I’m going to cover the fundamentals of Tangledeep. This guide assumes you’ve played the tutorial levels, and have played a few normal levels and died once or twice. You should already understand the basic controls and flow of the game. When you’re done with this video you’ll be ready to begin your adventure in confidence.
Lesson Zero: The Roguelike Mindset
In a Roguelike, when your character dies, it’s gone. Permanently. You don’t get attached to a single character, as you’ll probably play and lose dozens of characters over your time playing the game. That might sound drastic, but it’s really the core of what makes a Roguelike fun. When you progress in a Roguelike, or beat the final boss, you’ve really earned. When you win it’s because you finally played so perfectly that you never died. That makes Roguelikes both more punishing and more rewarding.
This also means that Roguelikes are meant to be replayed, over and over. Roguelikes also have randomly generated levels, random chance side areas, random enemies with random abilities, and random items with random traits and stats. You’ll always be playing roughly the same game, but it will never be identical any two times you play it. Roguelikes keep their replayability much longer than a normal adventure game, by virtue of their difficulty and the randomly generated content. I’ve played a bit over twenty characters for a total of one hundred hours of Tangledeep, and still only managed to beat the standard game a few times, with an entirely separate game mode and two more difficulty levels still left for me to work through.
Tangledeep, strictly speaking, is more of a “rogue lite”. While in the recommended game mode character death is still permanent, you also get meta progress in the form of an item stash and tamed pets which persist between characters. This meta progress helps your future characters get back to where your old character was more easily. As a long time Roguelike player, I find this is a nice balance between the gruelling difficulty of strict Roguelikes and traditional adventure games.
Still, it’s important to keep a Roguelike mindset in Tangledeep. What I mean by that is not getting attached to any one character. Knowing that if you make a mistake you might lose a character you’ve invested hours in to forever, with no chance to just reload a save. You need to have a mindset that losing is fun, that the challenge is what grants the reward. Tangledeep can be very hard when you’re starting out, and that’s why playing it becomes very fun. As you adopt this mindset you’ll find that character death isn’t all that upsetting, because you know that you have another cool idea for a build that you’ve theory-crafted from your stash, and you can get back to where you were before pretty easily through your meta progress.
Above all, enjoy the challenge and you’ll have a blast.
Lesson One: Choosing a Difficulty
So which difficulty should you play on? To help you decide, ask yourself the following question: am I OK with losing a character I’ve invested four to eight, or even twelve, hours in when fighting the last boss and having to start a new character? Make sure to answer honestly. If you’re OK with that scenario, you might be fine starting on Heroic. If there’s any doubt in your mind, however, just start on adventure mode. Once you’ve played through the game the first time and understand the flow you can play on heroic like the rest of us.
The thing I want to avoid with this advice is the following scenario: you start playing Tangledeep, decide you’re OK with permadeath and begin with heroic to preserve your gamer ego. Then, eight hours in to one of your first characters, you die to some mechanic you didn’t know about, or some unexpected strong monster, or some inescapable boss fight that was much hard than you anticipated. You get so frustrated with that death that you shut off the game and never play it again.
This scenario is what drives most people away from Roguelikes early on in their experience with them. That’s why I want to encourage you to play in adventure mode unless you’re an experienced Roguelike player and 100% sure you’re OK with permadeath.
Finally, keep in mind that if you start a save in adventure mode, you can always just create a new heroic mode character in the same slot, and you even get to keep your meta progress. Likewise, if you start on heroic, you can make an adventure mode character in the same slot with no penalty.
Health and healing in Tangledeep are harder to come by than most games. You don’t regenerate health naturally, and there are very few healing abilities in the game. The ones that do exist are unreliable and usually not powerful enough to sustain you on their own, and should be viewed as marginal improvements to your tankiness than a true solution to infinite health.
