Strategy:Unholy Cathedral

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Game Data Strategy



Unholy Cathedral is a special level which has a gimmick of melee-exclusivity. The level only features melee enemies, including a melee-only boss with ridiculous stats, and any guns will not fire if you attempt to, keeping you restricted to only melee attacks outside a few exceptions that will be covered later. Killing the Angel of Death, the boss of the level, will reward you with the Longinus Spear, an extremely powerful melee weapon that far exceeds any modded Chainsaw. Beat him on at least Hurt Me Plenty difficulty while carrying a 100% killrate up to that point, you'll instead be rewarded with the even more powerful Azrael's Scythe. Then if you beat him on Nightmare difficulty, while having beaten Hell's Arena earlier in the run without taking damage, you'll instead be rewarded with the Dragonslayer.

If you're a melee build, or at least have some investment in Brute, Berserker, and a Chainsaw, this level will be ridiculously simple. A horde of Lost souls and Demons are little threat and you can just run in, get berserked, and steamroll over them, while then run up to the Angel of Death and mash click until he dies. The ease of difficulty and the amazing melee weapon you get for beating this level makes it a mandatory stop for melee builds, and upon beating it the rest of the game will become a cakewalk, especially if you fulfilled the conditions to get Azrael's Scythe or the Dragonslayer.

If you're not a melee build while lacking Brute and Berserker, beating this level becomes a much more arduous task you will need proper preparation for, and you should normally skip it unless you're trying to achieve a Conqueror run (or really want that melee Artifact, in which case you probably would have invested in Brute and Berserker in the first place). The simplest way will be to find and carry with you a Thermonuclear bomb or some other means to nuke a level, and then find an Invulnerability Globe on dlevel 17, where you can then go into the Unholy Cathedral invulnerable and nuke the level (which will even still reward you the Artifact). This method however obviously relies on a great deal of luck, and shouldn't be relied on as your main plan, being reserved for non-melee builds who didn't intend to enter the Cathedral but happened upon these circumstances that allowed them to nuke it for some extra EXP.

When it comes to beating the level normally, it all revolves around being able to kill the Angel of Death. With an unmodified Chainsaw and no trait investment you can usually one-shot the Lost souls, while being able to chokehold them in the doorway to their room so they can't surround you. Then with the Demons, you can lure them outside into the lava that will quickly make short work of them. So that just leaves overcoming the Angel of Death in melee combat, whose health will be 290/340/410/500 depending on difficulty, while he boasts an incredible 10 armor to substantially soften your blows and make him an even greater tank than John Carmack. In addition, he's extremely fast at 150% speed, and his melee attack deals between 16-18 damage, enough to three-four shot any class without Ironman investment and any armor, while with a Red armor you'll only be able to take one more hit. So how do you beat him without Brute and Berserker, when you can't possibly hope to outdamage him in melee?


So without relying on luck to nuke the level, the thing you're going to need most is a Piercing Chainsaw. With his armor, an unmodified Chainsaw will deal 1-14 damage, with several hits doing only 1 damage while averaging less than 5 against him, and bulk modded it will just raise it to a paltry 1-20 while the average will still be below ten damage. With a Piercing Chainsaw, you completely ignore his armor, and your attacks will be dealing 4-28 damage while averaging around 15, a tremendous improvement in your damage output against the Angel of Death while you're not sacrificing that much mods from your other more valuable equipment. A Double chainsaw and Ripper will offer even greater damage output despite no piercing effect, but with no Brute nor Eagle Eye investment, you'll be hitting with the Double chainsaw only a fourth of the time and not even a tenth of a time with the Ripper, which with their heavy mod investment, makes them horribly impractical for the purpose of beating the AoD with a non-melee build.

If you happen to find a Butcher's Cleaver, it will deal 1-20 damage with an average below 10, so it would still be significantly inferior to the Piercing Chainsaw, and its Blademaster effect does nothing in 1-on-1 combat. If you somehow found the Dragonslayer before the Cathedral and were able to pick it up, then you can just run in and beat this level with no problem at all regardless of your build.


