This guide is by no means the only method. Please enjoy the game and discover for yourself all the possibilities. Contained within are some strategies that can be employed to help you achieve a Master Difficulty victory. These strategies are by no means required for a victory. Feel free to develop your own strategies and contribute what you learn to the wiki and the community at large.
- The Lack of any Life Pool. If you die without a Devotion, you’re dead. There will likely only be 1 or two Devotions within reach during Act I. So one of your characters will have no lifeline if they die.
- The constant pressure of the Chaos timeline forcing you to move quickly and efficiently to do these things:
- Level up. You need to acquire experience (XP) as fast as possible to handle Camps, Caves, Scourges, and other obstacles that will be higher level than your characters.
- Acquire Money. You need to acquire as much money as possible as fast as possible to purchase important items, including (Godsbeards, good weapons, and eventually a boat)
- Move. You need to cross the landscape to get from one Camp, Cave, or Chaos Device, or whatever will help reduce the Chaos timeline as quickly as possible. Before taking on a Camp and especially Glittering Mines, you need to level your characters to at least 1 level below the challenge (better to be same level or higher obviously) and you need to improve your characters starting weapons…
- Acquire Weapons. I consider this the most important tip for starting in Master Difficulty. You should…perhaps MUST improve from your characters starting weapons as soon as possible. I recommend purchasing a weapon from Oarton right at the start. As your starting gold will be extremely low, you’ll likely only be able to afford one weapon. The goal is to have a character who can do greater than the default starting 6 damage. Ideally a weapon for a strength based character like the Rusty Knife or Boarspear (unbreakable) is best, though any weapon that can do 9 damage or more will due, including Rusty Blade or Torch. Don’t bother to get a weapon if it can’t do at least 9 damage.
- Reduce Chaos. You should always take “Reduce Chaos” side quests from every town you visit until you have full control of the Chaos timeline. This usually means you won’t have the flexibility to choose an Item, money or XP side quest until Act II or Act III.
Money Goal: Take as little damage as possible. Damage to your characters equals money or time spent to heal. So with at least one character with a weapon that can deal 9 or more damage, you should be able to one-shot or two-shot some enemies and reduce the number of enemy attacks your party receives during Act I. The fewer the better!
Weapon Goal: Get each character an upgraded weapon as soon as possible. You want to be able to one-shot enemies that have 9 health or two-shot enemies that have 13 health. Since most starting characters default damage is 6, you can’t two-shot a 13 health enemy without at least one character weapon upgraded. Upgrading to weapons that do more than 6 damage may mean using a weapon from a Stat that isn’t your character’s best Stat. It is better to use a weapon from your character’s second best Stat than to continue to run with your starting weapon. You can always invest a Focus to get the damage you need from your weapons.
Money Tip: Sell your junk. Especially when beginning the game and purchasing your first weapon from Oarton, you can sell the weapon for the character you’re buying an upgrade weapon.
Move/Money Goal: Try to save money to store up to $90 so that you can purchase a Fishing boat in Act I. You should have a goal to purchase a boat before completing the Glittering Mines. Make sure you verify the water the dock is adjacent too isn’t an enclosed lake! Also, highly recommend you purchase Caustic Ink to ensure you don’t encounter the Kraken.
Move Tip: It is more efficient to have the party sail around the coastline then to have them independently run across the biome. Each character’s movement is triple the value when on a boat as the entire party is moving!
Money Tip: Buy as many Godsbeards from Oarton and Woodsmoke as you can afford before leaving that starting biome. Also buy any Tinder Pouch (Tent) you come across. These are rare and worth 9 Godsbeards (if used properly).
Money Goal: Upgrade your character’s Pipe level. I’d recommend one character to level 1, then get a boat, then work on upgrading other characters to level 1. Eventually by Act III you want one character with a Pipe upgraded to level 3 (Party Healer). The other two characters would preferably get to Pipe level 2. This allows them to remove level 3 Poison with a Panax.
Money Tip: Scholar’s Wort can act as a healing herb (Godsbeard) if you save them until a character would benefit from a level-up. Let your leveling heal you!
Movement Tip: Burn all of a character’s Focus BEFORE accepting a Devotion or a Tribute. These will both restore your character’s full Focus bar. If you burn your Focus before accepting, you’ll have that as either extra movement or as healing if you end your turn without moving.
Goals for the Characters:
- Speed. Ideally, we want all the characters to have good speed (66 or better).
