Up next in the Legacy series was the Spellsword class, one of the most requested classes from the remaining ones that I haven't tackled yet. The Spellsword is this game's version of the Red Mage, a warrior / mage hybrid that makes use of both physical damage and spells. This is one of the stronger classes in Rogue Legacy, and Spellswords tend to scale very well into the higher difficulty levels. Would the Spellsword match up with the Barbarian and the Assassin, the two best classes that I'd tried thus far? Time to find out.
Empowered Spell Damage: 200%
Innate Siphon: 30%
The Spellsword has the unique ability to transform 30% of physical damage dealt into mana. No other class has the same ability, nor is this property conferred by any of the game's items. The Archmage comes closest with its own innate siphon, but that's a flat rate: 6 MP restored per monster kill, and siphon runes work the same way. The Spellsword gets his or her mana restored on a percentage basis, which obviously scales far better into the New Game Plus difficulties. In the extreme lategame, it's very possible to be restoring 100+ mana per attack, which puts the paltry siphon of the Archmage or runes to shame. This class can do the same job in a far superior manner, which is reflected in the unupgraded name of this class: the Spellthief.
After upgrading the Spellthief into a Spellsword (something I plan to do almost immediately!), the class gains the ability to use empowered spells with the special key. Empowered spells are massive versions of the standard spells, with gigantic sprite graphics and dishing out double damage. This is literally the Intelligence (or Magic Damage) stat x2, which means that the Spellsword can easily outdamage other casting classes like the Archmage and the Lich. Add in the fact that the Spellsword doesn't carry the crippling health penalties of those classes, and it's easy to see why the Spellsword is widely considered the game's best magic-using class. Of course, those empowered spells cost double mana to cast, but does that really matter when it's so easy to restore magic points? The Spellsword laughs at this problem, and throws an enormous axe or chakram at his foes.
There are some downsides to the class, of course. The Spellsword only has 75% of the Paladin's Health and Strength values, like most other classes. Although this still makes for a solid lifebar, it's nothing like the walking tank of the Barbarian, nor will the Spellsword ever deal as much melee damage as the Assassin. This class must use its spells to full effectiveness to make its way through the dungeon. There's no choice on what spell to use either, unlike the Archmage, so some of these Spellswords will likely get stuck with crummy spells like the scythe and the blade wall, with no option to pick something else. The Spellsword also has a tiny base mana pool, with a starting value of only 40%. Note that in the picture above my Spellsword has only 40 mana to work with (compare that to the Archmage, who starts with 150 mana, over triple the total!) In other words, the Spellsword has amazing sustain from his or her innate siphon, but the class has a low maximum MP. You have no choice but to melee frequently with this class. This raises another problem for building this class: the Spellsword needs a lot of upgrades. Like, a *LOT* of them. This is one class that fully needs all of the level ups for both a melee class and a casting class to be effective. I anticipate needing to pump health, attack, magic damage, mana, armor, and both critical strike and critical damage, in addition to the usual gold gain + potion + mana cost down upgrades. That's a heck of a lot of gold needed! Finally, the other tradeoff for the Spellsword is a total lack of escape skills on this class. No Barbarian shout, no Paladin shield, no Assassin mist cloud. In crowded rooms, that could be a problem. We'll see how it goes.
Regardless, this is an interesting class and should be a lot of fun to play. Let's go ahead and get started - first, by unlocking the class itself!
0) Level 0: 3310g
Like the Lich, the Spellsword is not one of the default four starting classes. I would have to begin with a pretty good run from Sir Lee in order to unlock the class itself before this quest could even get underway. Fortunately, I had a pretty solid venture here, amassing over 3000 gold and clearing out the entire castle. One of the biggest strokes of fortune was finding the axe-throwing minigame, which I was able to beat and yielded up 470 gold along with the Blood Chestplate. I also found the Knight Helm in the process of exploring, which would surely come in handy later. You know, once I had the Blacksmith unlocked! Most interesting room for this character was a small area with THREE of the tier-three eyeball monsters, the ones that put out a sea of red goo. I would have skipped this spot, except that it also had three treasure chests inside, making it worth a ton of gold. I did kill all three and get the loot, albeit dropping down to 20 health in the process. I never managed to make it above 30 HP again, raiding the teleporter chickens as I came across them, but not finding any random drops. A wolf killed me with a single hit in the first room of the forest. All in all, this was pretty good.
