The regular combat encounters in Darkest Dungeon 2 are difficult enough on their own, so you know you’re in for a bad time when one of its bosses rears its ugly head. Since the game uses such an open structure, you can encounter a few different bosses as your first, one of which is the Dreaming General, Lair boss of the Tangle Region. This is a challenging encounter that plays out a bit like a standard battle and a bit like a tense tightrope walk, and it requires a good understanding of the mechanics involved alongside a carefully-considered strategy in order to prevail. This guide will help you out with both of those things, covering how to defeat the Dreaming General in Darkest Dungeon 2 in-depth.
How to put the Dreaming General to sleep in Darkest Dungeon 2
Boss location and setup
Before we cover the Dreaming General boss fight itself, we’ll briefly go over the location in which you’ll encounter it, and what you’ll need to overcome in the run-up to the battle. As mentioned above, the Dreaming General is the Lair boss of the Tangle Region, found within the General’s Keep. Lairs are almost always revealed during the initial scouting of a Region, so you’ll be able to locate the General’s Keep as soon as you enter the Tangle, and plan a route to it if you wish to take on the Dreaming General.
When deciding whether you should tackle this boss or not, the most important things to consider are the general health of your party, and their capacity for ranged attacks. Ranged attacks are incredibly important in this battle, so you’ll need at least two characters who can attack the back rank in order to take it on, or four in an ideal scenario.
Ranged attacks are also important for dealing with the drummer enemies you’ll encounter in the two battles leading up to the General in the Keep. As with every Lair in the game, you’ll need to take on two battles against groups of regular enemies before you can face the boss. In this case, these enemies will be hard-hitting soldiers, both melee and ranged, supported by drummers in the back who can apply buffs continuously throughout the fight. With enough ranged support, you can take these drummers out early on, making the rest of the soldiers much easier to defeat in the process.
The mechanics of the Dreaming General
Once you’ve survived the two preliminary rounds, you’ll get to take on the Dreaming General himself. This is a unique battle, with a self-contained mechanic you won’t see elsewhere in the game: one that will likely wipe your party out if you go in unprepared. There are two enemies in this fight: the General himself, and the Tap Root, a representation of the twisting plant that has overtaken the General. Individually, neither poses much of a threat, but they can combine their skills in a way that can cause some serious damage.
At the start of the battle and on each subsequent turn, the Tap Root will use the ‘Creeping Growth’ Skill. This adds a unique Tangled Growth token to two random heroes each time. While it appears harmless at first, once a hero has three instances of this token they’ll become ‘Strangled’, taking damage over time while being forced to use a Skill called ‘Whispering Darkness’ during their turn instead of one of their own. This Skill has a high chance of inflicting Stress on the rest of your party.
This is a disruptive effect on its own, but it gets worse if left unchecked. If all four of your party members are ‘Strangled’ at any one time, then the Dreaming General will use ‘Nightmare’, an incredibly powerful AOE Skill that hits your whole party for big damage. It resets your Tangled Growth tokens to zero afterwards, but it’s dangerous enough that you really can’t afford to be hit by it at all during the fight.
Thankfully, there’s a way to combat this effect. While you can never kill the Tap Root, owing to its unlimited health pool, each time you attack it it will use ‘The Growth Recedes’, a Skill which removes one Tangled Growth token from one of your heroes. This means that as long as you attack the Tap Root twice a turn, you can avoid your characters becoming ‘Strangled’, and therefore avoid ‘Nightmare’. The Tap Root is locked into the back rank during this fight, with the General taking up the other three, so you’ll need ranged attackers who can hit it consistently each turn. The Highwayman and Vestal are good choices for this role.
If that was all you had to manage during this fight, then the Dreaming General would be no trouble at all. Unfortunately, it isn’t. In addition to removing the Tangled Growth tokens each time you hit it, the Tap Root also puts out some tokens of its own, using a Skill called ‘The Soil Stirs’ every second time it’s hit. This Skill adds a unique Root token to two random heroes, which makes them vulnerable to the Dreaming General’s other AOE attack, ‘The Waking Dead.’ He will only use this attack when there are valid targets for it, but it’s just as damaging as ‘Nightmare’, albeit less devastating since it hits only select heroes rather than the whole party.
Beyond these mechanics, the Dreaming General has one other move, ‘Unsettling Whisper’ a simple single-target attack that adds Stress to the victim, with a high chance to add it to the rest of the party as well. He also has a huge health pool, starting out with a meaty 205 health to work through.
A strategy for defeating the Dreaming General
With all of the above taken into consideration, you can begin to fully understand the Dreaming General as an encounter, and put a plan into place to defeat him. First of all, you’ll need to attack the Tap Root twice a turn, in order to keep the Tangled Growth tokens at bay, and avoid your characters becoming ‘Strangled.’ If you brought at least two ranged attackers along as mentioned above, this will be no problem.
Next, you’ll need to mitigate the damage dealt by ‘The Waking Dead’, since you will have to deal with it eventually. This attack only hits characters who are marked with Root tokens, so you can see it coming in advance, and prepare by using defensive Skills on those characters. Sometimes this won’t be possible, but if your party includes the Man-at-Arms then you’ll be able to use ‘Defender’ to great effect here.
Finally, you’ll need to wear down the Dreaming General himself. He has a huge amount of health, so damage-over-time effects are effective here, particularly Burn and Bleed, since his Blight resistance is quite high. Beyond using these, you’ll just want to chip away at him with melee attacks. An ideal setup here would be two melee attackers in the front, two ranged attackers in the rear.
You’ll also need to heal regularly: this is a long endurance fight, and the damage from ‘Unsettling Whispers’ and ‘The Waking Dead’ will really start to add up over time. As well as any additional damage from Stress-induced Meltdowns. Characters like the Plague Doctor and Flagellant can work well here, especially when supported by Combat Items that offer additional healing on top.
If you can keep your head above water throughout the fight, then you will eventually be able to finish the Dreaming General off. For doing so, you’ll receive a veritable cornucopia of goodies, including Mastery Points, Relics, Baubles, Combat Items, Stagecoach Items, and a Trinket. You’ll also receive the General’s Dream Trophy, which you can equip to your Stagecoach to root your party in place, and grant them +200% damage against enemy corpses. As with all Trophies in the game, it will also allow you to enter the Mountain on Confessions beyond the first.
So there you have it: all the know-how you’ll need in order to defeat the Dreaming General in Darkest Dungeon 2. It can be a daunting fight, especially early on in your time with the game, but it’s definitely manageable if you follow the strategy above and go in prepared.