All Building a Better Meat Grinder By FriedrichPsitalon Version:1.0
of this guide is complete.

Disclaimer: this guide is written for players attempting Nightmare Monsterfests, and is aimed at a more beginning-to-intermediate audience. Deep endgame players will likely find most of this information review. The tactics discussed herein may be useful for Insane and below, but are not intended and were not tested for such.

The Monsterfests - particularly Oasis and Shipwreck - are very popular for the quality of loot they can drop, and they should be. Properly set up and properly handled, a Monsterfest can be one of the easiest and most profitable ways to spend 45 minutes in Dungeon Defender.

While specific setups for Monsterfests are easy enough to find, many players still struggle with the challenge Monsterfests offer, not because they are incapable of the challenge, but because they fail to recognize the unique conditions a Monsterfest brings to the table.

Monsterfest: Know the Rules of the Macabre Festival

There are two underlying principles of the mechanics of Monsterfest that you need to understand in order to handle them properly:

1. In any Monsterfest, there is a fixed number of enemies that can be on the screen at any time.

On first glance this seems obvious and not worth consideration, but there's a profound truth here. Whereas on Survival and Campaign, you design your defenses to smash ogres utterly and cleaning up small creatures is a side benefit, you do the opposite in Monsterfest. Since there are going to be "X" number of enemies on the screen no matter what, anything you kill means a new monster spawns. Logically, then, you want to kill ANYTHING you can as quickly as you can. Suddenly, Goblins, Archers, and Kobolds are the vital currency of any build. Builds which are highly efficient at killing ogres and slow at killing trash (which most campaign/survival builds are) will often fail in Monsterfest - because the goal is the speed of killing.

2. In any Monsterfest, the target of all the enemies on the field is YOU.

Again, this seems simple and obvious, but players who go charging out to smash anything they can to "help kill monsters" may in many cases be gravely hurting their cause. A barbarian who is on the far side of the map from the defenses - he may be reasoning that he's setting up a second "kill zone" on the other side of the map - is actually diverting half the monsters on the map away from the defenses. Even the most robust hero's killing speed on Nightmare isn't a tenth of what the towers can do. Players are used to the monsters following one specific path forever charging a crystal - not so. Here, the crystal moves. Here, the crystal is YOU.

2b. Having more players on the field is generally a good thing.

Since the monsters pick their targets randomly - or near enough to it - those players who have controllers/friends and can log them in to sit AFK should. According to the devs, there is no difficulty increase over the 4th player - so bring on 5-8! Even if you just have them sitting in the defenses shooting mindlessly in a straight line, there's no penalty to having friends, and they get rewards. (Or, if you're running multiple controllers AFK, you get double/triple/quadruple rewards. Go you.) Extra players also means if you have a roamer Hero - which, situationally, can be a good thing - they're less likely to drag creatures off the path to the defenses everyone else is hiding in.

Areas of Influence: Making Monsterfest Work For You

We can apply the principles above to good effect. Success in a Monsterfest is mostly about three core, guiding principles:

1 - Scout: Choose a location which is easily defended but NOT inaccessible.

2 - Fortify: Make the location as unassailable as reasonably possible.

3 - Exert: Use all remaining DU to extend as large a sphere of influence as possible beyond your fortification.

From this point forward, the reader will be referred to locations on The top of the map will be referred to as "north," the right side "east," and so on.

Scout: Picking the Proper Location

Let's use Oasis as our example. There are a lot of possible locations one might use here.

- The Northern T-Junction above the North spawn.

- The Eastern Bridge area by the Forge.

- The Western Pathway through the hills.

- The Southeastern "Spiral" path.

- The Elevated Central Path.

Unfortunately, using most of these locations puts you at a significant disadvantage, and only two of them are genuinely helpful to the player.

Check 1: Access

If possible, limit the number of access points to your area. The less directions monsters are coming at you from, the more you can concentrate force in those directions. It's okay to only defend two angles, so long as monsters can rapidly reach those two objectives.

For this reason, the Northern T-Junction is out. It has three access points and can be assailed by wyverns from a full 180 degree spectrum. More problematically, with the spawn directly under it, you're going to get heat on both sides of your defenses at once at all times.

Check 2: Convenience

Keep things convenient from the monsters. Remember, you want to keep the killing steady, not in bursts - bursts mean dead times where no new creatures are hitting the field. As a result, if you can, you want a location which is equidistant from as many spawns as possible. Since Oasis has only two major monster spawns (not counting wyvern entrance routes) this is easy - you want it somewhere in the middle.