There are four main sources of healing which are available to all characters in Tangledeep:
Purchasing a full heal from an NPC in town
Healing with food
Healing with your flask
Healing with consumable non-food items
Whenever possible, you should purchase full heals from the NPC in town. Keep in mind that the cost of each healing session goes up the more you use it on a single game day, but will reset to a cheaper fee when an in-game day passes. I don’t mean that you should portal back to town any time you need to heal, but rather that if you’re in town anyway and at less than full health you should heal from the NPC. Likewise if you’re in a safe area but low on health you might portal to town to heal, buy some food, and drop off items or gear in your stash. Gold is generally much easier to find than healing items.
If you’re low on gold, or have an excess of food, or can’t portal to safety for any reason, your next best option is to use food items. Keep in mind that food items take one turn to use, have a shared cooldown, and usually heal you over time. So after eating any food item you won’t be able to eat another food item for eight to sixteen turns depending on what you ate. Food that restores health typically has the longest cooldown. The healing from food can be very powerful, so it’s a great way to sustain during a long fight. You might also eat food to pass a turn just before you engage a tough champion or boss.
The next option is to use your healing flask. The key differences between the flask and food is that flasking does not take a turn, and your flask may apply special buffs when active. As such you should prefer to use your flask while you’re in non-trivial combat, and food whenever you can spare a turn and don’t need a flask buff. There is one caveat: when collecting flask charges, you’ll receive two charges at a time when you’re below 25 charges, and just one charge at 25 or more. When you have an abundance of flask charges, it may make sense to top off your health with one instead of consuming a food item.
Choosing whether to flask or use food is more of an art than a science. As a guiding principle, remember that in challenging combat you’ll want to have both flask and food active. This means you should try to never run out of either one. So sometimes you should make an exception to these guidelines to make sure you’re ready for tough fights.
Finally, there are instant consumables. These should be reserved for true emergencies. They take a turn to use, but have no shared cooldown. This means you can use several consecutively to tank through an unavoidable attack, or other emergency situations. Use these sparingly, and only in dire circumstances, as they’re fairly rare. However, if you feel pressured and have no better options don’t be afraid to use them.
To review, you should generally using healing in the following order of preference: NPC heals in town, healing food, healing flask, and finally healing consumables. A few final thoughts on health and healing before we move forward:
You should try to keep your health as high as possible. Tangledeep is full of unexpected dangers, including champions with surprising amounts of damage and swarms of monsters that can be difficult to avoid. Having full health will greatly improve your odds of surviving an unexpected situation.
Following this point, try to collect as many healing options as possible. I purchase all available food from the food vendor when I’m in town, make a point to collect any food or potions that drop from monsters, and collect any flask charges I come across. With careful management and focus on collecting health options, you’ll be able to sustain yourself through any challenge you encounter.
Lesson Three: Survival
The keys to survival are preparation and awareness. You must be constantly vigilant in assessing your current situation and understanding the risks presented to you. You must also prepare for challenges before they arrive. Reacting to an unexpected threat is much more dangerous than executing a premade plan for dealing with it.
In large part preparation means managing your resources (especially health and healing as managed in the last section). Additional resources to manage include escape and mobility skills, defensive combat skills, and utility items.
Mobility is an essential capability in Tangledeep. You don’t have to defeat a dangerous enemy if you can simply run from it. Mobility is so important that it’s one of the first things you should acquire. I’ll discuss this more in the lesson about changing jobs, but mobility is so critical it’s worth spending gold, time, and job points to acquire it from another class if your class is lacking.
As with most games, the more mobile force gets to decide when an engagement takes place, or if it takes place at all. A mobility advantage is easy to gain over most enemies in Tangledeep. So take your mobility skill early, and save it for critical moments to escape from danger. Most importantly, do not use your movement skills to engage an enemy. You are most vulnerable while those skills are on cooldown.
Additionally, make use of mobility and utility items when you’re in danger. To quote zircon, Tangledeep’s lead developer: “a scroll of teleportation is basically a get out of jail free card”. Teleport scrolls have no cooldown or energy cost. You can cast several in a row if you’re being pursued or find yourself in very deep trouble. Combined with your job’s mobility skills, a healthy supply of TP scrolls can get you out of nearly any situation.
