Part 18: Miniboss Guide: The Shambler
The Shambler is a midboss that you can fight in any dungeon, provided you meet the appropriate circumstances. The most common one will be finding a curio called The Shambler's Altar, which does nothing on its own but summon's this boss instantly if you jam a torch in it. Another way you can fight the boss is at random whenever you run around with your torchlight at pitch black. Under either circumstance, this will possibly be the hardest boss bar-none in this game for reasons that will be detailed later.
The shambler's attacks alone aren't all that threatening. Probably his most dangerous attack is Stentorious Lament, which does 10 stress damage augmented by light level and shuffles your party. This move can cause a lot of issues in most parties because characters like the Hellion and Leper love to be in front and have no real way to get there quickly. His other two attacks are variants with DoTs: Obdurous Advancement moves the Shambler forward 1 space, deals low damage and causes a bleed proc; meanwhile Undulating Withdrawal moves the Shambler back a space, does low damage and does a blight proc. However, Advance and Withdrawal are also the big gimmick of the shambler fight because both also summon two of these guys:
The Shambler Spawn are the actual attacks in this fight. They have low HP, high speed and high dodge, so initially hitting them is a bit of a trail. Their only attack is Clapperclaw, which does middling damage and 10 stress damage. Clapperclaw also has a ridiculous attack-rider: It buffs the shambler spawn by +20 ACC, +3 crit, +50% damage, +3 SPD, and +25% PROT. This is where the big issue comes in: unless you manage to kill them on their opening summon or stun them, they will eventually snowball into a gigantic threat with huge damage and speed, browbeating your entire team with ridiculous stress damage.
One final note about the Shambler fight, and probably the big thing that makes it a trial: No matter what you do, you will be fighting him at 0 torch level, which means greatly increased physical/stress damage, and wicked high crits on both ends of the field. Also, the Shambler is guaranteed to get a surprise on you
Its really hard to prepare for a Shambler fight, namely due to how the fight is insanely fixed against your favor. The only times I've actually beaten him are with a bog-standard party involving the Houndmaster's huge stun and the Jester on stress management, but this often struggles with the shuffle that frequently appears. To wit, if you plan to actively hunt a shambler, a shuffle party would give you a huge advantage in terms of fixing formation: Things like the HM's Duelist Advance, the MaA's Shield Bash and the GR's Lunge are good advancing skills that give either raw damage output or a stun to help deal with the ads. In terms of actual strategy, you want to prioritize locking down one shambler spawn with either a stun or just a lucky kill, then get some damage in on the shambler itself. Do *not* ignore the spawns since they are the main damage output, but you aren't going to clear them out completely since the Shambler has effectively a 66% chance of resummoning them. I usually emphasize stunning one since Stuns in general are highly accurate and the spawns have a low stun resist. Sadly this is a fight that is extremely hard to trivialize, and you will be leaving with a boatload of stress damage on your plate.
If you manage to surmount the challenge of the Shambler, you are rewarded with 1 of 5 unique Ancestors Trinkets:
Ancestor's Map: +25% Scouting/Trap Disarm, +10% Stress DMG (Hot Find!)
Ancestor's Bottle: +25% Max HP, +10% Stress DMG
Ancestor's Candle: +15% DMG/+2 SPD/+5 Dodge if torch is above 50, +10% Stress Damage (Hot Find!)
Ancestor's Tentacle Idol: +25% Virtue Chance
Ancestor's Scroll: +25% Healing/Stress Healing received, +10% Stress DMG
I would highly recommend hunting him for the Candle and Map since those trinkets are really busted. Shamblers are super tough though, and are probably one of the big things that kills a new player's heroes, so be careful.