Design Diary: The v0.16 Enemy Audit

Way back in v0.9 of Dicey Dungeons (last June!), I shared something I wrote up – an audit of every enemy in the game – what was working, what wasn’t, and my plans to fix them. I shared that on pastebin here for the dicecord, which you can read if you like!

For v0.16, I figured I was due a fresh look at all of the enemies again, so I did another audit. I figured I’d share it too. (Warning: a very, very long post ahead, with detailed familiarity with Dicey Dungeons assumed from the get go.)

This time, I had a slightly different focus:

  • I wanted to try tuning the game a little harder.
  • I wanted to try a first draft at a new system – Super Enemies.

Really happy with how the new enemy designs in v0.16 are going down – for the most part, enemies have gotten harder, and more interesting to fight as a result. Also, Super Enemies – rare encounters where an enemy appears one level higher than normal, with remixed equipment – are working out great (though will probably need another iteration or two).

Things that I didn’t change this time around: Old “Hard” Enemies (enemies with upgraded equipment – this mode is getting changed, so not a priority), and elemental resistances (I’m currently playing around with a new, simpler “type” system).

Ok! Let’s jump in!

Level 1


FROG
  • Level 1, 2 dice, 10 hp
  • Good Turn: 8 damage, 3 shield
  • Bad Turn: 3 damage, 1 shield

What’s Good:

Probably the hardest level 1 enemy – even if it rolls two 1s, it’s gonna do 3 damage at least. And it can hit pretty hard with that broadsword when it gets lucky.

What’s bad, and how to fix:

So, with only 24 HP now when starting out, a Frog can theoretically kill the player in three moves, which isn’t ideal. Let’s slightly reduce the HP of the enemy to make that a little less likely. The shield helps protect them health wise, anyway, so that shouldn’t be a problem.

Though, in general I think I want level 1 enemies to hit a bit harder, so I’m not too worried about the power level here. This is a nice, simple, scary enemy.

Actions:

Reduce HP to 9.

Super variant:

Let’s try a two handed sword instead of the broadsword! An extra dice too, to make that extra slot work.



GARDENER
  • Level 1, 2 dice, 12 hp
  • Good Turn: 6 damage + weaken
  • Bad Turn: 1 damage

What’s Good:

Has a single shovel, and two dice. Shovels weaken if you use a six on it! Gardener has come along way since they were the “builder”, with two bumps. The simplification has helped a lot, and I think this ended up being a very good enemy.

I really like this enemy as an introduction to the weaken status – it can do six damage, which is, I think, the minimum amount level 1 enemies should do with the new level up pacing.

What’s bad, and how to fix:

Eh, it’s fine. No changes needed here.

Actions:

Nothing.

Super variant:

Hard Gardener was one of those cases where it made no sense – upgraded shovel just got smaller. I think Super Gardener needs to hit harder, and do more status effects. Hmm. So, I could give them an Echo Blast (in addition to the Shovel)? With that one change, they could do 11 damage per turn and three weaken on a good turn, or, more usually, do two weaken. But that’s *maybe* a little rough, to have so much status on a level 2 enemy. Two shovels is interesting too, as extra raw damage – and it’s a simpler change with less status impact.

Yeah, ok, let’s try that. Also, an extra dice. I am a little worried that too many of the “super” enemies will just amount to duplicating equipment, but let’s take it one enemy at a time and see what happens.



HOTHEAD
  • Level 1, 2 dice, 14 hp
  • Good Turn: 6 damage + burn
  • Bad Turn: Has a 25% chance to do *nothing*.

What’s Good:

Hmm, I like the design of hothead, and in general I like level 1 enemies to have a single piece of equipment, but…

What’s bad, and how to fix:

But it’s not ideal to have enemies that *often* do nothing. With two dice, that’s only 25% of the time, but still. His best case scenario is rolling a 6. It’s tempting to come up with a new piece of equipment that evens this out, but I think it’s ok.

Yeah, I don’t think I want to give them more equipment, or complicate fireball. So I’m left with considering something new. Whip? Maybe, but then they become very similar to Gardener – and also, I think I’d want them to inflict burn more or less every turn. I’m almost tempted to just make fireball unrestricted.

Actions:

I think, leave them as is for now.

Super variant:

Ok, well, HERE I think I can give them more equipment.

They could use the new Jester attack, Flame Blast, perhaps? In which case, they’d need some more firepower. Nah, that amounts to too much “stuff”.

Giving them a bump insures they can always use fireball, but that’s not enough of a buff to make them scary enough to be a super enemy.

Ohh. How about inferno? It’s two raw dice damage, and ensures a burn. It’s a nice upgrade! An extra dice would be needed to prevent shock locking, though.



MAGICIAN
  • Level 1, 1 dice, 9 hp
  • Good Turn: 5 damage
  • Bad Turn: 3 shield

What’s Good:

This one’s great – the even/odd thing leaves them feeling very different from other level 1 enemies, they can do decent damage (5 per turn, 50% of the time). Having two equipment with 1 dice make shocking them interesting – you force them to use “the other thing” – essentially making it so that they have a 50% chance to do nothing.

What’s bad, and how to fix:

They’re a little weak, but that’s probably ok. They are level 1, after all! 9 hp does feel low, but since they can shield, it’s probably best kept that way.

Actions:

Nothing.

Super variant:

Since Magician is like a “trainee” Witch, it seems appropriate to give them four spells and two dice. Another Magic Missile and Infliction means that they can do between 10 damage or 3 damage + 3 shield, which works. It’s also different feeling enough from Sorceress with her Hex.



ROBOBOT
  • Level 1, 2 dice, 16 hp
  • Good Turn: 4 damage.
  • Bad Turn: Nothing!

What’s Good:

Robobot is a much stronger theme than the old one, Goblin – so, progress there!

What’s bad, and how to fix:

Probably the worst enemy in the game! In the last audit, I defended the simplicity of this enemy – it adds texture to have a few simple enemies in the mix – but I’m not finding that very convincing right now. As time’s gone by, each enemy in Dicey Dungeons has really honed on their own “thing”, which I love. Robobot, by comparison, has no real mechanical identity.

Having 16 health at level 1 is much higher than normal, and is part of what’s meant to be distinguishing – but I think it basically doesn’t work. They’re just kind of a slog.

I think this enemy needs a complete rethink, so I might just remove them completely until I can think up something new and interesting for them to do.

Actions:

Robobot needs to go on holiday!

Super variant:

Wait until you’ve got a new design ready for them.



SLIME
  • Level 1, 2 dice, 14 hp
  • Good Turn: +3 poison
  • Bad Turn: Nothing

What’s Good:

Incredible art design. Look at that little slimey guy, hanging out in a wafer! So cute. Also, hey, a level one poison enemy, great!

What’s bad, and how to fix:

Slime *should* be pretty scary, right. Why aren’t they? Because 25% of the time they don’t do anything, and they’re dead too quick for the poison they inflict to have much impact. Even in a best case scenario, they essentially do 4 damage on turn 1, 7 on turn 2, 10 on turn 3… but they never get to turn three, usually. Compare with the Frog, who will do at least 3 damage on turn 1, but CAN do 8, which Slime can’t reach even in a best case until turn three.

Hmm. The other issue with poison stuff in general is that all these basic items are super similar:

  • Poison Spell – Needs 4, +4 poison (upgraded: +5 poison)
  • Poison Dart – Needs 2, +2 poison (upgraded: works on EVEN dice)
  • Toxic Ooze – MAX 4, +d6 poison (upgraded: works on MAX 5)
  • Poison Slingshot – Needs Doubles, +3 poison (upgraded: Countdown of 10)
  • Claw – MAX 3, Sword damage +2 poison (Upgraded: works on MAX 4)
  • Acid Arrow – EVEN, +2 poison (upgraded: works on any slot)
  • Liquorice – Double size, countdown of 3, +2 poison (upgraded: +3 poison)

Yeah – there are definitely too many *similar* poison attacks. There are other poison equipments that break the mould a bit, though:

  • Poison Needle – MAX 2, +1 poison, Reusable x3 (Upgraded: Reusable x5)
  • Poison Cloud – Needs Doubles, +3 poison to everyone (upgraded: +4 poison)

Poison cloud I’d actually totally forgotten about! It used to the be the Guardian skill, back when the Guardian was a thing. I actually quite like that as an attack for a level 1 enemy! They poison you a bunch, but also themselves, which will kill them? Hmm. Nah, it’s just too awkward to have enemies that kill themselves, and I don’t want to reintroduce immunities into the game.

