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The game will teach you the basics as you progress, but I’ll mention this stuff here too for reference.
Adventurers, monsters, and floor artefacts are all broken down into five categories: melee, ranged, magic, healer, or generic. Combat centers around a rock paper scissors style strategy… Kinda like Pokemon. Melee units deal more damage to ranged units, which deal more damage to magical units, which in turn deal more damage to melee units. Healing and generic units don’t have any advantages or disadvantages in combat.
All of the above units will have an action bar which, when full, will let the unit attack, heal, or cast support spells. In addition, adventurers will have a timer that determines how long they can stay on a single floor.
And as in all strategy or role playing games, each unit will have its own stats that determine how fast its action bar moves, how much damage it deals, and how much damage it can take.
In the game, two resources determine how well you can do your job as daughter of the darklord: Karma and Negative Points. Karma is awarded at the end of each completed stage, and can be used to expand the number of floors the tower can hold, or to upgrade your monsters. Negative Points (or NP) is given in a set limit at the start of the stage, and earned with each defeated adventurer. NP is used to build floors, and to summon and strengthen monsters.
There is no penalty for losing! If it looks like you're going to lose a stage, you always have the option of restarting. In fact, any Karma you earned for defeating some of the adventurers is awarded to you even if one of the remaining heroes should reach the crystal.
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As the game progresses, your enemies will become stronger, and will come in greater numbers. What fun would it be if they didn’t? If faced with a large wave of adventurers, you want to make sure that you have enough floors to keep all of them busy. If you’re facing off against a single, stronger enemy, then you’ll want to fill a floor above him with monsters that will have the advantage in combat.
Be aware of your foes’ general stats. If you have a powerful monster waiting a floor above a speedy thief, it may not get to attack at all if it’s still waiting for its action bar to recharge. Conversely, a floor full of speedy monsters may not do much to an adventurer with a lot of HP, and may fall to said adventurer pretty quickly.
Status effects show up fairly early in the game, and can be a great help to you in any stage. On the other hand, adventurers can dish out status effects too, and that could spell trouble. A good effect to throw at a group of adventurers is poison, which will deal periodic damage over the span of a couple of floors. Stun, which will ensure that your monsters attack first, is another good way to get the edge in a fight.
The duration an adventurer can stay on a floor varies between types of adventurers, and is always ticking down unless a unit is attacking. Use this to your advantage! Smaller, faster monsters might not last too long in a battle with several heroes, but a floor full of them is sure good for stalling a hero long enough for you to prepare!
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Game Progression: Chapter 1
Your only threats in this chapter are trainees and black mages. The trainees are simple enough for your only monsters, the goblins, to take out. Your melee monsters will have a hard time with the mages, and your iron ball floor won't do much to them either. The dark dresser is a better choice for taking on the black mages, as it will shield your goblins from some of the damage. It's probably a good idea to expand your tower, and maybe upgrade your goblins to the second level, if you have the Karma for it.
The boss hero of Chapter 1 is a familiar face if you've played My Life as a King. She deals heavy magic damage and will make whatever she hits move much slower. And if that wasn't bad enough, she's got a moogle following her around that will occasionally restore some of her HP! Build your tower up with iron ball floors and loads of goblins. It may take four or five floors to actually finish off this boss.
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Game Progression: Chapter 2
You'll finally get a ranged monster to deal with those annoying black mages, and the scorpions do manage to get rid of them pretty quickly. Unfortunately, they're a little slower than the goblins. Even worse, Chapter 2 introduces two ranged adventurers: the bandit and the thief. Bandits will hit hard, but they're pretty slow, while thieves will move fast and attack your floors directly. Make use of some improved goblins to make short work of the thieves. You'll get the Poison Harp floor in this chapter too, which is good for poisoning all of your foes. Near the end of the chapter, you'll encounter gladiators, a melee adventurer. Sadly, you'll have to wait until Chapter 3 for a monster and a floor to help deal with them.
If you take a side path part way through Chapter 2, you'll earn your first generic monster and a spell scroll that can be used once per stage to deal some damage to every adventurer in your tower. The Mu, while quite cheap and speedy, is very weak in terms of attack and defense. It's main purpose is to stall the heroes while you make more deadly preparations.
The boss hero of Chapter Two is a very dangerous character. You'll want to stack up floors of goblins to deal with this ranged attacker, as she is capable of hitting your floor and every monster in it with a single attack! She's also pretty quick, so hit her with everything you've got before she reaches the top!
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Game Progression: Chapter 3
You'll get the Thunder Stand floor and the Bomb monster here. Thunder Stand is great for stunning enemies, thereby increasing their time spent on that floor, and granting your monsters the opportunity to make the first strike. In addition to the multitude of gladiators you'll face, you'll quickly run into white mages. As healers, white mages won't attack at all, but they will heal large portions of their health on each floor. It might take a few floors to finally knock them out. Soon after meeting the white mages, you'll discover your own healer, the Cactuar! These little guys are quick and can save you in a pinch.
Chapter 3 throws more challenges in your face with the arrival of the Red Mage and the Illusionist. Red Mages are generic adventurers with a lot of power and a bit more speed than you might expect. Keep an eye out for them, because they are able to target your floors directly. Illusionists, meanwhile, are magical adventurers who are slow, but also focus entirely on your floors. Near the end of the chapter, you'll get the Slow Clock floor, which will seriously slow down the adventurers. And down a side path near the end of the chapter you'll gain your second generic monster, the Shade.
At the end of the chapter you'll face a boss whose generic type could pose a serious threat. She can attack monsters and floors, and will stun any monster she hits.
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Putting the Conquest on Hold
Starting with the third chapter, My Life as a Darklord becomes a real challenge. It will take quick thinking (and sometimes a well timed Aero spell) to win a stage, but as your collection of floors and monsters grows, so to will your options. As you play the game, you'll notice that some of the rewards will be clothing items. Unfortunately, these don't provide a graphical change to Mira's looks; those outfits come later in the game. Instead, these items will increase the starting amount of NP by 50 each. By the end of Chapter 3, you should be starting each stage with about 600 NP. This will give you plenty of room to build your tower up in preparation for the increasing hordes of adventurers.
There are still two chapters in the game, with a sixth chapter currently available for download in the add-ons section of the game. Plenty more great content is coming for My Life as a Darklord, from outfits that let Mira cast more spells, to special floors that will do horrible things to your enemies!