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Something Something Insidious Killer: Let's play Darkest Dungeon

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Welp, it's been a while.

Anyways:

Spoiler

Reinforcements, again:

And this time they apparently came with an actual TDD mod too!

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On 7/26/2020 at 7:31 PM, ping said:

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Rasputin?
Oh, sorry. I meant, "Rasputin?"

On 11/26/2020 at 8:22 PM, Saint Rubenio said:

Wx4f1h0y o

(Also, Corto Maltese?!)

 

On 7/26/2020 at 7:31 PM, ping said:

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On our way, we find a Troubling Effigy, which gives a hero a random positive quirk when cleansed with Holy Water. Saiga gets a fairly good one out of it, especially given that we're about to face a human boss. Some points docked for it being an offensive quirk on a healer, I guess.

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I'd recommend her as your new Vestal, but i think she'd be way more fitting as a Shieldbreaker Plague Doctor instead.

(Not like it's gonna make much of a difference from the look of things though...)

 

Speaking of:

On 8/22/2020 at 11:34 AM, ping said:

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...a fourth Vestal. A propos of nothing, can you guess how many segments the Darkest Dungeon has?

Talvace (I don't think there's any Vestal names pending) has three absolutely awful quirks, so she'll need three weeks before she can start adventuring, but at least she will have very nice Quick Reflexes (+2 Spd).

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Which, of course, she immediately locks in. She's costing a bit of an initial investment, but she's Lv.2 already with equipment and skills leveled up as well, which more than makes up for that.

Blemishine (for what it's worth)

 

On 8/22/2020 at 11:34 AM, ping said:

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Which, of course, she immediately locks in. She's costing a bit of an initial investment, but she's Lv.2 already with equipment and skills leveled up as well, which more than makes up for that. 

Seems Nearl doesn't approve...

 

On 8/13/2020 at 7:16 PM, ping said:

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On 8/22/2020 at 11:34 AM, ping said:

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...and two sets of Occult Scrawlings. The first one is rather stressful for Stechkin to read (not too bad though, just +21), the second one doesn't have any effect. Guess that means that it's not as bad anymore if you read a horrible fanfic for a second time? I would test the theory, but I really don't want to read My Immortal even once.

(Thinking about it, Istina might have been a good name for the new Vestal too, but eh...)

 

On 8/22/2020 at 11:34 AM, ping said:

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She doesn't lock it in right away, though, since the spot in the Treatment Ward is blocked by another new recruit: Gavial the Plague Doctor (name courtesy of Golb89, as is Vigna the Shieldbreaker), who immediately locks in her unconditional +5 Accuracy quirk.

Her color palette matches too!

 

On 8/22/2020 at 11:34 AM, ping said:

(also, bulimia is not a laughing matter!)

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Finally, the Military 12000 pounds cannon(s):

(You are really supposed to fight it from top to bottom instead)

 

And with this i FINALLY catched up with the LP: now you can bring out that next update which was supposed to come "eventually".

Over 2 months ago.

 

Not like that's a record or anything, right Rapphlesia?

Edited by Golb89

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[Addendums]

Spoiler
On 8/22/2020 at 11:34 AM, ping said:

I wouldn't be surprised if the Flesh's body horror with its mouths in all the wrong places is meant to look like a failed attempt at creating something similar to the enemies in the Darkest Dungeon, the Priests in particular. Given that the Ancestor has been at fault for literally everything bad we've encountered thus far, it's not too big a leap to assume that he also opened the gates to the Cthulu dimensions...

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Also, since the swine skewers have been giving you so much troubles, here is yet another reinforcement for you:

(Except i don't even have her myself yet, but then again it's not like she'd find much use in a dead LP anyway...)

 

[Bonus]

Spoiler

 

 

Edited by Golb89

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Hi

  • Update 30 - Snake? Snake?! SNAAAAAAAAAKE!!
Spoiler

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There's no regular boss that we can go for right now - all four basic dungeons need a bit of 'sploring before the next one will appear.

For now, we pay a visit to the Weald, going for a really nice Ancestral trinket - I've been using the melee version of it in almost every run I've done since getting it.

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As a bit of a high-risk-high-reward move, we bring Warfarin, despite him not having reached Lv.5 and, by extension, the highest-grade skills and equipment (Lv.6 only increases resistances a bit, it's not as big a deal to be honest). He also carries the Ancestor's Portrait, which increases the XP he'll get from this quest by 50%; as long as we succeed, of course.

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Corruption has soaked the soil, sapping all good life from these groves - let us burn down this evil.

Come to think of it, I'm not entirely sure if this was a good choice or just a waste of a trinket slot. Going on a mission with a hero that already went to the Darkest Dungeon (which in this party both Pramanix and Specter did) already increases XP by 50% and I don't know if this stacks with the Portrait. It doesn't for two Darkest Dungeon veterans to be present. I'll check the XP gain once we finish the mission.

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Pramanix gets hit by a fair bit of stress very early in the dungeon - annoying for sure, since she's likely to trigger the penultimate nightmare in one of the two night camps of this long mission.

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At least I have Honeybadger as a stress healer with me. The Houndmaster isn't as good as the Jester, of course, but [Cry Havoc] gives every adventurer on the team a 74% to recover 6 stress. This skill is very unimpressive at lower levels (66% / -2 Stress at base), which I never used it before, but now, it's honestly quite good...

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...if RNG-dependent. Of fucking course it affects everyone BUT Pramanix the first time I use it.

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Thank you, RNGeesus, you're a real pal.

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Pramanix even reaches 84 stress soon after, but at least we find a Pristine Fountain, which recovers 20 points of it (would've been -30 if I had brought any Holy Water, but alas)

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Naturally, the run wouldn't be complete with the next Crimson Cursed Hero. Or without that Sycophant getting a Crit on Honeybadger, because we can't be having with reasonable stress levels.

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That entire mob was honestly more annoying than you'd think - those Sycophants have 31 Dodge, so this picture is quite representive of the entire fight.

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RNGeesus Giveth, RNGeesus Taketh Away. Here, after fighting off another group of Bloodsuckers guarding the Fountain, he Giveth.

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We still set up camp afterwards - it's quite likely that Pramanix will end up more stressed out rather than less, so I don't want to push her stress levels beforehand. Keep in mind that enemy stress nukers will prioritize already stressed out heroes.

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And indeed, dem sneks are coming.

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We get stress levels close to zero between spending 8 rations of food and camp skills. Lighter on the combat bonuses (in fact, nothing besides a -20% stress reduction on Pramanix), but at least in good condition.

Pramanix: "N-no! It begins again!"

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Horrifying memory, brought back into the spotlight by a tortured mind.

...have we been here before? Nah, can't be. I NEVER lose, so this MUST be the first time we run into this group.

The fight starts with the small Rattler in the middle guard the big Adder in the back...

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...and naturally, the Pliskin in the front gets a crit right away (which, to be fair, is more likely when it attacks while stealthed).

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Specter heals Warfarin and the other three deal some damage. Pramanix and Warfarin hit the Rattler - kinda the only choice, since the Pliskin is stealthed and the Adder guarded. Honeybadger uses his AoE bleed attack instead, which deals a bit more damage in total at the cost of dealing less damage on a single target.

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The snakes also deal a lot of damage: Honeybadger is getting pretty low pretty quickly, and Warfarin takes 8 Dmg per turn while being at 8 HP. Not great.

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Luckily, the Adder targets Specter, spreading the damage out...

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...and Pramanix casually one-shots the Pliskin. (Well, it took some damage from Honeybadger's attack, but 28 Dmg would've one-shot from full health)

Pramanix: "And you thought yourself impervious!"

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Specter uses her AoE heal, which means that Warfarin heals enough to avoid getting to Death's Door, but also not too much to allow him to use [Exsanguinate], his emergency attack, which also heals him for 15 HP.

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With that, the fight is practically won - only one enemy, which doesn't have multiple attacks per round, so Specter should always be able to heal anyone away from Death's Door in a pinch. The Adder is being a bit annoying here, bringing Honeybadger down to 10 HP and stunning him with [Paralyzing Quills]...

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...and prolonging the fight by healing itself with [Molt]...

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...but it eventually goes down. Blight damage brought Warfarin's HP down to a point where he was able to use [Exsanguinate] again...

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...although it only heals for 8 HP this time - its downside is reduced healing and healing received, both by 25%, so the effect is halved in total

The most annoying part of the Adder staying aliver this long: Look at Pramanix' stress level. She takes stress every turn during her nightmares and I didn't have that many stress reductions active for her.

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This penultimate nightmare yields the Shieldbreaker's first Crimson Court trinket. As with all of her class-specific trinkets, this is the only place to get those - they can't drop in the Courtyard.

The Obsidian Dagger is honestly not that impressive on its own. Higher Blight chance is nice, but the Shieldbreaker is primarily a direct damage dealer. We're being teased with the set bonuses though: Once we get her other CC trinket, the additional HP, Prot, and guard-piercing ability WILL make this worth equipping.

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And, of course, we also get the next part of the Shieldbreaker's backstory. It's also the first one following up what we've seen in her comic, although it wasn't too hard to guess given the last two panels and the fact that her dungeon model lacks her left hand (inconsistency! REEEEEEEEEEEE). Still, oof...

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We run into a group of bloodsuckers right after leaving camp - not really worth mentioning, except that it includes a Gatekeeper, which means that we get another invitation for the Viscount's dungeon.

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Oh, and Specter is a vampire now, too, which makes the un-cursed Pramanix the odd one out.

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Otherwise, the expedition progresses relatively well. We do run into a Hateful Virago, the Champion-level mission only enemy of the Weald, though. It isn't as immediately dangerous as the Swine Skewer from the Warrens, but still quite annoying: a high HP, high dodge enemy that you still want to focus on, because it'll turn corpses into heal-blockers otherwise.

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It helps a little though that enemies dying to a DoT effect don't leave a corpse - Honeybadger and Warfarin have been hitting the Hag in 3rd rank alongside the Virago, and she's a lot less tanky than it.

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Still, Pramanix in particular is quite bruised at the end of the fight. That Ruinous Hex that the Virago used earlier puts a mark on its targets, and the Fungal Crawlers in the front can make use of that.

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So we set up our second camp right after the remaining Crawler goes down to its Bleed and Blight. It's not like Pramanix minds the stress reduction, either, and I don't think (not sure though) that you can get multiple nightmares in one expedition.

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Soon after, we run into another Hateful Virago. How nice, especially with a Giant present as well.

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Which didn't even attack in this first round because Specter landed a Stun right away.

Specter: "You are DAMNED!"

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Instead, the Fungal Clawer lands a crit on Warfarin, who immediately retaliates with one of his own. This is his low-HP Exsanguinate ability, which also heals him for 15 HP. Which means that he's safe, right?

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HAHA NOPE

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NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE

Perched at the very precipice of oblivion...

I don't think we've seen this in action (it's been a while though...), but this is one of the Flagellant's "Danger Mode" abilities: When he reaches 0 HP for the first time in a fight, he'll heal all other heroes for 10% of their max HP. He also recieves some bonuses, but unfortunately, those do not include bonus DODGE...

And of course, Warfarin is at zero HP with an active Blight - it's lucky that he was at 1 HP before his turn, so he doesn't have to roll against death.

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To be safe even if the Giant outspeeds Specter, Warfarin hits the Exsanguinate button again, this time against the Giant, since the Clawer is effectively dead and the Virago is out of reach. Unfortunately, this stacks the Healing debuffs, so now even a heal from Specter will only be 50% effective.

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The Giant does indeed go before Specter, and would've caused a Death's Door roll without the Exsanguinate. I'm relatively lucky with the shuffle from its Confusion Spores, since Warfarin is still in the front and Spectre in the back.

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Pictured: Prove that Exsanguinate's Healing debuffs are applied additively, so Warfarin's low-HP skills actually don't heal himself at all at this point. It's still the correct call, though, since Clawer and Virago are dead and Pramanix should outspeed and kill the Gia--

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--nevermind. A dodge works, too, though. Good job, Pramanix.

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And good job not dying, Warfarin.

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We then run into four Bulbous Maggots in a hallway. Easy fight, and Warfarin uses the opportunity to heal himself - the debuffs from last fight have expired by now.

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Next room battle pits us against a group of bloodsuckers, with the Chevalier in the back being the main danger.

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SEE?!!

Ringing ears, blurred vision - the end approaches...

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This time, the attack itself does bring Warfarin to 0 HP, so the bleed tick does cause a Death Door roll, luckily successful. For Warfarin, not Death.

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And luckily, once Warfarin Exsanguinates himself away from Death's Door, the fight goes relatively smoothly. Houndmaster and Flagellant are two classes that deal with bloodsuckers very well, and Shieldbreaker is just a very good class in general.

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And that was the last room battle. Mission clear! We also scout a last-second secret room - unfortunately, I already used or threw away my last keys, so we only get some money instead of the valuable artifact you'd unlock with a key.

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Still a nice haul, with 37k gold and the very nifty Ancestral trinket. And we got through our Shieldbreakers' penultimated nightmare, so we'll be able to rest more easily with a SB on the team soon.

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New quirks are mixed - Photomania is genuinely awesome, Natural Eye is useless (all of Warfarin's attacks count as melee), Perfectionist is something I think I can live with. Hot to Trot is actually a very strong quirk to lose - +25% Damage, +20 ACC, +5 Crit on the first turn. I wonder why Past!ping never locked that in.

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...I guess I wondered about that last year, too. Pramanix gets rid of her Tapeworm (double food consumption isn't the most terrible effect, but it's something you'd have to remember when buying supplies and I know just how reliable my brain can be), Talvace loses Fading (-2 Spd, -5 DODGE - pretty bad).

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For the next mission, we return to the Courtyard, looking for the Viscount.

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I believe this is our second venture into this part of the dungeon - we ended the previous attempt right before a room battle.

As a reminder - it's been a while, after all: the Courtyard missions take place on huge-ass, pregenerated maps that take several trips to explore.

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The reason why we bailed at this spot: A certain (optional, in this case) miniboss awaits us, which the internet-using cheater typing this somehow foresaw. The Crocodilian is honestly pretty nasty, so going into this with full HP and low stress seemed (and still seems) like a good idea.

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The team for this expedition: Specter the Vestal and Sora the Jester are here to heal and buff; Dismas the Highwayman and Fang the Shieldbreaker deal damage. Those two classes have good reach, which is important against Croc, who likes to move between all four positions.

Here, Dismas uses [Dualist's Advance], which allows him to counterattack against Croc's many AoE attacks.

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Unfortunately, this also puts him into the 1st rank, from where he cannot use his long-reaching attacks. Instead, he whacks at the reeds, which would do literally nothing even if he hit.

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The plan was for Fang to push him back using her [Pierce] attack, but the turnorder didn't quite work out.

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But Dismas immediately gets a counter in, which mostly makes up for the lost turn before.

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Aaand another one, this time even with a 17-Dmg crit. The Crocodilian's [Swarming Corruption] does do a number on our team, too.10iv3w5.jpg

The battle continues on - you can see that the Croc deals more damage than Specter can realistically heal. Unfortunately, Croc also has some shuffling capabilities, and Specter can't use any of her equipped skills from rank 1.

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Ooo, nice rolls! Croc fully whiffs, Dismas dis not.

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And neither does Fang! She wears the Spectral Speartip (her trinket from the Farmstead DLC, +15% Dmg) and the Mercurian Salve (+25% Dmg vs. Bloodsuckers, which Croc counts as) trinket and she is in the Bloodlust state of the Crimson Curse (+25% Dmg), so her raw damage is pretty stellar in this fight.

Fang: "NOTHING COMPARES! BLOOD ABOVE ALL!"

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A couple more crits from Dismas and Fang, and we're looking good, right?

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HAHA NOPE

...Also, I'm confused. [Apex Predator] is a single-target move that has a 35% chance to hit a second target, according to both the wiki and my experience. Does this mean that all three non-targeted heroes have a 35% chance to take damage from this attack? There is no other Croc Attack with three targets, so I can't be confusing anything here...

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At least nobody went to Death's Door from this, but Sora is cutting it awfully close.

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And so is Specter after Croc gets a last [Teeth Rake] in: 2 HP and a bleed.

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Phew! This is right after the last screenshot, so no Death's Door for Specter.

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Croc always drops a Crimson Court-specific trinket, which is why I chose to do this fight. This one isn't that amazing, to be honest, but since you only get one of each CC trinket, it's nice just to have this off the list.

The chest in the only has some minor treasure, including some low-tier trinkets that I'm very unlikely to ever use.

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After this tough fight, things brighten quite a lot. Everybody heals a couple HP from food, Specter bandages her bleed, and at the end of the next fight, the HP pools are looking quite a lot less worrying already.

Unfortunately, Dismas caught the curse during this, so Blood consumption will be a bit higher until I reach and beat the Viscount (...which won't be this expedition, since I'll want to be rested and ready to face him).

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The chest in this room has a key item in it: A key. Which is key to advance through the dungeon. The description is just fluff and doesn't unlock any hidden secrets.

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The following fights don't cause too much trouble, and Sora and Specter manage to improve HP and stress levels even further.

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That's the power of Vestal+Jester (Vester? Jestal?) - it gives the group a LOT of sustain. I'm skipping a bunch of fights here, since there wasn't any drama to show.

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*still skipping...* Ah, this is interesting, in case I haven't shown it yet: In the later Courtyard missions, you can find Firewood, which you usually take into medium/long mission from the start, but not into the Courtyard. Very useful, both to make more out of a single expedition and to maybe get some camp buffs for a boss battle.

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We later find a secret room, which in the Courtyard contains a high-level recruit instead of the treasure it usually does. I do believe we've run into one previously...

Anyway, the prisoner town-portals out of here for now. We'll see him once we return to the estate.

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Eventually, I don't leave because (*chuckle*) I'm in danger, but because I'm running out of supplies and into a barricade that would require a shovel to clear without taking HP and stress damage. Our backpacks are (almost) full with loot, so we still walk away with 17k gold, 48 Crests, and that semi-useful Flagellant trinket. Not bad at all!

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We're getting close to the Viscount, too - I'll leave the remaining area hidden, but you can probably guess that it's not a terribly long path to the boss anymore. Quite the hike we've managed today...

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In terms of Quirks, Specter's Lazy Eye is probably the most impactful one, although Cove Adventurer is very nice when it applies. Dismas losing Natural (bonuses when not wearing trinkets) doesn't matter at this point, since good trinket outclass the quirk, so it's fine that Dismas replaces it with another not-too-impactful quirk.

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Oh look! The Occultist we rescue just so happens to be Wrys... or Rhys? Riss? Hrysz?

Nervous and Slowdraw are two awful negative quirks, so Rhys will have to spend some time in the Sanitarium first, but that investment is far smaller than his maxed out skills and equipment will save.

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For now, though, Specter immediately gets rid of her Lazy Eye. Saria loses Anemic since she's also feeling a little bloodthirsty lately, so there is no risk of getting any more vampires this way.

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The final expedition of the day will lead us into the Warrens. The Signet Ring is pretty good on brawler characters, since those appreciate both ACC and PROT, and they tend to have less stress issue than the backrow.

And no, Vigna, I don't think you'd fare too well in a long champion mission... Instead, we go for team with some light Mark abilities - Lucy and Cliffheart can set it up, Cliffheart and Fang can make use of it. It's also fishing for a nightmare, hopefully closing that part of the game for good.

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There isn't too much happening at first - no new enemy formations, no characters at Death's Door or any of that nasty stuff. Stress goes up slowly (as it does when you don't bring a Jester), HP stays high (as it does when you bring both a Vestal and a secondary healer).

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Nearl is rather unlucky, though, and catches two nasty diseases from that Ghoul and this pukey pig. The Worries increases stress taken by 30%, which isn't too nice in a long, Jester-free dungeon, either, but -20% HP is really dangerous.

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More importantly, though: Nightmare time!

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The last group of snakes is... honestly less powerful than the previous one. The Nightmarish Adder is fairly chonky with 88 HP and 20% PROT, but it doesn't have the same offensive power as the smaller sneks, especially considering that it occupies two enemy ranks.

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The first Adder doesn't last too long either - Lucy sets a mark...

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...Fang and Cliffheart hack and slash away.

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The second one manages to stay alive for longer...

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...enough for Fang's stress to reach 100.

(another reminder: During a Nightmare, the Shieldbreaker suffers from a 20-point Horror effect. I have to admit that I could and should have looked for a camp skill or two to reduce her stress taken)

There can be no hope in this hell, no hope at all.

Fang: "My steps stumble, my tongue trips, victory is theirs for certain."

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And then Fang immediately get the kill - it really was the Adder's healing ability that caused Fang's affliction.

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...
Not an entirely happy end, is it? Poor Shieldbreaker.

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With that, we also found the last remaining Shieldbreaker trinket, which pairs with the Obsidian Dagger (+40% Debuff and Blight chance) from earlier to unlock those greyed-out bonuses. It's overall not a bad set, although you'd hope for some ACC and Dmg boosts for the SB's good direct damage skills. Looking at her skill list, she does have some neat debuffs that I probably don't use enough.

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Continuing on our mission, the first enemy we run into is our old friend, the Collector.

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...who goes down like a chump without getting a single action. Stun on the first turn, then two full rounds of mark-boosted damage by Fang and Cliffheart does that to an eldrich horror.

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Second fight jumped right out of a nightmare. ...Get it? Huh? Huh?

Now that the nightmare mechanics have been laid to rest, the snakes get demoted to a regular (if rare) encounter.

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The fight is mostly just exchanging blows without any of my heroes going down too far with their HP.

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Fang's Hopelessness luckily doesn't act up in too dramatic ways - here, she refuses to be healed by Nearl's group heal, but she accepts a 30-point critcical heal the turn after.

Fang: "Not yet, I don't want to feel alive."

Yeahhh, 2021 isn't that much better than 2020, is it?

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The fight does go on for a while, which also means that the Snakes' Blights add up quite a bit. I think I'm out of Antivenoms at this point, Fang is taking a fair bit of damage here.

(not 3x12, though - the UI doesn't show that the Blights wear off staggered) (staggeredly? That sounds silly though)

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...again? There was one fight against regular Warrens enemies between the last snake encounter and this one, but these fights are supposed to be quite rare, as far as I know. At least it's only three snakes this time.

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Buuuut it's still enough to bring Fang to Death's Door, before I even had a chance to do anything. Thank you RNG, much appreciated...

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This is doubly dangerous because Fang's affliction can make her refuse healing at any point, but luckily, both Nearl and Lucy manage to heal her for a total of 28 HP.

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Lucy gets a taste of those nasty crits before the fight ends, but nobody gets put at Death's Door.

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Still, HP levels are quite low (this screenshot is after everybody healed 25% of their max HP), so time to camp it is.

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Quite effective camping, too. It would've been nice to get Fang to zero stress - as far as I know, that would heal hear affliction during the dungeon. But I never managed to do that - without a Jester, it seems tough to heal that much stress, and with a Jester, you rarely reach 100 stress.

Lucy: "I am now glad I attended a liberal arts university."

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Oh hey, a Gatekeeper! I don't think I'll need another invitation, since they won't carry over to the next Courtyard mission, but I guess it's nice to have one in case something goes wrong on our next venture there.

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Step one: Focus the Gatekeeper. They're quite dodgy (42 DODGE), so Fang getting an immediate kill is very nice.

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Step two: Eat a lot of damage. And get stunned. Those Chevaliers don't mess around...

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Step three: More damage. Again on Nearl. Get worried. At least Nearl resists the Bleed, but 7 HP is not a lot.

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Step four: Panic.

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See? Nearl gets that she is in deep trouble: At deaths door AND stunned.

Nearl: "Verse XXV: trust not armed men, for they seek to wound."

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Step five: Curse the Occultist and his wildly inconsistent healing which can also occasionally cause a bleed. Which it does. Of course.

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Step six: Back to Death's Door.

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Step seven: Through the door. Fuck.

And in case you forgot (it HAS been a long time) - what class did I say there can't be too many of? Yeppp...

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I finish the fight, with the remaining heroes battered and bruised and certainly not in a spot to risk another battle, so out of the dungeon they go...

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Lesson #1: Chevaliers are the fucking worst.

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Fang does get a nice quirk here, so... yay? And it seems that she did get to zero stress at one point through either a kill or a crit, since her affliction is gone. Bad screenshot-making, past ping.

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Back in town, we have the option to pay 30 crystal shards (the stuff that we collect in the Farmstead's endless battle) to reduce everybody's stress by 50. Not a good deal, since I already have the Puppet Theatre, which means that idle heroes already regenerate 15 stress per week. Skip.

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The usual trip to the Sanitarium - I'm not super rich, ~20k gold right now, so I don't lock in any positive quirks, but Talvace (Ruminator | -10% Stress healing received) and Rhys (Nervous | +10% Stess) get rid of some negative ones. Cliffheart suffers from both the Ague and Lethargy, so I hope for the chance that he recovers from both in only one session.


And that's it for this week's (ahem) episode of Darkest Dungeon!
Jokes aside - this covers the footage from over a year ago. I'll try and do the same for the Project Ember LP to fully clear the backlog and then we'll see which game will entice me more. We'll eventually get through this! For now, thanks for reading!

 

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  • Update 31 - Back From The Dead
Spoiler

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Umm.... I believe we haven't had "Provence" yet. Interesting nation in Europa Universalis, although I don't really remember every detail from my own campaign as them. They're split into three at the start of the game (the area of Provence, some lands in Lorraine, and Anjou right next to Bretagne) and allied to big stronk France who is obviously separating those areas from one another. It's quite likely that France will call you into a advantageous war against the English, which will allow you to draw France into offensive wars of your own quite quickly by calling in favours gained in that war. Of course, a French ally also severely limits your routes of expansion (and you might need to be careful not to take too much land that France also wants), but since you share your ruling dynasty (d'Anjou) with France, you're very likely to be able to enforce a personal union over them once you can rival their military might.

(You might notice that I'm distracting the reader from the fact that I didn't rename Roger into Provence yet, but I'll do so before the next update)

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Aaaanyway, the main reason I recruited an Arbalest here is that I'd like to do an easy mission to get back into the groove and I don't have enough Lv.0-2 heroes otherwise. I could recall Talvace from the Sanitarium, but that would waste our precious money.

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Seeing an Arbalest in 2nd position should tell you that this is not a particularly good expedition set-up. Both Provence and Silence the Plage Doctor really, really, really want to be in 3rd or 4th, or they can't use most of their abilities.

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At the same time, Skadi's preferred play is to jump between 2nd and 4th position using [Lunge] and Shadow Fade. Instead, she can only open with Lunge and then use some less impressive skills from her arsenal: Throwing Dagger, a fairly weak attack that can target the backrow, or Pick to the Face against the front row.

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It helps that Skadi is so much faster than Provence that she goes first no matter the initiative roll. It does not help that an Arbalest with no +Dmg trinkets, no Mark support, and at base level doesn't deal a whole lot of damage.

