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The Heart Pumps Clay isn't a game that you can punch your way out of; you need to think about how to best use your skill set, especially in the game's later battles. Let's start with some general tips:

-Fire beats earth, earth beats water, water beats fire. Think of it like this: fire will burn plants, plants will soak up water, and water will put out fire. This is also standard Pokemon rules (replace the word "earth" with "grass").
-Enemies are generally color-coded based on their weakness, though there are a few exceptions, notably things made out of wood and undead things are also weak to fire.
-Slimes and enemies wearing armor are immune to physical attacks. The only exception to the armor rule is Percival, which is probably because he bought his armor at a secondhand store.
-Mara's elemental shift ability also impacts Bud, so keep that in mind. Switching to water will improve Bud's defense, which will help when he's tanking. Switching to fire will make him stronger, and switching to earth will give him a group attack.
-Bud's phosphorescence will make the early battles much easier, so make sure to use it.
-Make sure to use Crow's pilfer on every enemy--at least to check their merchandise. If you see something weird, chances are you should take it.
-Every item disappears after battle, but mimics are the one exception; there are three, and they each have equipment that will last after the battle is over. However, you have to actually win the battle; no stealing and running, you crafty little birdies.
-Squawk may take the lion's share of Crow's mp, but that's just because it's really good. Use it to cancel out harder enemies before they attack, or use it at opportune times to prevent an enemy from doing something scary.
-If you decide to go for those nice, shiny treasures, then keep in mind that gear setup becomes much more important as the game progresses since Bud's tanking abilities will start to fall flat.
-Also, getting every treasure in the game will result in Bud having 95 hp, so keep that in mind and weigh the pros and cons. Generally, the late game is easier by getting treasures.
-Mara's turns are generally more valuable than Crow's in random encounters, so prioritize stealing potions with Crow instead of making them with Mara. That's not to say that you shouldn't ever make potions with Mara, but you may not need to outside of boss fights.

Now for some specific fights:
Marionettes (and their derivatives):
Stealing their strings will instantly kill them and they're weak to fire. Squawking the puppetmaster will prevent him from forcing the marionettes to attack again. Killing the puppetmaster will kill its marionettes. In the case of Magnifico/Chuckles, you can only steal the strings from Chuckles once, but space out how you steal them with Crow and have Bud and Mara concentrate on Magnifico, and you should be able to finish the battle with only being attacked twice per turn.

When Thunderbird and Pock are friends:
Thunderbird follows a specific pattern: silence, attack, silence, attack... Because of this, if you squawk him on the first turn, you get two turns to kill him, which means you can take out him and/or Pock really quickly, as they also have low hp.

Percival shifts his weakness every other turn, starting with the first. The order is: fire, water, earth, fire, water, earth... Remember, this is what he's WEAK TO. With this in mind, shifting to fire, tanking with Bud, and squawking on the third turn will give you a big window to set the poor guy on fire.

Thulak Khan:
If you've picked up meteor storm, you can wipe out the bonesies pretty quickly. Thulak Khan has a countdown to when he resurrects them, so make sure to squawk him when he's about to do that.

Scrum's only weakness is thievery--give him a bit of his own medicine! Stealing his armor will impact his stats. The thing is to prioritize what you steal: his weapon should be first, then probably his boots so as to give Crow first attack. After that, stealing the armor will make him susceptible to physical attacks and stealing the helmet will make him susceptible to magic attacks. Once you've taken away his thick candy shell, he'll melt pretty quickly.

The final boss:
This is the fight that really tests your knowledge of the gameplay mechanics. I'll cover two strategies: one for people who have gotten every treasure and one for people who have gotten no treasures. If you've picked and chose, you might either be at a disadvantage or an advantage depending on what you got, but you can always go back and get more if you get stuck.

If you got everything:
-First, think about gear setup. The easiest way for me was to give all defense boosting gear to Mara, give her phosphorescence, and give her mix phoenix vial in case you run into a problem. Have her keep phosphorescence up and mix potions (mainly unicorn waters). Shift to fire to give Bud a damage boost.
-Bud should be body slamming like a fat professional wrestler.
-Give Crow physical attack-boosting equipment, especially the Club of Smashening and Titan's War Wrist. All of a sudden, he's got the lead role in The Birds, and the poor villains will be scared out of their wits.
-The first order of business should be stealing Percival's coinpurse. This will change his behavior so that he only makes himself invincible when he has the Source.
-Then steal Thulak Khan's pet skull. He'll switch from casting group heals to attacking you with magic.
-Once you kill one of the three villains, that villain will take the source and run off. The easiest one to take out will be Scrum since he has the lowest health and Thulak Khan and Percival will hit him after they find out about their stolen goods.
-Once Scrum's gone, make sure to keep up phosphorescence, but the other two will fall pretty quickly. Thulak Khan is more of a priority since his thistle patch will hit the entire party.

If you got nothing:
-First off, "nothing" is a relative term. You actually have access to three treasures: the cursed doll eye, the gorgeous rose, and mix: phoenix vial, so give those all to Mara. You also run across one mimic, so stealing the lich skull from him will make the battle go much, much smoother. Give that to Mara, too. Crow can go to hell.
-Mara's going to be your main damage dealer, but you're going to have to shift to water with her so Bud can take hits.
-Bud should use phosphorescence and guard. That's it. Poor guy.
-Crow's going to be your item user and occasional squawker.
-When the battle begins, just let Thulak Khan remain a healer for a while. You're going to have to spend the first several turns stockpiling items. Now's a good time to rob everyone of everything they have (except for the pet skull and coinpurse). Have Mara mix several potions, mainly unicorn waters. A few phoenix vials and fairy potions aren't bad investments, either.
-Bud should be shifted to ice and defending from the first turn. You'll occasionally have to heal him, but he'll be able to take everything.
-Once you're ready (and it's better to be overprepared than underprepared), steal the coin purse and pet skull. It's best to take them starting on Percival's turn since it will cancel out their abilities.
-Once you shift to attacking, make sure to squawk Scrum on his turn to avoid getting silenced. You need Mara throwing out ice daggers like crazy.
-If you don't need to heal, use some of those attack items with Crow that you stole from Scrum.
-Kill Scrum first. Once he's down, go for Thulak Khan. Keep an eye on everyone's health. If you prepared enough, it should be smooth sailing from this point on.

That's it! If you have any trouble with other specific encounters, I'll update this, but I think I covered the trickiest fights.


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Useful and entertaining to read! Thanks for this! :)
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