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. 🙂

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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.