Standard armors

The other necessary piece of equipment is an armor with melee resistance, as a standalone Red armor barely helps as covered earlier, and a Power mod to it might let you just take one more hit. When it comes to the standard armors, none of them feature melee resistance at base, so the easiest reliable option is the Ballistic armor assembly, which gives any armor it's applied to an additional 30% melee resistance. Applied to a Red armor, you'll be taking 7-8 damage, so an unboosted Scout/Technician will be able to take 7 hits from the Angel of Death and a Marine will take 8-9 hits, a big improvement when you'll be able to live about twice as long against him between Large medkits. However even on HNTR difficulty with the Piercing chainsaw, your life will be getting drained a lot faster than his, when it will take you about 20 hits to kill him assuming all your hits connect (which they won't without Brute/Eagle Eye). Plus your Ballistic Red armor will get damaged and lose half of its resistance around the time you need your first medkit, while the AoD will still have plenty of health left. So the Piercing chainsaw + Ballistic Red armor combo alone won't be viable without a spare, a lot of Large medkits, and maybe copious investment in Tough as nails, and you'll definitely need something more on UV/Nightmare.

The other remotely viable standard option is to make the Power armor assembly with Red armor. It gives it a 25% melee resistance and an additional point of protection, which too will reduce his damage output to 7-8, so again it's not that good an option. However the armor regenerates and completely removes the movespeed penalty, so it won't be difficult to run away from the AoD while the armor regenerates before confronting him again between medkit uses. You will still need a lot of medkits, but you won't need multiple armors. Power armor requires a coveted Nano mod, and it's very unadvised to make Power armor just for the AoD if you get a Nano mod as it's only a bit better over Ballistic Red armor, so it should only be a really desperate last resort option unless you're making Power Red armor already for general usage.

So preferably you will need some luck on finding an Exotic or Unique armor, but fortunately there are many of them that have melee resistance and you have a really good chance of finding at least one of them before the Unholy Cathedral.

Exotic/Unique armors

Among Exotics, there's the Ballistic shield, which with its 95% melee resistance, will reduce any melee attack in the game to 1 damage. Plus being a shield, its resistances won't worsen when durability drops below 50%, so you'll effectively get 100 hits you can take against the Angel of Death with it on, all for 1 damage each (assuming you didn't let it lose durability prior to the Lost souls and Demons earlier in the level, and kept it fresh for the Cathedral), which even on Nightmare will give you way more than enough durability to beat him with just a Piercing chainsaw and no melee investment.

Outside shields, the best Exotic armor for this will be the Gothic armor. It carries a 50% melee resistance alongside a 6 protection rating, so unmodified the AoD will only be dealing 2-3 damage, allowing you to go over 20 hits without needing to pop a medkit, and it boasts 200% durability, so it will take a really long time before the AoD will be able to damage it. Even on Nightmare you will only need about 1 or 2 medkits, and if you apply a Power mod to it or have TaN investment, he'll only be hitting you for 1 damage, giving you a free win. The nigh-immobility of the Gothic armor is also a nonissue, when you will just be standing there trading blows and when it protects so well that the AoD getting a couple extra hits during medkit usage won't be an issue.

The next best Exotic will be Duelist armor. It too carries a 50% melee resistance, but with only a 2 protection value. Wearing it at base the AoD will deal 6-7 damage, not much of an improvement over Ballistic Red armor as you might just be able to take one more hit. However with just a Power mod applied, he will be doing 4-5 damage, and now a Scout/Technician at base will take 10-13 hits to kill and a Marine will take 12-15, giving you quite a bit more hits you can take between medkits. It additionally boosts your speed, so if you at least have Tactical boots, you'll be able to run away to pop medkits regardless of Hellrunner boosts. Above HNTR you'll probably need to apply a Bulk mod in addition to the Power mod for it to survive more than one medkit round without being damaged if you don't have TaN investment, or otherwise sacrifice its usage for general play outside the Cathedral and turn it Ballistic. A Ballistic Duelist armor will have a massive 80% melee resistance, reducing all hits from the AoD to 1 damage, but that -30% fire resistance means you can no longer wear the Duelist armor when VMR are around.

