This Primer will focus on the monsters under the Overseer’s control. Since the monsters of Catacombs comes in four difficulty levels, I have split them up based on level and subdivided them further by what set or expansion you can find them in.
I’ve decided to change up the primer by adding a “power ranking” list before each monster level summary to help players decide at a glance which monsters to use in their game. Like I’ve used in my other rankings, I have four tiers: Top Tier, Upper Tier, Standard Tier, Lower Tier. While a tiered system obviously ranks the characters against themselves, it is not to mean that “top tier” entries are broken or “lower tier” entries are unusable, but rather, they should be used as a guide to help balance the setup of the game. Pitting similarly tiered entries against each other will lead to the most enjoyable games whereas trying the opposite will yield very lopsided results, especially if there is a skill discrepancy between the players.
Level 1 monsters are the dungeon fodder of the game. They are usually 4 or 5 monsters in a group and are limited to one shot in their sequence or two with one being a rush shot.
Savage Centaur (CoS)Flame Salamander (CoS)Armoured Beetle (B)
Zombie Prisoner (R)vSwamp Orc (CoS)Sewer Rat (B)Zombie Ratman (R)
Centaur (B)Fire Spirit (B)Zombie (B)
Orc (B)Skeleton Warrior (B)
B- Base Set
CoS- Cavern of Soloth expansion
R- Resurrection Content
Monster Power Rankings are based on the survivability of the individual monster (health and defensive options), how many monsters are in the group, and how strong/flexible their shot sequences are.
Orc (Dungeon Family) – Your basic Overseer baddie. He has some nice flexibility with his melee or missile shot but most players are going to hide him behind an obstacle and plink away at the heroes. With only one health, he won’t last long.
Centaur (Mythological Family) – An upgrade from the Orc, the Centaur gains a nice positional rush shot before firing a missile at the heroes.
Fire Spirit (Infernal Family) – The Fire Spirits have a mean meta ability to turn themselves into fire walls, denying the heroes any gold. While the fire walls can be tough to deal with, the gold loss can sometimes hurt much more over the course of the game.
Sewer Rat (Vermin Family) – These guys can be pretty bad if the heroes aren’t careful. With five monsters coming in their group, they can quickly overwhelm even the strongest hero with poison.
Armoured Beetle (Vermin Family) – The Armoured Beetle is easily the strongest Base Set level 1 monster. With their 2 health and optional poison rush shot, they can stick around long enough to deal significant damage or poison to the heroes.
Skeleton Warrior (Undead Family) – Another basic monster for the overseer. The only standout feature is his immunity to missile shots which make him a decent shield against ranged attacks.
Zombie (Undead Family) – At first glance, the Zombie isn’t much to look at but in the right setting, that rush stun shot can make the heroes pay dearly, slowing down their ability to clear the room and taking more damage than they would otherwise.
Flame Salamander (Infernal Family) – This monster is brutal with the ability to hide and sling fireball shots at the heroes and having 2 health. I only see a variant monster topping out his lethality, and he has to use poison to do so.
Swamp Orc (Dungeon Family) – This Orc variant gains another health which is the only reason he places high up in the tier system. If heroes have access to easy/repeatable critical shots, his value plummets.
Savage Centaur (Mythological Family) – This Centaur variant improves every aspect of an already good monster option. Adding another health and poison to the missile shot makes things very hard for the heroes.
Zombie Ratman (Zombie Family) – Being an extra small disc with a missile shot can be challenging but the double rush (with poison kicker) is a nice option.
Zombie Prisoner (Zombie Family) – Basically the same as the Swamp Orc but they get an extra monster in their group. I don’t feel like that pushes them into the top tier but if used early in the game, they can be a challenge to standard heroes.
Level 2 monsters are characterized by all having 2 health (if they have health at all), 2 monsters in their group, and usually two shots in their sequence and maybe another optional sequence. They are the middle child of the monster groups and some of them can be weaker than even those monsters in the level 1 groups.
Tomb Zombie (R)Zombie Faerie (R)Skeleton Archer (B)
Flame Wraith (B)Pit Viper (B)Phantom (B)
Gargoyle (CoS)Lizard Man (CoS)Shade (CoS)
Blood Skull (B)Minotaur (B)Troll (B)
Troll (Dungeon Family) – With only the regenerate shot, the Troll is pretty much a standard melee machine but savvy heroes will just wait until they can take multiple shots at him to remove him.
