Darkest Dungeon – Lighting the Way Survival Guide

This guide explains how to consistently beat the Lighting the Way quest by answering the following questions.

Guide to Survive

What Are the Threats Posed by Enemies and Bosses?

In hallway fights, your main threat comes from Cultist Priest. The Finger deals 7-14 damage (+50% vs. marked target), along with 15 stress damage and 6 bleed DoT. It has a crit chance of 17%, among the highest from enemy moves.

This means two things. First, the idea of tanking through their damage can be thrown away. Second, squishy classes, once marked, are one crit away from Death’s Door even at full health.

For this reason, our top priority in hallway encounters will be sniping Cultist Priests.

These fights pose additional challenges by including enemies that support Cultist Priests well. Malignant Growth has a strong 150% stun against Rank 1 & 2, which often times disrupts our plan. Rapturous Cultist can guard and heal Cultist Priests mid-way when you are busy bursting one down. Defensive Growth does the same job, but even better. If it is the only enemy left, it will start stress-attacking your party, so unlike Rap guy you cannot stall-heal here.

With this in mind, our strategy for hallway fights mostly looks like this:

  1. Focus fire Cultist Priest(s).
  2. Stun their support units out of battle until #1 is done.
  3. Keeping our party alive along the way.

The three boss fights, that is, Templar Warlord, Templar Impaler, and the dual, have both a gimmick mechanic (Revelation), and in general high damage and Blight DoT, thanks to them having two actions per turn.

You will have acquired three Talismans of the Flame from We Are the Flame, which completely neutralize the Revelation move for the three heroes equipping it. Your fourth hero will remain vulnerable and needs someone to Guard them at all times.

You will need strong healing to keep the entire party topped off most of the times.

You will need a way to prevent / remove any Blight DoT.

What Ability Kit Do I Need From My Team to Neutralize Them?

Your Rank 1 & 2 heroes will be taking heavy hits all the time, so they should be tank-y / dodge-y.

Your aggression toward Cultist Priest may be met with a stun, and turn order involves RNG. For this reason you need multiple stunners, so you can reliably break Guard on target Priest at crucial moments.

You need good turn-1 damage output from multiple sources, so as to have a good chance of finishing off one Priest, ideally before they move. In a double Priest encounter, allowing both to move freely on turn 2 is a bad idea.

Your Rank 3 & 4 heroes remain within The Finger’s reach, so while they are safer than your front liners, they are never safe. Therefore, they should either be Guarded, or be capable of tanking one crit at full health.

You need healing power enough to top off the entire party 90% of the time. For one, in double Priest encounters you will inevitably take loads of damage. Three full stacks of food are not enough to cancel the damage. For the other, wounded heroes can be one-crit away from Death’s Door.

As a side note, reaching Death’s Door can be really devastating in this quest, perhaps barring the last boss fight of your choice, where you just go all in anyway. The reason being, lifting that hero suddenly becomes priority zero with no exception, which stalls your aggression, which causes more damage taken, and things only go worse from there.

You need moderate stress heal to sustain brutal hallway fights. While camping points can be invested into stress healing, they are better put to proactive use, that is, buffing your party up for combat. Dead enemies don’t induce stress. On the other hand, these are not those slack battles where you can stall and stress heal with a Jester or Crusader. You will find yourself always under the pressure of killing off Priests fast, and healing as mush as you can before reinforcement arrives.

You don’t need a dedicated status cure role. This is best left to inventory items. Your heroes should spend their turns on stun, kill, and heal.

It is important to have multiple heroes capable of each job. Multiple stunners, multiple damage dealers, and multiple healers. Relying on one hero for a specific job is risky because enemies have strong stuns. Your party should function well enough and recover from when –

  1. Anyone gets stunned or moved out of position.
  2. Anyone misses an action.

What Kind of Party Compositions Meet That Requirement?

I hate to write this section, because everyone has their favorite classes and comps. Let me say this:

  1. My example team build here isn’t meant to be the best. It is built around a simple and effective idea – minimizing RNG impact. It is a very dull comp to play. I have had enormous success with this comp.
  2. Once you understand why this comp works, I am sure you can come up with thousands of variations that all work just fine. They are probably all better than mine.

