This was where things were going to become truly arduous for my Lich heirs, reaching the "Hell" difficulty of New Game Plus Plus (NG++). I was starting the mode with just over 200 health per Lich. Many enemies could kill me in two hits, whereas I would need to slay literally hundreds of them to max out on HP and MP. And every single one of them would be upgraded into their third-tier forms, with Gradiators and McRibs and Plonkies everywhere. This was going to test my platforming game skills to their absolute limit, almost like a game of Super Meatboy or I Wanna Be The Guy.
Unlock: Attack Up x14, Health Up x12There was no new equipment to purchase, only the Imperial and Holy Capes, neither one as good as my Dragon Cape's lifesteal. I put all of my gold into a bunch of health and damage upgrades in a desperate bid to survive the upcoming challenge. Now that I was at the entrace of NG++ difficulty, I wondered if I had done the right thing with my last character. This step up in challenge was likely to be brutal for my Liches, especially getting started with such low initial health and mana totals. It would have been better in the long run to commit suicide against the Fountain and farm one or two more 100k runs in NG+ mode, which would have been trivially easy to accomplish. However, I was already getting pretty bored with the lack of challenge on the lower difficulty, and I figured it would be more interesting to read about difficult struggles than easy farming runs. Even though this probably will result in more overall deaths and more heirs needed to clear NG++ difficulty, I thought it would be more fun in the long run.
Let's not beat around the bush though: I am in for one serious ass-kicking.
17) Level 196 (Health 53, Attack 60, Magic Damage 2, Armor 15, Equip 38, Mana 1, Crit Chance 2, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Miscellaneous 15): 12,214g
Stereo Blind again, 264 HP / 112 MP. I needed to use Conversion at about 670 health, assuming I could reach that point without dying. Not surprisingly, I was unable to get anywhere near that far. Oh, I made it through the first few rooms without too much trouble, but as soon as I hit a really tough room, I died immediately. Remember, my Lich was starting with under 300 health and had no escape skills at all. Any difficult room near the castle entrance would mean the end of a run. The biggest thing that I needed was more damage, so that I could kill monsters in 2-3 hits instead of the current 5-6 hits. That would do the most to keep me alive in crowded rooms.
Unlock: Attack Up, Health Up
18) Level 198 (Health 54, Attack 61, Magic Damage 2, Armor 15, Equip 38, Mana 1, Crit Chance 2, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Miscellaneous 15): 530g
Eid. Memory and crow storm spell, same health and mana as the last Lich. This run was extremely short lived, as the very first castle room was insanely difficult, and I died before making it through to the other side. Really nothing I could do here.
19) Level 198 (Health 54, Attack 61, Magic Damage 2, Armor 15, Equip 38, Mana 1, Crit Chance 2, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Miscellaneous 15): 3051g
Alzheimer's, Muscle Weakness. The lack of knockback made this even harder than normal; I cleared three rooms before dying.
Unlock: Crit Chance Up
20) Level 199 (Health 54, Attack 61, Magic Damage 2, Armor 15, Equip 38, Mana 1, Crit Chance 3, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Miscellaneous 15): 6366g
Hypergonadism. This time I had super knock back, the exact opposite. On this occasion, I made it into the first room of the forest (while skipping most of the castle) before being killed. Are we having fun yet?!
Unlock: Armor Up, Crit Chance Up
21) Level 201 (Health 54, Attack 61, Magic Damage 2, Armor 16, Equip 38, Mana 1, Crit Chance 4, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Miscellaneous 15): 34,560g
Gigantism. Despite the size penalty, this was my best run yet on NG++ difficulty. I dropped down to a single hit on several occasions, but kept plugging along and managed to clear out a sizable portion of the castle, raiding all of the chicken drops along the way. The highlight of the (still short) run was fighting a fairy chest room full of shooting plants. What was intended to be a difficult challenge was used by me as an opportunity to regain health and pick up another rune in the process. I actually got about 80 health back in there from Vampirism! I was up to 448 HP by the time I died, still just over halfway to full life. What a brutal situation. I simply required more damage over anything else, as I desperately needed to be able to kill the flying mages in 2-3 hits before they could get off their spells. Once the fire and ice projectiles came out, I was taking damage nearly all of the time. More attack upgrades it was. On the plus side, I picked up the 55th and final rune with this Lich, meaning that all future fairy chests would have stat bonuses. Very nice indeed.
