For King Arthur: Knight’s Tale players, this guide will provide players with a framework to help them build their strategy to play the game
Pulling this together following a single playthrough of Hardcore (or Roguelite if you’re the developers with a really strained understanding of the term). Hardcore is locked to the “Hard” difficulty level.
This guide is designed to help you evaluate your knights and strategy. My goal is going to be as spoiler free as possible, but I will be mentioning difficulty spikes, classes, and making recommendations about strategies and tactics that may be better than others.
You can play through this game without losing knights. You can win any mission without losing vitality. Good planning and execution is important in this game and is really enjoyable to solve for. If you are having trouble with those things, my goal is going to be to help you think about the game and solve for your own strategies.
There is a lot here, but I have not seen many resources that effectively help newer players access the game – so I hope that this walks the careful balance of detail orientation versus spoilers.
These are general tips in no particular order that you should consider across your play-through.
Know your Enemy
The game does a decent job of making clear the capabilities of your enemies. If you haven’t seen an enemy before, make sure you use the “control” key to examine their unit card and see what passive and active abilities they have. Some enemy units have interesting passives that will change your strategy dramatically.
Make sure to check their resistances to make sure your disable or status effect is going to penetrate. An ability not penetrating should never surprise you.
Know The Game Mechanics
The in-game journal does a decent job explaining most basic mechanics. Make sure to familiarize yourself with this and don’t be afraid to go back and check a status effect that you are not sure about. This guide assumes that you have the ability and patience to read the fundamentals.
Armor gets more value the more you have
A quick explanation on armor. Each point of armor reduces a point of damage you take. Armor itself is shredded based on the percentage of the armor breaking value.
If an attack has 10% armor break, than 10% of the damage number will remove that much armor. 10 points of damage with 10% armor break removes 1 armor.
A single point of armor by itself does not go very far. In the example above, it would basically be worth 1 HP and it would only apply against a single instance of damage.
However, 10 points of armor goes much further. That same attack above would do 0 damage to HP and you would have 9 armor remaining. Take another hit and you would lose 1 HP and another point of armor.
It is tough to come up with an expected HP value of armor because its value increases depending on the amount of armor you have.
The main takeaway is that more armor makes the rest of the armor mitigate even more damage. For my purposes, I value each armor point around roughly 10 HP.
This value goes down dramatically below 10 total armor, but it is a good rule of thumb.
Vitality and HP Buffs a Trap
In my opinion, boosts to Vitality and HP tend to be a bit of a trap. There are niche exceptions with some builds that regenerate HP, but in general you should be planning to mitigate damage with armor, positioning, or disables.
Therefore, item traits or skill points that strictly buff vitality and HP are a trap that provide less value than alternatives.
You will see some skill points that increase HP or Vitality for 5% or 10%. On average, this provides an extra 3-5 HP per upgrade.
Vitality specifically is especially worthless. If you are taking vitality damage, something has gone exceptionally wrong. Additional vitality does not solve the problem that got you to that point to begin with. Better to invest in any other capability that mitigates damage or enhances your damage potential.
You will naturally receive an adequate pool of HP and Vitality from your base stats on equipment.
With that being said, I am sure there are creative ways to get use out of a higher HP pool – just make sure you know what you are getting from it.
Value Action Points
When evaluating items and skill points, look twice at any abilities or items that gives you action or movement points. Movement points are very valuable on most melee DPS classes, and less valuable on tanks and ranged units. You get significant capability increases with more action points.
You will learn pretty early that enemies that have physical and mental resistances need to be treated with respect.
In the early parts of the campaign, your knights will not benefit much from resistances. However, in Act III and Act IV, any knight that is looking at taking damage should consider abilities or strategies that provide resistances. Enemies will appear more frequently with support abilities that you will desire to mitigate. Getting to 50% is a good target threshold.
These are general tips to keep in mind when planning your turns and lineups.
Control the Distance
If you are not forced to pressure an enemy, you can very frequently set your positions just on the edge of the enemy’s attack range. When you hover over an enemy, the UI shows their entire move range and their range to move and attack. Positioning yourself in a way that allows the enemy to move into your range without attacking allows you to open with an alpha strike that can kill many of them before they can damage your squad.
Note that the enemies will decide whether to move into your Overwatch on their own. If they feel they can get advantage by charging into Overwatches, they will, if not, they will stop at the edge of your overwatch radius. It is frequently better to save AP for a larger turn instead of spending AP on Overwatches.
