? This is just one run out of several that I took testing the basic Archaeologist (mostly + Nobunaga) + Hand of Balrog combo — I chose this one to write up because I really liked Zeroes as the third member of the party. I tried many other third members, from Puppeteer (which was also pretty strong, but really missed the Melee titles to add more Attack and HP to accelerate the combo) to Great Guardian to Commander and more, but Zeroes was the one that really turned the combo from ‘strong’ to ‘never felt even mildly threatened by anything,’ which is what I really want from a Power Farming team. I could handily have taken this team to F80 without getting genuinely threatened.

 

Extra Lesson Learned: I’ve played quite a bit of Machine Herald, Black and White Queen, and other significant percentage-to-Attack bonuses, and somehow I never really noticed this until testing Archaeolrog: percentage based bonuses to stats aren’t really super amazing unless you also get a sizable static numerical bonus to the same stat.

This is why Machine Herald is actually less powerful in most circumstances than Blacksmith — because a 50% Attack bonus is generally smaller than a static bonus of +30 followed by a 15% Attack bonus. (In fact, in order to get a bigger bonus from Machine Herald than Blacksmith, you have to have a base Attack of 99 before you count either bonus. That’s not a super-easy number to reach!)

So a big part of the combo’s power isn’t just the 35% Attack bonus, it’s the additional 17+ points of numerical Attack bonus you get that gets added before the 35% bonus is applied. You have to get your base Attack up to 158 in order to get a higher bonus from Machine Herald than you do from Archaeolrog. That’s not just challenging, it’s near-impossible. Especially given that Canas’ Enlightenment has basically zero Gumball-based Attack bonuses. (And that’s not counting the effects of Nobunaga!)

But wait! Let’s put an artifact in on Canas’ side, too. If you take the +11 Attack from Gloves of Dark Arbiter and add it to Machine Herald’s side, you only need a base Attack of 48 to get better results from Machine Herald than Archaeolrog. Which you can probably totally get to…but then you have to compensate for a missing 350 HP, too. :p

In short, Archaeolrog is, mathematically, the strongest Attack bonus you can get on F1 of any maze right now, and it actually keeps up quite nicely as you go down, only starting to really lose out once you reach triple digits, and then only to teams that have “grow as you go” abilities like High Priest+Monkey King+Blacksmith or Nobunaga+Saladin+Crusader. And it comes with three hundred and fifty freaking HP

All of those other “front-end power” gumballs like Nalakuvara and Pharmacist can suck it.

 

Wait…Nalakuvara is Ranger’s Song…and offers a significant static numerical Attack bonus and a higher percentage Attack bonus…

…   …   …

Sorry, got more testing to do, be back soon!

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The Key to Real Ultimate Power? Future Cat + Key of War

Maze: Hell Frontier

Purpose: To see if I really did stumble upon an easy, consistent way to out-and-out double my damage output at the tiny cost of one million gold (reduced to 600k by Pharmacist, but, you know, close enough) and figure out whether or not that was awesome. Also, get some Satan’s Son frags and some Hand of Balrog frags along the way.

Mainball: Future Cat — The idea here started when I stared for a long time at the Immortal Blade (a Hell Frontier item that gives a 20% chance to deal double damage) and wondered just how high I could get my “% to deal double damage.” A few dives into the wiki later, and I had my answer: I could handily reach 100% chance to deal double damage…for the first 15 turns of each floor. All I needed was the entire Future Cat set (which includes Machamp Gloves, which give a buff of +50% to deal double damage for 10 or 15 turns), and the Key of War, which gives a straight up 50% chance to deal double damage forever. Between the two, double damage was guaranteed!

Linkball 1: Machine Herald — Because why would you go for anything less than all the Attack cheese?

Linkball 2: Cytus — Two reasons here. First, Timestill Cytus is the be-all and end-all of Boss destruction, and I was going full Timestill. Because no matter how big your Attack, you need some way of keeping the Boss from Counterattacking, and at the lower levels, you need more time to punch face regardless.

Venture Title: Farplane Ranger (Lantern) — It’s annoying that Hell Frontier basically forces you to take this, at least if you want to farm Hand of Balrog frags, which I do.

Melee Title: Fighter (Sword Master) — If I were going for a super deep run, I’d’ve taken Sword Sage instead, but since my gravestone was at F66, I didn’t really need the extra damage for floor mobs, so Fighter was the more obvious choice.