Then there's the Ballistic vest, which also carries 50% melee resistance, but only 1 point of protection, so you'll take 1 more point of damage with it than you would with the Duelist; even if you use the Ballistic armor assembly on it to increase its resistance to 80%, you'll still take 2 damage unless you have TaN or were able to make it after Whizkid 2 and thus be able to apply a Power mod to it. If you find one, you should definitely use that assembly on it if you have no plans to turn it Cerberus as it's not that useful outside the Cathedral, but on UV and Nightmare you may need a bit more to win here if you don't get TaN or Whizkid 2 + a Power mod to reduce the AoD's damage to 1 with it.

Phaseshift armor has a base 30% melee resistance alongside 2 protection, so you'll be taking 9-10 damage at base, which as you can see previously clearly isn't enough on its own. Turning it Ballistic to get 60% melee resistance will reduce the AoD's damage down to 4-5, which as established previously isn't quite enough above HNTR on its own unless you had Whizkid 2 and can apply a Power/Bulk mod or have TaN, while turning it Ballistic will lessen its great general usage by giving it a fire vulnerability. Its +25% movement speed at base though, that can be improved to +40% with an Agility mod, makes it ideal for some certain non-conventional strats that will be elaborated on later.

Then there's the Medical armor, which carries 20% melee resistance with 2 protection, obviously not enough. Turning it Ballistic will make it equivalent to the base Duelist armor, making it ok as a spare or otherwise with copious support. If you do use it, remember it starts regenerating your HP back up to 25% when it dips below that mark at the cost of its durability, which is a rather detrimental effect when you want the armor to keeps its protection as long as possible while you can heal instantly anyway with Large medkits, so you might want to use your medkits a bit early if you do have the armor on unless your medkit supply is near diminished.

Among Uniques, there's the Shielded Armor, which with its 90% melee resistance and 2 protection to reduce the AoD's hits to 1 damage, in conjunction with its infinite durability, is pretty much an "I win" button for the Cathedral as long as you have the Piercing chainsaw. Then there's the Cybernetic Armor, which has 50% melee resistance and 7 protection to reduce the AoD's hits to 1-2 damage, but with it being cursed and it having no regeneration, putting it on just for the Cathedral is obviously a bad idea that will cripple you for the rest of your run. If you're a Technician though who put it on and assembled it to Nanofiber skin armor or Cybernano armor, then you'll be taking only 1 damage while having regenerating armor, giving you a free win here.

Other items of interest

When it comes to items besides the obvious medkits you can use to help, the most useful by far is the Hatred skull, as it gives builds without Berserker the ability to get berserked on the level. Even with just Red armor and the Piercing chainsaw the level becomes easily doable for non-melee builds on about any difficulty, and a free win with any of the melee-resistant armor, provided they can get enough turns of berserk. That is the tricky part, as your only source of corpses in the Unholy Cathedral are the Demons, where killing them via lava will obviously leave no corpse, while they'll leave no corpse if you kill them in a doorway, and if you destroy the door to avoid that but kill them in the created chokehold to avoid getting surrounded, their corpses will replace each other and thus potentially leave you with as little as a single corpse. So you'll have to kill the Demons yourself instead of via lava, avoid killing them in a doorway, and leave their corpses scattered, in order to get as much turns of Berserk as you can. The good news is you don't need that many corpses even on Nightmare, so as a rule of thumb you can kill half the demons chokeholded through the doorway (5 on HNTR and HMP, 8 on UV and Nightmare), and then lure the rest outside and avoid killing them on top of each other. You might have to expend a medkit or two, but it will be worth it to get berserked against the AoD, especially if you don't have a good melee-resistant armor. A Hatred skull isn't guaranteed, but you have a good chance of getting one if you killed the Agony elemental in City of Skulls/Abyssal Plains.

