I’ve hit a significant milestone in my time with dice-based roguelike Slice & Dice: I’ve unlocked all 100 hero types. That’s 20 heroes each for the game’s five archetypes, and I’ve used every type of hero at least one time over the course of my many runs of the game. Naturally, I’ve come away from this experience with preferences about which ones I enjoy and which ones I try to avoid whenever possible. So today I thought it would be fun to share my favorites from within each archetype and at each level!
Orange heroes are the thieves and rangers of Slice & Dice, specializing in ranged attacks and poison as well as strategies that are generally just tricky, strange, or subtle. They are rarely the biggest damage dealer on the team – or if they are, it’s a huge gamble or a wild series of combos that is leading that damage to take place. I like orange heroes because often they have some tricky workarounds for annoying abilities that enemies bring to the table like regeneration or taking reduced damage or reflecting damage back.
Level One: Dabble
Can we take a second to acknowledge the fun name logic that some of these classes follow? I first discovered the Dabbler, a red-mage type hero that has a balanced dice with some healing, some damage, some shields, and some mana. I then later unlocked the Dabblest, which in turn helped me unlock the Dabble. Dabble, Dabbler, Dabblest. Flawless, 10/10, no notes. I like the Dabble as a starting orange hero because all of their dice sides are filled, which means they’ll always be able to do something each round, and the healing side that the Dabble has is actually pretty good – 5 health restored is a lot bigger than anything you’re going to get from most of the red starting heroes. While broadly I prefer heroes that are focused on a particular role instead of being a jack of all trades, the Dabble makes up for that by virtue of being a starting hero – something that’s nifty to have around in the beginning but that you are guaranteed to grow beyond during your run.
Level Two: Trapper
This decision was a bit trickier than my level one choice, but a couple of things about the trapper have helped to seal the deal. One is the ability to inflict the vulnerable status, which increases the amount of damage suffered by the opponent from additional attacks the rest of the turn. The trapper helps other units to reach bigger damage potential, and increasing the damage of two or three other attacks can sometimes be a bigger source of damage than just having an attack that is more powerful on the trapper themselves. This is particularly true if you have a way to boost the trapper’s attack and thus boost the amount of vulnerable that they inflict. The real secret though is the trapper’s left side: a ranged, guaranteed kill against enemies with four or less health. This is enough to pick off most mooks (archers, snipers, bones, imps, spiders, etc.) while also avoiding whatever annoying side effects they might have when you attack them. This is particularly good against foes that are hard to damage like slates or graves, hard-countering them by inflicting instant death rather than trying to deal with their HP in the traditional way.
Level Three: Venom
Anyone who has followed me for awhile and watched me cover games like Slay the Spire or Wildermyth on the blog or on stream knows I love to poison things in games. Slice & Dice poison isn’t quite as good as those two examples since it doesn’t activate until the turn is over, but it still works as a great way to chip down big enemies quickly and the venom is excellent at inflicting poison in huge amounts. The best weapon in the venom’s arsenal is an ability which both inflicts poison and has the plague tag, which does one point of damage more for every poison counter currently on the field. So you poison as many bad guys as you can and then deal a big finisher with your plague attack – or in the case of a huge boss like Hexia or the dragon, you use it to double the already-significant stack of poison counters you’ve placed upon them. Toss in a cleanse heal ability that the venom can use to keep poison or other statuses off of your own team, and you’ve got an excellent unit for countering the game’s trickier bosses.
Yellow heroes are the fighters and warriors of Slice & Dice, focusing primarily on dealing big damage with melee attacks. Some do this through the use of high raw damage values that come with a drawback like exert or pain, while others have lower dice that can build damage by taking full advantage of the tags they have attached to them. I tend not to love yellow heroes due to so many of their abilities having clear drawbacks in exchange for high values, but they can feel amazing once you find just the right item or ability to counteract the penalties that come alongside their most powerful hits.
