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Sade

A2:CS Singleton Build Tips (spoilers)

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Sade   

Finally completed my Torment singleton playthrough, with all the clearable quests cleared and pretty much all the named monsters killed, including Athron, Sulfras and Peltalis. (For the record, Peltalis is a bit of a secret character that you can, as far as I know, only fight if you go to Ornotha Ziggurat rooftop after having defeated Garzahd. He drops a Corrupting Baton and a Wand of the Inferno, but offers no special dialogue upon his demise.) Here are the stats my character ended up with, and some general ideas on singleton character building and dealing with late-game bosses. Of course, while the text was written with Torment difficulty in mind, it should be at least equally viable for lower difficulty levels.

 

My character’s skills and traits

 

8 Pole Weapons

10 Hardiness

15 Mage Spells

14 Priest Spells

7 Tool Use

7 Arcane Lore

7 Spellcraft

7 Resistance

(+2 on all the trainable skills; a singleton should easily be able to afford everything)

Improved Intelligence x5, Improved Endurance x2, Elemental Focus x5, Swordmage x4, Health traits x3, Experience traits x2, Nimble Fingers x2, Sage Lore

 

 

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Skills

 

First of all, magic is indubitably the only way to go. Having a dual-wielder or an archer in a party of four might not be a completely terrible idea (albeit somewhat suboptimal), but a non-magic user singleton would simply get swarmed by most outdoor encounters and other large-scale battles. What is more, you would have to put a considerable number of skill points into magic skills anyway to access a lot of things. As a result, most of the skills under the ‘Combat’ tab should probably be ignored.

 

With two major exceptions, of course: everyone wants to maximize Hardiness and unlock Adrenaline Rush (via Pole Weapons), singleton or otherwise.

 

10 Mage Spells will get you lv 2-3 Dispel Barrier, without which completing every quest in the game is impossible, let alone all the great loot it unlocks. In addition, because Simulacrum (lv 9 MS) summons level alongside the player character, they are an incredibly useful tool for a singleton. After those, reaching Cloak of the Arcane only takes 5 more points, which is a real bargain for the supposedly 30% boost to all of your spells. However, going all the way up to Arcane Blow is rather redundant if you already have the almost strictly better Divine Retribution.

 

Speaking of Priest Spells, lv 6 for lv 2-3 Move Mountains is necessary to access a whole bunch of stuff. After that, there is a huge 6 level gap full of somewhat useful but not quite crucial spells. However, for 7 more points, you will gain the best defensive and the best offensive spell in the game (Ward of Elements and DR). You should not go higher than that, though, as low-level healing spells are powerful enough to make Divine Restoration meaningless, and Divine Host is just plain bad.

 

7 Tool Use, alongside Tinker’s Gloves and 2 Nimble Fingers, will let you open all the staggeringly common lv 10 doors and traps. While there is unlockable loot up to lv 15, those include no quest items or useful spells, so there is no point bothering.

 

7 Arcane Lore will, together with 4 Vahnatai Lore and Sage Lore, give you access to every spell book in the game (discounting the ones that require pure AL, but none of those contain critical spells). Actually, only 5 AL would do the trick, but then you would need to delay getting lv 3 WoE and Capture Soul until the 2 late-game VL points. Maybe not unmanageable, but a considerable hassle for mere 2 skill points.

 

I consider the skills above as a kind of a ‘necessary package’: it might be hard to substitute them with anything else without risking viability or having to skip quests. For the remaining 14 skill points, there are no absolutely crucial abilities left to unlock, so they can be allocated a bit more freely. For my character, I decided to simply go for lv 7 in both Spellcraft and Resistance, which grants a reasonable boost to both offense and defense. Since Spellcraft can be increased 3 times without skill points, you could get a 4 Spellcraft / 7 Resistance division with 3 leftover points, if you wanted.

 

Other sensible uses for the ‘extra’ skill points include Parry and/or Luck, which are certainly helpful but not easily justifiable to be picked in lieu of Resistance, and Cave Lore (6 points), which provides unlimited potion ingredients. If you use consumables as sparingly as I do, running out of potions should not be much of an issue. As such, CL is really useful for one thing and one thing only: extra levels via Wisdom Crystals. The problem is, there is a level cap @ 61, and a singleton can reach it without any ingredient grinding. My character, who turned all the non-CL ingredients into WC’s and had both of the Experience traits, attained lv 61 when I had done just about everything other than the three major quests and their respective dungeons. Granted, having CL would probably let you reach the cap quite a bit earlier, but doing so would really only facilitate the mid-game – the easiest part of the game for a singleton, in my opinion.