The main goal for unlocks was reaching the Spellsword class, tucked far up in the northeast corner of the skill tree. Well, as it turned out this worked PERFECTLY, since I had 3310 gold from my run and it costs exactly 3300 gold to unlock your way over to the Spell Thief class. Once again, every gold coin that you pick up counts! Outside of the Dragon class, I believe that this is the most expensive one to unlock at the start of the game. Whew, just barely. (I would have cleared this character file and started over again if I had come up short on the gold.) I still had no double jump or dash runes, but I did finally have the correct class ready to go.
Unlock: Smithy, Health Up, Upgrade Knight, Equip Up, Enchantress, Upgrade Mage, Unlock Miner, Upgrade Knave, Potion Up, Unlock Spell Thief
1) Level 10 (Health 1, Equip 1, Potion 1, Miscellaneous 7): 2340g
Nostalgic and Baldness traits on this Spellthief. Unforunately I still needed to upgrade this character to the Spellsword class, which meant no double damage spells just yet. This poor heir also had the misfortune of rolling the blade wall as her spell, which was not the most useful of possible outcomes. I took two hits in the first room, one that had a mixture of skeleton bone throwers and flying mages on a bunch of floor spike platforms. That was a poor job on my part, and it looked like this run would be over quickly as I dropped down to near death shortly thereafter. I had the good fortune to get more chicken drops for this heir though, and eventually built my health back up to the safe zone. The real turning point of the run came when I found the chakram at a spell altar, providing me with a vastly more useful spell. The blade wall kind of sucks, and the damage is only half of your Intelligence stat. (Most spells deal damage = Intelligence.) In this case for the blade wall, that was 12 damage, and that is terrible even at the start of the game. I used a mixture of the chakram and physical attacks to clear out most of the castle, only to fall towards the end in a room where a flying painting and charite (wispy cloud enemy) double teamed me in a corner. That was partly my fault, but again, still no double jump or dash for maneuvering. Given that I had less health and less damage compared to Sir Lee, this was an acceptable run, even if it could have gone better at the end.
I had enough gold to pick up the upgrade to Spellsword (big damage spells!) and also get the double jump and dash runes. Those two are basically mandatory for playing the game, in my opinion. Any setup that doesn't have them is a crippled variant. After that, I had 215 gold remaining, and a magic damage upgrade cost 210 gold. Worked out nicely.
Unlock: Upgrade Spell Thief, Sprint Rune, Vault Rune, Magic Damage Up
2) Level 12 (Health 1, Magic Damage 1, Equip 1, Potion 1, Miscellaneous 8): 1520g
Coprolalia and Stereo Blind traits were no big deal. The bad news was another Spellsword with the blade wall spell, argh! Please give me something more useful. Even summoning a gigantic sword wasn't really that helpful. I could also only use one empowered spell at the moment before needing to auto attack to restore mana, since I had 40 max MP and empowered spells cost 30 magic points. I'll need to get some Mana Cost Down upgrades at some point (and Mana upgrades, and Magic Damage upgrades, and even Attack upgrades too - the Spellsword needs a lot of stats!) This run suffered greatly from that blade wall spell, which really wasn't what I wanted at all. I was forced to use melee attack nearly all of the time. The best fight was against a tier three cloud monster (infernite) in an enclosed space, which I did manage to do without taking any damage. Unfortunately, I horribly bungled an attempt at a difficult fairy chest challenge, and took two hits and immediately died. Blargh. What a waste. I put most of the gold into a bunch of Knight equipment, which seemed the best way to spend this minimal haul.
Unlock: Knight Sword, Knight Helm, Knight Chestplate, Equip Up
3) Level 13 (Health 1, Magic Damage 1, Equip 2, Potion 1, Miscellaneous 8): 1050g
This Spellsword had a much better spell in the form of the flame barrier. Sweet! However, I also drew the single worst trait in the game, in the form of Vertigo. I'm actually surprised that I made it through so many characters without hitting this trait previously, I always had another option amongst the three heirs. This time though I had no choice, the only Spellsword available had Vertigo trait. This one flips the screen upside down and backwards. It makes the whole thing virtually impossible to play. Well, I did my best and actually managed to clear about half a dozen rooms in the castle, but that's as far as I could get. The whole thing definitely made me dizzy - it's a fair representation of experiencing vertigo! The control scheme is a nightmare, since you have to hold the DOWN key to jump UP through the floor, or to do the "down attack" on platforms above your head. Definitely confusing. I was just short of a Gold Gain upgrade, and opted instead for a mana cost reduction on all spells.
