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Guest Post: Jojo’s MfNe, Conclusion

I was originally gonna do this as 2 updates, but, since its been a month since my last one, you might as well post it in one go.

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Welcome back! Sorry for the delay in posting this, but here we are now in the Vaults. We’re still just plowing through everything so I’ll be brief here.

The Vaults are a standard part of midgame for almost every character, and are filled with basically a bunch of meaty melee monsters, meaty ranged monsters, and uniques. For most standard builds, these foes won’t pose much challenge at this point by themselves, although fun times can still be had when you encounter several dozen at once.  The Vaults have been supposedly changed since the last time I played to try to force that case more often, but we’ll see how it goes…

To start off, we find a bazaar:

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Guest Post: Grandpa’s MfNe, Part IV

Ok, back to it.  So, last time, we were surrounded. The secret to beating that situation? Well, if just go up the other white stairs, you’ll now know that 2 of the stairs on the level go into that trap; therefore, the third one does not.  The third one COULD go into some other trap, but in this case it doesn’t.    Instead, it goes right to one of the best items in the game. ;]

Now that the ambush is awake, they’ll spread out all over the dungeon looking for me, and I can easily take them on one at a time.

My HP is going up rapidly with new levels now; the bonus HP you get from the Fighting skill is proportional to your current XL, so its really starting to pay off now.

Its nice to have a lot of consumables on hand, because you feel less hesitant about using them.  Generally I try to keep a couple mights/agilities and about 4-5 healing and cure wounds potions on hand at any time, and start to get nervous if I dip below those numbers too much.

Boggarts are one of the biggest PIA enemies in the game.  They spam a spell called Shadow Creatures, which summons multiple depth-appropriate enemies.  That would be annoying by itself, but they also appear in packs of 4 or 5, and so thus the situation can get out of hand quickly.  The best way to deal with these guys is to exterminate them with extreme prejudice via a wand or other ranged beam attack.

Speaking of PIAs, here’s Louisem a unique infamous for casting banish. Because she also wears heavy armour (and usually a shield), she can often banish you 3 or 4 times in a row!  Even though I have double MR equipped, I airdrop my zombies on her and stab at a safe distance until she’s dead.

At this point I decide my equipment is good enough to fully bind myself.  This gives my skills another little boost.  I’m gonna hold off on upgrading my weapon until I finish the snake pit, however, as tons of enemies there use polemarms and so there’s a chance that I could find a really good weapon there.

Before I do Snake, however, I’m gonna do Swamp, which should be a cakewalk with rP+, clarity, and my merfolk water affinity.

I finally find a book with haste, which is GREAT.  My charms skills is already almost high enough to cast it consistently so this is an immediate huge power boost.

Frances is similar unique to Louise (heavy armour spellcaster babe), but she summons demons instead of banishing you.  Her lore (for as much as Crawl has lore at all) sez that she once defeated a Pan Lord in battle, but she’s much much weaker than that would have you believe.  I stab her to death before she can do anything at all.

A short while later I kill a swamp dragon and take its hide.  Swamp Dragon Armour is actually really good, as it provides solid GDR and base AC despite being almost as uncumbered, spell-casting wise, as leather.  I might want to wear it later if I can cover my resists in some other way.

Here’s the rune vault. A bunch of hydras and swamp dragons, whatever whatever.  I haste up and start pokin’.  So easy that I forget to even screenshot the rune. ;[

An incredible bounty…

FINALLY some action!!  Lamia is a new unique that’s kinda the “boss” of the snake pit, and I’ve never seen her before.  She’s a superpowered greater naga with OOD and shitloads more HP, which is a pretty scary combo.  I haste up and get to work…

I try my usual trick of “stab the fuck out of everything from behind a wall of zombies” but here she reaches past hits me for 60 damage in a single hit. 0_0  time to take this show on the road…

My zombies buy me some space, enough such that I feel like I can make a serious dent in her just spamming wands.  Even though we’re both hasted, remember that I have boots of running and she’s a naga!