- Abilities that add value. I recommend your team have these abilities: Inspire, Encourage, Refocus, and optionally, Party Heal, Gather Herbs, Entertain, Distraction and/or Discipline. You won’t have all of these to start, so acquire them from items anytime you come across them. Buy them if you find them.
Based on these character goals, I recommend these character classes:
Scholar – Good speed and has Refocus
Minstrel – Decent speed and has Inspire and Encourage
Busker – Good secondary strength stat. Has Distraction and Entertain
Just those three are recommended. Whatever you chose is up to you and what you value most. I recommend speed highly and then whatever abilities from that list to go along with the speed.
I prefer Scholar over Herbalist primarily because I value speed highly. Faster characters means attacking before enemies, which means taking less damage overall, which means saving money and time not having to heal. If my goal is to take less damage and heal less, then the Herbalist Party Heal and Gather Herbs abilities are less valuable. I’d prefer to have the speed of the Scholar and the Refocus. Each Focus means improving your damage output, ensure kills, and taking less damage and healing less. Throughout the game Focus is a valuable commodity. Getting Focus back with Refocus is more valuable IMO than a Party Heal or a randomly found Godsbeard or other herb. That’s my opinion. Take it or leave it. Gather Herbs ability does save money as the cost of herbs will rise quickly after Act I. As long as you buy all 6 Godsbeards from Oarton and Woodsmoke while they’re cheap, and from Parid and other town markets before completing Act I, you’ll have plenty of healing without relying on finding them with Gather Herbs.
Money Goal: You should have a goal to acquire an item that has Party Heal and making use of that for your Party Healing. Prefer to use an item over the Herbalist built in Party Heal ability. If Godsbeards are an issue, prioritize buying an item that provides Gather Herbs ability, though it might take too long to find one to make it worth it. Buy your Godsbeards early when they’re cheap. Get all 6 from Oarton and Woodsmoke.
The Minstrel comes with two extremely valuable abilities in Encourage and Inspire. In addition, the Lutes a Minstrel will use as a weapon will often come with percentage Gold Multipliers. The Minstrel also comes with just enough starting gold to allow your party to purchase a starting weapon from the Oarton market. And finally, the Minstrel has decent speed. Overall, this character class is invaluable when it comes to meeting our goals for acquiring Gold fast, leveling our characters fast, and improving our killing of enemies with the Encourage ability so we take less damage and thus heal less.
The final character needs to round out the party for what it is lacking. The Scholar fulfills our needs for Intelligence Stat checks. The Minstrel covers Talent stat checks. Both have decent Awareness. What we’re lacking is Strength and Vitality. There are four classes that can meet these needs, Blacksmith, Busker, Woodcutter, and Hobo. I tried all these and found that the Busker’s abilities were the most valuable. Also, even though a Blacksmith starts with a good weapon (more than 6 dmg), this weapon is going to be replaced in short order as you find loot. Therefore, the advantage of the early hammer isn’t going to last long enough to be worth the low speed. Speed is that important!
I settled on the Busker or Hobo.
The Hobo will have 70 for all stats (Luck excluded as all characters have 50 luck in Master difficulty). This allows the Hobo to take whatever random gear drops in Act I that doesn’t go to the Scholar or Minstrel. Beginning the game, the Oarton market often has cheap weapons that are strength based. So the Hobo usually starts with the first upgraded weapon you buy from Oarton at the start of the game. As you find loot, you can switch the Hobo to be an Awareness character if needed, and can also run as a Vitality character with weapons like the Rusty Knife which check Vitality. In the end, I prefer to run the Hobo as a Strength character as the Strength based weapons will deliver greater damage output. But, beggars can’t be choosers, so the Hobo can run with an Awareness based Spear for example in Act I until we eventually find better loot.
The Busker has two good abilities in Distraction and Entertain. Since one of our main goals is to acquire money as fast as possible, the Entertain skill comes in very handy. The Busker’s strength is better than the Hobo, and therefore can play the ‘strength’ role much like the Hobo. We sacrifice some speed for the abilities of the Busker, but the Entertain skill early on can really make up for it. If you run the Busker as a strength based character, give his starting Lute to the Minstrel and then buy the Busker a strength weapon from the Oarton market. I give a slight advantage to the Busker over the Hobo due to the better starting Focus and his really handy starting abilities.
Not a whole lot to say about this other than a few simple recommendations. Obviously get each character a Sanctum as soon as possible.