Enemy Ranged Units and Abilities
Controlling the Distance is more complicated with ranged units as the red range determines where they can fire their abilities from, not what will hit you. It is difficult to estimate the effective range of archers and mages and hard to mitigate their damage without obstruction. In general, you need to assume that most ranged units can hit you and either have a plan to mitigate or eliminate that damage.
Have a Damage Plan and a Mitigation Plan
Since there is no RNG in this game, you have a pretty good idea of what to expect in a turn. Use this to script the battle. What are the priority targets that need to be mitigated through disables or death? How can you get the most out of your damage output without exposing your more vulnerable units? If you answer both of those questions with a well-defined plan you can come through most fights with ALL of your Vitality, HP, and Armor intact.
Damage Mitigation Plans?
You control damage coming your way through armor, distance, disables, and death. Melee units can’t hit you if they can’t reach you that turn, units that are in range can’t effectively deal their damage if they have damage debuffs, AP debuffs, or are fully disabled through knock downs, stuns, or freezes.
Furthermore, as you’ll see below, you have some knights that are better at taking hits than others. If you are going to decide to take hits, plan which of your knights are taking the hits and making sure they are using their abilities to prevent it from hitting their primary life totals.
Finally – There is nothing quite as definitive as a dead enemy.
This should be pretty straight forward, but an enemy with 1 HP is just as threatening as an enemy with full health. When you can choose, you should choose a dead enemy instead of 2 partially dead enemies.
I’ll be briefly introducing the classes and discussing some of their mechanics. Things you should be thinking about when selecting skills and their role on the field.
Note: That each Knight brings his own unique flavor to the role that may make it lean into hybrid roles. Be creative and take advantage of the unique aspects of knights that sometimes allow them to “multi-class.”
For example – Mordred is a Defender class that borrows elements from support and DPS roles to allow him to be the most versatile hero in the game.
This class produces the most straight forward damage mitigation in the game. The key to this class is maximizing the use of the “Block” from your shield facing. You can increase your block value in a variety of ways, but by default, the block value is a 30% damage reduction. This adds up pretty quickly on an already generous armor pool to allow you to soak a tremendous amount of damage that cannot be rivaled by another class.
So long as the AI’s resistances are not too high, a good taunt will allow you to manipulate the AI into very poor positions. They will move through overwatches and recklessly take the best path to get to the taunting unit. Consider your positioning carefully when using this tool and it can single-handedly win you the fight.
Temporary Armor is Good
Temporary armor features are very helpful for guaranteeing sustainability through a mission. If you time a temp armor gain through Guard or Recover and take some hits, the armor loss you take comes from the temporary armor first. If you do this correctly you can mitigate some high damage and come out of the fight with your character’s primary armor value still intact.
Shield charge doubles as a movement skill that allows you to not rely heavily on movement action points as well as a situational disable that allows you to fully, or partially, negate a turn from an enemy unit. The low AP cost and low cool down of this skill makes it extremely valuable. Using this wisely allows you to choose good locations you want to hold and is an excellent form of movement and damage mitigation.
Champions are a fairly sturdy frontliner that can deal good DPS when built properly. They usually have skills that offer good AOE options. However, especially in the late game, they will not stand up to focused pressure from multiple enemies. Their role, with some exceptions, is damage and they need proper support to do this role well.
Earth Shaker is Strong
This ability is one of the things that adds some much needed versatility to a melee class. The reach and multiple target potential from this ability should not be under-rated.
Cleave and Whirlwind
Be careful with how you position for abilities that require multiple adjacencies. If you do not set this up properly to kill the units in the same turn that you end up surrounded the damage that will be coming back your way can become overwhelming very quickly. Most Champions lack reliable escapes – once they are committed to a situation it typically ends with them or the enemies dying.
From what I experienced, Vanguards offer the highest damage potential of any of the available classes. They frequently have great mobility skills that aid them in this endeavor. The game encourages you to play either a backstab build or a trap build. I could not find a trap build/strategy that felt nearly as potent as the assassin build, but would love for someone to find it.
Vanguards are not as easy to play as Champions or Defenders. You need to plan your turns very carefully as a single turn of focus fire can result in this knight taking vitality damage.
