Beyond Hero Mode ++ - How many stars is possible?


Would that hero mode lock be able to unlock certain bonuses? I am still playing around with tweaks for The Way Out (Extreme) that would make it possible in Hero Mode, and it’s just not possible with only “minor tweaks” that would leave the regular mode difficulty about the same. (The God-King Walks Again is a LOT worse) For TWOE, I created a mod with a massively powerful poison weapon for Ketta (+15% chance, x5 effect) and the level was just about doable**. If “Hero Mode” version of weapons could be created (or a higher level cap for hero mode), then that makes retuning levels a lot easier, because you don’t have to worry so much about retaining the standard mode difficulty curve.

As per the “no grinding rules,” here are the ones that make sense to me:

  1. -100% scrap and exp for failure.
  2. Play each level only on Normal Difficulty and win each level only once.
  3. Side quests and Challenges can be completed whenever desired (but still subject to rules 1 and 2)

I tried this and found it immensely difficult, particularly because I always wanted more scrap to recruit more guys.

** Let’s be honest, though… poison for the ranger is ridiculously weak and should be buffed anyway.


myrddinemrys nailed it :smile:

Optionally you could allow map replaying “just for fun” (-100% scrap and exp if you’ve already beaten the map).

The only thing that is somewhat questionable is respeccing the characters, but it’s mainly related to the first case of dark enemies that is likely to catch you with your pants down if you’re new to the game.
Which is something that has always irked me, IMO the healers should convert from random lighting to a fixed percentage effect, but that’s for a separate debate…


Hey there, so some more thoughts on things.

I suppose we could add some global properties that accompany the “lock”, whether it’s Hero Mode or No-Grinding Mode, or whatever the challenge is. This would let us retune the balance without having to worry about messing with the normal difficulty curve, although it does create the situation where now you really have to commit from the start for it to make all that much sense, which I suppose is okay (maybe even preferable, it might free the player up from being anxious about other challenge modes and signal they should try them later?)

As for the rules to “no-grinding” mode, I assume there’s also an implicit “Only Perfect counts, Pass == Failure?”

My gut tells me that a hypothetical “no-grinding” challenge is a bit further from being ready than a 100% hero mode and would need more than just a few tweaks. For one, there’s a few other issues I’ve long been looking at addressing.

  1. Recruiting – I don’t think hiring dudes at LVL 1 makes much sense. I’m not entirely sure what the solution is but they should come in at something reasonably close to the rest of the party’s level, basically whatever doesn’t penalize you too much for your timing.

  2. Default XP/Scrap rules – I think for the HD re-release I’m strongly considering making the default rule 0% penalty for absence, as absence penalties just encourage you to summon all your guys at the end of the battle. I’ll keep the switches in.

  3. XP/Scrap rewards for “leapfrogging” – If you beat a mission on a certain difficulty and it wasn’t beaten yet on a lower difficulty, you get cascading rewards for each difficulty. However, you only get battle XP/Scrap from the actual monsters you beat in the level. Normally this isn’t a big deal because the game was built with non-scarce XP/Scrap. However, in no-grinding mode, unless passes are not allowed, the dominant strategy is to intentionally let Azra get hit once every time before perfecting a level on normal so you can maximize your rewards. So, not sure what I’ll do with this.

No-Grinding is a particularly tough thing to make official because it’s so different from the regular spirit of the game because of the inherent scarcity of rewards, which means it’s entirely possible to get “stuck” by making a strategic mistake. Even in a hard-as-nails Hero Mode, you can keep trying without getting boxed in.

That doesn’t mean I’m against it in principle, it’d definitely be different and that’s good for an optional challege mode, just thinking out loud about what design issues we’d have to overcome.


Not necessarily. The player will generally want to get perfect for the extra reward, right? So they’re motivated enough to go for it, but it shouldn’t be a necessity.

This is something I always wanted. While in the long run it almost doesn’t matter (new recruits will very soon catch up and will trail Slak just by one or two levels), where it matters most is i.e. when you meet the dark enemies first and get pwned. Now you realize you need more healers, but more level 1 healers are not the answer :).

So, make the new recruits get X% of Azra’s levels, where X could very well be fully adjustable in game properties in general.

