Melee Fighting

Orb Magic

Magic Items

Ranged Weapons






Combat tactics:

Here I'll posit a more general set of guidelines for taking part in combat without getting hit.

The melee weapons, in order of their effectivity:

dual swords (david) 10
bastard sword 9
dual swords 8
long sword 7
broad sword 6
axe 5
short sword 4
mace 3
hammer 2

The specials, in order of their effectivity:

berserker 10
armageddon 9
falcon 8
cleaver 7
whirlwind 5
scythe 4
reaper 3
web of death 1

detailed description:



When using swords, it's worth being aware that melee opponents will often only engage to attack you one-at-a-time. However, when you attack more than 1 opponent (whether intentionally or accidentally) then you may be engaged by 2 or more opponents as a result. If your allies are standing, then enemies will try to attack your party with a monster each. This can cause serious problems as the confusion of who is targetting who comes to bear. Avoid it by staying away from your teammates where possible. If a monster kills a teammate, they will turn to you, which is a common way to get into a 2-on-1 fight.
To fight an opponent with a sword, there are 2 main approaches. The first is effective in a simple 1-1 fight (no incoming projectiles, allies or enemies interfering etc.) Simply perform the lunge move, and as soon as the stabbing sword hits the opponent, use right mouse to dodge backwards, out of retaliation range.
Some opponents will use a special move at times, and when they do this, you'll want to use a shield quickly, rather than try to dodge. In fact the dodge is the only combat action that cannot be interrupted with your shield block, so once you're dodging, you're stuck dodging until the animation is finished, making enemy specials your worst enemy. Be on the lookout against enemies that are capable of specials, and when you see one, stop whatever you are doing and go straight to blocking.

The second common technique you'll be using is a double-hit using a sideways slash followed by a chop. This has the advantage of a quicker 'startup' time, ergo it comes out faster, and so is useful when you're blocking or don't have the time to put out a lunge. It helps you go back on the offensive without overexposing yourself with a short-ranged lunge. Is is also capable of hitting more than 1 target (something that the lunge very rarely does). The reason it will be a double strike is that there is no reason to attack with a sideways swipe without adding the chop. 2 Attacks in the time it takes to make one should be common sense.
To perform the double hit, simply perform a slash (ctrl + mouse1 + left/right), keeping ctrl depressed, and half-way through the swiping animation, click the left mouse button without moving the mouse. You'll do a little 2-hit combo as though you were using dual knightly swords.

The final technique to learn is a relatively simple 'rapid attack'. When using the chop attack (single-click without dragging) your character will execute a hit very quickly, but trying to use many chops after one another results in your character waiting to fully finish a chop animation, walking up to the target if necessary, *then* executing the next chop.
However, if you ensure that you do *not* target an enemy, but instead target a patch of ground while rapid-clicking, your character will interrupt one chop with another, allowing a very quick attack speed.

Ranged Enemies:
In the healing challenge, ranged enemies are your absolute worst nightmare. Dispatching them is difficult without getting hit, and if a fight involves ranged enemies you can't control it like you can a fight against melee opponents. As such, you need to have ways of killing them quickly without letting the situation get out of control. There are a few tactics effective in this situation:

- Charging specials
Particularly 'cleaver', 'falcon' and 'hurricane'. Since ranged enemies usually run away when you get close, you need a faster charge than the lunge can provide. These specials give you this, and thus the ability to quickly kill ranged opponents with melee weapons.

- Lightning 1
A great spell, because of it's ability to 'lock' an opponent in stun animation, which will then prevent them from shooting at you, and prevent them from dodging the next bolt you throw their way. With special tricks (detailed later), it's possible to completely stun-lock any non-boss enemy in the game, but it's rare you even have to resort to tricks to acheive it, almost all the time just firing many lightning 1 bolts after one another will suffice..
Furthermore, the self-cast special from lightning 1 will protect you from nearby enemies to some degree, stunning all those that come near you, giving you more breathing room to kill that ranged opponent.

- Potions
Chaos potions are obviously best for this, but poison gas gaurantees a kill after only a few seconds, and burning oil potions have a similar potency.

