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A comprehensive overview and progression guide for party development through the game.


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Since I just finished my torment all-trophies playthrough (and easily defeating the optional "super boss"), I thought I might make a guide to the game with the information I wish I had before starting. I went into this game mostly blind, only reading up on mechanics so I'd have a better idea of what to do, but even then I found the game non-intuitive at points. Many tooltips are wrong, and the ideal strategies are different in this game compared to previous ones, so there was a lot to learn. I made many mistakes, and wanted to help others not make them.

 

While there are numerous "walkthroughs" for queen's wish that state where to go and what to do, there is little information about how to actually develop your characters. Namely, what works, what doesn't, what abilities to aim for, how to strategise, etc. That is where this guide aims to elaborate. It is my intention that by the end of reading this, you should be able to make solid judgement calls about how to level your characters and forts, and how to build characters to suit your goals. To do this, I will break this guide into 4 parts.:

 

1. An overview of all abilities, describing their usefulness.

2. A discussion of various strategies and tactics.

3. An overview of optimal end game builds with equipment progression details, using my team's end-game equipment as an examplar.

4. A review of area progression, and information about fort development.

 

Please note that all of this information is provided for the purposes of a torment run. Other strategies may be viable, or even better suited, in lower difficulties. However, my perspective is that if it works on torment, it'll work on other difficulties, even if it may not be "optimal" there. I will also try to keep this as spoiler-free as possible, but some minor spoilers are inevitable.

 

Part 1. An overview of abilities.

 

Combat Abilities - Tier 4

Bull's Rush - F tier. Don't bother. It has some situational positioning uses, but by and large you want to distance yourself from enemies in 90% of fights. For the times when positioning is important, teleport is your friend.

Bludgeon Senseless - A tier. My favourite opening move. Great for whacking a boss with slow, weakness, and potentially vulnerable from confuse. Use this to slow any stun resistant mob (including mobs that have just recovered from a stun). It became my go to for dealing with multiple enemies, especially at chokepoints. Bludgeon senseless one mob so his damage output is seriously reduced, then go to town on the other mob/s. Also good to hit mages/archer in the back that you aren't killing yet.

Terrifying Scream - B tier. Highly situational. It's an aoe fear that's good as a panic button if a pack gets through your line of defenses. Hit it, summon some skellies around the ones that resist, and you can buy yourself time to deal with the threat. Useless against mobs immune to mental effects (i.e., undead and illusions) which were the majority of the enemies I found I wanted it to work on. Ultimately I dropped it and never regretted that decision, but you could justify having one person know this in the back lines

 

Combat Abilities - Tier 3.

Knockback - D tier. Seems like it would be useful, but if you need it, the fight should already be almost over. If not, you've probably already lost and need to restart and try something different. I never encountered a time that I wish I had it after I stopped using it.

Shield Shatter - A tier. Not for every fight, but great against tanky bosses. 5 stacks of vulnerable will skyrocket your damage. Highly situational, but great to have in your back pocket when needed.

Hardiness - A tier. Obligatory stats boost. Yes, it can save your skin. Many times I pulled through because of this when a character was one or two hit to <10% hp.

 

Combat Abilities - Tier 2.

Whirlwind Attack - C tier. I might get some hate for this. Whirlwind is amazing damage output per energy and can quickly slaughter groups of enemies. However, on torment, the idea is to stay away from enemies, not get in the middle and try to become the living incarnation of a tornado of death. That will get you killed VERY quickly, or at the very least burn through your energy reserves healing. It absolutely does great damage, but the risk to yourself is way too high to justify it.

Stunning Shot - A tier. Stun and slow. Great ability. If a dangerous enemy can be stunned, don't hesitate to use it.

Fast feint - F tier. Garbage ability. One-person battle frenzy. Inefficient use of energy.

 

Combat Abilities - Tier 1.

Brutal Blow - S tier. 50% bonus damage with a bleed is fantastic. Even when at 5 bleed stacks, it's still worth using just for the damage bonus. Bonkers damage upfront and over time. Anyone who badmouths this ability hasn't tried it. My end-game torment builds had between 30 to 50% crit rates, and this was critting for 300 to 350 against the "secret" super boss. This ability almost feels unfair. It is this ability alone (well, plus battle frenzy) that let me steamroll every mid- to late-game boss fight.

Blinding blow - F tier. Garbage. Use bludgeon senseless instead. If early game, don't bother with weakness. If you must use weakness before you get bludgeon senseless, have a mage inflict weakness in an aoe.

Steelskin - S tier. Flat resistance buffs are great. Bleeding and poison are serious problems, especially in the late game, but the stun and mental resistances are the key part. Less fear and less charm alone is good. Resistance to stun is just candy. Plus the poison and bleed resists. This is a no-brainer, and should be taken as early as practicable by every character.

 

Magic Abilities - Tier 4.

Fireball - D tier. Way too expensive for what it does. It's an anti-horde spell in a game with lots of measures for dealing with hordes. Energy much better used elsewhere.

Shockwave - B tier. I was initially excited by this spell. Theoretically, it should be an A or S tier, but in practice, I just couldn't ever get any of the cone spells to hit the enemies I wanted. Remember, on torment, these hit YOUR characters as well. There were always enemy stragglers just out of range, and the cone itself was quite short ranged as well. It always felt lackluster, and it was frustrating trying to position it correctly. If this was an aoe instead of a cone, you'd have a lot more control, and this would be an instant S tier.

Build Construct - D tier. A more expensive version of Call Bones, with only a minor improvement in stats. If you ever need constructs, use the scrolls. Casting it yourself is a waste of energy and an ability point.

 

Magic Abilities - Tier 3.

Poison Rain - F tier. A worse fireball. Cheaper, but less damage. And to top it off, some of its damage is gated behind mobs failing a poison check; assuming the mobs can even be poisoned in the first place (looking at you, undead).

Time Warp - A tier. Fantastic ability. Only need it on one person, but wowzers is this efficient. Immediate aoe slow on a large area. Stunning shot to slow/stun any who resist. A very powerful ability, especially considering how well it synergises with battle frenzy; the action count swing in favor of you spikes off the charts when you couple these together.