Make sure you’re always prepared to run, because you’ll never know when you have to.
The other side of survival is awareness. This will be difficult at first as you won’t know which monsters are dangerous, or which champion abilities threaten your specific build. As a general rule, if you are not confident that you can safely win a certain fight, you should avoid it or at least be ready to turn and run if things aren’t going your way.
There are a few practical tips I can give you here. First, each floor and monster will have an estimated challenge rating based on your character’s level of strength. Anything “tricky” or above should be considered a credible threat. Very Hard or above should be avoided until you’re stronger.
This next tip is a bit subtle, but will help you avoid unexpected amounts of damage as a beginner. Generally speaking, the easier an ability is to avoid, the more damage it will do. For example, consider abilities that create floor hazards like fire or poison. Those abilities only deal damage if you walk on to them or sit on the tile they occupy. They’re easily avoided, which is good because they deal massive amounts of damage, especially over multiple turns.
Likewise, charged abilities, which will highlight the squares or units they target before damaging them are typically very strong. The fewer tiles they cover, the stronger they will be. In particular, sniper type monsters which charge an attack aimed at a single unit deal some of the highest damage in the game.
Note that charged attacks come in two varieties: one targeting squares on the map relative to the monster’s position, and one targeting individual units. When you see a red, dotted, curve between a monster and yourself, that means you’re being targeted as a unit. Simply moving to another tile will not be enough to dodge the attack. You’ll instead need to move out of the attacker’s line of sight to dodge the ability.
You should never ignore abilities like this, as they can very easily end the run of even a strong character.
Lesson Four: Pets
Like player characters, pets have stats, abilities, and experience points. Abilities are constant for any given pet, but stats and HP will increase over time as the pet gains experience. Pets can also be bred to create a new pet with a combination of skills and stats from its parents. This is a separate topic, but consistent and thoughtful breeding can yield very powerful pets which will help your new characters get to the mid or late game much more easily. My level 15 Verdigrizzly can carry me all the way to the third boss without any difficulty, and remains a valuable sidekick even through the final boss.
Pet mechanics are covered well in-game, and you can read the wiki for details or a refresher.
For this section I want to stress three key points.
First, you should get a pet as soon as possible, and you should fill your corral with a variety of strong monsters that you encounter as you play.
Second, you should always have a pet with you. This will let your pet gain experience and grow stronger, and will help your character move more safely through the dungeon.
Third, and most importantly, always buy pet insurance. When a pet reaches zero HP it returns safely to the corral. However, its happiness is set to zero when this happens without insurance. This means you’ll need to feed it valuable food to increase its happiness in order to bring it with you again. The higher the pet’s level, the more food you’ll need to feed it. Pet insurance is very cheap, just 75 gold when your character is level one, up to about 1200 gold at higher levels. It’s almost always cheaper than the food you’ll need to feed to an unhappy pet.
Lesson Five: Your Starting Job
So, what makes a good starting job? This might sound familiar, but durability and mobility are ideal traits for the early game. These will give you the best chance at making it to the late game, at which point you can build a strong interesting late game character from the resources you’ve acquired.
A note on job “difficulty” before we continue: jobs have a rating from “easy” to “hard” on selection UI. These difficulties refer to the mechanical complexity of the job, not the difficulty of playing that job through the game. You should disregard these difficulty levels when making a choice of your starting job unless you’re new to RPGs and theory crafting. All of the jobs have pretty intuitive “ideas” behind them for experienced gamers.
Following the principles stated above, here are some recommendations for starting jobs:
Paladin has a passive that incentivizes using a shield, significant stuns, and can make good use of a variety of one-handed weapons. They also have strong active abilities including a healthy amount of in-class mobility and damage abilities. I recommend paladins as the first job people should play in Tangledeep because it’s forgiving, powerful, and versatile.