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The reason I went for an Arbalest for this expedition is that she and Silence are tasked with healing - also not that great from a Lv.0 Arbalest, but it's overall enough to keep HP up reasonably well.

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A devestating blow!

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Obliterated!

Offensively, Grave Robber + Plague Doc + Shieldbreaker isn't too bad, though. Skadi has a fast and savage first punch, Silence can stun or inflict Blight, and Vigna has good, consistent damage.

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Skadi: "Just one piece at a time, sweet-thing!"

The mission goes quite well as a result - no deaths or near-deaths, no ungodly amounts of stress. Here, we see Skadi secure another invitation to the Courtyard, where the Viscount is still waiting for his reckoning. We're up to four invitations with this, although I sincerely hope that we won't need all of them.

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We also run into a secret room - near the entrance and scouted quite early, but I take a big loopy-loop around the dungeon and only visit it as the very last room because its treasure (always, I believe) takes up three inventory slots. You can see that we've picked up quite a lot of gold even before this.

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Not quit as many heirlooms, but still an overall good haul for an apprentice mission done without an Antiquarian.

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Provence's (see how cleverly I hid her name?) Ascetic quirk is probably the most impactful quirk we pick up, although Balanced on two position-sensitive heroes actually isn't half bad.

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But for Provence, Ascetic does suck, since the Arbalest generally works quite well with the Occultist's marking and debuffing capabilities. On top of that, Roger already came with the even worse Infirm quirk (-20% from all sources), so she'll need to trips to the Sanitorium.

Which I'm still willing to do - I would've kicked her if Infirm had been locked in, because I don't think the expense to remove that wouldn't have been worth it. But she also has the Natural Eye quirk (+5 ACC for ranged attacks), which is obviously great on a purely ranged attacker.

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I then spend around 10 minutes planning and setting up a trip to the Weald to pick up the incredibly awesome Demon's Cauldron for our Occultists. With an Arbalest on the team again, but this time with full Mark set-up, as well as maxed out weapons and armour.

And, completely unironically, with a frontline Occultist, which is actually a lot less daft that it sounds.

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And then I realise that I've had one of them Cauldrons this entire time. Whoops.

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CHANGE OF PLANS LETS GO TO THE FARMSTEAD

Probably not a bad idea in general, because heroes don't die in the Endless Harvest - they just go awol for a few weeks if they are "killed". Good opportunity to do some more low-risk practice.

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The team I've picked is considered pretty standard for this mission, as far as I know. The offensive core are two Shieldbreakers at the front, using their dancing moves to push each other into the right position.

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Er, I evidently suck at making screenshots, but the Ancestor's Pen gives +10% damage and +8% crit for melee attacks, at the cost of +10% increased stress. Which you should take as evidence that I also suck at this game, as I just now realize. SpEaR mEaNs MeLeE, rIgHt???????

Disappointing showing from past ping, but let me still point out the general idea - similar to Skadi outspeeding Provonce by a lot, this trinket/quirk/crimson curse combination guarantees that Fang will go before Pramanix (unless something messes with only one of their SPD stats), making their dance set-up very consistent.

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The default attack for this is the [Impale] skill, which is, you guessed it, a ranged skill and thus not boosted by the Ancestor's Pen whatsoever.

It's an AoE attack that hits for -60% damage and has a good chance to inflict a 2-point Blight on top of that. However, it can only be used from 1st rank and will move the Shieldbreaker using it one rank back.

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Which has the side effect of pushing the *other* Shieldbreaker to the 1st rank, allowing her to also use [Impale], which will then push the first Shieldbreaker to the front, allowing her-- you get the idea.

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Meanwhile, the two fighters in the back are 95% support. Courey the Jester mostly spams [Battle Ballad] to increase everybody's ACC, CRIT, and Speed (by constant amounts, so it keeps Pramanix's and Fang's Speed stats apart)...

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...while Vestal... heals... hey, wait a minute...

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WHILE VESTAL HEALS. Ahem. Or, when there's nothing to heal, she'll try to stun something or add a little damage. She isn't the best at either of those, but it's better than to heal the group for a total of 1 HP.

(that whack was the result of her Crimson Curse, since she suspected that Courey might have been hiding some of The Blood)

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To go through their other moves: Pramanix and Fang also have [Adder's Kiss] active as an awesome single-target attack: Full damage plus a 5-point Blight is more than most classes can boast. They also use Pierce (can reach every position and ignores damage reduction, but moves them forward and disrupts the dance as a result) and Captivate (weaker than Adder's Kiss, but they stay in place, which can help if the dance has been messed up) if the situation calls for it.

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This team comp isn't perfect and I'm sure we'll have an opportunity to talk about its flaws, but it goes through the generic Farmstead enemies without any issues.

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Stress isn't much of an issue between high crit rates and the occasional direct stress heal from Courcy, and Specter easily keeps up with the healing, too.

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The third wave takes us into Splendorous! light - quite good, since it makes the Jester's stress heal 20% more effective and doesn't give the monsters any bonuses, but a -10% DoT resists instead.

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Enemy comps are taken from the Warrens in this segment, starting with three of these worms and one Swine Thunderer, which is the tier 3 version of the Drummer.

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It's a pretty short and ultimately unimpactful group, though. None of the Veteran- or Champion-exclusive monsters and only eight of them in total. At the end, we get a first helping of crystals as reward...

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...while Mildred in the background explodes into some vendor-trash tier trinket.

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Next, back to the standard Farmstead enemies, and the disadvantageous Miasma they come with.

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Again, not a lot happening during this wave. The next "break room" has a nice curio allowing us to set up camp.

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HP and stress levels don't make this necessary, but it means that we can apply a handful of long-lasting boost boosts, since one full wave counts as one battle. Fang and Pramanix also get a nice bonus (+1 SPD, +10% DMG, +10% PROT) for two waves/battles on top, as reward for clearing all the Shieldbreaker nightmares. All it costs is two rations of food, to avoid HP/stress damage from going to sleep hungry.

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Next wave, again in Splendourous! light. These maggots don't narrow down where enemies come from this time, but they quickly go down and make room...

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...for a group of spooky bois. This time with the Champion-exclusive Bone Bearer in the back. For those who don't remember every little detail of a screenshot LP that went on a year-long break: These fuckers boost every other enemy's damage by 25% just by being on the field...

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...use [Wicked Surge] to add another +10 ACC, +20% DMG boost on top of that, and if there are any corpses (well, piles of bones) on the field at the end of the turn, it'll revive them with full HP.

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My genius-level strategy and impeccable execution of clicking "Impale" twice a turn makes quick work of the entire group before anything could get out of control, though.

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Reality regained!

That was the end of that wave, too, and after another break room (with a mostly useless HP healing curio), we meet the good old Miller again.

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But we come prepared - look at tha ACC and CRIT numbers in the bottom. Battle Ballads carrying over multiple waves makes that ability very, very strong.

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So... what was the Millers deal again?

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Right, he likes to summon basic Farmstead monsters, and if he rolls a Farmhand, he freezes them with his [Winter's Breath] and forces them to guard him from your attacks.

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I go with [Impale] to circumvent that - Shieldbreakers have a skill to break guard, but I don't have it equipped on either of them. Maybe focussing down the Farmhand with Adder's Kiss would've been more efficient? Not sure, even in hindsight.

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Oof, I 'member this. His most dangerous attack, [The Reaping], generally doesn't do quite as much damage to your backline, but this crit brings Courcy below half health immediately.

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Aaand a second Reaping within the same turn... At least, no crit also means that Courcy isn't quite at Death's Door.

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Two more Impales finish the Farmhand, and this time, [The Master Beckons] for a Sleeper's Herald...

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...a relatively weak monster with permanently active Riposte. But it means no guarding this time, which is nice.

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And a Scarecrow after that. That makes one turn / two actions without any Reaping, but it does move the Miller out of Adder's Kiss's range.

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Because of this, the Miller has time to Reap twice again the next turn - no crits this time, but he's still outdamaging Specter's healing by quite a lot.

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Nothing lives for long on these barren fields...

But after that, two more [Pierce] attacks by our Shieldbreakers end the fight, since the summoned monsters despawn once the Miller is gone.

Pramanix: "As predictable as the sunrise!"

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Next round of rewards! This time, with a more valuable trinket on top. Unconditional +4 SPD with no downside is quite good, and it even pairs well with the +20% Debuff chance, since it might allow the Antiquarian to apply those debuffs before the target's turn.

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The Corrupted Harvest curio acts as a group stress heal, which means that we enter the next wave with questionable HP, but literally zero stress across the group.

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Next wave, we face Weald enemies in Gleaming! light, which is dangerous: Specter heals more and Courcy has a higher chance to apply a Bleed when he attacks once in a while - but the enemies get the same +15% Bleed chance and a rather nasty +5% crit rate.

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Continuing the [Impale] spam here is actually way too stubborn. Fungal enemies have high PROT (= damage reduction) and resistance to the Blight effect, so Pierce would've been a much better skill to spam here.

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The enemy has a very straightforward synergy set up: The "Artillery" in the back sets up a mark...

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...which allows the Clawers to use their stronger [Rend the Marked] attack. But Pramanix is still sitting on 30% PROT herself, so she doesn't take a dangerous amount of damage despite that.

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Next group of enemies, again with high PROT - does the player learn?

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He does! *clapclapclap*

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I focus on the Ghoul first because I remember that the Gargoyles aren't terribly dangerous by themselves, as this double crit shows: 7 HP is what Specter restores with a single party heal.

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Next segment, back to Farmstead enemies we go. By far the easiest part of these expeditions. Skip.

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And next, to the cove we go. The Pelagic Piranhas in the middle can deal a fair bit of damage if you let them...

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...but, well... Impale spam, pretty good.

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This can go horribly wrong - and has previously, I believe. The Bloated Thrall in front will explode with his second action, so I was hoping for a Stun to delay that by a turn. That way, he surely would've gone down to Imale spam in time.

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Instead, an [Adder's Kiss] does the job just fine, with the added bonus of upkeeping the Shieldbreaker dance.

Still, this somewhat showcases one weakness of this team comp - Vestal is the only one with a Stun, and she isn't as reliable with it as for example Plage Doc or Occultist. It also means that you can't really slow down a fight to have more time to use healing skills: both because it's not entirely guaranteed to work, and because Specter can't stun and heal at the same time.

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The Squiffy Ghast in the background luckily doesn't get anything done this fight, either. Probably distracted by some new Bloodlines idea or something, I dunno.

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That, and Specter does manage to stun him with her second turn. That helps.

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I guess Ghast was sort of the miniboss of this area, because we reach another break room, get the option to camp and reapply some bonuses...

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...before we're thrown into battle against the next boss.

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I don't entirely remember what the Fracture does, but since it summons some small allies with not too many HP...

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...Plan A seems like a good plan, once Fang stops giving in to the Crimson Curse.

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Or does it?

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Yeah, it actually doesn't work that well, since two Impales don't quite kill those Focal Points. The Fracture then "grows" them, which also restores their HP. I don't remember what happens exactly if they reach their maximum size, but it's probably not good for me.

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So Plan B/C it is! [Pierce] counts as C, since it deals a bit less damage than Adder's Kiss, but that one doesn't reach rank 3.

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Oh, guess we'll find out what those thingies do. Courcy tried to kill it first (and messed up positioning in the process), but didn't roll high enough.

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That's not actually too bad--

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Ah. OK, that's quite a lot of damage in total. I still have five Antivenoms to cure the Blight at least on Specter and Courcy, who don't have as much health as the Shieldbreakers.

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OK, I'm worried that another crystal blows up in our face, but we should be able to end this qui--

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Umm

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Oh right, two-phase boss. I don't entirely remember The Sleeper's gimmicks, but I can see that both the skills it used in our first encounter deal stress.

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For now, I need to fix our positioning and get Courcy back to rank 3. Pramanix and Fang need to go for [Captivate] and Pierce for that effect, to push Courcy, but not each other, back.

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That's not the greatest start to the fight - at least everybody resists the Blight this [The Sleeper Stirs] carries...

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OW OW OW

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But at the same time, alternating [Adder's Fang]s also put out a lot of hurt, already accumulating 20 points of Blight on the Sleeper.

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It still gets another turn in, luckily going for its Stir, which deals less direct damage and leaves Specter away from Death's Door.

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But after that, it's a dead boss... floating?

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Boom!

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Our reward is a valuable trinket that I never really use (maybe I should go for a torchless expedition some time) and a Memory - these can only be found in the Sleeper fight and are used to rebuild the Mill. It's a very good district (it disables hunger checks, which means that you can use all your food for camping and to heal a little HP), but you need 10 Memories, which means ten expeditions into the Endless Harvest, to build it.

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The curio in the background gives a strong party heal, which this time is actually very appreciated.

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Stress levels are still kinda high, but I'm ready for a round of Blazing! fights. That light effect gives us +20% damage vs. marked enemies (useless for this team) and +20% debuff chance (also not something this team leans on), while giving the enemies +3 SPD and +10% PROT. Battle Ballad renders the Spd bonus completely inconsequential, so it's honestly a fairly neutral environment.

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After four Spiders as our first enemies, we run into a Hateful Virago, the Champion-tier Weald enemy. It does have some nasty tricks up its sleeves, but, well... Shieldbreakers, pretty good in the lategame.

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No Specter, ham comes from pigs.

After the Weald segment and another wave of Farmstead enemies, we run into what I believe are the bandits that you run into during the Vvulf mission - the bandit leader that tried to rob our hamlet, if you recall.

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They're not entirely harmless and can deal a fair bit of HP damage...

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...not enough to get anyone close to dying, but enough to leave the HP pools not entirely filled. Unfortunately, there's no curio at all in this break room...

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...which is just excellent timing. Hello Mr Optional Super Boss, Dr. Ethereal Shambler, Sir.

(I never captured it during this expedition, but the stress our team is suffering here comes from the light changing to Blazing!. A constant tax on your stress healing, if you will)

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So this is a nasty fight coming up, for sure. I can't remember if we fought the Shambler more than once this run - normally, it only appears if you torch one of his altars, or if you run around at zero torchlight.

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He doesn't deal terribly much HP damage... [Undulating Withdrawal]

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...but he summons these cute little Shambler Spurs. On top of that, everything the Shambler does will stress out your team.

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Honestly, this team shouldn't be too terrible at dealing with them - Impale spam to kill them while still whittling down the Shambler itself should work fine.

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Still, killing them fast is in your best interest, because they...

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...do something, but not this round. Missing their [Clapperclaw] attack also prevents their secondary effect.

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This secondary effect comes to place, though. Not the most terrible shuffle - Jester in front is annoying, but he can still do a stab. The Vestal is by far the worse supporter to be displaced, and Specter got lucky.

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So this is a pretty typical Shambler fight: I'm looking through the screenshot thinking, "yeah, that went fairly well thus far, all things considered", but then both Shieldbreakers already went into dangerous Stress territory somehow.

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Ah, this time [Clapperclaw] connected...

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...and here are the secondary effects: Stress (because of course it causes stress) and a very hefty self-buff.

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Very hefty indeed....

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Yeahhhh, typical Shamber fight. Everything went fairly well, but then one less optimal turn and we have two Shambler Spurs on the field, self-buffed by one and two stages, respectively, and stress levels are not getting any better. At least the Shambler is also getting low...

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Injury and despondence set the stage for heroism... or cowardice.
OW!

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OWWWWW!

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...and we're down a man. Huh. That was... sudden.

I didn't show every single attack, but it still was sudden - the Shambler itself puts out consistent damage but is mostly dangerous through stress, but the Clapperclawing Spurs are a huge threat as soon as they randomly focus on one of your heroes. And once you're at Death's Door, the Shambler's ability to Blight you becomes an additional huge danger - it killed Courcy literally right after he landed at Death's Door, with no possible intervention on my part.

Luckily, this is no permadeath because it's Endless Harvest - Courcy will return to the hamlet in a few weeks time.

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Pramanix still doesn't approve, catching an affliction, which won't make it any less difficult to finish this fight.

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Especially when she then refuses to land her blow against the Shambler.

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Aaaand more Death's Doors.

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AAAAAND more afflicted Shieldbreakers. Man, this is just going great!

Frustration and fury, more destructive than a hundred cannons.

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But Fang survives the Blight tick and lands her own [Pierce], ending the fight...

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...ummm... Oh yeah, killing the Shambler does NOT despawn its minions, unlike (as far as I remember) every other boss fight. We're still in the running for a total party kill!

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Let's start with Pramanix attacking Fang because of her affliction! Yay!

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But Fang luckily survives that and another Clapperclaw, and we ultimately manage to clear the enemies. Thank god that this wasn't a "real" fight...

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I'm getting a little excited for a second here - three trinkets as reward? But no, the first two are just Courcy's trinkets that he apparently dropped before running away. The Immunity Mask is honestly really good, although I think we might already have one in our vaults.

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Obviously, we're not in the position to continue with only three heroes, two of which are afflicted, so time to skedaddle...

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Dang, that is a great reward! I should probably try to not spend all of it at once - we have built the Bank district in the past, which gives interest on your current money every week, so keeping at, what, 100k would be pretty good.

118 kills is a decent improvement from our first attempt, too - we got to 102 then.

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Not a whole lot of new quirks - Compulsive (chance to lick *any* curio you come across) absolutely needs to go, while Hard Skinned is pretty neat even on a backline character. Losing Healer's Gift is not nearly as big a deal as you might think, since it only improves healing skills during camp.

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Just a confirmation that Courcy is, in fact, not dead. Even sufficiently alive that he insists on being paid.

("shard mercenaries" can only be used in the Farmstead and take a share of the earned crystals, but they don't cost a slot in your roster)

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But let's not end this update with a bossfight gone wrong. One more mission, but of course, first some bookkeeping. I do commit some money to Roger, who gets rid of one of her two "less healing recieved" quirks while locking in her Natural Eye. Rhys just treats his Slowdraw quirk (-4 Spd in the first round, which is very bad if you want to apply debuffs or a mark).

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Fang and Specter meditate to lower their stress and to remove Fang's affliction. Pramanix waits for a week so that she doesn't catch the Crimson Curse from these two.

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The last mission for today isn't anything special - just a regular Veteran mission to get some XP on (from left to right) Silence, Batta, Arden, and Deepcolour.

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What's seemingly weird is the squishy wizard at the front, but as I already alluded to, there's a good argument in favour of this - the Occultist's Stun can only be used from Rank 1 or 2 and it's very reliable when he has the Demon's Cauldron equipped. And if an enemy can hit rank 1, they probably can hit rank 2 just as hard.

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With Silence in the back, I can reliably stun three targets, while the Fire Emblem pair (Arden x Batta, the hottest ship right now) dishes out the damage. Thanks to the +4 SPD from the Baron's Lash, Silence is also very likely to go before the backline stress nukers get their turn.

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Deepcolour is fully specced for support: besides his heal and stun, he uses two debuff skills - Weakening Curse to reduce the enemy's damage and PROT, and [Vulnerability Hex] to set up a mark...

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...which increases the damage of Batta's [Pistol Shot]. No Mark synergy in this team beyond that, but it allows Deepcolour to indirectly deal damage to the enemy backline.

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Oh, and if Deepcolour doesn't want to stun, Arden can do it, as well. Although in this case, I'm getting a little carried away with my stunning looks abilities - Arden should've just used his basic attack for a one-hit-kill.

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But no fear! Deepcolour finishes the job with his own stun, [Hands from the Abyss]!

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Another fight, another option: Arden and Batta are actually quite adept dancers, which is why they occupy the two middle ranks: Batta (who is faster than Arden most of the time) uses [Duelist's Advance] to set up riposte and move forward one tile...

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...which allows Arden to use [Holy Lance], reverting their positions. The amazing thing about this is that it allows Arden to hit the backline, and the Crusader's base damage is good enough to one-shot many of the squishy backline enemies.

It's not in perfect unison with this team's theme: if almost all enemies are stunned, chances for Batta to counter their attacks are rather slim. But it's still a very strong overall team.

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And honestly, it worked really well throughout the mission. Ruins are admittedly the easiest dungeon to explore, but I still like this team quite a bit.

Pictured here is the most tragic event of the run - I find an Eldritch Altar immediately after throwing away my last Holy Water to make room for more treasure, so I can't remove a negative quirk for free here. Packs laden with loot are indeed low on supply.

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One small drawback: the Occultist's stun reduces torchlight, which I didn't account for with additional torches in my supply. Nothing bad came of it, though - this is the last door of the dungeon and I already scouted beforehand that there was no fight waiting for me in the room.

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And that's the haul: Not as much money, but a good amount of heirlooms. There's still a number of districts that I can build with these, so that's not too bad.

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Nothing too special in terms of quirks - I'll want to remove Weak Grip on Life, but the others are all not very impactful. Bad Gambler and Known Cheat are kinda nice, since they might block a negative quirk slot from a worse one.

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Huh, guess we'll end on a slightly negative note, after all. Not a big deal, though - with the Puppet Theater increasing passive stress decay, it's unlikely that even an afflicted hero will need more than one session of stress relief plus maybe one or two idle weeks.

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And speaking of afflicted heroes: Courcy is back already!

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...and he heads straight to the brothel. His Love Interest quirk makes it the only stress relief he will partake in.

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He doesn't seem to be particularly commited to his relationship, though.

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Likewise, Pramanix heads to her only available stress relief. I'll leave it to the reader to decide what weirds them out more.

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And finally, I notice that Vincent has both +5 ACC and +5 CRIT in his quirks, so that's something to lock in. The human form of the Abomination appreciates those quite a bit. Roger meanwhile goes for a second treatment in a row.

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And with Roger, I meant Provence. Of course. See? I remembered!

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And finally, a new recruit, filling our last remaining spot in the barracks again. I am going to assume that Idéfix's Love Interest is a tree, although I don't quite know how to connect that to the brothel. Meanwhile, Imposter Syndrome (low chance to skip a turn in combat) is an awful quirk and will have to be removed.

His positive quirks, Second Wind and Clutch Hitter are interesting because they both give him bonuses when below half health (+10% Damage and +5% Crit, respectively), but they aren't really consistent enough for me to lock them in. It's not like I want to keep a hero below half health for a prolongued time span.

Still, a good adventurer to pick up, not the least because Idéfix starts at Lv. 2, saving us a fair bit of money for weapon and skill upgrades. With that, we also have four adventurers below Lv. 3 again, so I'll send those into an Apprentice mission at some point.

But for today, that's all, folks - thanks for reading!

 

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  • Update 32 - NRQ2Aa1.jpg
    • (alternative title: Return of the King)
Spoiler

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We've spent a long time collecting crystal shards last time, so maybe we should make use of them, too? There's still a bunch of trinkets that we can buy with them. Not all of them are great, but these two certainly are: The Broken Key makes Abom in general, and the Manacles skill in particular, much more reliable; and +20% damage alone would've easily been worth the penalty to Stun resist on the Crystalline Gunpowder.

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The first mission for today leads us to the Ruins again, both to level up the adventurers we're bringing and to unlock the final bossfight in that dungeon. The team is quite similar to the last mission, too: Occultist and Crusader in the front, with a Plague Doctor in 3rd instead of 4th rank. We don't bring a Highwayman, though - instead, Skadi the Grave Robber sits all the way in the back.

The trinket reward is a pretty good one that we don't have yet - if one of your heroes doesn't care about the damage reduction (for example a Vestal or a fully support-specced Occultist), its buff to survivability is quite appreciated.

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Equipped trinkets are largely what you'd expect - damage output on Skadi and Arden, higher Stun chances on Gavial (who replaces the somewhat stressed out Silence) and Deepcolour.

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The mission starts with even more damage output for Arden, who hits like a Tyrfing!Sigurd at this point.

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The general idea of this team: Skadi starts with her powerful [Lunge] attack, which moves her to rank 2 and pushes Arden back to 3.

(note the unlucky damage roll....)

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From there, Arden can use [Holy Lance] for some major damage to the enemies in the back (although note the unlucky damage roll here....), which also pushes Skadi back to 3, so she can use Lunge a second time immediately.

So basically a mini-dance team, if you will. Arden and Skadi do a single one-two-three and then keep their positions - Skadi could go back two spaces with Shadow Fade (which around doubles her next attack's damage), but the fights generally aren't long enough for that to be worthwhile.

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And meanwhile, Deepcolour and Gavial do their stuns to reduce the enemy's damage output.

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Since she isn't Crimson Cursed, Gavial can't use the Baron's Lash for +4 Spd like Silence did, which means that stress nukers tend to be about as fast as her. That makes it a coin flip, give or take, if she can prevent their first action.

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One little money saver: Arden's Bulwark of Faith. Its main effect is to give him a bunch of Prot and put a mark on him (which Ruins enemies tend to ignore), but it also increases Torchlight by a whopping 24, basically the same amount that an actual torch does. I largely use it for that secondary effect, to counter some of the darkening effect of Deepcolour's stun.

(I'm guessing that these are more wholesome fan fics than on his Zealous Accusation scroll)

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"Hmm, I guess I'm already going to hell for allying with the forces of darkness, so I might as well start drinking again."

I was hoping that Deepcolour would lose his Weak Grip On Life quirk that he picked up last mission, but the coin flip wasn't in our favour and he lost the irrelevant Resolution quirk (will not go to the bar for stress relief) instead.

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I believe this about covers this expedition. We do pick up another Courtyard invitation, but I don't even bother picking it up. It doesn't carry over to the next and final Courtyard mission, anyway.

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The loot! Not too bad - we're almost rich now.

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The quirks! Both of the negative ones are "lick XYZ type of curio", which is annoying when it happens, but doesn't happen too too often. Grave Robber doesn't do too bady in the Cove, so the damage bonus might come in handy at some point.

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Back to the hamlet - oh wow, the town event last time had a bigger impact than I thought it would. I believe that meditation gave 70 points of stress relief last week. Still, it should be fine to just have Courcy and Pramanix idle for a little while.

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The last mission did unlock the third and final form of the Prophet and I do plan on taking him on soon. But this week, the Rat Carcass reward is pretty worthless, since I'm not exactly low on Blood (and it's very easy to get more of it). The Prophet's Eye is a lot better, but it's always going to drop when we do the mission.

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Instead, I think it's time to push into the Courtyard a little more. The number of Crimson Cursed heroes is quite high, and killing the Viscount would cure all of them for the time being. But first, some quirk management - Fang because Compulsive is a terrible quirk (and +2 Speed is pretty nice to lock in), Silence because she is also Cursèd and it can't spread if there's no non-vampire in the facility.

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The team and the rewards! I don't think the spices are terribly useful, to be honest. The Tin Flute would be quite good for most other classes, but the Leper generally doesn't have too much trouble with stress. If we find the other half of the Crimson set as well, he'll really appreciate the accuracy boost, though.

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And speaking of the King: He shall try to pick up his flute himself, packing some Accuracy, some Crit, and a lot of raw damage. The Viscount sits in the Leper's limited reach, I believe, so Gawain should actually do really good against him. And since I've taken a peek at the map, I know that we won't have to face another Crocodilian, which the Leper is really bad against.