Raw Power - A tier. Take this on every character. Energy is king in this game.

 

Magic Abilities - Tier 2.

Icy Wave - F tier. See Shockwave entry for why I dislike cone spells. Expensive and comparatively little damage.

Weakness - B tier. Can be ok early, but later on is just bad. Time warp makes this almost entirely redundant, as if there's a horde and you need aoe mitigation, slow is incredibly powerful, and the turns required to stack weakness for it to be effective just take away from your own damage too.

Call Bones - A tier. Amazing ability that summons a skeleton to tie up enemies. Can only take a few hits (sometimes only 2 or can be crit one-shot sometimes) but still very handy. More useful the fewer enemies.

 

Magic Abilities - Tier 1.

Shock - C tier. Comparatively ok damage for mobs with high physical resist/evasion. Still not a fan of it though. I ran it on one person hoping to find a time it would be useful but never did. Brutal Blow was just such an efficient use of energy and outshone this by a mile.

Terror - B tier. For times when you need to control a single mob with low mental resist. Mainly useful at the start of the game. Its main use is when fighting a horde and one enemy breaks through your front-line and you really want to tell him to go sit in the corner for a few turns.

Magery - S tier. Every character benefits from this. Everyone uses healing, blessings, and curses in some fashion. This is a large bonus to all 3.

 

Support Abilities - Tier 4.

Restoring Rain - SS tier. Aoe heal with aoe curing??? This is spectacularly good. If even 2 people need a cure, this is energy neutral, but cures all 4 AND heals. Simply amazing. Would still be S tier if it cost 3 energy; maybe even if it cost 4.

Battle Frenzy - S tier. Gives all 4 party members a long duration haste AND blessing. Part of your core combat strategy is keeping these buffs up permanently in the late game (often stacking blessing too). This is essential to any decent strategy.

Silence - F tier. Never found a good use for it. Bosses were easy to handle even with their casting abilities, and the only time I would consider using it (to silence the battle frenzy casters), there were multiple enemies that would need to be silenced. Therefore it was faster, easier, and more energy efficient to just kill them. This would be F tier even if it only cost 1 energy.

 

Support Abilities - Tier 3.

Healing Wave - D tier. Why use this when you have restoring rain? Garbage.

Disruption - A tier. Situational but HIGHLY valuable when needed. Enemy cast evasion and went to 70% physical evasion? Lol not anymore. Nothing will make you smile like watching an enemy with 5 or 6 buffs run at you expecting to be a hero and just saying "oh no you don't" while casting disruption. Only 4 ap too so you can attack afterwards to really rub salt in the wound.

Haste - S tier. 10% speed buff. Not very exciting but exceptionally good. Note that the "buff" haste is a flat 40% speed bonus, so this is like having 25% of that, but active at all times. And yes it stacks with the haste buff (up to 65%, more on that later).

 

Support Abilities - Tier 2.

Curing - A tier. 1 energy, 4 ap, goodbye poison and bleed. Essential for mitigating late-game damage, where a bleed proc can be 70 or more points of damage. This can remove multiple stacks of it, even.

Speed - F tier. Haste on one person. Pathetic. Do not use.

Teleport - C tier. I have mixed feeling about this one. Teleport can be very situationally good, namely in correcting a positional mistake. However, it competes with the second level of cure, which is just flat out amazing. Bear in mind that you do get an item that can cast teleport once per day, mitigating the need to choose this. But that also takes up an item slot so meh. Up to you if you want it on one character or not.

 

Support Abilities - Tier 1.

Healing - B tier. Healing is garbage in this game but you really need it. Healing is preferably done between fights, not during them, and this offers a way to convert energy into health. Where possible, use energy to mitigate damage, not to heal it. It's much more energy efficient to prevent damage than to cast this spell.

Inspiring Cry - B tier. Useful to stack with battle frenzy for the haste + 5 stacks of blessing combo. It's a lot of energy to precast this combo (6 energy), but if you know you're going into a tough fight it will basically guarantee you victory. Never essential to do this though.

Hide in Shadows - F tier. Not sure if this even works. Either way spreading damage over the team to heal with aoe healing is MUCH more efficient than having enemies dump all damage onto one character and being force to use Heal, so this is counter-intuitive.

 

Racial Abilities - Haven.

Haven's Might - A tier. A battle frenzy available from basically level 1. It's more expensive than battle frenzy, but also lasts longer. This is not an ideal trade-off imo, and you're better off trading it for battle frenzy as soon as you can. Very useful until then though.

Haven's Mercy - B tier. Restoring rain, also from level 1. Again, more expensive, but it heals much more. Still, the main utility in this spell is the aoe cure, but to be frank, there are very few aoe status inflictors in the early game, so cure is probably better. By the time this becomes useful, you'll have access to the cheaper restoring rain. If restoring rain was not in the game, this would be an S tier and essential.

Haven's Command - A tier. Bonus damage passive. Solid pick.

 

Racial Abilities - Ahriel.

Mindsteal - SS tier. SImply an amazing ability. Breaks the game in many areas. If anything, this is wildly too powerful, to the point of almost making the game tedious rather than challenging. Mind control 2 enemies in a horde and you'll effectively tie up the entire group for multiple turns, and turn all their damage against themselves. This scales with game difficulty, so on torment, this spell is ridiculously good as all that bonus damage and health the mobs have makes them BETTER to mindsteal.  It's hard to overstate how good this ability is. It can't be used against undead or illusions, and many bosses have a 90% mental resist (meaning, don't bother), but this is useful in 90% of the game, including all the way up to the end (including the hardest fight at the end of the game). Where it struggles is in Ukat lands, where there's a lot of undead and illusions. Still a fun and solid ability; the feeling of getting a few procs of this in a row and knowing with 100% certainty you've just won a difficult fight on turn 1 is great.

Free mind - A tier. Nice to counter fear and charm, but situational. I'd not advise investing a point in this late-game though, as there's a top-tier necklace that gives this ability for free (see my team's equipment section). Note it costs only 4 ap.

