Friday, April 18, 2014

Android: The Enchanted Cave thoughts and tips

The rogue-like Enchanted Cave is one of the rare mobile games that caught my attention for more than a few minutes. I liked it because my understanding of the game game organically evolved through several phases each lasting just long enough to keep me from getting boredt::
Stage 1. WTF this game is hard I can't even make it beyond the first few levels without dying.
Stage 2. Ah now I see how to make permanent improvements to my character. I can finally begin to make some some progress.
Stage 3. I'll grind for a bit now to prepare my character for later levels.
Stage 4. Ah, Now I have figured out the the combat model. I see how the numbers work and I can prepare carefully for every battle. The game becomes less random and more puzzle like.
Stage 5. Now we are rolling. I am going to make a run for it and see can I get to the final boss and take them down.

It is worth noting that the author of the Enchanted Cave has just run a successful Kickstarter campaign for "The Enchanted Cave II" so it looks like we will be getting a sequel.

I am going to write a short strategy guide below but you can probably figure out most of this stuff yourself just by playing so  ...

[Spoilers Below]

1. Basics.
- If you are killed in combat you lose everything you accumulated in that run.
- If you find the escape wings and use them then your current run ends but you keep all gem upgrades, cash,  and special artefacts (yellow items) that you got during the run.
- Red chests generally have disposable stuff that is lost after a run ends (except for spells). Yellow chests have special permanent artefacts.
- Escape wings are found in red chests from level 4 onwards. You can usually find escape wings somewhere on the first level after a shop but late in the game they get harder to find.
- There is a shop at every level ending in a 9 (19, 29 etc). You can buy and sell stuff in the shop. Once you get to a shop and save your game using the wings then you are able to restart from that shop on the next game.
- All of the mobs in the game are passive they will not attack you until you attack them first.
- Potions and spells can be accessed by pressing the respective tabs.
- If you press a spell button it will take the place of your next  attack.
-Potions can be used in or out of combat. Healing spells can be used in or out of combat. Attack spells can only be used in combat but after you start a fight you get a short time to press a spell button if you want to replace your first attack with a spell.
-Spells start appearing in red chests from about level 30 on but they act like permanent upgrades  (once you save with wings).
- "Eyes" are found in yellow chests and they are very useful because they reveal things by pressing and holding your finger over an enemy or a treasure. There is an eye that reveals the contents of a chest. There are multiple eyes that reveal different specifications of enemies. Once you get an eye (and save with wings) then it is yours permanently.
-Don't use the "Quick Sell Junk" button in shops. It interprets all non worn non artefact items as junk. Often you will need to use some of this stuff later.

2. Early Game Hints

- It is hard and expensive to replace lost health so always try to minimise the damage you take.
- Do not take chances. Get to know how much health you will lose fighting each type of enemy and when you get to the point where you have  no option but to fight an enemy that is likely to kill you - use the wings and get out with your stuff.
- You do not have to kill every enemy. Enemies give a small amount of cash and one point of mana when they are killed. Early in the game the health you lose is generally more valuable than what you can earn from killing a mob.
- It is almost always worth attacking a mob that guards the way to a yellow chest, a gem or the exit stairs.
- Early in the game attacking mobs for red chests is optional. Only do it on enemies you know you can beat without taking a lot of damage. Once you get the eye which reveals chest contents you can make a more informed decision on whether or not to attack a mob for a red chest. If you haven't found the escape wings yet then it is worth fighting for red chests because one of them will have the wings.
- Cash is less valuable than red chests. Again only consider it if it is a mob you know to be easy.
- Amulets and rings are essential at end game to counteract elemental damage but until you build up a collection of eyes you will not know what elements to guard against. However water damage is surprisingly common in the first half of the game.
- Health and Mana potions are rare and expensive. I recommend spending cash on gear upgrades before potions.
- Attack spells, once you get them are powerful against tough mobs but mana replenishes very slowly (1 point per kill). Therefore I recommend being very selective with spell use.

3. Combat Details (includes much guesswork)
Combat runs automatically once you click on mob but it takes place in turns (you hit , they hit). the first hit is taken by whoever has the highest AGI (I guess).
Physical Damage: Each hit does damage = ATK of the attacker- DEF of the victim. There is a random variation of a few points plus or minus but it averages out and there are no catastrophic critical hits.
Elemental Damage: Each hit does damage for each type of element (Fire, Water, Earth, Air) =sum of (Attack type X - Defence type X) */+ Some other factor. The missing factor may depend on intelligence but I cannot be sure. I do know that if defence is greater than attack you take no damage from that element.
Spell Damage: Only the player can cast spells and I do not know the formula. I know spells do heavy damage of one element type and I suspect it is related to intelligence (At a guess 5x intelligence). Mobs don't cast spells so I don't know what the mob intelligence stat does.
Every hit will always do a minimum of 1 damage no matter how strongly it is resisted.
AGI is important because it allows you to get in the first hit and in extreme cases allows you to kill a mob without taking any damage however all mobs seems to have low initiative and I always got first hit without consciously trying to boost it.

3. Advanced hints
- In order to make sustainable progress you need to completely negate the damage from most of the mobs you fight. If you do this you will only take 2 or 3 points of damage from the mobs and you will be able to keep yourself healed with the mana generated from fighting.
- In order to negate damage you need to build up a collection of eyes and use the information gleaned from examining mobs to select armour and jewellery to negate all the mobs physical and elemental damage.
- You will need to swap gear to tackle different types of mob. I recommend equipping for a given mob type and then killing all of that type you can reach. Then swap to the next type and repeat.
- When farming lower level mobs you can max your damage and just kill them in one hit for no damage taken. Beware though some low level mob can do surprising damage if not properly resisted.
- When you encounter a mob that you cannot fully resist against then try to avoid fighting it. If you really must then use attack spells to get it down as quickly as possible.
- Farming low levels is a great way to build up a stock of spells, gems, eyes and the all important jewellery.
- At higher levels the disposable weapons and armour from red chests is often better than permanent artefact loot. This means that "going for it" in one run may be a better strategy than trying to gradually grind your way to the finish.  

4. Details of how I completed the game.
When I started playing I grinded my way up to level 49, using wings repeatedly to build up a reserve of permanent upgrades and crawl from store to store. Then I restarted at level 29 and did a single complete run to the end of the game. The low levels allowed me to amass cash and equipment. I never used the wings again. By the time I got to the upper levels I was able to successfully resist most of the mobs I came across. Even the final boss could only do 5 points of damage to me per hit.

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