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Let's take a look at the map from before (the white arrows are our path in the last trip to the Courtyard): While taking a peek at the whole map, I noticed that the treasure in the bottom right corner does include a Courtyard trinket, which is very much worth taking the extra steps to get, even if it might make it less likely that we'll reach the boss.

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It also makes us take a couple steps backwards for some increased stress gain, since we ended the last mission in the middle of a rather long hallway. At least, we directly run into a Wine Crate that we've passed last time, which yields us some Firewood to set up camp later.

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So let's take a look at our team in this first fight of the week.

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Honeybadger is here as a fast stunner: the mirror trinket gives him +4 Spd and an increased chance to stun, but only against Bloodsuckers (I have good news for him!). The Ancestor's Musketball boosts his other attacks (+Dmg and +Crit), which are all ranged.

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Phil also stuns. Of course. But she also carries her Dissection Kit, which makes her melee/bleed attack much more viable.

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And Gawain, well....

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I won't show too many fights, curios and obstacles, but I will say this: Because counting is quite difficult, I brought one Shovel fewer than I should have, despite looking at the map beforehand. I was planning to use another Wine Crate and rest twice, but I might not be able to.

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And there we are. I didn't bring any keys, because I'm 99% sure that they don't give any bonus treasure in the courtyard. But I picked up from some fight earlier, so FOR SCIENCE:

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W-where's the trinket?

*sigh* Well, turns out that keys do give extra heirlooms. And they also override the content of chests that normally have Crimson Court trinkets. Now I know. And knowing cost me a neat trinket.

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Without a Jester or Crusader, this team doesn't have the most amazing stress recovery. As you can see here (still fairly early in the expedition), stress levels are slowly rising - just walking through the hallways causes more stress than usually, and a vampire drinking one's blood also affects people, for some reason.

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A bit later in the mission, Gawain catches the curse as well - neither surprising nor without its advantages. If he can go into the bossfight in the Bloodlust phase, he'll be able to do even more damage.

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I don't really have a fight where I can say, "Look here, this is where we got all stressed out". It's just the passive stress gain and the occasional crit / blood drinking that pushes it more and more.

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And for Honeybadger, it's this stuff too: He has the Perfectionist quirk, which I didn't quite register during preparation. It gives him +5 stress every time he misses his attack (although it counts as a hit if his AoE only hits a single enemy), which doesn't really gel well with the Houndmaster's relatively low base accuracy.

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We find another treasure chest, this time without a key and with a nice Crimson Court trinket as a reward. -10 Dodge is kinda bad, but the extra damage looks interesting. Bounty Hunter already has two attacks to do bonus damage against marked and stunned enemies, respectively, so this helps quite a lot with that. The bonus damage vs. Bleeding could be set up by a Houndmaster with their bleed attack hitting the entire enemy party.

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!Warning! !Danger!

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Phew! [Tentacle Devour] deals 10-20 damage - and twice that against marked targets. These Large Carrion Eaters aren't particularly sophisticated, but their simple shtick is really dangerous, if you can't kill them in a single turn.

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Ahhh, big Leper numbers. Always a delight.

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Honeybadger comes very close to an affliction soon after, so I decide to set up camp in the next room.

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Priority 1: No ambush, pls. Hound's Watch even has some nice bonus effect on top of that.
Priority 2: Reduce stress. The Leper's Quarantine skill is great for that, since HP healing isn't much of a problem with a Vestal around.
Priority 3: More juicy Leper crits.

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This rest was made possible by an item drop that I apparently didn't register as important immediately: An additional shovel. Or rather, pushing for the bossfight was made possible by the shovel, since it allows us to get some firewood for a second rest from these wine crates.

There's still a couple of fights between us and the Viscount, and I don't really want to go into that fight underprepared.

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Here, let me draw you a picture: We're already awfully close, but we need to make a little side trip to collect a key...

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...which of course is also guarded by some bloodsuckers.

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And as you can see, Honeybadger is already quite stressed out again, thanks to the enemy's tendency to focus stress attacks on already stressed heroes. This enraging slight pushes him back to 84 stress, which is way too close to an affliction to start a bossfight with.

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Nevermind 94....

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...which then becomes 79 thanks to a positive side effect of his Bloodlust. This fight is a bit of a rollercoster, and it ends at 94 stress, which means that this random effect saved Honeybadger from an affliction, which I most certainly wouldn't have been able to get rid of.

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But here we go - second rest, just before the showdown. Same skills as last time, which puts Honeybadger down to 44 stress.

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Fortunately, we run into a curio that can heal stress if you use holy water on it. Unfortunately.... Well, check the inventory.

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If you recall, the Viscount had "gluttony" as his gimmick. Fittingly, the hallway to his room has three "Forgotten Delicacies" curios, which I saved some Medical Herbs for. Gawain's Craving means that he licks the curio, though...

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...which luckily has no negative effects beyond losing some treasure and food (which I actually want to restore some HP). He would've caught a disease, but the Crimson Curse actually protects from any other disease.

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Well then, it is time.

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The Viscount has three attacks per round and can dish out a lot of damage - but he has very low Stun resistance (50% is rather pitiful at this stage), which is why I brought three heroes with a stun move.

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Gawain pushes the Leper's "kill boss fast" button. This skill is generally not worth for regular battles because they're too short, but it's really good against bosses (provided that the Leper can reach them). The defensive penalties aren't too bad, since the King has a huge HP buffer.

Still, we have to pump up those numbers. Phil, your cue.

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Yessss. Yeeeeesssssssss...

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In a pathetic attempt to emulate the Leper's greatness, the Viscount 'noms one of his three morsels (although it doesn't seem to be consumed).

This is the Viscount fight's main gimmick: He randomly snacks on one of those three bodies, which gives him bonuses and penalties depending on how filling the meal was. In our case, he chose the fattest morsel, which gives the biggest bonuses, but also some severe debuffs (-25% DODGE, -20% ACC, -4 SPD).

Anyway. *ahem* *cough* *ahem*

He.

Hehehe.

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Hahahahahahaaaaahhh!

Muahahahahahahhh!!!

MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAHAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

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Ahhhahahahaaahahahhhh!

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Hehe.
He.

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Why yes, this was quite enjoyable.

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YOU FOOL! HAHAHAHAHAH!

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But to his credit, the Viscount did one intelligent thing this fight. [Hungry Eyes]

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Which is to run away from Gawain like a little bitch.

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It... makes the end of the fight a little less cathartic, but it gives me the opportunity to talk a little about this fight *can* be approached.

The second most straightforward way (after critting the Viscount for two thirds of his health) is to kill the bodybags and prevent him from eating that way. But of course, this means that you spend a lot of DPS on secondary targets. A sneaky and a little funny variant is to kill two of the bodies and stack tons of Blight and/or Bleed on the third - when the Viscount gets to his meal, he'll take over those DOT effects.

But of course, these options don't really include 86 damage rolls, so they're clearly inferior to the strategy chosen.

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In the end, Honeybadger does the honours. But we all know who the true MVP is.

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The rewarded trinket is interesting - clearly not worth using in a regular, high-torchlight mission, but the reduced Bleed chance is actually a neat bonus: The only Occultist skill with a Bleed effect is his heal, so this makes an accidental friendly kill a fair bit less likely.

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And I believe that is all the value we could get out of this mission. And if not, I can't do anything about it at this point.

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Only one quirk comes out of this, from the "nice when it applies but not worth locking in" category.

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This victory gives us a lot of breathing room in terms of the Courtyard. I'm pretty sure we could finish the game without dealing with the Countess, long before the Crimson Curse becomes overbearing, but I do want to show off all bosses, of course. Except maybe the Fanatic. We'll see.

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We also saved up enough deeds (110) to rebuild the Athenaeum (*googles* "Temple of Athena", today usually used as a name for schools, museums and suchlike).

*googles further* It seems that the stress heal replaces the stress that for example reading books sometimes causes. It might actually be worth interacting with those curios now, but I'll have to look up all the possible outcomes to make a call.

I'm also looking at the Outsider's Bonfire with interest - Respite Points are what's used for actions during camp, and there's some really nice ones out there. The effect unfortunately isn't cumulative if you have more than one of those adventurers on an expedition.

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Well, I kinda would like to end this update with this beautiful finish to a difficult mission, but I did record one additional expedition. I... doubt I can keep up the hype...

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...but I can make an attempt.

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It's a bit silly that I went, "Oh, I don't like the trinket reward" last week and then go for the Necromancer now. Not that the Restraining Padlock would be a bad trinket, but Benice is literally carrying one as we go into the mission.

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And in the back - two Occultists? Not the most common backrow, but I do have Plans. Looking at it now, Benice in rank 3 and one of the Occultists on Stun duty would also have been an option, since Benice is the only stunner on this team as is.

As usual, let's take a look at what the Ancestor had to say about the Prophet the first two times we met him:

Quote

Excavations beneath the manor were well underway, when a particularly ragged indigent arrived in the hamlet. This filthy, toothless miscreant boasted an uncanny knowledge of my ambitions and prognosticated publicly that, left unchecked, I would soon unleash doom upon the world.

This raving creature had to be silenced. But doing so proved maddeningly impossible. How had he survived the stockades, the icy waters, and the knives I delivered so enthusiastically into his back? How had he returned, time and time again, to rouse the townsfolk with his wild speculations and prophecies?

Ah yes, the classic "he was inconvenient, so I tried to murder him". Oh Ancestor, never change. But how did we end up with what we have now?

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There, I showed him the Thing and detailed the full extent of my plans. Triumphantly I watched as he tore his eyes from their sockets and ran shrieking into the shadows, wailing maniacally that the end was upon us all.

You know, as graphic and horrible as this is, I can't help but snicker at how over-the-top this exchange is. "You will dooooooooom us all!" - "LMAO yeah, check out what I'm doing" - "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH"

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The team is pretty straightforward, if maybe a little anaemic on the offensive side. The Occultists don't do a whole lot of damage directly, so they instead help Gawain either by debuffing enemy DODGE with [Vulnerability Hex] or their PROT with Weakening Curse.

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Although Occultists do have a high Crit rate, so Lucy can get the occasional good stab in, as well. Rhys in rank 4 cannot, since [Sacrificial Stab] can only be used from the first three ranks.

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Benice mostly pukes on enemies to Blight them, or stuns them with his tactical capabilities (and his chain). He wears the Broken Key that we bought at the start of this update, which makes his attacks very accurate and the [Manacles] skill very likely to stun the target.

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Ooooh, very nice! This trinket is a drop specific to the Bone Courtier that Lucy just stabbed, similar to the heads dropped by the Collector. The droprate is very low, though.

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Speaking of the Collector...

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This team comp isn't super great against this miniboss, since most of the damage output comes from the Leper, who can't reach the Collector after he summons his minions.

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So it's a little disappointing that Benice doesn't get a stun in on turn one.

(his base chance is 165%, so 75% in this case. Kinda unlucky, but Fire Emblem players should know better than to trust a 75% chance)

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Luckily, Rhys comes to the rescue! [Daemon's Pull]...

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...pulls the enemy forward two ranks, i.e. back into Leper range.

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I will say that me focussing on the Collector itself is a bit risky. He summoned two of his Highwaymen, which have pretty high damage and crit rates.

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I'm pretty lucky with my dodges throughout the fight, but Lucy still gets rather close to Death's Door.

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Good thing Rhys has his back, right? RIGHT?

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Luckily, this was at the very end of the fight - the Collector dying to Benice's accumulated puke is the very next thing happening. And unlike the Shambler, it does take its minions with it.

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To be safe(-ish), Lucy heals some HP back with food between fights, and Rhys decides to be more cooperative during the next encounter.

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Well, a little more cooperative. Occult lyfe, baby!

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After that fight, we scout a Secret Room in the hallway right behind us. I decide to ignore it for now for inventory management reasons. I didn't mention it till now, but the dungeon is basically one long path with the Prophet waiting at the other end (reminder that bosses will always spawn as far away from the entrance as the map allows), so there's a lot of walking to be done this mission.

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Occult lyfe, BABY!

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There is one small branch at the end of the dungeon, so this scout potentially saved us a couple additional steps (and a hallway fight).

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For the pre-boss camp, the goals are similar to the Courtyard camps: Heal some stress and beef up the Leper. Going for a feast (i.e. eat 8 rations) is a little risky for our post-boss clean-up, since it only leaves us with four rations, only enough for a single hunger check. But since everybody has taken HP damage, I think it's the right call.

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And it's boss time! Him hiding behind the pews does mean that Gawain can't just hack him to pieces on turn 2, but I really do have Plans!

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Here's the Prophet's gimmick in case you don't remember: He forecasts dooooooooom for one or two adventurers (or, more precisely, one or to ranks) and at the end of the turn, they will be hit by a very powerful attack.

Benice: "A vision - something falling..."

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Benice: "That's a-making me SO MAD! RAAAAARGH!"

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So, first plan: Benice punches pews, repeatedly. They drop a fair bit of money (in form of a "gemstone"), but because the Prophet fight is a damage race, it's not really recommended to destroy more than one, or maybe two of them.

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Now, "damage race" sounds like we're both just running side by side, hoping to be faster than the opponent. Let's just say that this is not quite the case.

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Both Lucy and Rhys cast a [Weakening Curse] on the boss, and Gawain adds an [Intimidate]. Now, this is a move that I really slept on for a long time - I only saw "Bypass/Remove Stealth" and just assumed that it wouldn't be too useful otherwise, especially because it only does 15% of the Leper's base damage.

However, it also *heavily* debuffs the enemy: At the highest level (which we are at), it reduces their Speed by 5 and their damage be 33%.

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Add to that the debuff from two Weakening Curses, and instead of the usual 23-45 damage,

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--ok, bad example.

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But at the end of turn 2, all those debuffs plus one more Weakening Curse are in effect - Gawain goes for his damage boost instead and the Prophet resisted one of the Occultist debuffs.

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...and this is the result. No PROT at all on Lucy, just the accumulated debuffs on the Prophet.

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I don't fully keep the damage that low - I still need the occasional Occultist heal, since the Prophet still distributes some Blight among the party...

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...and I don't want to "waste" most of Gawain't DPS, either.

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The reason being that the Prophet also puts out quite a lot of stress with his [Eye On You] attack.

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While it's quite satisfying to let the Prophet run the damage race with his shoelaces tied together, eight turns is plenty time...

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...to make Rhys a lot less kindhearted than he usually is.

Rhys: "They cannot begin to guess its power."

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*ahem* ahaha- hehe-- MUAHA--

Nah, it's not the same when it happens nine turns into the fight. Still pretty cool, because it actually was hardly any overkill: 72 damage vs 67 remaining HP.

Gawain: "Petals must fall."

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Making room for all the pews is actually a little tricky - what you see are the things that I throw away / don't pick up to begin with. No more torches should be fine because fights spawn very rarely in hallways that you've already moved through, and I don't think that uncommon trinkets are worth more than 1750 gold.

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Hunger checks aren't any less likely, though. I don't run into one, but THREE - luckily, stress levels on the three uninflicted heroes weren't too high, so they only land on 60-ish at the end, which is basically one visit to the Abbey to remove.

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And we're rewarded with a very filled out backpack of treasure. I even have to throw away quite a bit of value at the end...

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...and we still got basically the same amount of cash as the trip to the Farmstead got us. Plus, the Prophet's Eye is honestly a pretty neat trinket for an Arbalest, or any other character in the back, really.

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Weapon Tinker is literally worthless on a maxed out character, so thanks a bunch, RNG.

Exaggerated salt aside, nothing stands out here. The Yips obviously have to be cured, but that's just around 1000 gold or so.

I should point out that Benice now is an official Legend(ary Abomination).

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I end my playing session with a bit of splurging - +Crit on a support character (although the Jester honestly can stab and slice fairly effectively) and another trait for Vincent's human form (all the beast form skills are melee).

But that should do it for this update. Thanks for reading!

 

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Not quite connected to the LP, but Darkest Dungeon 2 goes into early access today. Personally, I'm going to wait for the full release, but I've watched around 90 minutes of gameplay or so. First impression:

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Grave Robber looks pretty good.

For the LP, I shall endeavor to recontextualize "Darkest Dungeon 2".

  • Update 33 - Lighting the Way
Spoiler

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Priorities for expedition selection are the following right now:
1) Work towards the last bosses. There are still both tier 3 bosses waiting in Warrens, Weald, and Cove, and I'd prefer to do their missions sooner rather than later.
2) Trinkets. If there's a good trinket somewhere else than the Ruins, I'll take a look.
3) Level up some more characters. I'm mostly looking at our Lv. 2 Vestal here, since I don't quite like the idea of going into any of the final missions without a dedicated, reliable healer.

In this case, the trinket reward is an Eldritch Slayer Ring (+25% Dmg vs Eldritch, -8 Dodge), which can be useful in the Cove or in the Darkest Dungeon.

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Two of the heroes are Lv. 5, Deepcolour in the front even just Lv. 4. The fourth adventurer is Dismas, who took part in the first Darkest Dungeon mission, which boosts everybody else's XP gain by 50%.

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The team is mostly mark-based: Kroos, Cliffheart (the Bounty Hunter), and Deepcolour can all set up a mark...

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...and Dismas, Kroos, and Cliffheart can make use of it. Only via [Pistol Shot] in Dismas's case, but this still gives him a strong attack with high crit and good reach.

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Healing is fine, between Deepcolours wildly variable, but high on average rolls and Kroos's weaker, but reliable healing skill. Although I didn't take too much damage during the mission, anyway - short mission means not too much attrition taking place.

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During the mission, Dismas wishes upon a tentacle statue that everybody in town forgets that he has extra aces up his sleeve and weighted dice in his pocket. Somehow it works.

(I was hoping that he'd lose one of his two "lick this type of curio" quirks, but alas, he's just allowed to gamble in town)

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Short, not too tricky mission, overall. The team comp worked fine, and I wouldn't mind taking it on a longer expedition, too. The loot is appropriately modest - no secret doors, no extraordinaire drops.

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Quirk rolls were pretty awful. Fading is really bad - I was going to say how -2 Spd is particularly nasty on a debuffer, but it's honestly very bad on almost every class. Camping quirks are whatever, Satanophobia is... bearable outside of the Ruins, and I don't want Kroos to waste away, obviously.

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But let's be honest, removing bad quirks and diseases isn't particularly expensive even if the cost scales with the adventurer's level. It's more impactful that you probably want to do it before sending them out again, to make sure that the *bad* bad quirks don't get locked in.

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Next! There's still a handful of Ancestral trinkets to pick up, and this one isn't half bad for a frontline class.

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You might recognize the Grave Robber / Crusader set-up for the Lunge - Holy Lance - Lunge combo, but this team is a bit less commited to it. Fang's Adder's Kiss and [Impale] skills mess it up, and those are often good skills to use.

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As a result, the general strategy is more like "Lunge first, then do what seems SMRT in the moment". This puts Haze into rank 1 regularly, from where she can only use [Pick to the Face], but since many Cove enemies have high PROT, this armourpiercing attack is often a good pick, anyway.

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As is standard with long missions, there isn't much room for treasure in your backpack for a decent part of the dungeon. Even after the first rest, I still have to throw away a fair bit of money and heirlooms (and, in this instance, Blood).

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I'll allow myself to skip through this one, too. Long missions can be hard thanks to the attrition, but between Specter's healing and the other three's ability to remove threats quickly, neither HP nor stress are much of an issue.

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Even the one 'splodey boi... thing we meet gets one-shot by a [Lunge]!

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I'll throw in that Arden continues the trend of unlucky negative quirk removal. He uses two Eerie Corals hoping to lose his Egomania (another Lick Curio quirk), but he loses Diurnal (-2 Spd at low torchlight) and Bad Gambler instead.

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$$$
Nice loot overall. More heirloom-weighted than the last couple expeditions, I think.

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Well, since I don't plan to visit the Ruins again in this playthrough, I guess all of these quirks (and the one sickness) are just a little Sanitarium tax. You do run into Human enemies in form of bandits and cultists in every dungeon, so Automatonophobia is a pretty bad quirk to have, too.

Can we narrow down Haze's taste in music now?

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Back in the hamlet, it seems that somebody found the Aum staff *and* a princess from Akaneia! Only one use, as one would expect, but we can now resurrect one of these poor souls, if they will thank us or not.

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Myrrh, as much as I like the Luminous trait, unfortunately isn't an option. It's just that I don't want to retake a Lv.1 adventurer at this point, if there are higher-leveled choices.

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Auvray would be such a choice, and he has the Luminous trait as well. But unfortunately for him...

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...the third option is a Vestal, and as I said before, I'd rather have one of those for all four Darkest Dungeon missions. Do your thing, er... Elice? Maria?

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This also means that Jessica will have to take her leave and maybe go to Dune and [spoilers] [spoilers] [spoilers].

The Spice Must Flow!

Long story short, I think I have enough money to not care about Antiquarian runs anymore, and if I change my mind, there's still the Lv. 6 Antiquarian Gitano available for duty.

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Side note: The event only let us choose between three of our four fallen adventurers. Saiga drew the short stick, saving me from a more difficult decision between her and Nearl.

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Before we go to the next dungeon, it's time to fill the Sanatorium, as usual. As a tanky character with access to a guard ability, Sigurd should appreciate more HP restauration, and Sora might be part of a Darkest Dungeon expedition, where +Dmg and -Stress against Eldritch enemies would come in really handy.

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He won't be part of this week's Darkest Dungeon expedition though! Since there is no other boss in reach right now and I'd like to put something other than a generic expedition in each update, I feel like I kinda have to.QhuqULe.jpg

It's a long "activate" mission, which means that we have to bring three Hands of Glory to use in three quest locations. Also, ewwwww.

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...in a fashion. The creature's blessings are as repulsive as they are robust. Twisted, half-human monstrosities stalk the flesh-ridden halls, protecting their gestating god.

Doesn't that sound like a FUN time?!

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Oh dang... This place has not become any prettier since we last came here. (no video link this time!)

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First fight! Let's go over our team - there are one or two specifics to this dungeon in it.

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Saria is equipped to play the entirety of FE:Fates without losing her life or her sanity, while doodling dongs in her diary (DON'T READ MY STUFF DAD!).

She is the most obvious part of the group, so to speak - Vestal doing Vestal things. Stun enemies, doodle dongs (I DON'T ONLY DOODLE DONG, I SOMETIMES DRAW BOOBS TOO), and heal the party. The Talisman of the Flame is also a warning that there is some "Revelation" in this dungeon and it's really dangerous, otherwise the game wouldn't give you a trinket to counter it and nothing else.

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Honeybadger is here because a fair number of enemies have the "beast" category, which [Hound's Rush] deals +35% more damage against. He still has his Perfectionist quirk (5 stress for missing an attack), so he makes immediate use of Wayne June's Signet Ring that we picked up in the previous mission. His second trinket slot is also occupied by a Talisman of the Flame.

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Cliffheart is here so that he and Honeybadger can do some mark play. He's fully equipped for raw damage, although he still has his Uppercup skill active, which both stuns and moves - but that's just because he only really needs three moves for what he's supposed to do: Mark and kill.

He notably does not carry a Talisman, for the simple reason that you only get three from the first Darkest Dungeon mission and there is no additional sources at all.

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At that point, General Lawrence comes into play. Rank 4 Man-at-Arms is a bit of an experiment for me - it gives him a fair bit of survivability, but he is literally incapable of dealing a single point of damage to the enemies and is fully relegated to a support role.

Most importantly, he can guard Cliffheart in fights where he's in danger of being revelated. In regular fights, he can still still redirect damage to his tougher hide, or try to influence fights in a different fashion.

Here, he uses [Bellow], another move that is probably better than I first thought. The added reliability fron the Dodge debuff is nice, and -7 Spd means that afflicted enemies will very likely go after your heroes, so the chance to further debuff, stun, and/or kill them before there turn is better.

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But of course, it is not guaranteed to go through, which might make the (also party-wide) buffs in Lawrence's arsenal still a little better.

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Like, Command would've brought Cliffheart's chance to hit up to 96% here.

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The general hope is to kill enemies quickly - Honeybadger or Cliffheart (whoever goes first) sets a mark, then they proceed to destroy the target so that they don't have too much time to do... this. [Death Lash] stresses the target out a little (or a lot, if it crits) and debuffs their Bleed resist. Which the Cultist Priest's other move naturally abuses, but they didn't go for it in this fight.

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The Rapturous Cultists have no damage potential at all - they just prolonge the fight by healing or guarding a random target. They're not even that good at the latter, since they don't get any defensive bonus from using their guarding skill.

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For that reason, I generally try to kill the Priests first, if possible. I don't think that the Rapturous Cultists' healing output is high enough to warrant the "kill the healer first" approach.

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As a reminder: The Darkest Dungeon works similar to the Courtyard, in that the map layout predetermined, but not revealed as you enter the dungeon. Unlike the Courtyard, there are no traps and basically no curios - only fights and the three quest locations.

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I have to admit that I looked up the map beforehand this time. It's not very complex, and mostly symmetrical. We started at green, there's a single treasure chest at yellow (I brought a key for it, just in case, but it's not needed), and we have to go to the red rooms to clear the quest.

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I go north first, into another fight pretty soon. The entire dungeon is quite the slugfest and it's rare to go from one room to the next without having to fight in either room or the hallway between them.

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Notably, we don't find any of the "ascended" Witches and Brawlers in the second part of the Darkest Dungeon anymore. Instead, we run into two kinds of... tumors without a host?

The "Defensive Growth" can be summed up as an improved version of the Rapturous Cultists. It also protects on of its allies with the [Grand Guard] skill, but it actually gains 33% PROT out of it itself.

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One counterplay is to stun it - this also breaks the guard, so you can kill the other enemies while the Defensive Growth still has its PROT.

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It can also use [Bolster], which unlike the Man-at-Arms skill of the same name only buffs a single target. The increased Crit can be quite nasty, though.

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Ah, here we go. It's been on screen before, a long time ago during the first Darkest Dungeon expedition, but this is the Cultist Priest's second attack: [The Finger], carrying a nasty 6-point bleed (there's a reason why I brought a full stack of Bandages) and 15 points of stress.

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Speaking of stress: Yeah, it's a bit of an issue. This is only the second fight, and Honeybadger is already at 30-40 stress.

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It doesn't help that unlike the Rapturous Cultist, the Defensive Growth actually does something when it's alone on the field: [Unbearable Tremors] hits everybody with +7 Stress, 90% of the time.

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More tumors... I think the Malignant Growth looks a bit like a head at the top, no?

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And now it's puking tentacles, ewww...

These monsters are less dangerous than Priests and Defensive Growths simply because they don't deal stress damage. [Maul the Flesh] still carries a 4-point Bleed, but even that is less than the Priests can do.

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The other attack isn't used in this fight, or at least doesn't connect at all if it was.

A little extra note: Cliffheart's [Finish Him] deals bonus damage against stunned targets, instead of the Collect Bounty's bonus against mark. This means that Saria can increase Cliffheart's damage, as well.