Jump may be one of the most broken skills in the game IMO. It allows you to avoid all opportunity attacks and position yourself either defensively or aggressively. Look carefully at the potential for this skill and build your plans around taking advantage of it.
Comes to life in Act III and Act IV
You can get value out of Vanguards throughout the game, but their damage potential and mobility becomes explosive in the final acts of the game with skills like Quick Footed and Backstab.
Emphasis: Be Careful
The nature of fishing for backstabs can leave this character in very vulnerable positions. Make sure that you can stealth at the end of a turn in a place outside of the AI’s pathing if you plan to be playing behind enemy lines.
Be especially vigilant for enemies that have enhanced detection ranges.
This class may look like a DPS class, but due to the features of their class they will typically do less damage than Champions or Vanguards, but have the ability to produce more debilitating effects and DOTs. They also have an easier time of pressuring low health high priority targets like enemy archers and mages. I personally found the effectiveness of Marksman to fall off in Act III and Act IV as more enemies will show up with ranged damage shields that absorb 3 hits before they can receive damage. It’s a lot of action points to work through a shield that can just be ignored by a melee character.
The poison, shock, and fire abilities that come with this class all come with additional debuffs on the target that helps protect your frontliners by reducing damage and action points from enemy units. Read their abilities carefully and decide how it works into your damage mitigation plan.
Is Overwatch useful?
There are some ways to get additional damage out of Overwatch that can make Overwatch ok, but I found that Overwatch spread damage across multiple units instead of focus firing targets. The most effective way to reduce the DPS coming at your squad is to focus fire units – Overwatch tends to divide damage across targets and not always focus the key priorities that need to die as quickly as possible.
With that being said, you can setup some situations to get value out of Overwatch, but I found myself very rarely using it. I was more likely to reserve AP for more burst damage in a follow-up turn rather than divide my DPS across targets.
The Sage class is the only real support class in the game. There are ways to get some capable damage out of them, but you should really focus on what they do best – which is mitigating damage and enhancing the performance of your other knights.
Inspire and Bless
A good turn that has Inspire and Bless to kick it off can permit your frontline to get a lot more reach out of their abilities than you would expect. Setting a good position, allowing the enemy to close the distance, and then infusing your team with a damage and AP bonus is an overwhelming advantage that can end most fights in the game in a single turn.
Aura of Protection
This ability does not look like much, but it provides valuable armor to your frontline. Remember – armor performs better with more armor. This can be critical to allowing a Champion be a bit more aggressive and your Defender always appreciates more armor.
Many sages comes with Freezing Attack and Ray of Light. These disables on key targets can help relieve pressure on your frontline or allow you to fully disable a key target that is uncomfortably threatening. Key timings on these abilities helps the team significantly.
The sage has a lot of features to help it stay near the frontline, but no matter what I’ve found them to be squishier than their Champion cousins and as a result you need to be very careful with how you position these units. They want to be right behind the frontline, so a misstep or poor coverage from a tankier frontliner can get this unit into very dangerous positions. I also found that the AI archers really liked to focus this unit and it was not difficult for them to find angles to pressure them.
The damage potential from some of the Arcanists can be quite good. Mages frequently offer a good suite of options for disables or DPS that should not be slept on. They can be built in a variety of ways and I have found they have very diverse sets of skills. You could build a guide on each of these unique knights as I’ve found their skill sets to be the most varied in comparison to the other classes. I’ll do my best to make some general observations here.
Lean into their Elemental
The arcanists I played with typically favored an element of one kind or another. The debuffs that result from that allow you, and other members of your squad, to benefit. As an example, a fire Arcanist is obviously going to get a lot of burning synergy from other knights who benefit from fire. Marksman can commonly have perks against units on fire.
Alternatively, an Ice Arcanist is going to freeze or chill units, and your sages will commonly have damage bonus options against frozen or chilled units. Fitting an Arcanist with other knights that like what they are doing can get you more value out of their kit.
Hexes and Spells
The Arcanist class has a variety of Hexes and Support spells that have a lot of applications. In general, most of these produce the effects of damage mitigation. Slows prevent DPS from reaching your line allowing you to stagger enemies into you. Bleeds reduce damage output from the target, and Illusions offer other targets to distract enemies. Weaving these low cost AP abilities into your strategy allows the Arcanist to be a mid-tier DPS and mid-tier damage mitigation tool.
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