By MasterBLB –
This is a set of hints, and to what you should pay attention when creating an own team to make it successful. I hope you’ll find these hints helpful for you to create teams which wipe the floor with foes every run 🙂
1. Damage type – vigor or sanity
First decision when creating own team is how you plan to kill enemies – via stress, or health reduction. Both ways have their own advantages and disadvantages.
+ kills immediately when enemy reaches 0 vigor.
+ reliable, as there are no enemies immune to vigor damage; well, maybe kinda Inventor boss only.
– there are 2 types of vigor damage, physical and magical; each type is countered by different measures – block/armor for physical damage, ward/resistance for magical damage, making mixing these types sometimes suboptimal.
– armor/resistance prevents a portion of vigor damage.
+ damage is unaffected by armor/resistance. Only Flagbearer’s feature, and few inspiration effects are capable of reducing stress damage.
+ only ward protects against stress attacks, block is useless.
+ works very well with critical hits, as each crit, even coming from vigor damage hit, deals in addition a bit of stress damage to each enemy.
+ causes insanity status which severely debuffs enemy – can make it take more damage, attack allies, increase chance to flee, lower chance to hit etc.
+ allows to efficiently use Battle Eternal spell at any time.
+ it’s fun to watch enemies frightened to death.
– doesn’t kill immediately when foe hits 0 sanity; instead, from now on each next stress hit has a chance to trigger a heart attack. That chance increases rather with consecutive hits count, not damage amount according to my observations.
– there are several enemy types whose are completely immune to stress damage (golems, constructs, gargoyles etc.), so having a backup plan against them is a must have.
– instead of becoming insane enemy may get inspired, which grants him/her quite significant buffs and restores sanity to full.
It is recommended to choose only one damage type as main one (either vigor or stress) if you want to be efficient. Reasoning is simple, a party which focuses only on damage doesn’t care about sanity at all, and vice versa. Moreover, if you manage to specialize even more, and deal say only physical damage then you are unaffected by wards and resistance. However, things are not as easy as it seems, because you may encounter enemies heavily armored, with significant number of blocks, but very weak defense against magic damage. Also, physical damage leaves wards intact, thus making enemies invulnerable to spells. So, mixing magical and physical damage is acceptable, and sometimes beneficial. You should avoid mixing stress and vigor damage, though, unless creating very specific team like stress party with Shade’s Gloom Claws as a finisher.
2. Base idea for a team
You can’t just throw random minions to create a party and hope it’ll work without deeper thinking how they are interacting with each other and enemies – well, if you wish to have a good, working team of course.
So, after deciding what type of damage you’re going to focus on next you should think about what you wish to have as a core of your team – a specific minion? or specific ability?
Once you’ll know that you can think what minions, spells, items and artifact will support your idea the best way possible – the core of teambuilding is to figure out combinations of minions’ skills which complete each other. There is much to consider, I’ll cover that in paragraphs below.
3. Defense types
There are three types of defense. Each have advantages and disadvantages.
+ reliably prevents a physical/magical hit entirely.
+ it works same good on each difficulty level.
– one-time only.
– doesn’t restore during fight on its own.
+ deducts flat amount of damage from all physical/magical hits respectively.
+ stays on the same amount unless lowered by specific enemies’ abilities.
– its potency lowers the higher difficulty level you play, as you can get ~20 armor/resistance at most, while damage of enemies scales significantly higher.
– doesn’t protect against critical hits, as it’s flat not percentage reduction.
+ completely negates hit if successful.
+ works equally against both physical and magical attacks.
– entirely luck based, if unsuccessful the minion will gonna take whole amount of damage.
– evasion can’t go higher than 100%, while enemies even on More Pain difficulty sometimes have 150%+ accuracy.
The reliability is as follows: block/ward > armor/resistance > evasion.
Minions have kind of affinity to defense types, ex. Wraith is good at evasion and blocks/wards, but have no armor. Black Knight on the contrary, can get 20 armor/resistance, but not a single block or ward.
Of course, it is possible, and recommended, to mix defense means, like ex. high evasion and in addition some blocks and wards. Mentioned below vigor recovery could also be considered as a type of defense, I suppose.