She has so much HP that she still eventually closes ground on me, and the other corridors are filled with other, lesser naga.  I have to use my wand of digging to create some new space for me.

I finally take her out after using every last wand charge that I had.

Here’s Mara, one of the scariest Uniques.  He’ll make two copies of himself and one copy of you, and all 3 of these copies is as powerful as the real thing.  On top of that, he casts an illusion on the rest of the dungeon floor so you can’t tell if some other scary guy joins the fight. However…

He’s no match for my stabs! I take him out in just a few turns.

Here’s another top-tier unique.  He has almost 200 hp, hits like a truck in melee and ranged, has a ton of AC, and smites like an orc priest.

Piece of cake!  This isn’t as bad as it looks, as he was fighting my zombies far away from me, up at the choke. I could duck away any time I wanted.

Here’s the rune vault…

and here’s rune #2! 🙂

This seems like a good place for a break.  Here’s my spells.  Not very many fancy ones here.  I use almost all of these fairly regularly.

and my inventory:

see you next time, where we’ll check out the Vaults!

Guest Post: Puddydumpling’s MfNe, Part III

Welcome back. When we left last time, we just entered the Lair of Beasts. The lair is 8 levels full of mostly weird animals and the occasional Unique; for most characters, its pretty easy.  Just a bunch of rats and frogs. For the first couple of levels, I didn’t even think it was worth tanking screenshots.

On the third floor, however, Ash’s monster detection finally kicks in, just in time to detect this hydra. Hydras (along with Death Yak Packs and Catelopes) are the three “big Threats” in Lair.  However, this guy turns out not really to be a big deal, though, as a couple wand zaps, my zombies, and trident pokes are easily enough to take him down.

I put him to good use shortly afterwards, ordering his body to take Gastranook, who you can see is wearing the unrandart troll leather hat.

TROLL LEATHER HAT.  DO NOT WEAR THIS IT IS A DEATHTRAP. (I might wear it much later if I find a book with Haunt, but until then… NO)

OOOOohhhh, check out what Maudy is holding.  Maud is special because she can spawn with a super duper weapon.  (Donald, Margery, Frederick, and hell knights are also in this class, so make sure to always check their gear!)  The demon trident ends up being +0,+3 of flaming, but I can’t switch yet because I’m still having trouble finding curse scrolls. 😦

BEES.  Here’s a good place to use Corpse Rot!

Lair Branches: Snake and Swamp.  I was really hoping to find the Shoals, and the bottom layer will have TONS of great polearms and branded tridents.  If I had gotten the shoals, I would have started training throwing right away.

At the bottom of Lair, I finally get 5 pips of piety, just in time for the Jungle Book ending. Notice that I leave my zombies outside, so I can summon them in later in a more adventageous position.

A forgotten ability of Ash’s is Scrying, but it’s very useful. The monsters in this vault are very dangerous, I want to see if its worth bothering with this vault at all. I check out the loot and see this INCREDIBLE BOUNTY:

The trick with this vault is that when you open the door to the loot vault, all the elephant statues wake up and turn into dire elephants, an extremely dangerous melee beast.  However, I had made preparations beforehand so that I could easily deal with them by luring them one at a time into the open, and then surrounding them with my goons.  I kill them quite easily this way.

thus, we finish Lair.  Here’s my inventory:

And here’s my skills:

So, we’re looking pretty good. I cursed my cloak to get the armour enhancement, but I’m gonna hold off on making any more equipment changes until we finish Orc.

Speaking of Orc, I arrive there and start thrashing about the place.  Similar to the lair situation, there’s not much worth in me effortlessly tabbing through a bunch of orcs, wizards and priests.  On the second floor though, I find this volcano.  You’ll notice that I’m pretty low in HP; this is because I ran past Uruk (an Orc Knight Unique) and a fire drake to get to the poral before it closed, and they both scored Big hits on me as I was entering.  Oh well, nothing a little regeneration won’t cure. I switch to my ring of fire here, as every monster in the whole damn place is gonna have a flame-branded attack of some sort.

