Headmistress Hecate in Hades 2
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Best Arcana Card Upgrades to Get First in Hades 2

Getting the best Arcana Cards early in a Hades 2 playthrough makes the game comfier and more enjoyable to play.

The god-like roguelike is back with Hades 2, and there is a whole new set of progression systems to master. One of the most important is the Arcana Card mechanic, which takes the place of the Mirror of Night from the first Hades. Knowing the best upgrades to pick first will make your early forays into the Underworld that much better.

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The Best Early Arcana Card Upgrades in Hades 2

The four Arcana Cards you’ll want to get as quickly as possible follow the same tact as the upgrades you wanted in the original Hades. They enhance survivability, open up more opportunities for upgrades, and generally make the game more comfortable to play. They’re also fairly inexpensive and you can unlock them after no more than four or five runs, called Nights in Hades 2. Specifically, you’ll want:

  • XII: Eternity for Death Defiance.
  • VII: The Titan for Health and Mana.
  • XIII: The Centaur For Health and Mana Upgrades During Runs.
  • VI: The Furies for More Cast Damage.
  • XVII: The Boatman for Extra Gold Crowns.

Note: The upgrades listed here are very early, and might change as the Hades 2 early access development period continues. We’ll update this guide as changes and progress are made.

XII: Eternity for Death Defiance

Probably the most valuable Arcana Card upgrade you can get early on is Eternity. It costs 20 Ash, and is the bottom-middle card in the starting selection, meaning you’ll be spending about 15 additional Ash and other materials to unlock it. Eternity grants a single use of Death Defiance, which instantly revives Melinoe when her HP reaches 0, restoring 40% of it before she’s back in the fight.

Death Defiance immediately makes any run in Hades 2 comfier because it allows you to make more mistakes and try out different strategies without as much fear of reprisal. Even the minibosses in Hades 2 are punishing the first couple of times you encounter them, and part of the game’s draw is mastering each encounter. You can’t do that without failing (if you’re human) or at least making mistakes, so having even a single get-out-of-jail-free card is a huge boon.

VII: The Titan for Health and Mana

Like Death Defiance, extra health and mana are just good to have and are, in my opinion, bonuses you simply do not remove. Both upgrades are too helpful to ever take off your build. Even the other Arcana Cards on this list are liable to become optional as you unlock more, but increasing your health lets you endure more hits, and more mana lets you charge attack more. Together, they help open up the game, letting you continue to experiment with builds and take additional risks during tougher fights.

Bear in mind that there will likely be challenge modes in the later stages of Hades 2 that ask you to play at a massive disadvantage, and while I don’t know if limiting your health will be one way, it is possible. There are already mechanics in the Early Access build that cut into your health and mana pools for additional benefits, so harder limits are on the table.

XIII: The Centaur For Health and Mana Upgrades During Runs

There are ways during runs to increase your health and mana, but The Centaur is a flat bonus of three points in both pools for every five rooms you clear. That works out to be almost six extra health and mana for the first world of Erebus and an additional six or so for Oceanus. Sure, it’s not the biggest increase, but I can’t count the number of times I’ve made it out of a tough fight with just a sliver of my HP bar remaining, and crediting that win to a clutch health increase or heal is simple.

VI: The Furies for More Cast Damage

Some of the most powerful builds in the original Hades were based around Casts, your non-physical attack that you could spend an entire run augmenting to absurd degrees. Early testing indicates that, while Supergiant has gone some way toward reeling in Cast potential, it’s still a massively powerful ability.

The Furies Arcana Card is a flat 20% buff to casts that deal damage. Not all of them do, mind, and I’d wager some of the best of them will center around player buffs and enemy debuffs, but in the early game, the more damage you can put out, the better.

XVII: The Boatman for Extra Gold Crowns

Yes, there’s an economy in the Underworld of Hades 2, and Charon, the Boatman of the Styx, cornered it years ago. Whenever you come across a Charon store, he’ll offer a random selection of three items for varying prices. A healing snack, for instance, is 50 Gold Crowns. A boon from Olympian costs 150, and so on. With The Boatman Arcana Card active, you begin every run with an extra 200 Crowns in your pocket, and depending on the enemy density, you can easily reach 350 Crowns or more by the first boss.

Like getting a bit of extra health every few chambers, I shudder to think how many runs I would have lost in the first Hades had Charon not had that heal before my next encounter. And if I were a betting man, I’d say there will be boons or other effects you can get in Hades 2 that let you build off that starting 200 Gold, turning it from a mild nest egg into a small fortune.

For the moment, then, those are my picks for the five Arcana Card upgrades you should focus on getting first in Hades 2. As I continue to play, other options are sure to present themselves, but in the meantime, these are your best options. Check out our Hades 2 guide hub for more coverage, like the best weapons in Hades 2.


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Author
John Schutt
John Schutt has been playing games for almost 25 years, starting with Super Mario 64 and progressing to every genre under the sun. He spent almost 4 years writing for strategy and satire site TopTierTactics under the moniker Xiant, and somehow managed to find time to get an MFA in Creative Writing in between all the gaming. His specialty is action games, but his first love will always be the RPG. Oh, and his avatar is, was, and will always be a squirrel, a trend he's carried as long as he's had a Steam account, and for some time before that.