My standard party for this expedition is:

Arbalest / Vestal / Houndmaster / Man-at-Arms

  • With section 2 covering challenges, let’s see how this party overcomes them.
  • Primary Revelation mitigation: MaA with his two-turn Guard on Vestal.
  • Secondary Revelation mitigation: HM with his one-turn Guard.
  • Primary stunner: HM with Blackjack (150% base chance, strong stun).
  • Secondary stunners: Vestal with Dazzling Light, MaA with Rampart.
  • Primary damage dealer: HM with innate +%damage against Beast enemies.
  • Secondary damage dealer: Arbalest, especially against marked enemies.
  • Tertiary damage dealer: Vestal with Judgement, MaA with Crush / Retribution. Mostly setting up for kill or finished someone off.
  • Primary healer: Vestal.
  • Secondary healers: Arbalest, HM.
  • Primary tank: MaA (Guard Ally, high PROT).
  • Secondary tank: HM (high DODGE).
  • Primary stress healer: HM.
  • Secondary stress healer: Arbalest.

The main strength of this setup roots in stun/turn order immunity, in the sense that regardless of who gets stunned or goes when, the job always gets done. Both stun and turn order depend on RNG a lot, and by immunity to them we neutralize RNG impact.

Now let’s have a look at each class selection and talk about alternatives.

MaA

If I had to pick a designated DD2 enjoyer, it would be MaA. His Guard ability is almost mandatory, not only protecting the fourth hero from Revelation, but also granting enormous amount of +%PROT, which mitigates damage from heavy hitters that are abundant.

Aside from Guard Ally, Rampart provides great stun utility. Its base chance of 140% doesn’t shine, but it shuffles target, and can be cast from as far back as Rank 3, granting some shuffle immunity to MaA. This is particularly helpful in the double boss fight. MaA also has access to the Rampart Shield, which if equipped, moves Rampart to god-tier.

Guard Ally and Rampart should always be active.

Bolster is a god-tier skill in boss fights, although you cannot really afford a turn for it in hallway fights, where Crush, Retribution make bigger, faster impact.

Bellow is advised against. It is a weaker skill in general, compared to buffing your own party (won’t miss) or just finishing off an enemy with Crush.

HM

If I had to pick another designated DD2 enjoyer, it would be HM. His Guard ability is almost mandatory, as a boss can go before MaA, so we want backups. Guard also helps protecting allies at Death’s Door. Although Guard Dog lasts only one turn, it buys that critical time for main healer / MaA.

Hound’s Rush is one of the best damage output skills in this quest. Great reach, innate +%dmg boost against Beasts which is everyone, doubled damage against marked, which can come from himself (not often) or Arblest. You cannot ask for a stronger damage skill here.

Blackjack is one of the strongest stuns (150% base chance) in the game, for which reason HM should be at Rank 2 (like Occ) unless stress healing. Unlike Occ, he is not as squishy, can reliably self heal (think heal 0 + bleed), and comes with high innate dodge. Like MaA, he has access to the Cudgel Weight, which if equipped, moves Blackjack to god-tier.

Target whistle is advised against most of the times, unless you have nothing else useful to carry. Enemies tend to have high dodge but not high prot, and HM should be dealing damage or stunning high priority targets. If you need a mark, Arb should be the one applying it.

Lick Wounds and Cry Havoc are situational, depending on how pressured your party is on stress/HP health.

Vestal

She is arguably the strongest and most consistent, reliable main healer in the game. Not much to say. She is the one to be guarded by MaA through out battles.

She will need at least one healing trinket to keep up with incoming damage. The second slot can be another healing trinket, or Acc / Utility for proactive play. I personally prefer double healing trinkets so my party remains topped off. %Stress debuff is not an issue as she will be constantly under Guard.

Note that she shouldn’t be equipping the Sacred Scroll, which cripples her stun and damage. While both being unimpressive skills from Vestal, they still have great value. Dazzling light has standard chance and great reach from back line. It is more than enough to break Guard from Rapturous Cultist.

Judgement deals enough damage to set up or secure kills, also great reach and self heal on top of it, allowing more aggressive play with a wounded Vestal.

Dazzling Light is your weakest stun among the party, so be careful using it against stronger enemies with around 100% base stun resistance. A 40% chance is unlikely worth risking a turn. You’d be better off healing or dealing flat damage unless in extreme situations, where only a highroll Dazzling Light can save your butt. I rarely allow myself to end up in those situations.

Arbalest

You may find yourself opposing the idea already. On the first look she doesn’t seem to offer much. That’s because she not meant to shine. She is there to smooth out the party. Being a backup-everything, she is the most flexible under turning tides in a battle. She has damage when you need some, heal when you need some, and support when you need some.

There are also a few advantages often overlooked.