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After this fight, we reach the first quest location, guarded by a Templar Warlord and two Flesh Hounds. ...Do they fall under "ugly cute", "creepy cute", or "ugly creepy"?

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First thing the Templar Warlord does is use the [Revelation] skill that we prepared for with the trinkets and Lawrence's inclusion in the team. It rolled higher speed than any of our adventurers, so we're lucky that we can't see what damage it would do against the unprotected Cliffheart.

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However, if we know that stress reduction is capped at 80%, we can infer that Revelation causes 40 points of stress. Or, if we know that Revelation causes 40 points of stress, we can infer that stress reduction is capped at 80%.

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Aaand we're safe. Ish.

Lawrence has to renew the guard every other turn, so he's pretty limited in what he can do otherwise. This is part of my reasoning for going for the rank 4 MaA: If he's not going to have as many free actions anyway, might as well not use them offensively at all.

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The general strategy is to kill the small fry first and reduce the damage output more quickly that way. Although my hand is mostly forced in that regard anyway, since Cliffheart can only reach the Templar Warlord with his Finish Him attack, which does no bonus damage against marked targets.

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Although all the damage on the first turn came from the big Warlord in the back: It has two actions per round, and it uses the second one to for a [Stinger Shot]: Big damage, a 6-point Blight, a -33% damage penalty, AND -10% crit.

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I did not bring one whole stack of Antivenom, and one whole stack of Medical Herbs (which heal debuffs) for nothing.

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The Flesh Hounds missed both their attacks on turn 1, but they both use [Fetch] successfully on their second try.

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It doesn't do a ton of damage, but it pulls the targets (Lawrence and Honeybadger) out of position. Honeybadger also gets stunned, which Lawrence resists.

Getting pulled forward isn't the end of the world for Lawrence, who only loses the effects of his shield trinket. It's worse for Honeybadger, because he can't use his single-target attack from rank 1.

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Well, good that Lawrence wasn't stunned. Maybe. Not sure if the Warlord targeted Cliffheart here. If it did, a stun would've had removed Lawrence's guard.

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And the second action - [Torment], which luckily doesn't connect. Lawrence definitely shielded Cliffheart in this case, since this attack hits the two front ranks.

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The second Hound goes down at the start of turn 3, so it's time to work on the Warlord's bigger HP pool.

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I SAID--

Y'know what, the Warlord missed its [Torment] the previous turn, so I won't complain too loudly.

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It does hit everybody with [Doomsday], though - it deals less single-target damage than its other moves, which means that it's easier to the Vestal to keep up with HP healing.

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Geez, finally!

Not "finally dead", it's "finally an attack connected". Between misses and having to reapply the mark (two actions mean that the mark also goes away twice as fast), this took until turn 5...

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...but then it just went down to two back-to-back crits. Nice.

Cliffheart: "I know just where you're weakest!"

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First third done!

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Not entirely sure what we "done" precisely, but let's assume it was a good thing.

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A bit of backtracking and we go to the right, where the treasure is.

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Guarded by a full group of monsters, of course. Although to be fair, the third one on their line-up isn't particularly thretening.

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I swapped Honeybadger and Saria's position for a while, so that Doggo can howl some stress away...
[Cry Havoc]

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...but in best RNG tradition, "74% for everybody to heal 6 stress" translates to "One guy, with relatively low stress, recovers 6 stress".

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The fight still goes fairly well, with no monster using any new tricks.

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The reward is bigger than what you usually find in a treasure chest, but modest considering that it's the only treasure in the dungeon. The Coat is one of the less impactful Ancestral trinkets, I think - although I guess stacking dodge is potentially pretty gamebreaking, if you get into sub-20% hitrates for enemies.

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After that, it's time to rest. There's three boss fights and only two camps, so you can't pre-buff yourself for all three, but at least it's possible to recover a fair amount of stress with the Houndmaster's skills.

The Instruction buff to ACC and SPD goes to Honeybadger instead of Cliffheart for two reasons - one, Honeybadger's Perfectionist quirk, and two, since Cliffheart does more damage, I'd prefer if Honeybadger goes first to set up the mark instead of the other way around.

Unfortunately, Cliffheart doesn't get the CRT bonus from Lawrences other used camp skill. Oh well.

Honeybadger: "An affectionate nuzzle should put your hearts right."
Lawrence: "A lifetime of practice still leaves more to learn."

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There is still one fight between the treasure room and the next quest location, but that's fine since camp boosts last for four fights. This group of enemies isn't as bad as it could be, either, with only one Cultist Priest among them.

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And look, Honeybadger does go before Cliffheart!

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All in all, the fight goes well enough. Not a ton of damage, neither in form of HP nor stress.

(Honeybadger uses [Hound's Harry] here to finish off a Malignant Growth at 1 HP while still dealing a little damage to the remaining two enemies)

Honeybadger: "The quarry falters!"

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Actually... Not a ton of damage in total, but a lot the stress is focused on Lawrence. At least partially my own fault, because I did use his Guard during the fight, but there's also the "everyone who has will be given more" approach that enemies take to dealing stress.

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After that - double boss time! This is the toughest fight in this expedition, I'm pretty sure - since these Templar enemies have two actions, high damage per attack, and quite a lot of HP, you can take a lot of damage before you can remove half of it from the equation.

Note that these are two different types of enemies: We already fought a Warlord, but the Templar Impaler in the front is new. The interface spoils that it also uses Torment (attack on rank 1+2) and the Revelation nuke, and it has even more HP (137 vs 105) than its counterpart.

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The fight starts halfway according to plan - Honeybadger goes first and marks the Impaler, but Cliffheart doesn't connect his attack...

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...and then both of the Templars use Revelation on Honeybadger. Very lucky that they didn't go for Cliffheart...

Hindsight pokes me and says "Hey, you do know that Houndmaster also has a guard, right? And that Honeybadger is faster than Lawrence, especially with the +3 SPD from the camp skill, right? You could've eliminated, or at least reduced, the risk substantially if you weren't such a dumb-dumb."

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Well, Hindsight, what can I say? It worked out fine so my plan was good. That's how it works, right?

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As a bonus, Saria gets a stun against the Warlord in the back. It only has a 42% chance to land, or 62% with a crit, so it really is more of a bonus and not something I'm banking on.

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But it does help if it happens. And it's more likely to happen if she crits twice in a row. Good job, Saria.

And it's more likely that Crit happens when a Man-at-Arms used his camp skills beforehand. Good job, Lawrence.

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Cliffheart and Honeybadger also start doing their jobs, so the Impaler is down to 74 HP at the end of turn 2.

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Unfortunately, I don't have much of a choice other than have Lawrence continuously guard Cliffheart, which only increases the stress damage he takes. Hitting 100 stress seems pretty much unavoidable at this point.

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It seems that the Templars are almost guaranteed to use [Revelation] as the first action evey turn, too, and it's a very consistent influx of stress...

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Good dodge! Very good dodge! [Stinger Stab] deals a fair bit of damage - plus a 10-point Blight. Of course, I brought Antivenoms to cure that, but since heroes can only use items on themselves, it's unavoidable to take at least the first tick. Unless the fight ends before that, but I'm not exactly close yet.

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And after that, Cliffheart and Honeybadger bring the Impaler down. That should make the rest of the fight a lot easier...

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...but it's still too late to prevent the Warlord from pushing Lawrence's stress to that dreaded 100. Honestly - if you're brought to the Darkest Dungeon solely to take hits directed at the others, it's understandable if you have enough at some point.

Lawrence: "I am the backbone of this unit!"

Self-preservation is paramount - at any cost!

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It doesn't disable Lawrence's abilities, of course...

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...but it's still an additional tax on the group. This bark is the reaction to Honeybadger attacking a target that Lawrence disagreed on (umm... so who did you want him to attack?) and it stresses out the other three heroes a little.

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One small problem here is Cliffheart's limited range with his basic kill-marked-targets attack. He uses his first action after the Impaler goes down to reapply the mark on the Warlord, but he has to waste the second one on removing the corpse that the Impaler left behind.

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Still, one Templar is less dangerous than two, even with some temporary setbacks...

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...and the Warlord goes down on turn 7.

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The party is pretty worn out at this point, but I'd still rather wait with the second camp until I'm closer to the last remaining quest location. For that reason, Honeybadger munches some food until he's stuffed, which brings him back to a safe-ish HP count.

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I brought a whole three stacks (or 36 rations) of food, so it's not a risk to use it for healing. In addition, one of our heroes (Honeybadger himself, if I recall) has the Stress Faster quirk, so they don't consume food during hunger checks or when camping, as long as their stress is 50 or above.

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Next, we do a big backtrack, avoiding the direct way back to the entrance, on which we would've run into two additional fights. I don't think additional hallway fights spawn in the Darkest Dungeon, as they occasionally do on regular missions - or I was a bit lucky for not running into one. In any case, the additional stress from walking about is certainly less than we would've suffered in those fights.

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There's no sneaky way to avoid any more battles on the way to the third quest location, though. First one is against two Priests and a mostly harmless Rapturous Cultist...

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...and it goes pretty quickly.

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The only remarkable part is another Selfish bark from Lawrence. This one moves him forward one rank - without losing a turn, but it's still annoying to lose his trinket buffs that way.

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The last regular battle of the mission has the same enemy line-up plus a Malignant Growth in the front.

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It takes longer than the last one just by virtue of that additonal foe...

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...and includes another flash of Selfishness by Lawrence. This one doesn't do any harm now, but can be dangerous in the upcoming boss fight: It makes Lawrence use a random skill, so if I'm unlucky, Cliffheart might be unguarded at an inopportune moment.

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For the pre-fight camp buffs, I go a little differently - no stess healing for Honeybadger (assuming that the enemies will still prioritize stressing Lawrence) and instead of Lawrence buffing the party, Cliffheart buffs himself.

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Both because Cliffheart's camp skills *are* pretty good, and because selfish people can often be pricks: I do try to give Honeybadger the +SPD/ACC boost from the Man-at-Arms skill list, but Lawrence refuses.

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*sigh*

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Still, I feel prepared! We're back to just one boss with two minions (this time with the boss in front), so this fight isn't quite as dangerous as the last.

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The Polyps in the back are fast and dodgy, but very frail (25 HP). This attack is [Venomous Phlegm]: relatively low damage, but it carries a Blight and a Mark. The latter of which indicates that we might run into these enemies again in future Darkest Dungeon missions, since neither Polyp nor the Templar Impaler at the front have any means to do bonus damage against marked targets.

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This one is [Banish], which just pushes the target back two ranks.

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The team comp that we use isn't terribly vulnerable to this, but it's still annoying - Saria in rank 2 can't use her single-target heal, and Lawrence loses his trinket benefits again.

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Honeybadger, Cliffheart, and Saria (in that order) all go before the Impaler, so he goes down almost to half health before taking a turn.

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Unfortunately, Saria doesn't get lucky with her Stun this time (as I said, 42% chance)...

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...and the Impaler is able to revelate an unguarded and unprotected Cliffheart. The direct damage is honestly not the worst that we've been hit by...

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...but the stress nuke is pretty darn strong. I think that's a 32 behind the speech bubble? That would be a 20% reduced impact, but obviously still enough to push Cliffheart to 100 stress with another hit.

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But luckily, Lawrence is a bro this time and his Selfish affliction doesn't act up right now.

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And Saria manages to dodge the [Stinger Stab], which saves us a huge amount of damage.

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Round 2 opens with two more Banish attacks by the Polyps. Saria gives in and gets pushed to the back, while Lawrence chooses a bad time to have a good resistance roll. It's not too bad - other than Lawrences trinkets, everybody can still do their job from where they are now.

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Like for example bring the Impaler down to a single hit point. I can't even be mad about the "1 HP" part, since crits don't deal random damage (it's always max Dmg * 1.5)...

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Also, Saria gets the job done almost immediately afterwards (Lawrence had to eat one last Revelation). Well done, team!

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The Polyps don't despawn - makes sense because they aren't summoned minions - and they choose to be annoying...

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...but they really aren't an actual threat on their own.

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Look, Ancestor, this dungeon is *hard*, so you shut your mouth.

Actually, don't, your lines are still awesome. Except this one.

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No reason to stick around any longer - we collected the only treasure on the map already. The fixed reward makes this a reasonably profitable mission, but the most important part is obviously the step to the final mission.

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Oof, pretty rough missions on the heroes, between bad negative quirks, three sicknesses, and two "tinker" quirks on maxed out adventurers. I guess it's appropriate for the occasion.

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Your progress is measured only in progressive realization, and dawning horror. You are in the shadow of the end.

Aw, come on, Wayne June. Surely, we'll have a happy end with floofy puppies and kitties and a nice "everybody laughs" ending.

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The hero for hire is actually really good, with a great selection of positive quirks, including a second Twilight Dreaming hero despite the description (I believe one of our Shieldbreakers already has that one).

However, I believe our other Legend Abomination might be very cross with me if I replaced him with Villehardain. Maybe our other, lower-level Abom...?

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...I think I'll succumb to the Sunk Cost Fallacy. Three locked-in positive quirks? No way I'll kick Vincent!

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Indeed, Lawrence. I remember that "exhausting" is quite accurate to describe that one, but it'll have to wait for a while - I'll try to wrap up the regular bosses before venturing into the Darkest Dungeon again.

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For today, I'll just quickly do the Sanitarium management - three fresh Darkest Dungeon veterans in the Medical Ward, and the newly resurrected Nearl locks in her Evasive quirk. She didn't get lucky during her own turn in the Medical Ward - there's a chance that the Sanitarium removes two diseases at once, but Nearl still suffers from the Worries (+30% stress). Which means that she won't go on any adventure this week, so she might as well use the time in the Sanitarium anyway.

But Who will go on What adventure will have to wait until next update. Thanks for reading!

 

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  • Update 34 - The Wicked Witch
Spoiler

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Righhhht, I forgot something: Heroes that went to the Darkest Dungeon don't count against the cap, so I have room to recruit Villehardain (the awesome Abomination from the tail end of the last update) in exchange for twenty crystal shards.

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I also have the trinkets (300 crests, much to Edelgard's horror, as far as I'm aware of 3H's story) to rebuild the Outsiders Bonfire. It's honestly not a bad bonus at all - most of the time, there's more camp skills that I want to use than respite points to fit them into.

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For the next mission, I decide to ignore the available Ancestral trinkets. The Pistol in particular is pretty neat for an Arbalest or a Plague Doc, but it's the reward for a Ruins mission, which wouldn't give me any headway towards another boss fight. Instead, we go for the Holy Orders, which... probably would be better for classes with less HP and that spend less time attacking (i.e. recovering stress through crits and kills). Still not bad though.

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Since this is just a regular mission, I'll just go over the team comp a bit. I've gone over the merits of frontline Occultist (great stunner) and backline Crusader (Holy Lance to crush the enemy backline) - in this case, I added a Jester for the extra Spd/Acc/Crit from [Battle Ballad]...

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...and Batta for general Beastliness. And also ripostes, which benefit nicely from the extra accuracy.

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Starting from rank 4, Arden has two Holy Lances available by default, but Sora can use [Dirk Stab] to move forward, pushing Arden back to rank 4.

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But sometimes, the team still shuffles itself through. The beauty of that is that it really isn't much of a problem. The tankiest hero is standing in front? OH NOES?!

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That previous screenshot also happens to be the lowest that HP goes during the mission, so I think it's fine to go right to the [Finale]...

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...and the loot. Eh, 's alright.

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Unerring and Natural (bonus stats when fighting naked without trinkets) are both kinda useless - the only ranged Crusader skill is his grocery list... I mean his multi-target attack Zealous Accusation, which is far from his best ability. Unholy (= undead) enemies are specifically the enemy type that the Crusader deals extra damage against, so Satanophobia is kinda annoying to get.

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So away it goes. Same with Sora's Gambler quirk, since gambling is bad for you, kids. Especially when you lose a very rare trinket that you were very hyped to find.

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That last mission was enough to unlock the last Hag boss mission. If I recall, we don't have a Hell's Hairpin, so I'll get to it immediately, too, if only for completionist's sake. I haven't been dark runs, after all, although this trinket would be excellent if I go for one in the future.

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The team: Rather offensively-minded. First, Batta goes into action immediately again, since he doesn't have any residual stress from last mission. I remember the Hag having a fair number of AoE attacks, which makes his Riposte very valuable.

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Second, Sigurd, since Arden is busy guarding the home castle and getting over his fear of Loptyr. The Hag occupies the two back ranks, so Sigurd will be very dependent on Holy Lance. The hope is that Batta's Duelist's Advance (which moves him forward a rank) will allow Sigurd to constantly dish out damage.

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Third, Frostleaf. As I said, offensively-minded team, mostly focussed on direct damage. The Hellion has an easier time hitting 3rd/4th rank consistently, so Frostleaf should be able to do her thing even if the rest of the plan doesn't work out as intended.

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And finally, Specter. Not so much for the boss fight (which is more of a damage race), but to get there safely.

Remind me, Mr Wayne June, what was the deal with the Hag again...?

Quote

I had collected many rare and elusive volumes on ancient herbal properties and was set to enjoy several weeks immersed in comfortable study. My work was interrupted, however, by a singularly striking young woman who insisted on repeated calls to the house.

Her knowledge of horticulturalism and its role in various arcane practices impressed me greatly. My licentious impulse gave way to a genuine professional respect, and together, we began to plant, harvest, and brew.

Awesome, thanks a bunch. How rare to hear of you having a mutually beneficial relationship with somebody. It's nice, for a change...

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She quaffed all manner of strange fungi, herbs, and concoctions, intent on gaining some insight into the horror we both knew to be growing beneath us. The change in her was appalling, and no longer able to stomach it, I sent her to live in the weald, where her wildness would be welcomed.

...look, it's far from the worst thing you've done, but if your friend has a drug problem, it's not nice to throw them out to live on the street. Or weald, in this case. I understand if you don't want to live with them anymore, but do try to at least help them getting help.

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OK, here we go. The boss will be in one of the dead ends in the top left, which is moderately far away.

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Sigurd starting in rank 2 isn't a mistake - since Batta is much faster, he can consistently push Sigurd back by using Duelist's Advance before Sigurd's turn. Afterward the first Holy Lance, keeping Sigurd in the front is usually fine - the backline is hopefully thinned out by the end of the second turn, and Sigurd can use his Stun to reduce incoming damage.

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Camping comes with a bit of a mistake - Frostleaf doesn't have all of the Hellion's "More Damage" camp skills unlocked, so Specter chimes in with less useful prayer instead. Batta goes for even more damage and some accuracy for his ripostes.

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And with that (and again with the "regular" dungeon-work skipped for brevity's sake), it is time to put an end to the last stage of the Hag.

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As hags have done since Hänsel and Gretel got lost in the forest that one time, she starts preparing a meal. She goes for Specter, which should be to our advantage - less damage output lost that way.

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The race is on! Frostleaf mostly spams [If it Bleeds] - a substantial 35% damage penalty compared to her Iron Swan, but the bleed (4 points per round) should make up for that.

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Wait, I thought you were cooking Specter! [Taste the Stew] does very little damage, but adds some stress (also not important) and heals the Hag by 14 points (more important).

The hag is kinda reluctant with her AoE attacks... (checks wiki) Oh, it's only one of her three regular attacks? That does make Riposte a little worse than I thought.

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I didn't know that at that point, though, so I prioritize the Riposte over Sigurd's consistent damage. By not using the Riposte skill...?

Yes, because Ripostes come with a somewhat jankily implemented damage penalty. It's included in the Riposte "status effect", and if a Highwayman (or Man-at-Arms) uses their Riposte set-up every turn, it stacks up to twice its 15% base value.

...which is not as high than I remember it to be. Huh, I guess I didn't play optimally at all during this fight.

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Because while it's nice to lower stress, this *is* a damage race. And between Sigurd only attacking half of the time...

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...and the Hag refusing to hit Batta, my damage output is way lower than it could be.

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FINALLY!

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DAMMIT!

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Somewhere near the start of turn 3, the damage over time from being cooked alive brings Specter to Death's Door, which causes her to be poured out of the cauldron...

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...and to the front of the formation. Not good.

Specter: "I am ready, Light!"

Hag, presumably: "IF YOU CAN STILL TALK, YOU PROBABLY NEED ANOTHER MINUTE IN THE CAULDRON!"

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NOT GOOD.

NOT GOOD AT ALL.

...it's hard to bitch too much about this one, honestly. Bad fight on my part. Not the best luck, I guess, with Specter dying at the first opportunity, but still played pretty stupidly on my part.

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Just to drive this home: The hag actually died to Batta's Riposte. Which I also failed to capture, because I still was a little salty at that point. But the bottom line is that if I hadn't wasted Sigurd's turn, the Hag might not even have had gotten that opportunity to finish Specter. *sigh*

Heartless bastard that I am, I do have to mention that Specter's death isn't as bad as previous Vestal deaths were - she already went to the Darkest Dungeon, so this doesn't make it necessary to raise yet another Vestal to max level. Still shitty to lose a character, of course.

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...yay.

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I knew that the prim-and-proper attitude was just a mask!! ...or we can head-canon this as Sigurd pining after Deidre, so he refuses to go to the brothel. Or we can head-canon this as the sex workers refusing to put on a purple wig.

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This week, the stagecoach is unusually filled, with 10 instead of 4 new recruits.

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With only one Lv.3 one among them, but Brèvedent isn't half bad. +10 innate DODGE is really nice on an already evasive class, and two points of speed on a buffing character also doesn't hurt.

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But even better than two points of speed: Four points of speed!!

I don't think the Performance Hall's other bonuses are very good, though. If you have a Jester on your team, you shouldn't struggle with stress to begin with, and the Finale skill's high damage comes from the other Jester skills all giving it a damage boost. Going from, what, 300% damage to 320% isn't quite as impactful. So overall, one noteworthy boost to one single class, which makes the Performance Hall a fairly low-priority district.

With some heirloom trading, I also have enough to rebuild the Granary. I honestly have no idea how the +15% healing works - eating only recovers very little HP, so 15% would round to either +1 or +0. The free food is a nice little money saver every week, though.

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Next mission: collect some XP for our four remaining sub-Lv.3 adventurers. Consequently, there's not much finesse in the team comp, but at least everybody is in a spot that they work well in.

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There's technically some mark synergy - Idéfix could set it up for Provence, and if I'd swap him and Vigna around, our Shieldbreaker could get in on the fun, as well. But regular low-level fights basically never last long enough for this to be worth the effort, so Provence is limited to her more middling normal damage.

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Worth noting: Obélix's little dog loses his love interest after sprinkling some holy water on a tentacle, so he isn't forced to go to the brothel for stress relief anymore.

Also worth noting: That fact that the previous sentence makes sense is proof that god doesn't exist and/or hates us.

Idéfix: "Excellent!"

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But other than that, it's just a pretty easy mission at this point. Since nothing stops me from equipping only the best trinkets on my low-level heroes, they're actually a fair bit stronger than low-level mission expect them to be, so it's not too surprising that they mostly breeze through them without much resistance.

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Huh, all still at Lv.2, so I'll probably do another Apprentice mission in the future, which should bring Idéfix and Talvace up to 3. Quirk-wise, Kleptomatic is a highly annoying one, while Unyielding hopefully won't come up too often (but it reduces the chance of death from 33% to 23%, so it's quite good when it does).

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Back in the village we are greeted by something new:

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The "Thief in the Night" unlocks a unique mission in the Weald, with no direct rewards outside of the trinkets that the Shrieker just randomly stole. As far as I know, this mission can be delayed (unlike the Vvulf-the-brigand event, which you have to respond to immediately), but I don't see see a reason not to go into it immediately.

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Ze team! The Shrieker is very dodgy, so even the already very accurate Kroos doesn't mind an additional boost to her accuracy. Plus, more damage and more crit.

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Similarly, Dismas gets some +DMG, +ACC, and +CRIT modifiers. Highwayman is pretty good at dealing damage, and he can use a mark that is set up for/by Kroos.

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Lucy is mostly here to set up mark, debuff the Shriekers DODGE, and heal as necessary. The Shrieker mission is actually just the one fight against the big birb, so there's not much use in bringing a Vestal as a more dedicated healer.

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And finally Cliffheart, to complete the mark-based set-up. Fully committed to damage, no shuffle/stun shenanigans.

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Before we go in, the usual hamlet management - some quirks (our awesome Abomination now receives considerably less stress)...

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...and another recruit because why not. "Contender" is another name from the library of suggestions - we'll see how much action he will see.

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Pictured: Me wondering if you can use food to heal during a fight.

(nope)

Otherwise, I bring some healing items plus two Aegis scales, from the Shieldbreaker nightmares. They block one attack's direct damage when used, which counts as a free action, so they're pretty good in a pinch. If I don't need them, I believe they'll go back to the stack, so no cost in playing it safe.

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But here we go! Get those trinkets back!

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The Shrieker appears together with his nest, both of them occupying two ranks. But although this looks a bit like the Hag set-up, it works quite different.

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[Peck]

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First off, the Shrieker will jump to and fro during the fight. Not with every attack, but with three actions per round, it'll still move around a lot and put out a lot of hurt in the process.

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A lot of its attacks also carry bleed or debuffs, which is why I brought a fair amount of Holy Water to preemt status effects, and Bandages and Herbs to cure them.

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You might have spotted that Lucy got his turn before the Shrieker, and used it to put a mark * on the nest *. This is the next difference to the Hag fight: It's possible - and profitable - to destroy the nest, which will then drop a number of treasures.

However, the fight is timed, since the Shrieker will escape with its last action on turn 4. As long as you survive the fight (and it's unlikely that the Shrieker will wipe your entire party), you'll get your trinkets back, but it can be a challenge to get additional value out of the fight.

I'm not quite sure what killing the Shrieker itself yields. There are some Shrieker trinkets, but the wiki lists them as rewards for another Shrieker mission, so I don't know if they also drop if you manage to kill it here. The wiki also says that you're more likely to gain positive "Corvid" traits, but overall I think it's more valuable to focus on the nest.

That said, Dismas uses [Duelist's Advance] here to set up a riposte, which obviously won't do anything against the nest - I vaguely hope that I'll be able to get a full sweep, so this is a compromise to work towards that.mgtNqAe.jpg

Kroos and Cliffheart just whack the nest, getting it just below half health. Cliffheart has to use [Finish Him] here because his anti-mark attack can't reach the back, but he still gets some bonus damage from his trinkets. And from the crit.

Cliffheart: "I've come to collect!"

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Meanwhile, the Shrieker goes for a [Regurgitate], which debuffs the target with -15 ACC. Not good if you're unprepared, since it practically adds to the Shrieker's 62.5 DODGE, but it can just be healed with some Medical Herbs.

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And another [Peck], which unfortunately doesn't get retaliated.

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And at the start of turn 2, the third of its four tools: [Caw] - low HP damage, but it also causes 25 stress if it hits.

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We already manage to destroy the nest on turn 2, too, helped by a crit from Dismas.

