Deus Shift strategy discussion

edited June 2013 in Deus Shift
Deus Shift isn’t very complex game by rules, but it does have long learning time, which prevents people from staying in it. To help newcomers get through this barrier and to give them boost for becoming formidable opponents I’ve started this thread. I’m not going to cover very basics, they are described in the tutorial, so I’m going to start a bit further and give you more information about units – they are your tools, you have to know how to use them. But this is general description, in time you will develop your own view, I’m just trying to speed it up.

Unit overview

Basic defensive units – Sentinel and Defender. They both have mostly the same role: blocking enemy advancement on your position. They also add some mana income, so keep that in mind. Sentinel is stronger vs Ghoul, but weaker vs Raven; Defender is vice versa – strong vs Raven, vulnerable to Ghoul. Also, Sentinel is your primary unit for mana farming because it generates double amount of mana on dominated wheel. On the other hand, Defender is a little more tough and mobile than Sentinel. Don’t rely on them to lead attack, but don’t forget – they can support it well or counterattack using Death Shift.

Basic offensive units – Raven and Ghoul. These are what you need to break through Sentinel/Defender wall, at least until you can afford something more powerful. Raven’s flight ability is very useful too, it may help you to get unit out of trouble, even your own Heart, or drop fresh reinforcements in battle. Ghoul is one of your primary units to deal direct damage to Heart, his fixed +2 to attack make him useful vs tough units like Berserker and keep him dangerous even when low on health. On the other hand, Ghoul is vulnerable to counterattacks and has Heart Bound 2, which means losing Ghoul hurts more. Don’t forget that Ghoul can teleport back home (or move within your dominated wheel freely).

Advanced defensive unit – Berserker is expensive but worth its cost. Its main quality – toughness, it takes very low damage from attacks, and is very hard to break through. Berserker also has high enough damage and uses Physical Shift to attack, which gives it some offensive usage. If you have a lot of mana and don’t know what to buy – think about Berserker, it is a choice that can’t go wrong.

Advanced attacking unit – Vanquisher. Vanquisher is single most expensive unit in mana and in Heart Bound, but it also deals the most damage to enemy Heart in direct attacks. He is able to kill most other units in one blow, although he gets some back and is vulnerable to counter attacks, so trading it for enemy unit isn’t a good idea – you will lose more. So main uses for this monster: grinding enemy Heart; Carefully destroying enemy lesser units, avoiding counter attacks and keeping Vanquisher alive; Breaking through crucial position that is hard to deal with other way. Be careful when you use Vanquisher, unless you deal direct damage to Heart with it which is always worth it, you have to know exactly what you want to do, or you will just waste lots of mana and loose Heart hp.

Support units – Annihilator, Specter, Cauldron. Common thing about all support units: they are vulnerable to direct attacks and useless on front lines, so keep them secured in the rear. They all work distantly. First one – Annihilator, is a kamikaze unit. It can deal good damage and has splash, sometimes his attack can be devastating. I personally don’t use it often, but I can suggest two ways to use it: either buying and exploding it on the same turn, when you get Deus. Keep this opportunity in mind, I did it few times and it can be very powerful. Second possibility – buy it when you have nothing better to do, and just keep it until good opportunity arises. Annihilator is the only unit except defensive ones that generate mana, so this kind of investment may prove worthy, though I didn’t try it. Next unit on the list – Specter, it has only one ability – “Swap Health” and it does exactly what the name says. Interesting and useful unit, very powerful in some situations. I don’t know what to add here – I’m sure you have the idea on how to use it yourself. Cauldron – expensive ranged support unit, basically it’s just an artillery that sits behind your lines and smashes enemy units from afar. If your opponent has one in safe place, it’s very hard to deal with. Can’t give you solution because I haven’t tried any against human opponent.

That’s all about units for now, it should be enough for you to have something to base your decisions on and to stop guessing blindly, but there are still plenty of room for improvement. Few more advises to get into play: write down on paper unit damage table to be able to refer to it when you planning your next move; observe moves of your opponent – copying him will quickly get you on his level, but only your own thinking will let you beyond.


  • Now that you have learned about your tools, I’ll give you some conceptions on what to aim for. This isn’t an organized guide, its rather a collection of thoughts and ideas, which ones you’ll choose is up to you. Try them all and see how it will work for you.

