With Normal difficulty in the rearview mirror, it was time to move on to greater challenges. I had been concentrating my upgrade gold into three main stats thus far, the basic trio of Health, Attack, and Magic Damage. The Spellsword class needed all three of those stats to be effective, whereas most other classes could have picked either physical or magic damage and left the other category alone. I also had to make sure that I had state of the art Bracers equipment, which I often skip buying because they only increase the Intelligence (magic damage) stat. These Spellswords are a pricey bunch to outfit. The good news was that I was nowhere near maxed out in any categories thus far, and so I loaded up on more of my primary stats with the gold accumulated on the final Normal difficulty run.
Unlock: Health Up x9, Attack Up x4, Magic Damage Up x4
17) Level 131 (Health 40, Attack 19, Magic Damage 19, Mana 6, Equip 21, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Mana Cost Down 5, Miscellaneous 11): 61,360g
Here we go again with the same Spellsword from the previous run, heir number seventeen overall. I was able to change spells to the flame barrier almost immediately at the start of the castle, and I made that swap happily. This was useful right away, as I came across the Sallos miniboss and the flame barrier cut him down to size in a hurry. Victory produced the Dragon Chestplate, a huge upgrade over my current gear. Later the Dragon Bracers and Dragon Helm dropped in the castle. They must have been going on sale, all Dragon equipment must go! I cleared out both the castle and the forest without too much trouble, not taking too many hits in the process. My vampirism sustain was enough to keep up with the infrequent hits. Next up was the tower; the most interesting fight was probably against the duo skeleton minibosses, where I just ran the flame barrier the whole time, siphoning more mana from constant swings of the sword. This did a crazy amount of damage and took them out quickly. The prize this time was the Royal Helm, my favorite helmet in the whole game - excellent! Although I did eventually manage to clear the full tower, this area was definitely harder than the previous two. My lifesteal was not keeping up with the damage taken, and I had to rely on the teleporter chickens and random health drops to continue making progress. This was only worse in the basement, and eventually I died when an infernite flying cloud monster managed to move BETWEEN the surrounding flame particles of my empowered spell and hit my character. I think that I could have achieved a full clear of the basement as well, unfortunately I didn't play well enough and took too many hits. Still a pretty solid run for the start of New Game Plus. I used the loot to grab the Royal Helm, Dragon Limbs, and a bunch more stats. The Dragon Chestplate wasn't quite enough of an upgrade over the Guardian one to be worth the purchase price. Only 20 gold left at the end of all this spending, nothing wasted!
Unlock: Health Up x8, Attack Up x3, Magic Damage Up x4, Equip Up x3, Royal Helm, Dragon Limbs
18) Level 149 (Health 48, Attack 22, Magic Damage 23, Mana 6, Equip 24, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Mana Cost Down 5, Miscellaneous 11): 108,760g
Endomorph (can't get knocked back) and the dagger spell. I'd barely had any chance to use the dagger so far with these Spellswords, this was only my second one in 18 total characters. (Way too many of them with that yucky blade wall spell, heh.) The dagger has the advantage of range and the cheapest mana cost in the game, making it extremely spammable. The big tradeoff is the dagger's single-target damage; you can only hit one enemy at a time with the thing, never multiple monsters. It's almost like the opposite of the flame barrier, which has great area of effect damage but stinks for non-boss single opponents. I had the option to change spells to the axe early on in the castle, but I decided to keep the dagger, since I'd had so little practice with it. Axe vs. dagger is a tough call on which is better. Both have advantages and disadvantages. The main treasure in the castle was the Imperial Sword, I believe that was an upgrade over my current Ranger Sword. From there I went to the forest next, where I found the Royal Bracers. That was definitely better than my current gear, all the Royal stuff is excellent. For some reason, I randomly found stat increases in chests in the forest, a Magic Damage upgrade and an Armor one (as pictured above). Not complaining about that, although it was rather odd. In the tower, I fought the skeleton minibosses again, and the battle was completely different with the dagger spell. This time I meleed the first one to death, then stepped back to the other side of the room and threw daggers until the other one was dead. Interesting stuff, how these fights change with different spells. The reward was the Dragon Sword, even better than the Imperial Sword, nice. Then we repeated the exact same miniboss fight again with the duo skeletons, and this time they dropped the Royal Sword, the best weapon in the game! What a great run for equipment. The last area to go was the basement, and this was definitely the toughest part of the dungeon. At one point, I dropped as low as 50 health remaining. I managed to extract myself from that disaster, go back to the saved up chickens at the teleporters, and return to finish the area off. Full dungeon clear with my second Spellsword here in NG+ mode. This has been a recurring thing for recent class runs, I don't think NG+ difficulty is that much harder than Normal.