Level One: Fighter
Listen, sometimes simple is best, especially for the starting heroes. When you first march into combat and you don’t have any items and you don’t have more powerful abilities on your support heroes, you really want the guy who does damage to just reliably do that damage without ruining their life in the process. Later when you have cool upgrades the yellow hero can lean all in on the weird abilities that inflict pain or whatever other horrible side effect. But when you just need someone who you are pretty sure is gonna be able to do two damage to a rat so your thief can finish them off, the fighter is who you want to have along for the ride.
Level Two: Berserker
See, I’m not against units who hurt themselves. I’d just like them to, you know, have the appropriate amount of HP to endure the attacks they are dishing out in the process. The berserker passes an important damage threshold in Slice & Dice with their pain attack, which is able to inflict 4 damage. This is enough to clear out most mooks in a single hit and also can overkill enemies by at least two (for dealing with units with mercenary), and 4 damage is enough to proc rotting on most zombies. The berserker can do this much damage at least twice, more if you use healing and shields to keep them around longer. Plus, their deathwish attack does a whopping 6 damage if they are dying this turn, so your best move is to put the berserker in killing range and then wield that power to turn the tables on your foes.
Level Three: Brawler
Berserker to Brawler feels like a downgrade in some ways. The brawler doesn’t have a base attack with 4 damage! What gives? What the brawler does have that many fighters do not is the ability to take care of themselves. Two of the brawler’s sides give self-shields, mitigating a decent chunk of damage while also dealing a decent chunk of damage at the same time. Two others have the rampage tag, which can be used again if they deal the killing blow to an opponent. If you can get multiple enemies into the killing range of that attack, the brawler can then wipe all of them out in a single turn. This is particularly potent if you have a way to boost the damage on the rampage attack, either through items or another character’s dice ability. Finally, for those occasions when you do need big damage, the brawler’s left side increases in power based on the shields they currently have. Equip the brawler with an item that gives shield or power them up with a dice ability or a burst and then turn that defense into offense, dealing five or six or even more damage in a single blow while also keeping your brawler healthy. What I appreciate about the brawler compared to the higher damage values of something like the barbarian is the consistency – if you don’t have tools in your toolbelt for protecting the barbarian from killing themselves, they can be a liability more than an asset. The brawler still works even if you have bad luck during a run.
Grey heroes are the tanks of the party, dedicated to providing shields to allies as well as executing counterattacks, drawing aggro, and cleansing or healing allies while protecting them. Like a lineman in an American football game, these undersung heroes may go unnoticed while your more offensive characters score points by doing big damage, but without the grey heroes your party would likely all be in the ground before the big guns got a chance to shine.
Level One: Squire
The squire has a couple of useful functions that I enjoy at any level of hero, but especially at level one. One of these functions is the ability to redirect attacks to themselves; this allows you to completely prevent damage or sometimes more importantly, status problems against other characters, focusing those frustrating conditions onto one person and giving your healer less units to manage. Redirection comes with self-shields too, so you’re essentially killing two birds with one stone: reducing damage against your squire and completely preventing it on someone else at the same time. The other nifty ability the squire brings to the table is focus, which increases the effect of a shield or attack when targeting the same unit as the previous dice. So you can heal an ally or shield them with a different hero’s shield and then follow up with the squire’s to give them four shields instead of two. This is great against enemies who have really big single-target attacks as opposed to broad, sweeping attacks that chip at the whole party.
Level Two: Cleric
The cleric may lack the redirect ability that I so enjoy on the squire, but they bring to the table some other useful functions that I think are valuable on the tank. First, there’s the ability to cleanse status problems from whoever the cleric shields. This is important for dealing with debilitating status problems like pain, petrification, or poison, which can lead to serious issues if not counteracted quickly or when they are allowed to build to obscene values. The cleric also has the ability to give shields and healing simultaneously, taking a hero who is close to death and with an attack coming towards them and both protecting and restoring them all at once. It’s a useful tool for keeping your party as close to full health as possible, especially if you are running a red hero who is more focused on self-healing like a vampire or wraith. The other thing I like about the cleric is that their non-shield sides are mana sides. This is a nice boon on turns where you don’t need to protect, allowing you to build up some spell power instead. Some grey heroes have attack sides that exert them, which I like to avoid on a character who I need to be protecting people on the next turn. The cleric finds ways to contribute even when defense isn’t needed without burning themselves out for future turns.