Budoka deals an incredible amount of damage despite not (typically) using a weapon. Their passives, active skills, and the unarmed weapon masteries give them incredible damage potential. Unlike all other class, Budoka are not dependent on having a strong weapon. This insulates them from some of the RNG inherent in Tangledeep. A strong combination of single-target and area damage as well as good in-class synergy between passive and active skills makes Budoka a reliable class to get you into the late game.
Sword dancers are closer to a glass cannon job, but as with these other classes have incredible damage potential. Their skills incentivize focusing on parry chance, which allows them to have defensive capability while wielding a two-handed sword. Sword dancers are incentivized to use a single weapon type (swords) more than other classes, so they’re dependent on finding a strong weapon of that type. Outside of this limitation, sword dancers are flexible, durable for the amount of damage they can deal, and synergize well with skills from other classes to round out their kit.
Don’t feel limited to just the classes I’ve suggested. Once you’ve gained some meta-progress and a strong pet, any class can get to the late game without much difficulty. So once you understand the game mechanics feel free to experiment with other starting classes. Theorycrafting is a huge part of Tangledeep, so if you have strong gear in your stash that seems like a good fit for another class just roll a character and try it out.
However if you’re unsure what to pick, you really can’t go wrong with Paladin, Budoka, or Sword dancer.
Lesson Six: Gearing Up
As you gain more experience, you’ll be able to intuitively sort out which type of gear best fits your build. As a beginner, however, the options can be overwhelming. When you’re first starting out, it’s fine to use the percentage change indicator in the equipment screen to decide which weapon and armor are strongest. However, as you learn more about the game you should start looking at gear more critically.
When choosing weapons and armor during the early and mid game, don’t feel constrained to your job’s starting weapon type. Just because a Paladin is drawn weilding a sword doesn’t mean they have to use a sword for the entire game. Early on, just use the weapon with the best damage and modifiers to get you into the late game. Once you have a large amount of gear to choose from you can decide on your late game weapon, which you’ll take masteries for. Of course, some builds heavily reward using a certain weapon type over another, but so take that with a grain of salt.
Choosing armor can be tricky. Not only do armor pieces have a wide variety of modifiers that can be very strong or nearly useless depending on the rest of your build, it comes in three types with different tradeoffs. Light armor offers little resistance, but gives CT and dodge chance which can be very strong with mobile single-target builds. Medium armor is a balance of dodge chance and resistance, but doesn’t do either quite as well as light or heavy armor. And finally heavy armor is the all-in tank armor type, offering very large resistance and damage reduction. Heavy armor has a major drawback though. The “loud steps” trait which attracts monsters to you can result in very large crowds of monsters swarming you at once. This can easily outweigh the improved physical resistance.
Consider a scenario with four monsters. With medium armor you may be able to fight them as two separate groups of two with, say, 10% average damage mitigation. With heavy armor you might attract all four at once. Even with 20% or 30% damage mitigation, you’ll still be taking almost twice as much damage during the early part of the fight. In that sense, heavy armor can actually make you take more damage than medium armor.
For that reason, I recommend medium armor to new players as it offers a good mix of dodge and resistance without the loud steps drawback. This can make combat much easier to manage.
Unfortunately I can’t go in-depth on gear selection for this video, as this varies widely between characters. I do have some guiding principles for you though.
Gear is the aspect of your build which you have least control over. Think about it: you get to choose which skills you take first, which pet you bring with you, which masteries to take, which job trial to run, and how to distribute your extra stats. With gear, you have to improvise with what you’re given. Keeping this in mind, try to select gear which will synergize with the rest of your abilities, and which you can compensate for with things you’re able to control. A couple examples: gear with elemental resistance is great for most melee classes, as you’ll want to put extra stat points into strength, which will grant you both damage and physical resistance. So items with elemental resistance synergize well by rounding out your resistance with something you won’t get from the standard character build.