  1. When you don’t need her to do much, she doesn’t become a liability, either, thanks to her large HP pool.
  2. Sniper shot has great reach to enemy’s backline. A lot of times you don’t lack damage. You lack reach.
  3. She has respectable crit chance which relieves stress for the party.
  4. She has access to Marching Plan which is one of most crucial camping skills in this quest.

She would be mostly helping HM with mark and sniper shot, picking off top priority targets. Other than that, depending on the encounter, Rallying Flare can be useful to clear stun on MaA so he can restore Guard on Vestal. It also stress heals a bit. Blindfire can be used to open up a fight to secure initiative in subsequent turns, while suffering a mere -10% damage penalty.

What About My Triple-Positive-Quirks-Locked Beast Man XYZ

Again, virtually any class can work as long as you do it right. I am just going to list their weaknesses that are amplified in this mission.

Occultist shines only as a stunner, for which he must take Rank 1 or 2, where he is one crit away from Death’s Door given how squishy he is.

Hellion excels at deleting enemies, but doesn’t support / synergize with team so well in my opinion. If someone else is down, or she can’t reach her target, there’s very little she can do. She is also susceptible to shuffle, a lot. In general we don’t really lack damage here.

Bounty Hunter has really strong stuns, but Collect Bounty cannot reach past rank 3. Doesn’t deal extra damage to Beasts. No Guard. Uppercut’s shuffle can prove helpful in the double boss fight, but it’s not absolutely necessary. I think HM outclasses BH by a fair margin in this quest.

HWM is outshined by HM, Arbalest or BH at picking off a target. He’s a bit squishy, too. Very little utility outside of dealing non-crucial damage.

Crusader offers a bit of everything, but does non excellent imo. I would want the sharpest men at their trade for this demanding quest.

PD has little to offer outside her stuns. Curing bleed/blight is fine, but I’d rather be killing enemies fast, which is not something DoT does. She’s also among the squishy-est classes. For status cure we have inventory items.

GR is an excellent damage dealer, immune to shuffle. But little synergy with team outside of dancing, and also a bit too squishy (although she has decent dodge, she’s still one crit away from Death’s Door). Doesn’t provide much support.

Jester excels in slow fights where you can afford to take time buffing and healing up. In hallway fights, however, he becomes a liability. Stress heal alone doesn’t really justify his role (it’s not like We Are the Flame), and he offers little other utility other than that.

Abomination must transform to keep up with the pace of hallway encounters. He can burst down a Rank 3 Priest just fine with his SPD, but like GR’s low HP pool being a problem, transformation induces stress on the party. He cannot support someone else, either.

Leper has poor reach and little utility other than being tanky and self independent. He hits hard, but not enough to one-shot a Rank 2 priest, and he needs ACC trinkets to even hit someone. Like the case with BH, Purge can be useful for shuffling.

Antiquarian actually is interesting. I haven’t run her. I imagine boss fights will be fine, since just like Jester she excels at slow paced battles, and being fast enough, she can reverse-guard someone else so we don’t need MaA. Still, DODGE and PROT work differently and I wouldn’t want my men being one-crit away from Death’s Door, however unlikely that is made by her vapour.

What Trinkets Do I Equip On My Heroes?

There isn’t really much room here. Three slots will be locked for talismans, one or two on healing trinkets for Vestal, and the remaining three or four depends largely on quirks.

If MaA is slow (without SPD quirks), I would give him quick draw. It is absolutely crucial that the fourth hero is guarded before a boss can move. For a fast MaA, it’s usually either Rampart Shield or status resistance (cleansing cystal). Both have their values. Rampart Shield helps a lot in the double boss fight, where you want to Rampart Templar Impaler (weak to Move) to the back line. Cleansing Crystal protects your MaA from a lot DoT’s, so Vestal can spend more time stunning / killing enemies.

I like to give HM the Ancestor’s Coat for extra dodge, as HM will be mostly sitting in Rank 2 for Blackjack, he will be taking (dodging) heavy hits. He deals enough damage without help from trinkets.

I equip Ancestor’s Candle on the Arb. Arbalest in general needs a DMG trinket to compensate for her mediocre base DMG. The SPD+2 from Candle is much more valuable than another +10% DMG from alternatives. Going faster means you could setup mark for HM, set up heal for Vestal, or lift someone from Death’s Door, or simply kill off an enemy before they cause any damage.