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Cliffheart didn't even need to contribute, so he sets a mark on the Shrieker instead. The Bounty Hunter's mark isn't the best option in this case - it reduces PROT (damage reduction), which the Shrieker doesn't have, and doesn't debuff DODGE.

Marking strats in particular aren't quite as good agaisnt the Shrieker itself because of its three attacks per round. Both the debuffs and the mark itself tick down with every action, so you need to reapply it a lot. For this team, it's still quite worthwhile, but generally speaking, a simpler approach is probably more effective if you want to focus on the Shrieker.

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*hacking noises*

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*hacking noises, but a different kind*

(Regurgitate has a chance to hit a second target, unfortunately not our Highwayman in this case)

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At the start of turn 4, the Shrieker is still above half health - looking through the screenshots, this is probably around the expected value. I've been a bit unlucky and Dismas didn't get any Ripostes in, but all my attacks connected and Lucy didn't need to spend any turn to heal.

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OK, everybody follow suit....

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[Call the Murder]

Good, good...

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GOOOOD....

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aww...

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And unfortunately, the Shrieker gets its third action before Cliffheart can get a whack in. Lucy managed to set up a mark, so there's a good chance that Cliffheart would've gotten the kill.

But as is, the Shrieker uses [Shrieking Flight]...

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...which leaves everybody with a bunch of stress. But also victorious!

Lucy: "I-I don't want to die here!"
Cliffheart: "We have seen such horrors already!"

Oh shush, y'all are still around half health.

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The reward for destroying the nest: four Trapezohedrons, or 14000 gold. And of course, we get our trinkets back - no new ones, though.

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Dismas picks up one of the six Corvid quirks (three good, three bad). But it could not protect him from The Runs. Ironic.

33% is actually about twice as strong as the regular Disease Resist Quirk, but I think I'm still more excited about Cliffheart's Luminous trait. More speed is always nice.

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Back at the hamlet, we get another event of the category "great if it happens, but it probably won't". The base chance for a hero to get a virtue at 100 stress instead of an affliction is 25%, so this puts it close to a coinflip, but it's still an improvement to a roll that isn't made all that often. Especially because I'm going for another Apprentice mission - after a little bit of bookkeeping:

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Extra accuracy (and no reduced dodge) for our new Highwayman!

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And some quick quirk management for Cacophonix (the artist formerly known as Brèvedent - I only now remembered to look at the library of suggestions). Meanwhile, Dismas hopes that he'll stop pooping his pants until next week.

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"Activate Infected Corpses"
Umm......

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OK, "disinfect" seems a bit more reasonable.

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This is the exact same team that I sent on an Apprentice mission earlier this update, and it's still quite over-equipped for this tier of expeditions. Contender (the new Highwayman) would've been eligible for it, too, but he's busy self-improving in the Sanitorium.

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It's worth noting that Bloodsuckers are appearing on regular missions again, so I might want to start thinking about venturing into the Courtyard again. No Crimson Curses thus far, though.

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The objective is to find three of these Infected Corpses - I'm pretty sure we've done similar missions before, just not in the Weald. It's a small advantage that we *bring* quest items to use on the objectives instead of collecting quest items, since this leaves more space for loot.

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But like last time, this quartette doesn't have too much trouble getting through the mission, so I'll just skip ahead again.

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They do spot a secret room, which increases the loot quite a lot. Still not the best yield, but not terrible for a low-level mission.

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And Idéfix comes out of it with a very good quirk. Good boy! The Houndmaster is generally more dodge than raw HP, but it never hurts to have more of the latter.

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The unique reward: An easier time if we go to the Weald next week, as well. We'll see if we do next time - there's still one boss there to be unlocked and fought there, hopefully with less stupidity on my part than the previous one.

Thanks for reading!

 

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  • Update 35 - The Art of Persuation (And Its Limitations)
Spoiler

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And for our next mission, we shall NOT go to the thicket!

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Instead, to the Cove we go, trying to unlock the final fight against the Sirene. My main reasoning: The Thing From The Stars is roaming the Cove, and both Shieldbreaker and Graverobber do quite well againt both it and the regular Cove enemies, thanks to their armourpiercing skills.

We don't end up running into the Thing, but it's the thought that counts, right?

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Maybe a bit wasteful, but I send three of last week's heroes into stress recovery. But money isn't as tight anymore as it used to be, so it should be fine.

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For teambuilding, I'm still a little restricted for intermediate expeditions, but this group still works together nicely. Vigna is the most boring part of team, as much as I like the Shieldbreaker, mostly being restricted to [Pierce].

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She can also pull out an [Adder's Kiss] for the additional damage (Cove enemies are usually not too Blight-resistent), but this messes up positioning.

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Specifically, Vincent's positioning, who doesn't have his stress-reducing trinket for transforming equipped and thus doesn't like to be pushed to the front.

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On the other hand, he doesn't have any trouble with Skadi pushing him back to rank 3 when she uses [Lunge], since Human Abom can use all of his skills from the middle ranks. For longer fights, Skadi can use Shadow Fade to set up another supercharged Lunge (or use SF's damage boost to get a kill with a weaker attack, then Lunge the turn after), but most of the time...

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...she just throws some daggers or uses Pick to the Face for the armourpiercing effect after her initial Lunge.

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Oh, and Talvace heals. Figures.

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As far as noteworthy events go, Vigna gets two positive traits from checking out Bas-Reliefs: Eldritch Hater (+Dmg and -Stress) and Unholy Slayer (+Acc and +Crit).

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We also pick up two Jute Tapestries, which are usually pretty rare, so that's some decent money.

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But that's about it. No exploding Thralls, no Crimson Cursed adventurers.

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Just a ton of money. You might notice that I don't value trinket quite as much during this update, since I'm not looking to use them on anything hugely important. Towards the end of the update, I'll notice that I've forgotten about two decently strong districts, but that was too late to change my priorities for this round.

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Quirks a kinda bleh, considering that I don't plan to go to the Ruins anymore. Demonomania is one of those "chance to lick a type of curio", which makes is medium priority to remove.

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New town event! Potentially a pretty good one, but I'm not going make use of it...

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...because there's a Siren to kill.

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(After just a small bit of hamlet management)

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I plan to go in with a Mark team, to play around the Siren's ability to charm a party member for a couple turns. Since all* of Cliffheart's bonus damage is conditional, his whacks against his team mates won't be as devestating if they come to pass.

(*) The Bounty Hunter's basic attack does deal bonus damage against humans, which I didn't think of at the time, but it'll be fiiiine.

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Rhys is here as our primary healer - I go with him over a Vestal because he can set up marks.

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Pramanix is here to bring some excitement. The "5% random target" is probably not a good pick when the Siren constantly pulls one of our heroes over to her side of the fight, and unlike Cliffheart, she does bring a bonus to her base damage. I was considering to bring a Highwayman instead of her, but the Eldritch Slayer quirk convinced me to take a bit of a risk. She does have a mark-abusing attack in her arsenal and Shieldbreaker is better against the regular Cove enemies to begin with.

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And finally, Kroos. Arbalest is a pretty easy pick if you're going with a mark team, and her damage against non-marked targets is nice and low.

I have to say that I don't love the heavy mark setup for the march to the Siren, what with the Cove enemies often sporting high PROT, but you generally don't have to fight too many fights when you just beeline to the boss. But before we get to that - Mr Ancestor, remind me just how evil you are, will you?

Quote

My lofty position wasn't always accompanied by the fear of office, and there was a time when I could walk the streets or raise a glass in the tavern without concern for molestation. Faithful as the tide, one precocious village waif made it her hobby to shadow my every errand. It was charming then, troublesome later.

In financial desperation, I struck a bargain with the ancient things that surfaced in search of sacrifice when the moon was right. Their price was the delivery of an obscure idol and one other item of more troubling portent. The pact struck, my new-found accomplices slipped silently beneath the brackish water. A fearful stirring at the edge of the torchlight betrayed a familiar witness and gifted me with malign inspiration.

Yeahhhh, it's been pretty clear where this was going, huh? Let's get it over with.

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Before she could properly appreciate her position, I clamped down a manacle, chaining her to the leering idol. A small push was sufficient to send both into the icy waters. And, when at length the tide receded, jewels of the most magnificent grandeur lay scattered upon the shore.

News at 8: Local Man Ruins Everything.

I always wondered what became of the unfortunate little waif...

Oh, push off!

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...
......

"Beeline to the boss", I said. Well, find me in the alps. Or rather in the ocean. I do wonder what "Find me in the ocean" would be an euphemism for.

Welp, let's start marchi--

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-- What a GREAT start to the mission!!

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And it continues that way: The very first fight...

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...already brings Rhys to a rather worrying stress level. Like, not immediately dangerous, but since enemies like to stress stressed heroes, there's a good chance that Rhys won't reach the boss without catching an affliction.

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Second fight: 75 stress. GRRREAT...!

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Third fight: Mini boss. GRRRRRRRREAT!!!!!

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Luckily, this fight doesn't go quite as badly...

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...with some exceptions, of course, but without any stress gain outside of this crit.

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Oh geez... Stress nukers in the back! I repeat, STRESS NUKERS IN THE BACK!!

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Alright, make that "Stress nuker", singular...

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...and he only hits Rhys once! Still in the game!

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Through luck (then next Shaman goes for a buff instead of his stress nuke here) and impeccable skill *cough*...

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...we manage to reach the penultimate room with a still fully operational Occultist. I was not looking forward to a bossfight with a irrational or masochistic healer, so I'm really glad that this worked out fine, if just barely.

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And now we can rest, and maybe not use that skill...

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I ultimately go for these three combat boosts plus a little stress heal on Rhys. No protection from ambushes, because I once again forgot to check if Rhys knows that skill, but we're lucky.

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...yeah, still not buying your indignation, gramps.

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So here we go! Cliffheart rolls the highest initiative, so he's unfortunately the one who has to set up the initial mark despite being the hardest hitter on the team.

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Still, no bad start...

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...and it gets better with Pramanix resisting the power of tiddies.

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And even better better with Rhys using his turn to get a Stun. Although, to be fair, the Siren only has a pitiful 100% Stun resist. No match for Rhys's 180% Stun chance.

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OK, 150% Stun resist (+50 because the game doesn't want you to have fun chain-stun) turns out to be a bit too much. Worth the shot though, since the Siren is still Marked and everybody on my side is on full health.

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The Siren tries her spiel again...

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...and it turns out that Cliffheart doesn't have Pramanix's willpower.

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But everybody got an attack in on turn 2 (even though Rhys didn't get the 30% stun), so the Sirene is already pretty low on HP without actually damaging any of our heroes.

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With her second action this turn, she goes for [Pressure Crash] - Rhys's dodge is valuable despite the pitiful HP damage, since it also causes 10 points of stress.

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Cliffheart: "I fight for love!"

For lust, my dude. Not sure which one of the basic "whack the enemy" attacks he's using here, the anti-Mark or the anti-Stunned version. I'm guessing the latter, because that one doesn't have the bonus damage against humans and 10 Dmg is pretty low on the BH's damage range (8-16).

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[Om Nom Nom]
Oh, no, sorry, [Devour]. It carries a 3-point Bleed, but it's still not too dangerous. The main strength of the Siren is her power of persuation.

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"Hmm... the Mark has expired, but it's probably more efficient to attack with Kroos and renew it with Rhys."

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DAMMIT!

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Cliffheart starts thinking with his upper brain again at the start of turn 4, getting shoved to the back of our formation. Because he can't use his direct attacks from there...

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...and Rhys gets another miss...

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...and Kroos uses a non-marking ability again, since Rhys has been bleeding profoundly...

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...ugh, I wanted to say "Cliffheart does the Marking again this time", but the turn order chooses to be disagreeable. And the Sirene probably told Pramanix that her parents aren't home, because Pramanix's willpower just melted away.

On the plus side, like Cliffheart previously, Pramanix already had her action this turn, so she'll at worst get one swing at us.

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There!
Cliffheart does the Marking again this time.

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And after one last Pressure Crash from the Siren, he makes use of it personally. Siren: Beaten.

Pramanix: "The tides...they took me"

Not sure if the game had a typo there.

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Honestly, that went better than I expected after the two fights, or after meeting the Collector. Decent loot, too, with not a lot of inventory space wasted on leftover supplies.

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Pretty nice quirk on Pramanix, too. She already has the Luminous trait, so that's a total of +10 DODGE - I haven't locked that one in yet, mostly because Pramanix has already been to the Darkest Dungeon.

On the flip side, Ashen is pretty bad and should be removed before it locks itself in, if possible.

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Back at the estate, we're greeted by the Fanatic...

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...who even hangs out at the town square, luckily without initiating a boss fight. I'm pretty sure we've seen the event before, but I'm guessing that the game reminds us because we never actually ran into him. He can appear if you bring at least two cursed heroes to a (non-Courtyard) mission, so he's pretty easy to avoid unless things really go out of hand.

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Look at that, Rhys will lose his Ashen quirk before it locks itself in. And Cliffheart also had a not locked in Luminous trait - he's also been to the Darkest Dungeon, so I didn't prioritize it on him, either.

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Next week's team is going to include a Hellion with bonus damage against Bloodsuckers, so it should be clear that it's Courtyard o'clock again. We only have the one initial invitation to the last segment, so the last boss still has to wait for a while, but it doesn't hurt to get some of the dungeon out of the way.

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We also bring Warfarin, packing a lot of crit on his melee attacks (which is to say all of them).

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Or not...?

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I have always assumed that the Reclaim skill is shit, since the Bleed it causes is stronger than the HP it recovers. But as it turns out, that still goes against the Flagellant's Bleed resist, with a base 160% chance at max level. And with the Fortifying Garlic, that goes down to 2%, which makes this a lot more reasonable.

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Next, a stabby Plague Doctor. Her one melee skill, Incision, isn't too good at base, but the Bloody Herbs make it worthwhile. I was considering doubling up on it by giving Phil half of her Crimson set, which also boosts that skill, but I *am* primarily bringing her for her Stun abilities and the Blasphemous Vile is just too good to skip.

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Finally, Saria, for the reliable sustain that a Vestal brings. I never seem to get a lot of scouts in the Courtyard, even if I bring trinkets that should increase the chance, so I go with the Lantern instead of the Map, to make it less likely to get into fight shuffled. None of these heroes particularly like being out of position.

Alright, before we go into the mission, we get a second Courtyard cinematic. It's been a long time, but this is what our friendly, philantropist Ancestor had to say when we first ventured into the Courtyard:

In those younger years my home was a hive of unbridled hedonism, a roiling apiary where instinct and impulse were indulged with wild abandon. A bewitching predator slipped in amidst the swarm of tittering sycophants. Though outwardly urbane, I could sense in her a mocking thirst. Driven half-mad by cloying vulgarity, I plotted to rid myself of this lurking threat, in a grand display of sadistic sport. But as the moment of murder drew nigh, the gibbous moon revealed her inhuman desires in all their stultifying hideousness.

(rewatch the video here)

So, for once, the Ancestor wasn't at fault for a horrible thing that occured. Right? RIGHT?!

Little word of warning - I find that this second cutscene a little disturbing even by this game's standards. Viewer's discretion is advised.

Spoiler

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Mercifully, the morbid encounter resolved itself in my favor,

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and I set to work pursuing degeneracy...

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...in its most decadent forms.

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The air pulsed with anticip--

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--pation as I revealed the unnatural terroir of the house vintage.

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But my exultation was cut short,

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as the attending gentry turned upon themselves in an orgy of indescribable frenzy.

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A single drop of that forbidden tannin...

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...gifted me with a dizzying glimpse of the hibernating horror beneath my feet...

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...and in that moment, I understood the terrible truth of the world.

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I stood reborn, molted by newfound knowledge,

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my head throbbing to the growing whine of winged vermin come to drink the tainted blood...

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...of the Darkest Dungeon.

Well, that was *gross*. And ominous. And here it is gross, ominous, and in motion.

And of fucking course the Ancestor managed to outplay and out-evil the bloody mosquito vampiress, who might draw inspiration from an alleged mass murderer who according to legend bathed in the blood of her victims. Why am I not surprised.

Alright, let's go look for the Blood Countess. It'll be *fun*!

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I'm going in with a lot of supplies - all the food, a good amount of healing items, shovels, and torches, and some Blood because I don't expect to go through the dungeon without anybody getting Crimson Cursed.

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Even my untethered imagination dares not conceive of what effect the years spent submerged in toxic sludge may have had on her heteromorphic flesh.

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As usual, the  map isn't revealed at the start of the expedition, although I again use a map to speed up things a little. But even with a map, you can't really avoid traps that you didn't scout in-game. Luckily, Frostleaf is quick on her feet to avoid this one.

(And yes, there's another trap on the path to the right)

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Even before we run into the first group of monsters, we find a Wine Crate, which can be smashed with a Shovel to get some Firewood to set up camp later. There's a handful of these on our path, so I'm hoping to get nice and far into the mission in this first attempt.

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But unfortunately, there's still some nasty buggers in my way. And maybe my own hybris. I didn't really equip the heroes very well to deal with stress - Phil's Blasphemous Vial, for example, increases stress received by 20% and she has no second trinket equipped that would counteract that penalty.

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And on top of that, Phil gets Crimson Cursed almost immediately, too. Although this one isn't the end of the world - it acts a bit like a mini-affliction, but with far fewer stress-inducing barks, and occasionally with a damage boost, while the character is in the Bloodlust phase.

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Here's Warfarin's [Reclaim] skill in action. I don't think I necessarily built a good team to make use of it? Both Saria and (to a smaller degree) Phil can heal HP, so this is a bit overkill. Maybe it's better with just an Occultist (who is a bit more versatile than a Vestal outside of healing)?

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Unnerved indeed...

Phil is catching a *lot* of stress right away, with the old "stress the already stressed" factor setting in immediately.

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She's already at 60+ stress after that crit, and this is only the third fight of the expedition.

Oh, and Saria is also cursed now. In the third fight of the expedition.

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Oh, and Frostleaf is also cursed now. In the third fight of the expedition.

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Because Phil gets hit by yet another 11 points of stress right before the fight is over, it is time to swap Warfarin's support skill over from HP healing to stress healing. Endure used to be pretty weak at low levels, but goes from -10/+10 stress to this much more advantageous deal. Plus, the Flagellant has a self-targetting camp skill that recovers 50 stress, so I'd much rather have Warfarin be my most stressed team member.

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Unfortunately, I didn't register one problem with Warfarin: He has the "Dark Temptations" quirk, which means that he has a high chance to lick "unholy" curios. As it turns out, a lot of curios in the vampiress's lair are considered unholy, and Warfarin is going to lick them 40% of the time. In this particular case, nothing bad happens - we get a scout from it, although it doesn't seem to unveil any fights/curios for some reason.

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"Treasure" being a second bundle of Firewood. Very nice!

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Less nice: The next fight opens with another 19 points of stress for Phil. She's now at 93...

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Warfarin does his best to help...

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...but to no avail. [The Thirst] already causes some stress to begin with, so a crit really hurts.

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Phil: "Burst those boils! Leech thouse wounds!"

Well, this sucks. An affliction means even more stress for the other three heroes, and Phil is likely to do stupid shit or refuse healing. To remove the affliction during the mission, she'd have to get down to zero stress for at least a short while, which isn't easy to accomplish.

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Especially when those fuckers keep drinking her blood!

(on the plus side, a nice side-by-side comparison of a hungry and a satisfied Manservant)

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...this hits different in 2021.

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And that refusal gets punished immediately, too. Death's Door, and even more stress as a result...

"Fun" fact: If an adventurer reaches 200 stress, they're immediately reduced to zero HP. If they already were at zero HP they die. FUN!

Phil: "The lob-lolly is dead! The lob-lolly is DEAD! (moan)"

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Phil: "No, I am testing my pain threshold this day."
(Warfarin: "Guess I'll just wack the enemy, then, I guess")

And of course, she also refuses Warfarin's stress heal. Afflictions are a terrible snowball.

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Luckily, Phil does accept three stress heal and two HP heals before the end of the fight, so it seems we aren't going to die horribly right now.

Phil: "Bones are like stone... MADE of stone... Shatter like stone!"

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I do have a fair bit of stress healing in my camp skills available, but Phil is still above 100 stress at the end...

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...she decides to be a bitch, stressing everybody out a little...

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...and because I used most of my resolve on stress recovery/prevention, I had to risk this.

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I'm semi-lucky here, since two spiders aren't exactly an existential threat, but this party really doesn't enjoy being shuffled. It's nice that Warfarin and Saria are still in position, but Frostleaf all the way in the back sucks pretty bad.

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There's also this right at the start of the fight, which feels like a bug - this is normally a anti-stalling mechanism that activates if you keep a single small (i.e. occupying one rank) enemy alive for multiple turns.

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But in this case, we immedately get a pair of stronger reinforcements, while Frostleaf and Phil are still quite out of position.

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Frostleaf does have access to [If it Bleeds] from rank 3, though, so she doesn't have to waste any time moving as long as there's still enemies in the middle ranks.

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And in fact, we manage to get through the fight with a net loss in stress. Considering that Phil started it with 110+, this is actually looking pretty amazing.

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Still, right now Phil is irrational and annoying. She also causes a 4-point Blight here, but I do have a bunch of Antivenoms with me to cure that.

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The two Chevaliers in the back can dish out a lot of damage, but at least this formation is fairly light on stress damage.

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Down to 31!

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And to 29 with this crit!

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I still decide to use the second Firewood after that fight - and Phil decides to screw things up. Refusing to eat...

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and refusal to accept Frostleaf's stress heal, so this was a waste of time.

Otherwise, I've been using the same skills as last time...

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...with the same outcome. But worse, with Phil at low health and much stronger enemies than before.

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Annoyingly, Phil refuses Warfarin's stress heal twice...

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...but she finally accepts on the third try, which gets her stress down to zero. For a very short time, since the Ghoul caused the Horror status on her, but that's enough to lose the affliction.

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Well then! We've mostly recovered!

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...for a short while. Oh boy.

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And we also complete the completely cursed set! Four out of four!

(and an almost side-by-side of the two forms of the Courtesan!)

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Next fight, next trouble.

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Specifically, next trip to Death's Door.

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This one isn't quite as dramatic, since Warfarin isn't quite afflicted yet and isn't at risk of refusing healing from Phil and Saria. With his own low-HP skill, he's basically back at full health...

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...but also so close to full stress that he reaches 100 while just walking through a corridor.

The Rapturous affliction is a feature specific to the Flagellant. They will always get it when they reach 100 stress instead of a random affliction or virtue. It's actually a mixed curse, if you will - it increases his damage by 25% and his Spd by +3, but it also reduces his Dodge by 20% and like all the other afflictions, it'll cause random negative actions and the occasional refusal to be healed or buffed.

Warfarin: "Blood washes my eyes and cleanses my vision!"

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The next fight (which unfolds without too much trouble) yields a key (YELLOW). Like previous Courtyard maps, there's a couple of locked doors to make sure that you can't skip too much of the dungeon even if you're a cheating bastard such as myself.

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Next fight, and I just have to show the Big Number courtesy of Frostleaf and her Bloodlust phase of the Crimson Curse.

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After that, we get a third stack of Firewood - good thing I brought a ton of food to the mission.

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But before we get to use it - next fight, next afflicted hero. ...I think this is the third, if not fourth Masochistic Vestal this run? Methinks RNGeesus is being a weirdo.

Saria: "My blood is my penance. Take it, heretic!"

Those who covet injury will find it in no short supply.

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Warfarin also returns to his old friend's door, which (Flagellant feature, if you don't remember) heals his newer friends. Two crit heals means that Phil and Saria actually lose stress seeing him almost die.

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Luckily, it stays at "almost - the only enemy attack targets Saria (so hurray for this crit...?) before she can heal Warfarin again.

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Right, your "vows".

Anyway - nope, no hurray for that crit, since Saria decides that Phil should not stop her blood loss.

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So, naturally, next Death's Door, this time only dishing out stress. Luckily, Saria doesn't do anything weird and just heals herself off it immediately.

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The fight continues to be a pain - but no more near-death experiences and affliction, thank the light.

Warfarin: "I do not attack you. It is the light that seeks to purify you."

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Also, nobody is being stupid and refuses to eat when I camp immediately afterwards.

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What the heck, Warfarin, this is only the second stress-healing Curio we've run into on this mission and you just have to ruin it...

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Next fight, next Death's Door - maybe I should stop pushing my luck?

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Just maybe...?

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While looking up this bark on the wiki, I saw that the other "party member gets injured bark" from a masochistic Vestal is "No! Take me instead! I... I have sinned so grievously!"

[BRB, rewatching Broly Abridged]

...hehe, Princess Trunks...

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But seriously, I should not keep pushing my luck. Incredibly enough, nobody had to roll against death this entire expedition, but with two afflicted heroes, two heroes with "was at Death's Door" debuffs (Flagellant doesn't get those), and our main healer two or three stress hits away from a heart attack, maybe I should return with less stress-increasing equipment.

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Honestly, I was hoping to cover a little more ground, maybe even enough to face the boss in the second expedition already. As is *peeks at the part of the map that I'm hiding from you*, I guess it's possible, but not very likely to reach the Countess in well-enough shape to give it a go.

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But for now, we'll have to wait until we run into a Gatekeeper enemy to get another Invitation drop.

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Two useless positive quirks, two awful negative ones. Meh. On the plus side, everybody being cursed means that nobody could catch any other disease!

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New town event, I think! Maybe we had an equivalent for another class? In any case - pretty useful, since there aren't any low-level bosses remaining that we'd have to save some low-level heroes to use against.

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Finally, I do some quirk management and throw Saria into the Abbey to make her less masochistic (Warfarin is low enough on stress that I can wait for him to hit zero). I've constantly been forgetting about Honeybadger's Perfectionist quirk (stress when he misses an attack), even though it made me un-pick him for a mission twice since his Darkest Dungeon run. Oh well, it's gone next week.

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...and then I do another long mission?

Yeahhh, let's fully skip that, the update is long enough as is.

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Actually, this one might be worth showing. Thanks to the Athenaeum district, Phil can read an unsettling passage and still *lose* stress from it. Makes it actually worthwhile to read books with your Occultist, Plague Doc, and (if I ever take her on a mission again) Antiquarian.

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But yeah, pretty relaxed mission compared to the last one. Nice to give the OG team composition a spin, although their damage output against the back ranks is a bit limited, since there's no room to start the Crusader in the back to open with Holy Lance.

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Pretty nice loot, too. Almost 30k gold, and I've been eyeing up the Pistol last update already. 15 Acc alone is a pretty nifty bonus, not to mention the Spd.

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With that, Nearl also reaches Lv.6 - not too impactful stat-wise, since you can get the best equipment at Lv.5, but it means that she won't suffer increased stress if she goes to the Darkest Dungeon or into the last Courtyard mission.

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It's also enough to unlock the Legendary Super Swine, so that's just one locked boss fight remaining in the Warrens, Weald, and Cove each.

But this update really has been long enough, so Wilbur will have to wait for the next one. Thus far, thanks for reading!