Level Three: Valkyrie
The valkyrie is an interesting alternative to the typical tank, with a specialty that functions quite differently than the typical shield mechanic. Two of the valkyrie’s sides grant a status which simply prevents the target from being killed this turn. It doesn’t prevent damage, per se. It just prevents death. This is an excellent counter to enemies like the tarantula who have abilities that cause instant death, or for allied heroes like the barbarian or the roulette who have abilities which inflict instant death on themselves. With the valkyrie in play, you can reap the powerful effects of those abilities without having to sow death among your party, preserving their life so they can go into the next turn and use a different ability – or even make the same move again, if they so choose. The valkyrie also has the ability to revive two dead heroes at a time, so if you fail to prevent someone’s death in this way, you can bring them back to combat so they may take up their blade once again. I love the valkyrie because their presence on the battlefield enables strategies that I would otherwise avoid.
These heroes are the healers of the party, providing healing not only through the sides on their dice but also through the spells they add to your selection of magical abilities. These support characters keep their allies healthy and, in the absence of the need for that, make them stronger or contribute mana that you can use to make attacks instead. Some even have attacks of their own to contribute, or can inflict status problems on the enemy.
Level One: Acolyte
The acolyte strikes a good balance between having consistent, reliable healing while also having healing that grants more than just one or two points of health. Two of the acolyte’s sides have cleave, which allows them to heal the two character’s on either side of the target as well, giving a small boost to three people at once. Two of their sides instead feature vitality, a core red hero tag that gives empty max HP to the subject of the healing spell. This makes your heroes have larger max HP pools over the course of the fight, and filling that max HP in gives them more survivability as they face off against the opponent. Finally, the acolyte also has two sides for giving mana, so they contribute to the use of spells. Speaking of spells, the spell the acolyte brings to the table is Restore, which for 2 mana heals 1 HP on every character. It can be useful to restore the whole party at once, even if it is such a low value. The acolyte works well with items or blessings that increase the amount of healing received.
Level Two: Medic
The medic builds on some of what I like about the acolyte while having some different advantages. Cleave heal is still a thing and is more powerful on the medic, giving 2 health to 3 allies. The medic can also cleanse, getting rid of those nasty status problems alongside granting heals. And the medic also gets access to regen, which slowly restores health over time once granted to an ally. This can help get ahead of future issues so you don’t end up with a turn where your medic is panicking about how to heal all five party members at once. What I really like about the medic is their healing spell, Renew. For 2 mana, renew automatically sets the target’s health to 6. When someone’s health is particularly low, this is often a bigger heal than most red heroes would have been able to accomplish with their dice, and it is certainly cheaper in mana than many of the other healing spells would be to restore the same amount.
Level Three: Witch
I swear this isn’t just about having a thing for witches, okay? The witch continues to lean into the cleave heal strategy I’ve discussed before, buffing it once again to a 3 HP heal on 3 characters, but also does some things that are quite different from other units. The witch’s mana side grants 3 mana, which in combination with their spell, Salve, can heal up 6 HP in a single turn. Salve is 1 mana for 2 healing, which is a great mana to health ratio and allows you to do some reliable healing without having to have three or four mana to make it happen. The witch also has a whopping 5 cleanse, which is enough to restore almost an entire petrified dice block, to cancel out the four units of weaken from enemies like the lich or the banshee, and totally cleanses most standard poison attacks. The witch has a couple of other tricks, though. One is an attack that inflicts weaken, which reduces the damage an enemy is dealing or, more potently, reduces the number of units they summon when using an summoning ability. Causing an enemy to totally waste their turn by weakening their summon to zero is immensely satisfying. Finally, the witch can also boost ally dice by 1, making their abilities more potent. This is really powerful in combination with certain abilities like vulnerable, duplicate, or instant-kill skills. The witch is an excellent healer and support, with strategies that help to counteract many of the most annoying things that bad guys can do.