- Ice 2
The freezing ability of Ice 2 is useful either to freeze the melee enemies then go after the ranged guys, or running up to the ranged guys, freezing them, then killing them.

- Magic weapons
The real niche that magic weapons (and throwing weapons) fit is in dealing with ranged opponents. If you're fighting a few ranged opponents at the same time, then wimply make sure you're roughly facing all of them, equip a shield and a magic weapon, and block. Whenever you get breathing space in between attacks, fire out a shot from your magic weapon, then get back to blocking. This is probably the safest way of dealing with groups of ranged enemies.

Melee weapons:


Short Sword:

Damage: 6
Range: Average
Designed to: lunge
Rating: 4
The short sword is the most basic weapon in the game. That said, it's rather effective due to a decent lunge range. It is soon made redundant, however, by the broadsword
Broad Sword:

Damage: 11
Range: above average
Designed to: lunge
Rating: 6
An effective weapon, and the simple progression of the shortsword. By the time the broadsword is available, the player has access to the ice wand (sword). It's easy to just equip the ice wand, but a savvy player will switch between the two as situations arise. The broad sword is a little more powerful, but more significantly the broad sword can perform chops, (which are used for double-strikes), and specials, (which allow safe shield use). Magic weapons can't do either of these.
Long Sword:

Damage: 43
Range: Good
Designed to: lunge
Rating: 7
A long time in coming, the long sword finally functions as a sword upgrade to the broadsword. While it is limited in it's slashing and chopping powers, the lunge of this sword is extremely powerful, and it performs good special attacks. It's massive range makes it a relatively safe, albeit weak, slashing weapon too.
Bastard Sword:

Damage: 90
Range: Excellent
Designed to: lunge
Rating: 9
Awesome weapon. A version of the long sword with even more range, an even more powerful lunge, and this time effective slashes too! Even after obtaining the dual knightly swords you will still switch to this monster from time to time to deal with swarm enemies (bats, imps, etc).


Axes and maces are slightly quicker to dispatch enemies than swords. Swords typically do most damage with the 'lunge' attack above. Axes do their best damage with the 'swipe' attack, and maces tend to be best at 'chops'. The reason axes and maces are usually more damaging than swords is because of the 'double-hit' move detailed above, which features a slash and a chop, not a lunge, and the fact that a slash or chop is performed quicker than a lunge.
That being said, the versatility of swords that comes from the massive range and high power of their lunge attacks makes the sword far safer. When you're playing without using healing, you need to hang on to every bit of health you get, and as such it's very rare that you'll ever want to put away your sword in favour of an axe or mace. (Most notably - when Jug first gets a hammer, but other situations do exist - usually involving special attacks and/or multiple melee opponents)

Damage: 12
Range: short
Designed to: slash
Rating: 5
A powerful slashing weapon, the axe is useful to switch to when you know you will be using a special attack, but besides that is usually more trouble that it's worth.
The axe does have a niche, however, which is why I rate it higher than the hammer and mace - the axe is excellent at hitting flying opponents, such as the bats in spires - far superiors to any swords up to the bastard sword.

Damage: 65
Range: short
Designed to: chop
Rating: 2
Chopping weapon, like the axe, this has some use for special attacks, and since it is obtained later in the game it is somewhat practical for special-move strings. By switching to the next special as david finishes the current one, you can chain them together, taking advantage of the invulnerability they afford in order to clear a room in record time.
For general combat, and safety, though, this weapon is an underperformer. Furthermore, unlike the axe, the hammer isn't useful for hitting flying opponents, because by the time you have the hammer, you'll already have the long sword, which is effective at getting flyers itself.

Damage: 70
Range: short
Designed to: chop
Rating: 3
Exactly as the hammer, above, but more effective due to increased damage, and more specials being available. Unfortunately, there are no areas where the mace is really useful from the moment you collect it, up to the fight with kahn, after which you have the bastard sword, which is superior for combat against all opponents.

