This ended up being pretty much a bust for me- because my computer was down for about 9 days. I already wrote about the games I played during this week in my Week of Gaming #18 article, so I thought I'd use this space to provide an in-depth analysis of the Desktop Dungeon character classes.
Each class has three abilities, though in some cases these actually contain multiple aptitudes, such as the Berserker's MAGESLAY abilitiy. I'll just list the abilities in functional order, as opposed to the humorous layout used in the game.
Tier 1: Fighter, Thief, Priest, Wizard
Fighter: See all monster locations, +1 experience per kill, survives first death.
The fighter's first two abilities are very good - extra experience almost guarantees that you'll get to level 10, and it means just 3 monsters will get you to level 2, so you won't waste much time getting rolling. Surviving 1 death seems pretty cool, but later on you'll get characters and spells which do much better things for you.
Thief: +30% damage on first strike, +33% more items of all types, potions restore health + mana both.
Thieves are surprisingly resilient, mostly due to the extra items, which means thieves get +1 mana, +10% damage, more potions, and more life. Since potions do double duty, Thieves functionally end up with 20 potions, as opposed to the regular 8. The 30% damage bonus on the first strike actually ends up working against new players, as it makes it difficult to calculate how many hits are required to kill some enemies.
Priest: +2 health per level, health potions heal 100%, double damage to undead.
Priests are pretty easy to play, especially if your boss is an undead monster. Extra health is pretty marginal at the beginning, but it certainly doesn't hurt. Health potions healing 100% instead of the regular 50-60% is awesome as well.
Wizard: can see glyph locations, can hold 4 spells instead of 3, -1 mana cost for all spells, -25% attack, 1 extra spell on the map.
Wizards are quite challenging to play, because of the uneven usefulness of spells. If you find an early fireball, you are set. If you don't... you're all weakness and no strength. The good news is that wizards get better as you unlock more Tier 3 characters, and thus unlock more possible spells.
Tier 2: Berzerker, Rogue, Monk, Sorcerer
Berzerker: +30% damage, +30% damage against higher-level monsters, 50% magic resistance, spells cost +2 mana.
Berzerkers are probably the only class in the game which don't lend themselves well to a magic-heavy strategy. Their 60% bonus to higher-level monsters is absurdly good. Honestly, they are just good all around. The only drawback is that since they have such huge attack bonuses - things which otherwise increase their attack don't have as much impact as they normally do.
Rogue: +50% damage, first strike, 20% dodge, low health.
First Strike is an amazingly effective ability in Desktop Dungeons, and Rogues have it. +50% attack is just crazy icing on that cake, and 20% dodge is like sprinkles on that icing. As with Berzerkers, their natural attack bonus slightly mitigates the use of other attack bonuses. But unlike Berzerkers, Rogues have full magic potential, and they often rely on it to protect their fragile health.
Monk: -50% damage, +50% resist all, double health regeneration.
Monks are probably my favorite class, because they are such an interesting challenge to play. Half damage for you and your opponents sounds like a wash - but it actually works in your favor mostly. Getting the + attack items and bonuses give you a larger than average boost, and if you are lucky enough to find any +resistance abilities - you can become an untouchable holy warrior.
Sorcerer: +5 mana, heal when a spell is cast, damage opponents who hit you.
The sorcerer is, unfortunately, not a very good class. +5 mana is fantastic, but minor healing + minor damage is pretty unimpressive. The mana shield ability (which hits opponents who hit you) would be awesome in a melee-centric character, but it's mostly wasted here. Still, +5 mana and no attack penalty makes this class a much better spellcaster than the wizard.
Tier 3: Warlord, Assassin, Paladin, Bloodmage.
Tier 3 characters all begin with a unique spell - beating a standard dungeon with each of them adds that spell to the pool of possible spells in the game. So beating the game with each of these characters can really help you beat the game with another class later. In addition, the free spell means another glyph to sacrifice for your racial bonus.
Warlord: Begin with resist death spell, +30% damage when wounded below half HP, +30% damage after drinking mana potionn.
The Warlord's resist death spell is, frankly, amazing. It costs 10 mana, so you should always cast it immediately. It allows you to survive the next killing blow - like Fighters have be default! But you can cast it EVERY TIME you have 10 mana - which turns out to be a lot of the time. I'll often cast it, get back up to 10 mana, then fight an enemy. Let the enemy kill me once, cast it again, attack and die again, and then finally finish the enemy off. With this technique, I can often beat enemies 3 or 4 levels higher than me - making Warlords an amazing class every time. Once you beat the dungeon with them, you'll have a chance of getting the resist death spell in regular dungeons while playing as other classes - which makes things easier for everyone.
Assassin: Begin with poison spell, first strike when the area around a monster is revealed, auto-kill monsters of a lower level.
Assassins have it rough. Poison is a pretty good spell, but the rest of their abilities, while thematic, are just garbage. The XP formula in Desktop Dungeons makes it such that killing low-level enemies is generally trivial, so making it automatic is no big deal. Conditional First Strike is ok, but hardly game-breaking. And once you beat the standard dungeon, everyone else gets occasional (random) access to the poison skill. So I never play as the Assassin when I have the choice.
Paladin: Begin with heal spell, 25% physical resist, heals for 50% when killing an undead monster.
Paladins are pretty interesting. Healing is a fine ability, but not amazing on its own, but it has good synergy with damage resistance. But like most tier-3 characters, the real reason to play as a Paladin is to unlock the heal spell, and allow its powers to sometimes get added to the other, better classes.
Bloodmage: Begin with Blood Power spell, mana potions 100% effective, heal 15% from blood pool.
Bloodmage is basically a vampire - one who trades physical healing for mana healing. This makes for a very potent magic-user. He somewhat suffers from the same problem as all magic-users in the game: the fact that there is only one damage spell. If you find it quickly, you can rock the board. If you don't find it - your abilities go to wast for the most part, and you may not have enough unexplored area to make use of the time in which you (finally) have it. This is the most interesting of the Tier 3 classes, because the blood pool healing is a really unique interesting effect.
I'll leave the final 6 unlocked classes for another time, perhaps.