Caves is about management and tactics.
Resources in Caves can be stats, can be weapons, can be items, can be golds and emeralds. There are ways to expense a type in exchange for another type. What resources you need is different every minute depending on your attributes(STR,AGT,LUK), your playstyle, the enemy you plan to or forced to fight with, cave types, your armor types, your upgrades, golds and emeralds... and so.
The simple and common way to increase your effective resources, meaning gainning resource that are likely to help you, is purchase. Vending Machine can offer you items like crystals and bombs thats help playing no matter what condition you are in. While Merchant can offer you serverl times of purchase in items which usually give ammo, cosummables and miscellaneous stuffs. They may not be useful to you for every items you get, but the low price and flexibility of items over equipment is worth spending some gold. Also, get yourself 1 to 2 bombs when starting a new journey in the shelter is always a good move. Besides, digging gravel has a petty chance to drop a chest containing good stuffs sometimes.
Stats management. How to distribute the 4 skill points from leveling up is a management. Obviously melee skill affects melee weapon output, the same for ranged skill. But it takes 3 to 4 or more skill point to increase your damage by 1. The higher you attribute is, the more damage you get per added skill point. Blocking, it affects block chance, dodge chance and slightly affects defence. Choose wise to fit your build and playstyle. Other than leveling up, you can also add your skill points with skill potions and yellow-light magic altar.
Fullness management. Fullness is only availble in Hunger mode and it adds challenge to the gameplay. Fullness is consumed every few turns and you get hurt when it is depleted. Fullness management is also turn management. You enjoy an extremely slow health regeneration when fullness is ≥ 20%, so you can feed yourself up when you have plenty of food. While when you have only little food, it especially happens in ancient ruins, try eat untill huinger actually hurts you since the initial damage is trivial and from 0% fullness to accumulated noteworthy damage it take some turns. This can help you struggle through the famine.
Inventory management. You have a limited slot in your inventory and limited maximum stack for each item, for equipment that is 1 and others can stack from few to hundreds. Clearly you would like to avoid reaching those limits and cannot pick up items you want, so use some of items that are too full or not effective in coming turns/location before that. For ranged builds, ammunation management is crucial. You can keep your bag flood with ammo with purchase, Elite Gunner Medallion, high Luck or most importantly attack effectively, but that is about tactics. And you can use some consumables that will rarely drop in the coming locations to free up spaces in the inventory. On the other hand, carry some rare items with you and recycle them for emeralds when you find a recycler.
You can have different tactics when you have different purpose and resources. Slay or retreat? Use 1 or 2 effective resources or abuse useless items? Play around or finish it in a few turns?
- Shoot melee enemies when they are 2 tiles away
- Ranged enemies do reload and can run out of ammo, but the ammo regenerate with time.
- For melee builds, lure ranged enemies to open the door behind which you wait and attack in melee.
- Make use of the faction system, enemies have their enemies besides you. Lure and KS to save ammo and effort.
- Leave crystal chunks alone if you have low HP or difficulties kill them in few turns.
- Leave crystal chunks alone, break the crystals from range when enemies are close to the crystals.
- Mushrooms and plants on the floor are an invisible enemy indicator.
- Throw an acid potion on units so that you can trace them even they have turned invisible.
- Enemies cannot see units behind obstacles like stalagmites and lakes but you can.
- Teleport across obstacles to get rid of being chasing.
- The most potion after collecting few types of potion and the potion obtained from chest in gravel is likely to be healing potion.
- Throw a Random Teleportation potion on an empty tile if you run out of items and have no money.
- Throw an unkown potion on a weak enemies or floor is the best way to identify it.
- Use an unknown regular scroll when enemies are far in sight is the best way to identify it, giving that you can not predict what it is from identified scrolls.
- Use an unknown black scroll at the tiles adjacent to enemies 3 tiles away from you is the best way to identify it. giving that you can not predict what it is from identified scrolls.
- Throw an acid or fire potion or use Scroll of Barrier on the only way between you and enemies to buy you time or escape.
- Throw an acid or fire potion or use Scroll of Barrier on the tile between you and melee enemies 2 tiles away to buy you 1 turn of time.
- Playing around the trap can sometimes leave the enemies after your 1 more tile lagged behind.
- Activation of shields removes Burning effect.
- Shields prevent units from acquiring Burning effect, but dies not affect fire damage from tile.
- Search for structures: portals, Merchant, Vending Machine or Ancient Ruins using your Radar and Map Scanner to avoid danger or to find useful resources.
- Purchase in shelter is more economic than in vending machine at later locations.
- REMOVE ADS
- Events stop if you are too far away from where events happen.
- Summon a demonic portal at doors/gate, since the portal summons demons at the nearest tiles, if you keep standing behind the doors/gate, the demons should be summoned on the other side of the door.
- Poison effect caused by 2 spiders stack with each other as 2 seperate effects (2 poison effect icons under energy bar). While poison effects caused by the same type of food or potion does not stack, the one with higher number of turns replaces the lower.
- To non-armored enemies, damage that you deal equals to weapon damage shown in the weapon description windows.
- The Scroll of Armor Destruction can be casted to enemies 3 tiles away.
- You cannot have Armor Destruction and Protection effets at the same time, triggering of either one removes the other.
- Elemental damage ignores defence and climbs with location levels.
- Critical hit ignores part of the defence.
- The reflector shield may look not very out-standing, but it can be deadly on enemy. Especially in the later stage of the game running agressive builds, you may try to OHKO enemies with massive damage, but the part of damage that exceeds the HP of the shield is COUNTED into the calculation of the back-fire damage. Avoid damaging the reflector shield with weapons except shock arrow(reduced back-fire damage) and grenades(character not deemed as attacker).
- Enemies that dash away and use health crystal only do so if their enemies are in range, even they have been sufficiently damaged. Note that if you turn invisible after they dash, they still use health crystal in the next turn.
- Supply Beacon drop location is affected by obstacles including ALL crystals.
- Enemies from Magic Altar require space for successful summoning.
Ways of Playing Caves
There are many ways to enjoy your adventure in Caves. The intuitive one is to repeat dying and upgrading until very thing is at high/max level which allows you to easily try different possibilities in the game without worrying surviving :)
Another way is hardcore. Caves is developed for Hard Mode initially. You can challenge yourself how high the "furthest reached location to death counts rate" you can get in hard mode!
Last but no least, leisure play, Caves has quality graphics for you to experience a fantastic spelunking and boss-fights, or simply for killing time, in any difficulties.
These are only examples. Caves should be more fun playing in your own way!
- Some gameplay videos by a dev, 3 parts in total, showing a run reaching location 4 with only a few upgrades and modules in hard mode
- A relatively comprehensive texted guide from u/VoidIsGod
- A useful guide from u/GolemFive, focusing on reaching deep in hard mode using ranged build
- Some old tips from suprjami & PeculiarDonut