 

 

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  • Update 36 - I am very, very stupid
Spoiler

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Time for the next boss fight! The secondary trinket reward isn't too good this week (I'm not about to bring two Antiquarians to a mission, even if I'd suddenly be money-starved again), but that's not why I'm very, very dumb.

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It isn't because I brought an Arbalest to this mission, either, although it's related to that. But in principle, bringing an Arbalest to fight the Swine God is a very good idea...

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...since the Rallying Flare skill mostly counters that fight's entire gimmick. Since this skill is far too situational to be useful outside of the Swine fight, it's also, in theory, a good idea to un-equip it and only reactivate it right before entering the Swine God's room.

In practice, it's very, very dumb to plan all that and then forget to do that last, small and yet *very* crucial, step. TL;DR: We'll do the Swine God fight the old-fashioned way, which turns it from "pretty tame" to "really difficult.

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Let's still take a quick look at the other poor saps that are going to suffer from my awesome plays. It's a Mark team, identical to the Siren fight, actually. They work fairly well against the Swine, too - it only has a single attack per round, so Marks last longer than against most other bosses. It becomes weaker because one of Mark abusers has to use an unrelated skill every turn, although that won't be a problem for us.

In either case, Mark team means that the Bounty Hunter is always an obvious pick. Cliffheart has been seeing a lot of action lately.

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Mark team also means that Occultist is a good idea to bring. As you can see, the last Courtyard mission has influenced my Trinket picks.

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And finally, Shieldbreaker because Shieldbreakers are cool. Carrying her Crimson Court set this time, which is a bit weaker offensively, but Blight resist isn't too bad for the Warrens, higher Blight chance helps her Mark-abusing skill, and the defensive set bonuses are quite good.

As usual, here's a reminder what our Ancestor had to say the first two rounds against the Swine Prince/King/God:

Quote

The ways and rituals of blood sacrifice are difficult to master. Those from beyond require a physical vessel if they are to make the crossing into our reality. The timing of the chants is imperative: without the proper utterances at precise intervals, the process can fail spectacularly.

My first attempts at summoning were crude, and the results disappointing. I soon found, however, that the type and condition of the host's meat was a critical factor. The best results came from pigs, whose flesh is most like that of man.

We hadn't visited the Darkest Dungeon yet when we faced the tier 2 Swine, but now that we've seen the "Ascended Cultists" and "Cultist Priests", it's safe to assume that the Swine Thingie was the Ancestor's first attempt at *that*. Still, this was comparatively un-evil, considering what he had been doing to or with the other bosses...

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Moreover, it required prodigious amounts of meat to sustain itself. But this was only a trifling concern. After all, I had a village full of it.

THERE it is!

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A nameless abomination, a testament to my failures - it must be destroyed!

No long and winding path this time. Just three rooms between the start and the two possible Swine locations.

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Not sure if I mentioned it before, but the "size 2" in PLANNED TAKEDOWN's description isn't quite correct, since it also applies to even bigger enemies like, to take a random example, Swine Gods. With that plus Lucy's DARK STRENGTH, Cliffheart is set up to be the main damage dealer again.

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Welp, here we go. Let's hope for the best...

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Wilbur is who decides the flow of this battle. He now has two actions per round - one to use [Bit'o Squeal] to deal very minor damage and potentially Stun the target, but Pramanix resists the status here.

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And one to set a mark on one or two of our adventurers. Normally, this is the point where the Arbalest clears those marks, which leaves the Swine God flailing cluelessly.

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Instead, Kroos deals some OK-ish damage...

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...and the Swine God deals a LITTLE more damage.

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GREAT FIRST TURN, GUYS!

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GREAT START TO THE SECOND TURN, GUYS!

Lucy desperately heals himself away from Death's Door...

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...Kroos gets a less shitty damage roll...

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...OH FUCK

Second Death's Door! On turn 2!

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Kroos spends her turn healing Cliffheart, which is for the better...

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...because as low as Wilbur's direct damage is, it can still cause Deathblows.

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Pramanix and Cliffheart continue to whittle down the Swine God's health...

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...and Cliffheart is pretty darn lucky here.

Actually, I'm confused. According to the Wiki, [Obliterate Masses] deals 7-13 damage, double against Marked targets. Cliffheart is Marked and doesn't have any PROT on him, so... shouldn't he have taken at least 14 damage?

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This screenshot right before Piggy's attack shows that he still has his mark, too (and since both he and Lucy took their turns between Wilbur's Mark and the Swine God's turn, there's no reason why only one of them should still be active). I genuinely have no idea what happened here.

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Anyway, Wilbur gets a Stun on Cliffheart, which means that the Swine God is pretty much guaranteed to get another hit in, even though Pramanix landed a nice crit here.

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Oh good, Lucy succeeded his saving throw vs. death!

Oh no, Lucy is about to get slapped by the Swine God again!

Oh good, the Swine God is going to slap *only* Lucy!

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Kroos once again patches up Lucy, who then fails to reapply the expired Mark. Not good at all - every delay in defeating the Swine God could be fatal.

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The Swine God then... uses [Wild Flailing] on Pramanix? Wha? Why?

I can only see one thing that might connect those two last weird actions by the Swine God: Last time, Kroos used her heal on Cliffheart, who then took damage as if he wasn't marked. And this time, she healed Lucy, the only marked hero, and the Swine God acts like there is no marked hero at all. I have no idea why this should be a factor, though - the only side effect of Kroos's [Battlefield Bandage] is a bonus to Healing Received for subsequent healing spells on the same target, nothing Mark related at all. Also, the Swine God still used his "Two People Are Marked" ability the previous turn, so he still registered Cliffheart having a Mark...

TL;DR: WEIRD.

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Turn 5 opens with a very unimpactful crit. Cliffheart still has 2 HP remaining, and (maybe) thanks to his increased Stun resist following the Stun last turn, he won't lose his action this turn.

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...OK, I tell a lie. Next Death's Door, but it's Kroos's turn right after this and she once again bandages Cliffheart up.

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And this time, Lucy connects the Mark...

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...and Cliffheart isn't stunned, so he can bring 'er home. Battle: Over!

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Well, almost.

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And Wilbur decides to be difficult. He still has two actions, and since Marking makes no longer sense, he spends both of them using his Squeal.

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No! Bad piggy! Bad!

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NO!! BAD PIGGY!!! BAD!!!!!

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*sigh*

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I guess one dead hero is an appropriate price tag for the level of dumb-dumb necessary to forget literally the foundation of the entire strategy.

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And I guess it goes to show why we loot *Wilbur's* Flag. He was the main boss all along!

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Not too much to say here - Ashen bad, The Ague bad, Stress Faster (no food consumed if Stress > 50) whatever.

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In the village, Phil and and Warfarin have a Cursed party at the Sanitorium. Since the Flagellant is pretty good in the Courtyard, Warfarin works on his quirk, which (as we've seen) is pretty bad in the Courtyard. The cost is actually far lower than I expected - I guess it's significant in earlier stages, but in my current financial situation, I don't need to spend too much time worrying about locking in negative quirks anymore.

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For the next two missions, I bring the exact same line-up twice: SB, Abom, Vestal, GR. In fact, I bring three heroes twice: Vincent, Talvace, and Skadi.

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The first mission brings them to, or close to, Lv. 5...

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...and for the second one, Pramanix comes along instead of Vigna to give the other three a boost to their XP gain. Talvace, to make up for her lower level, supercharges her healing abilities with both her trinket slots. 34 HP is still fine, the Vestal is actually a decently tanky class.

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As an added min-max, Pramanix also enters the dungeon still suffering from a pretty bad disease. The Ague (probably supposed to be Malaria) gives -10% Dmg, -3 Spd, and -10% HP, so Pramanix was pretty handicapped until Skadi heals her during the first camp. I'd like to pretend that this was a long-hedged plan, but Pramanix only didn't go to the Sanitarium because she would've risked catching the Crimson Curse with the party going on in there, and then I remembered the Grave Robber's camping skill that heals diseases.

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In summary: Things went well, we're richer now.

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Also Curseder, although I'm sure Vincent Valentine is just being a big drama queen, as usual. It's pretty neat that all three of these heroes got right to max level, too - more candidates for the Darkest Dungeon and the Courtyard.

As far as quirks go, Pramanix did lose her awesome "less stress at high torchlight" quirk, but Hard Noggin honestly isn't terrible either. Vincent and Talvace also gained some decent ones.

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Next mission different team comp. Well, slightly, with Arden taking Vincent's spot. That's because there's already the Thing From The Stars roaming, I don't want to risk running into the Fanatic as well, so the uncursed Nearl comes instead of Talvace.

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It doesn't matter for the Fanatic if you get more cursed heroes during the mission, by the way - you get a warning at the start of a mission if the Fanatic is around, and if you didn't get a warning, he can't appear even if all your heroes caught the Crimson Curse.

So, let's free some Bloodsuckers from this weird egg thing.

Pramanix: "Fool me once..."

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GOT HIM!

That was a Gatekeeper...

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...which drops an Invitation, if you can kill it before it runs away. Nice.

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The mission we're running is a fetch quest, which I mostly picked because it gives the "Lost and Found" town event as a reward, I didn't remember what that does specifically, and maybe it's something nice.

(it just allows one free weapon upgrade, which basically means 3000 gold saved)

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Quite early on the mission, we scout two directly adjacent hallway fights - normal fights don't do that, so this is a clear indicator that we're about the find a Thing.

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Not quite yet...

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There we go! Long time no see, Thing!

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Let me shake your hand!

What I like about the Grave Robber is her high speed paired with the long-reach, high-damage [Lunge] attack to start a fight. She also has 28% Crit with it, so in regular fights, there's a good chance that she can just delete an enemy stress dealer before anything else happens.

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Afterwards, Nearl fails to stun the Thing (without good Stun trinkets, 125% resistance is pretty hard to overcome), and Pramanix uses [Adder's Kiss] for maximum damage output.

This is a neat showcase of this comp's flexibility: With the exception of Nearl, nobody really cares what position they're in. All three damage dealers can deal damage from every position (...with some possible restrictions what they can hit), so you can just use any dance move without screwing anybody over.

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For reguar fights, I would normally do this a bit differently - use Pierce with Pramanix, so Skadi gets pushed back to rank 3 by Arden's [Holy Lance], so she can Lunge a second time with no set-up. However, I remember that the Thing suddenly gains a *ton* of PROT at lower HP, so Skadi is probably going to be using her PROT-ignoring Pick to the Face soon anyway.

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The Thing makes things a bit difficult by using [Phase Gnaw] on Skadi twice. Its direct damage isn't super big, but between her Crimson Curse and one of her trinkets reducing her HP, neither is Skadi's health pool.

Luckily, Skadi resists one of the Blight effects, so she only takes 7 points of damage, i.e. not enough to get her to Death's Door.

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Between turns, the Thing always uses [Return from the stars] - chance to cause some modest stress...

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...and it spends 9 HP to create a Crystalline Aberration. If you don't kill it, it'll explode (as you can see in its skill list in the lower right), but if you do, it'll heal you for a couple HP. Pretty convenient, actually.

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Also pretty convenient!

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And pretty convenient again! I think this is [Vorpal Strike]...?

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And this is a big hit! You can see the 80% PROT appear in the Thing's stat sheet here - direct damage without armour piercing is almost worthless now.

Pramanix: "No defense can handle attacks from all directions!"

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I... think I disagree with that one, Wayne June.

Arden: "I judge thee guilty!"

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Yep, Vorpal Strike. No additional DoT, which is nice...

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...but it brings Skadi low enough for the already present Blight to get her to Death's Door.

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She obviously heals herself by smashing the Aberration, while Nearl and Arden heal Skadi's HP and stress, so Pramanix is the only one putting more damage on the Thing itself.

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And after a Weakening or Transfixing Shard (I didn't mouse over the debuff, so I can't tell)...

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...Pramanix is also the one dealing the final blow.

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We get some Crystal Shards and a nice trinket for if we'll do that torchless run at some point. Also some money, but eh.

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...
......no.

Not yet.

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Let's finish the mission first. Or second, because we need to fight another boss first, inadvertently this time.

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Damage!

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Not a successful Stun!

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More damage!

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And because the Collector summons his posse before Arden's turn...

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...even more damage!

([Holy Lance] can't hit rank 1)

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ALL THE DAMAGE!

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Enough damage, in fact, to finish this fight completely unscathed. Not bad.

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After that, we cleave through a couple more regular enemies...

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...and set up camp close to the Shambler's Altar. I largely recover stress, since I don't have a ton of direct damage boosts on this team, but Pramanix gives everybody a little edge, and Arden removes Skadi's penalty from having been at Death's Door this mission.

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Alright then, time to be stupid again! But this time on purpose!

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We've done the Shambler fight... two or three times already, I think? Once from a Shambler's Altar, like here, and once in the Farmstead, as far as I remember. This particular team does OK against him - the Armourpiercing from Skadi, Pramanix, and Pramanix's camp skill helps, and it's good that most of the team can't be fully out of position.

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Well, but of course the 25% gets the worst end of the stick.

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Shouldn't be too difficult to get out of, though. Skadi has to use her [Throwing Dagger] instead of the stronger Lunge...

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...and Pramanix can push Nearl back to rank 2 with a Pierce. She crit, too, so that's a nice chunk of early damage against the Shambler.

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Nearl doesn't have much to do when everybody is healthy, anyway. Looking at the numbers now, using [Dazzling Light] over the stronger Judgement was a mistake, since it's actually impossible for Nearl to get a Stun against the Shambler's great resist, but it's really not a ton of damage lost this way.

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There, that puts us back to our original positioning.

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The Shambler opens up with [Obdurous Advancement], which certainly is a term that is probably English...

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...and an ability which summons these two Spawns. They start out fairly harmless, but every attack they connect will buff them both offensively and defensively.

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I normally like to have a AoE attack to deal with these, for example from a transformed Abomination, but I don't have any available in this fight. I guess I could've tried using Impale on Pramanix, but that needs a specific team set-up to be used consistently every turn. The Crusader's grocery list would actually be fine, too, but Arden didn't even bring it.

(which is to say, I didn't want to pay money to improve that skill in the hamlet)

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There we go. I didn't take a screenshot of the tooltip and the table on the wiki is hideous, so have this bee-yutiful little card instead.

The danger of this attack is that it can stack, up to three times if the Clapperclaw doesn't miss an attack. Which it only does if you stun it, because one of the bonuses is to their accuracy.

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And Nearl only has a 50% chance to get a Stun through on them, so that's not exactly reliable, either. Even less so, since 40 DODGE isn't half bad, either.

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But we aren't looking too bad here. Everybody, especially Nearl, is in a good position...

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Shambler: "PSYCHE!"

[Stentorious Lament]

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...eh, I can work with that. The Shambler likes to shuffle the party around, which is why any team including a Leper or Arbalest probably isn't too great against it.

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But for us? Not a problem. Arden still one-shots the Spawn through its resistance (come to think of it - I always assumed that the "15% Armour Piercing" from the Shieldbreaker would reduce 25% PROT to 10%. If it's a percentage of a percentage, it would be pretty underwhelming), and Skadi gets another nice hit.

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Pramanix does not, because Shieldbreaker is slightly out of position all the way in the back, after all. The only move that Pramanix could use her is [Puncture], which prevents the target from being guarded (which doesn't happen in this fight) and lowers its speed (well, I guess it makes it more likely for Arden to outspeed the Shambler), but has a big -50% damage penalty.

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Still, good progress.

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The Shambler summons another batch of Spawns. Unlike with the Collector, these don't disappear when the Shambler dies, so I *will* have to deal with them directly.

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...yeah, its armor piercing effect is nice, but [Pick to the Face], Skadi's only option from rank 1, isn't particularly stong.

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Pramanix dodges a [Clapperclaw], which is nice because it also prevents the attached buff, but the uninjured Spawn manages to hit Nearl.

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Who then finishes the weakened Spawn...

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...while Pramanix and Arden weaken the Shambler further. I know I said that the Spawns don't... despawn, but I'd rather if it won't summon another round.

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...
Another another round.

(Shambler went before Arden to summon that new Spawn, but let's ignore that in favour of this dramatic irony)

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Very lucky!

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Yes, Skadi still goes to Death's Door thanks to the Bleed tick, but because she still had one HP, she doesn't have to roll against death.

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To be safe-ish, she chooses to use [Shadow Fade] over an attack move, which stealthes her. Doesn't help against the Shambler's AoE attacks, but the Spawns can't target her.

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And the Shambler was already easily in kill range, anyway.

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And yes, the Spawns on their own are still fucking dangerous, especially because you just cannot reliably prevent them from 'roiding up.

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That crit brought Arden down to 2 HP, so good that the Spawn targeted him over a less bulky hero. And good that Skadi and Pramanix manage to end the fight the same turn...

Still, good Shambler fight, if I may say so myself. No deaths, no afflictions.

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The Book of Holiness is completely obsolete at this point, since I've had -20% stress trinkets with no negative side effect available for a while now. The Tentacle Idol... I dunno. The increased Virtue chance would result in 45%, which is still not really something to bank on. Maybe if you can stack it even further? But that would probably using both trinket slots just on that one thing...

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Anyway, I obviously don't have a reason to stick around, since I already finished the mission. No heirlooms outside of the quest reward is a new one, but 23k gold isn't bad, and we did have to use three inventory slots on the quest items.

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Wait, I'm getting our lore confused. Skadi wasn't the Grave Robber with a love interest at the brothel, I don't think?

Let's just look at her othe quirk instead - Prismatic Solidity is a "Thing from the Stars" quirk, (usually) limited to one hero, automatically locked in, and pretty good. 25% compared to the standard quirk's 15%.

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But that should be it! Some Sanitarium management squeezed in at the very end, but that three-for-one deal on boss fights makes a good finish for the update. We haven't unlocked any additional bosses just yet, so I'll probably do some regular missions offscreen again (well, I always make screenshots just in case something interesting happens...) and then see what we can do. Until then, thanks for reading!

 

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  • Update 37 - Liberté! Egalité! Fraternité!
Spoiler

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New update, new adventurer! I know that Evasive is only a +5 bonus to avoid, but I still like it, so welcome to the team Tinel Grani! That name is on my list for either a Grave Robber or a Hellion - hope I didn't make a mistake there.

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The next mission goes into the Weald, for two reasons. One, I don't think I have Sniper's Ring yet, so even though it's mostly outclassed by the Prophet's Eye (+15 ACC, +3 SPD, -15% stress), my inner completionist is tickled. And two, if this mission unlocks the final Weald boss, I'll go against it with a neat damage bonus (and XP boost, but that wouldn't help the maxed-out team I would send).

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The only problem: There's no Occultist or Vestal around anymore that is willing to go into a mid-level mission. The solution: Provence as primary healer! Obviously not ideal, even with Gavial the Plague Doctor being able to chip in, but the Arbalest's healing ability honestly isnt' half bad.

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On top, this team comp isn't half bad at avoiding damage, thanks to Gavial and Idéfix's Stun skills.

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As such, the mission goes without much trouble.

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Even a run-in with our old aquaintance Mister Collector leaves the group without any new scars.

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We also poke another vampire egg to loot another invitation to the Countess's lair. Two should be enough - it's not that far to her anymore.

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And loot...

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...and quirks.

Ugh, Antsy... With our roster as big as it is, this is certainly not a good quirk to have, to the point where Pramanix gets it treated before thinking of the Black Plague.

I see no potential problems with this course of action.

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And indeed, that last mission was enough to unlock the remaining Weald boss, the 16 Pounder. Wasn't sure if it would, so it's nice that it did.

The Matchstick is pretty good, really - better than the Ancestor's Musket Ball (+10% DMG, +8% CRIT, +10% Stress), which is a trinket that I already like to put on a ranged-focused hero.

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But before we go in, I just have to recruit this beauty: A Vestal with the Hippocratic quirk. Only Lv.1, which is unfortunate, but maybe, if a lot goes terribly wrong, she'll have her day.

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Back to the mission - against the Pounder, I want reach and accuracy, because failing to hit a specific enemy in the back ranks can spell disaster. So I bring Frostleaf, who has perfect reach when standing in rank 1...

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...Sigurd, who can reach the backline with [Holy Lance]...

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...and Fang, who's yet another hard-hitter with perfect reach and who can also set up a dance with Sigurd to keep his Holy Lance active. (Note from pong about one month in the future, finishing this update: Whoops, I don't think I even intended that innuendo)

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Rhys comes as our primary healer, with Sigurd having his healing abilities activated in case of an unfortunate low-roll. He gives the new Sniper's Ring a spin, mostly for the novelty of things. The Occultist has some innate crit, so the extra 4% is kinda nice, but the Prophet's Eye would still most likely have been the better pick here.

Ancestor, remind me!

Simple folk are by their nature loquacious, and the denizens of the hamlet were no exception. It was not long before rumors of my morbid genius and secretive excavations began to fill local legend. In the face of my increasingly egregious flaunting of public taboos, awe turned to ire, and demonstrations were held in the town square.

The wild whispers of heresy roused the rabble to violent action. Such was the general air of rebellion that even my generous offer of gold to the local constabulary was rebuffed. To reassert my rule, I sought out unscrupulous men skilled in the application of force. Tight-lipped and terrifying, these mercenaries brought with them a war machine of terrible implication.

Righhhht. I think Mr June mentioned his brib-- I mean generous donations to the coppers in some other boss narrations. So this particular fuck-up appears to be from the Ancestor's later days, when things were already going pear-shaped.

Fun Fact: While watching a little footage from this game's sequel, I learned that you occasionally encounter cannons as a regular enemy. They're named Implication, which is a neat little nod to that last line of the Ancestor.

Anyway, Ancestor, what happened?

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I instructed my newly formed militia of hardened bandits, brigands, and killers to go forth and do their work. Compliance and order were restored, and the noisome population of the Hamlet was culled to more manageable numbers.

He had them killed by brigands, fed them to a big porky abomination... Yeahhhh, people in the hamlet did not have a good time with our old buddy.

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The travel through the Weald doesn't pose to much problems, helped by the universal boost to our damage.

Also helped by the return of the Ceiling Tentacles, or [Abyssal Artillery] - Rhys can't use his Stun since he's sitting in the back, and there isn't much use to his marking ability, so he has room for some lesser used abilities. The ability to hit a stealthed enemy in the back, as long as there's also an un-stealthed one in the other back rank, is actually quite nice, specifically against those Crones.

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The intention against the boss: Have Frostleaf focus on the 16 Pounder itself, while the others prioritise suppressing other sources of damage.

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(from before the camp)
I do make another skill-related mistake here - not nearly as bad as against the Swine God, but still. For the regular mission, I have the Hellion's [Bleed Out] skill equipped, because of its insane damage output. It can only target rank 1 - normally no problem, because Frostleaf still has full coverage with her other attack moves...

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...but as you can see, the 16 Pounder is sitting in rank 2.

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The problem: the Hellion's If It Bleeds ability, which covers that rank, has reduced damage in favour of an added Bleed effect. However, for some obscure reason, the 16 Pounder is immune to Bleed, so Frostleaf's basic attack (which she hasn't equipped) would've been miles better.

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As a result, I go about the fight kinda erratic - nobody is fully commited to attacking a specific enemy...

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...but that's not too terrible, as long as the Matchman gets killed every turn.

To give a reminder how this fight works: At the start of every turn, the cannon summons a Matchman and (if there's room) some other bandit. If the Matchman is still alive at the *end* of a round, well...

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...er, this, but bigger?

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Unfortunately *ahem*, I can't show the boss ruining my day, because between the three brawlers and Rhys's Ceiling Tentacles, continuously killing the spawning Matchmen isn't too difficult.

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As a result, the boss fight isn't particularly difficult, either - just a bit slow.

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It takes seven turns in the end, with no heroes gettin low on HP or even just too stressed out.

Frostleaf: "AH-KLORAAAA!"

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Four down, two to go!

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*insert trite "sus" joke*
4% chance to pass a turn isn't very high, but it's still one of my most hated quirks, alongside Kleptomanic. Losing a turn of Hellion damage, or not being able to use a Bandage to heal a bleed, can be really dangerous.

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The next mission goes into the Warrens, to make some progress to the penultimate "normal" boss. And to get a Wrathful Bandana, because we don't have one of those yet. I don't love that trinket too much - the Arbalest's healing ability is honestly pretty useful, especially because she often doesn't have anybody to shoot towards the end of a fight, since she can't target rank 1. I'd rather go with a generic "+20% DMG, -1 SPD" trinket than this one. Still, gotta catch them all.

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I go and give the Jester+Leper a spin: The former to boost the latter's accuracy, speed, and crit (with the importance going in about that order). Literally the first thing we run into: A +30% damage boost.

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Pretty good for a class with already high base damage.

Gawain: "The tide rises. And the tide falls."

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As added support, Deepcolour comes with [Daemon's Pull] in addition to his stun and heal. If the Leper's range doesn't reach to the mountain, the mountain has to come into the Leper's range.

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The team comp is a bit susceptible to shuffling, with basically everybody but the Occultist having trouble if they're out of position. Nothing dramatic to that effect happens though. Of note though: We randomly run into and manage to kill another Gatekeeper (which happens more often with growing infestation), so that's another invitation from the Countess. We should be more than good at this point.

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The 40 Crests were genuinely unplanned - I just happened to find more of those than gold and good gemstones. The two districts that I'm still looking to maybe upgrade don't even use Crests, although I can trade them in (at a rather bad ratio, but still).

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*another uninspired "sus" joke*

Those are pretty good positive quirks, though. More accuracy against basically everything in the Darkest Dungeon on the famously inaccurate Leper? Nice! Unconditional accuracy for Deepcolour, higher chance to save vs death, and more Vestal healing received are all welcome, too.

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In fact, Stechkin immediately locks in his quirk (and throws his Syndrome out the airlock) (haha, instant comedy). Second slot gets used by our new uber healer.

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New week, new incentive to go to the Farmstead. There's still a couple nice trinkets buyable with shards that I wouldn't mind getting.

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I still go with the standard Jester+Vestal longevity core, but change up my two damage dealers a bit - Leper, for those Big Numbers, and Highwayman, because he's generally pretty good at hitting the backrow.

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The first waves, this works pretty well, and the fist boss fight vs the Miller also goes OK-ish...

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...but it unfortunately ends in a kinda silly fashion. At some point, I'm facing two Swinetaurs, one crits Gawain with [Boar Rush]...

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...which also stuns and pushes Gawain all the way back to the last rank. You may think, "Oh, that swine in the back has only like one or two HP left, easy to snipe". I certainly thought that was a good plan.

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And even better: Sora can use [Finale] to heavily injure the healthier Swinetaur while at the same time pushing Gawain forward a rank.

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The problem: A big corpse spawns two Crystaline Abberation. And since he was Stunned the previous turn, Gawain is still in rank 3, i.e. where he can't do a fucking thing.

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The result: BOOM! DEATH'S DOOR!

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BOOM! DEATHBLOW!

Do remember that Farmstead deaths aren't permanent, though - Gawain will be awol for a week or three, and then return with 100 stress and an affliction. Annoying, but not very drastic.