Unlock: Mana Cost Down
4) Level 14 (Health 1, Magic Damage 1, Equip 2, Potion 1, Mana Cost Down 1, Miscellaneous 8): 1030g
Good news: this Spellsword didn't have vertigo. Bad news: she once again had the blade wall spell. Good grief! Someone please get me a dagger or chakram or axe spell here. This heir didn't make it very far at all, as I chose to fight the dual skeleton miniboss and failed to beat them before falling (they killed me in two hits). Probably should have skipped that one, I was being greedy. The lack of any kind of escape skill was already beginning to irritate me, I certainly would have liked to have the Assassin smoke cloud or Barbarian shout to avoid damage. This was a sad set of characters to start this quest, still no Gold Gain upgrades and no runes found yet!
Unlock: Knight Limbs, Equip Up x2
5) Level 16 (Health 1, Magic Damage 1, Equip 4, Potion 1, Mana Cost Down 1, Miscellaneous 8): 4440g
Gigantism trait, but finally a real Spellsword weapon in the form of the axe. Yes! Not the freaking blade wall. The axe absolutely made a huge difference, as I had my best run to date and managed to full clear both the castle and the forest. I even managed to pick up my first two runes, albeit a useless Grace Rune and Retaliation Rune. Things were a bit frustrating early on, as I kept getting chicken drop after chicken drop when I had full health, and I just knew that they would dry up the minute I took damage... which is exactly what happened. Argh. I dropped below half health towards the end of the castle, only to find the forest to be a paradise of sorts. My Spellsword rarely took damage, and chicken drops for extra health popped up all over the place. There were also lots of flying mages overhead, who were perfect fodder for empowered axe tosses. I had enough magic damage to get one hit kills on most enemies, and a good axe throw that managed a double hit would ensure a speedy termination for any opponent at this stage of the game. I might have been able to make some progress in the tower, except that the very first room was quite crowded, and I accidentally woke up a painting with another empowered axe. I was swarmed under with monsters, and two hits killed me. (Each hit in the tower was doing 40+ damage, and I still had barely over 100 max health!) Looks like I needed more levels to make headway up there.
Rage-inducing frustration after the run was over: I bought the first Gold Gain upgrade, and then had 3280 gold left. The second Gold Gain upgrade cost 3320 gold - I was short by 40 gold! ONE MORE monster kill would have done it. Remember what I always say about every gold coin making a difference? Sigh. I took the second Potion Up instead, and then had enough for the Architect and a Magic Damage upgrade, with a mere 5 gold remaining. So I didn't waste anything per se, but those Gold Gain upgrades are the absolute best ones in the game, adding to all future income forever. Sigh again.
Unlock: Gold Gain Up, Potion Up, Magic Damage Up, Architect
6) Level 20 (Health 1, Magic Damage 2, Equip 4, Gold Gain 1, Potion 2, Mana Cost Down 1, Miscellaneous 9): 6655g
Irritated Bowel Syndrome and the flame barrier spell, not a bad draw. Having that ring of flames available on demand was a real help in crowded rooms, and I got a lot of milage out of the spell. I did have to be careful about using it, since I'd get about 1 second of empowered flame barrier (which would tear through the monsters like a knife through hot butter) and then I would be out of mana. The castle went extremely well on this run, I think I was hit exactly twice in the whole duration. Chicken drops were not too common, but I largely didn't need them, and there was even a convenient fountain to restore health that I backtracked and used later. The forest was definitely tougher, and I had to go through all of my teleporter chickens eventually before clearing it out. Both of the first two sections were completed, resulting in a pretty big gold total. The highlights of the run included fighting a Gradiator and a McRib in the castle (both of them isolated and easy to beat), and then a fight with Botis in the forest. He failed to hit me at all, and I walked away with the prize of +5 health, excellent! I hoped to make some progress in the tower, but it was not to be. The entryway was a very difficult room, and though I did make it through there at the cost of one hit, the second room finished me off when I missed a difficult jump over spikes and around an evil painting. All in all, pretty good result. Most of the gold was spent on the second Gold Gain and Mana Cost Down upgrades, with the tidbit left over going into health and attack stats. I had been finding a collection of Silver equipment, but I judged that the stat gains over my current Knight stuff were too low to be worth purchasing. I'd wait for the Ranger equipment or better before picking up new gear.
