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A Beginner's Guide to DROD - Part II

Beginner's Guide To DROD. Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Which holds should I play?

This is a tricky question you want to play holds that are good, but also not too hard to start off with. The problem is, there are a lot of not very good, if easy, holds, whereas a lot of the best holds are very difficult.

You can see discussions on this topic here (in particular see Ezlo's comment), and here

One thing you may want to do is arrange the list of available holds in reverse order of difficulty but there's a lot of dross there I wouldn't really recommend.

So here are my suggestions for a beginner to DROD (in a rough order in which you might want to play them). For some hold architects, you can click on their name to see other holds they've made.

- DROD Learning Zone (by Larrymurk) is a hold written specifically for beginners (and with kids in mind too). It covers a lot of the basics very simply and enjoyably. It is completely impossible to get stuck or die, making it very easy, but it also means that there is no challenge involved whatsoever.

- Tutorials DROD 2, 3 and 4 (full versions and demos) come with in-game tutorials that cover the basics (these aren't separate downloadable holds). These are quick, easy and well worth playing. There are a few user-made tutorials too: DROD Tutorials by Nillo, Zohnin's Tutorial and Zohnin's Tutorial 3.0 are probably the best ones to have a look at, although you may just want to start playing some non-tutorial holds.

- KDD was the original DROD hold, so it starts very basic, and could act as a good introduction. The other bonus here is that with Architect's edition you can play all 25 levels for free and there are many excellent rooms throughout. The downsides are that it doesn't have much in the way of story, has no speech and is restricted to the elements and monsters of DROD 1. Also, being the first ever hold, it lacks a lot of the refinement that comes with later holds, as people realised what made a clever and enjoyable puzzle. Lastly, the difficulty curve is quite uneven at times.

However, the new Flash version of DROD remedies some of these problems by redesigning some of the rooms and levels, uses DROD 3-era graphics, adds speech, is playable in your browser without download and includes all new bonus content, secrets, challenges and achievements. So this is a great starting point.

- Another good place to start (or go next) would be the demos for JtRH, TCB, GatEB and TSS (going on to play the full games if you wanted to, felt experienced enough and wanted to pay for it). These holds are of excellent quality and contain voice acting and the canonical DROD story, however they can get pretty tricky and frustrating in later levels. In particular, GatEB is designed with DROD novices in mind - there's a smoother learning curve, and hub-style levels make it possible to attempt challenges in any order you want.

-Smitemastery 101 is a hold I made with beginners in mind, that starts off very easy and gradually gets harder and includes a lot of explanation of how things work. It's a Smitemasters' Selection, so you have to buy it. On the plus side it means it's looked over and polished by the official team and includes speech (and a song!)

- Odd Jobs Novice is an excellent hold by Larrymurk that offers a set of odd jobs for you to complete, in any order. Once you've managed that, there are Medium and Expert versions of the same puzzles in separate holds.

-Aurora's Palace is another hold of mine. It only uses the basic elements of DROD 1 (AE) and contains plenty of hint scrolls. It therefore should be quite accessible for beginners. (There's a Let's Play if you're curious or stuck)

- Advanced Concepts. I can't recommend this one enough it's invaluable. This is a compilation of a levels by me and some of the best architects in the community. Each level concentrates on a different element/monster (e.g. Brains or speed potions), explains how they work through a number of tutorial-style rooms and gives you a few rooms to practice out your new knowledge. There are also a number of additional challenge rooms as well. I'd try this one out after you were happy with the basics of DROD after playing one of the other holds first.

- Advanced Concepts 2 has come out more recently, and covers a range of new topics, including tarstuff and wraithwings. It's harder to complete than the first Advanced Concepts, so should really come later.

- Mysteries of the Deep is a fairly under-rated hold by Jeff_Ray, that has a tutorial style structure, as in it starts easy and gets harder with each level, with plenty of explanation of how elements work. Overall it's very good, and has a lot of excellent puzzles. Downsides are the odd frustrating room, odd story and not very good English.

- In The Research Facility and Dan's Dungeon are large tutorial-style holds which aren't entirely comprehensive are are definitely well done and fun to play. Shendy's other hold (Lost in a City) is also worth checking out.

- Sandtrap by Tokyokid is a hold I discovered only recently by looking through highly rated easy holds. It's a number of pretty good, not too hard puzzles arranged in a maze. Fun. In a similar vein, try:

- Population Density by Ravon, which is another hold of interconnected rooms, that's not too hard.

- Great Uncle Yurgess' Hold by Sergenth is a very popular and well done hold with a good story and lots of original puzzles. Also not too hard.

- Loony Labyrinth, by zzyzx is a really good hold. It's a massive maze of rooms. A bit harder than some of the aforementioned holds. You may want to play it in the original Architect's Edition (having a newer edition allows for some spoilers).

- Compass Point is a short and clever hold that puts a new spin on how you solve DROD puzzles. It's by Robobob3000, whose other holds are definitely worth checking out too.

- The DROD community holds annual awards for good holds and architects, called the Annual People's Choice Awards (or Deadlies). You can find a complete list of all the categories, and winning architects and holds here. Looking at the winners of these awards is a good way to find good holds to play.

These awards include the Erik Hermansen Award for Lifetime Architectural Achievement which has been awarded to:
Larrymurk (a couple of whose holds I've mentioned), Doom, me, Boyblue, Rheb and Chaco. These architects' holds are all excellent, but can get very difficult. I suspect that holds by BoyBlue and Rheb would be way too hard for a beginner, but are highly recommended once you're more confident.

Of Doom's holds I'd recommend Simon's Dungeon , Spider Well and Nightmare Dungeon as being more suitable for beginners.

- Easy or Hard and Odyssey are a couple of easy Larrymurk holds that are worth playing.

- Chaco's Hold is a good example of, well, one of Chaco's holds and is well worth playing.

- Tim is another great architect who has made a few holds, each based around an individual element or monster. Simplicity is a minimalistic roach-only hold, while Tunnel Vision revolves around tunnel-based puzzles.City of Queens (roach queens) and Penthouse (snakes) are much harder.

- Other excellent holds, that may be suitablefor a beginner and come recommended are Phil's Dungeon by Kevin, Treasure Hunt by Oneiromancer, Veere's Dungeon by Sim and Mark's Penultimate Dungeon by Funk (whatever happened to Mark's Ultimate Dungeon?)

Other architects who have made some amazing holds are: Dischorran, Calamarain, Jutt, TScott, zch and kallor. The only reason I've not gone through their holds above is that, on the whole, their holds are much (sometimes much, much) harder.

If you're interested in my holds (some hard, some easy), click here


There are a lot of interesting things that can be done with the DROD engine. Here are a few examples.

DROD 3 made it possible to change the player role, so you can now make rooms where you play as a roach or a goblin, rather than Beethro. Imperial Wandering by Chaco is an excellent example of this you play as a Tar Technician (a character with no sword). In Flight of the Fegundo by brian_s you play as a Fegundo - a flying creature that can't be killed by monsters.

not dr0d 2 by Tahnan, is an excellent set of original word puzzles implemented in the DROD engine. As the name suggests it's not really DROD.

The Goblin is another of my holds, which I mention because it involves another subversion of standard DROD puzzles only one of the rooms in the whole hold has a monster in it.

The Palace of Puzzles by VortexSurfer, The Sunken Pyramid and Under the Mountains both by RuAdam all involve classic non-DROD puzzles and mazes implemented in DROD.

geomatrx has made a series of vast, non-linear holds that fuse the gameplay of DROD with that of Metroid. They are: MetDROiD, MetDROiD Prime and MetDROiD Echoes

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