2. Default XP/Scrap rules – I think for the HD re-release I’m strongly considering making the default rule 0% penalty for absence, as absence penalties just encourage you to summon all your guys at the end of the battle. I’ll keep the switches in.[/quote]

Yes, please. Absence penalty only achieves one thing, motivating players to do various shenanigans at the end. The only two good solutions are a) no absence penalty b) performace-based XP, but the latter is very hard to get right especially for support characters.

3. XP/Scrap rewards for “leapfrogging” – If you beat a mission on a certain difficulty and it wasn’t beaten yet on a lower difficulty, you get cascading rewards for each difficulty. However, you only get battle XP/Scrap from the actual monsters you beat in the level. Normally this isn’t a big deal because the game was built with non-scarce XP/Scrap. However, in no-grinding mode, unless passes are not allowed, the dominant strategy is to intentionally let Azra get hit once every time before perfecting a level on normal so you can maximize your rewards. So, not sure what I’ll do with this.[/quote]

I probably miss the point here. One win means one win. If you do a pass, you can’t go for perfect since you’ve already beaten the map, pass or perfect.

That’s why we have save games to make backups of :). If you’re possessed enough to go for this kind of game, you should have the willpower to do backups to revert to, or play again. In practice, however, the only BIG stopping point for me were the dark creeps… they first appear on a very ugly map and going for perfect was a rotten business with one healer - but to some extent this could be alleviated if you could come up with a completely different mechanic for dark creeps vs. healers, one that would on average produce similar damage reduction but in a much more reliable manner.

What I like the most is converting the level 2 attack to aura - making dark creeps under healer range automatically lit up, and making level 4 attack add a permanent / long lasting light that would stick to them even outside the range. Power of the aura could determine either dodge reduction, or remove dodge permanently but compensate with a damage reduction instead, although that might be a bit hard to “explain”.


Hey, thanks very much for creating this thread. It is great :slight_smile:

I finally earned 198 gold stars in Hero Mode++. I am somewhat relieved to hear others agree that The Way Out Extreme is too difficult to pass - that level was quite frustrating! :wink:

One question for those who have done this - did you also beat all of the bonus levels? I have beaten Challenge 1, 2, 3, 4, and Endless 1. Challenge 3 was a bit tricky - I had to use Psi Shield and Slow End, and use lightning on many of the phasing zombies. Two zombies still made it through to hit Azra, but thanks to Psi Shield she still had perfect health. I haven’t managed to beat the last challenge level, though.


Glad I could help :slight_smile: Out of curiosity, did you use my strategy on The Face of Madness, or did you come up with another one?

Also, I refuse to use H-bombs; did you manage to do Endless 1 without them? That would be quite an achievement. I never worked on the challenges very much; I have only done 1, 2, and 4.


Hey myrddinemrys,

I haven’t actually beaten Face of Madness on Extreme - only Advanced. Kudos to you for the above stategy - it is great!

I am missing three stars on Extreme - Face of Madness, God-King Walks Again, and of course The Way Out.

I do not use H-bombs either, no. I did use both the Explosive Start and Furious Start books for the purple side quest “Into The Shadows”, when you only have Bakal and Slak. But I was simply jumping them around the level frequently for regular coverage, not purposely summoning and then un-summoning. I’m not a fan of the H-bomb strategy either, and it is also too time-consuming for me to summon and unsummon so many times :wink:

So yes, I beat Endless 1 without any H-bombing. I started with only Wrenna and Markos on the left side, but had to successively fall back as waves got harder, and eventually ended up with everyone grouped as close to Azra as possible. There was a bit of lightning micro involved in killing some enemies in time, and I jumped Slak around several times to help out where needed. It was a very close fight - I tried to make it as far as I could past Wave 50, but I only made it to Wave 51 :wink:

Challenge 3 was fun because I spent most of the fight with the entire party covered by Bakal’s Inspire range - three cheers for +49% damage!


Cool. I’ll try the challenges again soon… I wonder how far I will get in Endless 2 :stuck_out_tongue:

I’m going to start thinking about some subtle modifications that would make TWOE and TGKWAE possible in hero mode. Hopefully, I can figure out something simple and lars will include a HeroMode+++ for 201 stars in DQ1HD :smile:


Well I’ve tried Challenge 5 a few times now but haven’t beat it. It’s doable up until wave 28 or 29; then you get 4 successive waves of Abominations or other spawners followed by a number of armoured enemies. I haven’t been able to do enough damage to kill the spawners in time while also peeling off armour or taking care of the other threats.