- The Scholar would prefer either the Sanctum of Wisdom or Sanctum of Haste. Avoid giving the Sanctum of Purity to the Scholar. Usually a waste because the Scholar’s gear will provide the immunities that this Sanctum of Purity provides.
- The Minstrel would prefer either the Sanctum of Wealth or the Sanctum of Shadow.
- The Hobo/Busker will benefit from almost any Devotion, though if it is available I prefer to target the Sanctum of Focus or Sanctum of Purity.
Immunities: Pay attention to your character immunities. Of particular use are Poison immunity and Curse immunity. Use Poison immunity when encountering Luck based Drinking Wells and other random events where there is a luck based chance to get an item or experience or healing. Often these come with bad effects like being poisoned. Should be obvious, but make sure to put on an item that gives you Poison immunity before trying these, or have a character who already has Poison immunity from a Devotion attempt these.
Weapon Goals: During Act II, you’re looking for what I call your transition weapons. These are weapons that will serve you for a long time until you find your final weapon for Act III.
Scholar: I prefer trying to acquire the Enchanted Broom as my primary transition weapon for the Scholar. It does good damage, has both Curse and Poison immunity, and provides Combat Range Support for the Scholar. This weapon will serve you well until you transition to your primary Act III weapon (the Volcanic Tome). The Enchanted Broom is dropped by Cursed Witches. These spawn in the Golden Plains.
Minstrel: Almost any Lute will do as a transition weapon for the Minstrel. I prefer Lutes that have Resistance penetration, Gold Multiplier, or can either Rush a party member or slow down or reset enemies. The Fancy Lute is a good example of a transition lute for the Minstrel. Another good transition weapon for the Minstrel is the Rapier. This weapon allows the Minstrel to equip a shield, deliver good armor ignoring damage, and improve speed at the cost of losing some Gold Multiplier.
Hobo/Busker: The Hobo/Busker will benefit most from improved Strength based weapons. I prefer the one-handed weapons which allow them to also equip a shield. Good transition weapons for them: Longsword; Old Shortsword, or Sturdy Knife. You can use two-handed weapons if you don’t feel you have a good shield to make use of, but ideally you will pick up a shield like the Wooden Tower Shield; Iron Tower Shield, or Aegis of Husher. You really want to have these shields, so ideally a one-handed weapon is what I’m looking for.
The transition weapons mentioned should be purchased from Markets if you find them and don’t yet have it.
Sea Cave Spelunking: During Act II, you will most definitely want to sail your boat to as many Sea Caves as you can reasonably reach. Ideally you will want to complete 5 Sea Caves if you can. At the end of every Sea Cave is a Precious Pearl. These are invaluable items that you will use during your trips through the Demon Caves in Act III and final boss tower. These trips through the caves will serve to provide you with good loot, money, and experience. The first Sea Cave will always be level 4 no matter how long you delay before deciding to go for that first Sea Cave. After the first Sea Cave, the second one will always be a level 5 cave. The third will always be a level 6 Sea Cave, along with all subsequent Sea Caves.
Locating Alluring Pools and Cultist Devices: Don’t neglect your Vision Scrolls. As you sail around to the Sea Caves you will likely encounter the coastlines for the Desert and Badlands. Take the opportunity while along those coastlines to use your Vision Scrolls to uncover as much of these biomes as you can. Ideally, you’ll uncover the Alluring Pool and Cultist Devices in these biomes without having to march across them.
Forgotten Cellar – Acid Jelly: This is a single character challenge. Which character you choose to enter will fight alone. The Acid Jelly will always go first and is very likely to apply Acid to the character. This puts you on a timer before your gear will dissolve away to the Acid. For this fight, I recommend sending in your Strength based character with the largest attack damage weapon they can wield. This may be a good time to switch from a one-handed weapon to a two-handed weapon that can deal more raw damage. Be aware that your weapon can dissolve to the Acid, so bring a back-up weapon! If you can deal 38 to 40 damage in a single attack, you will have a chance to two-shot the Acid Jelly before the Acid takes effect. Example weapon for this: Giant Bone Club dropped by a Boner found within Sea Caves or in the Golden Plains at night.
Lich’s Crypt: The enemies are mostly random as you proceed through this. If you’ve gone Sea Cave Spelunking you should be well equipped to handle this.
