Speedrunning Dicing Knight
The Goal, the Short Story
In short, your goal is to get to the end of the game's 5th dungeon and kill the boss. This gives you the closest thing to an ending the game has. You get access to a second playable character and unlock a bonus "Endless" dungeon.
The only thing that matters is beating the boss there. You don't have to actually finish any of the other dungeons (though you have to gain some experience to open dungeons as you go).
Spelunking and Powering Up
Each dungeon is multiple floors of randomly generated rooms and randomly placed enemies. In each floor, you must find the Floor Key as an enemy drop, then find the exit. It's very Roguelike-ish. At the end of each dungeon there's a boss.
Each boss has three phases each with a 30 second timer. If you fail to kill the boss in that time, it'll progress to the next phase automatically; if you fail to kill the final phase in time, the boss will flee and give you no drop or experience.
You begin at Level 0, with no power-up orbs, and access to only the game's first dungeon. The five main dungeons are...
- Lindwurm: 3 floors, accessible from the start. Floor key drops after 9 kills
- Shootingstar: 4 floors, accessible at level 1. Floor key drops after 11 kills
- Jabberwock: 5 floors, accessible at level 3. Floor key drops after 14 kills
- Quetzalcoatl: 6 floors, accessible at level 4. Floor key drops after 17 kills
- Jormugandr: 12 floors, accessible at level 5 (8000 EXP). Unknown floor key drop rate. Probably around 20 kills
Within the dungeon, you can find a slew of usable items. You can carry up to four of these and they are lost when you exit the dungeon either via a death or a win. The usable items are...
- Drill: Break up to three blocks of wall. Useful for building new paths and skipping gates
- Heal Potion: Heals you, usually for about a third of your max HP
- Dungeon Map: Instantly reveals the entire floor of the map
- Dice Foresee: Lets you see the results of coming rolls. Mostly useless
- Fortune: For a limited time, all your rolls are 6 and all enemy rolls are 1
- Time Stop: Freezes time for a few moments. Works on all but the last boss
- Invincible: Makes you invincible for a few moments, doesn't seem to work on bosses
- Gate Key: Opens a gate within a dungeon floor
- Floor Key: Opens the exit door that blocks the way to the next floor
- Ultralife: Restores a large amount of health. Rare
- Onigiri: Restores some of your food. Consumed on pick-up
- Super Drink: Restores practically all of your food. Rare
- Exit Wing: Either takes you straight to the boss or the next floor. Ultra rare
Each time you level up you gain an orb slot and maybe access to a new dungeon. Each time you kill a boss, you get lottery tickets that let you buy a randomly chosen orb to put in those slots. The orbs are...
- Black: EXP gain up
- White: HP up (one additional bar per), and heal potions become more effective
- Blue: Item drop rate up
- Red: Gives an additional power attack bar per. Each bar seems to give 4 more dice to a Shine Slash
- Yellow: Defense up
- Green: Regeneration. You turn food into HP while standing still; not a good return
- Purple: Food up
You can also get a bomb out of the lottery machine. A bomb uses up the ticket and gives nothing in return and if you have orbs on the floor you haven't picked up yet, you lose those too. I pick up each orb as it comes out though so that's not an issue; it's the lost ticket that hurts.
Your experience is determined by a SUM OF BEST of your dungeons, meaning you can't grind. If you do Lindwurm one time and get 1000 EXP, then do it again and get 900 EXP, the second run was a waste of time.
Combat and Techniques
When fighting enemies, you have four abilities...
- Pressing A will swing your sword in a standard slash. By default this causes one die of damage and gives you one pip of in your power attack gauge.
- Holding B will raise your shield, which will protect you from most attacks, and raise your power attack gauge as you block.
- Holding B and pressing A executes a power attack that uses one power gauge and surrounds you with fire for a moment, causing damage and blocking shots.
- Holding A and pressing B uses Shine Slash, which causes a powerful series of slashes that causes a massive amount of damage and drains all power gauges, doing more damage for each one.
A lot of enemies can be killed in one or two slashes. The ones that can't can be killed with a quick Shine Slash, which can be recharged freely by blocking enemy shots. Some enemies fire an entire slew of shots that will instantly max out your power gauge, so power is not hard to come by.
One down side to constantly blocking is that it will drain your food gauge. Your food gauge sits in the top right and, if it depletes, any further reduction to food will instead be taken from your HP. This is obviously deadly.
Optimal movement through the dungeon would involve avoiding all battles, but you have to get the key to exit the floor, and it's nice to have some heal potions and fortunes for boss fights; so optimal movement usually involves killing anything that can easily be killed until the key drops, then rushing to find the exit.