 

Finally, Lethal Blow and Gymnastics are skills that might be worth increasing in themselves, but you would have to waste half the points on largely useless skills.

 

Traits

 

Since a lot of the traits on offer are more or less worthless, especially for a magic user, my trait choices should be mostly self-explanatory. Improved Intelligence and Elemental Focus maximize your offensive capabilities, while the Health traits together boost a fully leveled singleton’s total health by 50 points or so; not too shabby. Additionally, Sage Lore and Nimble Fingers are crucial to save some of your more important skill points.

 

You could say that 4 levels of Swordmage is kind of excessive, but I think there is enough good encumbering armor to justify the points. My character was burdened by a total of ~-40% to hit chance for most of the late-game, and that was with Runed Plate. You can make do with only 3 levels, but anything below that, and you would have to make some serious compromises on your equipment selection.

 

I took the two Experience traits mostly because I have never done so before, but that probably ended up being a decent decision. Even though I would have likely reached the level cap without the traits, going through most of the mid- to late-game a level or two higher than normal is about as good a benefit as you can expect out of a single trait point. This, of course, assumes that the traits actually give you the experience bonuses they promise, which is not easy to verify.

 

I placed the remaining 2 points into Improved Endurance, which not only gives a small bit of extra health, but also grants an additional 10% evasion against certain attacks. Considering how much ‘free’ evasion a singleton receives from all those extra levels, such additions are actually helpful; in the late-game, my character could dodge most non-boss enemies’ attacks with a 50-80% chance. If you ever end up with any trait points you have no better use for, Improved Endurance is my primary suggestion. However, Recovery, Parry Mastery, and the Luck traits are decent alternatives.

 

Traits that you might be considering but really should not pick: Negotiator (you will have enough money anyway to get all the skills and spells and stuff you could ever need), Summoning Focus (does not affect Simulacrum).

 

Boss Battles

 

The vast majority of late-game boss fights follow the same pattern: your enemy starts out dishing somewhat underwhelming damage levels, but as the battle goes on, they will begin to go gradually higher and higher, with seemingly no cap. After enough time has passed, the damage will be massive enough to one-shot even a singleton with 500+ HP, 90% resistances, Invulnerability and Bladeshield. Thus, the only way to cope with such battles is to hit hard and fast. The fewer turns you spend healing or reapplying buffs, the better; sometimes, it might be worth it to chug an Invulnerability Potion even before the damage becomes completely intolerable, in order to postpone healing turns.

 

When it comes to hitting enemies hard, a singleton’s tactics are not much different from the usual: Fireblast > Adrenaline Rush > Fireblast > Fireblast > Fireblast. If your opponent happens to be immune to fire, replace Fireblast with Divine Retribution. If your opponent happens to be immune to fire and magic, facepalm.

 

There is, however, one asset that can only be fully accessed by a singleton: heavy-hitting Simulacrum summons. Now, you might be thinking, ‘Why not always use a Haakai? It is the highest-leveled monster in my soul crystal!’ Well, firstly, the original level of the captured monster hardly matters; a lv 61 singleton can summon goblins capable of smashing your average enemies into next week. Secondly, regarding special abilities, sometimes less is more: Getting the ridiculously lengthy Battle Frenzy from a summoned monster is nice, but only for the first time it is cast in a battle. Any mental effects your summon tries to inflict will most certainly fail. Summons that your summons summon are most often mere shades of their creators’ power.

 

Even when your summon actually decides to go for an attack ability, the target might not be the one you want. If you are battling against a standard homogeneous mob, this may not be an issue, but in boss fights, precision is key. What fits the bill the best are summons with nice, strong melee attacks and few fancy abilities. One prime example would be Specter, an undead monster whose soul you can capture relatively early with lv 2 CS at Unfinished Fort (and only there; do not miss your chance). It inflicts two hard hits per turn on anything not immune to cold damage, all the while cursing them with both War and Weakness Curses.

 

As for other great options, Quickghast is a rather similar monster than slows your enemy instead of curses, but the physical damage it causes is usually not as effective as Specter’s cold. Demon Golem is a powerful lv 3 summon that attacks with both melee and all kinds of elemental sprays, although it unfortunately tends to mess things up by randomly Blinking about when surrounded by enemies.

 

One thing that the three above-mentioned summons have in common is that they all get inherent extra AP per turn. This is crucial, as a monster that hits your enemies twice per turn is basically worth the same as two monsters that do not – in terms of damage dealing, at least. The only means you have of reliably increasing a summon’s AP are the Speed Burst scrolls, but because of their relatively short duration, they can be troublesome to use in extended battles. Not that you would have an endless supply of them anyway.