Toxic Ooze was meant as a slightly overpowered poison attack that would be enemy only, but it made it’s way into the player pool at some point, confusingly.

Let’s try to distinguish it a bit. We want it to do more consistent damage, and also build poison up. Why not make it an “on six” equipment?

Yeah, I like that! We’ll make it size 2 to compensate it a bit, but also, let’s maybe take another look at the generators and clean some of this stuff up.

Actions:

  • Change Toxic Ooze to be a size two physical attack that inflicts +2 poison on a six. Like a big claw with less reliable poison output!
  • Remove Poison Dart. Poison Spell still works, as a hard to use/good payout type equipment.
  • Poison Slingshot is a little odd too. Revisit that one when we’re looking at Dyrad.
  • Acid arrow and Liquorice are kind of player specific ones that are balanced around those characters, so maybe they can just stay.

Super variant:

Two toxic oozes plus an extra dice is a little predicable, but would definitely work. Let’s try it!



SPACE MARINE
  • Level 1, 3 dice, 14 hp
  • Good Turn: 10 damage!
  • Bad Turn: Nothing

What’s Good:

Basically perfect. Like I said last audit, the big countdown is a great tutorial thing, and although ten damage seems scary, it’s actually no big deal – you can survive three hits from the space marine when at full health. Ended up using this guy as the very first enemy in the tutorial!

What’s bad, and how to fix:

Nothing, they’re great.

Actions:

Don’t change a thing.

Super variant:

Give em a bunch of extra dice so they can get that countdown off almost every turn, bwahahaha.



VACUUM
  • Level 1, 1 dice, 12 hp
  • Good Turn: Drain 4 life
  • Bad Turn: Nothing

What’s Good:

An enemy with life drain is a really nice thing to have in the level 1 mix! Also, has some nice level 1 properties – a single dice, a single piece of equipment, a simple concept…

What’s bad, and how to fix:

But it’s another enemy who can have nothing happen on bad rolls. Also, Vacuum has this thing, especially with characters who start out weak, of just exchanging blows back and forth until finally your luck outpaces theirs, which just feels really bad, you know?

So, one idea I had here is to do exactly what I’ve done for Slime, and give it a new “on six do X” equipment. That does solve this problem – more consistent damage output, and less healing (since the healing would only trigger on a six). But… I don’t want to overdo that one particular thing, and implementing that here would mean three level 1 enemies work that way. So maybe something else is a better fit.

I’m not sure. Let’s take the out for a while until I can think of something better here.

Actions:

  • Implement a life steal weapon that triggers on a six (Separately to this enemy)
  • Temporarily remove until you can figure out a better design.

Super variant:

Wait until you’ve got a new design ready for them.



WOLF PUPPY
  • Level 1, 4 dice, 12 hp
  • Good Turn: 2 damage and a shock
  • Bad Turn: Nothing

What’s Good:

Hmm. Wolf Puppy needs work.

What’s bad, and how to fix:

Yikes, Wolf Puppy is seriously underpowered! A best case scenario has them roll doubles and an even and still only do two damage and a shock? Poor thing.

It sorta doesn’t make sense for Wolf Puppy to shock. It’s only the case that they do this because Shock *used* to be “Stun”, but that hasn’t been the case for a while. So let’s ditch the shock aspect of the enemy completely.

What should an attack called “Woof Woof Woof” do, then? It used to drop shields, going back even further, but that’s not really an important thing in Dicey Dungeons anymore. It’s too early in the game for curse – Maybe some kind of blessing?

Oh! What about Fury?

Yeah, that works! It’s the warrior limit break, so it’s not exactly obscure anymore – and the AI should be (or, at least, aspirationally WILL BE) good enough to handle enemies with Fury. It also makes more sense for a dog enemy.

Not thrilled about having four dice on a level 1 enemy, while we’re on Woof Woof Woof – (doubles need more dice to work, which is how I ended up with that). On the other hand, Fury should probably not be attached to cards that make it too cheap. Maybe let’s leave it for this iteration.

The bite could probably do a lot more damage too. If the Frog can do 8 on a good turn, maybe the Wolf Puppy can too? Let’s give the little guy 4 damage per bite.

Actions:

  • Change Woof Woof Woof to Fury instead of Shock
  • Increase Wolf Puppy Bite from 2 to 4.

Super variant:

I think all that needs to change here is more damage – so, let’s just replace wolf puppy bite with… hmm…

Bear Maul 😀

Uff, that’s potentially 16 damage per turn though, which is maybe too hard, as much as I like that joke.

An extra Wolf Puppy Bite changes the basic damage from 8 to 12, but only on a very good roll. Still, it’s more in line with what you’d expect from an enemy at that level.

Level 1 Summary

So, an overview of the level 1 changes:

  • FROG: Reduce HP from 10 to 9.
  • SLIME: Change Toxic Ooze to be a size two physical attack that inflicts +2 poison on a six.
  • WOLF PUPPY: Change Woof Woof Woof to Fury instead of Shock. Increase Wolf Puppy Bite from 2 to 4.
  • ROBOBOT and VACUUM: Temporarily remove and reconsider.

I was worried that some of these changes were a bit too dramatic, but looking at a summary, if anything I’ve been too cautious. Slime and Wolf Puppy were badly in need of buffs, this just brings them up to the level of the rest of the level 1 enemies (maybe a bit higher, but that’s ok). Let’s try these changes out and see how they feel.

Level 2


DRYAD
  • Level 2, 26 hp, 4 dice
  • Good Turn: 3 poison + 5 damage
  • Bad Turn: Nothing (but with four dice, it’s very unlikely that she won’t at least do 5 damage with magic missile)

What’s Good:

Hmm. I mean, the enemy *does* work. She’s not broken, in any meaningful way. But.

What’s bad, and how to fix:

Ok, obvious things first: The four dice thing is weird – it’s literally just because poison slingshot needs doubles, so less than four dice makes using it too rare. But four dice on a level 2 enemy is really excessive.

It seems like I ended up in a weird place with this enemy? They used to be “Assassin”, which was a kind of combination enemy with magic missile, a sword and the poison slingshot. Gameplay wise that works, but the theme felt a bit weak. When Marlowe designed the Dyrad idea, I simplified the enemy, but now they’re – poison slingshot and magic missile? Uh, ok! But it’s a weird combination.

Is there an opportunity here for a completely new idea that fits better with the character?

Ok, you’re stuck with the slingshot, it’s literally in the animation. But you’re not stuck with poison, which maybe feels like a strange fit.

As a tree creature, perhaps something earth themed would fit better? Weaken is a very interesting status effect *to inflict on the player* more than the other way around, so I think it’d be ok if she became earth themed. A slingshot feels like it should be reusable, somehow, since it’s a “light-thiefy” weapon like a dagger. What if we made an earth version of Matchstick or Nightstick?

Ah, I dunno, that doesn’t feel right. I think I want attacks that feel more “woodland creature”.

Some kind of health drain? Hmm, maybe.

Pokemon had grass types do “paralyze” attacks – spores, etc. Dicey Dungeons doesn’t really have a version of that which fits the theme, though. (lock? shock? hmm)

Dungeons and Dragons has Dryads that use charm, teleport between trees and, uh, equip clubs, for some reason. Also, magic, which is where I ended up too.