Dual swords:

Dual Knightly Swords:

Damage: 75
Range: Above-Average
Designed to: lunge
Rating: 8
Rating for David: 10
For all other characters, in a challenge like this one I'd advise the bastard sword + shield. David's damage bonus with the dual knightly swords, though, means there's really no other melee weapon worth using once you have them.
Using them is harder than other weapons, though. First of all, be aware of the way your double-strikes work - The lunge, for example, will get a second hit *very* late in it's animation against certain enemies (such as the black ghosts in deadgate) - david has actually pulled his second stab back before the hit connects. This second hit will only occur on opponents at a short range when you initiate the lunge. It's also worth noting that there are 2 types of chop. One chop is performed when an opponent is directly in front of you, and it hits twice *very* quickly (you usually see fuge use this a few times when fighting grandad). The other chop is done in any other situation, and hits only once.

Fighting with dual knightly swords typically involves lunges and specials. It's slashes are very poor due to their very long animation time. By the time you have the swords you have so many specials that you can use them very frequently, and the damage of dual knightly swords makes many of them 1-hit-kills.
Defense is much harder, however. It's wise to have a finger ready on the '0' key. Unlike other items, shields can be drawn almost instantly, so whenever you see an enemy perform a special, you can hit 0 and block in time. The problem with this is that after blocking you have no sword and no way to quickly arm another sword. The best solution is to use the ring of invisibility for the half second or so it takes to draw the swords again.
This might sound like more trouble than it's worth, but since you'll have them as you fight through the hardest part of the challenge (deadgate & dig) you really need every trick you can muster.
Finally, it's worth mentioning the chop attack. against a defenseless opponent (ice 2?), the chop attack and dual swords supplement each other perfectly. hitting twice per chop, with an incredible attack rate, allows you to execute opponents at an incredible speed.


Specials can only be used with non-magical melee weaopns. They are typically the most powerful attacks of the game, and grant invulnerability to enemy melee attacks while they animate(and only melee attacks - ranged can still hurt you). They are also essentially free, costing only the time they take to charge up.
As such, they are there to be used, and become an important part of the fighting style employed by standard weapons. Specials are alone the reason that most non-magical weapons are better than magical weapons for general fighting.

However, using specials isn't always as straightforward as simply holding the button down. To make sure that specials connect, you have to know your special, and be 'locked on' to your opponent ('locking on' is most easily done using slash moves to turn david to face them).

Furthermore, there is one use that specials have that makes them incredibly imoportant if you want to conserve your health, I refer to it as a 'counter attack'. Some theory is required to explain why it is so important:
In a standard fight, david can defeat an opponent by using the lunge and dodge moves exclusively, with the odd double-slash if you come close to being cornered. However, if there are multiple opponents, or the enemy uses a special, the dodge will not get you out of range of the enemy attack, and you will be hit.
In such situations, using a shield is far safer.
The trouble with using the shield, however, is that it leaves you hiding behind a shield with 1 or more enemy fighters taking shots at you at random intervals. There's no way to predict when the next attack is coming, so there's an unavoidable chance that when you drop your shield to chop (or slash/lunge) you will lose health. If, however, you have a charged special ready, you can hold the attack button *while you have your shield up*. Since specials grant invulnerability to melee attacks, david will go instantly from blocking safely behind a shield, to invulnerability, and perform a powerful attack at close range, that usually gets enough hits to knock your opponent out of any 'danger range'.
This 100% safe way of getting out of the defensive shield cowering is one of the best uses for specials. Furthermore, it is one of the best ways of *using* specials, if you intentionally start blocking, because it gaurantees your special will be performed at close range for maximum damage, and often gives the enemy fighters time to crowd around you before hitting them all.

Finally, while talking about specials it's important to mention the dual knightly swords. I'll need to research more to establish whether the effect is 100%, but it seems dual swords actually inflict 2 hits with a special where other weapons would inflict one. Even armageddon seems to get 2 hits with dual swords. This, obviously, makes switching to dual swords important before unleashing damaging specials, and somewhat balances the fact that dual swords can't use the counter-attack trick.