Anyway, it was on to the bosses next. I played horribly against Khidr, taking three hits and likely dooming any hopes of clearing more bosses. Instead, somehow I managed to defeat Alexander as well, just barely dealing enough damage before the boss could breed his skull heads and overwhelm me. That was a narrow run thing, believe me! I managed to get a picture of the final hit above, the thrown dagger threading the needle between three flying skull heads to whack Alexander in his ugly mug. Sweet shooting aside, the dagger just is not a very good spell against these bosses, I would have given anything for the chakram or flame ring. I had only 120 HP for the Ponce de Leon battle, so I needed a perfect fight to win. Fortunately that's exactly what I got, as the boss never hit me even one time. I came out of that boss chamber with more life than when I went in (thanks to vampirism), ha! That still left a duel against Herodotus with 156 HP and a terrible weapon, the dagger being almost useless against those blobs, and that was more than my character could achieve. He fell to Herodotus without getting close to winning. Nonetheless, an amazing run with over 100,000 gold returned. I actually had no less than FIVE new swords at the Blacksmith from this run, but of course the only one that I wanted was the Royal variety. We're kings, not peasants! The thing weighed like royalty too, requiring five equipment upgrades to hold. I also picked up the Royal Limbs, and a whole heck of a lot of normal stat upgrades, including maxing the highly useful invulnerability time category. Pricey, but very strong indeed.
Unlock: Invuln Time Up x4 (maxed), Health Up x7, Attack Up x4, Magic Damage Up x3, Equip Up x7, Mana Up, Royal Sword, Royal Limbs
19) Level 175 (Health 55, Attack 26, Magic Damage 26, Mana 7, Equip 31, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Mana Cost Down 5, Miscellaneous 15): 117,500g
PAD and Dwarfism traits. My favorite trait in the game, PAD! No damage from foot spikes! I was even willing to overlook another appearance of the blade wall spell here. (At this point, I was ready to marry the darn thing.) The Royal Sword made a huge difference in my damage output, I had gone from something like 65 damage on melee attacks to 110 damage with this Spellsword, and the mana siphon scaled up to match. Inside the dungeon, I made it through the castle with minimal fuss. That area was getting to be way too easy now with all these extra levels. I really don't like the tiny sword on the dwarf characters though, the hit box on that thing is too small. A treasure chest in the tower dropped the Royal Chestplate, in my opinion the best chest armor in the game. Nice find. I also came across an empty room full of boxes, which produced FOUR chicken drops. Too bad I didn't need the health at all! Wasted. I also won the axe throwing minigame in this area, which gave the dubious prize of extra equipment weight load. I guess it could help with that Royal Chestplate... The basement offered up the Hermes Boots in a secret shrine, now I could walk on ALL of the spikes in the game! I also found one of the weirdest rooms I've ever come across in this game, about a dozen corrupt vanguards placed into a single small room. Very strange indeed, although not too hard to clear out. By the time that I'd managed another full clear of the dungeon, I had essentially mastered the use of the blade wall. I'd had so very much practice with it by now. One of the best techniques involves hitting an enemy with your sword, and then IMMEDIATELY dropping the blade wall on top of them. Your sword swing always has a minor knockback to it, and following it up with the blade wall allows you to get an instant one-two combo in, while also pushing the monsters away from your character. It's little tricks like that which only come from extended experience with these spells.
