Let me start off by being clear: Dungeon Keeper [Free] isn't necessarily the most popular game out there, and a lot of that has to do with how stingy it can be if you aren't paying money. This might make you think it's not really the best game to offer up a guide for, but in actuality, this is the kind of F2P game that a guide can be most useful for. To be honest, I don't think you can play Dungeon Keeper optimally without spending money, but if you don't want to spend money yet want to play this game, well, there are good ways and bad ways to go about that. One of the challenges of putting this guide together is that EA keeps changing things around, scrambling to find an optimal (for somebody, anyway) balance. That means it's hard for me to use specifics like the costs of things, because they might be different by the end of the week. In lieu of that kind of guide, I've decided instead to focus on some general advice and information about things that are unlikely to change too much.

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Imp Advice

Abuse the help. Don't forget to go into your imp subscreen and give them a good smack every now and then. They'll work twice as fast in this motivated state, but it only lasts for a short time, around a half hour at the time of writing.

Don't dig out the 24 hour blocks before you need to. You can expand your dungeon quite a bit before digging into the squares that take a full day to clear. Especially in the early going, the last thing you want to do is tie up valuable imps on such a long task needlessly.

Don't tie up all of your imps on long-term jobs. You should always keep one of your imps relatively free to work on smaller tasks. Generally, you want to keep one imp excavating while the other one handles other important chores around the dungeon. Once you get more than two imps, you can feel free to have more than one imp excavating.

Save up for that third imp ASAP. Two imps aren't really enough to keep things going once the room and excavation timers get long. You should be saving whatever gems EA kindly throws your way, whether it's from achievements, excavations, or even the gems they give you in the tutorial that you are supposed to use.

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Building Your Dungeon

Think defense. Remember, you're not just building your dungeon so it looks pretty on your screen. When it comes time to defend, the last thing you want is unnecessary extra paths to your dungeon heart just because they looked nice to have. Think about where you can create chokepoints that can be more easily defended. You don't want to leave any useless empty spaces, so make use of the ability to fill in blocks when you need to. Make sure you set traps on every possible entry point to your dungeon heart.

Secure your resources. Like most building games, the world of Dungeon Keeper revolves around having enough resources to do things. There are extra gold mines and quarries you can get access to if you can reach them with a tunnel. These have the downside of providing extra entry points to your dungeon in a raid, but it's worth it to increase the amount of resources you have coming in.

Mind your resource caps. It's really easy to hit your limit for both stone and gold in the beginning. Those limits are too low to do much of anything worthwhile, however, so you'll want to upgrade your warehouses and gold treasuries as often as possible. It's bad enough waiting for resources, but when you can't even collect them because you've hit your limit, it's even more of a waste of your time.

Plan your dungeon around leveling up your dungeon heart. Check what you need for the next level by clicking on the heart, and make sure you're working towards those conditions specifically. Your heart's level will determine which rooms, traps, and minions you'll have access to. Everything should be in service to getting its level up as quickly as you can to unlock the best goodies.

Install a graveyard as soon as you can. The graveyard is a powerful defensive room, launching poisonous skulls at a pretty decent distance at any creature foolish enough to draw near. Your dungeon heart needs to be level five to build this room, but it's a real gamechanger once you've got it. The unholy temple is another great defensive room, with the ability to hit airborne units. That one becomes available to you at dungeon heart level four.

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Laying Your Traps

Hallways are good, especially leading to doors. A nice, strong door with a hallway leading to it is the perfect place to lay some very nasty traps. It's something to consider when you're building your dungeon. Don't forget to upgrade your doors wherever possible, as well. Doors are an important element of defense.

Lead with spring traps. These are very useful for taking out weaker units like scouts, so it's not a bad idea to put them on the outside edges of any sequences of traps you're laying down. It's a good way to take out smaller annoyances while saving your big guns for stronger enemies. Plus, they're kind of hilarious.

Got an intersection? Get a cannon. Cannons will shoot straight out in any direction, making intersecting hallways a great place to put them. Make sure you put some spike or firepit traps around them to discourage vandals. Freeze traps can be useful for holding a target in place for easier disposal by cannon.

Use your doors as choke points and let unsuspecting invaders have it. You know what makes a really nice welcome mat? Spike traps combined with freeze traps. Or, better still, bug zappers and firepits. Doors will slow down the enemies and hold them in place, and if you're really lucky, will create a nice little conga line of bad guys. Might as well punish them while they're waiting around for that door to break. And behind door number one? Fantastic place for a boulder trap. If you've built a decent sized tunnel leading to your door, you'll do devastating damage with a rolling boulder.

Keep in mind, humans aren't stupid, but they can be predictable. So you have a long hallway leading to a door. Any human player is going to know what's up with that. They're going to think you concentrated your defenses on an obvious trap and avoid it. Knowing this, you can set up your dungeon so that there are slightly less obvious routes, expecting humans to go for them. Trap them accordingly.

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On The Raid

Trolling is very effective. Surprisingly, for all the cool units available, the most effective way to raid is to just send in huge masses of powered up trolls. Upgrade your workshop whenever you can to make your trolls stronger, and upgrade your hatcheries so that you can throw a ton of them out at once.

The computer is stupid. So very, very stupid. Unfortunately, the computer sometimes controls the targeting of your units. Keep an eye on them to make sure they aren't dividing and conquering themselves and direct them appropriately. Oh, and all that stuff we talked about with traps? Try not to fall for it yourself.

Ghosts and necromancers are other good options. Ghosts can break through a lot of conventional defenses. Just beware of anti-air defense. Necromancers provide awesome support for your troll legions by raising the dead into useful skeleton minions. That's also a fun trick at parties.