Mind Lord Camp: Be aware you will be facing Confusion attacks. If you have items that confer Confusion immunity, put those on before starting this battle. The Mind Lord is flanked by two Undead Knights that have high (12) armor. You’ll want to have either high magic damage weapons or physical weapons that can pierce armor. Resistance piercing is also always good to have on magic based weapons.
Kings Maze: It’s a long dungeon very similar to the Lich’s Crypt in that the enemies are randomly selected. There will be a Fire and Frost Priestess at the end. If you have Fire or Freeze immunity items consider equipping them before the final battle.
Weapon Goals: It is time to put aside those transition weapons and move to your final weapon set needed to win using this author’s method. (Note: The key to a Master victory is not allowing the enemies to attack you. If you constantly take damage you’ll quickly exhaust your healing herbs and your money. Therefore, what follows is this author’s recommendation. Feel free to find your own method if you wish!)
Scholar’s Final Weapon: Volcanic Tome. This is a MUST weapon to acquire. Probably the most important of the three characters. This Tome comes with the ability to reset the target enemy GROUP. Once you start a combat, you’ll probably be attacked by the enemies and then you’ll have your chance to act. You should use this Tome to make sure your enemies never get another chance to attack you again! For this to work, you will need your Scholar to have a large pool of Focus. This is what the Precious Pearls from all that Sea Cave Spelunking were for. Save at least 3 Precious Pearls for the final boss tower. The Volcanic Tome does good damage and can burn enemy groups as well, so you’ll still deliver good damage support for the team, but the true power of this weapon is the Group Reset!
Minstrel Final Weapon: Golden Lute. You will find Lutes that have greater power than this lute, but don’t be deceived by that. The power of the Golden Lute is the synergy it will have with the Volcanic Tome. The Golden Lute’s primary ability is to do a Target Friendly Party Rush. You will rush your Scholar and Busker/Hobo to the front of the attack line, usually resulting in both the Scholar and Busker/Hobo getting two attacks each before the enemy comes up. With those two attacks afforded to the Scholar, you’ll use one of those to use your Group Reset of the enemy. This now gives you two free attacks with the large physical attacking Busker/Hobo and one Fire attack from the Scholar for free. After that, the Minstrel rushes again and you can repeat this process. The enemy teams will never again get a chance to attack you.
Busker/Hobo Final Weapon: Gladius. The Gladius has three important attributes. It’s one-handed, allowing the Busker/Hobo to make use of a good shield like the Iron Tower Shield. It has Armor Penetration, allowing you to freely damage enemies that have very high armor. And most importantly, the Gladius has an ability to perform a Single Target Reset, similar to the Volcanic Tome’s Party Reset. The Volcanic Tome Party Reset requires 5 consecutive Intelligence checks. It will likely require the Scholar to burn two Focus as a minimum to ensure a full party reset. The Scholar can’t keep this up for long as the Focus will eventually be exhausted. That’s where the Gladius takes over. After the Scholar has used two or three Party Resets and is about to be empty of Focus, you should have eliminated one or both of the flanking enemies of the final Boss… or any group of three enemies. At that point, the Busker/Hobo begins performing Single Target Resets while the Scholar and Minstrel deliver damage with their weapons. This should allow you to finish the fight without the enemy attacking. When the fight is over, you restore your Focus with a Precious Pearl and go on. If you can’t find the Gladius, the Dragon Blade is your next best choice. The Dragon Blade’s Single Target Reset requires 3 Strength checks instead of the two that comes with the Gladius, so is much more likely to fail with that extra stat check thrown in, especially since the you will likely need some Focus toward Armor Penetration attacks.
Both the Golden Lute and the Gladius abilities only require 2 to 3 stat checks to be successful. This means you can conserve your Focus by using only 1 Focus per use, and when necessary, even use these abilities with no Focus remaining and still get them to go off. The Encourage ability of the Minstrel becomes invaluable here. Even better if you can find the Ring that also confers this ability which you can equip to the Busker/Hobo. This allows the Scholar’s Volcanic Tome to be supported by two characters with Encourage to ensure the Party Reset succeeds.
So… with these final three weapons you now know the strategy you’re going for. Never allow the enemy to attack you. This strategy should be employed mostly during the final tower at the end game and in the preceding Demon Caves. You will want to conserve your Focus generating items for that final tower. So before entering the final tower, you will need to defeat the Demon Caves and optionally the Buried Temple.