Radiance - D tier. Chance to remove mental effects on their turn. Unreliable and highly situational. If I cared about mental effects I'd put points in free mind (which doesn't even cost an "action" since it's only 4 ap so you can use it and still attack). By far the weakest of the racial passives. I used an item that grants a level of this throughout the entire mid- to end-game and literally only ever saw it proc once.

 

Racial Abilities - Vol.

Spellshield - D tier. A short lived evasion boost that becomes irrelevant late-game since you'll be stacking evasion anyway, up to, or almost up to, the cap of 80%. What makes this worse is that the most dangerous magics are aoe, and this only buffs one person. The nail in the coffin is the extremely short duration.

Evasion Charm - C tier. Like spellshield, becomes virtually irrelevant. Slightly better since you can throw it on a summon to make your frontline harder to kill. Or on your "tanky" character early game. Still feels like a waste of points and energy though. Remember, it's a short-lived buff, like spellshield.

Tower of Might - SS tier. Simply amazing ability when stacked. 3 vol team mates with this maxed is +30% evasion to physical AND magical attacks to the ENTIRE party at ALL times (unless you spread out too far). Combine this with support tier bonuses and some equipment augments, and every one of your characters can hit 80% evasion (the cap) to everything. Late-game builds choose between stacking this 3 times, or stacking it only twice so you can have an Ahriel with mindsteal, that's how important this passive is.

 

Racial Abilities - Ukat.

Steal darts - C tier. I've already discussed why I don't like cone-shaped abilities, but on your frontliner, they're easier to pull off, so that almost redeems it. It's quite expensive for what you get, but still reasonable. The problem with this skill, and all Ukat skills, is that they compete with Tower of might stacking and Ahriel's mindsteal, meaning they're just a suboptimal choice.

Barbed Lance - C tier. Surprisingly good damage and bleed. Haven't tested to see how it compares to brutal blow though. Even if it is a slight upgrade to brutal blow, it's not worth losing a Tower of Might stack or mindsteal.

Vicious Strikes - C tier. I'll be honest, I used a ring and charm that gave +1 each to this skill, and it procced so often I'd often end up with 5 stacks of bleeding after a couple of turns against a boss. It feels so much more common than only 20%. But with brutal blow being the powerhouse it is, you already have access to a guaranteed bleed ability, so a passive to increase the chances is just "nice", not essential. But oh how very nice it is. Use the ring and charm, don't use an Ukat. Bloodletting charms also give free access to bleeds if you're desperate for more bleeding.

 

Part 2. Strategies and Tactics.

 

First, let's get this out of the way. "Mages" suck in this game. Terribly. Their skills are way too expensive for what they do, and energy limitations precludes pure spellcasting. Energy should be seen as a precious resource that you need to carefully spend to maximise your gains. Wands are strictly inferior to bows, even if you like the debuff they could inflict, and staves are just outright garbage.

 

"Warriors" also suck. On torment, mobs do way too much damage to have someone running into combat with them willy nilly. Melee weapons do a little bit more damage than bows, but not enough to justify standing next to enemies (with some exceptions, usually boss fights). All combat skills can be used at range with a bow, so do that instead of meleeing.

 

"Healers" also suck. Yes, healing is integral to survival but you want to do as little of it as possible. Damage mitigation is far more important than healing up damage taken, and the less healing you do, the more attacking you do.

 

So if mages, warriors, and healers suck, what works? Archers. Yes, every one of your characters should be an archer. That said, you don't have enough ability points to get every skill on every character, so each of your archers will be slightly specialised to do something the others can't. We'll split these into:

 

1. Tanky archer - Your front-liner (more on this later) designed to stop your entire party getting swarmed and being somewhat better at mitigating general damage.

2. Medic archer - Reserves their energy almost exclusively for healing between combat (unless healing in combat is absolutely essential). Loaded with +healing bonuses.

3. Support archer - A battle frenzy bot with access to inspiring cry. Loaded with +blessing bonuses.

4. Debuff archer - Knows Time Warp. Has a bow. That's it. Later on, gets the Free Mind necklace and stacks mental resist to max.

 

The general strategy is to keep your distance from the enemies. Where possible, you want to avoid incoming damage while still being able to put out decent damage. There are 3 main ways to achieve this:

 

1. Kiting

Kiting is surprisingly effective. Enemies can move 5 spaces towards you, but you can move 4 away and shoot. Repeating this can leave enemies unable to reach you almost indefinitely, especially if you slow/stun them with a stunning shot. Under battle frenzy you are basically immortal while you have room to kite. Engage enemies with a "firing line" (i.e., a line of your 4 characters) 8 spaces away, attack and move away as they get closer. This is my first line of attack and works for the majority of encounters. Don't forget that your characters can move through each other, exchanging places. Knowing how to use this is essential, as you can use one character's ap to "move" other characters. Let's use an example:

 

E x x x x x x A P

E x x x x x P x P

 

Let's say you have the situation above. An enemy "E", is 5 spaces away from a party member "P". If the enemy gets to move, they could move into your party member and your kiting days are over (moving spaces when in contact with an enemy costs 4 ap). However, your active character "A" can move into the party member at the front, and then move backwards, resulting in:

 

E x x x x x x P P

E x x x x x x A P

 

Now all your characters are 6 spaces or more from an enemy and can't be trapped in melee combat. Learn to shuffle characters and you'll be much better at kiting. This is especially true when kiting through narrow spaces. Keep characters as far away as possible at all times, and only attack from the farthest place they can, and you should be OK.

 

2. Bottlenecking

One of the more important mitigation techniques, where kiting is not possible, is to bottleneck enemies. If you can force enemies to have to go through a door/tight space to get to you, park your tanky frontliner one space inside, in melee range of the two spaces the tight space occupies. Let's look at this visually:

 

E x x x W x x P x

E x x x E F x P x

E x x x E  x x P x

E x x x W x x x x

 

E = enemy, F = frontliner, W = wall, P = party member

 

Now, only two enemies maximum can engage you in melee (barring rare exceptions like leaping enemies). Have your backline of 3 archers pick off any archers/flingers/mages etc. so there's only melee left, and have your tanky frontliner use stunning blow or bludgeon senseless on the mobs in melee to mitigate damage further. To conserve energy, I usually just stunned/bludgeoned one of the enemies and focus-fired down the other, while the enemies ran in to replace them whenever they died. Rinse repeat until victory.