4. Lowering armor/resistance of enemies
For vigor-damaging teams, and also for a backup plan for sanity-damaging ones it’s very important to have some means to reduce armor and/or resistance; especially if minions use AoE, or multiple hits abilities with low percentage base. Usually it’s enough to pick a minion with appropriate ability, like Dhampir’s machine gun shots, or Werewolf’s Tear Up, or Headhunter’s Sundering Wrath; well, possibility to negate armor/resistance is one of the core principles of creating a well working team. However, if no minion in party has such ability you can use Acid Glands item, note however that abilities expected to trigger it have to do anything to an enemy, so ex. Banshee’s Desolate Scream used against stress resilient enemy without buffs won’t work at all, as the skill won’t cause any effect. Paralyzing Scream in that case will trigger the item, as it’ll apply -18 evasion debuff.
Armor/resistance can by offset by damage buffs to your minions, ex. if enemy has 20 armor, and you managed to increase attack of your minions high enough so they deal more than 20 damage per hit it’ll mean the armor is negated. Still, it’ll weaken their hits significantly.
And the last way is to deal true damage (so far burns, or very similar venom of the Black Widow) which bypasses armor/resistance entirely.
There are also Acidic Potion and Breaking Potion, however their base potency is very low (-10 armor/resistance), and even crafted from only legendary parts still they are one-time use. However, if nothing else is available they might be uses as a last resort option.
5. Interrupting stances
Anyone who faced Grand Magister who was preparing to deal blow to whole party while having 100 wrath, or Elite Sniper in his sniper stance knows how important is to have a way to cancel enemy stances. It is practically a must have.
The most reliable means to cancel stances are minions’ abilities like Reaper’s Dessicate, Unfrozen’s Ice Lance etc; in general anything which states clearly “Interrupting Stances” or “Stun”. A stance also can by interrupted by moving the enemy – however this works only if there is some space to move the enemy into, and also it requires the enemy to be moveable.
6. Vigor recovery
Having a way to recover lost vigor is practically a must have – even if you’re doing great, and destroy elites before losing all blocks and wards ultimately the time will come during a boss fight, or you’ll face enemies who bypass used defense type, when you’ll need a way to heal your minions. It is obtained in few ways – minions’ abilities, items, potions, Relentless Evil or Battle Eternal spell.
Some minions, like Ghoul and vampires, have abilities allowing them to leech life from damage dealt, Black Widow restores vigor while in cocoon, Unfrozen can also do a job of field medic by freezing an ally, Lost Soul also can heal directly, Bone Golem can regenerate…but for others you need to use specific items, most likely Vampire Fangs and Lantern of Souls. Fangs are better for damage dealers, preferably the ones which strike multiple times – ex. a Black Knight in stance, attacking on each buff or debuff. Lantern is better for passive minions, like a Blood Phantasm in his stance. There is also very powerful Sacrificial Stone, although it requires a specific build to shine. Enchanted Heart is rather too weak on its own, however it might support featured Werewolf’s regeneration.
And there are also potions, namely Ancient Vampire Blood, Recovery Potion and Recovery Broth. When made out of rare and legendary parts they are very potent, however they are one-time use only, and Ancient Vampire Blood buff can be dispelled – this makes potions rather an emergency rather than main way to heal minions.
Relentless Evil heals a minion at the start of its round by 5 points if you have at least 75 wrath. Not that much, but as you’ll see it helps. However, some teams use wrath quite intensively, so keeping it at high enough level might be sometimes difficult.
The last way is Battle Eternal spell. It is quite good, however it costs a lot of mana, and also heals enemies, so it is not that easy to use efficiently.
7. Mana recovery
It might be argued if a way to recover mana during fight is a must have or not, from my experience it is very recommended, practically mandatory, as it’ll greatly help you – being able to cast Dispel, Finger of Death, Battle Eternal, Bone Obelisk, Infectious Lunacy or Stoke the Flames at will is a real life changer.
The best way to recover mana is Essence of Mind item given to some minion in your team which either hits really hard, or can attack multiple times due to some actions, for example a Lich who cast its Toxic Cloud, then the rest of the party pulls enemies into the cloud will recover mana whenever someone falls into the cloud. Other very similar item is Void Flame, however only for Shade. Some minions also have abilities to recover mana, like Black Knight’s Dark Tithe, but I’ve never used them as properly applied Essence of Mind is better. Ach, and Reaper using Soul Dissection is also extremely good at recovering mana – after all, this ability has built-in super Essence of Mind.
