This is a set of hints, and to what you should pay attention when creating an own team to make it successful. I hope you’ll find these hints helpful for you to create teams which wipe the floor with foes every run 🙂
1. Damage type – vigor or sanity
+ kills immediately when enemy reaches 0 vigor.
+ reliable, as there are no enemies immune to vigor damage; well, maybe kinda Inventor boss only.
– there are 2 types of vigor damage, physical and magical; each type is countered by different measures – block/armor for physical damage, ward/resistance for magical damage, making mixing these types sometimes suboptimal.
– armor/resistance prevents a portion of vigor damage.
+ damage is unaffected by armor/resistance. Only Flagbearer’s feature, and few inspiration effects are capable of reducing stress damage.
+ only ward protects against stress attacks, block is useless.
+ works very well with critical hits, as each crit, even coming from vigor damage hit, deals in addition a bit of stress damage to each enemy.
+ causes insanity status which severely debuffs enemy – can make it take more damage, attack allies, increase chance to flee, lower chance to hit etc.
+ allows to efficiently use Battle Eternal spell at any time.
+ it’s fun to watch enemies frightened to death.
– doesn’t kill immediately when foe hits 0 sanity; instead, from now on each next stress hit has a chance to trigger a heart attack. That chance increases rather with consecutive hits count, not damage amount according to my observations.
– there are several enemy types whose are completely immune to stress damage (golems, constructs, gargoyles etc.), so having a backup plan against them is a must have.
– instead of becoming insane enemy may get inspired, which grants him/her quite significant buffs and restores sanity to full.
It is recommended to choose only one damage type as main one (either vigor or stress) if you want to be efficient. Reasoning is simple, a party which focuses only on damage doesn’t care about sanity at all, and vice versa. Moreover, if you manage to specialize even more, and deal say only physical damage then you are unaffected by wards and resistance. However, things are not as easy as it seems, because you may encounter enemies heavily armored, with significant number of blocks, but very weak defense against magic damage. Also, physical damage leaves wards intact, thus making enemies invulnerable to spells. So, mixing magical and physical damage is acceptable, and sometimes beneficial. You should avoid mixing stress and vigor damage, though, unless creating very specific team like stress party with Shade’s Gloom Claws as a finisher.
2. Base idea for a team
So, after deciding what type of damage you’re going to focus on next you should think about what you wish to have as a core of your team – a specific minion? or specific ability?
Once you’ll know that you can think what minions, spells, items and artifact will support your idea the best way possible – the core of teambuilding is to figure out combinations of minions’ skills which complete each other. There is much to consider, I’ll cover that in paragraphs below.
3. Defense types
+ reliably prevents a physical/magical hit entirely.
+ it works same good on each difficulty level.
– one-time only.
– doesn’t restore during fight on its own.
+ deducts flat amount of damage from all physical/magical hits respectively.
+ stays on the same amount unless lowered by specific enemies’ abilities.
– its potency lowers the higher difficulty level you play, as you can get ~20 armor/resistance at most, while damage of enemies scales significantly higher.
– doesn’t protect against critical hits, as it’s flat not percentage reduction.
+ completely negates hit if successful.
+ works equally against both physical and magical attacks.
– entirely luck based, if unsuccessful the minion will gonna take whole amount of damage.
– evasion can’t go higher than 100%, while enemies even on More Pain difficulty sometimes have 150%+ accuracy.
The reliability is as follows: block/ward > armor/resistance > evasion.
Minions have kind of affinity to defense types, ex. Wraith is good at evasion and blocks/wards, but have no armor. Black Knight on the contrary, can get 20 armor/resistance, but not a single block or ward.
Of course, it is possible, and recommended, to mix defense means, like ex. high evasion and in addition some blocks and wards. Mentioned below vigor recovery could also be considered as a type of defense, I suppose.