Minotaur (Mythological Family) – The Minotaur is a decent defensive monster with it’s reflect missile property.
Flame Wraith (Infernal Family) – Gaining a rush shot before it’s fireball, the Flame Wraith is slightly better individually than the level 1 Flame Salamander which really shows just how powerful that level 1 monster is.
Phantom (Infernal Family) – The Phantom is the first shadow monster in the list. While it has a pretty active missile option, the fear modifier is one of the weakest unless you have a lot of good support. Their real value rises and falls with who they are put with.
Blood Skull (Vermin Family) – Another shadow monster, the Blood Skull is really only a method to disrupt the heroes and get more use out of your other monsters.
Pit Viper (Vermin Family) – The strongest poison option at level 2, the Pit Viper has a lot options to insure the heroes are poisoned during its attack.
Skeleton Archer (Undead Family) – One of the best level 2 monsters, that ranged stun shot combined with 2 health makes for a very trying room to clear.
Lizard Man (Dungeon Family) – The Lizard Man is an interesting monster that can really change it’s worth depending on what else is on the board. The repeat shot can make some of the really nasty monsters wreck the heroes. Luckily each Lizard Man can only do it once.
Gargoyle (Mythological Family) – The Gargoyle is one of the more defensive level 2 monsters but really only for itself. The ability to rush after its main shot makes it able to flee for cover or distance.
Shade (Undead Family) – This shadow monster has a nice stun melee but getting into melee makes shadow monsters a lot easier to destroy.
Zombie Faerie (Zombie Family) – The other stun missile shot monster, the Zombie Faeries only suffer from being an extra small disc which can make it difficult to maintain all your shot options. However, her positional rush shot before can make sure the target you need stunned is in your attack line.
Tomb Zombie (Zombie Family) – Easily the strongest monster in the level 2s as it brings the only summon shot to the game at this level. The only saving grace is that the Tomb Zombies are shadow monsters but the rush shot means they can run away and rely on summoning all the Ratman monsters they can.
Level 3 monsters are pretty much the endgame monsters. Don’t let the tier system fool you as they are all pretty nasty and the only reason you see monsters in that lower tier is because they are being compared with the other level 3s.
Manticore (CoS)Fire Demon (B)Infernal Acolyte (CoS)Vampire Bat (B)
Cerebus (B)Zombie Knight (R)Giant Scorpion (B)Ghoul (B)
Swordmaster Ghould (B)Claw Zombie (R)Vampire Guard (R)
Orc Wolf Rider (CoS)Dread Scorpion (CoS)Wight (CoS)
Giant Scorpion (Dungeon Family) – The first critical shot in the game comes from the Giant Scorpion. With the rush shot to set up the strike, it is not uncommon for the Giant Scorpion to deal critical damage to multiple heroes in one shot.
Cerebus (Mythological Family) – Cerebus has the most shots in any level 3 sequence but they are such a mix of items (rush, melee, and chain missile) that it can’t really specialize. Instead, it excels at evolving during the battle- sniping during the early game and then mixing up its attacks during the later game.
Fire Demon (Infernal Family) – one of the strongest level 3 monsters, the Fire Demon excels at hiding in cover and throwing tons of fireballs around the room. Couple that with its immunity to almost every ranged shot option makes for a very tough opponent.
Vampire Bat (Vermin Family) – This monster is really only notorious due to the power of the poison deck and the potential for really unlucky poison card draws. Most of the time it will use the melee shot as a positioning effect to make sure it lands the poison melee.
Ghoul (Undead Family) – Stun is never something the heroes should take lightly but at level 3, there are more dangerous sequences out there.
Swordmaster Ghoul (Undead Family) – An interesting variant of the Ghoul, the Swordmaster wants to get in the thick of things and excels at damaging multiple heroes in one round. Hold tight to those familiars.
Orc Wolf Rider (Dungeon Family) – Poison missile shots can be annoying but since it is only dealing one in a round and has a normal double melee as the other option, the Orc Wolf Rider is one of the lesser level 3 monsters out there.
Dread Scorpion (Dungeon Family) – One of the first variant monsters that I feel is actually weaker than the original. Fear is a modifier highly dependent upon the rest of the room’s monsters and a single poison melee is not as scary as some of the other level 3 options.
Manticore (Mythological Family) – This guy is just painful. 3 damaging shots that can focus on a single hero or spread the pain around makes for one of the toughest challenges for the heroes at this level.