I think I will leave Challenge 5 for now and let my subconscious mull it over :slight_smile: But I’d love to hear anyone else’s thoughts if they take it on.


A few of my thoughts here:

Thorn definitely needs to get nerfed.
Thorn feels like it was specifically designed to kill off Slak, and it grows extremely frustrating when Bakal simply cannot keep up with Slak killing himself due to thorn all the time. It would be nice if you make thorn similar to armor, making it possible to chop thorn off. Or better yet, make a weapon that renders the wielder immune to thorn.

Azra spells feel a bit dry during late game, a few more variety would be nice. Although we already have knockback, I always thought it would have been nice if we had a snowstorm spell which functions similar to dragon fire: hit everything on the map and slow everyone instead of burning them. Something like Polymorph that turns an enemy into sheep would definitely be entertaining.

Stage specific stuff sound OK. I would personally go for the spell approach, like ‘Inspire’ where in a specific stage a specific class will be in perma-frenzy or something. Or for that stage only, a spell gets additional effects.


I actually really like the Thorn mechanic because it forces you to change tactics and approach the problem differently. Yes, berzerkers will kill themselves if you just let them attack enemies with Thorn as fast as possible. So what else can we do? Different unit placement? Kill enemies in a different order? Can you hit them with a knight or dragon or ranged attacker instead? Sometimes I turn off all berzerker attacks except for Flurry so the berzeker can still do some damage and apply Bleed without knocking themselves out. Once the Thorned enemy has passed you can switch all attacks back on.

I think enemy abilities like this add nice variety to the game, because you can’t simply plow through everything with the same strategy.


Thorn doesn’t need nerfing. You just need to adjust. You’ve got 4 other units available, so just find a way to deal with thorny enemies.

My approach is to have berserkers only at level 2 so that they’ll have a good chance to apply their high bleed and still cost very little when they die (and provide useful distraction as targets too) - and if I’ve already got a high-level berserker placed, I’ll turn off his attacks except for the high-damage ones.


The Way Out is posible to win (edit: and perfect, see below)! I’m not sure how/if I can repeat it, but I’ve just done it.

Here’s what did the trick for me:
Everyone strength 60.
Azra - Book of Blood, Book of Plague. All red maxed, last 3 spare points into pushback (so 4 total, 2.75 tiles)
Markos - Evni+, Traitor’s Harness+. Swing, Smash, Lunge, Hard Knock, Stun Stab and Sword Training maxed. Last spare point to Cleave, making it 2.
Ketta - Warlord’s Triumph+, Master of Archers+. Triple Shot, Rapid Shot, Spread Shot, Sharp Shooter, Ranged Focus, and Poison Shot are maxed. The last 2 spare points go to Black Out The Sun.

Note the poison bow and max poison shot - the improved poison is more powerful than Sharp Shooter even if the poison runs the full duration. The main reason is +10% base attack, but once you’ve got the weapon, poison becomes a useful skill.

I am unsure if Swing or Cleave is better for Markos, and I’m really not totally sure about anything with Ketta, but it all worked. I think no extra points in heal is correct for Azra in this case because you basically can’t tank any attacks anyway. There is maybe a better choice for Markos’s armor, but I don’t have the skull for it yet.

So Ketta drops into that fairly obvious square that gives max coverage after boosting to 5 - she won’t be moving again. She will be in range of a few ranged attacks so the armor is helpful, but maybe not required. Markos is going to kinda bounce around wherever needed to rip armor off and deal damage, but we are going to run out of PSI at the end so be sparing about the moves. Don’t really bother healing him, but pull him out before the red armor enemies - Ketta will just have to hack though the armor tax. (Dragonfire often as well.) Although I did let him just die out 2-3 times, so it isn’t the end of the run if you get nothing back from him psi-wise. Also - drop him at 3 boost against those reds if you are repositioning him anyway, let him rip a bit of armor that way.