This volcano consisted of a lake of fire, and a little vault filled with orc warriors wearing flame-related junk.  In the room above is a vault filled with more junk, as well as a “Molten Statue” that turns out to be easily tabbed to death.  Just to be safe, though, I dropped all my scrolls before I went after him. 

Back in the Mines, I finally reach the bottom of Orc.  Orc:4 always has some kind of big vault, which always consists of a troop of high-level orcs guarding 4 shops.  Here, you can see two Orc High Priests, who are one of the most dangerous enemies here.  They’re like a regular priest except with 4x HP, more smiting, and more demon summoning.

I kill the two high priests pretty easily, but one of them summoned a Sun Demon near death which walloped me two rounds in a row for a TON of hp. I had forgotten I had switched out my ring of fire, and it almost cost me. Luckily, I could blink away.

The rest of the level was quite easy, however.  Here, I find my first shop:

Which is filled with A SHITLOAD OF FUCK.  Actually, some of the items here (gourmand and wizardry) might be useful later if I can actually find some non-worthless spell books.  As it is, only the ring of poison resistance is worth buying now, although first I’ll wait until I explore the others.

The next two shops were completely worthless, but the fourth is more like it:

awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww manga

Here’s an equipment update:

The boots of running are one of the best items in the game, and the cloak of Magic Resistance is an awesome find as well.  The buckler will let me train up shields so that I can eventually transition to something better.  The ring mail is great, but for now I’ll stick with my leather.

Unfortunately, I haven’t found enough curse jewelry scrolls to change up my rings.

My skills are looking good too.  As you can see, my magic skills have metastasized for the time being.  I still haven’t found a book with Haste yet, but when I do I’ll train Charms further.  If I find a Necronomicon, I’ll train Summonings and Necromancy quite a bit more in order to cast Haunt and maybe even Death’s Door.  But, for now, I’ll just continue to focus on my melee skills.

As a bonus, I go back to D:10 to finish the big water vault from earlier.  As you can see, it was totally out of my league earlier:

But, it’s no big deal now.

Finally, I go back to exploring the dungeon and meet some old friends:

Till next time!

Guest Post: Meowy Wowy’s Merfolk Necromancer, Part II

Editor’s Note: This is the second part of a series of guest posts by Grandpa. Enjoy! One note I forgot last time: while I play on Webtiles, Grandpa is using local tiles here, as you can tell from the expanded commands menu on the low right of the screen. Webtiles has some missing features compared to local, and more importantly is much laggier, so while I haven’t asked I assume that’s why he’s using local.

THE VOTES WERE CAST AND THE PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN! 3 Votes for Ash, 0 votes for Kiku, 0 Votes for Mak, and a write-in for Xom! It’s settled, MEowy Wowy the Merfolk Necromancer is worshipping Ashenzari!

Ash is perfect for the up and coming hybrid on the go.  He’ll help me optimize my weapon, passively increase my defense, and give my magic skills a much needed boost despite my shitty caster apts.  Because of this, I can reallocate my XP to other things, like boosting my HP via training fighting into the stratosphere. Ash’s other passives (mapping, clarity, sInv, and warning) are also great for keeping me safe, helping me pick my battles where and when I want to. The tactical advantage this gives cannot be understated!

In contrast, had I chosen another god I would build my guy differently.  With Kikublahblah, I would instead continue to focus Necromancy and Charms, turn off my Polemarms skill (as it’s adequately high enough for that style), and eventually train Summonings so that I could eventually cast Haunt and Death’s Door as my top-tier spells, using Kiku’s corpse drop to keep me going until then.  With Makhleb, on the other hand, I’d stop training magic other than Charms completely, and try to train up Invocations very high.  I’d be much more of a fighter in that case.  All three paths, however, have in common that I’d be using allies to abuse my polemarm’s reaching ability.