 

Note, do NOT try to bottleneck with summons. If the summon dies the enemies will quickly swarm into the room defeating the purpose. Also, do NOT leave your archers next to your frontliner, always leave at least one space. Many enemies in this game cleave, and it will do a LOT of damage to your backliners (who are often in healing/blessing vestments which have poor physical armour).

 

3. Distraction frontline

This is the last resort, but is quite effective. It can be energy expensive to maintain, so use it sparingly. It's often my go-to for bosses, who's arenas do not allow for either kiting or bottlenecking. The basic premise is simple. Summon skeletons in key places to ensure enemies can't get close to you. two skeletons is usually enough, I found. Replace them as they die to keep enemies distracted. Usually, if you're using this tactic, this is a time to aoe slow/battle frenzy, making enemies unlikely to be able to break through after killing one since you should have enough actions to almost immediately resummon.

 

While the other methods are preferable for their energy conservation, this is a very important strategy that you will ultimately use a lot. But use discretion. While learning, I often found I summoned too much, and had skeletons alive at the end, or summoned them in silly locations (i.e., next to eachother, only to be cleaved/aoe'd down). Only keep summoning if it is essential to winning the fight. Once a group has been sufficiently whittled down, just go full attack mode and kill them all; they often won't survive the full distance to you AND be able to deal damage. If it's only 2 or three enemies that reach you in the end, you should be fine anyway.

 

Positioning for Auras and Buffs.

One of the hidden mechanics of the game is that of aura radiuses. I won't go over them in detail, as you can test yourself if need be, but I will show you the shape of the "4 square aura" of the Vol's Tower of Might ability. As stated, this project out 4 spaces in the cardinal directions (up, down, left, and right), but it's ambiguous about diagonals. I'll map out the actual aura shape below:

 

g  g  g  g  g  g  g  g  g  g  g

g  g  g  a  a  a  a  a  g  g  g

g  g  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  g  g

g  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  g

g  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  g

g  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  g

a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  g

g  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  g

g  g  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  g  g

g  g  g  a  a  a  a  a  g  g  g

g  g  g  g  g  g  g  g  g  g  g

 

In hindsight, this might not be as clear as I intended. The takeaway is that the aura extends 3 squares diagonally; it's basically a square with 3 spaces in each corner lopped off. This means that you can get some great layouts with your team. For example, put your front-liner somewhere, and park your back-liners on the line 4 squares away in one direction. There's 5 spaces in this outer line; easily enough for 3 characters. If you move out of this range, your character's wont get the Vol racial buff and won't hit the evasion cap. That's bad, so don't do that.

 

My usual strategy of positioning when I needed to spread for aoes was to imagine a 3x3 grid and put one character on the outside edge of that box (meaning the 3x3 remained empty). Your characters will remain within aura range, but aoes won't usually hit more than one or two people.

 

Energy management.

 

Energy management is key to this game. Ideally, you obviously want to spend as little as possible. For the early game, I found that I really did need to return to a fort after every dungeon, but once I got Ahriel soldiers and was mindstealing across the Vol lands, I started to find energy management easier. Once I swapped to Vol soldiers and had the 80% evasion caps, I was well into the swing of things. The basic idea is to note how many enemies you're fighting; 3 or 4 enemies usually restores 1 energy after the fight, while 6 or more usually restores 2. As such, I try not to use more than that on each character in each fight. This usually consisted of debuffer using call bones to distract enemies, my frontliner using stunning shot on a mob, my buffer using battle frenzy, and my healer either stunning, using call bones, or casting a heal at the end of the fight (BEFORE you click end combat). Sometimes I wouldn't even need all of those spells in a fight, meaning I got to the point I was gaining energy over time by fighting. The one exception to this rule was my buffer, who usually slowly lost energy due to the 2 ap cost of battle frenzy. This is why I usually reserved the energy potions for him.

 

In the mid to end game it wasn't uncommon to do 4 or more areas before needing to return to a fort. In Ahriel lands, I don't think I ever actually came close to running out of energy doing the entire area. The basic premise is to be as reserved as possible. The only time you should lose significant chunks of energy from mid-game onwards is when you fight bosses. If you're losing energy constantly, try modifying your strategy to use as little energy as possible; you'd be surprised how much the extra damage from auto attacks instead of casting abilities can help; after all, the best defense is a good offense, since you don't need to CC a mob who's dead.

 

Part 3. Character Builds and Skill Trees.

 

I'll split this into two sections. One will give an overview of each character's final equipment loadout, and discuss why I picked each option, to give you an understanding of what is needed where. Each character build will be followed by a discussion of the augments, and any optional or miscellaneous information about the build. The last part of this section will cover a progression plan for equipment. The second part will cover skill choices. It might seem to make more sense to do each character one at a time, covering both equipment and skills, but bear with me, there is method to my madness.

 

The basic idea is to try and max evasion and speed (when buffed by haste) and then add bonuses where needed on top.

 

Section 1. Character equipment.

 

Character 1 - The Front-Liner.

Mainhand: Crystalized fire. (augments: 5% hit rate, 5% crit rate, +4 physical damage)

Buffs on main weapon affect all of your character's attacks, and crystalized fire gives a 20% crit buff. This is amazing. You can hit the evasion and speed caps without a speed bonus weapon, so adding in a huge crit bonus is very nice. The added vulnerable effect on melee has niche applications. You'll be an archer most of the time but when you do melee and get a vulnerable proc, it's great.

Bow: Havenite Warbow.

Top tier bow bought from the forts. 5% crit bonus is handy. The Ahriel bows only add 5% too, not 25% like some sources claim, so they're inferior. The "Fool's Shot" bow inflicts confuse on your own teammates; not worth the damage.

Helm: Haven Bassinet. (augments: 5% hit rate, 5% crit rate, 5% magic evasion)

Best helm in the game, no exceptions. Cowls are garbage. This gives desperately needed physical armour for your mages, and most importantly, 3 slots for augments.