The Herodotus fight went extremely well, you could even say that it was easy. The blade wall is quite good against the blob monsters, and of course having PAD trait to ignore the floor spikes decreased the difficulty by a factor of ten. With the assistance of a chicken that appeared out of one of the boxes in the boss chamber, I was missing only 50 health at the end of the fight. When it came to the last two bosses, I again found myself getting more good use out of the blade wall. It was surprisingly effective against Johannes, pushing him back again and again in much the same way that I'd used the super knockback in Normal difficulty. Johannes only hit me one time, and that was because I'd run out of magic points and had to get in close to melee to restore mana. The Fountain battle was sloppy on my part, so very sloppy. The blade wall worked here again, any time the Fountain would stand still to summon his flying swords I could drop a blade wall on his head and get in multiple hits. The problem was my inability to dodge stuff, I kept taking hits over and over again due to my own mistakes. Fortunately I managed to run the boss out of health before I died myself, winning with about 200 HP remaining. Messy fight. The good news was that I wouldn't have to play another game in NG+ mode, and I could move on to the true challenge ahead.
Normally I would post a picture of my victory screen and new character stats upon finishing the second difficulty level. Unfortunately, I don't seem to have saved those screenshots, forgetting to go back and grab them from my recorded footage after playing. Sorry about that! In any case, I used the large gold haul to purchase that Royal Chestplate, some more equipment weight to put it on, and then another bevy of "real" stats. More health (getting close to having that maxed now), more physical damage, and more magic damage to fuel those empowered spells. I even had a little gold left at the end to grab a few mana upgrades, which were dirt cheap.
Unlock: Health Up x11, Attack Up x5, Magic Damage Up x5, Equip Up x4, Mana Up x3, Royal Chestplate
19) Level 203 (Health 66, Attack 31, Magic Damage 31, Mana 10, Equip 35, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Mana Cost Down 5, Miscellaneous 15): 50,075g
First character in New Game Plus Plus difficulty, this one had health nearly maxed out, more armor from the Royal Chestplate, and equal damage upgrades in physical attack and magic spells. I hoped that I had enough offense here, the numbers looked a little low compared to past characters at this point. This run got off to a good start, monsters were tough but my Spellsword handled them fairly well, all things considered. I managed to get through about 80% of the castle, before falling in a room packed full of skeletons, mages, flying clouds, and even zombies rising from the floor. Highlights of the run included finding an Armor bonus in a fairy chest hidden in a small passage that only a Dwarf character could fit through. This is pictured above, notice the tiny furnishings in the room! Not bad for the first NG++ character.
Unlock: Health Up x4, Attack Up x3, Magic Damage Up x3
20) Level 213 (Health 70 , Attack 34, Magic Damage 34, Mana 10, Equip 35, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Mana Cost Down 5, Miscellaneous 15): 175,925g
Baldness trait and the flame ring for a spell. We'd see how useful that area of effect damage was against the NG++ monster mobs. This run started off well, as I was able to make it through the castle without too much trouble. I think that I had to eat two of the teleporter chickens, but I was able to save the rest for later use. The highlight of the early castle was a "kill all monsters" room that was absolutely packed with enemies, close to a dozen of them, with a mixture of McRib bone throwers and eyeballs shooting red goo and infernite flying cloud monsters. I had no choice other than running in there with the flame barrier turned on and dealing as much damage as possible between hit recovery invulnerability periods. I did clear them all and claim the chest, at the cost of most of my lifebar. That looked like it might be the end, only instead my Spellsword continued an outstanding run through the forest. There were few McRibs in there, and the flame barrier seemed to work well against the wolves and flying mages that I kept running into. I also had a lot of good luck with random chickens dropping, the supply was frequent (if not ridiculous) and generally kept me in the safe zone. I was able to clear out the whole forest, and eventually the entire tower as well. This was a huge surprise, as I never thought I would get anywhere close to finishing these regions.