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Guest Post: Merfolk Necromancer by Meow Wowy

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from a fellow Crawl player who bravely volunteered to play an MfNe for me while I take a short break from blogging here. I’ll be back fairly soon, probably before his game is over, but I’ve been busy with other projects for a while now. Mr. Wowy’s posting style is a little different from mine, but bear with it and I think you’ll find it quite enjoyable. Part II should be up tomorrow.

Multiple versions ago, MfNe was considered by Those In The Know as quite a power combo. The idea was that you could quickly morph into a skald except with a.) an OK early ranged attack (pain) b.) better regeneration (vampiric draining in addition to regeneration) and c.) more possibilities in the midgame due to levels in Necromancy and Kiku gifts. Unfortunately, since then the noble Merfolk race has endured heavy nerfs, as has their patron God, Kikublahblah.  However, Thug Lessens asked me to play a MfNe so Here I am.

OK, to start with I splatted a couple D1/D2 guys, but I haven’t played crawl in a year so Sue Me.  Anyways, this is how I’m allocating my starting skills, at least until I find a spear:

The idea here is to work up my core battle spells (which are all lvl 3 and below) as quickly as I can, as well as work up enough MP and spell slots to use them.  So that’s priority 1 and 2, in order.

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June 3: Minotaur Assassin, Again

start

For the next phase of this character I’ll be focusing on going deeper in the dungeon, then moving on to get some runes. I might be ready to go ahead and grab the Lair runes right now, but I’ll stand a better chance if I’ve leveled up my skills a little bit and collected some more consumables. I’m completely out of teleportation scrolls right now, and my other resources aren’t doing so great either. But even beyond that, I’m not entirely sure how I want to develop my character. Though the plutonium sword I found last time around would make a great resource, getting a good weapon gift from Okawaru might make me reconsider my plan to reskill into Long Blades, and a good shield gift might inspire me to make my first attempt at a 1-handed weapon + shields melee ascension. We’ll see how it goes over the next few dungeon levels.

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June 3: Minotaur Assassin

Lair

Lair:2 and onwards gets off to something of a rocky start when I end up in a fight with some blink frogs that gets me down to low HP. I’ve only got 23 AC at this point, which is nothing to sneeze at, but apparently not quite sufficient to deal with a pack of blink frogs all at once. They’re fragile, but they do a surprising amount of damage and their blinking makes them great at surrounding you even when you get them locked in a 1-tile corridor. My damage is feeling rather lacking as well, because while a battleaxe of chopping is the best thing I have at this point it’s not that powerful overall. I would have much preferred frost, flame or most of all vampiric brands, but none have been forthcoming as of yet. I actually end up using a potion of heal wounds during this fight when it looks like a few more hits might take me down, but I do manage to survive and finish them off.

blink

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June 2: Minotaur Assassin

open_door

Overview

This is something of a welcome change from the weird and difficult combos I’ve been playing. Minotaurs are perhaps the easiest race in the game, (after all, there were a total of 109 won in the last tournament, more than double the next-highest species), and while the background doesn’t have much synergy with their aptitudes, I expect it will be easy to transition out of. I actually think it would be quite viable, though unnecessarily difficult, to play a minotaur as a straight stabber, (they have 1, 1 and -1 apts for Short Blades, Dodging and Stealth respectively, which are mediocre but hardly crushing), I won’t be doing that, and instead taking the easy route and pretending I’m playing a MiFi. That means I’ll be focusing on training up Armour for wearing heavy armour, one of the better weapons skills, (probably Axes or Long Blades), and later on Fighting. I expect this game is eminently winnable. I’ll be aiming for worshiping Okawaru, but I won’t turn down Trog or even possibly Makhleb if I find of their altars early enough. Of course, there’s still a chance I may make a critical error that prematurely, especially early on, but if I can get this one off the ground there’s a very good chance I’ll win. I’ve actually never ascended an Okawaru worshiper before, strangely enough, so hopefully I can add that to my list of achievements here.