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The remaining trio still manages to fend off four spiders, which also ends the wave...

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...but there's obviously no point in pushing on without the heaviest hitter on the team. 80 kills isn't too terrible compared to my record of 118, but there were at least two additional boss fights on that previous run. Oh well...

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From the gained crystals, I buy a nice, totally-not-double-edged Thirsting Blade for Frostleaf. The penalties are noticable, but definitely worth the big boosts to accuracy and (unfortunately conditional) crit.

The Sanitarium (and stress-healing buildings) don't seem to work their magic during Farmstead trips, so there's no new quirk management to be done, so we can immediately go ahead and plan the next mission.

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And it shall be the Courtyard - maybe the bossfight, maybe just the majority of the path towards it. But that means that I need to bring a team that I'm comfortable sending out against the Countess. Here it is:

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Warfarin, because Bleeds are good in the Courtyard. He's coming with a lot of crit, which will hopefully help dealing with the increased stress fron the Ancestor's Pen. A benefit, in addition to the increased chance to connect the Bleed, is that crit-Bleeds last for five instead of three turns.

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Lawrence, to bring an unusual Stunner to the mix. Well, add a little bit of metagaming to that - I remember that the Countess has an attack that deals heavy damage only if the target does an aggressive move, so I'm bringing Lawrence as a second character (in addition to the Vestal) with a good selection of support skills.

(although in retrospect, the fact that the MaA's stun moves him one rank forward has been more awkward than helpful)

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Dismas. Damage. Lots of it. I was hoping for some dancing between him and Lawrence, between Dismas's Riposte and Lawrence's Stun, but as I said, that part won't work quite as well as I am still hoping right now.

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Saria. Healing. Lots of it. And hopefully less stress than in the last Courtyard expedition - I don't want to add the Vestal's "more healing, less HP" to the Crimson Curse's HP penalty and the generic healing trinket I occacionally use isn't that powerful, so I go with a nice and simple stress-reducing trinket instead.

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Here's a reminder where we are, but not where we need to go. I will say one thing in advance:

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There's a good amount of stress-healing curios in this deeper part of the dungeon. I wouldn't be surprised if I healed more than 150 stress that way - thankfully, I brought a good amount of Holy Water...

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...and torches to make use of them.

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On our path, Lawrence also catches the curse. No surprise, given that every single fight has a high risk of something of that sort happening.

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And honestly - this entire expedition goes so, so much better than last time. We've gone through at least half a dozen fights at this point, we've picked up another key that we need to reach the Countess, and we've secured a nice secondary objective in this additional Crimson Court trinket. We do have the other half of the set already, the Shard of Glass, although I don't think they're too amazing. Still, since every Court trinket is unique, it's nice just to cross this off the list.

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I know I'm skipping through something that I thought deserved more detail not too long ago, but that's just the nature of things going well: It's very satisfying while playing, but there just isn't as much to say about it. HP: High. Stress: Low. Both of that: Very nice.

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A little later, we even set up camp despite those Very nice numbers, which should ring some alarm bells for the esteemed reader. *dingdingding* TOUGH FIGHT INCOMING *dingdingding*

His camps skills are another reason why I brought Lawrence along - nothing wrong with some crit, damage, and avoid.

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Take a look at the map in the bottom right - this entire path is cluttered with those two "vampire beggar" curios. *dingdingding* *dingdingding* *dingdingding*

(also a single trap, because fuck you, player)

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Gosh, the countess! I did not expect her! This is one of the most interesting fights of the game, with a bunch of unique mechanics...

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...and one of its features is that it's fuckin' long. 400 HP is considerably more than even the Swine God at 271, which is the second-highest value you'll ever see. And the Swine God didn't even have the Countess's 30% PROT. Welp, better get to work.

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"Long" also means that we'll hopefully cumulate a lot of value from this [Bolster]: +10 DODGE and -20% stress for this entire fight.

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And hopefully, Riposte will trigger nice and often.

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The Countess starts the fight by puking Lawrence a [Love Letter]...

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...which plants a big Parasite Egg on Lawrence's shield.

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Of course, she doesn't just have one action per round either, so she immediately (well, after Saria does a little heal) follows up with [Sway With Me]...

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...which causes a lot of stress, a 6-point blight...

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...and the "Stumble" status effect. That's a new one.

But wait, it also didn't cause something. It's at the tip of my tongue...

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Well, for now, the Countess uses her third action to [Disrobe] Warfarin. Joke's on you, lady, he's already half-naked!

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RIPOSTE!

Er, as in "RIPOSTE IS WHAT DIDN'T HAPPEN!". As in, neither Sway With Me nor this Love Letter caused Dismas to counterattack! No fair! Checking the wiki while typing this, this was apparently a buff she got in a later update - I guess the devs found that riposte was a too powerful tool against her?

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In any case - Dismas uses Tracking Shot (+10 ACC, +8 CRIT, +20% DMG for the entire battle), which also functions as a weak attack... and gets promptly punished by the Parasite Egg. Those four points of damage are not the dangerous part of things.

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Lawrence uses [Command] - this only has its full effect when he's also guarding someone, but it's still a boost to ACC and CRIT for the entire party.

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And Warfarin decides to be supportive. However, since I didn't equip him with any Bleed resists, he promptly gets punished for being too nice and catches a Bleed. Good thing Bandages exist and don't eat a turn to use...

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Afterwards, the Countess shifts forms, much faster and with much less screaming than I'm used to from watching Dragon Ball. She is now officially [Flushed].

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And gets her next turn immediately, using [Momentary Overexertion] to give her some minor buffs (+10% to all resistances). The more important part is that this denies a short window of vulnerability: Directly after becoming Flushed, the Countess *loses* 40% in every resistance, but only for one turn/action and we didn't get any chance to abuse that.

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AND THIS ISN'T EVEN HER FINAL FORM!!!

[Metamorphosis]

Apparently, this counts as an attack with 0% accuracy, which is really weird. It still cures any Bleed or Blight that the Countess suffers, although those effects are still quite powerful against her and her multitude of actions per round.

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Honestly, I'm impressed by the decisiveness with which the designers made all the vampire's true forms un-sexy. No sparkles and bedroom eyes around here, no siree...

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Because Warfarin is a bit low on HP and also bleeding, Lawrence gave him a guard, which immediately comes to use against the Countess's [The Thirst]. In case you thought that 400 HP isn't that much more than 271, this also heals her by a whopping 20 HP. This fight is long.

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I think it's "...resist my will!"?

Anyway, this is the "Stumble" status effect: At the start of their turn, an affected hero will be pushed to a random location. This makes my team comp a bit inconsistent against the Countess, specifically Warfarin (who can't attack from the back) and Saria.

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But Dismas doesn't have that problem. He goes for an [Open Veins], unfortunately with no Bleed...

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...and he's at Death's Door. Well.

This is the dangerous part of the Love Letter / Parasite Egg skill. If you're lucky, you only take a little damage. Except that you weren't lucky, because the eggs will hatch within four turns (assuming that you attack the Countess, and you kinda have to in order to win the fight) and the longer it took, the more damage this will do to the victim.

18 damage is what happens if the egg hatches on the second tick. It's only 15 on the first, and 24 if it takes to the third or fourth. It also gives a big penalty to the hero's accuracy and Spd.

Oh, and it increases the Countess's PROT by 15. In case you thought 400 HP isn't that much more than 271. This fight is fucking long.

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We have a lucky break though - Saria goes before the Countess makes an [Indecent Proposal], so Dismas gets healed, and the attack then misses the entire party anyway. It's a pretty straightforward damage+bleed attack, with less damage vs the back rows.

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Because Warfarin is still guarded, I decide to delay his Low-HP-self-heal button another turn and just use a Bandage to stop his heal and go for an attack. Also part of the reasoning: The Countess went for another The Thirst, so her HP is almost at max again...

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The Countess goes back to her initial form...

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...and sends another Love Letter to Dismas. He still has one whole HP, plus regen status, so things are looking good! *ahem*

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And another one to Saria. Not the worst thing, since everybody is so low on HP that she probably won't have time to use an offensive move. Things are looking good!!!!!

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OK, blows are traded, health pools are being emptied... The Countess has reapplied the Shuffle status to our party, which puts Warfarin into a rank he can't attack from, while his DoTs put him at Death's Door...

(note the healing - Flagellant getting reduced to 0 HP will heal the other three party members for a small amount)

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...so maybe it's time to heal?

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Aw yeah, that's the good numbers!

I didn't even know that the [Redeem] skill could crit (and if we've seen it before, I've forgotten...). It heals a percentage of max HP, unlike (I believe) every other healing skill.

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OK, the Countess is flushed and her Stun resist is down to a more reasonable 105%, so maybe it's time for Lawrence to actually do what his trinkets want him to do, Parasite Egg be damned...

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DAMNIT!!

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This is a good one, though! Dismas stumbled to rank 1, so he can go for a [Point Blank Shot].

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And suddenly, things look surprisingly good. Genuinely, this time! Lawrence is still kinda low on HP, but everybody else is looking pretty healthy again, and the Countess is down to about 2/3 of her health.

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Well, the Parasite Egg on Dismas immediately does something about him looking "pretty healthy". He does manage to get a Bleed on the Countess though, so that's some extra damage on her, too.

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Another bad stumble... Nothing to do here but move back a rank manually. Unfortunately, the Vestal isn't very agile and (unlike other classes) can only move one rank per turn.

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The Countess morphs back to her Bloodlust form, again missing the entire party with the accompanying 0% accurate attack.

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She starts with [Throes of Ecstasy] (and I'll start ignoring that ability name immediately) - low damage, but it carries a Stun, so we lose the majority of our damage output this turn.

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She follows up with [Indecent Proposal], this time hitting it. The damage rolls confused me slightly while typing this - it's supposed to deal less damage to the back ranks, but the attack also has a very wide damage range (3-13). Saria was just quite lucky while Dismas was not.

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This is nice, though. I still have a decent number of Bandages, but they can't prevent the first tick of bleed, so this does save a bunch of HP.

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Warfarin casts another regen because he's out of position to attack, this time on Lawrence; the Countess sucks Saria's blood; and Lawrence goes for a guard to reduce the incoming damage next turn.

Not a good turn of fighting the Bloodlust form (she reverts with her last action of the round) - the Countess is healthier than she was at the start, and the team is not.

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After this, oddly enough, the fight settles in a bit of a loop, of the "making progress through repetitive actions".

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Try to get more damage on her while not dying ourselves...

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...and we do get to the next Bloodlust phase relatively safe, and with Warfarin back in a productive position.

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The Countess also connects only one [The Thirst] attacks, so her HP does go down steadily at this point.

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And sometimes even quickly.

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However, things can still go out of hand very  quickly: The Parasite Egg on Warfarin eggsplodes (geddit?!?), putting him at Death's Door.
Which heals the rest of the party, thanks to the Flagellant's strange powers. And Dismas even gets crit-healed, which recovers a little bit of stress.

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Luckily, the Countess targets Lawrence with her remaining action, so Warfarin doesn't have to roll against death...

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...OR DOES HE?

Turn order worked against me here, helped by the Flagellant getting a SPD bonus while at Death's Door. Because of that, the Blight on him did have an opportunity to kill him.

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However, although Warfarin was shuffled to the back again by the Countess, he's still able to use Redeem for a *huge* burst of HP recovery.

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After that, the loop keeps looping, with the end of the fight getting in sight. Unfortunately, the end of the stress bars comes in sight, as well...

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...and another Sway With Me brings Warfarin to the dreaded 100 stress.

The mind cannot hope to withstand such an assault.

Warfarin: "I am blessed with new clarity!"

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But this doesn't come up at all in this fight, because it is almost over: Dismas brings the Countess down to 1 HP and gets reduced to the same by the Parasite Egg...

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...and because the Countess was still bleeding, "1 HP" translate to "already dead".

Optional superboss: Defeated.

Dungeon: Not entirely cleared.

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But before we get to that last part, we get two decent trinkets:

Subject #40 Notes isn't spectacular on its own, but the set bonuses aren't too bad. Plague Doc's set is a little unfocussed, to its detriment - set bonuses helping her Blight/Stun skills, and her Dissection Kit boosting her stabbing abilities - but it's still a good overall bundle, I think.

I do like the Childhood Treasure for the Arbalest. She has been equipping her "+33% Healing" trinket quite often, and this one has almost the same effect in addition to the stress reduction and (less important) camp skill bonus. Not a bad trinket even without the other half of her set.

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Now back to the "not entirely cleared" dungeon: We find a chest not with even more treasure, but with a key. Yes, there is still a lot of dungeon that we didn't have access to before beating the boss.

The problem: We will not have another chance to go through that remaining dungeon - we completed the mission, so we can't come back once we leave.

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So, back on the road, folks.

Luckily, there's three burnable cocoons that I skipped on the way to the Countess, so I can get some valuable stress heal on the way fro.

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We soon run into the gate that the GREEN Key of Denial opens...

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...and behind it, we find ANOTHER key. Oh, joy.

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And behind that other key, we find a regular battle, but a pretty dangerous one. Chevaliers don't play nice, and three of them can put out a lot of damage very quickly.

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That said, I'm not unhappy that there is a regular fight, since this does allow Warfarin to provide another big chunk of healing.

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And thanks to Saria and Lawrence's Stunning looks and abilities...

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...only a single attack comes through on turn 1.

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However, this fight still gives us a near-death Flagellant once again. Chevaliers really do hit hard.

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And a bit of a greedy play by yours truly - since Warfarin still suffers from the debuff from his low-HP skill used earlier, he goes for an attack instead of getting him away from Death's Door.

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It's not punished, though, and Saria saves him, once again.

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And because the debuff has expired now, Warfarin can get a second full power [Redeem], which gets our HP levels back to where we want them.

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Aww yeah.

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In fact, this gets us almost back to full HP on the entire party - we still have to worry about Warfarin's affliction and about stress levels in general, but this was a very, very productive hallway battle.

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And we needed that, because the hallway doesn't lead to another locked door, but to a cul-de-sac with an old... friend waiting for us. Oh boy.

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Without the previous opportunity to heal up, I probably wouldn't have dared to go for this fight - Croc is a pretty nasty enemy even if you go up against it fully rested.

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There, that's better, Dismas.

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I don't really want to go though this fight in too much detail, because we've fought the Crocodilian often enough already - the short version is that Warfarin and Dismas deal damage, while Warfarin and Saria provide healing.

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And Croc provides *exitement*. 55% chance to hit one heroes, 45% chance to hit three.

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I did skip a fair bit of things going well before the *exitement* - as you can see, HP levels were pretty good before that devestating Apex Predator attack. And they're still quite good, with the small exception of a near-dead Warfarin. Once again.

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No actual roll against death this time, though, since Warfarin has no DoT effect on him and he is able to use [Redeem] before any further incoming attacks.

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Unfortunately, the Crocodilian gets another crit in, riiiiight before I could finish the fight. Not a big deal as far as health goes, thanks to Lawrence's great HP pool...

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...but a very big deal for our already stress-ridden team. That makes three afflicted heroes, which doesn't bode well for any continued exploration.

Fear and frailty finally claim their due.

Dismas: "Curses! I should have brought the blunderbuss!"
Lawrence: "Someone has stolen my third hand!"

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But at least this fight does not go on long enough for anything elso to go south *right now*.

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Now, let's take a look at the complete map of the Countess's part of the Courtyard. First visit, we reached the yellow marker in the middle of the map, this time we first got to the Countess at the red marker (after a little detour to get the key to reach her), and then to the Croc Alert! at the bottom of the map.

Now, there's more treasure at the bottom right - I believe one of those two treasure chests contains Courtyard trinkets. However, we'd have to go all the way back to this visit's starting location (with stress ticking further up and maybe some randomly spawning fights) and then through the entire eastern path. Doable? With four fresh heroes, sure. With three afflicted heroes - eh....? Questionable.

So instead, let us count our blessings and our treasures, because we still get some nice bonuses from taking the Croc fight.

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The Croc drops half of Benice's swag, but we're still missing the Osmond Chains for the full gothic look. The Shroud isn't a bad trinket on its own, but it has quite strong competition - stacking Stun chance, for example, or Restraining Padlock to reduce stress from hulking up.

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And we get final trinket from the chest, unfortunately a rather weak one. A Jester only wants to stand in rank 1 if he sets up a Solo->Finale combo - Solo moves the Jester to rank 1 and boosts Finale's damage by a lot, so this trinket makes it much safer to pull this off. Personally, I don't like this combo that much - I'd rather use the Dirk Stab skill to move the Jester forward, since that can be used to finish off a weakened enemy in the process. As such, the Tyrant's Fingerbone is almost useless for how I play my Jesters.

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That's that! Mission accomplished, vampires staked. Very little *collected* treasure because all the inventory space is filled with trinkets, which is a nice problem to have.

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Not too much to say here, although Man Slayer is really good on Warfarin when it comes up. We'll see how often it will.

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...but the demoniacal pests will spread no further than its blood-soaked boundaries. And so at last, the end of my beginning.

I don't remember if the Ancestor's quote means that we won't meet any Bloodsuckers in the four regular dungeons anymore, but even if we do, we can just heal any Crimson Curses that we catch from this point on. Or we can not heal it if it's on a damage dealer - the bonus to damage for a hero in the Bloodlust state is quite worthwhile. We haven't been running low on Blood supplies for the entire run, so this shouldn't be too difficult to sustain.

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Oh, and if there's no Bloodsuckers in Warrens and Cove, we'll certainly find some in the still open Courtyard. The nobles have all met Madame Guillotine, but there's still a mysterious Garden Guardian to fight, in a repeatable mission to grab all the Crimson Court trinkets that we haven't picked up yet.

However, this will have to wait for a later update. For now, as usual - thanks for reading!

 

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Spoiler

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Lots of recovery to do this week - the heroic Countess slayers are all looking rather weary, and Gawain returns after being awol thanks to his Farmstead "death".

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He does not want to talk about what happened during his absence, but I suspect that it's Pokémon-related.

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The first expedition takes us into the Cove, to hopefully unlock the last stage of the Sodden Crew. I doubly hope that this mission is enough, because this mission's reward is a damage bonus if we return to the Cove immediately next week.

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The idea behind the team: Pramanix and Vigna do the [Impale] dance - to remind people, this move can only be used from rank 1 and it pushes the user back one rank, so two Shieldbreakers can spam the move as long as the turn order agrees. Even though it's usually more effective to focus fire enemies one-by-one, Impale (at least with the Blight that it gains at higher levels) is quite legit through its sheer damage potential.
Meanwhile, Gavial the Plague Doctor and Talvace the Vestal use their Stuns to reduce incoming damage and give the Blight some free ticks.

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This works quite well in general, but less so in this specific fight.

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The simple reason is the snakes' high damage output, which leads to a near-death experience for Gavial and generally awful HP levels.

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Like, really awful.

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This forces a very early camp (this was only the second fight of the expedition), but it turns out to be the only dangerous spot that we get into.

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Of note: We find two quirk-removing curios, which both go to Vigna. She can now gamble for stress relief again (meh) and, much more importantly, doesn't take a round of battle to wake up anymore.

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And we find a secret room shortly before getting to the last quest objective, which makes us that much richer.

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Ahhh, all those riches that we don't *really* need anymore. Beeyootiful.

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And, oddly enough, no new quirks..? That's rare.

One side objective of the mission was to max Vigna and Gavial's levels. The latter was only Lv.4 going into the dungeon, so she just barely misses it. Plague Doc is in the shortlist for both the third and the final part of the Darkest Dungeon, which is why I made life a little harder on myself by including an underleveled PD on this mission.

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For this week, though, we did unlock the final boss battle in the Cove against the Drowned Crew, so that's where we be going. I do believe we have the Holy Orders trinket already, but the chances to get new trinket rewards aren't that high anymore, anyway.

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The team: Two heavy hitters in the front, two support characters in the back. Heavy Hitter #1: Sigurd, packing some extra Crit and damage. No extra accuracy, because the Jester in rank 3 should help with that just fine.

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Heavy Hitter #2: Fang, packing her Farmstead trinket and the Necromancer trinket. The Drowned Crew counts as Unholy (i.e. undead), so the Collar provides great bonuses with no downside, although it's useless for most random battles on the way to the boss.

Sigurd is in a similar situation, actually: The Cove isn't particularly good for the Crusader because it often features high-PROT enemies in the front, but he'll deal extra damage against the boss because of their Unholy nature.

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Stechkin is a bit more mindful about the path to the boss, since the Jester doesn't need that much help from trinkets to do his thing. His thing mostly being the +Hit, +Crit, +Spd from the Battle Ballad skill...

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...but he's also there to de-stress Gavial, who I bring despite her being rather exhausted from last week. Bit greedy, but it's nothing Stechkin's Inspiring Tune can't deal with.

Going into the category of "Elementary Things That I Forget": Note that Gavial's equipment (and, off-screen, her skills) haven't been upgraded to their max level yet.

Aaaaanyway, Blasphemous Vial plus Prophet's Eye is a pretty neat combination for the Plague Doc. The Vial makes her Stun/Blight skills so much more reliable, and the Eye partially negates the one downside of the trinket, boosts reliablity even more, and increases her chance to go before enemy backliners. The extra accuracy might be overkill with Stechkin around, although Gavial will often have her turn before Stechkin can Battle Ballad her up.

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Some last hamlet management, and off we go. As usual, let's look back at our Ancestor's previous ramblings about the Crew:

Prying eyes had become a nuisance along the old road, and so I undertook to receive my most curious deliveries by way of marine shipments. A sheltered jetty was accessible by a narrow stone stair off the back of the manor, and a discreet system of pulleys could hoist even the heaviest prizes up the rock face from a securely tied dinghy below.

I employed a crew of particularly unsavory mariners, who for a time sailed the four corners at my behest, retrieving many valuable artifacts, relics and rare texts. Predictably, they increased their tariffs to counter my intense stipulations of secrecy. Such resources had long been exhausted, of course, and so I prepared an alternative payment.

Well, we already know 'what', so let's hear the 'how'...

While the greedy dogs slept off their revelry, I hexed their anchor with every twisted incantation I could muster, imbuing it with the weight of my ambition and my contempt for their crude extortion. At the witching hour, the anchor pulled with preternatural force, dragging craft and crew down into the depths.

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I think I can recognize a running theme with his approach to problem solving.

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Speaking of problems: It seems that the boss room is once again alllll the way down a long and winding path. Which is a bit of a problem because of the distinct lack of a Vestal, Occultist, or at least Arbalest - I was kinda hoping that I wouldn't have to go through literally every single encounter in the dungeon.

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I do have two back-up healers with me in Gavial and Sigurd...

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...but the numbers just aren't spectacular.

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This one is, though!
(No particular context to this, but BIG NUMBER WOOOO!)

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Naturally, attrition takes effect...

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...and I have to use some food for its (still fairly inefficient, despite the Granary district boosting the effect) healing properties.

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Eventually, we come close to the boss room with still fairly good HP levels...

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...ignore the voice in our heads saying, "Hey, d'you wanna jump down this cliff?"...

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...and set up camp in the room right next to the Crew's. Between healing and hunger checks, our rations have been depleted to a point where we have to diet a bit - I'd rather not run into a hunger check without the necessary four rations when a boss fight is just about to happen.

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Apart from this very 80s song, this team doesn't have a ton of combat boosts in their camp skill, so they go with some stress-reducing skills instead. Not optimal, but Sigurd and Fang have the base combat abilities to make up for that.

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No hunger checks (and no fights) in the last hallway, so I can use the last four rations to almost heal everyone back to full HP while standing right at the door...

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...to the boss.

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I didn't look up the details of this fight beforehand, since I thought I remembered the main gimmick, so I'm greeted with a bit of a nasty surprise:

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[All Hands on Deck!] pulls the target all the way to the front, which is not where Gavial wants to sit.

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It also summons the Anchorman (which is the part of the gimmick that I did remember), which Fang immediately removes - conveniently with an attack that a) ignores its 50% PROT and b) moves her in front of Gavial.

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From rank 2, Pramanix can use [Disorienting Blast] to get a Stun in - potentially a small mistake, because Sigurd doesn't have Holy Lance equiped, which means that he has to waste his turn moving forward to rank 2. If Gavial had moved back instead, Sigurd could've used *his* Stun which also deals some damage on top, although its chance to get the Stun through wouldn't have been as good.

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In conclusion, not a terribly effective turn 1, since the Crew will re-summon the Anchorman continuously.

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Let's fix that.

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However, focussing all our attacks on the Crew allows the Anchorman to use his [Heave to!] ability.

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The most obvious effect: it locks Fang into place (an advantage for her, actually) and everytime anyone takes an action, she'll suffer some stress and ther main boss heals 8 HP. It also moves the PROT/Resists buff from the Anchorman to the Crew, which is why everybody attacking the Crew on turn 2 wasn't a bad move at all.

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What is a bad sequence of moves: "Nice, the Anchorman is effectively dead thanks to the Blight..."

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"...so let's attack the Crew directly instead! Oh wait, it effectively recovered 1 HP because of this action..."

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"Guess I'll have to kill the Anchorman directly anyway."

A lot of wasted damage here.

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That said, the Crew doesn't have the most intimidating Numbers even in this final fight.

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See? Although this was, admittedly, a very low roll for [Boarding Clutch].

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The next "loop", I don't repeat my mistake, although the Crew still gets a handful of heals thanks to a not-too-great turn order.

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With two Dirk Stabs, Stechkin has moved to rank 2, which means that he can use [Finale] for a big chunk of damage. Would've been an even bigger chunk next turn if he had Dirk Stabbed again, but I wanted to get Sigurd back into punching range again (Finale moves the Jester back to rank 4).

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[Adder's Kiss] even moves Sigurd all the way to the front...

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...which means that he's the next one to get chained.

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PUNCH!

No One-Punch-Crusader, unfortunately, so the Crew can restore some extra HP again.

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There you go. This also moves Gavial back to rank 4, which means that the Prophet's Eye trinket is back in effect, too.

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But already with the next move, Sigurd ends the fight. Not a 100% optimal fight, but it still went fairly well, with no Death's Doors and not too much stress, either.

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There's nothing else to pick up in the dungeon, so home we go, again with money that we don't need *desperately*. This time, we do gain a few quirks, but nothing world-moving there, either.

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Now then, time look for a bigger fish. And also to send Benice to his doom. DOOM! DOOOOOOOOM!

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(source: The Chapel)

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The Belly of the Beast mission is described at "exhausting", and the provisions reflect this: It's the only mission in the game that gives you *four* camps. This also means that we're bring ALL THE PROVISIONS with no regards for any treasure we might find on the way. Well, there's usually hardly any treasure at all in the Darkest Dungeon, so inventory space should not be an issue.

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I internally translate "exhausting" with "I should probably bring a Vestal", her being the most consist healer by far. For even more consistency, Nearl brings Wilbur's Flag because a stunned healer while somebody is at Death's Door is not a situation I want to run into.

