3. Zugzwang‘s Tower
Power Type: Tactical
Minimum Rank: Lord/Lady
Minimum Recommended Traps: Mystic/Technic Pawn Pincher / Zugzwang’s First Move
Objectives: Acquire the Crystal Library Card / eventually catch both Kings
Recommended Area Progression Plan: Where Should I Go Next?
Welcome to one of the most interesting areas in the whole of the game. Zugzwang‘s Tower operates by a unique gameplay mechanic and is the only area in the game that you might leave without having achieved anything, story-wise. You can actually fail Tower runs, which is why you should definitely read up on this area before entering, so pay very close attention to what I‘m about to tell you!
First of all, you should never enter the Tower without at least one Pincher Trap (on sale in the Garden), and a fully charged Amp. Once you do, the Seasonal Garden gets locked and you cannot enter this area unless you abort or successfully finish your Tower run.
The Tower is organized like a game of chess. Two sides, the Mystics and the Technics, duel each other in here. You have to decide which side you want to concentrate on for each Tower run. Double runs are possible, although not when you first get here.Choose a side – it doesn’t make much of a difference, you will have to defeat both sides at least once anyway, and they are pretty similar – and get the appropriate Pincher Trap, charge your Amp and enter the Tower. You‘ll notice that not all mice are available to you immediately. Most have to be unlocked first. Like in a game of chess, the first row of each side consists of 8 Pawns. For these you bought the Pincher Trap. Arming one of these makes it more likely to attract only one side of Pawns and makes it more difficult to attract and even catch the other side. For this reason you want to arm a base with a high Attraction rate and a low Power and Luck rate. This is where the Wooden Base with Target is the base of choice.
The thing is, just like in the Garden, every FTA decreases your Amp by 3%. Catching mice also decreases your Amp, the higher up in the hierarchy of the game the mouse is, the more it depletes your Amp. Pawns by 1%, Knights and Bishops by 3%, Rooks by 5%, Queens by 9% and Kings by 10%. FTCs don‘t do anything to your Amp.
Why would I care about my Amp, you say? Well, as long as your Amp is above 100%, it gives you a bonus on the Power stats of your trap setup. As soon as it goes below 100%, Power stats (and Luck as well) decrease. This reduction makes it increasingly difficult to catch the mice you need to catch.Seeing as how regular FTAs can mean the difference between success and failure in a run, this is an area where many hunters use SB+. That makes the Tower a costly area for non-donators. It is entirely possible to tough out the Tower with Gouda, but any other cheese type does more harm than good here. And failing a Tower run with Gouda happens regularly, especially in the beginning. Tower runs are unpredictable, sometimes they are no problem and run smoothly, another time it‘s pure hell and ends in a disaster.All the more reason to buy a Pincher trap. They may seem of little use, but every bit can help in the Tower. In the beginning of a run, Attraction Charms might be a good idea (unless you use SB+). Later on when it gets harder and harder to catch mice, a Power or Luck based Charm might do the trick.
Catch 8 Pawns of a side and the next breed gets unlocked. But be careful, catching 8 Pawns of the other side means unlocking mice that you don‘t want to catch. After the Pawn stage you change your setup to the best Tactical trap that is available to you.
You can craft a new Tactical Trap when in the Garden, Zugzwang‘s First Move. It‘s a bit better than your Horrific Venus Mouse Trap, but at the same time it‘s not that cheap. Your choice, but personally, I like to get every advantage I can.
Pair one of the two traps with your most powerful, luckiest Base and arm a nice Charm as well, if you want to spend the gold. Then try to catch 2 Knights. You will notice how you‘ll attract Pawns in between. Of course you don‘t want them anymore, but there they are. Good luck! After the Knights, 2 Bishops have to be caught, then 2 Rooks. By then you hopefully have acquired a new map piece, the Library Card. Even if your run fails now, the most important thing is done.
After the Rook stage, the Queen is unlocked. Like in a real game of chess, this one is the most difficult to catch. Depending on how low your Amp has sunk, this is usually the stage of a run that determines its outcome. You‘ll be getting a lot of FTCs by now. That‘s to be expected. Hopefully you can catch a Queen and still have enough Amp left to catch a King. Some people bail on a Tower run when it is technically still possible to successfully go through.
Most hunters will tell you though that you never give up on a run, unless you‘re without a Queen and have sunk below 10% Amp. Since the Queen depletes it by 9%, you‘ll hit 0 and won‘t be able to catch a King. When you reach that stage, you should leave the Tower.
When you catch a King, you‘ll be instantly transported back into the Seasonal Garden. There is a method, though, to stay in the Tower, otherwise Double Runs wouldn’t be possible. This method is called Checkmate Cheese. But since this cheese can only be crafted by means of loot drops from both Kings, the earliest you can use it is during your 3rd Tower run. Switching to Checkmate after unlocking the King and catching it with Checkmate will allow you to attract the final mouse in the Tower, the Chess Master. It, too, can only be caught with Checkmate.
The Kings drop even more loot than just the ingredients for Checkmate Cheese. There is a new base that you can acquire, the Spellbook Base. However, I advise against crafting it, because most LE Bases you can get during event season are better, and because it‘s not cheap. What‘s also not cheap are the traps you can craft with more King‘s loot. These traps are specifically designed for Tower runs and are called BlackStone Pass Trap and Obvious Ambush Trap. These act in the same way the Pincher traps do, only for all the mice of their respective sides that aren’t Pawns. They can help in achieving Double Runs.
Double Run Strategy
To attempt a double run, you should first rank up to Count/Countess level. That way you‘re able to charge your Amp to a full 175%, which will help tremendously in achieving any Tower run. Using SB+ is also of importance. It might not be 100% necessary, but it is recommended.
Concerning traps, as mentioned, BlackStone Pass and Obvious Ambush are specifically designed to help in catching only the pieces of one side. Traps like Sphynx Wrath or Gouging Geyserite, however, with their sheer power can also be used to achieve a double run. Double runs may help quickly building up a supply of Checkmate Cheese by catching both Kings in less time.
The most important thing is, of course, to remember to arm Checkmate cheese once you’ve caught your first Queen. Catch the first King with Checkmate armed and then switch back to SB+ and hunt down the pieces of the other side. You can try advancing through both sides equally, but this way you may end up failing the run entirely if it doesn’t go well. The other way, at least you will have caught one King.
Now, you have to watch out when you hunt your second King. Since you’ve caught one King earlier, the Chessmaster is already on the loose. That means that when you‘re going for the second King with Checkmate armed (after having just caught your second Queen with SB+), you might attract a Chessmaster early, and so perhaps fail in catching the second King. Since the King is not very strong, you might just arm a weak trap, maybe even the side-specific Pawn Pincher. That way you might be able to catch the King, but will almost definitely fail to catch the Chessmaster. This strategy, however, might cost you quite a few pieces of Checkmate.
This problem may be avoided by using a Stalemate Charm. If you catch a King or Chessmaster with one of these armed, you will not be ejected from the Tower.
* Entering the Tower locks the Seasonal Garden. It only unlocks after you abort or successfully finish your run.
* Catch 8 Pawns of one type using a Pawn Pincher and Wooden Base with Target.
* Use your best Tactical setup to catch the rest of the mice.
* On your first Tower run, hope for a Crystal Library Card.