Just got my first win, admittedly only on Dwarfish Moderation no permadeath because I am a wimp. Themes: Melee power, crafting, heavy tank, lots of options for hitting monsters at a distance, but no spells (mana was only used for Thauma-Kinetic Damper). Polearms Clockwork Knight Tinkering Smithing Battle Geology Fungal Arts Berserker Rage Plutonic Fist got me through the level 1 blues. Early on I focused on Tinkering, Smithing and Clockwork Knight, so I could clear traps and to get the fancy Clockwork gear (and because the CK abilities are really useful). Got Polearms up to Wallenstein's - as I was playing a Melee Power build, the proc was extremely powerful and by the end it was slaying monsters all by itself in a couple of hits (my EDR was atrocious, so I often had a hard time hitting them myself). Occasional investment in Fungal Arts gave me far more mushrooms than I could ever use, so in every difficult fight I was munching liberally on Fairywodgers, Grunge Ears and Greedy Blungecaps. I filled in the Battle Geology tree late on, in preparation for fighting Digula and Dredmor. Worshipped the Diggle God of War for yet more melee power. At some point on level 13, I realised that most monsters were incapable of seriously hurting me (apart from Corruption, which I was a bit sloppy about), so I stocked up on Sawblades and visited Hell until I found Vlad Digula (who spawned twice in the same instance - the second one threw me off guard a bit and I had a scare but survived thanks to a Zodiac Wand). Then I rushed to Dredmor and killed him mostly with Sawblades. I could probably have taken him on in melee though - I think I let him hit me once and the damage was pretty minor. By the end I had about 180HP, +5 regen (very useful on Dwarfish Moderation), 45 armour, 55 melee power (+more with Rage buffs), 30 critical, 20 piercing resist, 5-10 of most exotic resists, 50 magic reflect (from a mirror shield), 35 magic resist, 75 block and an axe that did 80 damage. Not the perfect tank but it certainly did the job. The real powerhouse combat abilities for me were Rocket Jump and Wallenstein's, though most abilities saw a reasonable amount of use. If I did it again, I might switch out Berserker Rage - it did give a nice boost, but ultimately it was overkill. Rogue Scientist would have been a decent choice for its Tinkering-based attacks and for the alchemy crafting. A Wizard tree such as Viking Wizardry, Emomancy or Magical Law might have been a good idea to make more use of mana, although most attack spells would be quite weak as I had zero for most of the game. Either way would have involved a lot of hot-desking on the skill bar, but that's a minor inconvenience.