Unlock: Attack Up x4, Health Up
22) Level 206 (Health 55, Attack 65, Magic Damage 2, Armor 16, Equip 38, Mana 1, Crit Chance 4, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Miscellaneous 15): 16,833g
OCD trait and the flame barrier spell, a nice combination. I started with 271 HP and the same 112 MP once again; I should use Conversion at 670 health if I could ever make it to that point. Unfortunately, the Lich class simply can't do much spell casting until you use that Conversion trait (only starts at 50% base mana) and then if you do use Conversion, you go right back to near-death kill status on health once again. In other words, the class is pretty terrible after clearing the easy mode difficulties. Unfortunately, I accidentally used Conversion before entering the dungeon, which dropped me down to a starting value of 136 HP. Urp! I did not mean to do that... I managed to make it through a good portion of the castle, while skipping a room that I knew with 100% clarity would kill me if I had to pass through it. To my disappointment, there was no path to move forward except by going through that very room. I had no choice but to try it... and it indeed killed me, as I knew it would. The accidental Conversion was the death of this poor Lich. At least I managed to get 16k gold and find a fairy chest with a health upgrade inside.
Unlock: Attack Up x2
23) Level 208 (Health 55, Attack 67, Magic Damage 2, Armor 16, Equip 38, Mana 1, Crit Chance 4, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Miscellaneous 15): 22,958g
Alzheimers and Hypergonadism. Starting with 273 HP this time almost felt like a lot! This run managed to claim another fairy chest for a Strength upgrade, but otherwise was fairly typical of the Lich runs I had been doing thus far. I had to play just about perfectly to make any progress, and the minute that I made a mistake, everything quickly fell apart. On this run, I had a room where a Gradiator (giant black knight monsters) simply walked off the edge of a platform and dropped down onto my head. WTF?! They basically never, ever do that! But I took a hit, and that meant 200 damage. I had 300 max life at the time. Yeah, can't afford too many of those mistakes. I eventually died in a room where I was trying to clear out nearby monsters while being shot by eyeballs and star guys (plonkies) from behind a wall. Another room that I should have skipped in retrospect. This Lich did find the Slayer Helm and Slayer Chestplate, my first new pieces of gear in some time, but both of them were inferior to the Royal versions of the same items. I don't really want fewer health and fewer armor, thanks. Another exhibit in why every gold coin matters: I had exactly 3 gold remaining after purchasing my upgrades!
Unlock: Attack Up x2, Health Up, Crit Chance Up
24) Level 212 (Health 56, Attack 69, Magic Damage 2, Armor 16, Equip 38, Mana 1, Crit Chance 5, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Miscellaneous 15): 2976g
OCD and ADHD, with 276 starting health. My physical damage was getting close to being maxed out, now up to 151 damage per melee swing. If you're wondering why I kept putting so much focus on damage, it's due to the need to kill monsters quickly. Most enemies in NG++ difficulty have 700-900 life. You absolutely need to reduce that down to 2-3 hits per monster, down from the 6-8 hits that I was needing when I began this difficulty. I would reach that point once I had all attack upgrades and maxed crit chance and crit damage, but that was still a long way away. (Fortunately the critical strike chance and damage upgrades are fairly cheap. The attack upgrades are extremely expensive, however.) Anyway, this particular Lich couldn't get started and died almost immediately.
Unlock: Crit Chance Up
25) Level 213 (Health 56, Attack 69, Magic Damage 2, Armor 16, Equip 38, Mana 1, Crit Chance 6, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Miscellaneous 15): 6830g
Gigantism and the flame barrier spell on this Lich. Died in the second room this time, both of the first two rooms were really tough again. Are we having fun yet? Sigh.
