Part 21: Darkest Dungeon: We Are the FlameNew Update - Episode 58: We are the Flame
Today we enter the Darkest Dungeon proper this time, and without found-footage anomalies.
The first Darkest Dungeon area, labeled "We are the Flame," is a curious quest. The first thing that's noticeable is your reward of three Talismans of the Flame, which completely protect you from a skill called "Revelation." This will become pertinent at a later time, so remember that these trinkets exist.
"We are the Flame" acts as kind of a tutorial mission for what to expect from the rest of the Darkest Dungeon proper. The first 1/3rd of the area has fixed encounters that quickly ramp up in difficulty; You start by seeing what the so-called "partyboy" Cultists which act as the healers and protectors for the bigger threats, then you get introduced to the Ascended tier of cultists who have enhanced Bleed damage with the Brawler and enhanced Stress damage with the Witch, and finally you are introduced to the Cultist Priest who has a mean kit of both reducing your susceptibility to bleed damage alongside having a strong attack that also does 6 bleed/turn. These enemies are positioned in various configurations in set locations, some of which being a particularly devastating combo of 2x Witches alongside a Brawler and Priest, which is really damn good at making your stress damage skyrocket.
Now about the Darkest Dungeons in general: Due to them being fixed maps and encounters, there are no ambush prompts, no surprised prompts, and no ambushes while camping. Now while this means you are losing the surprise chance for a first strike, this lets you try out more accessories since all the scouting and ambush gear is effectively worthless here. That being said, all the camping skills that give you scouting chance, ambush chance, and more specifically night-time ambush prevention are also of limited use here so you can use different camping skills for the situation rather than burning the 4 time units to use Sanctuary or Hound's Watch. The Darkest Dungeon also has absolutely no curios that you see in the main game nor does it have obstructions, so you don't need to pack Shovels and Keys at all. There is a single chest in each Darkest Dungeon however which gives you access to an Ancestor's Trinket, however I believe the pool of rewards only draws from the Mission Reward pool on the departure map. I say "I believe" because I've grabbed these before and got one accessory I never bothered grabbing on mission select but then chests soon after just gave me cash. One final thing about the Darkest Dungeons in general: Prepare for combat rather than the usual kit of "get the most money." Bring a lot of food for the purpose of off-healing (though starvation can STILL happen!), Bandages and/or Antivenoms for all the powerful DoT's here, Herbs for removing some of the powerful +stress or -dodge debuffs, and Holy Waters for the big fights in each area that typically overwhelm you with both debuffs and DoTs.
As for the "We are the Flame" mission, you are going to be facing a lot of bleed damage here so I would highly recommend bandages and/or a PD. I would also recommend a shuffle party of sorts mainly due to the boss here, which I'll discuss in a second. You don't get any rewards for fights in this area, so I would highly advocate taking the bottom path up until the 4th path upward where you can go up for a free Treasure Chest and also avoid the 2x witch fight along the bottom-most path. From the chest, take the right path and it'll be a straight shot to the boss. The boss for this area is the Shuffling Horror alongside one Cultist Priest, which follows his namesake. The enemy's AI logic is as follows: If you ever kill the Shuffling Horror's buddy, his first of two actions will be committed to using Echoing Disassembly, which does hefty stress damage, reduces your torchlight by an entire tier, and the worst part of restocking said enemy with either a Priest or a Defensive Growth which has a guard action that increases prot. If the Shuffling Horror still has his buddy or used Echoing Disassembly, his next action will be Undulations, which does very minor damage but shuffles your party. Finally, once all other options are exhausted, his last action is Lacerate which hits 1-2 people at random for damage alongside a 4 bleed/turn DoT. Undulations is the main reason why I suggested a shuffle party for this mission even though I don't use one myself, since Undulations will break your party comp every turn and being able to use cool things like the GR's Lunge or HWM's Duelist Advance will expedite the fight significantly. If you also have a ridiculous stun ability such as the HM's Blackjack or the BH's Flashbang, you can also stun him and remove an action so he will only use Undulations for the turn. I would also highly recommend either straight-up ignoring the Priest in the back or stunning him; while killing the extra action would make things less painful, Echoing Disassembly is a brutal skill in terms of stress damage but also the new summon potentially being a guard minion can make the fight way more awful than it needs to be.
Now for my fight in the video, my team really sucked for what I wanted. The big things that influenced my decision was my mistaken mindset of only having 3 vestals with one of them missing, along with all the bleed and stress damage that can exist in there. While the PD was a good asset for general survival and stuns, once you get to the boss her versatility plummets with the shuffles and you won't be removing all the bleed every turn. The occultist was a powerful healer for the moment, however he didn't add much else outside of healing or pulling and all the bleed from the heal would only cause more problems with enemies reducing bleed resist in general. I would say my biggest mistake however was bringing a Crusader; Nothing in this area is Unholy so both Smite and Holy Lance are moot points, and oddly enough he never got shuffled to the back rows a lot so I couldn't Holy Lance anyway. As an alternate, I would highly recommend either a Man-at-Arms, a Bounty Hunter, a Hellion or even a Highwayman on rank 1 due to their ability to attack easily from any position or advance forward to a more opportune spot, along with some Riposte to capitalize on Undulations every turn. I would definitely had used a Highwayman rather than a PD in retrospect, along with replacing the Crusader with a MaA if I ever trained a second one on the LP file.
The next bits are spoiler-rific. Only read them after watching the video or if you've beaten the game.
Your reward for beating the Shuffling Horror is one of the 5 Shambler Ancestor trinkets because he's a mutated shambler so it still counts! Your other reward is a bunch of bullshit that happens in town! For one, the units used in this mission, and any Darkest Dungeon mission in general, now have PTSD and will never go back unless you're in Radiant Mode. Because of this, they also do not count toward your roster which means you basically got a free Barracks upgrade if you want to train more dudes. I have yet to test this myself, but PTSD units also give more XP gained to other party members on other missions, so training up replacements becomes an easier trial, especially if you have the Ancestor's Portrait or cheat with Kickstarter Accessories. This PTSD effect is why I didn't bring a vestal with me since I mistakenly thought I only had 2 available out of the 3 I thought I had, so I didn't think I would have enough for future Darkest Dungeon missions since none would go back after completing one mission there. Your final reward is weird hallucinations in town; NPCs will flicker into alternate designs if you still find yourself upgrading them or shopping there somehow, and the deployment map will also flicker with strange effects when you browse your missions. Your roster will also look bizarre at times. Worry not though, this is purely cosmetic. You've just gained some insight into the truth of the world.
With this update, you can now start talking about specifically this Darkest Dungeon mission "We are the Flame." It brings about some interesting discussion based on the circumstances, so have at you all.