The combination of the 2 books and the 3 red spells should get you though most waves without need too much lighting - which again, we’re going to run low on psi, so sparing on the lighting. The big test is the Abominations. The first one gets covered over with a run of reds which means we can’t get Markos in there - wait till it is around the turn back up to take it on. You’ll need target strongest for a bit to make sure the Monstrosities all pop at nearly the same time (be liberal with the lighting here, phasing can ruin it!) and then either a crystal or dragon fire, and lots more lighting. Don’t be afraid to use those spells just before the Abomination shows up though, it’ll be alive for a while and should get back off cool-down.

Now right near the end I was almost getting overwhelmed with normal waves, and had to burn the dragon fire again to clear stuff out. At the same time, 2 Abominations are making their way down the map for a bit. By the time everything else is cleared out the Abomination on the top track is too close - while it pops, Azra has enough HP to take the 3 Monstrosities, so I just let them go. (I think it’d take a good bit more DPS near the end to get to the top track on fast enough.) Weirdly enough, I think you have to make sure you don’t kill any of them, as their payload will do more damage than they do.

Now dragon fire is on cooldown, but crystal should be up, so the final task is to again break open the 3 Monstrosities on the bottom at the same time and crystal them. Thankfully that leaves them all a 1 hit kills for lighting, because this is where I was out of psi to the point where Markos could only be put up to boost 2, and so Ketta + pushback + lighting has to end it.

Now if I go get the best armor for Markos for this (make him last longer against attacks) and maybe only use him at 3-4 boost when he will be lost anyway, I think I could fix the psi problem. However, I don’t think I can get enough extra psi out of the level to clear that last wave of enemies in time to start the top track abomination early enough, because then I can’t burn dragon fire right at the end. It is all close, so maybe with enough trying we can tweak out my setup to get it done, but yikes is it going to be hard to find much better that can be done. And it’ll be frustrating because the phasing sometimes ruins popping the Monstrosities on time (at least the longer extra pushback buys a bit in a pinch).

I’m going to take this Azra build against the other last few stars (ZA E, TFOM A and E, TGKWA A and E), maybe the very marginal TFOME won’t be quite so brutal with this. (Or, more likely, it won’t work at all, but meh, I’ll find out.) At least Bakal will be available on the others, so I won’t be starved of all meaningful healing. And TFOME would let me get one more upgraded armor… so there is a small chance of it being down to just TGKWAE.

Addendum - got the 60% resist armor, made a big difference. Almost managed to string the fire along till the end, but was getting swarmed at the end again and had to use it or take damage. Which then meant I was trying to kill the ending swarm with just one crystal, which isn’t enough to kill all the spawns. Ended up losing due to trying - just can’t get damage down fast enough when there is only like 3-4 tiles left. Had the psi, could have H-bombed… except don’t have a book slot for that, need both the blood and plague to get down enough AOE without tons of lightning taking all the psi away.

I think it is possible, but requires timing out when to fire crystal and dragonfire to “clear trash” and still get them back for the final spawn swarm. I think I’ll get it in a week or two if I don’t get too frustrated.


The Way Out Extreme perfect is confirmed. I tweaked out the setup a small amount and shook up the spell timing a little (though I don’t know if the timing mattered), and pulled it off, though it twice had a margin of less than 1/4 a square (those last two abominations).

For Ketta, swap Triple Shot into Black Out The Sun. I put the spare 2 into Triple Shot, but not totally sure about that, maybe the base attack is better. I hadn’t accounted for casting lag fully before, the top boost skills are just plain better at max level.

Similarly for Markos, max out the damage. I pulled the points to get Cleave to max from Hard Knock, since the Abominations can’t be knocked back. I put the single last point into defense, not sure if it mattered. Strength of Wocolon+ is required I believe, otherwise he will die too fast and you’ll end up running out of psi.

The improved damage output and the ability to hang in for a while against the reds meant that I was able to stay further out in front for most or the run, and got psi basically almost maxed out (never true full psi due to needing lightning to stay “in front” of the spam). This finally let me take both dragon fire and crystal into the final abomination popping phase. I managed to get the short top lane done with dragon fire, pushback, and having one pop early (didn’t fire that one at all) - staggering the pops was enough extra space to get enough lightnings down somehow (thought I’d let 1 slip but something got it practically on top of Azra). The slower bottom lane I took with same time popping, crystal, a lot of lightning, and franticly repositioning Markos a last time - again within a 1/4 tile by the time I got the last one.