Ok, I think I’m overthinking it – Poison is fine for the enemy – Trees are pretty poisonous tbh! Also, they’re actually the only level 2 poison enemy right now, so I should probably keep that. I think what I want to do is replace Magic Missile with something more thematic, and maybe simplify Poison Slingshot.

Ok: let’s try 12 countdown for 4 poison on poison slingshot. It’s quite powerful, but the higher countdown distinguishes it from other basic poison weapons I think.

As for the new attack: let’s use a green card and make something “Vine” themed – Hmm, I’ve been meaning to do attack + life steal on six, maybe this is a good place?

Actions:

  • Change Poison Slingshot to +4 Poison on a countdown of 12.
  • Change Magic Missile to a new card, Vine Whip, which deals damage, has MAX5, and heals 2hp on a five.
  • Maybe come up with a better name than “Vine Whip”, that’s kind of weak.

Super variant:

We don’t have an enemy that uses Detonate right now – let’s give that a try! We can replace the Vine Whip with the Detonate, and maybe increase dice and health too to make her a bit scarier.



BABY SQUID
  • Level 2, 26 hp, 2 dice
  • Good Turn: 12 damage.
  • Bad Turn: Blind 2 dice.

What’s Good:

Baby squid is pretty fun to fight! One of the harder level 2s.

What’s bad, and how to fix:

Headbutt is fine when fighting the squid as an enemy, but being reusable makes it totally crazy if the player manages to get it. Let’s nerf it a little.

I’m a little worried about how similar Baby Squid and Kraken are, but I think that’s more of an issue to fix for Kraken, not Baby Squid, which is feeling pretty solid.

Blind isn’t really working as a status effect right now, but I have plans to lean into it more and make it more interesting for a future build, so I think eventually Ink Splat will be fine.

(Spent a little time there thinking about a possible new water status effect, but I can’t think of anything I actually like.)

Actions:

Make Heatbutt 2 uses per turn rather than reusable.

Super variant:

Definitely should blind you a lot harder, to highlight that element of the enemy. I think I’m going to make Camouflage cheaper to use, and just swap ink splat for that. As for damage, Baby Squid becomes a lot more scary if they’re more likely to get even dice, so… Hmm!

Actually, what if they had two bumps instead of the Camouflage? Kinda highlights what’s really scary about them better. We can go the other way with Kraken, and lean into blind instead.



STICKY HANDS
  • Level 2, 28 hp, 1 dice
  • Good Turn: Steals your gold
  • Bad Turn: Nothing

What’s Good:

Sticky Hands stands out from other enemies by being focused on a totally different thing – stealing your money, and running away! So that’s kinda cool.

What’s bad, and how to fix:

But, usually, they’re just annoying, rather than fun. Which is why they’re rare, and tuned so easy that you almost never have any trouble with them.

I don’t think I want to add damage to the enemy – I like that they feel different. I think they work fine the first few times you see them, and then they’re just a bit annoying, but not in a serious way.

Actions:

Probably just leave them, they’re basically ok.

Super variant:

Hah – well, a super Sticky Hands should probably steal a piece of your equipment and run away with it, right? Hah. Some extra health and that ability could be pretty nice. It also shouldn’t be so hard to make them use the stolen equipment too, possibly.

You could *potentially* get into trouble there by fighting it with one piece of offensive equipment, and then losing your only weapon – but since the super would appear as a level three enemy, I think you only have yourself to blame if that happens.



ALCHEMIST
  • Level 2, 28 hp, 3 dice
  • Good Turn: Turn into a bear, and do bear maul on you for up to 9 damage a turn
  • Bad Turn: Fail to use any potions

What’s Good:

The design here basically works, and the Bear remains my favourite little design detour in the whole game. It’s extremely sad that they’ve been broken for so long.

What’s bad, and how to fix:

I think the Alchemist is very close to working, but needs a few mechanical tweaks.

None of the potions are really scary enough to make sense. I think you could *double* the amount of damage that the spiky and fire potions do, and do 5 poison instead of 4 with the poison potion, and it would all still seem pretty fair and fun.

One thing I’ve considered with this character: they could have a non-standard layout! It could work to have a “deck” of potions, Jester style, that appeared on the screen, left to right. They’d all be cheaper to activate and use, and you’d see the more expensive “Bear Potion” come along, which would be a nice tense moment.

The downside of this is that you kind of give away the “deck” concept very early in the game, and it might be more fun to hold on to that and save it as a surprise for when you unlock the Jester. I think for now, let’s just stick with the standard layout.

Actions:

  • Increase Spiky Potion damage from 4 to 8.
  • Increase Fire Potion damage from 4 to 8.
  • Increase Poison Potion from 4 to 5.
  • Swap the order of Poison and Fire Potion.

Super variant:

I think this one’s easy – you just want to go “Bear Mode” as soon as possible – so the funniest thing to do is just remove the first three potions. Then they’re a bear right away! You can also give them a bit more health, maybe.



COPYCAT
  • Level 2, 26 hp, 4 dice
  • Good Turn: In theory, lots of damage
  • Bad Turn: In practice, they’ll steal a lockpick or something.

What’s Good:

Ok, Copycat isn’t really working, but on the plus side, I know how to fix them.

What’s bad, and how to fix:

They should just steal *all* your stuff, as an innate ability, with no “yoink” card needed. It’s way more interesting and fun to fight yourself than to fight an enemy that often just uses random dice manipulation.

This will make them a bit harder, but that’s no big deal – I’ll just bump them up to level 3, maybe even level 4.

Actions:

  • Remove Yoink, change to use an auto steal-everything mechanic.
  • They should have the same amount of dice as you too!

Super variant:

Interestingly, they self balance! One level up, they will automatically be more scary because *you* are more scary. They probably just need a little extra HP in the super variation.



MARSHMALLOW
  • Level 2, 28 hp, 1 dice
  • Good Turn: 6 damage + 1 burn (or 5 damage + 1 freeze)
  • Bad Turn: 1 or 2 damage +burn/freeze

What’s Good:

Marshmallow is basically great. The combination ice fire thing works, and at level two the layout of two equipment and 1 dice works really well.

What’s bad, and how to fix:

I’m not sure what type they should be? Actually, they kind of break my type system a little. They could use Scathach’s “immune to a bunch of stuff” type, I suppose.

There are no other mixed element creatures in the game, actually. Which is why I’ve been able to get away with not fixing the shock+weaken or burn+freeze bugs for so long, heh.

Actions:

Nothing.

Super variant:

Boring answer, but I think just three dice and double equipment makes em a scary super version of themselves.



MIMIC
  • Level 2, 28 hp, 5 dice
  • Good Turn: Maybe they draw inferno or something, and do 12 damage.
  • Bad Turn: Or, more likely, they draw a wooden stake and do nothing.

What’s Good:

Mimics are great, just, you know, in general. You think it’s gonna be a chest, but actually, it’s a mimic. lol. Classic.

What’s bad, and how to fix:

They’re not really that scary – they have the potential to do a lot of damage, but they normally don’t. Part of the fun is that they sometimes *will* draw a dud item, but I think they’d still be pretty good if you revisited the distribution of stuff they can get.

Five dice is really excessive. It’s because they don’t really know what they need, so they kind of need a spread. I think I can better solve this by changing up that distribution, though.

Actions:

  • Reduce from 5 dice to 4.
  • Have a look at the distribution of items that Mystery Box creates, and remove some of the duds.

Super variant:

If Mystery Box is fixed up a little, then all you need to do to make this enemy more interesting is TWO boxes. TWO! I find myself using this doubling trick for Super variants a lot, but it works, so maybe don’t worry about it too much?



SNEEZY
  • Level 2, 24 hp, 1 dice
  • Good Turn: 8 damage.
  • Bad Turn: Nothing (about a third of the time)

What’s Good:

I love the idea behind sneezy, and I think I’m pretty close to having something that works. They recently got moved down to level 2 because it’s not really scary enough for a level 3 enemy to miss 33% of the time.