I call it "The" glitch because it's the only real one in the game we're aware of. A proper name for it would be the "Dungeon Skip Glitch".
The glitch, when executed properly, will take you immediately to the last floor of your current dungeon, requiring you to only pass one floor and kill the boss to finish a dungeon. This will be used during the run on ALL dungeons, skipping all but the last floor of each one.
The glitch is simple to execute. You need to enter a dungeon so it becomes the last one you entered, then exit immediately either via the Floor 1 door or death. Once back on the map, select that dungeon again, move the menu cursor to "New Map" then back to "Continue", then cancel the menu, cancel again to go back to the main menu, then enter the dungeon with "Continue" normally. If done correctly, you'll appear on the bottom floor of the dungeon.
This can go wrong. If you try to execute this glitch on a dungeon that is not the most recent one you entered, you'll get ejected into a black void and your only option will be to starve yourself to death by using your shield until your food runs out.
This has one notable side-effect: During boss fights, the timer will be glitched and you won't be able to tell how much time you have left. Also in some cases the messages that print in the top-left of the screen can be made non-sensical (frex: the "Use Heal Potion" message printing when you attack with Shine Slash, and other crazy things). Neither of these are big deals.
The Any% Route
Any% has one goal: kill the boss of Jormugandr. This is divided into three sub-goals...
- Unlock Jormugandr by reaching the required level
- Gather the orbs needed to make killing the boss possible
- Go kill the boss
Due to the random nature of the game, how this gets done can change from run to run. In general a run will look like this though...
- Glitch to the end of Lindwurm, Shootingstar, and Jabberwock and kill the bosses. Each will unlock the next dungeon and give lottery tickets
- If Jormugandr is not unlocked yet, glitch to the end of Quetzalcoatl and attempt the boss. Even an attempt should give enough EXP to unlock Jormugandr
- Once Jormugandr is unlocked, if I don't have a good orb loadout, grind orbs in Jabberwock or Quetzalcoatl
- Glitch to the end of Jormugandr and kill the boss
Quetzalcoatl's boss may be optional depending on orb loadout and EXP when you get there. Just killing the first two forms gives 3000 EXP and should be more than enough to reach level 5, but finishing it gives lottery tickets and will probably get you close enough to 6 that you'll bump over if you fail a Jormugandr attempt. It's worth doing if you can, but if your orbs don't allow it, it's not a big deal.
It is not required that you kill every boss in Any%. You'll still finish the game even if a boss is left unkilled and, once you unlock Jormugandr, killing bosses only gives you orbs. Level is completely irrelevant once you have the dungeon access and orb slots you want. You will not, however, unlock Ouroboros. Not a problem in an Any% run since Any% ends at getting Fortuner.
Boss strategies are basically "Block attacks until you max power then Shine Slash". Notable exceptions...
- Jabberwock Phase 3: This phase has a mechanic unique to the game. The black holes the boss fires don't hurt you, but they suck dice into them. Any dice sucked in simply don't resolve for you. You'll need to bait the hole on a slow long shot across the room then pound the boss while he can't fire again. Timeout is a real worry here.
- Quetzalcoatl Phase 3: Have a Time Stop. That's my best advice. Actually that's my best advice for all bosses. Just Time Stop their phase 3.
- Jormugandr Phase 1: If you kill a cube, two will take its place and Phase 2 will use these cubes as artillery. If you do go for the kill you'll do it with 5 seconds left anyway. Just let the phase run out. It's 5 seconds loss for an easier phase 2.
- Jormugandr Phase 2: Run in a circle in the opposite direction and Shine Slash through the woman. Keep your shield up to pick up fireballs to build power.
- Jormugandr Phase 3: Oh god. This is a mirror match against an enemy who can also Shine Slash. Keep your shield up for the fireballs. When she starts her Shine Slash, immediately counter with your own. You get I-frames during your Shine Slash, she does not. This is why you need Life/Def Up.
Extended Orb Loadout Thoughts
This is done under the assumption that I'll be level 5 or 6 going into the final boss. It's worth noting that if I die in Jormugandr I can end up coming back to the main menu at up to level 8, so I can stack more orbs up and try again with a stronger character.
First let's talk about red (Attack) orbs. Red orbs do two things: add an additional power bar and increase your base Shine Slash damage. During a boss this translates to "Shine Slash hits harder" and is good. However to make Shine Slash hit harder, you need to block more shots.
In general, the ideal number of red orbs is the number required to take a boss's biggest volley and barely max your power gauge out. This is 2 or 3 depending on boss; I tend to favor having 2.
Next let's talk about white (HP) and yellow (Defense) orbs. It's good to have as many as you can get, for safety. White orbs are a straight multiplier to your HP: one orb doubles it, two orbs triples it, etc. Same for how much heal potions heal. Yellow orbs reduce the number of damage dice you suffer when hit by an attack. I don't know by how much; probably one die per.