Chest: Haven Plate. (augments: 5% physical evasion, 5% magic evasion, 6% speed)

Yes, this has a 20% speed penalty, and yes this is an issue. However, we can still hit the speed cap (barely) with it, and the physical damage reduction is second to none. It's honestly great. Stun resist bonus is nice but not why I used it. Your front-liner needs to be able to take damage, and the vast majority of damage is physical. It hurts to have low magic armour, but there's other things we can do to make up for that. Your foremost consideration is having someone who can takes hits as well as possible.

Offhand: Coldpoint orb. (augments: 5% physical evasion, 5% magic evasion, 9% speed)

A mage offhand on a physical tank? Yes. At least, in the late game. Early to mid game you can use a shield, as mitigating physical damage is the primary concern, but once magic attacks get to the point they can crit one-shot you, having more magic defense helps prevent this. I once got crit one-shot for 129 damage when my character had 128 health. A single magic defense augment would have saved me. The mental resist on mage offhands is good too.

Necklace: Static Jade. (augments: 5% physical evasion, 5% magic evasion, 6% speed)

+5 magic armour with 3 slots, plus some curse resist and curse duration as a nice bonus, especially since you'll be casting "curses" with stunning shot/bludgeon senseless.. It's a no-brainer to put it on your tank character, who desperately needs extra magic defense. The priority is the 3 augment slots, and there's only 5 or so necklaces with 3 slots. This is one of them, and is an obvious choice.

Ring: Ring of the Warlord.

Gives +1 bludgeon senseless and +10% hit chance. Another easy choice. Your front-liner will be your primary bludgeon senseless user, and this makes it easily possible to put a second point into brutal blow. (more on skill builds later). +10% hit rate is fantastically good too. With 2 hit chance augments, you have about an 80% accuracy against end-game opponents (who usually sit around 30% evasion). Bumping 80% to 90% is around a 12.5% damage increase. If you do what I did and go double brutal blow build, this makes your hardest hitter more accurate, and improves overall dps.

 

Discussion:

This character is the "hardest" to build in the sense that you need to overcome the -20% speed penalty from the haven plate. The hard cap for speed bonus is 65%, and haste is a +40%, meaning we need to hit a 25% bonus natively so that we hit the cap when hasted. We can get 2 +10% bonuses from the skill tree (one 10% from haste in tier 3 of the support tree, and another 10% from the tier 4 support bonus). This negates the armour penalty, so we still need to find another 25%. Using 2 6% speed runes and a 9% speed rune gives us 21%, and if we keep the speed charm on this character for another 5%, this brings us to 26%. This makes the speed charm essential on this build to hit the speed cap, but the other characters can easily hit 25% as they don't have to overcome an armour penalty, so no biggie. Before you get the lightning augment (9% speed augment), you can run 6% and 4% speed runes instead of 9% speed and 5% crit (replace the crit augment in the helm for a speed augment). Alternatively, put up with only hitting 63% speed bonus under haste and keep the 5% crit augment.

 

This build also hits 80% evasion with 3 vol party members. Base physical evasion is 15%, and base magic evasion is 10%. Adding 6 stacks of Tower of might is +30% each. Support tier bonuses are another +15% each. Charm of the vol gives another +5% each. Adding these up gives 65% physical evasion, and 60% evasion. Hence, we use 3 physical evasion augments, and 4 magic evasion augments to bump this up to 80% evasion for both magic and physical. Viola, we have hit the stat caps for speed bonus and evasion. Everything else focuses on maximizing hit and crit chances to improve dps. Ultimately, I think this is the best equipment setup for a front-liner, and that any deviation is a downgrade.

 

 

Character 2 - The Buffer.

Mainhand: Crystalized fire. (augments: 5% hit rate, 5% crit rate, +4 physical damage)

As above, this is simply the best choice for a mainhand weapon purely for the 20% crit rate and 3 slots.

Bow: Havenite Warbow.

As above, this is simply the best bow option.

Helm: Haven Bassinet. (augments: 5% hit rate, 5% crit rate, 5% magic evasion)

As above, this is simply the best helm option.

Chest: Sage's Vestment. (augments: 5% physical evasion, 5% magic evasion, 6% speed)

This is the best armour for your blesser. 3 slots with 30% to blessing duration. Magic defense is arguably more important than physical defense in the backlines due to how common aoe magic becomes relative to archers in the end-game. Overall, no-brainer decision.

Offhand: Dyne's Palisade. (augments: 5% magic evasion, 6% speed, 20% blessing duration)

A controversial pick. Dyne's Palisade gives a hidden 10% bonus to physical evasion to the wearer and those adjacent. I ignore the adjacent bonus purely because I don't stand characters next to each other. However, it comes with a 10% speed penalty. This is fine since you can simply swap 2 physical evasion runes for 2 6% speed runes to cancel it out. This means, relative to a draconic orb (the other offhand option), you get 4 extra physical defense, but 7 less magic defense and 15% less mental resist. In my defense, draconic and coldpoint orbs are in short supply until very late-game, so this can fill the void until then, but I just never bothered swapping it out once I got to end-game. I kind of liked having it. It's got a cool graphic when you are meleeing things (which should be never but oh well), and it's the only item that sparkles on the character equip screen. I'm a sucker for shiny things. I do admit that a draconic/coldpoint orb is mechanically superior though. Just make sure you swap those 2 extra speed augments for physical evasion augments if you decide to go that route.

Necklace: Conqueror's Venom. (augments: 5% magic evasion, 6% speed, 20% blessing duration)

Nice damage bonus to vassal-aligned enemies, but mainly used for the 3 slots.

Ring: Fury Ring.

A decent dps ring with +2 physical damage and +10% crit rate. What's not to like about it? My only complaint is that it's not another ring of the warlord.

 

Discussion:

Like the front-liner, this hits 80% evasion caps and the 25% speed soft cap. Where it differs is it stacks blessing duration buffs. In total you get 30% from the vestment, 40% from the two augments, 20% from the magery skill, and 10% from the gray runed charm, for a total of +100% blessing duration. Yes, double duration battle frenzy. You can get another bonus, optional secret +10% blessing duration from:

Spoiler

One of the Nisse dreams in the refuges.