Unlock: Gold Gain Up, Mana Cost Down, Health Up, Attack Up
7) Level 24 (Health 2, Attack 1, Magic Damage 2, Equip 4, Gold Gain 2, Potion 2, Mana Cost Down 2, Miscellaneous 9): 13,446g
Endomorph and Colorblind traits, along with the chakram spell. I've stated before that I consider the chakram to be the best spell in the game, and I looked forward to playing around with the empowered version. The run did not disappoint, and I ended up playing for a long time with the black and white background. The castle was fairly routine, not too much excitement, except for a room at the end where I had to fight on the attack-down platforms over a floor of spikes. I hate dueling with monsters in those rooms, it's almost impossible not to take some damage, and I did in fact take two hits here. That's brutal when you have no vampirism for recovery. The forest was much kinder, and after dropping down to single digits early in the forest, I was never hit again. By the time I had cleared the full thing, I was almost up to full health again (thanks to raiding all of the teleporter chickens, of course). I even found Helios' Blessing in a secret shrine, more gold on monster drops. This was the first character who made an extended foray into the tower, where I made good progress despite being heavily outmatched by the enemies. I think it took seven or eight swings of the sword to kill most of them, and they were doing 40-50 damage when they hit me, enough to kill me in two or three hits. I was clearly not supposed to be in this area yet! The chakram was a godsend during this entire run, as an empowered chakram would kill nearly anything in a single blow, and would definitely kill anything if I landed the double hit. The massive hit box of the empowered chakram was particularly good at taking out the charging wolves, I didn't have to be that accurate with my throws. Towards the end of this run, I even managed to find my first Vampire Rune after completing a "kill all monsters" fairy chest challenge. Very nice. I finally died when a pyrite (flying cloud enemy) touched me in an enclosed area and finished me off. Wait, what? Seriously? I had 53/116 HP at the time, and that was still enough to one-shot me? Wow, didn't realize they were doing that much damage. I certainly couldn't complain too much, it had been a magnificent outing.
I had *JUST* enough money to purchase double Gold Gain upgrades, at 5400 gold and 7800 gold, with a mere 206 gold remaining. Just one final upgrade there to go, costing a trifling 9800 gold. Again, every little coin counts on these runs! The Vampire Rune and some of the Ranger equipment that I had found on this run would have to wait for the next heir.
Unlock: Gold Gain Up x2
8) Level 26 (Health 2, Attack 1, Magic Damage 2, Equip 4, Gold Gain 4, Potion 2, Mana Cost Down 2, Miscellaneous 9): 4424g
Hypergonadism (super knock back) and another chakram wielder, very nice. This Spellsword was absolutely no stronger in stats than his predecessor, the only difference was the boost to gold generation, +40% instead of +20%. Could I do as well with this guy? Unfortunately the answer to that was a resounding "no". I had a routine run through the castle, and even found Helios' Blessing again, the start of a promising run. The big problem came in the forest, where I screwed up a fight in a "kill all monsters" fairy chest room. There was a tier three flying skull head in there (Wrath), and the darn thing dodged around several empowered chakram that I threw. It eventually hit me and did 49 damage, and that plus another later hit from another enemy was enough to kill me. Sloppy, sloppy play. I wasted a strong character there for no good reason. The money went into purchasing that Vampire Rune (which necessitated getting another double jump rune due to overlapping rune slots) and then unlocking the Ranger Chestplate. I thought I had just enough gold to get two Mana upgrades with the remaining funds (those being the cheapest upgrades in the game), only I found myself needing 380 gold for the second Mana Up purchase. In my pockets, I had... 379 gold. Very sad face there.