I went ahead and fought Khidr for fun after powering through three areas, and I managed to down him without the big eyeball landing a single hit. Apparently I was in the Rogue Legacy zone this evening - that or the Spellsword is an extremely strong class once it manages to level up those stats. Probably the latter. The run finally came to an end about a third of the way through the basement, when a room full of flying ice mages hit me twice and dealt the death blow. Each one of their ice shards did 178 damage, ouch! I needed more armor, that was one stat I'd been skipping to continue leveling both physical blows and magic damage. Sooner or later I'd start correcting that. What an awesome run! (Captured on stream too at this link.) I did find some equipment on this run, but nothing I favored over the Royal gear that I was already sporting. I was still hoping to find the Dragon Cape for its vampirism, or some of the Dark equipment set. I had already collected all of the game's 55 runes, having finished the last one on the final NG+ character run. It was all stat bonuses from fairy chests at this point. (One nice thing about the Spellsword is that all of the stats from chests are useful, even the mana ones.) The huge 175k gold haul therefore went into more stats. I still held off on armor, prioritizing damage over defense again. I finished with 225 gold after starting with 175,000. Efficiency for the win.
Unlock: Health Up x5 (maxed), Attack Up x12, Magic Damage Up x13, Mana Up x2
21) Level 245 (Health 75, Attack 46, Magic Damage 47, Mana 12, Equip 35, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Mana Cost Down 5, Miscellaneous 15): 58,925g
Tunnel Vision and the blade wall spell yet again. I wonder if that spell has a higher than average chance of appearing for a Spellsword, or if I had simply seen a huge run on characters with that spell. It was probably just random chance. My Spellswords now had 750 max health, and that was as high as they would get aside from drops from bosses or fairy chests. Damage and armor were still both well short of maxed. The first good fight in the castle was a "destroy all enemies" fairy chest, which I had to wrest away from a crowded room of plonkies (star shaped enemies) and zombies. That yielded up a Magic Damage bonus upon completion. Next up was Botis, who failed to touch my Spellsword and dropped the Dark Chestplate. Nice to see that stuff beginning to appear finally. The castle was tough on this run, I took a lot of damage and the rooms were difficult to complete. Lots of McRibs everywhere, my nemesis. The first room of the forest was even worse, an absolute bullet hell of projectiles everywhere, with little space to dodge. That hellzone forced me to eat all of my remaining chickens, and left me close to death. I tried to make my way further, but another one of the game's worst room formations finished me off, the one where fire rains down from the sky while also fighting monsters. I honestly thought that I played well on this run, the dungeon simply gave me a lot of extremely tough patterns. That's life. I used this gold to unlock my way over to the Armor upgrades on the tree, and dumped most of my funds into 13 of them. That gave me 52 more points of armor, and should cut down on the amount of damage that I was taking noticeably.