 

The reason I put the dps ring and damage necklace on this character is because your buffer should buff at the start of the fight (ideally before entering combat), and then has no other duties on top of the normal back-liner duties. Your healer will sometimes need to heal, and your debuffer will sometimes need to debuff, but you will extremely rarely need to re-buff during fights. This means this character should, on average, perform more attacks per fight than your other back-liners, getting more utility from damage buffing equipment.

 

In fact, because of the cost of battle frenzy, your other characters are usually the ones spending turns doing the summons/stunning, meaning your buffer is the lowest priority (usually) for spending energy. You want to reserve as much as possible purely for casting battle frenzy every fight. This means they should do more attacks as they cast less mage/support skills, further emphasising the benefit of putting dps equipment on them.

 

Character 3 - The Medic.

Mainhand: Crystalized fire. (augments: 5% hit rate, 5% crit rate, +2 physical damage)

As above, this is simply the best choice for a mainhand weapon purely for the 20% crit rate and 3 slots.

Bow: Havenite Warbow.

As above, this is simply the best bow option.

Helm: Haven Bassinet. (augments: 5% hit rate, 5% crit rate, 5% magic evasion)

As above, this is simply the best helm option.

Chest: Holy Vestment. (augments: 5% physical evasion, 5% magic evasion, 6% speed)

Much like the Sage's Vestment above, this is the healer version, and is a no-brainer pick. +20% healing is very good.

Offhand: Coldpoint Orb. (augments: 5% physical evasion, 5% magic evasion, 10% healing bonus)

This should be an obvious pick. It has fantastic defenses, no speed penalty, and a mental resist bonus. Most importantly, it also has 3 slots.

Necklace: Radiance Necklace. (augments: 5% physical evasion, 5% magic evasion, 10% healing bonus)

This is used purely for the slots. There aren't many good necklace choices, and we need those 3 slots. There's nothing better with fewer slots either, though you could shoehorn in something like a stability torc if you wanted to trade 10% healing for 20% stun resist (But why? Why would you do that?).

Ring: Ring of Spines.

There are a few good ring choices but this one really takes the cake. I love this ring. Combined with  the charm of the ukat you get a party-wide 20% bleed chance on all attacks. This is also independent of the brutal blow bleed proc, so you can potentially inflict two bleeds in one attack. Or, use brutal blow with a character holding bloodletting charms and pray to rngesus for 3 bleed stacks from one attack. I value the bleed procs more than something like +10% healing, but feel free to swap this out for something you'd prefer.

 

Discussion:

The medic is similar to the buffer, but focuses on pumping healing instead of blessing duration. To that end, we end up with +20% from vestment, +20% from augments, +20% from magery, and +10% from the tan runed charm, for a total of +70%. The only way to go above this is a surgeon's ring for a mere +10% but you'd lose vicious strike. Not worth. Overall I think this is a simple but solid medic build, and I wouldn't change anything.

 

Please note that I'm running a +2 physical damage rune in the weapon only because I was dumb and picked the vassal that denies access to the 4th blademaster rune (+4 physical damage) so I had to make do.

 

Character 4 - The Debuffer.

Mainhand: Crystalized fire. (augments: 5% hit rate, 5% crit rate, +4 physical damage)

As above, this is simply the best choice for a mainhand weapon purely for the 20% crit rate and 3 slots.

Bow: Havenite Warbow.

As above, this is simply the best bow option.

Helm: Haven Bassinet. (augments: 5% hit rate, 5% crit rate, 5% magic evasion)

As above, this is simply the best helm option.

Chest: Holy Vestment. (augments: 5% physical evasion, 5% magic evasion, 6% speed)

Unfortunately, there's no debuff vestments, so we have to make do with the available options. Out of them, I think the healing bonus is best, since you can get benefit out of it when you need to use your debuffer to perform emergency heals. Not really essential but kind of the best of the available options.

Offhand: Draconic Orb. (augments: 5% physical evasion, 5% magic evasion, 15% mental resist)

Like the coldpoint orb discussed above, this is the best choice. The only reason it's not another coldpoint orb is because there's only 3 of them in the game (one locked behind a vassal choice), so someone has to use a draconic orb, and the debuffer is the best option.

Necklace: Fanatic's Fetish. (augments: 5% physical evasion, 5% magic evasion, 10% mental resist)

We use this for the +1 to free mind. The +10% mental resist and +5% crit chance are gravy, but they are very, very nice gravy. This makes your debuffer your dedicated "mental effect" remover.

Ring: Corrupting Ring.

There's really very few good options here. Again, I was silly and took the wrong vassal choice, so I missed the best ring in the game, which would otherwise go here. I'm speaking of course, about the madness symbol (+20% mental resist and +1 mindsteal!!!), which is simply amazing. In lieu of this, I use the corrupting ring to give Time Warp and disruption +1 each, giving some extra freedom with skill points.

 

Discussion:

Unfortunately, curse bonuses are hard to find. There's no good chest options that give bonuses to it, and no augments. Fortunately, it doesn't matter. Curses are quite long lasting already, especially considering that enemies get fewer turns when they're slowed. I never found myself in a position where I thought "hmm, I wish my curses had a longer duration". This frees up our augments for choosing something else.

 

The idea I came up with was to hit the mental resist cap of 90%, easily achievable with this build. 20% base, plus 20% from magery, 10% from necklace, 15% from draconic orb, and 25% from augments hits 90%. The reason I did this is because, as a dedicated mental effect remover, it'd suck if they got hit with a mental effect. For anyone else, this character can free them, but you can't cast if if this character gets feared/charmed. Maybe not the best idea but felt like a smart thing to do. I didn't regret it.

 

If you happen to get the "best ring in the game", drop the two mental resist augments for healing augments, and add the charm of the ahriel (+10% mental resist and +1 radiance) to this character's backpack. You'll still hit 90% mental resist, get 20% more healing bonus (for a total of 60%), and you get to roleplay as an Ahriel with equipment giving you +1 to  mindsteal, free mind, and radiance.