Unlock: Crit Chance Up x2
26) Level 215 (Health 56, Attack 69, Magic Damage 2, Armor 16, Equip 38, Mana 1, Crit Chance 8, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Miscellaneous 15): 7814g
Ambivelous and Alzheimer's traits. I died within the first three rooms with this Lich as well. It's just too freaking difficult to do these insane NG++ rooms with a mere 300 starting health, where two hits means instant fatality. See, this is why I thought it would be better to farm up more character runs back on the lower difficulty. But no, I had to be a tough guy and go charging into the higher difficulty like an idiot. Really stupid of me. I didn't have enough gold to take another attack upgrade, so it was two more crit chance ones. At least I was slowly improving there, now up to 24% chance of a critical strike.
Unlock: Crit Chance Up x2
26) Level 217 (Health 56, Attack 69, Magic Damage 2, Armor 16, Equip 38, Mana 1, Crit Chance 10, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Miscellaneous 15): 26,276g
Ectomorph. I had been on a nice run of getting Lich chararcters for a while, but before this fellow I had to kill over eight straight non-Lich heirs. You know it's a sad sign when I was rolling Miners and Archmages and thinking, "Wow, look at all that starting health!" This was a good run, as I nearly managed to get the full castle cleared. I even reached 400 health at one point - you know, less than one third of what my Barbarians had at this point in time. Unfortunately, I took another 200+ damage hit from a Gradiator, and that wiped out all of my saved up chickens, and then flying mages finished me off in the first room of the forest. At least I could pick up some attack upgrades this time. Only three points left to max out that skill.
Unlock: Attack Up x3
27) Level 220 (Health 56, Attack 72, Magic Damage 2, Armor 16, Equip 38, Mana 1, Crit Chance 10, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Miscellaneous 15): 15,746g
Hypergonadism and EDS traits. The extreme knockback from this Lich made this particular run stand out, with the big white spear monsters (corrupt lords) flying a huge distance backwards every time that they took a hit. The highlight of the run was a very long battle in a "kill all enemies" fairy chest room, where I carefully picked my way through a series of eyeballs and spear wielders to claim the chest at the final end of the hallway. This cost me essentially all of my health, but led to a permanent reward in the form of a +1 Strength bonus inside the chest. I'll take it, along with some more damage upgrades from the 15k brought home afterwards.
Unlock: Attack Up, Crit Chance Up, Crit Damage Up
28) Level 223 (Health 56, Attack 73, Magic Damage 2, Armor 16, Equip 38, Mana 1, Crit Chance 11, Crit Damage 1, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Miscellaneous 15): 8231g
ADHD, bonus movement speed. I played very well in getting through the first room with this Lich, only to roll a series of ludicrously hard rooms after that. Skeleton bone throwers on platforms high above rained down death in one room, and then a swarm of mages and knights and eyeballs finished me off in another room. Not too much to say about this run, and I didn't even have enough gold to pick up another Attack upgrade. I dumped what I had into two crit chance upgrades instead.
Unlock: Crit Chance Up x2
29) Level 225 (Health 56, Attack 73, Magic Damage 2, Armor 16, Equip 38, Mana 1, Crit Chance 13, Crit Damage 1, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Miscellaneous 15): 37,411g
Stereo Blindness. This run was the opposite of the previous one, as I got off to a rough start but stabilized things from there with the help of some lucky chicken drops. I found the Slayer Cape and Slayer Chestplate on this run, neither one as good as the stuff that I was already wearing. I preferred the +2 Vampirism on the Dragon Cape to the extra crit chance and crit damage on the Slayer Cape, at least for this character. This actually was a strong run, and I nearly made it through all of the castle before finally dying to a stupid wall spike (with several chickens saved up and still unused, argh!) Aside from that unnecessary blunder, this was a strong showing that made me feel better about running through NG++ difficulty. The last three Liches were all played on Livestream, and can be viewed at the following link with commentary.