When it comes to the other skulls, the Blood skull should unquestionably be saved for The Mortuary/Limbo, when you'll need ten corpses to get as much healing as a Large medkit, while you'll probably end up losing more than that health trying to kill the Demons that separated from each other. The Fire skull is a way to deal damage to the AoD outside melee, and each explosion from it can deal over 20 damage to him. With the explosions being able to gib corpses before they explode however, you'll need to kill the Demons really separated from each other to get significant damage on the AoD, so it's definitely not a reliable tool to beating him and it's better saving it for The Mortuary/Limbo. It can come handy though as a last resort to deal a much-needed big punch, when your armor and medkits are depleted with the AoD still not near death.

When it comes to other non-melee ways you can damage the the AoD, there's the Arena Master's Staff, but with it dealing only 1 damage to the AoD while exhausting you, using it for that purpose is a joke. If you have the Subtle Knife, its altfire can be used to deal 5 damage to the AoD, but with it exhausting you and permanently draining 2 HP from your max health, this too is never going to be worth it. The Shockwave pack will deal around 40-50 damage, a lot more damage than a non-melee build could ever hope to do in a single hit, and taking a good chunk out of the AoD's health. You might want to save a Shockwave pack for a perilous surrounded situation or The Mortuary/Limbo, but it could definitely be the extra push needed to win here if you didn't get good enough melee armor. Then there's the Hellwave Pack, which will deal twice as much damage as the Shockwave pack. Again you might want to save it, but that could be a really big help here if you didn't get a Hatred skull and your armor is lacking.

Non-conventional strats

So you're a non-melee build where some combination of factors prevents you from realistically beating the Angel of Death in straightup combat, or simply you don't want to expend all these resources and effort to beat him while still wanting that Conqueror medal, you may be wondering if there's any way to just cheese it if you weren't able to nuke the level. Well one more way to damage the AoD without going into melee range is to a throw a Combat knife at him. You may be wondering how a thrown knife that will deal only 1 damage all of the time with no Brute, miss half the time without Eagle Eye, and you'll have to pick back up after each throw, would ever be remotely useful for beating the AoD. Well if you can get your movement speed faster than .67 seconds without having to activate Run (Phaseshift and Duelist armor will be very helpful to passing this benchmark), you can throw the knife a safe distance away, outmaneuver the AoD, pick the knife back up, throw it again, and repeat until the AoD dies, without him ever being able to touch you. Of course with the AoD having 290 health at minimum on the easiest difficulty you can fight him and as high as 500 on Nightmare, it's going to take a loooooooooooooonnnnnnnnnnnggggggggggggggggggg time until he dies, compounded farther by all the time you're going to have to spend lapping him to pick the knife back up inbetween throws. If you found and kept the Mjollnir, another melee weapon you can throw, you can do this strat with it instead of the Combat knife, and since it doesn't leave your hands upon throwing it while some of it hits will deal a little over 1 damage to the AoD without any Brute, this strat will be a lot faster using the Mjollnir, but will still take a very long time.

The other option is to get both your movement and attacking speed faster than the AoD (faster than .67 seconds to be precise), where you can then be able to run away while being able to hit the AoD between its moves without retaliation. If you're fast enough to do this method, your equipment and resources don't matter, and it won't take ridiculously long to kill the AoD as long as you have at least a Chainsaw. However to implement this strat, you need to understand very well how Time works in DoomRL, and have an acute enough sense of timing of yours and the AoD's movement to be able to time your hits correctly inbetween the AoD's moves, otherwise you'll just get mauled as you attack. So this definitely isn't something the average player should attempt to rely on.

Now what if you're a non-melee build who doesn't have good enough equipment, can't nuke the level, and aren't fast nor patient enough to do those non-conventional strats? Well you're shit out of luck then, the Unholy Cathedral is effectively unwinnable and you'll need to skip it or die.

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