Magic Title: Legendary Mage (Air) — Because how else are you going to guarantee three — I mean six — Timestills other than Legendary Mage? Also, more rounds is gooder!

Artifact: Necklace of Legendary Mage — Because Timestills, bitch.

Potion: Potion of Evil Dragon — Because between Machine Herald and the Doubling Combo, every +1 attack turns into +3 damage, and +15 damage per strike is a hella good potion. And it comes with HP, and further (if minor) damage multiplication. What’s not to love?

Crystal Use:

  • All (and first): Getting Demon Gift Box.
  • Fire: Acquiring Hand of Balrog frags, making the Doomsday Blade worth disenchanting.
  • Water: Acquiring Toilet Fruit, summoning Healing Pets.
  • Earth: Acquiring Destroy, then dropped into Crystal Core to work toward the big stat buff at the end.
  • Air: Summoning pets if I didn’t need healing. Eventually dropped into Crystal Core out of boredom.
  • Light: Acquiring Hand of Balrog, then Dim Matrix. ALL the Attack, plzkthxbai.
  • Dark: Acquiring Hand of Balrog, keeping Angels from resurrecting, learning Lightless Shield.

The Rundown: I one-starred up to FPR(l) on F1 for the solz, maxed out Explorer by F3, Magic Bandit by F7, then I did nothing except work my way, star by star, up the Melee chain from Novice Warrior to Sword Master. Once I had done that, I started buying items for the Hand of Balrog and spending any spare on one-starring from White Mage to Legendary Mage, then getting +3 rounds to all my sh!t and one extra Timestill for the giggles.

Then it was backfilling time. Apprentice Mage, then Air Master, then Priest, then Night Walker (for the Power), then the Attack stars from Farplane Ranger, then the Power stars from Farplane Ranger and Legendary Mage.

Then I had to decide whether to hold off on taking my 5th-tier Melee Title because I wanted Sword Sage, or take it now and take Fighter. I was on F59 and my gravestone was on F66, so since I didn’t have to actually worry about fighting big, deep floor mobs, I took Fighter. After getting my Satan’s Son frags, I PoEd back to F36. Finished my Hand of Balrog on F41, suicided myself into a pack of Stronghold Angels on F44, and the deed was done.

Was It Worth It?: Kinda. I mean seriously, I facepunched the F60 boss to death with an Attack of 240-something, +65% from Fighter, x2 was ~750 damage per punch for the first 15 turns. Obviously, I didn’t need all of them. That said, the real problem was that it only lasts for the first 15 turns, and even though I didn’t go that deep, I can tell you that’s flat out not enough sustainability to last past F80 or so. Which kind of makes it less worth it than I would like.

Don’t get me wrong, the concept is amazing for short and mid-length runs — but do you want to spend a million gold on a midlength run? Probably not. 😀

 

Wife’s Run: Speedfarming Prince…with Sage!

Maze: Saint’s Tower

Purpose: Getting Prince (because she hadn’t been arsed to before)/Farming Prince

Mainball: Panda — Because who doesn’t love Panda? He’s like Swordsman, but cuter. Also, there’s no better Maze for main Panda than Saint’s Tower, because once you hit F29 and give Master Turtle some wine, you can take out any floor mob for a number of MP equal to the floor you’re on — and there’s no better way to regain MP than Magic Toffee. Oh, and the other two Panda Wines have a crucial role to play in this as well. 🙂

Soul Link 1: Sage — Sage completely freaking ignores the Dark Ward produced by the floor pillars. So you don’t need to waste any time or thought breaking the pillars, because punching faces works all the way down. Also, that big pool of extra MP makes Magic Toffee especially magical even though you’re not going to arse yourself with the big 500-MP-granting spell you could get by breaking pillars.

Soul Link 2: Tarot — Because as long as we’re ignoring the Wards, we should bring along someone who has useful magic-like effects that can be used to heal, defend, and otherwise do useful things on floors with an anti-magic Ward. Between Sage and Tarot, you literally don’t even need a single Ward broken (except occasionally on the boss) to get to and win Prince and/or his fragments.

Melee Title: Warrior (via Royal Knight) — Because HP are good, but epic boss facepunches are also good, since Tarot’s Tower can protect us from the nasty hits.

Venture Title: Treasure Seeker — Yep. That’s it. No time for anything else!

Magic Title: Magic Apprentice — Ditto. Get your spells active and dump all your EP into more Melee-title power.