Unlock: Attack Up x2 (maxed), Crit Chance Up x4, Crit Damage Up
30) Level 232 (Health 56, Attack 75, Magic Damage 2, Armor 16, Equip 38, Mana 1, Crit Chance 17, Crit Damage 2, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Miscellaneous 15): 14,238g
IBS trait and the conflux spell. With attack finally maxed out at 169 damage and crit chance up to a healthy 38 percent, I was starting to feel better about the damage-dealing side of things. I still worried greatly about the survivability end, however. Sadly, despite my best efforts I couldn't make it very far on this run and failed to achieve much of note. There were skeleton bone throwers (the dreaded McRibs) in nearly every room, and they made my life completely miserable.
Unlock: Health Up x3
31) Level 235 (Health 59, Attack 75, Magic Damage 2, Armor 16, Equip 38, Mana 1, Crit Chance 17, Crit Damage 2, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Miscellaneous 15): 2981g
Savant, Stereo Blindness, with 287 HP / 112 MP to start out. There was a Gradiator in the doorway of the very first room; I tried to jump over him, but he swung and nailed me as I passed. That cost me 212 of my 287 health. I nearly cleared out the rest of that crowded first room... only I failed. Death in the very first room. Awesome.
Unlock: Crit Damage Up
32) Level 236 (Health 59, Attack 75, Magic Damage 2, Armor 16, Equip 38, Mana 1, Crit Chance 17, Crit Damage 3, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Miscellaneous 15): 5776g
Coprolalia. I found the Slayer Bracers on this run; still preferred the Royal Bracers though for the much higher magic damage. I also "found" a series of cannon shots fired into the back of my head on another largely fruitless run. Still not even a single Lich able to get a full castle clear in 15 tries here on NG++ difficulty. That's the castle, the starting area, not the full dungeon mind you.
Unlock: Health Up
33) Level 237 (Health 60, Attack 75, Magic Damage 2, Armor 16, Equip 38, Mana 1, Crit Chance 17, Crit Damage 3, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Miscellaneous 15): 5261g
This Lich had the awesome PAD trait and the flame barrier spell. Unfortunately this did nothing to help her, and she also died within the first half dozen rooms. The fun times continued.
Unlock: Health Up
34) Level 238 (Health 61, Attack 75, Magic Damage 2, Armor 16, Equip 38, Mana 1, Crit Chance 17, Crit Damage 3, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Miscellaneous 15): 21,077g
IBS and Colorblind traits. This run was better, but I still only made it through about eight rooms in the castle, and that was making full use of the chickens outside the tower entrance and castle boss door. The Lich's 35% starting HP is simply a crippling penalty, and it makes running the dungeon nearly impossible without getting some luck in the randomization of the rooms. I actually think that the Miner might be a better class for this difficulty level. At least then I'd be starting with more health!
Unlock: Health Up x4
35) Level 242 (Health 65, Attack 75, Magic Damage 2, Armor 16, Equip 38, Mana 1, Crit Chance 17, Crit Damage 3, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Miscellaneous 15): 28,468g
This Lich had the Gay trait and the flame barrier spell. Those four Health upgrades took me all the way up to a massive 308 starting HP, which I guess is better than the 264 health that I was starting NG++ difficulty with, but not by a lot. Even with that stat fully maxed, I would only have roughly 350 HP to work with, and then I'd need to kill 162 monsters (LOL) to get up to the cap of 1000 HP. Furthmore, I was effectively stuck at this crummy low mana total (the starting value of 50% MP) because I didn't dare to use Conversion at any point in time. My life was low enough without cutting it in half! So my Liches were all effectively stuck with the worst of both worlds right now, poor health and poor mana, and unable to get far enough into the dungeon to fix those by killing enemies. This run was above average, and at one point it looked like I was making real progress. Unfortunately, another room full of skeleton bone throwers and flying mages drained away most of my life, and as I raced into the forest in search of more health, a room full of flying skull heads finished me off. I came close to clearing out the castle on this run. Close, but still no cigar. All I could do was edit some sarcastic comments into my pictures and keep on beating my head against this wall of difficulty.