    The goal in Deus Shift is simple: reduce enemy Heart hp to zero and don’t let him do the same to you. And there are only two basic ways to do so: either directly attacking enemy Heart, or killing his units, which will cause his Heart to lose hp. And this leads us to two main ideas where to aim:

    Heart attack – to attack Heart directly you have to get to its wheel, so this concept means concentrating your powers on getting your attacking units to his Heart’s wheel, anchoring there and causing as many damage to enemy Heart as possible. Direct attacks deal most damage to the Heart, which also fills up Deus Charge quickly and can cause additional attack same turn, so they are very dangerous and can quickly change tides of battle or even end the game. As any strategy can be used by you or against you equally, you have to consider not only executing it but defending against it too. Removing enemy units from your wheel is a hard task, if you can’t kill his unit in one turn and cut off reinforcements, he will be able to summon more, and even if you manage to repel the threat you probably had suffered a lot of damage already. Best way to counter this – not let this happen, keep entry point (cell which is connected to other wheels) to your home wheel blocked. If it already happened, than you should firstly consider retreat – using a Raven to teleport your Heart to safer wheel. If you are the lucky one who got to enemy Heart, you should remember that damage dealt by units is scaled by their health, so fresh or healed with Specter units will do more damage. Summoning fresh units will also prevent enemy from cleaning up his wheel from your units. Ghoul and Vanquisher are the ones that deal most damage, with Deus their attack can be devastating.

    Unit hunting – not as devastating as direct Heart attacks, but generally more available. Most of the time enemy Heart is out of your reach, unlike his other vulnerable units. Finishing enemy units and moving your units out of danger – this is what you will do a lot. Support units are very useful for this, they can’t deal damage to Heart otherwise. Also killing enemy units has other benefits – reducing his mana income, freeing space for your advancement, etc. No particular advises here, just pay more attention to units with stronger Heart bound (the ones that cause more damage to Heart when they die).
    It may seem now, that there is nothing to add here – these two conceptions cover all possible ways of actually achieving victory… But there are other rules in this game, and this mean more ways of achieving advantage.

    Mana farming – more mana means more and better units. There are three ways to raise mana income: dominating wheels; mana gain from units (defensive units give mana every turn, especially Sentinels. Combine with dominating wheels for best results); mana gain from actions (some units generate mana when they engage in combat and when they perform a kill. Not reliable as main mana source, but may add some). Also, think about disrupting enemy mana flow – killing or damaging enemy Sentinels and other defenders (mana generated by unit is scaled by its health), killing or removing units from enemy dominated wheel.

    Gridlock – you can summon units on a free cell near your unit. What if you don’t have any free spot? If you manage to corner enemy Heart and block it with your units - you have won, no matter how many mana and health he has. Although it is very hard to accomplish this in pure form, blocking space for summoning can cause enemy a lot of trouble – it can force him to buyback or even sacrifice his units to free a spot for something he needs, keep him from utilizing accumulated mana, etc. To avoid this happening to you, try to keep your units on at least two wheels.

    Getting combo – Deus Shift is not about quantity of units, it’s more about quality and position. And some units greatly emphasize advantages of others. A Raven in play highly increases mobility of all your forces; combination of Sentinel and Defender in defense is better than two of one kind because they cover weaknesses of each other; Berserker blocking the way to Cauldron is a powerful combo that is very hard to deal with, etc. In short – try to vary your units and aim for specific powerful combinations of them.

    Improving Shift usage – apart from combining unit advantages, you can look at what shifts they use. Basic defenders (Sentinel, Defender) use Death Shift to attack, attackers (Ghoul, Vanquisher) use Physical. If you have two Vanquishers you can only attack with one, but If you have attacker and defender, you are able to attack with both same turn. Try to get as many different possibilities to use every shift as you can. Cauldron or defensive units allow you to attack with Death Shift, attackers or Berserker make your Physical Shift active, Specter or Raven add some extra usage to Astral Shift. So, the idea here: you have only three shifts per turn – get max out of them all.

    That’s all for now, maybe I’ll add more in future. You can do it too, feel free to post your thoughts and advises. Truth born in dispute after all.
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