Demon Caves: These caves are nasty. The enemies are spawned randomly and so it is hard to prepare for what you’ll be facing. Example: My Minstrel was killed in the Demon Caves by a random enemy applying Death Mark to him as their first attack. This isn’t something you can possibly prepare for. There wasn’t enough time to dispatch all three enemies and thus the Minstrel died. Thank god for Devotions. If you have the weapons mentioned above, you can employ these to limit how often the enemy can attack you. It should get you through the Demon Caves.
Buried Temple: This is a must do temple if you don’t have immunities to Fire, Ice and Shock for your party. There are three Mummy bosses in this temple that will drop Party Immunity items for Fire, Ice, and Shock. These are going to be needed for the final boss tower. Be advised that the mummies will hit with powerful physical attacks. High Armor and Evasion is recommended, or … Volcanic Tome. 😊
First Battle: This is essentially made up of a typical Chaos Camp group of enemies. They will use attacks that drain Focus, but should be no different than Chaos Camps you’ve handled in the past from all the Town side quests. It is the strongest for sure, but you should be able to handle it like other Chaos Camps before it.
Second Battle: This second battle will be made up entirely of Ice attack enemies. You will want to have equipped the King’s Talisman of Ice prior to entering this battle. This affords you full party immunity to their Freeze attacks. If you have managed to acquire the Volcano Hat, I recommend equipping this hat on your Scholar with the Volcanic Tome. This hat boosts the power of their attack high enough to one-shot these Ice enemies. If you have an extra Hildebrant’s Reserve and combine it with the Volcanic Hat, the group attack from the Volcanic Tome can one-shot the Knights on the sides and bring the boss into one-shot range for the next attack. Since they will all have high armor, use those Armor Penetration attacks as well. These Ice enemies will hit hard, so either be ready with good armor, or heal through it, or… Volcanic Tome. 😊
Third Battle: This is the easiest group to handle, made up of all fire based attacking enemies. You’ll be hit by archers that will use spread arrow attacks hitting all party members with flame attacks. Make sure to have equipped your Kingsman Talisman of Fire. Simply replace the Ice Talisman for the King’s Talisman of Fire. You don’t need all three equipped at the same time. Just one at a time.
Fourth Battle: This is obviously the Shock group. Have that King’s Talisman of Shock equipped. The flanking enemies must be ‘perfect’ hit. If your team is shocked, this will be very bad… so don’t let that happen. The Shock boss will use a very powerful AOE magic attack. You don’t want to allow this boss to attack you. So… eh… Volcanic Tome? 😊 The Volcanic Tome’s attacks will also do extra damage against lightning enemies…so enjoy!
Final Battle: The Final boss is flanked by two very powerful Chaos Wolves. Everything is very high health (aka Boss has health above 400 in Master difficulty). All these enemies have very high Armor and Resistance, and the boss will cast spells that increase their armor and resistance above 70. Essentially unhittable unless you have piercing attacks. It will take many rounds of chip damage attacks to kill these enemies off. Kill one wolf, then the next. If you’ve managed to acquire some Hildebrant’s Reserve during your adventuring, now is the time to use them. Hildebrant’s Reserve will temporarily increase your character’s attack damage by 100%. Using this can potentially one-shot one of the Chaos Wolves, shortening the fight considerably. Keep in mind though that Hildebrant’s Reserve will cause confusion, so make sure to use it only with a character that has Confuse immunity!
During the fight you’re going to be attacked by a very powerful boss and his wolves. Well… that is… if you let them attack you. Did I mention the Volcanic Tome? I defeated this end boss and the wolves without them getting more than their first attack off upon entering the room. From that moment on, they never got a chance to attack again. In order to keep the party reset going, you will need to replenish party Focus. Ideally you want one or two Precious Pearls remaining going into this final boss fight. The boss has a powerful AOE magic attack. Don’t let the boss attack. After I had killed the two wolves I thought I could get away with just attacking with all three of my characters and absorbing an attack from the boss. Turned out to not be a good idea to allow that boss to get his AOE attack off. So take this advice. Don’t let the boss attack you…ever!
So… reminder. Volcanic Tome to group reset. Minstrel rushes party. Hobo/Busker attacks with Gladius. Once you’re down to the Boss and one wolf, you can either continue to use the party reset, or switch to the Hobo/Busker’s single target reset allowing the wolf to attack you once in a while. This all depends on how much Focus you have and the occasional fail on the Volcanic Tome. If you always party rush with Golden Lute, you should always use the Volcanic Tome’s first attack as the party reset. If it fails, you’ll have a second try.