Unlock: Health Up x3, Crit Chance Up x2, Crit Damage Up
36) Level 248 (Health 68, Attack 75, Magic Damage 2, Armor 16, Equip 38, Mana 1, Crit Chance 19, Crit Damage 4, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Miscellaneous 15): 71,694g
No traits, just the flame barrier spell. While I was killing off heirs before this Lich, I had to take a Paladin character, because the other two options were both Barbarians (I always select the heir with the lowest health, so I'm typically suiciding a lot of Miners and Archmages). I was somewhat flabbergasted to see how much stronger the Paladin was compared to all these Liches. Starting health of 900 HP?! Double the starting magic points, higher damage, and a special ability that's incredibly useful in the form of the shield? Oh man. I never knew how good I had it before! I killed a few monsters for fun, and was amazed at how taking one or two hits left me in perfectly fine shape, rather than at the point of death's door. Ah well, back to the sucky Liches again! This one started with 318 HP / 115 MP. I managed to get off to a good start on this Lich, as the castle threw a series of easy rooms at me and allowed me to build up some health. Things became tougher thereafter, and I nearly died twice, but continued to make good progress while retreating to pick up the chickens outside the teleporters as needed. I finally managed to get all but one room in the castle cleared, a tiny deathtrap with four monsters inside (Gradiator, eyeball, cannon, and flying cloud). All but that one room finished for a full clear of the castle. With a sigh, I lept inside and did battle with the forces of evil. After a short period of frenzied action, my Lich was still left standing, with 100/500 HP and 0 magic points... however, I was alive and they were not.
That cleared out the rest of my saved up chickens and pretty much cost me any chance of a long run in the forest, but it was the principle of the thing, darn it! I've never worked so hard for a full castle clear in my life. (I ended up falling pretty early on in the forest, in another madhouse room that had three skeleton bone throwers plus a whole bunch of other stuff in a sardine can. I had actually managed to reach 650 max health by the end, another record for the Lich on this difficulty. Finally above Miner-class health!) That still meant 71k gold though, overwhelmingly my best run to date on NG++ difficulty. It was enough gold to finish maxing out the health upgrades, and then max out crit chance as well. Woo hoo! Now I only needed to finish up with crit damage and armor, and I would be as strong as I was likely to be.
Unlock: Health Up x7 (maxed), Crit Chance Up x6 (maxed)
37) Level 261 (Health 75, Attack 75, Magic Damage 2, Armor 16, Equip 38, Mana 1, Crit Chance 25, Crit Damage 4, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Miscellaneous 15): 58,545g
EDS and Baldness traits. With 75 levels placed into health, I had a grand starting total of 343 HP on this Lich. Uh, I guess it was better than the 240 HP that I had at the start of NG++ mode, but still not exactly much room for error. This run got off to a good start, as I cleared the initial few rooms without too much difficulty. Then I went for a long stretch without any health recovery items appearing; I had one solitary chicken appear through the course of clearing almost two dozen rooms in the castle. This left me on death's door, a single hit away from the run ending, but then I hit on a few lucky drops and also found the entrance to the basement and forest, which put me back into business. The big noteworthy event for this character was finding the Royal Sword in a chest, a piece of gear that would be significantly better than my current Slayer Sword. I would happily give up 4% crit chance and 15% crit damage in exchange for 20 additional base damage (from about 170 damage up to 190 damage). In any case, I did manage to clear out the full castle (aside from one clearly impossible fairy chest room) and had the choice of where to head next. I opted to climb up into the tower rather than going for the forest, since the tower is the only area in the whole dungeon where the McRib skeleton bone-throwers can't spawn. I might have managed to make it a long way, but I picked a bad fight in one of the rooms full of mages and eyeballs, and wound up dying there. I had also picked up the Hedgehog's Curse item from a secret shrine, by far my most hated item pickup in the game. This cost me several thousands of gold from coins flying out upon taking hits. (At least it makes for a cool picture above!) After the run was over, I grabbed 14 crit damage upgrades, forgetting in the process that I needed to purchase the Royal Sword. Whoops! Have to get that with the next Lich.