Infernal Acolyte (Infernal Family) – Summon shots are probably the strongest shots in the game and throwing Fire Spirits can be particularly annoying since that Fire Spirit will likely follow up with an attack and immediately turn into a fire wall. Things just go downhill for the heroes from there.
Wight (Undead Family) – Much like the Troll, regeneration is pretty easy to get around for the heroes and by the time they are running into level 3 monsters, they’ll likely have a critical shot or two at their disposal.
Claw Zombie (Zombie Family) – The zombie horde expansion offers some pretty tough monsters but the Claw Zombie is on the weaker side of the level 3 monsters. It has two poison melee shots but unless the heroes left it alone and got deep into Overseer territory, that first shot will be used to get into position.
Zombie Knight (Zombie Family) – I like that these guys come on large discs but they are really just beefier Ghouls with their fear shot option and immunity to missile shots.
Vampire Guard (Undead Family) – Our only Kickstarter bonus monster. The Vampire Guard makes up for it’s weak double fear modifier shot with being the only level 3 monster group to have 3 monsters in its group.
Level 4 monsters are basically mini-bosses in their own right, so like the level 3s, their tier rankings are only ranked against themselves and even the lower tier entries can cause a lot of issues for the heroes. They have four health and a lot of special abilities/shot options.
Wyvern (CoS)Elder Vampire (CoS)Zombie Necromancer (R)Owl Bear (B)
Crypt Spider (B)Venomous Spider (CoS)Remorhaz (CoS)
Rust Monster (CoS)Gelatinous Cube (B)Roal (B)Rakshasa (B)
Fenris (B)Siren (CoS)Phoenix (CoS)
Gelatinous Cube (Dungeon Family) – This unique monster sports the games only cube piece which makes it a little heavy and awkward to use properly. You’ll want to time the sequences to get the best results out of him.
Roal (Dungeon Family) – Roal uses the new roll shot (appropriately enough). If you can master the shot, Roal would go up a bit higher in the tiers but it is quite difficult to pull off even from close range.
Owl Bear (Mythological Family) – The Owl Bear is a beefy option as it is one of the few that can regularly pull off 3 damage against one target.
Fenris (Vermin Family) – Fenris is also more annoying than threatening as his bite shot will make you eat up actions but otherwise he just likes to hit and run.
Crypt Spider (Undead Family) – One of the more brutal level 4 monsters, the Crypt Spider can consistently keep half the hero team out of the action round after round with it’s double stun missile shots.
Rust Monster (Dungeon Family) – While not that big of a threat damage-wise, the threat of losing items mid-game makes this monster the biggest target on the board. Be aware that this monster over a lot of others can really piss your players off. Taking away hard earned items can really rub some players the wrong way and since there are a lot of other fun options, I’d stay away from this guy if you think your group might fall into that category. The exception is his appearance in the Orc Warchief’s final room. At that point, the heroes are likely blowing their item powers early and the rust shot effect will largely be mitigated.
Siren (Mythological Family) – Another “annoying” option, the Siren by herself is actually quite weak but shutting down all the ranged options can really mess with certain hero groups.
Phoenix (Infernal Family) – While the Phoenix has an interesting rebirth power, the shot sequence is not really threatening. You’ll need to play her hyper-aggressively to get any mileage out of this level 4.
Wyvern (Vermin Family) – This guy is just nasty. Giant fireballs to sling from cover or double poison melee when heroes get too close is really going to cause issues for your heroes.
Remorhaz (Vermin Family) – Devour shot is an interesting choice as it is like a long term stun. I might suggest (for extra deviance) you aggressively devour one hero then run away to try to keep the heroes down as long as possible. Being immune to the common range shots helps with this strategy. Jerk.
Venomous Spider (Undead Family) – Another mini-boss with a double poison melee and plenty of positioning ability to make sure it hits home.
Elder Vampire (Undead Family) – I’ve said it before, summon shots are just plain nasty. The Elder Vampire luckily summons one of the weakest level 1 monsters out there but has some nice options to either regenerate (more useful in a level 4 monster than any other level) or stun (always useful). Being immune to missile and ice shots is icing on the cake.
Zombie Necromancer (Zombie Family) – Like the Elder Vampire, this guy likes to summon more monsters to the party. Unfortunately, his monsters have a bit more bite with Zombie Rat Man or Zombie prisoners. He retains the immunity to ice shots but loses the important missile shot immunity.
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