What’s bad, and how to fix:

They miss 33% of the time 🙁

It seems too obvious, but you could just give them an extra dice? The problem then, though, is that they’d hit you for max damage almost every time! It also reduces the impact of status effects on them, which isn’t ideal. I think I’d like to keep Sneezy on a single dice.

I also don’t like the new “range” dice slots I’m trying out – currently, sneezy takes between 2 and 4 on the sneeze action, which solves the old thing of using a 1 on the slot for no reason, but… complicates the game in a way I’m not that happy with. It’s more stuff on the cards, innit.

Ok: how about this: We simplify Sneeze by making it min 2 – i.e. splitting any dice except a 1 into 1s. We then fix the design by making different SPIKE types. Perhaps instead of all being ones that take a one and give you a free 1, we can have two spikes that take two 1s, but do 3 or maybe 4 damage. So that would mean:

If Sneezy rolls a

  • 1 – Do 1 damage (previously: 2 damage)
  • 2 – Do 4 damage (previously: 4 damage)
  • 3 – Do 5 damage (previously: 6 damage)
  • 4 – Do 8 damage (previously: 8 damage)
  • 5 – Do 9 damage (previously: Nothing)
  • 6 – Do 10 damage (previously: Nothing)

Yeah, ok! Let’s try that.

Actions:

  • Change sneeze to MIN2.
  • Swap out two of the Spikes for “Sharp Spike”, which needs two 1s, but does double damage.

Super variant:

Ah – maybe we could work poison needle in there, somewhere? Two Poison Needles and Sneeze works, for sure, and is a nice variation.



SORCERESS
  • Level 2, 28 hp, 2 dice
  • Good Turn: 9 damage, or maybe 6 damage and a shock.
  • Bad Turn: 4 damage and a shock.

What’s Good:

This is another example of an enemy who’s basically solid, but who maybe just isn’t as interesting as it could be. I like that she mirrors the player Witch.

What’s bad, and how to fix:

Having Magic Missile and Infliction mean that she has a very constant damage output. Unless she’s unluckly, she’s quite likely to do 9 damage a turn.

I’ve thought about mirroring the player even more heavily here – it’d be cool to have an enemy that uses a Spellbook, like the player witch – creating copies of spells, replacing existing ones, and building up for big damage. But… (a) that’s lots of work! Oh my gosh – UI work, AI work, Design work – and (b) even if I implemented that, I’m not sure it’d actually be all that fun to fight against. I actually feel like maybe it’s a little overcomplicated for an enemy, and that most players wouldn’t care about watching the move of an enemy that complex. Also (c) my same worries about using a Deck for Alchemist apply here too – the spellbook is a nice mechanical reveal that you don’t expect when you start playing, so it’s kind of a shame to ruin that surprise by having an enemy show you the concept.

So, maybe it’s best to stick to thinking about simpler improvements. Alternative concept that might be cool here: some kind of arrangement of equipment that will affect you differently based on sequence. This *sort of* happens a little bit right now with the even/odd spell in the mix, but you could get similar interesting things with just having four spells that have restrictions.

An aside: I’m not sure Hex actually ever gets used for anything other than Shock here – I’m not sure, but I think the way the dice rolls work out, Sorceress only ever uses it if she can’t use the Magic Missile. Oh well!

Here’s something to try: let’s give Sorceress Magic Missile and Hex for two Electric Shocks, and leave the rest. Electric Shock is an even spell, like Magic Missile, but unlike Magic Missile it’s based on the actual number you roll, so is more likely to be a nerf than a buff, even though it might look like a buff. I also like giving her Lightning as a way to give her a little more more personality…

Oh, huh! What if sorceress had slightly different equipment every time you faught her? She could have a 1/3 chance of having Burning Light, Ice Shard or Electric Shock, which mirrors the player really well and makes her a bit more unpredictable. Her type could change depending on which spell she has!

Ok, that’s really cool 😀 Ok, lightning witch:

  • Cauldron, Infliction, Electric Shock, Electric Shock (EVEN)
  • Good turn: 13 damage + 2 shock
  • Bad turn: 4 damage

Fire witch:

  • Cauldron, Infliction, Burning Light, Burning Light (MIN 4)
  • Good turn: 13 damage + 2 burn
  • Bad turn: 4 damage

Ice witch:

  • Cauldron, Infliction, Ice Shard, Ice Shard (ODD)
  • Good turn: 10 damage + 2 freeze
  • Bad turn: 4 damage

13 damage is a lot, but that’s a pretty rare outcome, so I think it’s ok – she’ll often roll lower. But, hmm, yeah. There’s maybe too much going on here now for a level 2 enemy – let’s bump up to Level 3. (Weirdly, this one started as a level 1!)

Actions:

  • Implement an “on encounter” script that runs when you encounter, and randomly choose a starting arrangement and type.
  • Change layout to Cauldron, Infliction, and two of either Ice Shard, Burning Light or Electric Shock
  • Move to level 3.

Super variant:

The Witch can get some very scary spells at higher levels, right? Let’s just give the Sorceress one of them! Either Meteor or Absolute Zero, at random, with maybe three other filler spells to give her some weaken defence.



STEREOHEAD
  • Level 2, 28 hp, 2 dice
  • Good Turn: 6 damage and 2 weaken
  • Bad Turn: Nothing!

What’s Good:

Stereohead is a fun enemy because they inflict lots of status without actually doing much damage – they feel more dangerous than they really are, I think.

What’s bad, and how to fix:

In general I don’t like for enemies to sometimes “miss” and do nothing. This maybe happens a little too often with Stereohead.

I could fix this by making sonic wave a little less restrictive – but that would mean making weakens much more common. Still, it feels worth trying. Let’s make Sonic Wave MAX4 instead of MAX3.

Actions:

Try making Sonic Wave MAX4 instead of MAX3.

Super variant:

Let’s give Stereohead two Echo Blasts, bwahahaha



WIZARD
  • Level 2, 32 hp, 1 dice
  • Good Turn: Best outcome for Wizard is to keep rolling 4s and poison you a bunch.
  • Bad Turn: Wizard can literally kill themselves if they roll 1s. A bad turn for Wizard is *very* bad.

What’s Good:

The basic design of this guy is pretty great – the 6 equipment slots, each matching a dice face, feels really interesting and different.

What’s bad, and how to fix:

They feel outdated. Which is because they are – Wizard was one of the earliest enemies in the game, back before I had most of the status effects, even. I like the design of the Wizard, but I think it’s time he got a new spellbook.

The existing Spellbook is:

1: Backfire

Ok, this one’s a problem. It’s a kind of funny idea – when the Wizard rolls a one, they lose health – but I implemented this before I had Freeze as a status effect, so it feels a bit un-deliberate now. I’ve actually had people report this as a bug. It’s also kind of a weird edge case for the AI, which is normally programmed to *never* kill themselves – so I’ve ended up requiring special rules for this enemy that require them to use all dice, in every case, which leads to some weird and buggy looking behaviour.

Let’s try doing something else here. Maybe some kind of freeze spell?

2: Flame Spell

This is 4 damage and 1 burn for a 2, which is a weird one! Like a proto-fireball. Let’s just increase the damage to 5 to make it a bit like Magic Missile, and try burn x3 instead.

3: Freeze Spell

Freeze Spell just freezes two dice – when you’re fighting Wizard, you usally have three. This feels a bit underpowered.

If slot 1 is become a new freeze spell, maybe slot 3 should be something new: Maybe a new weaken spell? Weaken 3 equipment +5 damage seems like a more fair trade for a piece of equipment requiring a specific roll.

4: Poison Spell

Poison spell works! Let’s keep it as is.

5: Magic Barrier

Having a defensive spell in there is neat, but shielding on enemies is a bit dull. The discord suggested Dodge, let’s try that.

6: Hall of Mirrors

Perfect! Let’s keep this as is.