Likewise, dagger users will naturally want to put stats in strength or guile, giving them base damage and crit chance. They’ll often have passives that synergize with and boost crit chance, so modifiers granting crit damage (which would require points in swiftness normally) synergize well with their natural stat build.
Again, this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to gear selection but these examples should give you some direction when choosing gear.
Lesson Seven: Extending Your Character
First and foremost: item dreams. Item dreams let you increase the power of existing items, and add additional modifiers. These are essential to any Tangledeep run, so get in the habit of doing item dreams when you’ve found worthwhile gear and are able to handle the dream difficulty for that gear.
Again, you have to improvise with the gear your given. Choose gear that has the best modifiers for your build. You can reliably improve the damage, resistance, or stat boosts of any piece of gear to effectively increase its rank. It is much less reliable to get specific modifiers for a naturally high ranked piece of gear. For that reason you should take gear with good modifiers even if the stats are weak, and use item dreams to upgrade their power. In normal gameplay you can upgrade items three times. You can also remove modifiers that are useless or actively harmful to your build in order to reroll a new one through item dreams. In this video, I can only give brief guidance on item dreams:
Don’t take an item dream if the final difficulty is listed as “hard” or above. Item dreams have tons of random variance, so a dream listed as “hard” can easily become “impossible” when you actually get to the last floor. Dying in an item dream is like dying in the dungeon, so be defensive here and don’t risk your whole character for a 10% damage increase.
Do take item dreams whenever its safe to do so. Having stronger gear in the mid game can greatly increase your chances to get to the late game, so don’t wait until your character is maxed out to do item dreams.
Do save orbs of revery in your stash. They’re fairly limited so having a large stash of orbs, which only take a single slot in your stash, can give you more options for your following characters. You should also save lucid orbs with particularly strong modifiers. Anything that grants bonus elemental damage, elemental resistance, or +20 of a single stat are top tier orbs you should either use immediately for the guaranteed mod or save for a character that will benefit from them.
Do extract good modifiers from bad items. If you have a good supply of orbs of revery, you can extract a shard from an item, which will destroy the item in the process. If you collect three shards of the same type they will create a lucid orb for that modifier. In this way you can guarantee a strong modifier gets applied to a strong item. This can be incredibly powerful, but also becomes very expensive unless you’ve saved orbs of revery from multiple characters.
Next, taking skills from other jobs. As mentioned earlier, some skills synergize very well with, or make up for holes in other jobs. For example, classes lacking mobility should take mobility skills from other jobs. Shadowstep or escape artist from brigand, and grapple from hunter, are the top three best mobility skills in the game. You should aim to have at least two instant mobility skills as you enter the late game. The more you have, the better.
Taking elemental damage types from other classes can also be useful if you lack other sources of elemental damage. Late game monsters can have very strong resistances to several or even all damage types. Ideally you should have strong sources of physical, shadow, and lightning damage. If you can’t get sources for those in particular, at least try to collect two different elements in addition to physical damage.
Finally, make sure to max out your passive slots. You can equip four “support” skills in Tangledeep, and most classes only have two or three. If you’re not sure what passives to get, I always recommend “Steel Resolve” from Budoka and “Blood Tracking” from hunter. Steel resolve makes you 100% immune to stuns and crits, which are two things that could end your run without counterplay in the late game. It’s such a good passive I consider a must-have for all characters. Blood tracking can give you a 20% damage boost to enemies after attacking them, which is great for very durable enemies including bosses.
Weapon masteries are another great way to extend your character heading into the late game, but are only usable when wielding the appropriate type of weapon, so they’re best taken once you’ve more or less settled on a late game weapon type. They’re also fairly expensive in terms of JP, so you’re usually better off taking weapon masteries after you’ve maxed out your core class skills. Weapon masteries typically include a passive skill which increases the utility of the chosen weapon class, a couple of situational active skills, and a weapon ultimate. The ultimate abilities often cost no stamina or energy, but have very long cooldowns. Some of the most powerful skills in the game are weapon ultimates, so you’ll definitely want to pick these up when you’re able.