Blue heroes are magicians, spellcasters who generally focus on magical attacks that deal damage or inflict debilitating statuses. Because spells are so key to their strategy a lot of blue heroes have sides dedicated to generating mana – some of the more interesting ones do so in combination with other benefits or in exchange for some kind of penalty. Some common tags important to this group are the charged tag, which empowers an action based on the current amount of mana, as well as the single use tag, blue characters more than any other type seem to have lots of sides that only work one time.
Level One: Mage
I’ve tried for most of the character types to lean into the weirder or more dangerous options, but sometimes it’s good to stick to the basics. The mage simply generates mana without a lot of fanfare, with the ability to pretty reliably contribute 2 per turn. This is important because of the mage’s spell, Flare, which does 5 damage in exchange for 4 mana. This is a decent mana to damage ratio compared to the other starting spells without having some kind of unpleasant cost attached to the generation of the mana or the casting of the spell. Again, unpleasant costs are something I am willing to pay at higher levels when I have tools to counteract them. At the beginning of a run when I have no tools in my box? No thank you. Simple is best.
Level Two: Caldera
The caldera doesn’t have the biggest potential for mana generation, but with two sides dedicated to adding two mana, it’s not a bad start. The caldera’s left side is a particularly useful non-mana side that is a single use, cruel attack with a base power of 3. Cruel does double damage on a target with less than half health, meaning that the caldera can do a whopping 6 damage to a foe under half using that attack. It only works once per battle, but for most fights that is going to be all you need it for. The caldera’s spell isn’t my favorite, but it’s still useful: Scald deals 2 damage to every already-damaged enemy for 3 mana. If two foes have already taken damage, this is already saving you mana compared to just using Burst twice, and if there are more damaged foes then that then you are really starting to save. While there are other mages who I find more situationally useful, the caldera’s consistency speaks to me.
Level Three: Weaver
The weaver takes the crucial charged ability that so many blue heroes bring to the table and applies it to a particularly useful function: mana gain. Charged abilities have as much power as you have mana, so the weaver can in essence double your current mana with their left side. This is great for making sure you can cast lots of spells during the turn if you’ve already got mana built up, but if you don’t have any mana to work with, not to worry. The weaver has three different slots for adding 3 mana to the pool; two of them do disappear as a result of being single use, but the other is permanent so you’ve always got some way to get mana building so you can use the charged dice to its fullest. Three is also the exact amount of mana you need to be able to use the weaver’s spell, Crush, which deals 3 damage to the top and bottom targets in the enemy line. Being able to deal 3 damage to two different targets is quite useful and at a cost of 3 mana, you’re essentially dealing 2 damage for the price of one with this spell. Throw in a dodge side so the weaver can protect themselves in an emergency and you’ve got a potent tool for dealing magical damage to multiple foes at once without having to worry about inflicting yourself with pain or risking lots of useless dice faces.
There you have it adventurers, my favorite Slice & Dice heroes! I would love to hear from those of you who have played about which heroes you enjoy the most.
My preferred heroes are, Lost (dodge & venom ranged), Juggler (damage while rolling) or Rogue, Assassin or Ludus depends mostly on objects… Yellow: Fighter, Brute (stun is OP), Eccentric (can combine nicely with objects). Grey: Squire or Alloy, Cleric or even Statue (this one heavily depends on objects you have), Valkyrie (OP with last bosses he wins by himself). Red: Splint (provides more mana very useful in the first levels), Vampire (good dd), Doctor (double regenerate is very strong helps to “turn the tide” with spiker and the like). Blue: Mage, Glacia (weaken is so useful…), Weaver: plenty of mana and crush spell is soooo good with archers/snipers
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All good picks! Quite a few of these would have been my seconds. The game does a good job of having multiple items or hero combinations that help each one feel viable in at least some circumstances so there’s not a clear “correct” way to play through.