Artifact: Helm of Fighter — Just to make sure you can spend all your EP on the thing that matters.

Potion: Master Designer/Engineer — To make sure you have the EP for Pumpkin Carriage by the time you need it.

The Rundown: Saint’s Tower is usually a slow grind, with lots of fiddling with Crystals and Wards and Special spells that take three-plus taps per mob to work. This team takes all that away and sets you up to tap tap tap all the way to F60 where you can s/l 30 until Prince shows up.

You do still have to save up your 2k EP to buy the Pumpkin Carriage, but other than that, you really don’t have to do much of anything except tap tap tap tap. Ignore Wards, tap everything, move forward quickly.

The Boss fights go facepunch twice, change ward, facepunch some more. For F50 and F60, start with Panda Wine to make sure you can clear the boss super-fast.

It’s really the quickest, most effective brainless Saint’s Tower run you can get. And all this after I spent a good half-hour ranting violently to her about how Sage sucks just about as bad as a gumball can suck and has no purpose anywhere for any reason.

Yeah, she’s smarter than me. But I got at least one over on her — I married up. 😀

 

Probing the Bowels of Spacecraft Ruins: Cat w/Chef & Priest

Maze: Spaceship Ruins

Purpose: Originally, it was just “Test if Chef’s recipes using machine parts can be consumed by Future Cat.” Then it was “Collect all the codes for the computer manual.” When I inadvertently got to F70, I was all, hmmm…and added “DP Quest for F80.” Then I happened to notice while on Pause on F81 that the Boss Quest for this Maze was F90, and shit got real. 🙂

Mainball: Future Cat — Had to test if Chef’s two machine-based recipes worked with Kitteh, b/c the other two Gumballs they work with (Machine Herald and Bloody Wolf) are both Melee-types like Chef, so only Future Cat might make a “proper” teammate for Cheffery in the machine-based Mazes. (Spoiler: they work.)

Soul Link 1: Chef — Bork bork bork! Chef is like Red Hood, a gumball that you barely notice except on quite long runs. Well, this run got long, and Chef pulled his weight. The two ‘machine recipes’ are a one-time reduction to damage and burning damage, and a repeatable boost to Attack, Power, and Dodge. By the time I got to the end-maze, thanks to that potion, maxxed-out Mechanical Legs, and for the first 15 turns of each floor the Fly ability from Future Cat’s headgear, I was bopping around with a 54% dodge chance (44% after the buff ended). Pretty fly. I also probably gained ~30 Attack from that recipe and his always-available recipe for Appetizer Soup.

Soul Link 2: Priest — Spaceship Ruins is filled with high-damage activated items, so I figured focusing my magic on healing instead of harming was a good companion strategy.

Venture Title: Farplane Ranger (lantern) — Spaceship Ruins has like a dozen unique corpses all over the place, so I figured FPR(l) was a pretty obvious choice. Especially since it takes one of the best activated damage items (Colt 1911) and triples its damage.

Melee Title: Sword Master –> Warrior — So one thing I noticed quickly about the boss of Spaceship Ruins is that Meteor Swarm counts as 6 magical attacks against him for purposes of swinging his Physical/Magical Resistance balance. So I figured laying on mad Physical damage and then using Meteor Swarm to reset his resistance to zero after several hits was a solid boss strategy.

Magic Title: Light Bishop — Originally I picked this as a lark, but it turns out that when you have a massive Dodge bonus helping you avoid most attacks, having the ability to heal up to full in a single spell can get you pretty deep.

Artifact: Armor of Light Oracle — I hate Exoskeleton Armor (it’s the worst of the special thingies in Spaceship Ruins), so I picked an Artifact that went in its slot.

Potion: Potion of Great Designer — I wanted to be 100% certain of getting Farplane Ranger on F1 so I wouldn’t miss a single corpse. Wasn’t necessary in the end, but whatever. 😀

The Run Down: I whipped straight to FPR(l), backed up to fill in Evil Bandit, pushed Magic up to 3-star Water Master because Icicle, bitches, and then filled in 100% of every level of Melee up to 3-star Sword Master. I couldn’t decide whether to to Sword Sage or Warrior, but ultimately Warrior won (and it was a good thing). I ended up taking Light Bishop’s first level first, then filled in all of Warrior, then backfilled the lower-level Magic titles, then the lower-level Venture titles. Ultimately, I ended up with a single Attack star in Farplane Ranger; all three Power stars, all three Attack stars, and both Artifact stars from Light Bishop; and 100% of the stars from Warrior.