Unlock: Vampire Rune, Vault Rune, Ranger Chestplate, Equip Up x2, Mana Up
9) Level 29 (Health 2, Attack 1, Magic Damage 2, Mana 1, Equip 6, Gold Gain 4, Potion 2, Mana Cost Down 2, Miscellaneous 9): 15,596g
Farsighted and Colorblind, with the flame barrier for a spell. This was not the best trait pairing for a flame barrier Spellsword, as the immediate area around my character was a blurry mess, and that's exactly where the flames would appear. Fortunately I had a Vampire Rune now, and that definitely made a huge difference over the course of this run. I must have killed around 100 enemies while playing this character, granting back roughly 200 health at 2 HP per kill, which was far more health recovery than the small number of chickens that I ate. Both the castle and the forest were fairly easy on this playthrough, and the new sustain from slain monsters was enough to scrub away a few hits here and there. One of the most interesting fights took place in a fairy chest room in the castle, where there were a large number of cannons shooting at me from offscreen, mixed in with flying mages. I really could have used a ranged projectile for a spell here - the chakram would have destroyed this room! Fortunately it wasn't too bad. I wound up with six runes in all for this run, about as many as all previous runs combined. The tower was significantly harder than the first two areas, although I was able to make good progress with continued careful and deliberate play. I cleared out about 90% of the tower, before dying in one of the stupidest ways yet. I accidentally walked into a bouncing spiked ball after clearing out all of the monsters in a room. It was... pretty dumb. I might have been able to head into the basement, but I'd have to be satisfied with this result. The 15k money went into the final Gold Gain upgrade, the third Potion Up level, and then a health and magic damage stat.
Unlock: Gold Gain Up (maxed), Potion Up, Health Up, Magic Damage Up
10) Level 33 (Health 3, Attack 1, Magic Damage 3, Mana 1, Equip 6, Gold Gain 5, Potion 3, Mana Cost Down 2, Miscellaneous 9): 14,175g
Alektorophobia and the dagger spell, my first Spellsword with this weapon. The empowered dagger tosses did very strong single target damage, although they shared the normal dagger's weakness of only being able to hit one enemy at a time. The big advantages were the range and the cheap cost in magic points, even the empowered version costing only 16 MP with the Mana Cost Down upgrades that I had purchased. As for the run itself, this was the first character where I alternated working the harder tower with the easier castle and forest areas, retreating multiple times to restock health when I dropped low. The tower offered up a lot of challenging rooms, and I did need to make several escapes to fill up again on HP. I probably would have made it further with this character, into the basement, except that I messed up when fighting Botis in the tower and took one hit. That single attack did about 75 damage - my max health was only 124 HP, yeoch! The Botis pattern is so easy to dodge that it's easy to forget how much damage he can dish out when you screw up. The other noteworthy event of the run was turning up *TWO* Vampire runes, in the Chestplate and Cape slots. Unfortunately I could only use one of them for now, or else be forced to give up the double jump rune, but this was still a major pickup. A solid run overall, somewhere in between terrible and amazing. In addition to that Vampire rune, I also picked up the fourth Potion Up point and splurged on the 5000 gold Randomize Children upgrade to make my life easier between runs. The tidbits left over went to health and mana upgrades.
Unlock: Potion Up, Randomize Children, Health Up x2, Mana Up, Vampire Rune
11) Level 38 (Health 5, Attack 1, Magic Damage 3, Mana 2, Equip 6, Gold Gain 5, Potion 4, Mana Cost Down 2, Miscellaneous 10): 3465g
Randomize Children offered me a reroll of three non-Spellsword heirs, and the second roll gave me a choice between three of them! Interesting RNG there. I picked the Spellsword with the axe spell over ones that had the flame barrier (also a good choice) and the scythe (ugh). This run turned into a total failure when I was shot by a guardbox three times in rapid succession up in the tower. I simply lost track of my health bar for a moment, and that was enough to kill me. This was absolutely terrible play, I easily could have avoided getting hit, plus I had the whole castle and forest to clear for health restoration, plus all of the teleporter chickens which went unused. Not my best character.