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Congratulations on finishing. I'm still in the mid 40s level with my game.

 

Differences are going with sword and shield instead of pole weapon for the extra defense mid game with a shield and shielding knife for parry instead of the +5% magic damage of the lava fired spear. I didn't do capture soul to get summons, but I will now that I see how much better they are than a divine host shade. So I got summon focus trait instead of extra levels of swordmage trait.

 

Peltalis continues Jeff's tradition of replacing named NPCs that you kill off before encountering them in a scripted battle. Go to Ornotha Ziggurat first and you can't kill Garzahd there so the fight never ends with him. Watch him stand in quickfire and just not die. :)

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Lilith   

When it comes to hitting enemies hard, a singleton’s tactics are not much different from the usual: Fireblast > Adrenaline Rush > Fireblast > Fireblast > Fireblast. If your opponent happens to be immune to fire, replace Fireblast with Divine Retribution. If your opponent happens to be immune to fire and magic, facepalm.

 

Fortunately, I think the only significant enemy with both fire and magic immunity is Sulfras. Unfortunately, she's a very significant enemy.

 

Peltalis continues Jeff's tradition of replacing named NPCs that you kill off before encountering them in a scripted battle. Go to Ornotha Ziggurat first and you can't kill Garzahd there so the fight never ends with him. Watch him stand in quickfire and just not die. :)

 

Garzahd will actually flee from that battle if you manage to reduce his HP to below half. There is, of course, no good reason to do this.

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Sade   

So just as a question, how DID you kill sulfras?

 

Are there any harder bosses than sulfras?

 

Sulfras is, hands down, the hardest boss in the game. The fact that you can only hurt her with the relatively weak Icy Rain and Call the Storm spells means that whittling her massive HP bar down before her damage levels become intolerable is flat-out impossible, especially when you have to deal with ~200 damage Death Curses every other turn.

 

However, if you position yourself exactly 8 spaces away from Sulfras (in cardinal directions), you will be out of her attack range, but still close enough to prevent her from ’magically healing her wounds’. If you battle Sulfras while she is still chained, there should be no problems, but otherwise, you will have rely on lv 3 Icy Rain’s immobilization effect keeping her away. Otherwise, the battle is really only about spamming Icy Rain, while ensuring that Invulnerability is up at all times.

 

Garzahd, who is probably the second-hardest boss, can be defeated quickly enough that such gimmicks are not necessary. Barely. Immobilization can be abused against him as well, although his teleportation spells can make this a bit tricky.

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Lilith   

Sulfras is, hands down, the hardest boss in the game. The fact that you can only hurt her with the relatively weak Icy Rain and Call the Storm spells means that whittling her massive HP bar down before her damage levels become intolerable is flat-out impossible, especially when you have to deal with ~200 damage Death Curses every other turn.

 

I actually never saw Sulfras cast a death curse. When does she do that, after she's finished summoning invincible drakes?

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Lilith   

I think the death curse is only difficulty level torment and happens about at half health.

 

I mean, I fought her on torment and she never did it, as far as I can remember. I guess I musta finished the fight too fast for it to happen.

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Dikiyoba   

I'm pretty sure I saw Sulfras cast the death curse on easy difficulty. I think she had to be in close proximity to a party member (melee range? A square or two out?) in order to inflict them.

 

Edit: No, wait, she summons shades, and those shades inflict the death curse on whoever they get near.

 

Dikiyoba doesn't remember the fight very clearly, obviously.

Edited by Dikiyoba

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Lilith   

Edit: No, wait, she summons shades, and those shades inflict the death curse on whoever they get near.

 

Oh, right, I think I do remember the shades. I probably killed them before they got a chance to act. Little trickier to do for a singleton, I guess.

 

Is there an advantage to going with pole over sword training?

 

Purchasable Pole Weapons training is slightly cheaper and available significantly earlier in the game than Melee Weapons, so it's quicker and easier to get it to 10 while investing only 8 skill points.

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wasbear   

Great advice in this thread. I've also just finished my singleton game with a build very similar to Sade's. I agree that Sulfras probably can't be beaten by a singleton on Torment without level 3 Icy Rain and standing 8 spaces away to avoid her attacks. If you do that however, the fight becomes relatively straightforward. I had a bit of trouble with Garzahd, since I couldn't finish off the last 10-20% of his health at first before his damage became unblockable by invulnerability. What helped me in the end was having 15+ AP (from 2 items and battle frenzy). Then you can drink a potion or use a wand and cast two spells in the same turn. That should give you enough time to take him down, although it may still take a few attempts.