Unlock: Crit Damage Up x14
38) Level 275 (Health 75, Attack 75, Magic Damage 2, Armor 16, Equip 38, Mana 1, Crit Chance 25, Crit Damage 18, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Miscellaneous 15): 2563g
ADHD and Savant traits, with the crow storm spell. Crit damage was now up to 255% with all those extra points, and the extra damage when I did roll a critical strike was really noticeable. It sped up the rate at which I killed monsters quite a bit. This run flamed out almost immediately, however, when I picked a poor fight in a room that I should have skipped. There was no way to clear a pair of eyeballs hiding behind a wall, and they picked me apart as I fought other monsters. Not even enough gold to buy the Royal Sword, blah.
Unlock: Vampire Rune (not used)
39) Level 275 (Health 75, Attack 75, Magic Damage 2, Armor 16, Equip 38, Mana 1, Crit Chance 25, Crit Damage 18, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Miscellaneous 15): 11,799g
No traits and the conflux spell. This guy also failed to achieve much of anything and died within the first few rooms in the castle. No chicken drops, and I was unable to find any of the teleporter rooms for health recovery. Freaking McRibs picked me apart yet again in large numbers, I HATE those guys so much. At least I could purchase the Royal Sword.
Unlock: Royal Sword, Equip Up, Magic Damage Up
40) Level 277 (Health 75, Attack 75, Magic Damage 3, Armor 16, Equip 39, Mana 1, Crit Chance 25, Crit Damage 18, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Miscellaneous 15): 211,701g
Tunnel Vision and Endomorph, with the crow storm spell. I wasn't expecting too much from this particular Lich, only to be pleasantly surprised with how things went. I had a fairly easy time of things in the castle, at least as well as things ever go on this difficulty, and I made it up to the 500 HP zone without any true close calls. One interesting thing about this run was the appearance of several different fairy chests with "kill all monsters behind the wall" challenges. Since I had the crow storm spell, I was able to pick them all up with ease, about three of them in total, for more free stat bonuses. After clearing out the castle, I went up into the tower, and cleared out nearly everything there without too much trouble. Then I went into the forest and managed to get that done as well, piling up over 100k gold in the process for the first time on any Lich character in NG++. I was aided by the appearance of two different fountains for health and mana refills, one in the castle and one in the forest, along with frequent chicken drops. This is part of the dumb luck of these character runs, sometimes you're going to be more fortunate than other ventures into the dungeon. I even had enough resources to fight several miniboss battles, taking on the dual flying mages (twice!) and the skeleton bone-tossing duo. They resulted in one Strength bonus and two pieces of gear: the Dark Helm and the Dark Limbs. I almost never see them with these characters, since they often don't drop until NG+3 difficulty level. Certainly wasn't complaining though! I found Charon's Obol in a secret shrine, and then found another secret shrine later, grabbing the more useful Hyperion's Orb in the second one. It was quite a run!