4. Lowering armor/resistance of enemies
Armor/resistance can by offset by damage buffs to your minions, ex. if enemy has 20 armor, and you managed to increase attack of your minions high enough so they deal more than 20 damage per hit it’ll mean the armor is negated. Still, it’ll weaken their hits significantly.
And the last way is to deal true damage (so far burns, or very similar venom of the Black Widow) which bypasses armor/resistance entirely.
There are also Acidic Potion and Breaking Potion, however their base potency is very low (-10 armor/resistance), and even crafted from only legendary parts still they are one-time use. However, if nothing else is available they might be uses as a last resort option.
5. Interrupting stances
The most reliable means to cancel stances are minions’ abilities like Reaper’s Dessicate, Unfrozen’s Ice Lance etc; in general anything which states clearly “Interrupting Stances” or “Stun”. A stance also can by interrupted by moving the enemy – however this works only if there is some space to move the enemy into, and also it requires the enemy to be moveable.
6. Vigor recovery
Some minions, like Ghoul and vampires, have abilities allowing them to leech life from damage dealt, Black Widow restores vigor while in cocoon, Unfrozen can also do a job of field medic by freezing an ally, Lost Soul also can heal directly, Bone Golem can regenerate…but for others you need to use specific items, most likely Vampire Fangs and Lantern of Souls. Fangs are better for damage dealers, preferably the ones which strike multiple times – ex. a Black Knight in stance, attacking on each buff or debuff. Lantern is better for passive minions, like a Blood Phantasm in his stance. There is also very powerful Sacrificial Stone, although it requires a specific build to shine. Enchanted Heart is rather too weak on its own, however it might support featured Werewolf’s regeneration.
And there are also potions, namely Ancient Vampire Blood, Recovery Potion and Recovery Broth. When made out of rare and legendary parts they are very potent, however they are one-time use only, and Ancient Vampire Blood buff can be dispelled – this makes potions rather an emergency rather than main way to heal minions.
Relentless Evil heals a minion at the start of its round by 5 points if you have at least 75 wrath. Not that much, but as you’ll see it helps. However, some teams use wrath quite intensively, so keeping it at high enough level might be sometimes difficult.
The last way is Battle Eternal spell. It is quite good, however it costs a lot of mana, and also heals enemies, so it is not that easy to use efficiently.
7. Mana recovery
The best way to recover mana is Essence of Mind item given to some minion in your team which either hits really hard, or can attack multiple times due to some actions, for example a Lich who cast its Toxic Cloud, then the rest of the party pulls enemies into the cloud will recover mana whenever someone falls into the cloud. Other very similar item is Void Flame, however only for Shade. Some minions also have abilities to recover mana, like Black Knight’s Dark Tithe, but I’ve never used them as properly applied Essence of Mind is better. Ach, and Reaper using Soul Dissection is also extremely good at recovering mana – after all, this ability has built-in super Essence of Mind.
8. Reshuffle recovery
Thankfully, it is not that hard, as most of the minions have abilities which causes them to change positions, so usually it’s enough to use them, with a support of spells Back, Forward, and Whip. Btw, a trick for a minion with Legcuffs item – you still can move that minion using spells Back/Forward, however you need to target not the minion itself, but its neighbor.
Nevertheless, I’d consider this a must have for most teams, except ones which will constantly move around, and don’t care much about being on specific position, like Lich, Ghoul, Ghoul.
9. Dispelling buffs
Another way to squeeze the most out stances is to ensure your minions have high enough initiative to move before enemies do, and will use benefits of a stance before any chance of interruption.
11. Items for minions
Even at the very beginning of the game, when you have spare minion parts left, it is worth to craft items like 10% reduced physical damage taken, 10% increased physical/magical/stress damage using extraction.
This step is extremely important, and should not be taken lightly.
12. Spirit Mail and Spirit Spear artifacts
Anyway, you really should aim at acquiring vigor bonus for everyone at least. Damage bonus, while neat, could be left only for minions normally performing attacks, those who has rather support role can ‘live’ without it.