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Isn't it pretty straightforward? You build up the listed skills and focus on the most useful ones first. Once you reach Olgai, levels come so quickly (from non-combat quests, and then dungeons you're overlevelled for) that it almost doesn't matter for a while.

 

Before Olgai, presumably you're getting Mage and Priest Spells high enough to cast everything you have available at that point, boosting Tool Use, and then I guess going for Poles/Hardiness.

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The only consideration at the start is which spells you need to decide mage or priest levels being higher. Tool use isn't needed until about level 6 or higher to get into areas for spell training money.

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If singletons actually proceed with levels twice as fast, that's close to 20 levels before you go down the tunnel. Spells in that area only go up to requiring, what, 6 or 7 skill? Not a very pressing decision.

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Sade   

Disclaimer: I did not keep track of my level-ups on my playthrough, so the following list has been formed retrospectively and without being tested in actual gameplay. While it probably is not perfectly optimized, it should work as a solid guideline.

 

Level 1: Mage Spells (2), Priest Spells (3) | Improved Intelligence (1)

Level 2: Mage Spells (3), Priest Spells (4) | Elemental Focus (1), Improved Endurance (1)

Level 3: Mage Spells (4), Priest Spells (5)

Level 4: Mage Spells (5), Priest Spells (6) | Quick Learning

Level 5: Pole Weapons (1), Tool Use (1)

Level 6: Hardiness (1), Tool Use (2) | Great Wisdom, Swordmage (1)

Level 7: Pole Weapons (2), Tool Use (3)

Level 8: Hardiness (2), Tool Use (4) | Nimble Fingers (1)

Level 9: Pole Weapons (3), Hardiness (3)

Level 10: Pole Weapons (4), Hardiness (4) | Nimble Fingers (2), Swordmage (2)

Level 11: Pole Weapons (5), Hardiness (5)

Level 12: Pole Weapons (6), Hardiness (6) | Sage Lore

Level 13: Pole Weapons (7), Hardiness (7)

Level 14: Pole Weapons (8), Hardiness (8) | Improved Intelligence (2), Swordmage (3)

Level 15: Mage Spells (6), Priest Spells (7)

Level 16: Mage Spells (7), Priest Spells (8) | Improved Intelligence (3)

Level 17: Mage Spells (8), Priest Spells (9)

Level 18: Mage Spells (9), Priest Spells (10) | Improved Intelligence (4), Elemental Focus (2)

Level 19: Mage Spells (10), Priest Spells (11)

Level 20: Mage Spells (11), Priest Spells (12) | Improved Intelligence (5)

Level 21: Mage Spells (12), Priest Spells (13)

Level 22: Mage Spells (13), Priest Spells (14) | Elemental Focus x2 (4)

Level 23: Tool Use (5), Arcane Lore (1)

Level 24: Tool Use (6), Arcane Lore (2) | Elemental Focus (5)

Level 25: Tool Use (7), Arcane Lore (3)

Level 26: Mage Spells (14), Arcane Lore (4) | Good Health, Robust Health

Level 27: Mage Spells (15), Arcane Lore (5)

Level 28: Hardiness (9), Arcane Lore (6) | Perfect Health

Level 29: Hardiness (10), Arcane Lore (7)

Level 30: Spellcraft (1), Resistance (1) | Improved Endurance (2), Swordmage (4)

On the remaining 6 ‘actual’ level-ups: Spellcraft (up to 7), Resistance (up to 7)

 

Priest Spells is maximized (up to level 6) at the start, in order to gain Summon Shade and Move Mountains as soon as possible.

Since you have to wait for the tenth level of Tool Use (from Tinker’s Gloves) until Chapter 3, there is no reason to go past level 6 or so until that point. (I remember first arriving in Egli at around level 25, but my memory might be failing me.)

Finally, you may want to maximize Hardiness slightly earlier and Arcane Lore slightly later than in the list.

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Lilith   

If singletons actually proceed with levels twice as fast, that's close to 20 levels before you go down the tunnel. Spells in that area only go up to requiring, what, 6 or 7 skill? Not a very pressing decision.

 

Well, Sanctification Ritual requires a little more than that, but for a singleton it can probably wait if it has to.

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Nim   

Well, Sanctification Ritual requires a little more than that, but for a singleton it can probably wait if it has to.

At least for destroying altars there are enough sanctification scrolls.

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