Continuing on the the Hades topic, an overview of how builds generally work. Given the randomness inherent in any given run, this will assume that the player understands all the enemy mechanics, from Tartarus to Hades himself.
Each weapon has 2 types of attack, regular (attack), and special, with the latter being twice as strong as the former (e.g. 25 and 50 dmg). Cast is always 50 damage. % increases to these are therefore quite small in the larger scale. Raising attack to 50 would require 100% dmg, which is not going to happen on most runs. Instead, you need to think of these as enablers for other types of attacks or boons.
The Bow’s Chiron aspect is a good example, where you use attack to target a foe, and all special attacks send missiles to that target. This is different than the usual “spread” attack for bow specials, and allows for HUGE damage stacking.
Cast is a weird one, since most boons that affect cast change it’s behaviour – either a fog, a beam, or a pulse. The beam is low damage but consistent, while the fog (100+) and pulse are high damage and well worth a % increase. A decently buffed fog cast can deal 500 damage and chain stun an enemy.
You can get up to 2 hammer upgrades per run, and these can have a dramatic impact on your success. Make choices that align with your build…and as a general rule, you want to avoid anything relating to armor penetration – that only matters in the final 3-4 rooms of Elysium.
It’s a good idea to focus your first runs to unlock all the mirror upgrades, even before unlocking more weapons (at least the 20 key options). Death Defiance is key, giving you multiple tries to complete a run. The rest are either safety nets or increases in options and up to personal choice. My personal choice is to swap the last 4 to their alternate options (+5% per god boon, 20% chance of gold laurel rooms, 10% legendary/duo boons, 4 reroll chances on boons).
9 out of 10 runs will reach Styx with less than 500 gold. Visiting Chiron’s shop doesn’t mean you need to buy something, though often it’s still a good idea. Keep in mind that Styx’s shop offers diamonds (1000g) and titan blood (1200g) if you happen to have that much on hand. Getting a Hermes boon for +10g per room can give you ~300g if you get it early on. Well of Charon items are extremely situational, and generally best reserved for the final rooms of Elysium. Styx burns through these effects since it’s 4-5 encounters per path.
Each god has one, and they are not made equal. Weak causes enemies to deal less damage, which has only marginal use – meh. Rupture causes enemies to take damage while moving, but is super low to be unnoticeable. Hangover deals damage over time and stacks up to 5, this is really only effective with high attack speed builds. Marked causes a target to be more susceptible to critical hits, after taking a critical hit. Crits are insane damage but you need this to be very high for it to be useful (> 50%). Jolted causes enemies to take damage when they attack and is very high, it can become pretty insane. Exposed makes enemies take even more damage from backstabs, which really only impacts a couple weapons and a couple fights. Doom causes enemies to take a big hit after a second, it can reach very high levels but will not stack. Chill causes enemy movement to slow down, meh.
Except for Jolted, they are all situational. However, they all unlock interesting tier 2 boons or duos. Weak is usually useless, but it can cause enemies to take 25% more damage, or Doom to tick, or plain charm enemies as examples.
Boons vs Poms
First a note that every run has a preferred god. You’ll know who it is before Tartarus is over and see them show up more than any other.
When you meet a god, you get to pick from 3 boons. The rarity is locked, and you need special items to increase them. Rarity increases the base effect of a boon, which is good but rarely a deal-breaker. This can help if you’re fishing for a specific boon, as the pool of available ones gets lower as you go on. Some boons are only available if you select prior ones (e.g. you can’t get Static Discharge if you don’t have lightning effects already.) You can upgrade each basic boon by using a Pom of Power, which has a decreasing effect the more you use. The first Pom is worth more than Poms 4,5,6, and 7 together. So not much use to go past level 4.
Legendary boons are the same, requiring the 2nd tier of boons to be chosen (so at best, the 3rd time you meet that god). Duo boons require specific boons from both gods and have a random chance to show. Chaos boons require you to play with a penalty for a few encounters and get boon afterwards – the cast boon in particular is amazing. None of these three types can be upgraded.
Making a Build
It’s a good idea to prioritize 2 types of attacks per build, say Cast and Special. This also depends on the weapon you’re using, and the hammer upgrades you have. Say you have the sword hammer upgrade that causes attacks to heal you – probably a good idea to invest in attack options that run.
The above shot is a recent bow build I used to great effect. Using the Chiron aspect, it causes the special attacks to all hit the enemy – normally you can get 3 special volleys (I’m currently at 5 missiles per volley). While I have quite a few boons, the important ones are shown and mostly from Ares
- Relentless Volley (hammer) means my special hits 4 more times per volley, which means 9 total. It’s a 40% damage increase. This damage isn’t very much mind you, since base special damage on a bow is pretty low.
- Curse of Pain causes my special to inflict Doom for 161 damage. Doom doesn’t stack normally, so this would just be 161 damage after 1 second (so 3 volleys a second apart). 161 x 3 = 483
- Impending Doom increases Doom damage by 115% – so 346. But is also causes Doom to tick later, meaning I only get it after the first volley and the last. 346 x 2 = 692
- Dire Misfortune causes Doom to stack and deal more damage per stack. Combined with Impending Doom’s delay, I can now stack 3 times. 2.15*((346)+ (26×16)) = ~1,700 damage.
I got that last one near the end of Elysium and up until that point the run was “ok”. That single boon put it on another level.
The point here is that when you’re making a build, it’s never going to be there the next run, and it likely won’t work as well with another weapon. Like above, damage would have been abysmal with a sword, since the special is so slow. It’s important to understand what each god’s strengths are, and use that as the core forward.
There are 2 exceptions to the boon rule. First is that you want Poseidon’s dash for as many runs as possible. The knockback effect is insanely effective for every single build and makes nearly every other boon look like garbage.
Second is that you ideally want a Call (summon) that makes you invulnerable. That’s Athena, Ares, or Poseidon. These make a massive difference, especially in the final Styx rooms and boss fights. It’s not critical, but it does make life a whole lot easier.
And yes, it’s entirely possible to clear the game without these boons. Frankly, it’s possible to clear the game without any boons, and just hammer upgrades. Just takes longer.
Looking forward to jumping back into Hades again at some point — I picked it up when it launched on Steam and made it through a fair bit of the game, but then decided to put it to rest until the 1.0 launch. Now here we are! 😉
Good advice on the ‘builds’ too, I don’t think I’d consciously recognised that each run had a preferred god, but in retrospect even though it’s been a while since I played I can absolutely see it.
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