I rarely had the chance to accumulate this much maximum health on a Lich, and I figured I had to use the opportunity to take on some of the bosses. I fought Khidr first when I had just shy of 700 HP, and was shocked at how quickly he went down. It only took about 20 seconds for the whole battle, maybe shorter than that. Those 446 damage crits cut the huge eyeball down to size in a hurry; I only took a single hit, and that was dodgeable if I had played it better. I had to go into Alexander's boss door without full health, at about 650/900 HP, but this fight went better than I ever could have imagined. Not only did Alexander fail to hit me a single time, I actually found TWO chickens inside the forest boss room. In other words, I actually gained almost 300 health from this boss, leaving in victory with a full life gauge! This allowed me to go and fight Ponce de Leon immediately thereafter, and even though it was far from a perfect battle, I slugged my way through to a successful outcome. (Side note: the little flying skull heads spawned by Alexander do not increase the max health total of the Lich, but the bouncing spiked balls in Ponce's room did increase my healthbar. Interesting.) Now I headed down into the basement for the first time, hoping to find the boss door quickly and wrap up the set of all four bosses in one go. Unfortunately, I had a rotten sequence of luck down in the darkness; I cleared out every single room in the basement without finding the boss, uncovering it finally in the very last location where it could possibly be. This took my health all the way up to 992 HP where it finally stopped increasing, and I wasn't about to use Conversion to drop back down to ~500 HP again! Some of the rooms in the basement were brutal, and by the time I reached Herodotus I only had 200 health remaining, with no more health recovery items. I would have needed to be perfect to win that fight, and well, I wasn't perfect. Nonetheless, this Lich managed to make his way through 95% of the entire dungeon, kill three bosses, and bring back 211k gold. Can't complain with that.
Now that I finally had a large pile of money at hand, I splurged on a series of helpful (if not mandatory) upgrades that I had been delaying for a long time. First I picked up the Dark Limbs, accepting a slight loss in magic damage in exchange for more Vampirism and a third air jump. I unlocked my way over on the right side of the "castle" tree to pick up all five Mana Cost Down upgrades, all five Invuln Time Up points, and Randomize Children while I was over there. Then I poured about 100k gold into 19 armor upgrades, which still left me with 15 points needed to max out that skill. Just a little bit more to finish up with armor and crit damage, and I'd be pretty much complete. It was sad that I didn't have a recording of this character's run - I tried to turn on Fraps, and it was giving me a huge amount of slowdown for some reason, so I only used it to capture the boss fights and a little bit of the basement. I finally had one truly successful Lich run. Hopefully I was nearing the end now.
Unlock: Dark Limbs, Armor Up x19, Mana Cost Down x5, Invuln Time Up x5, Equip Up, Mana Up, Unlock Spell Thief, Upgrade Spell Thief, Randomize Children
41) Level 311 (Health 75, Attack 75, Magic Damage 3, Armor 35, Equip 40, Mana 2, Crit Chance 25, Crit Damage 18, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Miscellaneous 28): 291,059g
Gay trait and the flame barrier spell, with 350 HP / 130 MP to start. This run started out easy enough, with the first couple rooms presenting no major challenges. Lost half my health in a room full of shooting boxes, only to work my way back up from there with some careful play. I cleared out the castle first to accumulate as much HP as possible, and it was a gentle draw for this run. I did play especially well though, particularly at the beginning of the castle before falling off a bit towards the end, some outstanding platforming skills on display with this particular Lich character. I had 636 HP after clearing out the whole castle. It was on to the forest next, where a room full of flying earth mages and skeleton bone throwers nearly ended my run, knocking me down below 200 health and turning the game temporarily into a bullet hell. I was able to lifesteal a lot of that back by killing a huge group of Blobasaurus Rex blobs from the safety of a ledge. A later encounter with another Blobasaurus produced two chicken drops back to back, which essentially salvaged this run. Later there was a room with close to a dozen ball and chain monsters; that place was full of bouncing spiked balls after I cleared them out. The forest was pretty brutal this time around, way too many skeleton bone throwers. Only some good fortune with chicken drops and lots of blobs for lifesteal kept me going. I finally maxed out at 1009 HP early in the tower. Like all my other Liches here in NG++ difficulty, I had no desire to use Conversion!
