Guide for the achievement “The Devils in the Details” but with expanded information for additional optional objectives.
Warning: Contains Spoilers!
This guide contains spoilers. In this guide I will discuss how to easily get the achievement “The Devil is in the Details” on any difficulty.
Additionally, I will talk about some optional steps you can take to get additional XP and loot if you wish to.
I will also give a lot of behind the scenes mechanics details for context and informative purposes.
How to Get the Achievement
If all you care about is getting the achievement it’s very simple to do on Explorer and Balanced difficulty and reasonably easy to do on tactician difficulty.
The only requirement is that you kill Commander Zhalk before interacting with the terminal to end the prologue tutorial section.
Note: I have read before that you’re required to get the killing blow from 1 of your party members in order to get the achievement. This doesn’t sound accurate since I know for a fact that the game gives you credit for the kill even when the mind flayer deals the killing blow. However, since I already have the achievement I have no way of testing this myself.
You do not need to do any special character build for your main character on any difficulty in order to achieve this. I do highly advise freeing Shadowheart and changing her spells around as she has everything you need for this.
On Explorer and Balanced difficulty you do not need to use the nautiloid tanks unless you’re having particularly terrible RNG rolls. On tactician I do advise using the nautiloid tanks though it’s potentially worth following the steps to use the nautiloid tanks on any difficulty just as a fail safe.
After you rescue Shadowheart switch her spells so that she has Command, Bless, Protection from Good and Evil, and Shield of Faith. You will only be casting 2 of these but which 2 you cast largely depends on what class you made your main character and what goals you’re trying to achieve (achievement, loot, xp, bragging rights, etc…). Just to simplify it, I figured I’d just set these 4 spells for everyone.
I would also recommend upgrading Lae’zel to a crossbow if playing on tactician difficulty. It’s not super important but does average 1 more damage than her shortbow. On tactician it doesn’t hurt to min max though. You should also grab the nautiloid tank from the room that you rescued Shadowheart and place it in Lae’zel’s inventory.
It’s also important to not cast any spells from Shadowheart before this encounter. You should not need her to heal as there are multiple healing stations throughout the nautiloid including in her room and the room before the encounter. Additionally, I would just advise not using ANY abilities that require a short or long rest to recharge on ANY character before this encounter.
On the 1st few turns of the fight everyone but Shadowheart should be focused on killing the additional enemies and picking up the nautiloid tanks. If you’re playing on tactician this doesn’t change but you do want to have Lae’zel bee line for the boss. You should still be able have her contribute to killing the other enemies, just make sure that her movement is in a direct line towards the boss. It is probably best to have her using a ranged weapon on the imps and hellboars for this so she doesn’t receive any opportunity attacks. Some players may prefer to have their main character do this if they specialize in 2h weapons, say for example a barbarian. In which case just swap Lae’zel and your main character’s roles.
Shadowheart’s actions are going to be much more specific on every difficulty. On turn 1 you want to have her jump down the stair case and move her maximum movement towards the boss. Then cast Command – Drop on the boss to disarm him. Zhalk’s Wisdom saving throw is his worst at +1 and he only has a 45% chance to save against this spell. If he saves it’s your decision if you want to save scum or just try command again on the next round and have less spells to buff the mind flayer. On tactician I’d probably recommend save scumming.
On Turn 2 you want to have her move up close to the mind flayer. How close depends on which spell you want to cast. I recommend Bless on Explorer or Tactician, but Protection from Evil and Good on balanced or if you also want to kill the 2 cambion’s that join the fight later. Or if you have any of these spells available on other party members you could do Shield of Faith.
Possibly on turn 2, depending on initiative order, or else on turn 3 you’ll want Lae’zel (or your main character) to pick up Everburn from the ground and start attacking Zhalk.
*Note that if you already have the achievement, don’t care about maximizing loot and xp, and just want the unique item, all you need to do now is activate the console and end the prologue.
For the rest of the battle have Lae’zel attack Zhalk, Shadowheart move around the room looting and clearing weaker adds or attacking Zhalk with Sacred Flame and your main character collecting and distributing nautiloid tanks around the mind flayer and Zhalk while attacking at range with a shortbow, crossbow, or cantrips.