Unlock: Armor Up x 13, Mana Up, Upgrade Barbarian, Unlock Shinobi, Haggle, Upgrade Shinobi
22) Level 263 (Health 75, Attack 46, Magic Damage 47, Armor 13, Mana 13, Equip 35, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Mana Cost Down 5, Miscellaneous 19): 292,679g
Gay trait and the flame barrier spell. Seems like I've been getting the blade wall and the flame ring constantly of late, very few Spellswords with anything else. This run got off to a terrible start, as I was forced to move through one of the rooms where fire rains down from the ceiling, with hordes of monsters in attendance, and that dropped my health down to a sliver. I was sitting at nine health at my lowest point - that's 9 out of 750 HP! One hit death for certain from the next foe. Fortunately I found the castle boss door immediately thereafter, granting a free chicken and 112 health back. This was then immediately wiped out in the next room, where I took two more hits and dropped down to 28 health again... only to have a random chicken pop out of a barrel in the same room. Whew. Two times a single step away from death, only to survive and keep on trucking. I was able to use the castle to rebuild health over time, aided by additional chicken drops. Two of them appeared randomly in a single room, and that restored about a third of my overall health bar. I had the good fortune earlier to pick up Hyperion's Ring from a secret shrine in the first few rooms, and that added more passive gold from monster kills to my overall total. Cleared out the castle completely, headed into the forest where some tough rooms dropped me down under 200 health again. I made use of a fountain to restore health and mana this time; I would find another fountain later in the forest. Good fortune there for sure, sometimes the game giveth and sometimes the game taketh away. Even with those bonuses, I still found my character low on health for most of the forest, just too many difficult rooms along the way, and of course I insisted on fighting everything instead of skipping the toughest areas. I had to use most of my saved up chickens before heading into the tower for safety. Interestingly enough, the tower went much better than the forest, possibly because it's the only area where those McRib skeletons can't spawn. I took few hits, used vampirism to lifesteal from enemies, and found some more recovery items to work my way back up to full health. When I found the tower boss door, I went back and fought both Alexander and Ponce, since I had full life at the time. Alexander got absolutely wrecked by the combination of the empowered flame ring and melee sword swings to keep mana at full. Seriously, he died in five seconds, not even exaggerating. Ponce was a messier fight in comparison, largely because some of the bouncing spiked balls appeared in awkward spots, but I still got it done. The rest of the tower was no cakewalk either, more difficult battles and packed rooms. Once again, I found myself lower on health than I would have liked. The highlight of the tower was winning the axe-throwing minigame and getting the Dark Cape as a reward. I was still using the Guardian Cape for armor, so that was a major upgrade.
I fell down to a single hit for about the fifth time on this run in the basement, had to raid the remaining teleporter chickens to keep going. Fortunately, I was able to find more random chicken drops along the way down in the darkness. This was a generous run for chickens (and fountains!) the whole time. I fought Herodotus immediately upon finding the boss door, and the battle was just as easy as I'd hoped it would be. The flame barrier destroys those blobs, and the biggest problem was running out of mana from using the thing so long. It was all over in a little over 30 seconds, quite a contrast to the 5 minute battles that I often have against that guy! There was still more difficult work to do clearing the final parts of the basement, but eventually it was all done. Full dungeon clear with this Spellsword.
This left the final two bosses, and I wasn't sure how effective the flame ring would be against them. It worked better than I expected against Johannes, shoving him backwards multiple times. That's what you want to do against Johannes, keep him away from your character so that he can't use that fast sword swing attack. The only hits I took here occurred when Johannes got me stuck in the corner behind one of his summoned blade walls. The last fight against the Fountain went even better, as the big guy made no attempt to dodge the spinning circle of flame, and literally died in five seconds. Anticlimactic, much? I surprised myself at how easy and effective this was. The stats on the Fountain definitely don't scale up as much as your own character in the higher difficulty levels, he's significantly harder on Normal than on NG++. Even better, this whole run was captured on stream at the following link.
That would normally be the end of the game, having completed the first three difficulty levels in successful fashion. However... the Spellsword class was only just now coming into its own, and I still was nowhere close to maxed out on upgrades yet. The Magic Damage stat was only sitting at 46/75 points spent, physical Attack was almost identical, while Armor had only 13/50 points and Mana had a mere 13/75 levels! There was a lot more to be done here. I decided that I would at least try NG+3 difficulty after spending the gold from this past run. I turned the 292k gold into 45 more levels, adding the Dark Cape and a whole bunch of Attack, Magic Damage, and Armor upgrades. Now I'd have a slick black cape trailing my Spellswords around, along with more vampirism and an extra air jump.