I never found a PoE; ended up using Future Cat’s Time Machine on F42 to go back 30 floors. (My ‘special item floor’ was ‘ending in 2’, so I popped back on a 2-floor for an easier time getting the rest of the items.)

It turns out that if your ‘special floor’ is ‘ending in 2,’ you don’t get a computer panel on F2. You have to wait until F12 to get your first special item, and I got Exoskeleton Armor. Grumble grumble. So when I got Mechanical Legs, it was like “boing.” Straight to near-max, and The Great Dodge-ening commenced.

I didn’t really have any struggles getting to F70, largely due to the 14 rounds of 300-damage bullets you get from having FPR(l) when you stumble upon the Colt 1911 corpse. Those guns got refilled at damn near every ammo station, and took out damn near every ranged enemy in the Maze.

After F70, though, I started having to really work for it, so I decided to take the quick-and-dirty way down, and from F71 to F80, between Night Walker’s Lantern and Future Cat’s little magnifying-glass thingies, I key-hunted 7 of 9 floors. I felt like I had barely squeaked by getting to F80, and I wontonly blew my wad on the F80 boss, hitting him with Timestills and Resentment-Venting Hourglasses and Blades of Ruin like it wasn’t even a thang. And it wasn’t — he dropped like a sack of potatoes.

Then I hit Pause on F81 instead of Quitting. I’m not even sure why I did that. But when I came back to play hours later, I thought to check and see if I had cleared the Boss Reward for the new maze. …nope. …f**K!

So, it became a serious game. No more dinking around. I had to legitimately fight my way from F81 to F90 and kill the F90 boss having blown through all of my ‘easy-pass’ resources getting to F81.

I had been wearing my Artifact armor and the Power Hammer and not really doing any time-consuming piddling with equipment. Now, every floor, I swapped in Future Cat’s full set so I could get those extra 5 rounds of >50% Dodge.  Twice, I ended up burning through Stoneskins so that I could survive the trip cross-floor to reach and deactivate an Attack-enhancing Combat Pod through the crossfire of 2 or 3 ranged units. I also burned through 9 Recoverings and 4 Divine Favors in 9 floors in addition to activating a Medical Package on almost every floor. I also burned through 3 of Future Cat’s Lightning Clouds to help me soften up the baddies.

F89 was the real test: I came in with 390 HP and was facing down 3 Attack-enhanced ranged units that had 190 Attack (even getting a 50% long-range Defense boost from Consul’s Armor). Getting hit twice at all would kill me, and I had a single Recovering left which I was determined to use at the end of the floor so I could go into the F90 Boss at full life. I made the attempt seven times before I realized I had a secret resource I had been ignoring for the entire Maze: Nether Wicks. I mean, I didn’t have any, but I had enough EP to get a single star in FPR(l), which meant enough to take out 2 of those damn Ranged bastards before they shot me. It still took me some good luck successfully dodging a couple attacks beyond what would be statistically likely.

Then on F90, I came in with no Timestills, no Resentment-Venting Hourglasses, just one Blade of Ruin, and no idea how I was going to survive. I popped the BoR on turn 1, smacked him around to the tune of 1.5k per hit, Icicled on turn 3, smacked him around for the rest of the duration of BoR, popped two Aurora Barriers to absorb a single attack(!), and hit Meteor Swarm to reset the Boss’ Physical Resistance. A second Icicle got me through the next two boss attacks, and I popped Bless and punched face until I ran out. Then it was Electrostatic Field into Meteor Swarm to reset Resistance again, face-punching under Electrostatic Field, and dying to the boss’ next attack.

…then I came back thanks to a long-forgotten Holy Rebirth, punched face once more and got him down to 480 HP, and cast my one remaining Holy Rebirth to survive the Boss’ attack. With three rounds left to live and literally no tricks up my sleeve (I thought), I calculated the Boss’ resistances vs. facepunches vs. Blessed facepunches, and realized I would need to dodge one counterattack (which I was likely to do) and get one double-damage hit from Power Hammer (which i was also likely to do). Between both chances, it was really close to 50% that I wouldn’t make it.

So instead of punching his face at all, I cast my one Implosion and walked off with the Boss Prize from a run that started off as a silly one-off test of Chef’s recipe. Damn fine run if I do say so myself. 🙂