*Note that on your initiative you can transfer an item from your inventory to any other character and it doesn’t require an action, also you can pickup or place the tanks without an action though to pick up the tank you have to be right next to it and to place it you have to be near the spot you want to drop it. The importance of this is that your main character or Shadowheart can immediately place a tank in Lae’zel’s inventory after picking it up and on her initiative she can place it down and still get her attack. This can be crucial if your main character has low strength for example and 4 nautiloid tanks will encumber them. It might also be worth having Lae’zel move Everburn from her inventory to your main character’s after you kill Commander Zhalk but before you trigger the console that ends the Prologue.
Finally, once Zhalk is at ~35 HP have your characters move away from him (disengage/shove is required if playing on Tactician only) or more importantly move away from the nautiloid tanks and have Shadowheart cast firebolt at 1 of the nautiloid tanks once everyone is safely away.
Now you should have the achievement. If we determine that you do have to get the killing blow I would maybe advise waiting until like 25 HP instead just to be sure since Zhalk does get 4 saving throws vs the tanks that, depending on RNG, could reduce the total damage taken.
Detailed Fight Mechanics
Commander Zhalk’s Base Stats
- 20 Strength
- 18 Dexterity
- 16 Constitution
- 14 Intelligence
- 12 Wisdom
- 16 Charisma
- 105 Hit Points
- 18 Armor Class
- +4 Initiative*
- +8 Str Save
- +4 Dex Save
- +6 Con Save
- +5 Int Save
- +1 Wis Save
- +6 Cha Save
* His initiative seems to be buffed specifically for this encounter. It seems likely that he gets advantage on his initiative check. He’ll go before the mind flayer like 19 times out of 20 in spite there only being a 3 pt difference in their initiative modifiers.
- Resistance Slashing, Piercing, Bludgeoning from non-magic source
- Resistance Fire, Lightning, Cold, Poison from any source
Impact from Difficulty Selection
- Explorer – Cambions begin coming on Turn 7 (countdown timer on 8) and likely do their 1st attack on Turn 9
- Balanced – Cambions come 1 turn earlier, Commander Zhalk +45 HP
- Tactician – Cambions come 2 turns earlier and gain Firebolt cantrip, Commander Zhalk +90 HP, 2 Attacks / turn, and gains Opportunity Attacks
Analysis of the Stats
Most weapons and spells in your party are going to be ineffective on Commander Zhalk and the Cambions. Either because they have a high chance to miss or because they do half damage or both.
Giving Everburn to Lae’zel greatly increases her ability to contribute in this fight due to the slashing damage from her attacks no longer being resisted. The additional fire damage will be resisted still but is also bonus damage that she didn’t have before.
Shadowheart’s best attack vs the Cambions and Commander Zhalk is Sacred Flame. They get a dexterity save which is his 2nd worst save, and the damage type isn’t resisted. Firebolt should not be used against Commander Zhalk but will be critical for detonating the nautiloid tanks.
For your main character obviously it’s going to depend a lot on their build which weapon or cantrip they should use. Here is a chart of the best possible attack by class. DPR for Everburn done separately. Assumes no status debuffs on Commander Zhalk and +3 attribute modifier.
- Barbarian – 2h Battleaxe w/ Rage 2.3 DPR
- Bard – Vicious Mockery 1.5 DPR + Status Effect
- Cleric – Sacred Flame 1.8 DPR
- Druid/Nature Domain Cleric – Shillelagh 3 DPR
- Fighter – Light Crossbow from high ground 2.25 DPR
- Monk – Long Sword 1.5 DPR
- Paladin – Warhammer 2H 1.7 DPR
- Ranger – Light Crossbow from high ground 1.875 DPR
- Rogue – Light Crossbow from high ground 2.75 DPR
- Sorcerer – Acid Splash 1.4 DPR
- Warlock – Eldritch Blast from high ground 1.375 DPR
- Wizard – Acid Splash 1.4 DPR
- Lae’zel’s DPR with Longsword 2H 1.86 DPR
- Everburn on Barb during Rage 5.3 DPR
- Everburn on Lae’zel 5 DPR
- Everburn on other melee 4.5 DPR
Finally the ideal class I would recommend for this fight is a Ranger. The reason for this is because of the utility they can provide with their kit in addition to their 1.875 ranged DPR. If you select Beastmaster you can summon a raven familiar which will deal .35 DPR (bringing the combined DPR up to 2.225) and blind Commander Zhalk on 1/3 rounds (35%) chance. The blind will not only increase the survival of the mind flayer but also, depending on initiative order, greatly increase the DPR of your entire party by giving them advantage on attacks. Additionally, you can select Keeper of the Veil to gain the Protection from Evil and Good spell. They can provide this in place of Shadowheart, and you can then cast bless with Shadowheart on Lae’zel, your ranger, and the mind flayer for even more DPR OR cast Shield of Faith on the mind flayer to give it more survivability (depends on goals).