 

Progression Plan throughout the game:

At the very start, use what is immediately available. I'll cover quipment milestones by slots below.

 

Mainhand:

Very early game, daggers can be useful for their +10% speed. However, once you start getting other speed buffs (from augments etc.), consider swapping to an arcane dagger (available very early and cheaply) for the 20% crit bonus and augment slot. Some early daggers also have augment slots, so this might be a bit redundant, but your priority is getting a weapon augment slot for a juicy +5% hit chance rune. Hit chance runes are stupidly cheap and are an amazing dps improvement for their cost.

Bow:

Immediate priority is getting a longbow. This is the 3rd tier of bow and has an innate 5% crit bonus. I actually used these all the way to end game, where I replaced them with havenite warbows. You could upgrade earlier if you wanted; I was just being frugal with my gold (unnecessarily, as it turns out).

Helm:

Immediate priority is getting fine mail coifs for everyone, so you can add a 5% hit chance rune into it. This will last you a while. Eventually, I replaced them with iron plate helms and haven bassinets as they became available. I did not find any helms better than these while progressing.

Chest:

There are 3 tiers of healing/blessing robes, with the lowest available basically from the start. get them early and upgrade when available. For the front-liner, I just equipped whichever armour I found that had the best physical defense. I don't think I actually bought any chest armour from the smithy until the haven plate was available; I just used what I found in the world. Armour in the world (usually) doesn't have any augment slots, but I didn't really miss it until late-game, when haven plate was available anyway.

Offhand:

Offhands are almost exclusively found items, since nobody sells mage offhands (except a few, rare world merchants, and one vassal merchant). For the front-liner in the early game, I just used the shields I found, and never bought one from the smithy.

Necklace and Ring:

Again, neither of these are sold in forts; they are found in dungeons etc. Just use your discretion and choose the best ones you have available. If you find any of the rings listed above, congrats, give it a permanent spot on someone's finger.

 

Section 2. Skill builds.

 

Skills are surprisingly simple in the end game, since there's a checklist of things you need to get for an optimal build. This results in a "core" of skills that every character should get, with a few points left over to invest in specialising. The core is outlined below:

 

1. Put 5 points into combat tree to get hardiness and tier 3 bonus/armour. My recommendation is 1 point steelskin, 1 point brutal blow, 2 points stunning blow, and 1 point hardiness.

2. Put 5 points into magic tree to get raw power and tier 3 bonus/armour. My recommendation is 1 point magery, 1 point terror, 1 point call bones, 1 point weakness, and 1 point raw power.

3. Put 7 points into support tree to get +15% evasion and +20 speed. My recommendation is 2 points healing (except buffer, who gets 2 points inspiring cry), 2 points curing, 1 point haste, 1 point disruption, and 1 point in battle frenzy or restoring rain.

4. Put 2 points into racial abilities (Haven's command for Haven Prince, tower of might for Vol, and mindsteal for Ahriel).

 

This costs a total of 19 points, and you get 22 points at level 20, so this leaves 3 points in which to distribute to specialise.

 

To specialise, add the following skills to each character:

 

The front-liner: 1 point in brutal blow, 1 point in shield shatter, 1 point in bludgeon senseless.

The buffer: 1 point battle frenzy to get the second tier of the skill. For the remaining 2 points, either get shield shatter and bludgeon senseless/terrifying scream for the physical damage combat tier bonus, or put 1 point in brutal blow (my preference) and the other in displacement (my preference), restoring rain, or teleport.

The medic: 1 point in restoring rain to get the second tier of the skill. For the remaining 2 points, either get shield shatter and bludgeon senseless/terrifying scream for the physical damage combat tier bonus, or put 1 point in brutal blow (my preference) and the other in displacement (my preference), or teleport.

The debuffer: There's two possibilities here:

(i) If you DON'T have the madness symbol ring: Use corrupting ring and go 1 point in time warp, and then either shield shatter and bludgeon senseless/terrifying scream for the physical damage combat tier bonus, or brutal blow and a second rank of restoring rain.

(ii) If you DO have madness symbol: Put 2 points in time warp and 1 point in brutal blow.

 

That's it for the end-game skill builds. I'll now discuss the progression path of what to choose as you level.

 

The front-liner: Begin with Combat tree. Beeline hardiness, followed by beelining haste in support tree. Next, pick up magery. Then the 6 points needed to finish the combat, support, and racial trees are next, and it's up to you the order to do them in. Finally, put points in magic tree and get raw power. Potentially consider getting call bones a bit earlier if you need tier 2 for a mage offhand near late game.

The buffer: 3 points in magic to get call bones. 2 points in haven's might to "battle frenzy" for boss fights ONLY. Steelskin. 2 points magic to get raw power. Beeline up support tree until you have two points in battle frenzy (remove points from haven's might to do this). Remember to grab inspiring cry instead of healing. 2 points haven's command. Fill out combat tree and optional skills you chose above.

The medic: 2 points healing, 3 points in magic to get call bones. 2 points curing and 1 point haste. 2 point magic to get raw power. Steelskin. Beeline up support to 2 points in restoring rain. 2 points in racial. Fill out combat tree and optional skills you chose above.

The debuffer: 2 points healing, 3 points in magic to get call bones. 4 points in magic to get raw power and 2 levels on time warp. Steelskin. 3 points support to get haste. choose between 2 points in support for 4th tier support bonus and 2 points in racial. Fill out combat tree and optional skills you chose above.

 

Of course, there needs to be a little flexibility here, depending on how fast you unlock armours at the forts. If you find you have a great set of armour/weapon you want to equip but don't have the combat/arcane tier for it, then invest in their respective trees until you do. Respec if needed. Equipment upgrades are extremely beneficial, and often, choices in skill allocations are sidegrades. Stunning shot is a great combat ability, feel free to take it earlier on your mages if you want more stun potential or need a tier bonus for armour. Ultimately, skill choices strongly depend on what is needed in the area you are in. For example, the level you get Ahriel soldiers can vary widely, but if you have them and you're in an area that charm is great in (i.e., Vol lands), obviously prioritise having mindsteal available.

 

Part 4. World progression and Milestones.

