Grizzly Bosses: Beating Inscryption’s Most Unbearable Challenge
More about the expansion to one of gaming’s craziest titles
The Kaycee’s Mod beta for Inscryption has been open for about three months now, which means it’s high time that we look at some of the wickedness hiding deep in the expansion.
Many people who started on Kaycee’s Mod quit in frustration; others took a step back to wait for something a little more refined. But for the persistent and the tactically minded who were able to wade through the often punitive gameplay, a special surprise awaited just beyond Challenge Level 11 — a new and rather ambiguous challenge.
“Grizzlies appear during the first 3 boss battles.” That’s certainly a vague description for a challenge worth so many points. 45 challenge points is a truly crazy amount — more than a third of what one needs to clear the final challenge level, and half-again more than the absurd Single Candle challenge that requires nearly perfect play. What does the game throw at you for that impressive sum? An occasional bear showing up in the boss battles? Some bear-related mechanic that’s hard to explain?
There is, of course, only one way to find out. So you pick that challenge and get to the first boss, and it appears quite normal — not a bear to be seen. Then you clear the first phase, and this happens:
Grizzly Bosses is not as daunting a challenge as it may seem the first time you encounter this screen, but it does require an adjustment to the way one plays the game. A deck that might carry you effortlessly through a standard run may smash itself to pieces against the wall of bears. So let’s take a closer look at what we’re dealing with and consider a few strategies that I’ve personally used to clear Grizzly Bosses several times.
Note: The information in this guide is accurate to version 0.29. Future patches may render some of this information obsolete.
- Don’t panic. Yes, eight Grizzles is a lot to deal with. Yes, your opponent’s solid red eyes (which, due to a minor glitch, persist after the fight) are freaky. But remember, if all else fails, you don’t actually need to fight the bears. If you just want to clear Challenge Level 12, then the other challenges offer a total of 175 points and you only need 120.
- Start by playing without other challenges. Most of the challenges don’t actually make the Grizzly fights any harder, but they can make it more difficult to assemble a deck suitable to beat them. Make sure you can beat Grizzly Bosses by itself before adding another 4–7 challenges to the mix.
- Build up your side during the first phase of the boss. The challenge completely overwrites the second phase, including whatever gimmick the boss usually throws out between phases. That means that the Prospector won’t wipe out your cards and you don’t need to harvest pelts for the Trader. This favors slower play, as a player who can get several creatures out in the first phase will be well-prepared to fight the bears. Try to forestall your win in the first phase until your own forces are built up.
- Make sure you can survive the first round. The Grizzlies can deal a total of sixteen damage per turn. If you can’t manage to win the fight in the first round, you’ll need to block or kill at least three of them in order to survive to the second.
- Bring suitable creatures to the fight. An unadorned creature with three attack and five health can kill a Grizzly if it gets in the first hit — though the bear coming in behind it will finish the job. This challenge favors a deck heavy in big creatures over the lean, efficient decks I’ve recommended previously.
Gratuitous item abuse
Assuming you didn’t take any item-related challenges, you have all the equipment necessary to survive your first run-in with the bears. Use the Angler’s Hook to steal one of the Grizzlies, opening up a hole in the opponent’s defense and causing four damage on the first turn. Use the Pliers to add an additional point of damage, and the match is over in one round.
Items are definitely one of the cheesiest ways to beat the bosses in a Grizzly Bosses run, but most of them aren’t very useful and there’s a fair amount of luck in what you get. Many of the most useful items are unique to Kaycee’s Mod and need to be unlocked first. Keep an eye out for these:
- Scissors / Skinning Knife. The most useful items are the ones that let you destroy one of the Grizzlies, opening a hole in your opponent’s defense. Kill the bear in front of a powerful attacker, and you can potentially end the fight immediately. Making this easier is the recent change that makes the Skinning Knife available for sale from the Trapper, so if you see a Trapper tile coming up, free up space in your pack.