Once I hit full health, I immediately grabbed a pair of teleporter chickens and went off to fight Herodotus. I had found the basement boss door earlier, because it turned out that it was located right next to the basement entrance, literally in the next room. The boss fight itself was extremely smooth, as I calmly wiped out the blobs in succession. I wasn't as painfully chained to "only hit the smallest blob" strategy, the way that I had been in the past, as I've found that that caused as many problems as it solved. Together with my +12 health per monster kill from Vampirism, this one was a cakewalk. I won with 933 health still on the lifebar. With so much health, I went ahead and cleared the tower next, although a run of sloppy play on my end resulted in a lot of damage. I dropped down as low as 300 health at one point, and was considering racing ahead to the final boss encounter rather than try to clear more rooms. A triple chicken drop in one of the final tower rooms once again bailed me out, and allowed me to go ahead and push through the full basement as well. While advancing through these rooms, I faced Botis one final time and slew him in exchange for the Dark Sword, then killed the duo skeleton miniboss for the Dark Chestplate, sadly neither of which would never see any use. They would have been a perfect thematic fit for the Lich class! The basement was mostly pretty easy, except for three or four rooms packed full of monsters which required some skill to make my way through. In each case, a chicken dropped somewhere immediately thereafter, which kept my health in the safe zone. There was one fairy chest room right at the end that was ludicrously packed with monsters, where I had no choice other than to tank my way through while taking damage. Eventually, the basement was all cleared out and I ventured into the final boss doors with 265k gold. Back when I was dying nonstop with earlier Liches, I wasn't at all sure that I would ever be able to get a full clear of the dungeon in NG++ mode. This was a satisfying moment.
The last two bosses were almost an anticlimax. I was rather sloppy against Johannes, taking some needless hits as we exchanged sword strokes at melee range. Fortunately I had more than enough health to engage in that sort of thing, and one of the little candles even dropped a chicken (this before the four chickens that always drop upon killing Johannes), so I was in very little danger. The Fountain was surprisingly unaggressive in the second half of the fight, running away to the corners of the room to shoot flying swords at me over and over again. This was a bit irritating, but still wasn't all that tough. I played patiently and dodged the projectiles as best I could. My Lich had slightly over 500 health when I emerged victorious, with the lifebar again glitching out in the aftermath of victory. Fortunately, this was one playthrough that I did manage to get recorded, and it's posted over at YouTube with accompanying commentary.
The endgame numbers came out to 85 total heirs used, or more accurately 41 Liches. I estimate that I could have made it through with about a dozen fewer Liches if I had piled up two more 100k gold runs in NG+ difficulty. It certainly would have made my life a lot easier. It's too bad that there's no option to go back to a lower difficulty after defeating the final boss, like there is in Diablo. The last two Lich runs caught me off guard and kind of came out of nowhere. I certainly wasn't expecting to pile up 500k gold and defeat all five of the bosses with the last two characters! After all, Lich #38 only managed to get 2500 gold and died almost immediately, with nearly the same stats. I think that speaks to some of the randomness of these runs through the dungeon, and I certainly had some good luck with both of the final two characters.
Looking back with the Lich Legacy Challenge now completed, it seems obvious to me that the Lich is one of the worst classes in the game. I'll need to test out the Miner and the Dragon before I can make any definitive conclusions, but the Lich is the early leader in the clubhouse for sure. The class was hamstrung in NG++ difficulty by its terribly low starting HP and MP. I was never in a position to make use of the high innate Intelligence because I would never have enough mana to make it through more than a few rooms before running dry. Unfortunately, the Lich simply doesn't really work as a casting character, not in the way that the game intends.
If by some chance anyone from Cellar Door Games would ever run across my website, here's my suggestion for how to fix the Lich class. I would tweak this character slightly so that it would fullfill a unique roll as the game's area of effect caster. How about this change: all of the Lich spells cost half the magic points of all other classes. This simple change would make the Lich viable as a caster. Together with the Mana Cost Down upgrades (which drop a further 25% off all mana costs), the Lich would be able to spam crow storm at 10 MP per casting, or run the flame barrier almost constantly at 4 MP per activation. This would allow a pure Lich run to pursue "the frail caster with huge magic damage" gameplay that the designers intended. In the current setup, the Lich is simply in a terribly awkward position that doesn't work. It's great for Normal difficulty, mediocre for New Game Plus, and horrendously bad for NG++ or higher difficulties. This was a tough challenge indeed.
Next up: a class that doesn't suck.