Number wise, if fire, ice and weaken spells do 2 x status + 5 damage, then they should maybe be on the same row? Let’s try this:

  • 1: Freeze Spell Do 5 damage, freeze 2 dice
  • 2: Teleport Spell Dodge next attack
  • 3: Earth Spell Do 5 damage, weaken 2 equipment
  • 4: Poison Spell Inflict 4 poison
  • 5: Fire Spell Do 5 damage, burn 2 dice
  • 6: Hall of Mirrors Extra dice next turn

Finally: Wizard is 4 hp higher than most other level 2 enemies for no good reason. Let’s reduce that back to 28hp.

Actions:

  • Reduce hp from 32hp to 28hp.
  • New spellbook!

Super variant:

Hmmm. Not sure about this one. Just adding 1 dice makes them a bit scarier, because they start upgraded rather than needing the lucky 6 to get there. It’s a little minimal, but let’s try that.

Level 2 Summary

Ok! An overview of the level 2 changes:

  • DRYAD:
    Change Poison Slingshot to +4 Poison on a countdown of 12.
    Change Magic Missile to a new card, Vine Whip, which deals damage, has MAX5, and heals 2hp on a five.
  • BABY SQUID:
    Make Heatbutt 2 uses per turn rather than reusable.
  • ALCHEMIST:
    Increase Spiky Potion damage from 4 to 8.
    Increase Fire Potion damage from 4 to 8.
    Increase Poison Potion from 4 to 5.
    Swap the order of Poison and Fire Potion.
  • COPYCAT:
    Remove Yoink, change to use an auto steal-everything mechanic.
    They should have the same amount of dice as you too!
  • MIMIC:
    Reduce from 5 dice to 4.
    Have a look at the distribution of items that Mystery Box creates, and remove some of the duds.
  • SNEEZY:
    Change sneeze to MIN2.
    Swap out two of the Spikes for “Sharp Spike”, which needs two 1s, but does double damage.
  • SORCERESS:
    Implement an “on encounter” script that runs when you encounter, and randomly choose a starting arrangement and type.
    Change layout to Cauldon, Infliction, and two of either Ice Shard, Burning Light or Electric Shock
    Move to level 3.
  • STEREOHEAD:
    Try making Sonic Wave MAX4 instead of MAX3.
  • WIZARD:
    Reduce hp from 32hp to 28hp.
    New spellbook!

So, quite a lot of changes to this level, some of them major. They generally all make these enemies harder, too. Should be interesting to see what they’re like!

Level 3


KEYMASTER
  • Level 3, 34 hp, 1 dice
  • Good Turn: 2, then 4, then 6, then 8…
  • Bad Turn: 2, then 2, then 2, then 2…

What’s Good:

This ended up being a pretty good design, feeling very distinct from basically everything in the game.

What’s bad, and how to fix:

He’s a little underpowered. Two damage on turn 1 is tiny, and it takes at least 4 turns with lucky rolls before he starts doing serious damage. Let’s try increasing the keyblade damage.

There’s a minor AI bug where equipment is positioned incorrectly as he unlocks keyblades, which would be nice to fix from a polish point of view, but isn’t really that important.

Actions:

Increase keyblade damage from 2 to 3.

Super variant:

Having two dice would *double* his damage curve, which is probably already scary enough. Let’s try that!



BULLY
  • Level 3, 34 hp, 2 dice
  • Good Turn: 12 damage
  • Bad Turn: 6 damage

What’s Good:

Scary enemy! Why was this guy level 2 for so long?

What’s bad, and how to fix:

I still haven’t fixed that thing where he’ll use a 3 on a rock instead of on his fists. Other than that, I don’t think any changes are needed here.

Actions:

Nothing.

Super variant:

It’s rare that a Bully ever gets down to actually using all of his rocks. Since he’s already a big hitter, why not just give him a bunch of dice?

As for the fists, could maybe just change that out for something that doesn’t have the two uses per turn limit – a Knuckle Duster, maybe.



DIRE WOLF
  • Level 3, 34 hp, 4 dice
  • Good Turn: Curses you, inflicts 4 poison, and deals 6 damage (though, this is rare)
  • Bad Turn: Nothing (this is also rare)

What’s Good:

Curse is a fun status effect (but I am maybe *just about* on the verge of overusing it). The design is solid too – pretty good for an enemy that’s barely changed since they were introduced way back in v0.2, or whenever it was.

What’s bad, and how to fix:

I don’t think anything needs changing here. I don’t like enemies at this level that can “miss” completely, but in Dire Wolf’s case, that’s fairly rare. (Well, Hard mode is a bit broken, maybe, but let’s not worry about that right now.)

Actions:

Nothing.

Super variant:

More claws would probably work. An extra dice too, to ensure that they inflict curse.



HANDYMAN
  • Level 3, 32 hp, 3 dice
  • Good Turn: 9 damage + 1 shock
  • Bad Turn: 3 damage

What’s Good:

Lots of things! It’s really nice to have an enemy that demonstrates the power of the Spanner + needs 6 combo. I like that it mirrors the Inventor. And they’re lightning themed, which is great and honestly is much rarer than it should be. Finally, the visual design is really solid – and it even has a pun in the name!

What’s bad, and how to fix:

There’s an AI bug where they sometimes don’t use the Pea Shooter properly, which I should really fix. Otherwise, I think they’re solid! No changes here, I think.

Actions:

Nothing.

Super variant:

Let’s try two spanners, two hammers, and four dice! It’ll mostly manage to hit you for 12 damage and two shock, but not always.



FIREMAN
  • Level 3, 34, 3 dice
  • Good Turn: 12 damage and 2 burn
  • Bad Turn: Nothing (happens about 1/8th of the time)

What’s Good:

I like the joke of having a fire version of the snowman! The design is also fairly solid.

What’s bad, and how to fix:

It’s not ideal to have enemies at this level that can miss, and it’s not that unlikely for Fireman to roll three odd dice. That aside, the damage output of this enemy is about right.

It’s a little weird that Fireman and Snowman, who are at the same level, have different equipment. Fireman is much easier, basically. I guess my thinking at the time was that fire as a status effect is worse than Freeze – but it’s not much worse, tbh.

Still, I’m trying to tune the game a little harder, so… let’s at least give fireman an extra dice, to increase the likelihood of big hits, and decrease the likelihood of complete misses.

Actions:

Increase from 3 dice to 4.

Super variant:

I really like the hothead change of changing Fireball to Inferno, but here that would mean 4 raw dice damage, which is pretty extreme. Let’s instead double the fireballs and increase the dice to 5.



KRAKEN
  • Level 3, 38 hp, 3 dice
  • Good Turn: 3 on turn 1, 13 on turn 2, 24 on turn 3… (usually pretty rare, though)
  • Bad Turn: Blinds your dice, does no damage

What’s Good:

Overwhelm is an interesting attack that’s a lot scarier than it looks at first. Usually Kraken isn’t a problem, though, because the EVEN dice restriction makes a runaway overwhelm attack fairly rare. Kraken only really causes a problem on Hard Mode.

The blind status effect is tuned about right, and I think will work very well when I make the changes I want to make to blind.

(Oh, right, Overwhelm! I’d forgotten that this guy was basically a reference to Ruari’s OVERWHELM, huh!)

What’s bad, and how to fix:

So, they’re kinda too similar to Baby Squid – a blind attack, and a physical attack. In fact, Headbutt might actually be stronger than Overwhelm in short fights, which makes it a little odd that Kraken is at higher level. Let’s promote Kraken to Level 4, and commit to powering them up accordingly to help differentiate them a little.

As a level four enemy, I think they could probably inflict another status effect (especially since most of the status heavy level 4s are becoming level 5s, now.). Let’s give them a cursing equipment of some kind.

As for nerfing Overwhelm? I think it’s probably ok as is – I like how unexpectedly dangerous it is. Let’s keep it basically the same, but change the upgraded version, just in case that ever comes up again. I’m thinking – change to 2 uses per turn normally, and reuseable when upgraded.