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Warfarin is a relatively spontaneous addition - not recklessly so, but I was initially torn between Crusader and Jester as a stress healer. And while I overall like those classes better for that specific task, I do like the Flagellant's potential for a big HP healing burst. And on top of that, there's one very specific ability that'll come in handy, but I'll get back to this part when it comes up.

Trinket-wise, +13% Crit is nice. And so is additional accuracy, because I remember enemies in this mission being fairly evasive.9T6XQ0k.jpg

For both damage dealers (despite all his support capabilities, Warfarin still counts as one), I want reach. Which means Hellion or Shieldbreaker for the rank 1 spot, and I go with the former this time. Frostleaf goes even more all-out with +Accuracy trinkets, at the cost of any damage and (unconditional) crit bonuses. With Warfarin around, the +8 Crit from the Thirsting Blade should apply fairly regularly, though - another reason why I went with a Flagellant for this mission.

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And finally, Benice, with an apology to start. Not for sending you to your DOOOOOOOOOM! (you knew this would happen when you applied!), but because his role in this mission is going to be very monotonous. First turn, you'll use Manacles (a ranged skill, despite being a punch-y attack) to cause a Stun and some damage. Second turn, you'll use Manacles to cause Stun and some damage. Third turn, you'll probably use Manacles, or maybe recover some HP and stress with Absolution. Fourth turn, you get the idea.

This is the most boring approach to the Abomination. No intent whatsoever to transform - it's a potential panic button in the case of a particularly bad shuffle, but Benice is fully kitted to be a Stun bot. Not a weak role to play, but not the most *exciting*.

To be perfectly, brutally, 100% honest: I think a Plague Doctor would've been better here. Benice's advantage is that he deals some direct damage with his Stun skill, but a PD comes with double Stuns and double Blights. However, this is probably the best opportunity to send Benice to his DOOOOOOOM! without being a complete dickhead.

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Step over the threshold, and let the terrible truth worm its way into your mind.

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So, now we're jumping in the insides of a gargantuan organism of sort? Impressive how things manage to become even more gross.

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Like the first two segments of the Darkest Dungeon (and like the Courtyard), the map is predetermined, but hidden. I'm at a big advantage, though, since I vaguely remember where to go: Near the bottom center of the map, or to the "south-east" of the entrance.

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First fight! The enemy in the front is new, but we've seen the Polyp in the previous Darkest Dungeon expedition, in one of its three boss fights. They're fast and fairly evasive, but more disruptive than directly threatening.

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I still don't quite see how this accounts as a "ranged" attack, but I can appreciate the game design decision: Human Abom does ranged stuff, Beastly Abom does melee stuff, so that ranged/melee trinkets can boost either the one or the other.

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The Antibody in front probably does something, as well, but we'll have to wait for another fight to see what it is.

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The fight as a whole went very well - the only damage taken is from this [Violent Hack], which is the Polyps' panic button: Low damage and no additional effect on the target, but it moves them back three ranks so that they can use their stronger attacks again.

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Like, for example, [Venomous Phlegm], which adds a 6-point Blight (which Nearl resists here) and sets a mark...

(Second Fight!)

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...which Flesh Hounds can abuse with their [Gnash] attack for a +50% damage boost. In this case, however, the marked Nearl is sitting in rank 4, which the doggos cannot reach.

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So, er, that's the second fight mostly wrapped up.

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No! Wait! Stop the press! Benice does something that isn't a whack with his chains! [Absolution] to heal HP and stress!

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Third fight! Boss fight! ...kinda.

Similar to the previous segment of the Darkest Dungeon, there's multiple "boss fights" in this mission, although in this case, they don't all guard a quest objective and they're not as immediately dangerous. Heck, with one exception, you encounter them seemingly at random in hallways.

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The fight consists of a big fat Mammoth Cyst sitting in the first three ranks and a little White Cell Stalk in the back. This set-up allows the Flagellant to hit both of them with his [Rain of Sorrow], which is a big part of why I picked Warfarin over a Jester or Crusader.

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It's also the reason why the Hellion is much better than a Leper or frontline Crusader in this mission: As long as she's in front of your team, [Iron Swan] can target the White Cell Stalk.

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And, unfortunately, it's also why the Plague Doctor would've been stronger on this mission than the Abomination. The damage on Benice's [Manacles] isn't that high, between PROT and a intrinsic damage penalty on that skill, and a Plague Doc could've hit both enemies with a Stun or a Blight.

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You might have picked up on it already, but in best Dragon Ball tradition, the unimposing small Stalk in the back is the more dangerous part of the fight, not the big, massive Cyst. [Reconstitute] is not the reason why, even though it bestows +15% PROT and +3 SPD unto the target on top of the HP heal.

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The Cyst's first action (still on turn 1 despite Benice's Stun, since it has two actions per round) is its [Bulging Gaze] - moderate damage, high chance of causing some stress, and a 20% damage debuff, which Nearl resists. Do note that this is the second ability we see that attempts to delay the end of the battle.

Because the Cyst has two actions per turn, the Stun resist buff it gets from getting stunned always expires before Benice can go for his next Manacles attack. Still, his Stun resist is quite high, so Benice only has a 67% chance of succeeding, even with the help of the Broken Key trinket.

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Boom! Problem solved!

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...Oh.

So yeah, killing the White Cell Stalk will cause the Mammoth Cyst to use [Summon] as one of its next actions. Nevertheless, you want to prioritize the Stalk every time it (re-)appears - the likelyhood of it using its dangerous ability goes up the longer it's on the field, starting at zero, so ideally, you want any Stalk to take at most one single action.

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So, get to it, Nearl! Helping this decision is that she's the only one injured, so a Nosferatu-like ability goes perfectly.

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Mammoth Cyst uses [Bulging Gaze] again - 1/4 chance to hit two targets.

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This one is new, though: Nearl barely misses the kill on the Stalk with a second Judgement, and it uses [Displace] on its turn. Scared me for a second, because that name sounds like it could be the Bad Thing it can do, but this skill only shuffles the target to a random position. Again, a skill that isn't dangerous, like, at all, but it can slow down your damage output if, for example, your Flagellant gets pushed to the back of your team.

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Because Warfarin will be able to finish the Stalk before its next turn with Rain of Sorrow's AoE, Frostleaf goes for the Cyst instead, using [Bleed Out] for her maximal damage output.

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[Digestion] is the Mammoth Cyst's most damaging skill, thanks to it carrying a 8-point Blight. I've brought 12 Antidotes, so I'm prepared, although there's nothing I can do to prevent the first tick.

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The Cyst summons a third White Cell Stalk and shows off its final skill [Revivify] - guess what, another skill that delays the end of the fight and gives the Stalks more time to potentially do their Bad Thing, although it also buffs the Cyst's damage (it can only heal itself) by 25%.

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See? Bigger numbers.

Also, [Digestion] has a 25% chance of hitting a second target, just like Bulging Gaze.

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Still, this fight is almost over. Frostleaf (right *before* that Digestion in the picture above) one-shots the third Stalk...

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...and the Mammoth Cyst ultimately dies to Warfarin's Bleed effect.

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Fourth fight! With an added enemy compared to the first two "regular" fights we had.

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Still, nothing too noteworthy happens, apart from the Antibody getting a chance to show what its all about. [Stunning Secretion] is actually the only ability it can use, but it's quite dangerous: Fairly high damage, considering it's a regular enemy, plus a Stun.

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Which means that killing it last probably wasn't the brightest decision.

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Still, Nearl gets a couple group heals in, so we finish the fight more healthy than we started it.

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Fifth fight! Second boss fight! And maybe we'll see the White Cell Stalk's Bad Thing That It Does?

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(nope)

I "regret" to inform you that my team for this dungeon is honestly doing really well.

Warfarin: "Blood for the burden! Bones for the Light!"

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Sixth Fight! Go!

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It's the first one in which Warfarin has to use his [Redeem] skill. It's a button that's really satisfying to press, especially when you're getting that sweet crit heal.

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Also, Frostleaf gets pushed back to rank 3 from that Polyp enemy -

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- which gives me opportunity to show the least impressive use of [Breakthrough]. This hits rank 1-3 for 50% damage while moving the Hellion forward one rank, so it would've been a *little* better if I could've used it while there was more than one enemy on the field.

(It's actually an interesting decision between this skill and the Barbaric YAWP!. Breakthrough is great when you're getting shuffled, but YAWP! is a double stun, which automatically makes it awesome)

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Seventh fight! Third boss fight! Will we--

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NOPE!

Little update on the map: I believe the quest objective to be somewhere in that rectangle, so you see me checking the rooms I haven't visited in its upper left before circling around to the right.

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But, *ahem*, unfortunately, this fight also doesn't get out of control.

Also, I can't believe that I never caught how dopey the in-between frames after an attack look.

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Nothing to see here....

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Eighth fight!

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The enemies try to be cute by focussing and stunning Warfarin - but Nearl has something to say about that.

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Ooo, and we get a more effective [Breakthrough]! It's still not a ton of damage because Frostleaf isn't carrying any +Dmg trinkets, but 27 in total isn't a bad number.

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Ninth fight! Last fight! (i'm pretty sure)

Well, OK, I'm 100% certain now that I'm typing this. But I already were quite certain at this point, because the starry background and the ominous summoning (?) circle next to the Cyst look very quest-locationy.

So, dear White Cell Stalk, last chance to show your Bad Thing!

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HAHAHAHA NOPPPPPE!

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OK, so since we do manage to avoid it, I'll have to explain the Bad Thing without any pictures. The ability in question is called "Teleport" (which is why "Displace" scared me for a second when it was first used) and it... teleports (whoa!) the entire fight into a different room at the edge of the dungeon map.

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And because the map is really quite big, this means more attrition, more opportunity for things to go wrong, and just general miserableness. "Exhausting" doesn't just refer to the size of the map, but it also describes how this dungeon is trying to beat you: Not with a big strong scary boss, but by wearing you out over time.

And, now that I see the full map, two things: One, I accidentally took the best path to the goal, since the little loop I made allowed me to avoid two "Templar" enemies - weaker variants of the previous segment's bosses, without their powerful Revelation attack. And two, I did not know that there was a treasure chest on this map. Too bad.

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But back to the fight!

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I kinda already spoiled the outcome, I guess - good, with no stray teleports hitting us. Benice gets low on HP at some point, but not to a dramatic degree.

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That's four out of four Mammoth Cysts dying to a Bleed effect, I believe. Which is actually a good thing, because it means that I've been diligent about stalling fights to get more turns for healing skills. ("If nobody else is complimenting you, you'll have to do it yourself")

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Anyway, this must indeed be it.

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Portal activated, Quest completed.

I'm a little proud that I managed without needing to set up camp a single time, but I have to put that into perspective - I knew the general area to search the goal in, so I didn't stumble around aimlessly, and I knew how the "boss fights" roughly work. If I recall, my team for this dungeon during my first playthrough had either a (frontline) Crusader or a Leper as their main damage dealer, so I could not completely shut down the White Cell Stalks, I did get teleported around twice, and my supplies did run low eventually.
Knowing what's about to hit you really helps in this, as long as you don't make a silly mistake, for example forgetting to re-equip your skill before a boss fight, like a scrub.

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"Collected Treasure" is just the partial refund from unused provisions (quick googling says 5 gold for any type), but the quest rewards still make this an overall profitable expedition.

I'm almost certain that it's pure RNG, but since most (if not all) enemies in this mission counted as "Beasts", it's quite fitting that Frostleaf and Benice had it with those. The reduced stress for Nearl is quite good - backrow tends to catch more stress than the front and it also might make it more feasible to use Junia's Head (+30% Healing, +20% Stress) as a trinket.

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Now then - the final dungeon is unlocked, but there's two things we need to do first: Face the final regular boss, the Formless Flesh, and see what the "Garden Guardian" in the Courtyard is all about. But we shall do that next time, in what should be the penultimate update. Until then: Thanks for reading!

 

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  • Update 39 - Advanced Gardening
Spoiler

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Alright, let's tie up those final loose ends before we look at the "sword" option.

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One of the Warrens missions has a trinket reward that we haven't found yet, so that's where we go. "Virtue farming" isn't really something I attempt, so the Hero's Ring will probably remain unused, but hey, gotta collect 'em all. It increases the chance to get a virtue instead of an affliction from 25% to 50% and there's another trinket that gives another 20%, so it's not necessarily a crapshoot, but that would come at the cost of using any other trinket.

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The team I'm going in with is a full Mark team, with everybody being able to set a mark and everybody but Rhys being able to abuse it.

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Speaking of Rhys: He's pretty light on quirks, so he takes a peek at any Occult Scrawlings that we come across. The first one gives him an absolutely amazing quirk, the second doesn't have any effect...

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...and the third one gives him an absolutely awful quirk, especially considering that the Occultist isn't exactly bulky to begin with.

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Combatwise, nothing too drastic happens. Mark teams are a bit better in Champion-level missions, I find, because some of the marking skills also debuff the target's DODGE (while being quite accurate themselves) for more reliability compared to two regular attacks, even if the enemy would get two-shot by those regular attacks, too.

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And against chonky enemies, the Houndmaster and Bounty Hunter's marking skills reduce their PROT instead.

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In the end, we come out of the dungeon with a pretty good haul. Portraits only stack up to three per inventory slot, compared to the six or even eight of the other heirlooms, so twelve is a big number in this context.

Unfortunately, we also get a slew of bad quirks (especially annoying on Rhys, who now needs to spend two weeks in the Sanitarium) and three of our heroes caught diseases from little pigs vomiting over them.

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Did I say two? It's three weeks of Sanitarium for Rhys...

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The mission was not enough to unlock the mission and I don't really feel like encountering the Thing From The Stars, so a trip to the Courtyard it is, instead.

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I vaguely remember the boss's gimmick, and I believe that two Shieldbreakers are very good at not giving a fuck about it. I also remember the boss's enemy type, which is why we see the Sculptor's Tools in action for the very first time. There's a grand total of two "Stonework" enemies in the game, and the second one are the Gargoyles, which are most definitely not dangerous enough to make me use a trinket to counter them.

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I only have one set of those tools, so Pramanix goes for more standard Courtyard equipment. The Mercurial Salve won't help with the boss fight, but the enemies in the dungeon are still going to be Bloodsuckers.

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Phil is also mostly here to deal with the vampires along the way. The Mirror is honestly insanely good against those; +4 Spd alone is an amazing bonus.

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And finally, the obligatory healer. The collection of drawn dongs and boobs has become standard for any Vestal on any mission, while the Handkerchief seems taylor-made for the Courtyard (and for the Ancestor, of course). At least I'm pretty sure that Disease Resist helps against the Crimson Curse, as well..?

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It might!

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But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Wayne June has something to say before we venture forth:

The very grounds themselves are animated by a deep-rooted evil, a cosmic hatred for all that thrive beyond its tainted grasp.

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The Garden Guardian mission(s) don't use predetermined maps like the big Courtyard missions before them, and the map is unobscured, as well. Since this is a "defeat boss" mission, I'm going to assume that our goal is as far away from the entrance as possible, which means in the bottom left room.

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Which turns out to be correct.

Not a whole lot to say about the dungeon up to this point - as you can see, Pramanix accumulated a bit more stress than the rest of the team, but nothing too dramatic.

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So let's just move on to the Garden Guardian. It's technically three enemies, so I guess I lied previously and there is four "Stonework" enemies... It's unfortunate that it counts as "Eldritch" and not as a Bloodsucker like all the other enemies in the Courtyard, but I guess it makes sense. It doesn't have anything mosquito-themed about it, after all, even though it bleeds the corrupted soil.

As you can see, the Guardian starts the fight Guarded, which is a trap - one very important thing that I remember about this fight: DO. NOT. KILL. THE. STONE. SHIELD. If you do, the Guardian will hit the entire party with a powerful attack that becomes more powerful (and more likely to crit) every turn, so that's how this fight can go horribly, horribly wrong.

Instead, you're supposed to attack the Guardian when the Shield drops its guard, and, I dunno, heal or attack the spear in the back while the guard is up.

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Or you can bring a Shieldbreaker and just ignore the whole thing. That works, too.

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And, while you're at it, ignore the 50% PROT on the Guardian, too.

Seriously, the Shieldbreaker is utterly broken in this fight. The Guardian's "thing" is that it's really durable, thanks to his PROT, practical immunities against any sort of status, and not being targetable half of the time, and the Shieldbreaker just punches through all of that.

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On the other hand, the Plague Doctor is not great - statuses are her entire gimmick, so she can only deal very minor damage to the Guardian. Instead, she uses her two [Emboldening Vapor] charges on Fang, which in total boosts her damage by 50%.

So, TL;DR: Easy fight. Or rather, potentially tricky fight that's very easy to trivialise if you know the gimmick. Still, let's take a look how this is supposed to look:

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[Skyward Shield]

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On its turn, the Shield will jump up, which will normally leave the Guardian unguarded.

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[Plummeting Doom]
And the next round, it'll crash down again, like it's a Pigeot using Fly, including not being targetable while it's airborne. I don't think there's a Thunder or Twister attack to circumvent this part of the gimmick, though.

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It's another of those "40% chance to hit a second target" skills that some boss enemies like to use. It also carries a Stun and can push back the target(s) by two ranks, so this can actually be dangerous.

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All the while, the Spear will spam [Feed the Soil], which will always target two random heroes (which is unusual - normally, AoE attacks hit predetermined targets) and will stress and potentially bleed them.

The Guardian itself, meanwhile, just idles throughout the fight, as long as you don't destroy the shield.

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But yeah, that's effectively the fight. It still drags a little (until round 7, to be precise), but it's never scary at any point. GG, EZ.

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You're actually rewarded with two Crimson Court trinkets for this mission: One as the official mission reward, which you can see before commiting, and a second one, which comes as a surprise. As a very welcome one, in this case, because the Vial of Sand is genuinely an amazing trinket. Oddly enough, the trinket it works best with is not the other half of the Courtyard set (the Blood Pact is only worth considering if you do a low-torch run)...

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...but the Demon's Cauldron, to stack that sweet, sweet Stun chance. The Occultist ends up with a 200% base chance to stun, which to my knowledge is as higher than any other class can get. It makes him really reliable in that role, and can even stun enemies with low resistance twice in a row.

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The other trinket we get is the Hellion's, which I'm not as big a fan of. Both her Crimson Court trinkets encourage a certain "danger mode" playstyle, with the Lioness's Paint increasing her damage the lower her HP drops, which I'm not very comfortable employing. That said, 15% Death Blow Resist is a pretty substantial bonus, reducing the chance of death from 33% to 18%, and the rest of the trinket's and the set's bonuses aren't too bad either.

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Again with the anti-animal bias in out new quirks! Not as many as last time, though. Light Sensitive doesn't hit Phil as hard as it would hit most other classes (10% of not a lot is also not a lot), but it's still a quirk I'd rather remove.

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Back in the village, we get an offer from an honestly really good Highwayman - all his positive quirks (+5 DODGE, ignore stealth, +10% HP, -10% Stress) are really good, and it's hardly any cost to get rid of the -5% melee Crit on the other side during a Sanitarium trip. Hired.

Elusive, evasive, persistent - righteous traits, for a rogue.

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Next mission, I backtrack on my previous statement and do go for the Warrens despite the Thing roaming there again this week. Like with the Crew last week, this will allow me to face the Flesh with a 15% Dmg boost, which I consider worth the risk.

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I go in with a team that's better suited fighting the Thing than tackling the dungeon itself, to be frank. Skadi's armour-piercing Pick to the Face is pretty valuable against the Thing, but she appreciates a more Blight-focussed team, which is less reliable in the Warrens than Bleed skills.

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Still, her high speed means that she can take out some squishy enemies with a [Lunge] before they even get a single turn.

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But this team has actually some trouble taking out enemies all the way in the back. Lunge only hits rank 1-3, so Fang is the only one who can apply good damage to the rank 4.

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So when there's a relatively bulky enemy in rank 4, like this Swine Skiver, who can dish out a lot of damage per turn, like this Swine Skiver, that's not pretty.

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Luckily, Vestals are very good at healing multiple hurt heroes, so I still go out of the fight with somewhat acceptable HP numbers.

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I'm getting some good scout rolls throughout the mission, which does help avoiding unnecessariy fights - I'm not too worried if I don't get as much treasure out of this run, so I'd rather not take too many fights with this somewhat awkward formation.

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As should be evident with this meager victory screen. I avoided most hallway fights, which is where the Thing could've spawned, so no (semi-)surprising boss fight this run.

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Eagle Eye (+5 ranged Crit) is a skill that's maybe worth locking in, but not so much on a Vestal. Eldritch Slayer is definitely worth locking in, although not as pressingly so on a Vestal.

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Well then, let's bleed out some Flesh.

(The "Feast of Blood" doesn't have any effect - a couple formations just have an ingame name attached to them)

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As a reminder, the Flesh is basically four enemies that share one big HP pool (plus some additional gimmicks), which makes area-of-effect damage-over-time effects very strong, like for example the Flagellant's Rain of Sorrow.

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And even moreso the Houndmaster's Hound's Harry, which at max level can apply a 3-point Bleed to all four ranks at once.

Both Warfarin and Honeybadger are equipped with more focus in Crit (and to an extend Accuracy) and not so much direct damage. The lion's share of their damage comes from the Bleed, and crits make it both last longer and more likely to get through to begin with.

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In the front, I field a third damage dealer in Gawain. He's obviously fully commited to direct damage, which is a little inconsistent - it's likely that he'll have a low-PROT form of the Flesh to whack, but it's not guaranteed.

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And in the back, surprise surprise, our usual commited healer. Nearl doesn't have any Bleed or Blight skills and doesn't have any debuffing skills active, so the Cleansing Crystal is quite nice for her.

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Er, except that I swap it out for the Ancestor's Map, after all. What can I say, it's really good for the "dungeon" part of the mission and Nearl's trinket slot is probably the least expensive spot to put it.

Well then, Wayne June, what did you do this time?

My zeal for blood rituals and summoning rites had begun to ebb, as each attempt invariably brought only failure and disappointment. Progress was halting, and the rapidly accumulating surplus of wasted flesh had become burdensome.

I could not store such a prodigious amount of offal, nor could I rid myself of it easily, possessed as it was by unnameable things from outer spheres. When excavations beneath the manor broke through into an ancient network of aqueducts and tunnels, I knew I had found a solution to the problem of disposal.

z8WoHJC.jpg

The Warrens had become a landfill of snout and hoof, gristle and bone - a mountainous, twitching mass of misshapen flesh, fusing itself together in the darkness.

Yeah, it was kinda clear where this was going after the second part. It says a lot about the Ancestor that throwing tons of half-living, mutated pig bodys in the sewers is strangely tame compared to his other exploits. Speaking of - we've seen them all now. I should try to summarise what we've learned, but I think I'll do that in a separate post after this one.

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The map layout is a little odd, but it does have only one "most distant" room to the entrance, in the centre right. I'm going to assume that the boss is lurking there.

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Which may or may not be true, I dunno at this point, but there is *a* boss lurking in the very first corridor!

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However, Gawain is doubly lucky here: First by rolling higher initiative despite a 4-point SPD disadvantage, and then by delivering a delicious crit.

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As a result, the Collector does manage to summon his posse, but it goes down (and takes them with it) before any of them can do anything to our party.

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Unfortunately, I don't get confirmation if the boss really is in the room I'm expecting it to be, but I still set up camp in the previous room. Not a ton of combat-boosting skills, but Gawain gives himself another bit of reliability and crit chance, while Nearl gives Honeybadger some Accuracy and Avoid, since the Houndmaster struggles a little with the former.

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In addition to that (and it's a HUGE addition), we find two Moonshine Barrels, which when cleansed with medical herbs, increase damage by 30%. The first one (which we found in the hallway before we set up camp and then backtracked for) obviously goes to Gawain, for the second one I randomly pick Honeybadger and not Warfarin.46BSWn4.jpg

And the boss room does turn out to follow the established "furthest distance" rule. Let's start the unmaking.

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But first, the Flesh mutates, as always at the start of a turn. While this mutation happens to look like the Heart and the Bone swapped places, every part has its own random roll what it turns into - in this case, it's in our favour.

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It doesn't matter as much for Warfarin (who only connects one Bleed for 5 points of damage per turn)...

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...or Honeybadger (three Bleeds, 9 dmg/turn)...

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...but it allows Gawain access to the Heart, the only part with zero PROT. (ignore the 70% on the screenshot, I guess I was mousing over another part while taking it)

I skipped what the Flesh was doing in the meanwhile, so let me fill in the gaps:

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Right at the start, the Heart uses [Sanguine Stroke], which means that the 6-12 points of healing are wasted here.

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After Honeybadger's turn, we see the [Undulating Invasion] of the Butt, which would've carried a Blight if Honeybadger had not dodged.

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After that (but still before Gawain's big hit), Nearl misses a Stun attempt and the Head hits its [Maws of Life], which is the Flesh's most damaging attack. Both the Head and the Butt have a chance to hit two targets, but it's only 20%.

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And finally, the Bone uses [Bone Zephyr], with low damage but with a chance to stun. Honeybadger resists the stun here, though.

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Next turn, I only catch the new mutation after Honeybadger gets invaded by one of the butts. I do have some Antitoxins to heal the Blights...

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...and unlike 98% of the time, I actually remember to use a doggie biscuit. The tooltip is a bit cluttered here - it's +50% DMG and +15% ACC from the biscuit, the rest comes from camp skills and the Moonshine Barrel.

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BORKBORKBORK

(again three Bleeds, so another 9 damage per turn)

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And this is why the Leper isn't entirely consistent in this fight. That said, 20 Dmg isn't even that bad.

Gawain: "Blood in the mud."

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Third turn gives him a nice squishy heart to target again, though.

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Which he uses for some nice overkill - 37 damage against four remaining hitpoints when it's Gawain's turn.

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Bosses: Cleared.

And pong: Lazy. Because he could've and maybe should've stuck around in the dungeon a bit longer to pick up some treasure, but it's really not too important at this point.

I forgot to capture the tooltip, so I'll have to make do with a wiki screenshot instead.

The Flesh's Heart is honestly a really good trinket. I like it for the Flagellant, since his Regeneration skill has a chance to bleed himself, and more HP means that it's less dangerous to go below the 40% HP threshold for his "emergency buttons", but it's universally good if you're expecting a lot of Bleed on a mission.

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Jeebus, three diseases again? That's a bit annoying. Also, I need to kick myself a little over Gawain losing Eldrich Slayer, since he's definitely on the shortlist for our final mission and that would definitely have been a great quirk to have.

Speaking of - I'm still deliberating if I'll do a handful of random missions for the loot - some more Courtyard trinket, maybe, and there's a few Districts that I wouldn't mind building, but can't afford yet. If so, I'll probably do them completely offscreen and just present whatever neat stuff I might pick up.

Either way, I'll add an "Update 39.5" shortly (so we end up on a nice even 40), to see if I can give a bit of an overview of all the Ancestor's crimes against humanity. Until then  - thanks for reading!

 

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