*Note that when your party members have no enemies in between their initiative order you may choose who goes 1st. You will always want the raven to go 1st so that you can maximize being able to attack with advantage.
*Note 2: The blind will have no benefit to the mind flayer’s survival if you select both of the options I recommend since Commander Zhalk will already have disadvantage to attack creatures buffed by protection vs evil and good. You will still benefit from the DPR buff though.
Maximized Loot and XP
Challenge and Considerations
The cambions offer comparable if not better loot than Commander Zhalk although it’s not unique. They will each give 300+ GP each and multiple rare consumables. 1 of the best items I’ve received from them was a Very Rare Arrow of Dragon Slaying. Very Rare is purple colored magic item and is the rarity just below legendary. I’ve also found elixirs, arrows, scrolls, and potions. In addition to the loot they also give 75 xp each.
That having been said I would say that the cambions offer a greater degree of challenge than Commander Zhalk. For 1 Commander Zhalk only attacks the mind flayer and when the cambion’s arrive the mind flayer will either be dead or actually attacking your party most likely. For 2 the cambions arrive with 5-7 turns left before the ship crashes meaning that you have to be quick about dispatching them.
The ideal out come of this encounter (with the goal of maximizing loot and xp) is to Kill Commander Zhalk 1st and then kill the 2 cambion’s and mind flayer in any order. If the mind flayer dies before Zhalk you will not get XP for it.
Interestingly I think it’s actually easier to kill the cambions on Balanced difficulty than explorer difficulty. This is for a couple of reasons. The cambions come 1 round earlier, giving you an additional round to kill them. Commander Zhalk and the mind flayer have fewer HP which makes it difficult to keep them alive until the cambions arrive. In practice this means that you need to kill Zhalk, kill the mind flayer and then fight both cambions who are essentially at full health.
My general strategy for maximizing loot and xp is to make the mind flayer as tanky as humanly possible in order to get the additional DPR it provides for Zhalk and the cambions as well as keeping the cambions distracted and consuming their combat actions. The goal is to kill commander zhalk on the round that the cambions are coming into melee range with the mind flayer. Additionally, you want to kill commander zhalk without the benefit of the nautiloid tanks as you really need to save those for the cambions.
For the reasons mentioned above I recommend attempting this on balanced difficulty. I like to give the mind flayer Protection from Evil and Good and Armor of Faith and also disarm commander Zhalk thus ensuring that the mind flayer is not only alive but also still pretty healthy and tanky when the cambions arrive. I also like to save all of my other cooldowns, such as weapon attacks that cooldown after a short rest, for the cambions. Partially because killing Zhalk too early is also a problem in that the mind flayer will attack you if the cambions aren’t there attacking it.
If you’re trying to collect the loot around the room and clear the other additional enemies then I recommend doing it during the Zhalk portion of the fight so you can really focus fire down the cambions when they arrive. Some of the loot can only be collected with mage hand which Lae’zel has as part of her race but she’s probably going to be busy killing zhalk, still though this can be a good option to collect a lot of loot in the area without distracting your characters too much if you find that you’re not doing enough damage to kill Zhalk when the cambions arrive.
I also recommend building your main character specifically for this fight. The reason I say that is because you’re going to get over 600 gold from the cambions plus hundreds more gold worth of loot and it only costs 100 gold and clearing a dungeon near the beach to respec your character. However, it is not worth choosing your race for this fight as you will not be able to change that when you respec. So make sure to choose the race/class that you want for your build.
- Cleric with spells similar to Shadowheart and Sacred Flame
- Ranger with Beast Master and Keeper of the Veil
- Warlock with eldritch blast and Protection from Evil and Good
- Wizard with find familiar, Protection from Evil and Good, and Mage Armor, freeing up the cleric to cast bless and command. Acid spray, while low DPR vs Zhalk, is better vs the cambions if they’re grouped close enough for AOE.