And finally, job trials. I leave these for last as they’re usually marginal improvements to niche parts of your core job. The bonuses themselves are often underwhelming and cost 1000 JP each. The job trials also have restrictions: you must unequip passives not learned from the job, you can’t bring a pet, you get a limited charge temporary flask, and can use only a few consumable items. They’re quite dangerous, and have a pretty minor reward for the cost, but the job emblem is an improvement and will even increase your core stats. It’s worth doing, but isn’t quite as great as the other options listed here.
Lesson Eight: Boss Fights
First, boss fights are pretty clearly marked, as they’ll have a special level immediately before them. You can find more information on the wiki, but if you go through a level that has a very distinct look and multiple downward staircases as you enter it, you’re probably on a pre-boss level and should make sure you’re prepared before proceeding.
Bosses themselves usually have much higher HP pools than normal monsters you’d encounter on a similar floor, and have unique attacks that potentially deal a lot of damage. All bosses after the first also have unique resistances, so you’ll need to make sure you have a variety of elemental damage in order to deal with them. Again, you can not escape from a boss fight, so once you’re in you’re committed.
Bosses can also jump up considerably in difficult compared to the previous floor. You shouldn’t enter a boss fight unless the floor before it is “tricky” or below. You can backtrack through a different branch than you entered to help level up some more or find better gear. Doing an item dream is also a good way to level and improve your gear if you’re not confident heading into a boss fight.
It should go without saying, but always heal up and restore your stamina and energy before beginning a boss fight.
While in the boss fight, let your pet take the lead so you can observe any special mechanics. Make sure you have healing and mobility options to run away from the boss and heal up when things get tricky. Don’t be afraid to spend utility items like TP scrolls or emergency items like Super Mint Brews to help get you through the fight. Some bosses come with a small group of minions as well. Try to pick off the minions before engaging with the boss proper so that you don’t have to fight the entire room as well as the boss.
Finally, more than any other situation in Tangledeep, play defensively. Flask as soon as you’re below max HP to stay topped up. Eat food early, not just when you’re already about to die. Use mobility skills if needed to avoid charged abilities or floor hazards.
At all times respect that bosses in Tangledeep are meant to be lethal, and serve as a gateway to the next phase of the game.
Lesson Nine: Miscellaneous Tips
Watch the upper left corner of your screen for status effects. Buff and debuff icons are shown here, and you can hover over them to see the duration and description of the effects. This information is also available on your character status screen in the menu. Keep an eye on debuffs that lower your attack, defense, or resistance. Note the duration of sealed, rooted, or paralyzed effects to plan your next few moves.
Extra turns are pretty good, so keep an eye on your CT counter. If you know you’ll get an extra turn after the current one you might use a consumable healing item to help you tank through upcoming damage.
Ranged weapons deal reduced damage when you’re immediately next to an enemy (unless you’re currently a Hunter). In general you should keep a melee weapon as your active weapon, and let the game automatically switch to an equipped ranged weapon when targeting an enemy beyond melee reach.
Weapons and skills with shadow elemental damage can reduce the shadow resistance of enemies hit by it. Shadow elemental damage is great for enemies with resistances to all elements.
You can cancel your portal while it’s activating, so if you’re unsure about being able to win a fight, you might activate your portal preemptively to let it charge. If things get bad, you can let it complete and go heal up, or cancel it if the fight turns out well.
After you’ve portaled out, you don’t have to use the portal to get back to where you were. If your return portal is in a very bad position (for example, surrounded by monsters) it may be better to faster travel by pressing the portal button in town, and come back to your previous floor through staircases.
Don’t break pandora’s boxes unless you really know what you’re doing. The difficulty increases is much more significant than the bonuses they provide, and breaking many boxes can make your game much, much harder.
Certain side areas provide huge benefits to a knowledgeable player. While early side levels can be underwhelming, try to clear any new side area you encounter as the mid and late game areas have very powerful NPCs and shops.
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