Unlock: Equip Up x2, Health Up, Ranger Helm
12) Level 41 (Health 6, Attack 1, Magic Damage 3, Mana 2, Equip 8, Gold Gain 5, Potion 4, Mana Cost Down 2, Miscellaneous 10): 19,450g
This Spellsword had the nice OCD trait (breaking things restores mana) and the chakram spell. Having the chakram was a huge plus, and I had the feeling that this would be a good run if I could avoid screwing things up. Three random chickens in the first two rooms went entirely to waste, sigh. I went immediately up into the tower, where empowered chakram tosses were particularly useful at pushing back the charging wolves and the flying cloud monsters. I fought until my health was down to about one quarter of full, then went back and cleared out the castle to restore it. There was a tough vertical room with spikes everywhere, one of those rooms where there are two eyeballs shooting at you the whole time, and I misplayed it horribly. I must have hit the spikes four or five times due to poor character management, argh! I did better in the forest, something that seems to happen a lot. For whatever reason, that area is one place where I've typically had a lot of success. Cleared out about half of the forest, then back to the tower again with full health. That area went extremely well on the second trip, and I cleared it out completely while picking up a good haul of treasure. I was able to head down into the basement for the first time, although that was probably a mistake because I was roughed up pretty badly down there. I had to make a ridiculous escape to get out of a crowded room, fortunately I made it out a single hit away from death and went back to the forest to recover more health. The most interesting room in the remnants of the forest had a trio of tier three plant monsters (flowermons) guarding several chests. They did more damage, taking me low again on the lifebar. Eventually the whole forest was down as well, and it was back into the basement again. This run might have gone further, except that I screwed up a fight against three flying mages. They did kill me in as little as three hits (need more levels!) but I could have won this battle. My Spellsword ran out of mana during the fight, that had been the problem there. However, it was hard to complain given that this run brought back 19k gold and was my most successful to date. I used the money to fill out some more important utility upgrades, the last point in Potion Up and two points in Mana Cost Down. Only one left to go in that category. Soon I could start pumping real stats.
Unlock: Potion Up (maxed), Mana Cost Down x2
13) Level 44 (Health 6, Attack 1, Magic Damage 3, Mana 2, Equip 8, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Mana Cost Down 4, Miscellaneous 10): 18,365g
Baldness and Colorblind. I didn't mind these traits too much (although the black and white colors were annoying), but the real problem was that this Spellsword had the terrible blade wall spell again. That thing is so far inferior to the chakram, I didn't expect much from this guy. There were two different "defeat all monsters" fairy chests in the castle, offering up easy chances to grab runes. The second one even had a Vampire Rune inside, excellent! A rare fairy chest opportunity to hit an enemy below me, underneath the floor, offered up another rune in the tower. The rare case where the blade wall was useful! You know, as much as I bad mouth the spell, and with good cause, the blade wall actually can be pretty useful against the wolves and the flying cloud enemies. Anything that charges towards you, since it does push monsters backwards away from your character. And the empowered blade wall is a heck of a lot bigger than the normal one. Anyway, I had a sweet battle against the dual mage minibosses in the tower, where I somehow managed to dodge all of their projectiles and whack them with the blade wall repeatedly. The prize was the Guardian Chestplate, excellent! I'll purchase that for sure after this run. Another extremely crowded room yielded up the Ranger Sword, another great find. Those are both very strong midgame gear choices. I had to retreat to the castle to restore health, cleared that out while finding all of the teleporter chickens, then returned back to the tower again. I defeated all of the monsters except a room with the dual skeleton minibosses, went through the whole forest and cleared it out, then returned for the bosses. Unfortunately the skeleton duo killed me, I felt like I was doing a lot of damage but it didn't seem to affect them much at all. I guess I need more than 1 point in Attack! When it came time to spend my gold after the run, I finished off the final Mana Cost Down upgrade (at a pricey 8k), then picked up the two new pieces of equipment from the Blacksmith, plus the weight upgrades needed to put them on. Very careful management of funds allowed me to get two Attack upgrades, two Health upgrades, and one Mana upgrade, with a mere 15 gold remaining. Every little coin counts!
Unlock: Mana Cost Down (maxed), Equip Up x4, Attack Up x2, Health Up x2, Mana Up, Ranger Sword, Guardian Chestplate
14) Level 54 (Health 8, Attack 3, Magic Damage 3, Mana 3, Equip 12, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Mana Cost Down 5, Miscellaneous 10): 23,995g
Nostalgic and Stereo Blindness, more irritating screen discoloration. At least this Spellsword had the flame barrier spell, a nice upgrade. My new character had 50% more physical attack damage and double the armor of her predecessors, I hoped that this would serve her well. The extra attack damage really does make a huge deal for a Spellsword, as it increases not only the physical damage but also the amount of mana that you steal back with each swing of the sword. Once the run began, I found that I had to clear a lot of the castle to make my way into the tower, strange layout of the rooms in there. At least I found a fountain to refill health later along the way. The tower was fairly routine, I spent most of the time up there on full health. The biggest pickup was the Ranger Cape, which appeared inside a chest in the top corner of the map. After that, I alternated between the basement and retreats into the forest for health refills. I made it about two thirds of the way through the basement before falling to one of the gray knight enemies, who apparently was able to one-shot me despite having 75 HP at the time. Hmmm, need more armor, I guess! That was a shame since I hadn't used a single chicken resource yet, nor did I get to use that fountain I'd found earlier. Oh well. The gold went into two new pieces of gear (the Ranger Limbs and Ranger Cape) and the six equipment upgrades needed to put them on, then more stats. I finished with 40 gold left after starting with 24,000. Wise investment of funds.
