Gritty turn-based RPG Darkest Dungeon has more than enough challenges to keep you busy. Diving headfirst into the strange world of Darkest Dungeon without even a fundamental understanding of how the game’s party system works is a bit of a risk since the Dungeons are unforgiving.
Although there is such a thing as a reliable starter party, the roster of your heroes will depend on two things: the upgrade level of your Stagecoach and the type of Dungeon you’re entering. Different heroes have different pros and cons, and sometimes that can completely change based on their quirks.
The Best Parties For Each Dungeon
Each dungeon requires a different strategy. There are unique monsters, paths, and options, and you will have to change up your party composition regularly if you’re going to succeed. Pay close attention to resistances and healing. These are usually the factors that split a successful run from a dungeon disaster.
Whether it’s the first time you’re venturing into the Ruins or you’re trying to conquer the Warrens for the umpteenth time, here’s a guide on some of the best parties for each location in Darkest Dungeon.
Best Party For The Ruins – Crusader, Vestal, Plague Doctor, Grave Robber
This is the first dungeon you encounter in Darkest Dungeon, and it will change over the course of the game depending on your difficulty and experience. For brand new players, here is a good sample build to get you started.
The Crusader excels in the Ruins due to his boosted damage against undead enemies since there are a whole bunch of skeletons roaming around the Ruins. There’s a well-known meme build that just stacks four Crusaders, but this requires a little forethought with trinkets and quirks, something you cannot think about at the start of the game.
You aren’t going to get very far without a healer. By far the most consistent healing hero is the Vestal, as she will always have the divine grace skill when employed by you. This is a targeted healing ability that can heal between four and nine HP on a hero of your choice. The vestal can also have the Divine Comfort ability which is an AOE heal for each member of the party. The vestal plays in the fourth position, at the back of your party.
The Plague Doctor is a powerful character who deals heavy Blight damage from the backline. Her skills like Noxious Blast and Plague Grenade can hit each enemy position. Those Stuns, like Blinding Gas, can also provide good crowd control for enemies in the back position.
The Grave Robber works exceptionally well alongside the Plague Doctor. The GR’s Thrown Dagger ability deals extra damage to those afflicted with Blight, which is a solid partnership between the two characters. Likewise, the GR can move through the ranks with either Lunge or Shadow Fade, which complements the Crusader’s own maneuvrability. You should be able to balance your team against any kind of foe.
Best Party For The Warrens – Hound Master, Bounty Hunter, Jester, Flagellant
While Blight might excel in the Ruins, it will be of no use to you inside the Warrens. Enemies are heavily resistant to Blight, which means you will need to change your party composition and your playstyle. Here’s a rough guide on what to go for.
The Hound Master is almost a must-pick for the Warrens. He gets a damage boost against beasts, of which there are loads inside the Warrens, and his ability Hound’s Harry inflicts bleed damage to the entire enemy party. Perfect for the Warrens. Lastly, the Hound Master can be used to reduce the stress of your party with the Cry Havoc ability. and stress is a huge factor in the Warrens.
Much like the Hound Master, the Bounty Hunter has a damage boost against beasts. You should try and pick up the Come Hither and Mark For Death abilities as they deal extra damage to marked enemies, which the Hound Master can do for you. It’s a good combination.
Stress is a serious problem in the Warrens (mostly due to enemies like the Swine Drummer and Swine Wretch) so you will need to fit a Jester into your party comp. The Jester has options for both targeted stress relief (Inspiring Tune) and general stress relief (Battle Ballad.) This character will basically act as a sort of stress healer for your run.
Lastly, the Flagellant. There are a couple of options when it comes to the frontline role, but the Flagellant is a good option because of his high Bleed damage. Thanks to the character’s Endure ability he will also not be punished by stress as much as other frontline characters.
Best Party For The Weald – Hound Master, Plague Doctor, Highwayman, Hellion
Welcome to the Weald, a place of poisonous mushrooms and winding paths. You will need to be prepared to tackle multiple enemies at once and come ready to deal with a lot of Blight. Here’s a good party idea.
Pretty much every guide for new players recommends that you start with a Highwayman to play in the second position. The Highwayman is an excellent starter hero because he is relatively easy to use, especially compared to some of the other heroes that have a bit more nuance.
The Highwayman is suited to his position as second in your party because of his ability to move through your roster. There are two skills that let him do this: the Duelist’s Advance, which moves him forwards, and the point-blank shot deals significant damage and will move him back into his more favored second position.
A simple strategy for the Highwayman is to have him rotate in and out of the first position. Get forward, deal damage, then move back from the first position to rotate into a hero with more health.
Hellion is a very robust frontliner who excels and can only really play in the first position. She provides some great stunning ability thanks to the powerful Barbaric Yawp! This is extremely useful when you’re dealing with multiple enemies at once. Iron Swan is also very useful for taking down the Blight-induced enemies on the backline.
The Plague Doctor’s extremely useful in the Weald due to the prevalence of Blight. She can be chosen as primarily a healing character thanks to Battlefield Medicine. This will remove both Blight and Bleed from your party members, literally life-saving. That being said, Blight is not useful as an offensive option due to the high resistance of the enemies. You might need to get a bit more creative if you want the Plague Doctor to deal burst damage.
Hound Master finds his way into this party composition because he can deal well with the fungi that like to hang around the backline of enemy compositions. Just use the Target Whistle to send his hound to the back. Can deal some decent Bleed damage with the Hound Master, as well.
Best Party For The Cove – Occultist, Plague Doctor, Jester, Shieldbearer
The Cove is a cruel place if you’re not prepared. A few things to remember about this dungeon is that Bleed is not effective against fish enemies (must be something to do with their scales) and many of the enemies fall into the Eldritch category. You should build your team around these two factors more than anything.
The Occultist is an excellent choice for the Cove as his abilities deal extra damage to the Eldritch. Simple abilities like Sacrificial Stab and Abyssal Artillery can be very useful. If you play carefully – and come prepared with bandages – the Wyrd Reconstruction skill can also be extremely useful.
Though the Wyrd Reconstruction skill has the potential to heal another character for up to 30 HP, there is also a chance that the skill inflicts bleed on your ally and leaves them basically on death’s door. The chance to inflict bleed is greatly reliant on the resistance levels of your other heroes, so the occultist works well with high-resistance heroes, like the Hellion or Flagellant.
Like in the other Dungeons, the Plague Doctor is useful for healing the variety of Bleed and Blight damage you’ll experience in the Cove. Blight damage from the Plague Grenade is also useful against enemies that block pretty much all Bleed damage. All-around useful.
Shieldbearer is a great early game frontline character, although she is exclusive to the Shieldbreaker DLC. She excels because of her ability to deal damage through the enemy’s protection, which enemies in the Cove have a lot of. Puncture, for example, is a great skill to take with you. You can switch the SB for the Hellion if needs be.
The Jester is useful for handling the Drowned Thrall, one of the scarier enemies in the Cove and one that can deal serious stress damage with its abilities. The Ghasts, Drowned Crew, and Siren will also deal stress damage, so it’s a good idea to come prepared with a Jester.
Knowing which party is best suited to each dungeon definitely gets more complicated as the game progresses. In some fights, an enemy’s high stun resistance might render the hellion much less useful, for example. There are a lot of rock-paper-scissors encounters like this in Darkest Dungeon.
The heroes above are a great starting point for your first run into the dungeons, though, and should provide the balance you need to start upgrading your party.
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