Unlock: Attack Up x14, Magic Damage Up x13, Armor Up x12, Equip Up x5, Mana Up, Dark Cape
22) Level 308 (Health 75, Attack 60, Magic Damage 60, Armor 25, Mana 14, Equip 40, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Mana Cost Down 5, Miscellaneous 19): 454,460g
Wow, where to begin with this run? I decided to try a run through NG+++ (NG+3) difficulty because the Spellsword class was still nowhere near maxed out on the upgrade tree, only to get this crazy character. Same guy as before, Sir Gordon II with the Gay trait and the flame barrier spell. Nothing changes in the dungeon layout or monster patterns after reaching NG++ mode, the enemies simply get more health and more damage with each additional difficulty level. I ran into a good example of that in the very first room, where I failed to dodge a Gradiator sword swing and took 253 damage. Yeouch! That was a third of my life right there, and that with quite a few armor upgrades from the previous run. The castle and forest areas steadily drained my lifebar, and I was forced to eat through all of my saved up chickens before making it through the second area. The tower was where things got really interesting, because I was only halfway through the region when my Spellsword fell down to 17 health, with no recovery items remaining. This looked like a game over situation for sure. Fortunately I managed to find the tower boss room immediately thereafter, getting a single chicken to go back up to 138 HP, but of course many of the game's foes would still be able to one-shot a character with health that low. Another hit took me down to 92 HP, I worked my way up to 150 HP via lifesteal from vampirism, only to be hit by an enemy ninja's shurikens and fall back down to 35 health. I had to kill about a dozen foes at this point, slowing restoring 8 health per monster slain, going up to 145 HP, only to get hit by a mimic chest that ran through my fire barrier, falling down to 37 HP once again. Then I had to somehow get through a room with two ice mages, a flying cloud, and a skeleton archer bunched together (pictured above). Somehow I managed to kill them all without taking damage, any hit would have killed my Spellsword, don't ask me how I did that. Then as if to reward me for that fine bit of play, the game dropped a chicken at the bottom of the same room, and suddenly we were back in business again. Excellent!
There was still tons of work yet to do though; I would skip two rooms in the tower that were certain death to do on low health, instead heading into the basement where I had a run of luck with random chicken drops. Back up to 600 health now, I went back and finished off the two rooms I skipped earlier, picking up a fairy chest in the process. And yes, I would have been killed if I had done those rooms earlier, since I took about 350 damage in the process. Now it was a further grind to push through the remaining parts of the basement, room after room having to be cleared with less than 200 health, at times under 100 health. Every time it looked like death was imminent, I would find a chicken at the absolute last possible moment, allowing the run to continue that much further. Down to 47 HP, chicken up to 161 HP, down to 105 HP, found the basement boss door for a free chicken refill. Finally, with 95% of the basement finished, I was forced to go through a room packed with monsters, where a Gradiator pounded me (for 305 damage!!!) and a fire mage finished me off. Run over - no wait, the Hyperion's Ring that I picked up on the previous difficulty level gave me a free Death Defy! Even though this had happened previously with my Assassin character, I had somehow totally forgotten about that item's special property. (I was getting confused here with Helios' Blessing, which has a similar name and similar graphic but drops bonus gold from monster kills. Note to the developers: Hyperion's Ring and Helios' Blessing are way too similar, needed more differentiation there.) Anyway, we were back in business, baby! I finished off the last few remaining rooms, laying claim to a full dungeon clear on NG+++ difficulty.