Actions:

  • Move Kraken to level 4, and give them an extra dice.
  • Let’s try giving Kraken a “Shriek” too.
  • Change Overwhelm to 2 uses per turn, reusable when upgraded.

Super variant:

How about we just lean into the Overwhelm thing and *just* give the Kraken an Overwhelm+, with no other equipment. The super version of Kraken is basically a level 5, so that feels suitably terrifying.



ROSE
  • Level 3, 38 hp, 4 dice
  • Good Turn: 8 poison per turn.
  • Bad Turn: Nothing.

What’s Good:

Umm

What’s bad, and how to fix:

Ahhh, Rose is a challenge! People mostly just think they’re broken. I’ve tried a few different things here, and not been that happy with any of them.

Leaving aside the Petals around the Rose thing for the moment, they’re basically an enemy that *normally* doesn’t do very much, but can occasionally score a big hit. The hard mode change of giving the rosepetal equipment a free 5 is funny, but actually just makes them terrifying in a bad way.

I’m not sure what to do with Rose. It’s tempting to just admit that they’re not really a good fit for the game and take them out (which is a shame, since we have the nice animation), or repurpose the animation for a simpler enemy (eh, feels like admitting defeat). Or maybe, lean into the design even more – if there’s gonna be a Petals around the Rose enemy, maybe you should *actually* have to play petals around the rose? They roll dice, and ask *you* what their score is – get it wrong, and you get punished, or something. But that wouldn’t work – it’s just wrong for the game.

Ok, well, in any case, change the hard mode equipment, and probably also the equipment description.

Consider ditching poison, maybe? I dunno, I could just make the staff do raw damage, but I think that would just make this a confusing, ineffective enemy.

Not really that happy with this yet. Gonna make small changes for the next version, and reconsider it separately later.

Actions:

  • Change the description of the rosepetal equipment to better communicate that it’s working as intended.
  • Change hard mode to be a bit less broken.

Super variant:

Honestly not sure here. Let’s leave it for now.



SNOWMAN
  • Level 3, 34 hp, 4 dice
  • Good Turn: Uff, 20 damage and four freezes, if it’s lucky enough to roll 4 fives.
  • Bad Turn: Nothing.

What’s Good:

Generally feeling very solid these days! Snowman has come a long way since the days where snowballs *locked up* dice and did 1 damage, resulting in an endless war of attrition.

What’s bad, and how to fix:

I guess I’m a little worried about hard the snowman can hit, if he gets lucky… but in practice, it seems rare enough that it’s not something I’m worried about. I don’t think any changes are needed here.

Actions:

Nothing.

Super variant:

Interesting! I didn’t take the Inferno route with Fireman, but since Snowman is that bit harder, I’m interested in trying it here. Let’s try swapping the four snowballs to two blizzards – that’s four raw dice damage, potentially, but that’s only a bit worse than the current worse case situation of 20 damage anyway, and it’s a level higher. Also, players are likely to have some way to reduce the impact of this – Ice, Shock and Weaken are all very effective counters.

Level 3 Summary

An overview of the level 3 changes:

  • KEYMASTER
    Increase keyblade damage from 2 to 3.
  • FIREMAN
    Increase from 3 dice to 4.
  • KRAKEN
    Move Kraken to level 4, and give them an extra dice.
    Let’s try giving Kraken a “Shriek” too.
    Change Overwhelm to 2 uses per turn, reuseable when upgraded.
  • ROSE
    Change the description of the rosepetal equipment to better communicate that it’s working as intended.
    Change hard mode to be a bit less broken.

Very very few changes here – I think the level three enemies are working pretty well as is.

Level 4


HAUNTED JAR
  • Level 4, 44 hp, 5 dice
  • Good Turn: Steadily increase poison by 3 each turn, and occasionally double that
  • Bad Turn: Just reduce countdowns.

What’s Good:

I really like having a poison enemy with blight!

What’s bad, and how to fix:

Blight is a fun, scary thing, but Haunted Jar rarely actually pulls it off. Smog Cloud is also kind of a weak version of poison, and the blind and shock combo feels unfocused. They end up feeling very underpowered for a level 4.

Let’s try a simplification. I think I’d like this enemy more if it just poisoned you, more and more each turn, with the threat of blight ever increasing. So let’s try that!

Also, with less dice needed to power the two countdowns, I can reduce the dice from 5 to a more sensible 4.

Actions:

  • Try a new version of Poison Cloud that just reliably inflicts poison (as a replacement for Smog Cloud).
  • Reduce dice from 5 to 4.

Super variant:

Given how runaway poison can get even on easy enemies, it shouldn’t take much here to make Haunted Jar scary. Let’s just give them an extra dice, and an extra poison cloud.



CRYSTALINA
  • Level 4, 48 hp, 4 dice
  • Good Turn: 24 damage, and a bunch of status effects
  • Bad Turn: Nothing

What’s Good:

Crystalina is interestingly different from other enemies, with her four crystals that can be lots of different things.

What’s bad, and how to fix:

But! In practice it seems to take too long to “build” up, and never really ends up doing much damage. This isn’t helped by an AI bug that means they prioritise unlocking crystals over using them.

Occasionally they roll a “blank” crystal, which does nothing, and has to be recreated again. If this happens, they’re basically a gonner – it’s such a momentum breaker that they basically lose a turn.

I think all that Crystalina needs is a fix for that AI bug, and remove the blank crystal thing.

Actions:

Remove “Blank Crystal” from the list of possible transformations.

Super variant:

Now that I’ve got the ability to run scripts when you start combat, I can just have Crystalina’s four crystals start unlocked, which skips the building part of the process and goes straight to the scary part!



WICKER MAN
  • Level 4, 40hp, 4 dice
  • Good Turn: Deal 6 damage, 1 burn, and heal 9 damage.
  • Bad Turn: Heal 3 damage.

What’s Good:

Wicker Man is one of the older enemies in the game, and they’re unusual in being one of the last “healers” in the game. I also really like that wicker man is weak to the element that they use themselves – dealing fire damage, but also being weak to fire, which makes fighting them as thief cool.

What’s bad, and how to fix:

Wicker Man has a bunch of problems, but I think they’re all fixable.

First up, a max of 6 damage per turn from a level four enemy is *ridiculous*. They should be able to do at least twice that, and maybe more.

Secondly, the AI really can’t seem to handle Wicker Man! I’m not really sure what’s going on here, but it’s just very bad at considering healing.

I think all I need to do to fix Wicker Man is replace the healing crystals. If, instead of the three healing crystals, Wicker Man had two of Dryad’s new Vine Whip, they would jump forward to doing up to 16 damage per turn, and occasionally healing up to 4. I’d probably reduce the dice down to 3 to make it so that they’re not just using staff every turn, though.

Actions:

  • Replace the healing crystals with two Vine Whips.
  • Reduce from 4 dice to 3.

Super variant:

I like for super variants to highlight something about the character instead of just increasing damage, ideally, so how about we give Super Wicker Man a serious health item? And maybe also an easier to use offensive item. Something like replacing Staff with Burning Light, and giving him a First Aid Kit could work very well.



YETI
  • Level 4, 44 hp, 4 dice
  • Good Turn: 10 damage, freezes all player dice
  • Bad Turn: Nothing

What’s Good:

Ice Age has ended up being a pretty great attack!

What’s bad, and how to fix:

It’s kinda odd that Snowman is harder than Yeti, actually? How did that happen? They both have four dice, but Yeti is less able to use good rolls. I think maybe I’ve overvalued Ice Age (which used to do damage as well as freeze all dice).

Maybe I could just… swap Yeti and Snowman? It also kinda helps deal with the issue of Fireman and Snowman both being level 3, despite Snowman being more powerful. I’ll swap the HPs too, while I’m at it.

Actions:

Bump down to level 3. Bump Snowman up to level 4. Swap the HPs.

Super variant:

If snowman is more focused on damage and is the higher level enemy, let’s use Yeti to focus on freeze. Giving him a lockpick is kinda funny, maybe? But… makes no thematic sense, hmm.