This kicks out the Northern T-Junction (again) and the Southeastern Spiral Path. Since enemies favor one spawn and then the other, you'll have a lot more lag time early or late in the wave. Steady flow is key.

Check 3: Smooth and Straight

Can you pave a highway on it? There's a reason highways are flat and straight - it promotes quick, smooth travel. Same thing's true for enemies in a Monsterfest. Elevation changes and curves - or worse, both at once - can slow enemies down dramatically. They start bumping into each other and clumping, and both curves and elevation changes mean your turrets won't be as effective. If there are multiple paths to reach your fortification, you want your enemies charging down the flat and straight one whenever possible.

Just like Check 2, this kicks out the Northern T and the Southeastern Spiral. This also, though, kicks out the Central Elevated Path. Enemies might have as many as four ways to reach you, but they'll bounce all over each other trying to make their individual ways. They're also going to be navigating curves and elevation shifts - and your turrets won't get the long, clean fields of fire we all crave.

At this point, we're pretty clearly down to either the Western Sheltered Path or the Eastern Bridge path.

Check 4: Proximity

When possible - and defendable - you want to keep your fortification right in the thick of things. Turrets like to stay busy; targets of opportunity that are running lanes that go by the foritificaton without going through it will still be shot. Auras will reach out to nearby areas, and lightning towers love to have things to spread electric joy between them.

While the Western Sheltered Path still offers a great location for combat, the Eastern Bridge area will get the most from auras and lightning towers. It also offers direct fire straight into the southern spawn, a direct marching line from the northern spawn with a reasonably long, clean field of fire, and both lanes are easily fortified. Wyverns will strike from off-map to the east, but either beam-inflated auras or a single harpoon or two can take care of that.

Fortify: Nothing Says Home Like a Pile of Corpses at the Door

One thing you can say about Monsterfests: they don't skimp on the DU. If you don't know any better, the easiest way to handle fortifying your defenses is to set 28 points aside, and then divide that total by two. The number you get is the DU you have for each direction. Some things are basic and can be assumed, but for posterity's sake, you want your defensive bulwark (the thing you hide towers/heroes behind) to look like:

a) An EV wall (or reversed squire barricade) set out in front of your defenses such that an ogre can't reach over the wall to your defenses.

b) Electric/Weaken/Slow (the slow isn't vital now that ogres aren't limited by them as much, but it's still handy) sitting over top and slightly out front of the wall

c) A gas trap sitting slightly ahead of the auras

Reasoning should be obvious - wall provides a no-pass zone, the triple-aura kills kobolds, badly hampers ogres and DEWs while exposing them to any form of damage, and the slow buys you precious time against all foes. That should provide you with a sufficient defensive bulwark to work from. A common mistake at this point is to plaster the grounds between your two bulwarks with harpoons and buffbeams and call it a day. You definitely want sufficient harpoons to make short work of ogres - and punch through the ogres behind them - but remember that Monsterfest is about any kills, not specific ones. Fireball splashes will greatly increase the rate of speed that you kill the smaller creatures that stream past the ogres. A mix is definitely the way to go.

With a mix of five or six harpoons and fireballs backed by triple auras and a gas trap out front holding things down, you've got a largely unassailable base and quite the meat grinder for anything that comes to your home. Now we need to expand operations a bit.

Exert: Power is Killing Enemies You Can't Even See

Remember those 28 points you were supposed to save? There was a reason - that's four lightning turrets. Ideally, you want these on the "corners" of your defenses - left and right sides, both front and back bulwark. Technically, you could pair them up and put them side by side, but as much as possible, you want to keep some distance between them, so they select different targets, and arc in different ways. (The more variance in their arcs, the more random small critters far away die, after all.)

Make sure that your buff beams are exerting bonuses over both the lightning towers and the auras - very often, both of these can kill enemies before your harpoons and fireballs can. Even if it's a quarter of a second before the harpoon would've pinioned that archer, that's a quarter of a second saved - and that adds up fast when you're talking about 2500 baddies.

The key is to make sure you have just enough firepower locally to kill ogres, sharkens, and djinns before they can threaten you - and then not a single DU more. Everything else you want focused on longest possible range killing. There are more goblins than any other mob in a Monsterfest, and more archers and goblins than the rest of the mobs combined - so you want to kill those as quickly as you possibly can, and the longest range/weakest damage is still capable of that.

So now you have a base of operations which is ideally located, well-defended, and reaches out far beyond its boundaries. That will get you 90% of a wave cleared every time, without fail. It's the last 10% that can be tricky.

You Need a Hero - You Need a Hero 'Till the End of the Wave

(with apologies to Bonnie Tyler)

...but which hero?