8. Reshuffle recovery
You’ll face a problem of enemies moving your minions off their starting positions, it’s unavoidable – if you’re very lucky it’ll happen not earlier than fight against Grand Magister. So, in your party design you need to include a plan how to restore designated positions of your minions after shuffling. Of course, only if your team relies on minions being on these specific positions.
Thankfully, it is not that hard, as most of the minions have abilities which causes them to change positions, so usually it’s enough to use them, with a support of spells Back, Forward, and Whip. Btw, a trick for a minion with Legcuffs item – you still can move that minion using spells Back/Forward, however you need to target not the minion itself, but its neighbor.
Nevertheless, I’d consider this a must have for most teams, except ones which will constantly move around, and don’t care much about being on specific position, like Lich, Ghoul, Ghoul.
9. Dispelling buffs
It’s good to have a way to dispel enemy buffs – anyone who faced Mad Scientist, or Pyromancer who cast her fire shield will confirm that. Thankfully, there is a great spell called Dispel which does that, so you don’t have to have a minion with a specific ability for this purpose. Nevertheless, it definitely won’t hurt if you have. Physical damage parties might have slight issue there as both Dispel, and other abilities capable of dispelling buffs require to strip wards off the enemy; well excluding Reaper’s Desiccate ability.
Stances provide powerful effects, however they can be interrupted by moving the minion, or stun. To efficiently use stances you need some way to redirect attacks against the minion in stance to some other, like Black Widow’s cocoon, or Skeleton’s Fortitude. There is also item called Martyr’s Rags which helps to shield an ally directly behind the bearer. Jester’s Visage item works in similar way, though not 100% reliable. Minion movement can be prevented also by using Legcuffs item – btw, this item makes a Skeleton extremely good bodyguard as its feature makes it immune to debuffs so it can’t be stunned, and with Legcuffs it also can’t be moved, thus making its stance uninterruptible, and therefore the stance of the shielded minion.
Another way to squeeze the most out stances is to ensure your minions have high enough initiative to move before enemies do, and will use benefits of a stance before any chance of interruption.
11. Items for minions
Properly selected items make a huge difference how your team will perform. For example imagine Bone Golem with maxed vigor, and items Jester’s Mask + Lantern of Souls – this minion will be a great meatshield for rest of your minions, and don’t really have to use anything other than 10%-20% regen skill; thanks to the lantern it can still give blocks/wards to allies, and at the end of fight it should be fully healed. Putting Essence of Mind wisely will cause you’ll never run out of mana during fight, and you will not have to use most powerful spells sparingly. Drop of Divinity will enhance both offensive and defensive potential of a minion. Glutton’s Tongue in late game allows to reach over 50% increased damage. Legcuffs both prevent stance interruption by moving, and helps to keep a minion like Ghoul in her destined place. And so on, and so on…in general, if minion does not have vigor recovery abilities on its own consider giving it one item for that purpose, and the other one either some utility, or damage boost. At least I do that, and so far it works.
Even at the very beginning of the game, when you have spare minion parts left, it is worth to craft items like 10% reduced physical damage taken, 10% increased physical/magical/stress damage using extraction.
This step is extremely important, and should not be taken lightly.
12. Spirit Mail and Spirit Spear artifacts
Bonuses granted by these are so important it requires a separate paragraph. In short, plan ahead how each of your minion can deal the killing blow, no matter the composition of the team. An example – in my latest party Banshee, Infested, Abomination, Lich I’ve used Dominate Undead to move Banshee to 3rd or 4th position buffing her by the way so she could use her Shattering Howl; with all buffs she attacked for over 100 damage(she had Glutton’s Tongue, though), which was enough to finish off weakened foes.
Anyway, you really should aim at acquiring vigor bonus for everyone at least. Damage bonus, while neat, could be left only for minions normally performing attacks, those who has rather support role can ‘live’ without it.
13. Stalling fights
You’ll find during middle of a run that possibility to prolong fights is actually nice to have – thanks to that you can heal up some minions, recover some mana etc. To be able to do so you need minions with non-attack abilities, like Black Knight’s Dark Tithe, or Ghoul’s Repelling Mark, to skip their action without harming foes. Alternatively, if your minion don’t have such abilities you can use opposite damage type attacks, like normally you kill via stress, so to stall the fight use vigor damage ones.