Whether you give Vestal another healing trinket or an Acc / utility trinket is up to debate. My take on this is, Lighting the Way is designed to reward risk management much more than average net value gain. While an Acc Vestal build prevents more damage, thus alleviating needs for healing, it leaves ‘spikes’, those rare but still possible unlucky rolls, where prevention has failed despite higher stun chance, and now recover has become more difficult.

In many situations, I would rather rely on Judgement to assist a kill, eat the finger from Priest, and recover easily with double healing trinkets’ help. Although this approach may net you less ‘value’, so to speak, compared to an Acc Vestal build, it is more consistent and reliable, because you cannot miss a heal with 0 Acc, and it’s always easier to hit than stun. When you really need to stun someone, you should be relying on Blackjack or equally strong stuns, enhanced with a stun trinket maybe.

Again, this largely depends on what quirks your heroes have acquired. Use trinkets to fix what’s missing.

What Provisions Should I Carry, Given Limited Inventory Space?

All food for emergency healing.

16 torches. More is unnecessary.

12 holy waters. Covers party for three boss fights. Prevention > Reaction.

Bandages, antivenoms and herbs – I find herbs less useful. There are no traps, and most debuffs shouldn’t matter during a battle because you should have eliminated main threat by then (otherwise debuff is your least problem).

For status cure, blight damage from Templar Impaler is generally more troublesome than bleed from hallway fights, so if I had to choose, I would pack more antivenoms than Bandages.

If your trinket selection is biased toward one type of DoT, bring items to mitigate the other.

How Do I Approach Each Encounter?

This is already covered, but to re-cap:

Hallway Encounters

  1. Always prioritize Cultist Priest.
  2. Stun Rapturous Cultist and Defensive Growth out of battle, if they are present. Kill if you have to.
  3. When there is only Rapturous Cultists left, spend a few turns healing up HP and stress. For this reason, you want to equip Cry Havoc on HM and possibly switch him with Vestal beforehand, when next encounter looks like an easier one.

Boss Encounters

  1. Come with camping buffs. See next section for details.
  2. Keep Vestal guarded at all times. No cost too great.
  3. Vestal should be busy topping off your party, barring the very first few turns when you deal with lesser enemies. Forget about stunning a boss with Dazzling Light.
  4. If MaA gets moved to back line, Rampart his way forward, slowly, alternating between Guard Ally.
  5. HM and Arb will be mostly applying mark and dealing damage. Arb has the better marking skill here. Consider popping Dog Treat to burst down minions.
  6. Arb can equip Rallying Flare to clear stuns for MaA if needed.
  7. If someone is lower in HP than the average party member, consider setting up heal on them with Arb, so that Vestal keeps spamming Divine Comfort, which heals more in total than Divine Grace. The latter should be used only to lift a single, heavily damaged ally.
  8. In single boss fights, burst minions and take time recovering / setting up before taking on the big one. Your MaA is fine tanking one boss.
  9. In the double boss fight, burst Warlord who has less HP. If you have access to trinket-enhanced move skill, move Warlord to back line.
  10. If you have access to a trinket-enhanced strong stun, spam it on whichever boss with lower stun resistance at the time. This causes them to use Revelation often, which is neutralized.

When Do I Camp, and What Do I Spend Camping Points On?

Camping buffs are not to be overlooked, at all. There is no ambush or scouting in DD quests, so we have 12 full points dedicated to combat. The map layout allows buff coverage across three boss fights, as long as you plan your route properly.

I would recommend keeping the following in mind when choosing from camping skills –

MaA will be tanking a lot, thus taking the most stress damage, typical for a tank role. Consider give him -%stress buffs.

Tactics is often underrated. We tend to notice enemy crits but ignore dodges. It’s human nature. However Tactics+Bolster gives a whopping 20 extra dodge to the entire party. Definitely significant in boss fights.

Marching Plan is absolutely crucial. Most bosses have SPD around 7, so the extra 2 SPD, on top of quirks and trinkets, can save you big time by letting MaA and / or HM go first, so they can guard Vestal before she gets shredded by Revelation. Yes, one Revelation connecting unprotected Vestal could lead to a party wipe, trust me. If your HM goes first, don’t cheap out and play hope dungeon. Guard Vestal. You can afford one HM turn in boss fights. You cannot afford Vestal getting Revelation’ed.

DMG buffs are less important, as long as you have the ability to pick off Priests reasonably fast. If you find yourself lacking damage, trinkets are the better place to look at. Damage trinkets are abundant, SPD+2 trinkets with no downsides are not really. For MaA, SPD+2 looks juicy, but +15% stress? Uh. -20% stun resistance? No no.

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