I think potentially, simply having a target specific might do enough if you micro hard to make this reasonable. It is posible, I’ve done it, but that was seriously nuts, thought I’d blown a nearly perfect run twice because I had zero spare wiggle room at the end. I’d imagine in its current form you simply have to take about 5 tries, at something like 45 minutes per, to get the magic workings that make it pan out. Maybe it belongs as is, simply on the theory that every game needs a K2 as well as an Everest?

Would love to hear if anyone else has been re-inspired to take a crack at it!


Hey, nice strategy! :slight_smile:

I have a question though - are the Book of Blood and Book of Plagues available when playing in Hero Mode? I find that equipping the Book of Secrets only makes the secret map location available in the normal game. FWIW the Wikia page says “A new location … appears on the map … in the standard game”. Do they mention ‘standard’ because it doesn’t work in Hero Mode?

I have been playing all of the Hero Mode++ levels without using the Book of Plagues or Book of Blood. I see that myrddinemrys mentioned the Book of Blood when discussing the Face Of Madness though .

Did you two do anything special to unlock the Book of Blood in your Hero Mode game? Am I missing something?


I think you can get the secret Books in normal game too, they should carry over to NG+.


Whoah! That is super exciting - I know what I am doing tonight. Next stop TGKWAE?

culix - “Standard game” means “not new game +;” you can definitely use secret books in hero mode.

Ethan - Have you done TFoME? If so, how many tries did it take you? My first time took about 5 or 6 tries as well, but now I can get it 100% of the time.


Ahh, thanks - yes, if I unlock the Book of Blood/Plagues in normal mode, they carry over into NG+. The things you forget when you’ve been away for several months…

Using Ethan’s build and both books I made it to the 3rd last wave on my first try. This is ten waves farther than I have made it before :slight_smile: So nice thinking Ethan! I may keep pressing if I have spare time in the next few weeks.


Just took the first serious shot at TFoME (had tried TWOE first on a lark, and then it started getting unexpectedly close so I worked that one first), with much the same setup as TWOE. Even left Evni on Markos since I planned to have Slak chase the boss around. One quick screwup, then got more into the rhythm - but only took him a bit less than 1/2 down before I got overrun. Wave 44 or so. The abomination for TFoME is much less scary, but still a major problem. Worse is how I kept losing people left and right - I just can’t keep healing up enough. Maybe the light bow instead of the poison bow so I don’t need Bakal for both healing and light?

Maybe there is some tweaks to the other builds I can do to improve things, but I don’t think the Blood + Plague “load-out” will cut it for this one. Especially with the dark frenzy, I just can’t seem to keep things on the map long enough to wear them down with plague, and having to use Bakal for all the healing is a problem.

I’ll try 1-2 more with any tune-ups I can find (@myrddinemrys - I don’t understand why sleet is off in your setup, so maybe that’ll help if I understand that better) , then start hybridizing it with the only known way so far if I can’t do it “my way” - I expect there isn’t much that can be changed from myrddinemrys’ setup that can get it done.

@culix - it is the last 3 waves that are killer, so hopefully you start feeling not just ok, but actually good, about the part up until then. Remember, with Plague equipped it actually helps to wait to kill most enemies, since they keep taking damage - but you can get swarmed surprisingly fast if you leave it too long.


@Ethan - I’m confident that there are a lot of ways to beat TFoME… but I think the books are not changeable. Book of Plagues makes healing too hard and doesn’t affect Zelemir, anyway. Furious Start massively amps Wrenna when you move her (makes those abominations a lot easier!), and lets Slak do lots more damage to Zelemir. Best of luck, and I hope you figure out your own fun way to beat it.

FYI, I turn off sleet because its damage is just not enough to bother with and the slow effect is weak compared to my other spells. The only time you really care about Wrenna doing mass damage to her entire range is when abominations pop into worms… if you want, turn on sleet for those moments, but otherwise it’s just a waste of her time to be casting it - the casting lag is pretty severe.

I haven’t finished TWOE yet, but using plagues + just removing Markos before he gets damaged if I know he’s going to die makes a big difference. I’m pretty confident I will get it soon. But, it’s pretty much going to be by copying you :stuck_out_tongue: