“Darkest Dungeon”: Heroes and Parties

In the midst of re-playing Darkest Dungeon, I’ve found a few hero combinations that I really like and some combos that might be interesting to play, plus I’ve come up with a listing of the lest favorite to the most favorite heroes to play.

Your heroes will take physical damage. Your heroes will take Stress damage. Your job is to gather a 4-man party that will minimize these damages as much as possible.
The following are some parties that may work well for you (“tested”); some other parties are some fun combinations, with fun names, that might actually work in dungeon settings (“fantasy”). Speaking of names, Darkest Dungeon will occasionally name your party, depending on the people in it. If my names are the same as theirs, it was not intentional.

Edit: just before publishing, I found a page that lists all of the names that Darkest Dungeon has for parties; while I duplicated a couple of parties, I didn’t use any of their names.
“Heavy Handed” (concept): listed from the 1st position, this party consists of the Man-At-Arms, Leper, Hellion and Crusader, although the Shield-breaker would be an excellent alternative for the Crusader. This group has the potential to mow through nearly any low-to-mid level group. If the Leper has a trinket that improves his ACC (Accuracy), then look out! The Shield-breaker fits in because she can fight from all 4 positions, with abilities that bounce her around each spot. This frees up the Leper and Hellion from the 4th spot, where they aren’t nearly as effective.
“Dark Carnival” (tested): Abomination, Leper, Jester, Antiquarian. This was just me, trying to find 4 heroes that would fit a particular theme, and it surprisingly worked (in the Weald, with Level 0 and 1 characters). The Abomination can cause Bleed with his attacks, while taking some significant Physical damage; the Leper, if he doesn’t swing and miss, also can dish out some serious damage; the Jester can buff the party/attack; and the Antiquarian… can collect gold? These are heroes that might fit in with a Circus theme, albeit a macabre one.
“Dawnbreakers”: Crusader, Flagellant, Man-At-Arms, Vestal. I will say it until I see evidence against it: take a Vestal in your group, as often as possible. She is the best healer in the game, can affect the torch light level, and can stun with magic or melee, while the Flagellant (another DLC character) gets better as he takes more damage and stress. This is the “Holy Party”, with 3 heroes being of Faith-based persuasions, and the Man-At-Arms being the “shield” to the Crusade “hammer”.
“Shady Dealings”: Bounty Hunter, Highwayman, Grave Robber, Arbalest. This is a group of heroes that aren’t necessarily evil; they just might sometimes straddle the line of morality and Law & Order, depending on the size of the pay day. A perfect fit for Darkest Dungeon. There is also some decent ranged damage dealers in the group, with the Highwayman’s “Grape Shot” (which can hit all but the first slot of enemies) and the Grave Digger’s “Poison Darts” (can cause Blight to the back 2 slots of enemies) topping the charts, in my opinion.
“Nightmare!” (concept): Abomination, Flagellant, Occulist, Plague Doctor. You have a shape-shifting powerhouse, a holy warrior that relishes in blood and pain, a guy that dabbles in the magic of the Eldritch, and a woman that is the master of poisons and toxic gases. The Flagellant can reduce the stress of party members, the Plague Doctor can buff and heal the party, I am going to test this lineup out ASAP.
“Dance Troupe”: Shield-breaker, Jester, Man-At-Arms, Occultist, Man-At-Arms: I love the Man-At-Arms/Shield-breaker combo, where the Man can Gurad an ally, the Shield-breaker can bring an enemy closer to them, and the Man-At-Arms can Riposte any attacks aimed at him. This group is named for their abilities to push and pull enemies to different spots, while being able to move to different spots in the heroes’ lineup via attacks and abilities.

Choosing a Hero
This is not necessarily a “Best Character” list; this is more of a “Favorites” list. If I had to do a one-time dungeon, with all 17 characters available, this is the order in which I would probably choose them. Since I am still fairly early into game play (2 or 3 of my heroes are Level 2, most are Level 1, and a few are Level 0), this list is subject to change:
17. Antiquarian


I get that she enables larger stacks of gold for the party and that she might have a useful trait or 2 for Camping. However, I really don’t see me taking her on a dungeon run long enough for Camping. She is good (for me) for short gold grabs, and that’s about it.
16. Houndsmaster – my “don’t take him!” stance has softened since I first purchased this game. However, there still are much better options than him, in my opinion.
15. Arbalest – she has a couple of good ranged attacks but nearly every time I took her, she – at best – ended up deep into the 100’s in Stress, if not outright dead. Until I figure out what I could be doing wrong with her, she stays at the back of the line, usually for short, expendable dungeon runs.
14. Plague Doctor – her issue isn’t that I don’t like her, it’s that I couldn’t slot her higher. His stuns are cool, her buffs help… she just isn’t high up on the list.
13. Abomination – like the Houndsmaster, I’ve softened on his usage. I’m also glad that the Abomination is no longer excluded from parties with “Religious” characters, such as the Crusader or Vestal. Unfortunately, I still have a hard time picking him, especially with his stress-causing Transformation. Who wouldn’t be stressed after seeing a colleague transform into a Werebeast?
The rest of these characters will find themselves chosen more often than not:
12. Highwayman – I have always been partial to the shadows-lurking Rogue, and the Highwayman is the latest example. He has some pretty good non-spell-based ranged damage and a couple of decent melee attacks. If you are looking for a character to cause some Bleed damage, or to hit multiple targets at once for sizable damage, the Highwayman is a good choice.
11. Bounty Hunter – as a melee damage dealer who can work from the first 3 slots of a party, the Bounty Hunter has gotten more play with me, lately. He may move up the list more, once I get more comfortable playing with him.
10. Leper


If his ACC (accuracy) was even 10% better, he might be in my top 5. His HP are one of the 2 highest in the game and his DEF (defense) allows him to take hits. His damage-dealing can get scary from Chop (against one foe) and Hew (verses two foes).
IF he connects with a hit.
His accuracy is low enough to make me hesitate taking him for dungeons with tougher enemies. He also only works from the front 2 slots. Take him, play around with him, and hopefully find a trinket that can increase his ACC. Just make sure you have another hoss up front with him.
9. Grave Robber


She was an early favorite of mine. I like her Plague-spreading abilities with her Poisoned Darts, her ability to Scout, Detect Traps, and Disarm Traps, and her maneuverability. Those Darts and her Thrown Daggers (which can hit the middle of an enemy lineup) get her chosen for quite a few adventures.
8. Occultist – this guy is essential for when you run up against Cultists. I like his Reconstruction ability: although it might cause you to bleed, the healing that you can receive more than makes up for the Bleed damage. He also has a very handy, yank-a-backline-spellcaster-to-the-front Eldricth Pull.

7. Jester – I like the party buffs that Jesters have; I also like some of their Bleed abilities. What I like the most is his ability to jump around the party: he has decent, useful abilities for all 4 spots, and has abilities that can put him in those spots. Very useful, in my opinion.

6. Flagellant – this hero is rapidly becoming a favorite. He gets better, the more he is Stressed or Damaged; his attacks normally have a chance to cause Bleed, but they increase in damage caused and bleed damage caused, the closer the Flagellant is to death. He also can reduce Stress on other party members. If he dies, he goes out with a Bang!: all allies are massively healed, all enemies are stunned!

5. Man-At-Arms – I like having someone that can take a beating in my party. The Man-At-Arms can take heavy damage, can dish out heavy damage, and can counter any damage with Riposte. I like combining him with the Shield-breaker: she can pierce enemies’ armor and dash away, while he can Guard her and Riposte any attack aimed at him!

4. Crusader – your prototypical ‘Paladin’. He is an absolute undead wrecker! I have had pretty good success with a Crusader in my parties, especially if he is in the front 2 slots. Combine him with the Man-At-Arms and you have an offense-defense combo that is very hard to defeat.

3. Hellion – she was very close to being #1. She has some awesome melee attacks, even if some of them debuff her. Her Bleed attacks can devastate enemies, especially ones with high protection (PROT) values). 

2. Shield-breaker


She can’t take as much punishment as the Crusader or Leper but she can dish punishment out. I mentioned it earlier: she is perhaps the best in the game, in terms of dancing around different spots in the party. I love the fact that some of her attacks completely ignore armor. Put her in your party (if you have the DLC for it) – you won’t regret it.

1. Vestal


The Vestal is my favorite character in the game. Without one, your level 0 and 1 character will probably die in most dungeons. She has pretty good Stun abilities. Some of her attacks also raise the torch light – while this might reduce your loot value, it will also affect creatures that don’t like light. Her value, however, comes with her heals. She has single hero heals that can hit for up to 6 points (at Level 0 – that is a lot) and party heals for up to 4 (at Level 0). If you can train her at the Guild Hall, especially if done early, you now end up with a hero that can Heal, Stun, and Raise Torch Light, and possibly be in the lead slot as a melee fighter. Pretty versatile!

Once I get to Level 4+ dungeons, I’ll write another Darkest Dungeon-based recap.

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