Unlock: Equip Up x6, Health Up x5, Magic Damage Up x4, Attack Up x3, Ranger Limbs, Ranger Cape, Vampire Rune
15) Level 72 (Health 13, Attack 6, Magic Damage 7, Mana 3, Equip 18, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Mana Cost Down 5, Miscellaneous 10): 49,375g
This Spellsword had the axe spell (yay!) but carried the Ambivelous trait along with it, meaning that all spells came out backwards. That's a real pain, let me tell you. The axe is particularly good at dealing with flying mages above your character's head, now if I could just remember to turn around backwards for each toss on this run. Everything looked so bright and colorful after the last two Spellswords and their various vision problems. Unfortunately four random chickens dropped in the opening rooms of the castle, all wasted. I hate when that happens, I always know that I could have used them later. I went into the tower first, and found it to be surprisingly easy. All of those recent upgrades to stats must have been paying off. In particular, the empowered axe was able to kill most enemies in a single hit, with it dealing about 120 damage. Aiming was the hardest part. I think that having 3 points of vampirism (6 HP per monster kill) also made a key difference, my life sustain was now excellent. The basement was up next, and I managed to clear that out for the first time as well. The monsters there didn't die in a single axe throw, but they never managed to drop me into the danger zone on health either. Progress was safe and steady until they were all gone. I found some useful Sky gear in the process, and the Imperial Helm towards the end of the basement. After healing to full health in the forest, I went ahead and fought Khidr. I thought it would be pretty easy, but the boss was even more of a pushover than expected. He died after taking five axe throws, each one of them easily hitting twice against the stationary target. The whole fight lasted about ten seconds, heh. From there, I cleared out the rest of the forest, and achieved a full dungeon clear for the first time with a Spellsword. (Sadly I found Helios' Blessing in a secret shrine with 99% of the whole thing finished. Totally wasted.)
There was nothing left to do except fight more bosses, so on to Alexander it was. That fight went pretty well, although I threw several axes backwards and hit nothing. Keep swinging away and throwing axes until he drops. Alexander only hit me one time, it was a solid battle. Ponce de Leon was up next, and this was a close, tight affair. The bouncing spiked balls inside his room were moving around in a weird pattern, making things extremely easy at times and almost impossible at other moments. I did get this done, limping out of the chamber with just over 100 health. Three bosses down, and nowhere to go now except into Herodotus' domain. I thought for sure that this boss would kill my character, only to fight an outstanding battle instead and come out on top. The axe is arguably the best spell to have against Herodotus, as it works perfectly against the flying mages that appear when the blobs split, plus it's excellent at hitting blobs down below your position. There was a graphical error at the end of this battle, as one of the earth pillars from the mages froze on the screen permanently. Glitchy. Should have screenshotted that one. I might have had a chance against Johannes without the backwards-tossing spells, however it was not to be. He had a little less than half life when I died. Nonetheless, a great character run, all four normal bosses defeated! I used the giant haul of cash to purchase a few new pieces of armor, and then a whole lot of stats, 27 levels in all. Only 70 gold left at the end from that initial 49k. Now my Spellsword stats were really starting to get pumped up.