No guide is complete without at least one highly controversial, debatable section. So if we're talking about heroes doing hero damage, here's a ranking list people can read and summon up good and proper rage.

A List

Huntress - Barbarian

B List

Series EV - Ranger - Countess

C List

Monk - Apprentice

D List

Initiate - Squire

Just No


...and to explain before people start editing like mad:

The key to Hero contributions on Monsterfest revolves around three things: range projection, defensive potency, mobility. You'll notice "Damage" is not actually on the list. That's because, again, all kills are equal on a Monsterfest. Focus on bringing down lots of little enemies, and trust your defenses to bring down the ogres, sharken, and djinn. (Particularly if you're killing most everything else, your defenses will present you with a lifetime supply of shark steaks.)

A List

The Huntress has inarguably the best range projection in the game: Piercing Shot. Cross terrain, distances, you name it. Her speed is also quite considerable, and her often-underused invisibility makes her reasonably survivable... provided you don't try to go toe-to-toe with any DEWs, of course. One final tip, though: leave the chaingun at home. You want maximum pierces per second, killing as many small foes as you can. Retributions, Bonebows, Disk Throwers only.

The Barbarian obviously has NO range project, but no one's more durable than a Siphon-and-Turtle barbarian, and a barbarian under Tornado stance crosses distance like a pro. The barbarian offers a greater degree of flexibility than any other champ in a Monsterfest to either plug a lane or swarm through slaughtering critters and moving on.

B List

The Series EV could be considered nearly a "B+". Having the ability to shift into and out of a piercing weapon and another, closer-range (Everflame of the Nautilus, perhaps) is an asset. The EV is also sturdier than the Huntress, and has a nice escape mechanism in a chaos of a Monsterfest. The Proton Beam, while not tremendously practical in the Monsterfest context, can be an interesting sweeping weapon if you're in danger of being overrun. It also pierces terrain, if the need arises.

The Ranger gets B-List credit because of his ability to use a ranged piercing weapon, which is exceedingly powerful in the Monsterfest environment. His ability to pierce terrain and sweep three routes of fire at once isn't inconsequential, and his invisibility is still an asset, but the more limited nature of both keeps him from being the Monsterfest powerhouse that the Huntress can be.

While the Countess lacks the raw stay-in-the-pocket-power of the Barbarian, her speed as a melee is simply phenomenal. The hitting power she boasts with Calls to Arms running is to be respected, but CtA isn't quite as useful since you would never want two heroes roaming together on a Monsterfest - it only takes one Hero to put down legions of wimpy goblins and archers, after all.

C List

Monk - It's not that he isn't fast, or that his damage can't be significant. It's that he isn't as fast, and his damage doesn't pierce. His ability to buff turrets is significant, though, and certainly worth mention. Monsterfests tend to be a bit "bursty" at the start, and countering that with a Tower Boost isn't bad. The rest of the wave, though, the monk's durability issue combined with no escape mechanisms and non-piercing fire make him just "meh" at best for Monsterfest hero work.

Apprentice - See "monk." Mana Bomb's radius isn't wide enough for it to be a major factor unless you take the Apprentice well and truly away from the base... in which case, you'd better have some pretty significant skill to get him home again. Not "can't be done" - Mana Bomb is a fun toy and a well-geared Apprentice might be able to do some serious Hero damage - but why not just put that gear and that staff on an EV? More durability, better specials... although you'd still be better off with a piercing weapon.

D List

Initiate - suffers from all the problems of the monk with even less health. Her mobility isn't going to protect her forever, and she doesn't have invisibility or a projection to bail out with. The mapwide Tower Boost is expensive and impractical - if you're doing Hero damage, you're away from the Fortification, and thus away from any builders on the map. Crippling enemies with your other special slows them down - and that's the worst thing you can do on a Monsterfest. Other challenges beckon the Initiate; this one does not.

Squire - Some might be shocked to see the squire down here, but there's a simple answer: speed. The squire is incredibly slow, and lacks the barbarian's turbo boost stance. Bloodlust is not the answer: taking more damage is never wise in a Monsterfest's chaos. Powerful, yes. Durable, certainly. Just not fast enough to do anything more than extend the kill radius of your fortifications a modest bit before he has to retreat and heal, though. Skip squires for Hero damage on a Monsterfest.

Just No

Adept - Super-fragile. No escapes. High mobility, but two specials that are very unlikely to be useful. No piercing shots. There is simply nothing an Adept can bring to a Monsterfest that someone else can't do better. Unless you are looking to make things more challenging on yourself, don't bring her out of the fortifications.

Coming Soon: Pet Choice and Roaming Patterns!

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