Don't make any dangerous enemies. Anyone you go after will have the chance to revenge-attack you. It's not a good idea to pick a fight with a goliath, in other words, because you might just get spanked both ways. After you attack an enemy, you should have a good idea of what you're dealing with. Prepare your dungeon's defenses accordingly.

With any luck, those tips will help out any people brave enough to take on the modern version of Dungeon Keeper. It's definitely one of those high maintenance games where if you want to get anywhere with it, you really need to be checking in on it pretty frequently and planning timers around your schedule as best as you can. Take these tactics in hand and do your best to impress your dark overlords without signing over your soul.

  • LousyHero

    Dont download = no spending = win
    ;)

    • speedyph
    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      CLEVER!

    • http://futbolox.tumblr.com/ Fnurgh

      Best guide ever.

    • fearlesskk

      Bad guide, i have over 20 f2p games and havent spent a single dollar yet im still enjoying it

  • Michael O'Connor

    Best tip for Dungeon Keeper: Don't play it.

    It's a brainless grind. There is no "game" to speak of here. Stay well away.

    • fearlesskk

      Clash of clans doesnt, boom beach doesnt. Yet they are the best one out there.. Mhmmm

      • Michael O'Connor

        Those are the exceptions, not the rule.

      • Marcus

        I dunno man, I've yet to pay cash, and I *have* played Dungeon Keeper 2. It's no dungeon keeper 3, but it does have strategy and I find myself enjoying it in both the same way and a few different ways.

  • Kane

    Sad that we need articles like this. Not really enjoying a game now... Just learning tips sigh..

  • Chris Brady

    It's not that bad.

    • Bischi777

      Said no one ever.

      • fearlesskk

        It's not that bad, get rekt

  • https://www.facebook.com/DigitalDistillery Scot Damn

    Shaun. You're better than this. I believe you to be by far the most accurate reviewer on this site. Why stoop to these SEO articles?

    • CzechCongo

      Because Eli pays him to?

    • tpianca

      Maybe he likes to beat them without paying?

  • Churchill92

    The only way to win is not to play.

    • SpacePenguinBot

      Indeed.

  • Biowhere

    The average rating by touch arcade readers is 1.5 stars. There hasn't been a post in the Dungeon Keeper thread in almost a month. Just who is this post for?

    • Michael O'Connor

      Google.

    • fearlesskk

      Me

  • SpacePenguinBot

    18 tips to play without spending money. What’s the real game here?

  • mclifford82

    I find these articles intriguing on a site where the general tone is that you're a piece of shit if you take money out of developer's pockets (by waiting for games to go free).

  • grammatonfeather

    How much did they pay him go promote their hated game?

  • Noam Rathaus

    "The only winning move is not to play" = WarGames (1983)

  • mondoz

    The best money you can spend on Dungeon Keeper is to go find the originals on gog and play them the way they were meant to be played and ignore this trash.

    • fearlesskk

      1980's games, id rather play this

      • NinjaKitteh

        The dungeon keeper games were late 90s...

  • torosama

    I've played this game since it's Beta/Canadian release last summer. I'm at a point now that I can't progress, because it costs 1-2 million (or more) coins or stone to upgrade anything and you can't keep from being attacked and losing 150k of each, long enough to build up enough resource to upgrade. If you attack someone to get resources back then you lose your cave in protection. After all this time I'm probably going to delete it. Never spent any money and is say I'm pretty far in, but at this point it just isn't fun at all. Of note, I had never played the originals on pc to have any kind of preconceived notion of how the game should be. However; I have repeatedly and routinely bashed them on their forums for their insane greed with in app currency prices .... Seriously they just released a new immortal and he is $9 US.

  • bigjack66

    Still haven't seen a game with such negative comments as this as they killed the memories of the original. Thanks for the guide but you can't polish a turd!

    • Kiltedsheep

      God, I love that phrase. I wonder if anyone actually has tried polishing one?

      • tommet

        Mythbusters had an episode on it.

    • AppStoreNinja

      No surprise...EA turns everything into shit.

  • sophion

    If you are into tactics & strategy this is a game you will enjoy.

  • fearlesskk

    Old kids still crying because this isnt the original. Jeez get over it

    • saansilt

      Troll spotted. The TSS is on its way, move along folks.

  • fuzzlor

    I was expecting the article to just be "don't."

  • Jake7905

    My theory is that TA posted this article as an early April Fool's Day joke. I know that makes very little sense, but then again so does the guide.

  • Onikage725

    Long press on app. Tap x. Tap Delete. When prompted, select remove from Game Center.

    $0 spent.

    I kid, I kid. I do love these guides :)

  • Keithustus

    Actually it's a terrible idea to upgrade your dungeon heart so soon, because your traps, minion levels, and defensive rooms will be crap whenever you are invaded by similar-level keepers. Instead only upgrade your heart when there is literally nothing else to upgrade.

  • https://www.youtube.com/user/ShadeslayPlays Shadeslay

    I have to agree with quite a few of the comments already here. How can you 'win' when there is no game? There is simply nothing to play. Best avoided completely in my opinion.

    Meanwhile, there are plenty of free-to-play games out there that have got the balance right and are worth some attention.

  • grammatonfeather

    Paid to promote a really bad game

  • Keithustus

    Also there should be a tip about how many mines to claim. In general and ironically, the FEWER mines you have, the better you'll do. You get more traps for each mine claimed, and obviously more resources, but it's really hard to defend if you have 6 or more, especially when you reach the level where opponents use ghosts and 3x3 bombs. I'd say it would be best probably to have 5 mines, ensuring that the three unclaimed mines are adjacent to one another. By doing that, you can build your dungeon up against a wall and no one will be able to invade your back door because you won't have one. Dungeons arranged in the center of the map, by contrast, are next to impossible to defend well.