 

An important part of this game is planning out where you are going to go and the order in which you'll tackle things. To do this, you kind of need information about what you get from each area. It's the world's worst hidden secret that iron is the key resource in this game, and that ukat lands are teaming with iron for you to grab. Thus, I highly recommend doing ukat first, after finishing the initial Haven area. In my run, I did Ahriel first and massively regretted it. I thought that mindsteal would be so amazing that I wanted it asap. Now, mindsteal IS amazing, but it's basically useless in Ukat lands, especially the first half, where almost ALL the enemies are immune to mental effects (i.e., undead and illusions). Therefore, do Ukat first. Then do Ahriel, since quicksilver is the next rarest resource. Finally, Vol.

 

The reason I suggest this order is that once you get mindsteal, and you charge into Vol lands, you can basically do Vol in its entirety. After you finished the first half-of each zone, you'll be in Vol following this advice, so why not finish their storyline and decide on a vassal? Vol vassals give the best rewards. This is where things get complicated though. The game does a poor job of explaining this, but the decision you make about vassals determines how many resources you get, and which equipment is available during your run. Hence, in the interest of full disclosure, I'll provide the ACTUAL benefits, both in resources and important unique items for each choice, in spoilers below:

 

Spoiler

Vol lands:

Choose Mascha: 2 wood, 2 stone (if you demand extra tribute; yes, do it), 1 iron, and 1 quicksilver every report. Healing potion, +4 magic armour augment, draconic orb, +10% mental resist charm.

Make Mascha favored: Extra 1 wood, 1 stone, 1 iron, and 1 quicksilver per report.

 

Choose Owen: 2 healing potions, madness symbol (20% mental resist and +1 mindsteal), the 4th blademaster rune in the game (+4 physical damage), +4 physical armour augment.

Make Owen favored: Nothing

 

NOTE: In my game, I found that after siding with the Mascha, I was somehow still able to go in and blow up Thablen Pass for some reason, netting most of the unique benefits that should be locked behind siding with the Owen. I'm not sure if this is a bug, but I assumed it is and didn't do that dungeon in my run.

 

Ukat Lands:

Choose Borgen: 3 extra iron per report. Also a 15% mental resist augment and 2 +4 magic defense augments.

Make Borgen favored: 1 extra wood and 2 extra iron per report.

 

Choose Brokk: Nothing.

Make Brokk favored: Nothing.

 

Ahriel Lands:

Choose Blessed: Coldpoint orb, draconic orb.

Make Blessed favored: 1 extra wood and quicksilver per report.

 

Choose trench-towns: A one-off 150XP for killing the plantmaster.

Make trench-towns favored: Nothing.

 

Based on my end-game supply (59 wood, 39 stone, 30 iron, and 19 quicksilver) and upkeep ( 56 wood, 28 stone, 28 iron, and 14 quicksilver), and my choices Mascha (favored), Borgen, and trench towns, the only essential choice to having supply higher than upkeep if to either side with Borgen and favor them, or side with the Borgen, side with Mascha, and favor anyone.

 

Anyway, whatever you choose, next priority is based on resources, but will almost certainly be iron, so Ukat lands are likely up next, and finally Ahriel. Ultimately, you should do the areas you need resources for.

 

At the start of the game, apothecaries and smithies are important, but I built basically no apothecaries from mid game until very late game since I found that the game gives you a LOT of healing potions in dungeons anyway, and the important runes/augment/potions are either available at the start, or at 6/7 apothecaries. Just build enough apothecaries to get a couple of healing potions out of them early game, and then build some in the mid-game until you can convert your healing potions to +2 energy potions. Carpenters are similar; get enough to buy a longbow for the crit buff, and then forget about them. The fewer buildings you place, the lower your upkeep, and the sooner you can actually buy every building.

 

Weavers and smithies are by far the most important shops to build, however, the most important upgrades in are the fort upgrade and the guard towers. I am not kidding about this. These two should be purchased immediately every time you unlock a new fort, and then weavers and smithies if you can afford them. Weavers give inventory space and robe upgrades for your back-line, smithies give new and better weapons (including arcane daggers for crit bonus) as well as the helms you'll desperately need.

 

Personally, I went overboard with the gold buildings (mill, bakery, and distillery) and had serious wood income issues all game long. I ended up having to waste days near the end game just to get more reports to get wood to finish building things. However, I had almost 8k gold leftover after buying everything I needed from all the shops. I was initially worried about gold when I saw the price of power potions (the +3 energy potions). I thought they cost 400 gold PER flask. Nope, the 400 gold is a one-off cost and you can change ALL of your flasks to power potions after buying it once. In hindsight, I would only buy a mill in each fort during progression, or none at all, and buy the rest of the buildings late game once I had excess wood.

 

The important takeaway is that not all buildings are made equal. Spam fort and guard tower upgrades, but smithies and weavers whenever you can, and grab a few apothecaries and carpenters when needed to get some decent items; leave the rest for when you have excess resource income. Anyway, that's it. I may edit this in the future with more information if someone really requests it or I realise I forgot something.

 

Good luck, and have fun on your adventure.

Edited by VenomPhoenix
Typos.
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Comprehensive indeed, nice job! I would like to add, though, Queen's Wish is probably one of Spiderweb's easiest games on Torment, so this level of optimization isn't necessary to win (Not that you claimed otherwise! Just want to clarify). While I used a pretty similar early game strategy, by the late game, it was pretty easy for melee characters to survive and spam whirlwind to finish most encounters. Between high evasion, stunned enemies, and mindstolen chump blockers, they were pretty much at 0 risk of dying, which is why I still think Whirlwind is one of the strongest abilities in this game.

 

I also used Shockwave a lot, and never really ran into any survivability issues as a result. Two of my characters knew the spell, so double casting it often resulted in the vast majority of enemies being stunned, leaving them as easy picking for the encounter. The only other ability rating I'd quibble with is Bludgeon Senseless - I never used it much since it lets enemies double dip on resisting it (they can resist confusion, as well as the status effects confusion can cause). If they have low mental resist, I'd much rather use mindsteal instead - same reason I don't care much for Silence.

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