There’s a Scathach spell called “The Cold” which does 8 damage and freezes two dice if they roll a 4. That feels like a similar sort of “lucky roll” thing to Ice Age, but much much more devastating and likely? I reckon I’ll probably change that to freeze 3 dice instead of 2 anyway, so let’s try that! Could also swap the two snowballs for a single Blizzard, maybe – which could mean, hmm, 20 damage if you were really unlucky? Same as the Snowman, then. Let’s try that!

Level 4 Summary

General thoughts about level 4 enemies:

An overview:

  • HAUNTED JAR
    Try a new version of Poison Cloud that just reliably inflicts poison (as a replacement for Smog Cloud).
    Reduce dice from 5 to 4.
  • CRYSTALINA
    Remove “Blank Crystal” from the list of possible transformations
  • WICKER MAN
    Replace the healing crystals with two Vine Whips.
    Reduce from 4 dice to 3.
  • YETI
    Bump down to level 3. Bump Snowman up to level 4. Swap the HPs.

I’ve split the old level 4 into levels 4 and 5, and mostly put the enemies that were working in level 5 and the ones that weren’t in level 4 – so it makes sense that there were serious problems here.

Actually, worryingly, seeing some mis-leveled enemies on this particular tier have made me very aware that a certain amount of what might have been making the Dicey Dungeons late game “work” is actually coming from a bad place – some enemies doing more damage than they should, and some doing less, and the luck of the draw in which ones you get making it all even out, somehow.

Still, I think it’s best to just fix that and deal with the potential consequences, and iterate and improve things than it is to just ignoring the fact and treat the existing designs as precious. Even if this ends up causing problems, I think I’m moving in the right direction.

Oh, the other big level four issue: I need more enemies! Splitting the old level 4 pool in half has left a serious shortage here. Kraken’s moving up, so that’s good, but let’s fix Rat King, and maybe add one more new enemy too.

Level 5

For level 5 and boss enemies, I’m not going to do super versions just yet, until I figure out how they work at this level. (Level 5 supers would be bosses? Bosses supers would be, what – secret extra enemies? Hmm.)


LOUD BIRD
  • Level 5, 44 hp, 5 dice
  • Good Turn: Silence you, deal 5 damage, weaken 2 equipment and dodge your next attack
  • Bad Turn: Actually, they almost always manage to pull all of this off. If they’re unlucky they’ll miss one or two things from that list.

What’s Good:

Haha, I love this guy. They’re *so* annoying. CAAWWW

They’re a total pain to fight, but they’re actually less scary than they seem – yes, they silence you, locking up your class skills, and yes, they weaken two pieces of equipment, and YES, they dodge a move every turn, requiring you to have more than one piece of offensive equipment – but these are all things that you can plan around and adapt your build for, and ultimately, the most they can actually do to you is 5 damage per turn. Which makes them actually quite weak for a level 5 enemy. In a future iteration, maybe give them more damage, or reduce them to level 4.

What’s bad, and how to fix:

I think they’re great. Not gonna change a thing here.

Actions:

Nothing.



BANSHEE
  • Level 5, 44 hp, 4 dice
  • Good Turn: Silence, Curse and 12 damage, with an additional 2 freezes if they’re really lucky (they need to roll three sixes for that).
  • Bad Turn: 2 damage, if they were to somehow roll all 1s.

What’s Good:

This is just a super solid feeling enemy that is always interesting to fight. I feel like I really got this one right in the last audit.

What’s bad, and how to fix:

Nothing serious, but I think Lament being the only “on six” card in the game that’s size 1 is a bit odd. Maybe let’s change that to size 2, and make the upgrade freeze 2 on six instead of just always freezing – that way I can work it into the regular rotation of the game a bit more.

This change will make the Banshee’s layout a tiny big uglier, but, eh, no big deal.

Actions:

Change Lament to a Size 2, change upgraded lament to freeze 2 dice on six.



CORNELIUS
  • Level 5, 100 hp, 0 dice, +1 dice each turn
  • Good Turn: 999 damage
  • Bad Turn: Reduces countdown

What’s Good:

Cornelius never worked as a boss, but since moving into the normal enemy pool and becoming a rare encounter, they’re working much better. Actually, they’re maybe the best enemy in the game. Very, very happy with how Cornelius has ended up.

What’s bad, and how to fix:

Cornelius causes more a problem for slower characters than say the Warrior, but I’m not really worried about this. It’s a good thing if some enemies are more or less difficult for various player characters!

Actions:

Nothing.



PAPER KNIGHT
  • Level 5, 44 hp, 3 dice
  • Good Turn: 9 damage, lock 2 dice.
  • Bad Turn: Lock 2 dice.

What’s Good:

Dice locking is rare and interesting, and works very well here. The hard initial hit of 9 damage is scary, but you’ll likely survive the paper knight thanks to her diminishing weapon.

What’s bad, and how to fix:

Paper Knight breaks my elemental type system a little – she used to be weak to Fire, but in my new system, that would mean she’d also be strong against Ice, which doesn’t really work. I’ll just make her non-elemental for this build.

It rarely comes up, but Cardboard Sword doesn’t work correctly if it falls below 1 damage. Let’s put a floor on it of 1 damage.

Actions:

Prevent Cardboard Sword’s damage from being less than 1.



SKELETON
  • Level 5, 44 hp, 3 dice
  • Good Turn: 10 damage + curse
  • Bad Turn: Nothing

What’s Good:

This is another enemy that ended up in a pretty good place after the last audit. They can hit pretty hard, but capping the slots of the sword a 5 means that it’s a bit rarer.

What’s bad, and how to fix:

If skeleton rolls a 2 and a 6, all it can do that turn is curse you, since they’ll always use that 2 on the Shriek, meaning they can’t use the sword anymore. This means that Skeleton’s odds of doing no damage are much higher than I’d like, ideally. There’s an argument for making them a level four.

This worries me a little, but honestly, they’re feeling *pretty good* right now, so I’m not sure I actually want to make any changes here for this build. Let’s revisit again later.

Actions:

Nothing.

Level 5 Summary

For level five enemies, I’m mostly taken the scariest of the old level 4 enemies, the ones that were already working very well. I’m going to give them all an extra 4 health, and make these minor changes – these are basically all great. Like level 4, I think I probably also want to do some new level 5 enemies, but that’s not as urgent (since you only see two of them per run, and we have five including Cornelius.)

An overview:

  • ALL:
    Increase HP by 4.
  • BANSHEE:
    Change Lament to a size 2, change upgraded lament to freeze 2 dice on six.
  • PAPER KNIGHT:
    Prevent Cardboard Sword’s damage from being less than 1.

That just leaves the bosses!

Bosses


GIRL SCOUT
  • Boss, 61hp, 5 dice
  • Good Turn: 1+2, then 3+4, then 4+5…
  • Bad Turn: 1, then 2, then 3, then 4…

What’s Good:

Girl Scout’s thing is to basically do the electromagnet trick of using a weapon which increases damage with each use with fury, which makes her very scary very quickly. They’re very interesting to watch, and it’s cool to have enemies that use Fury.

What’s bad, and how to fix:

AI sometimes gets Fury wrong. I should investigate that a bit and make sure it doesn’t happen. Otherwise, I think the design here is fine! The general planned boss HP increase should mean the player gets into danger slightly more, which is great.

The theme is kinda funny, but maybe it’s better to give her an actual name in the final version of the game. Let’s try that.

Actions:

Give her a name.



DRAGON
  • Boss, 65hp, 5 dice
  • Good Turn: 12 damage + 2 burn
  • Bad Turn: Potentially just reducing a countdown.

What’s Good:

Fire based boss is a solid enough concept, and this fight often feels bracing and fair.

What’s bad, and how to fix:

I think they got nerfed a little too much last time.

The once per battle attacks are a bit strange. The idea is: Dragon has a big initial volley, but settles down after that into an easier configuration. I liked (and still like) the big countdown as a kind of pacing thing, but Fire Breath doing just 7 damage on a countdown of 20 is weirdly weak.