Unlock: Health Up x12, Attack Up x5, Magic Damage Up x5, Equip Up x3, Mana Up, Invuln Time Up, Imperial Helm, Sky Limbs, Guardian Cape
16) Level 99 (Health 25, Attack 11, Magic Damage 12, Mana 4, Equip 21, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Mana Cost Down 5, Miscellaneous 11): 31,845g
OCD and Dextrocardia traits. This meant that my health and mana bars were swapped, so 323 mana and a paltry 80 health... along with the blade wall as the randomized spell. Oh joy, I could tell this was going to be an awesome Spellsword run already. I went into the tower again initially, planning to make many retreats out for more health any time that I took more than one hit. 80 health didn't provide much room for error. I found the dagger tossing minigame along the way, and managed to win it! Reward: more gold in the treasure chest. What a rip off. This was one of the most tense characters I've played in a long time, since two hits would be enough to kill me anywhere outside the castle. I honestly don't know how I made it as far as I did. The only tool that I had at my disposal was the empowered blade wall, so I used that huge sword over and over again, got pretty good at using the thing to hit enemies above or below my Spellsword. I even used it to take down Botis, who handed over the lousy Sage Helm as a reward. To my own surprise, I did manage to full clear the tower, and I decided to do the forest next instead of risking my life in the basement. Botis popped up again in the forest, and this time he handed over an Armor Up bonus for victory, despite being weaker in this incarnation. That made no sense. Eventually everything except the basement was cleared out, and down I went into the stygian depths. There were a number of crazy fights in the basement, situations where I was playing on pure instinct and I have no idea how I managed to survive. In the end, I cleared about 80% of the basement before eventually falling to an enclosed room with spikes on the floor, and too many monsters to dodge properly. Two hits killed me there, just as I always knew that it would. I was beyond happy with this performance, I came close to a full dungeon clear on a character with miniscule health and no ranged capabilities. (The blade wall only works at close range.) I followed my recent pattern for upgrades, adding one point repeatedly to whatever was cheapest: Health, Attack, or Magic Damage. This leveled up all three of them together, and seemed to work well for the Spellsword. The cheap Mana upgrades were taken with leftover gold at the end.
Unlock: Health Up x6, Attack Up x4, Magic Damage Up x3, Mana Up x2
17) Level 114 (Health 31, Attack 15, Magic Damage 15, Mana 6, Equip 21, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Mana Cost Down 5, Miscellaneous 11): 46,035g
Endomorph (you can't get knocked back) and Hypergonadism (you knock enemies back further). This Spellsword also brought the blade wall spell yet again. My old friend at this point. On the positive side, I had 368 health to work with, which was almost laughable compared to the poor previous Spellsword with Dextrocardia. Chickens gave me back 55 health for this character - they'd been giving me back 12 HP for the previous one. Heh. My initial run was sloppy, so very sloppy. I took lots of hits that I didn't need to take. I think this was partly due to the fact that my Spellsword was getting to be too strong for Normal difficulty, and I wasn't putting in the same kind of focus that I had on the previous run. No excuse, but that seemed to be happening. The other possible issue was the super knockback, which can be a real handicap against some monsters. I honestly would have preferred not to have it. One thing that I noticed: the blade wall spell works super well against the dual skeleton minibosses. You can throw out an empowered blade wall, then sit back and dodge their bones while they get hit repeatedly. It's pretty awesome! The blade wall was decent against the duo plant miniboss as well, although not quite as strong. My reward for winning these fights were more useless Sage gear. Then the combination of the blade wall and super knockback made for a very funny situation against Botis, as the blade wall kept knocking him further and further up into the air until he was almost flying! Yes, the super knockback applies to your spells as well as your sword swings.
The dungeon was no real threat at this point, not even the basement, and I cleared everything out. Found about six runes along the way, which was very nice. Eventually it was time for the final bosses, and this was one place where my traits shined. Super knockback might be bad against the skeletons (because they get thrown further away to keep slinging death bones / arrows your way), but it's absolutely awesome against Johannes. I've used this trait to good effect in the past, and it was the same here. Johannes gets pushed away from you over and over again, making the battle trivial to win. He has 1915 HP on this difficulty, and I did 58 damage per swing. He never hit me once, I hit him the necessary 34 times, and that was that. The Fountain was quite a bit tougher, since my Spellsword had no real way to dodge the summoned projectiles, and I lacked a ranged spell to get in safe licks from a distance. Still, with the help of the dropped chickens on the floor I was able to get this done without any true danger. Victory over Normal difficulty with Spellsword #17.
Needing 17 Spellswords to get through Normal difficulty feels about average for this game. I noted when I was preparing this report how some of the Spellswords seemed to do extremely well, while others struggled mightily to get going. Part of that was undoubtedly due to traits, I rolled some bad combinations with this particular group of characters (the 80 HP Dextrocardia one, the Vertigo one, etc.) But I also think it had a lot to do with what random spells my characters happened to get as well. The Spellswords with the axe or chakram spells were just inherently better than the ones with the weaker stuff, especially all those ones with the blade wall. I mean, with practice I could get the darn spell to work and all, but that is not a strong option! We'll see how well I manage to do in the upcoming torture test of the New Game Plus modes. Stay tuned.