Of course, now I still had to fight all four bosses with no recovery items and less than half health. No more Death Defy to save me if I should fall again. This would require some real skill if I was going to finish off the run in style. Khidr at least was easy, his stationary form unable to dodge the repeated burns of the flame ring. I took no damage and dispatched him without issue. Alexander was a bit tougher, especially when he flew off to the top of the room for some reason in an unusual pattern. This caused me to mess up, as I jumped into the boss by accident and took a single hit before killing him off. Sloppy mistake. Ponce de Leon was more like his normal self, chasing me around endlessly in his room while I ran the flame barrier. This is another place where the fire graphics of the spell can get confused with the fire graphics left by Ponce, they look quite similar. Anyway, I won the battle at the cost of another single hit. This left me with a mere 220 health for the Herodotus fight, not good. I had to rely on the area of effect damage of the flame barrier for this last encounter, fortunately having arguably the best spell in the game for use against the basement boss. And when we clashed in the arena... well, the flame barrier honestly kicked his ass and sent Herodotus crying home to mommy. Zero damage taken, all of the little blobs and flying earth mages burned to a crisp, my Spellsword GAINING 250 health in the process from vampirism. Holy cow! I was not expecting that. The flame barrier shredded Herodotus to pieces. I don't think I've ever seen another class humble him so badly.
The final bosses were anticlimactic after that. Johannes also fares poorly against the ring of flames, as they shoved him away repeatedly and didn't allow him to get off any melee swings of the sword. Johannes also failed to hit me at all. The Fountain proved to be tougher this time around, but only because he played coy. The Fountain repeatedly dashed to the sides of the room and used his flying blade projectiles, which were hard to avoid due to the lack of defensive abilities on the Spellsword class. When he finally stopped doing that and stood still for a moment, the flame barrier tore him apart. NG+3 difficulty completed from start to finish, with the same Spellsword that cleared NG++ difficulty. Amazing! Go watch the full run here on Livestream.
This is a picture of the final stat sheet for our hero, Sir Gordon II. I don't think I've ever seen another character manage to walk the knife's edge of death so many times and come out on top. Keep in mind that Sir Gordon had an equally risky run through NG++ difficulty, dropping down as low as single digit health at one point, somehow managing to find a chicken or some other recovery item every single time. This is a character who could have been dead after five minutes of play and 10k gold brought back, he probably SHOULD have been dead at that point. Instead, he cleared out two consecutive difficulty levels start to finish, bringing back 757k gold across 3 hours of play time. Simply incredible. There's absolutely no way that I can top those last two runs, so I'm retiring Sir Gordon here after New Game +3 difficulty. He has nothing left to prove. The Spellsword that lived!
Some final thoughts on the Spellsword as a class. This is unquestionably the strongest of the magic-oriented classes, it beats the Archmage handily and crushes the poor Lich. The raw damage potential of area-of-effect empowered spells has no equal in this game. It's the sort of thing that the Lich is supposed to be able to match, but can't due to the weirdness of Conversion and high mana costs. The 22 Spellswords that it took to clear NG++ difficulty compared favorably to the 18 needed for the Barbarian class, and the 21 needed for the Assassin class. The Assassin in particular functions similarly to the Spellsword, the physical damage + critical strike version compared to the Spellsword as the magic damage version. Both are lategame focused classes who need a ton of upgrades to be effective. When they get them, however, they're able to dish out some incredible punishment. The biggest weakness of the Spellsword, as I mentioned at the very beginning, was the lack of any escape skills. It's impossible to avoid taking damage much of the time, without the protection of a Paladin shield or Barbarian shout or Assassin mist form. The only solution is to kill the monsters before they kill you. This is probably part of the reason why these last few runs teetered on the edge of death so much!
I do wish that I had gotten a chance to play around with more of the empowered spells, instead of rerolling the same ones so many times. Amongst those 22 Spellswords, I ended up with 2 daggers, 3 axes, 3 chakrams, 6 flame barriers... and 8 blade walls. Argh! I got pretty good at using the darned thing, but it truly isn't a very good option. It felt like nearly every Spellsword had either the blade wall or the flame barrier, and the latter was certainly a lot stronger. I never used the scythe at all during this class challenge (probably not missing anything there). Still, more chances to use the chakram and the axe would have been nice.
This closes the book on the Spellsword class. Next up on the list: the Miner, the game's weakest class. Should be a fun one.