Web of death :

Damage: poor
Range: poor
Best use: Counter-attack
Rating: 1
A very poor special. The web's best use is against the larger red imps in the library. Since sometimes you have to use the shield to defend against their cleaver special, a counter attack with web of death is usually your best answer.
Similarly, during rain you are often put on the defensive, particularly by the blue dogs. Again, web of death is the safest way to get back on the offensive.
Due to it's short range and low damage, it's one of the few specials that you tend to stop using as the game progresses.

Reaper :

Damage: below average
Range: poor
Best use: Counter-attack
Rating: 3
The reaper special looks as if it's designed for crowd-control. At this, reaper is quite poor - due to it's limited range it's hard to hit more than 2 opponents with it. The plus point is that reaper can perform 2 hits (more with dual swords) at a higher damage than web of death, making it a useful counter-attack special.

Cleaver :

Damage: above average
Range: good
Best use: Assassination
Rating: 7
A very powerful special, doing a large amount of damage with a hit. The cleaver's damage ramps up with your weapon well. A cleaver special will inflict up to 2 hits on a target depending on positioning, but usually only inflicts 1.
However, with dual swords the 2 hits are pretty much gauranteed. In fact more can be obtained if the positioning is abnormal.
Since it is the second most aggressive (moving forward) special, and the fastest of those, it is great for running around the melee hoardes and killing that all-important opponent - the archer or caster.
As the game progresses, never neglect cleaver. It is still one of your best specials, and recharges much more quickly than the later ones.

Scythe :

Damage: poor
Range: average
Best use: crowd control
Rating: 4
The scythe is used for clearing large groups of enemies. It is harder to get double hits with than reaper, but it has a much longer range, and advances on the enemy more. It also has a long animation time, and with that a long invulnerability time.
Overall, though, it's lack of damage makes it a rather poor special.

Falcon :

Damage: high
Range: very good
Best use: assassination
Rating: 8
Falcon is a lot like cleaver. However, falcon is more powerful, has a longer range, and capable of hitting multiple targets. It is an awesome special, and the average recharge time make it possibly the most versatile special in the game. Massive damage, up to 3 hits on a target, area attack on landing, There's really nothing bad to say about falcon.

Whirlwind :

Damage: high
Range: average
Best use: crowd control
Rating: 6
Whirlwind functions a lot like falcon. The difference is that whilrwind doesn't charge forward anywhere near as much, but emphasises the damage of it's area blast on landing, rather than the sword hits. This makes whirlwind the perfect special for clearing a large crowd of melee opponents. Unfortunately, it compares very poorly to falcon or cleaver in terms of hitting a single target, because it doesn't advance on them - it's close range and takes some time before hitting, giving them a chance to move away. Given it's large recharge time, whirlwind falls behind quite a bit in it's utility.

Berserker :

Damage: Extreme
Range: poor
Best use: on trapped opponents
Rating: 10
Probably the best special in the game. With a name like berserker, you'd expect this special to be a no-brain brute-force attack. On the contrary, berserker is probably the most tactical of all the special attacks. It does mediocre damage on targets it hits before they are knocked out of range, and releases little energy bolts at random enemies that add significantly to the damage after they have been knocked away.
However, the true power of berserker is shown when an enemy is incapable of getting knocked out of range by the first few hits. If your opponent is stuck with his back to a wall, or frozen, then berserker will get an extraordinary amount of hits on them, all for massive damage.
In fact, there is no monster, including bosses, in the whole game, that can survive a single berserker special when performed in this way.

Armageddon :

Damage: very high
Range: extreme
Best use: nuke
Rating: 9
The no-brainer of the specials, armageddon requires little explanation... Equip your most powerful weapon (dual knightly swords, or bastard sword with vivienne) and release it to hurt every enemy on the screen. Then wait an age for it to recharge.
For david with dual knightly swords, I haven't seen an enemy fail to die from armageddon. For other characters, it's worth quickly shifting to light magic after your argageddon, and casting light on yourself. Light self also hits every enemy on the screen for big damage, and this will finish off the survivors.
Note - the damage from armageddon is classed as magic damage, not special damage. There are some enemies in the game that are vulnerable to special attacks (such as silver's robots), and others that are immune to magic (many bosses, including silver's robots). Armageddon functions like magic against these, not as a special.