Also, when I see someone fight Dragon, I always think it’s weird how little burning they do. Dragon should be burning basically all of your dice every turn, I think.

Thinking about something simpler: Why not just have four smaller attacks instead? You could have Fire Breath take a much smaller countdown, 4, say, dealing 5 damage and burning two dice. That would mean, depending on the dice roll, you’d either use all four (pretty rare! four 4+s needed) and do 20 damage, or more likely, less than that. Status effects would be pretty effective counters here, especially ice which would literally reduce the amount of Fire Breaths dragon could use.

Actions:

  • Try a different design for Fire Breath: countdown of 4, 5 fire damage + 2 burn.
  • Ditch Wall of Flames.


FOMORIAN
  • Boss, 61hp, 4 dice
  • Good Turn: 18 damage and 3 weaken
  • Bad Turn: 6 damage and 3 weaken

What’s Good:

Probably the hardest boss! I love that Formorian weakens 3 pieces of equipment, that’s super interesting boss behaviour. They hit super hard, doing as much as potentially 18 damage on a good turn, but normally do less.

What’s bad, and how to fix:

It can be a little unfair when Fomorian gets a good roll and does 18 damage. I don’t hear that much “Fomorian is bullshit” out of players though so maybe it’s ok in practice.

Basically, I’m just a little worried that Fomorian hits too hard, but since I’m tuning the whole game a bit harder right now I’m going to leave it as is.

The big problem I have with Fomorian is actually the name – obviously, they were originally supposed to have a different design, but because of how the whole art pipeline thing went, the character design changed and the name didn’t. I need to either (a) make a real Fomorian, and perhaps make this Gym Leader be a level 5 enemy or (b) just give this character a different name. I’m not that comfortable with the name/art mismatch right now.

Actions:

Rename to Gym Leader, or something.



CHAMPION
  • Boss, 55hp, 6 dice
  • Good Turn: 12 damage, then 24, then 36, if she’s very lucky and you’ve made a mess of things.
  • Bad Turn: Potentially nothing, but that’s rare.

What’s Good:

Champion is great – focusing on defence makes her totally different from other bosses, and even other enemies. There’s nobody else like them in the game, which I love.

What’s bad, and how to fix:

6 dice is more than anyone else in the game, but I’m sure I had a good reason for it. Eh. Let’s try reducing it back to 5, especially since she’s getting a small HP boost, and see how it feels.

Champion is a rubbish name for such a cool character. Let’s call her “Protector” or “Royal Guard” or… hmm, actually, since she’s a boss, so why not give her a name?

Huh. Since I already have a Scathach, how about Aoife? (aside from the fact that nobody is going to be able to pronounce that, but, eh, who cares.) But yeah! Especially since I’m losing my Fomorian, I really like that.

Actions:

  • Reduce from 6 dice to 5.
  • Rename her Aoife.


VAMPIRE
  • Boss, 65 hp, 4 dice
  • Good Turn: 4 damage, 4 healing, +3 poison
  • Bad Turn: None of that

What’s Good:

The Vampire’s twist, needing to give up a piece of equipment to defeat it, is super interesting. I really like this boss.

What’s bad, and how to fix:

Due to a bug in v0.15, the Vampire would appear every single time you played as thief – so naturally, some players are getting a bit sick of him.

He’s a little bit of a downer, in some ways, because he means that you have to mess up your perfect build at the last moment. But I’m ok with that.

Interesting problem specifically for poison builds: because he usually heals back up on his turn, if you’ve gone for a pure poison build, you have to wait until you’re lucky enough that he doesn’t heal on that turn before you can finish him off. Easy enough fix, though: just have Wooden Stake do a little bit more damage.

I think Smog Cloud is *slightly* too weak, so I’m gonna try having it do more status effects – 3 shock instead of just 1, and let’s get rid of the blind status. I think more status rather than more poison is the way to go here, since the extra shock and extra HP will draw the battle out a little longer anyway.

Actions:

  • Have the stake take the last 5 HP from vampires instead of the last 1 HP.
  • Change Smog cloud to 3 shock instead of 1, and remove the blind status.


SCATHACH
  • Boss, 69hp, 1 dice
  • Good Turn: 12 damage + curse
  • Bad Turn: 2 damage + lock

What’s Good:

Has a very different design that’s very memorable. Can hit very hard, always inflicts some statuses to deal with, which makes her interesting to fight.

What’s bad, and how to fix:

Scathach is great. Gonna maybe take a closer look at the six specific spells she has:

  • (1) The Shadow: 2 damage, blind 3
  • (2) The Wind: 4 damage, lock 2
  • (3) The Ashes: 6 damage, burn all
  • (4) The Cold: 8 damage, freeze 2
  • (5) The Storm: 10 damage, shock + silence
  • (6) The Curse: 12 damage, curse

Yep, that all looks pretty good. I might increase the status on The Cold, freezing 2 dice when you probably have 5 is pretty weak – let’s make it 3. Also, which shock + silence is a good combo, you know what’s better? Shock ALL and silence!

I’ve been thinking it’s a little weird that I don’t have a shock all in the game – it’s very manageable and interesting, after all. But that’s a lot of damage to link to it. Maybe let’s swap the Storm and the Ashes, and change The Storm to do the shock all thing.

Actions:

  • Change The Ashes: Needs 5 instead of Needs 3, increase to 10 damage.
  • Change The Cold: Freezes 3 dice instead of 2.
  • Change The Storm: Needs 3 instead of Needs 5, reduce to 6 damage. Shock ALL and Silence instead of just Shock and Silence.

Boss Summary

An overview:

  • ALL:
    Increase HP by 8.
  • GIRL SCOUT
    Give her a name.
  • DRAGON
    Try a different design for Fire Breath: countdown of 4, 5 fire damage + 2 burn.
    Ditch Wall of Flames
  • FOMORIAN
    Rename to Gym Leader, or something.
  • CHAMPION
    Reduce from 6 dice to 5.
    Rename her Aoife.
  • VAMPIRE
    Have the stake take the last 5 HP from vampires instead of the last 1 HP.
    Change Smog cloud to 3 shock instead of 1, and remove the blind status.
  • SCATHACH
    Change The Ashes: Needs 5 instead of Needs 3, increase to 10 damage.
    Change The Cold: Freezes 3 dice instead of 2.
    Change The Storm: Needs 3 instead of Needs 5, reduce to 6 damage. Shock ALL and Silence instead of just Shock and Silence.

Apparently, mostly what I care about here is names. Hmm! Fair enough. I’m basically pretty happy with the bosses, to be honest.

In conclusion?

So, v0.16 has been out for about a week, and feedback is good! The harder enemies work, for the most part, and all of this is starting to feel more and more final. I’ll likely have at least one more audit before launch, but this is feeling pretty close now.

Phew, that was a lot 🙂 Thanks for reading!

(usual reminders: if you want to know when the game comes out on steam, then you can wishlist us here! Or, if you wanna try out the alpha version right now, it’s available on itch.io for a discount price of just $7.50!)

* 2 Comments

2 Comments so far

  1. mike on March 8th, 2019

    Good work on the new version, Cavanagh and team.
    Artwork is coming along well, growing more and more into its own memorable thing.
    Maybe more variety in the dungeon backgrounds, dungeon paths’ layout, battle screen backgrounds would be great.
    Little dialog cutscenes between fights, those are nice… but don’t have any actual info to communicate.
    New music too, better than before, and before was already pretty jamming. Feels a bit like a throwback to superhexagon.

    It’s also great that you are rethinking the enemies because it was true that after an initial learning curve, a lot of the fights were very predictable and not too menacing (and some were total push-overs by just hitting fast and hard enough).
    It’s great that many enemies are getting tighter, fiercer attacks and better Ai use.

  2. Pace on March 8th, 2019

    That was a great audit; thanks for sharing it! (:

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