What this boils down to is white orbs are better against bosses and yellow are better against trash fights. I tend to favor white over yellow, but will take what I can get. Ideally I'd like a combination of four of white and yellow orbs. I've won with nothing but four defense orbs before, so that's safe. I could get by with three as long as at least one is white.
That gives me this general guideline...
- Ideal is RRYYWW
- I can continue as long as I have one W and at least two other W/Y orbs
- Additional slots should be R
The other orbs won't be featured in the final fight but some have a use too.
Black orbs increase EXP gain. If I get one early, it can accelerate when I unlock Jormugandr and give me an additional level for an additional orb slot. Black orbs should be equipped as long as you have enough other orbs to survive.
Blue orbs increase item drop rate and are good if you have slots left over after the above. Having an extra potion or fortune can really speed up the bosses.
Purple orbs increase food and are good for safety if you fear starving in the later dungeons. However since we don't actually care about finishing Quetzalcoatl, and we get a food refill when we begin a boss fight, that may not be necessary. Slap one in if you're worried; no more than one.
Green orbs are useless :P
Disastrous things would include getting a bomb on your first roll. This would involve a reset if grinding for time, as would getting a green orb as greens are useless in this route. Having to go back to Jabberwock to grind for orbs is bad too, but is more likely to happen than not. Grinding for time would probably involve going to Jormugandr and trying the boss and, if you fail more than once or twice, resetting.
It is my humble suggestion to anyone considering running this game that you DON'T grind for optimal time. You'll go insane. Having RRYYWW ready to go as soon as you unlock Jormugandr is incredibly unlikely. Finishing Jabberwock gives you 6 orbs and all 6 need to be exactly what you need to have your ideal loadout. Just have fun with the game.
Alternate Category Thoughts
- Any%: Start from a blank save and unlock the Fortuner and Ouroboros. This does not require finishing all five dungeons; just Jormugandr.
- ... Glitchless: Same category rules as the original category, but the level skip glitch is banned. You'll get more EXP in the beginning and likely be able to entirely skip Quetzalcoatl, but have to walk through all 12 floors of Jormugandr. Grinding orbs will be slow as hell.
- Fortuner%: Beat the game as the unlockable character. This is not a practical category because once you unlock Fortuner, you're ready to just go straight back into Jormugandr for a second round; you keep your levels and orbs. Instead I recommend 5 Gold Stars below.
- X Silver Stars: Each time you kill a boss, you get a silver star on the main menu. So you can do a short race to 2 silver stars. Any% with the requirement that you kill all bosses would be 5 silver stars.
- X Gold Stars: The same as above, but the stars turn gold when you kill a boss with BOTH characters. Unfortunately this isn't good for short races as you have to unlock Fortuner to get gold stars. I also don't know how you can kill Jabberwock's boss with Fortuner.
- 100%: 5 Gold Stars and finish Ouroboros with both characters. Ouroboros is 999 floors, so the level skip glitch is mandatory there. If you're doing 100% Glitchless, you're insane. Even if you're glitching, finshing Ouroboros 999 with Fortuner is damned hard. PS: The image you're rewarded with after finishing floor 999 of Ouroboros is of the main character naked in a bath. You may wish to skip that quickly if you're streaming.
A Quick Talk About Fortuner
Fortuner is the second character you get for beating the game the first time. She plays entirely differently from the Knight in that she specializes in ranged and has no shield. Since she has no shield, the speed strategy of "Shield until you can power attack" doesn't work. Here's her loadout...
- A button fires a rapid fire shot that does light damage. Each shot costs food and can quickly drive Fortuner into starvation.
- B button consumes a power bar to throw a cross that destroys shots (giving power) and can hits an enemy multiple times. Getting an enemy caught on the cross is usually the end of it (except for teleporters).
- Holding B and pressing A uses Absolute Field, which is a very short time stop and also destroys all bullets on screen (giving power). This costs 20% of your max food, period.
- Holding A and pressing B uses an attack similar to the Knight's Shine Slash, and consumes all power bars.
While Fortuner does have an attack like Shine Slash, since her defensive move also needs power, it's not as useful. Also her basic attack and power generator both use food, so starvation is a massive concern.
In a speedrun where you can choose between the two, she would probably be slower in every respect because of the careful resource management you have to do. In my category proposals above, you'd be forced to use her extensively in 5 Gold Stars and 100%.
Purple orbs are either entirely useless or very important on her, depending on if you use her special or her shots more. Red orbs are even more important so she can stockpile more crosses to throw and yellow is slightly less important since her range lets her stay back and take fewer hits.