Darkest Dungeon: Hound Master - Skill Guide
Darkest Dungeon is a pretty tough game the first time you jump into it. Characters will die, you'll struggle to keep your party sane, and it can be overwhelming at first glance to choose who to take on your next quest.
These guides are designed to help with that. Each instalment focuses on a character class, discusses each of their skills, and gives you a general build or two to try out.
Note these aren't intended to be “perfect”, optimum guides but more of a roadmap for the newer player who wants some help getting their head around things. Please leave a comment if you feel anything has been left out so that we can all benefit from it.
It's also worth noting that Darkest Dungeon has undergone repeated alterations and tweaks to class skills as it has been developed. Therefore, whilst these guides will strive to be as accurate as possible, by the time you are reading them, all of the information may not be 100% correct, so always double check with your game in case skill properties have been altered in some way.
The Hound Master is Darkest Dungeon's most dedicated bleeding character. Two of his best skills inflict bleed, with one, Hound's Flurry, inflicting it on all enemy characters at once. Provided, of course, that they don't resist it.
From a gameplay standpoint the Hound Master straddles the line between an aggressive combat character, capable of inflicting significant damage over time, and a more support-based utility class, with the ability to heal party stress and mark enemy targets.
Furthermore, the character combines a high speed rating with the benefit that many of his moves work from long range. This gives the Hound Master plenty of flexibility when you're rounding out a party, since he's useful at almost any range and his skill diversity can be tailored to the party he's working alongside.
Position: 2nd, 3rd and 4th ranks
The Hound Master's default attack is a unique one for several reasons. For starters, it inflicts bleed. It cannot be stressed enough how important damage over time effects are in Darkest Dungeon. They help circumvent the high level of protection that many tougher enemies have and allow you to be constantly inflicting damage even when you need to take turns recovering your party.
The skill also gains a hefty +60% damage bonus against marked enemies, and an additional +15% damage bonus against beasts. This is worth factoring in when you're determining who to take with the Hound Master, and he plays well with other characters who like marking things, such as the Bounty Hunter or Arbalest.
What's more, Hound's Rush can be used on any rank, making it easily the most precise bleeding skill in the game. Coupled with the Hound Master's respectable damage output, this skill makes the character a perfect supporting attacker capable of killing weaker enemies outright, or softening up stronger foes with bleed.
For when everything needs to be whittled down. Hound's Harry inflicts bleed on all enemy targets (provided they don't resist the effect, of course), making it a great skill to have handy when you're anticipating a longer fight.
Always take the time to assess whether or not it's better to use this or Hound's Rush. Typically, if you can kill an enemy with Hound's Rush, use that first.
A support skill that does no damage but marks the target and inflicts a -20% protect debuff. This is definitely one of the better marking skills in the game thanks to that particular debuff. A drop in any protection translates to more damage which is just the thing you want.
This shouldn't be equipped just to boost Hound's Rush, since, two rounds of that skill are stronger and more reliable than marking and then attacking the target. Instead this is the kind of skill you want when you can take advantage of the aforementioned marker synergies. Bounty Hunters, Arbalests and Highwayman all get better with this kind of skill.
Position: 3rd or 4th rank
Cry Havoc is an interesting ability simply because it's so rare. An all-party stress healing move is just so incredibly valuable. That said, anything this good comes with a catch, and, in this case, it's a big one. The success of Cry Havoc is random, so, a given number of times, it'll do nothing.
Even when the move is fully upgraded there success rate is only 66%. In a game where every turn counts, this is a very risky ability to have to rely on.
Guard Dog essentially turns the Hound Master into a “dodge tank”. He protects a party member, but does so by avoiding attacks, rather than simply soaking up the damage. Tanking moves are not particularly useful in and of themselves, especially since the Hound Master has no way to take advantage of them, since he doesn't have a riposte effect like the Man-at-Arms.
That being said Guard Dog is one of the better defensive skills because it protects two characters instead of one. The Hound Master covers a vulnerable party member and he likely won't get hit in the mean time thanks to the hefty dodge boost in addition to his already solid dodge rating.
Position: 2nd, 3rd or 4th rank
Another skill that's passive and weirdly situational, Lick Wounds is a perfectly good healing skill, but one that only the Hound Master himself gets the benefit of. I suppose the main synergy here is to combine this with Guard Dog, using Lick Wounds whenever he's unfortunate enough to take a hit.
Its other application is on “no heal teams” such as when you bring along an Abomination and can no longer take a Vestal with you. Along with the Leper, these three classes are all capable of using various skills to patch themselves up, without having to rely on a dedicated healer.
Position: 1st or 2nd rank
Target: 1st, 2nd or 3rd rank
A great stun move that backs up the Hound Master's range of support options, the big downside here being that the character must be in the front two ranks. Barring this skill, all of the Hound Master's skills allow him to be placed further back in your party formation.
Still, it's probably worthwhile. Blackjack is a solid stunning move, capable of hitting three ranks deep, and, even though he's closer to the front, he still has access to his long range attack skills like Hound's Harry and Hound's Rush.
Here's a basic build for the Hound Master to get you started:
- Hound's Rush
- Hound's Harry
- Whistle/Guard Dog
This build allows the Hound Master to work in a kind of combat-support role. Hound's Rush and Hound's Harry pack enough punch, whilst Blackjack can be used to slow down bigger threats that can't be brought down as quickly. The skill also synergises well with the damage over time effects too.
Whistle can be brought along whenever you have a Bounty Hunter or other character that benefits from marking units. The Hound Master works great in this role because he has a very high speed stat, meaning he can get the mark down before your other characters take their turns. Whenever you don't need Whistle, it can be swapped out for Guard Dog. It's certainly a situational move, but one that can come in handy when a character is in a pinch.
Overall, the Hound Master is one of the most interesting characters in the game because his role in a party is not so clear cut. When used well however, he simply shows how important status effects like blight and bleed are to the game. Few characters will wrack up incremental damage like he can.
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