- Wiseclock. The most gimmicky of the new Kaycee’s Mod items can be used in a manner very similar to the Angler’s Hook, though it requires some planning. Leave the far left spot empty and put your most powerful creature in the center-left spot and you can secure a quick win. If nothing else, you can use the Wiseclock to steal one of your opponent’s Grizzlies and survive another turn.
- Magickal Bleach. Those Great Leap sigils on the Grizzlies mean that you can’t just fly over them for an easy win, but if you do have a deck heavy in fliers, the Bleach can negate that. Combine it with a Fan, and all you need are creatures with a combined power of five to win.
- Hourglass. Not much needs to be said here — you’re probably taking every Hourglass you get anyway, so using one to chump the bears is an easy play.
Exploiting Strike-type sigils
The reason you can’t normally beat the bears in one round is that, with every tile occupied, there’s no way to land a direct hit on your opponent. The way around this is through sigils that allow for multiple strikes on the same square — namely Bifurcated, Trifurcated, and Double Strike. Properly position creatures with these sigils, and you can land enough hits in the same spot to kill the Grizzly and finish off the opponent.
The problem with this is that the Grizzlies have six health, which means that even with those multi-strike sigils, most creatures won’t have the muscle to kill the bear and deal five damage besides. That’s where another sigil comes into play — Touch of Death. The first hit kills the Grizzly no matter what, and after that, all you have to do is direct five damage (less, with Pliers) onto the now empty square to win. The trick is setting up the cards so that this works. The creature that deals the lethal blow needs to be farthest to the left, with the higher attack creatures in front of or to the right of the target.
Potentially, one could even use these sigils to win immediately. A creature with an attack of at least six and either Double Strike or Bifurcated and Trifurcated Strike can one-shot a Grizzly and follow that up with a finishing blow. It’s unlikely that you’d ever get a creature this mighty, although…
…But we’ll get into this a little later.
All in all, this is a workable technique but a clumsy one. If you draw a lot of Adders and Mantises early on, it might be worth pursuing, but there are more reliable strategies.
Victory by attrition
As an alternative to killing the bears quickly, one can try and wear them down. Your opponent won’t play any other cards, so if you are able to generate more creatures, you can chip away until you win. This was a more practical strategy before the Fecundity sigil was nerfed (one can’t just spam infinite Gecks like in the good old days of v0.27), but it is still viable.
The key here lies in the woodcarver totems. If you receive a bottom part with a sigil that spawns more creatures (namely Fecundity, Ant Spawner, and Bees Inside), then you can potentially make this work. It tends to be most effective with an insect deck, as neither Ant Spawner or Bees Inside have been nerfed. In fact, get Bees Inside on a woodcarver token with the insect head and you can still play infinite Bees just like in the good old days of v0.27.
Undying is another sigil that can work with this strategy, though you’ll need to get it on a creature with a low cost — a Geck is ideal, but a card with a cost of a few bones will suffice. Better yet, if you can get both Undying and Corpse Eater on the same card, it will replace itself every time it dies, allowing it to block the bear in front of it indefinitely.
The most reliable means of beating the Grizzlies is just to overwhelm them with powerful creatures of your own. Grizzlies are scary, but one can easily create horrifying Frankenstein creatures that are far scarier.
Your goal is to get a handful of creatures powerful enough to ruin the Grizzlies, get at least one of them on the table during the first phase of each boss fight, then just fight through the second phase as though it were normal. Draw creatures with high attack and health, power them up at campfires (feed the campers a Ring Worm if you can so that you can get free upgrades), give them overpowered sigils through sacrifices and then have the Mycologists stitch them together. Oh, and keep an eye out for the new Green Mage squares that let you duplicate your cards — this is one time you shouldn’t mind bloating your deck.
Ideally, your creatures should have as much life as possible and at least three power so that they can kill a bear in no more than two turns. Even better, a creature with four power can kill both bears in front of it in three turns, and that’s easily achieved. Strike sigils are still really powerful here, so keep an eye out for Mantis Gods and Dire Wolves. Above all, though, look for doubles — the Mycologists really are the key to getting creatures with disgustingly high stats.