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June 1: Mummy Wizard

start

Overview:

I sort of  hate mummies. I hate their terrible aptitudes and stats, I hate their inability to drink, I hate their intrinsic fire vulnerability, and I hate how their one unique benefit, (the lack of a food clock), all but requires worshiping specific gods to take full advantage of. They might be my second-least favorite species in DCSS, with demigods taking the number 1 slot. I prefer ghouls in almost every respect, as they get most of the benefits of mummies with ameliorated downsides in every department except stats. That said, I’m sort of intrigued by mummies, and it’s about time I ascended one. Wizard seems like fine place to start: they’re a spellcaster, which I excel at, they can develop in almost any direction they want, and their diverse set of low-level starting spells gives them a good set of tools to work with. Since their bad apts ensure they’ll be late bloomers, wizard might be the best background for them aside from summoners, (the classic combo for mummies).

In any case, for all their disadvantages, I feel pretty confident about this game. Mummies may be far from optimal when compared with deep elves or tengu, but I’m good enough at both conjurers and summoners, (the two possible development paths I can either take or combine here), that I expect I can pull it off. If I lose anywhere beyond the first two levels, it’s almost certainly my own fault, barring something stupid like dying to a damage trap or falling through a shaft into an unwinnable situation. There’s two main gods that work best with mummies: Sif Muna and Nemelex Xobah. Sif since you can channel endlessly with zero hunger, and Nemelex because you can sacrifice all and every potion and comestible for extra Decks of Wonders. I’ll be aiming for Sif, but I’ll take Nemelex if I don’t find her early enough. Ashenzari and Kikubaaqudgha are both viable options as well, since Ash gives skill bonuses to offset my poor apts, (and really there are few combos that don’t do well with Ash), and Kiku will grant me access to some decent books early and is easy (if tedious) for mummies to abandon. I don’t think I’ll be taking either though, since I feel more confident with Sif or at least Nemelex.

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May 31: Naga Venom Mage

Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup 0.13-a0-1284-g77c6466

Overview:

This seems like a natural combo, though probably not a popular one. The Nagas you fight in the Snake Pit are essentially Venom Mages, casting Venom Bolt and Poison Arrow along with an assortment of other conjurations and translocations spells. However, neither Nagas nor Venom Mages are particularly popular choices – in the last tournament, only 21 Nagas were won, which puts them towards the middle of the distribution in median terms but in fact far closer to the least played race, (Ghouls, with 11 wins), than the most, (Minotaurs, with 109). Venom Mages were even less popular. In the end, only 14 were won, making them the 4th-least chosen background and tied with notoriously difficult Transmuters and Chaos Knights. Personally, I think Venom Mages are underrated by the community at large. Sure, they lack a 9th-level super-spell like Shatter, Tornado, or Fire/Ice Storm, but their 6th-level spell Poison Arrow is the best single-target conjuration in the game, in my opinion, on account of its high damage and massive range, (full-screen targeting with Vehumet’s aid, and enough damage to 1-shot most high-level enemies that lack rPois). They do face some problems early on because of poison-resistant enemies, but not as much as you might think, and enemies that lack poison resistance tend to go down even quicker than to the other elementalists. Further, worshiping Vehumet, (the natural god choice for a Venom Mage), usually gives quick access to spells that can affect poison-resistant enemies. Overall they’re actually one of my favorite classes, and I’ve ascended 2 already and played several more.

Nagas, however, are a different story. I’ve never gotten one off the ground, let alone ascended one. I just haven’t gotten the hang of their slow speed, because my playstyle tends to focus on taking lots of risks while allowing for quick retreat if things go pear-shaped. Naga Venom Mages also face some additional challenges that other Venom Mages don’t – the standby strategy of poisoning an enemy then retreating while the poison wears down their HP isn’t going to work here, forcing more uses of Mephitic Cloud, which makes a great deal of noise. That’s bad. It wakes up enemies and potentially draws them into the battle, so I try to avoid using it when I have other options. Additionally, many of the threats early Venom Mages can’t take down on account of poison resistance, like ice beasts, wraiths, and the new-and-improved shadows, are best retreated from, which Nagas can’t always effectively do. On the belated bright side, they can use Olgreb’s Toxic Radiance, (the full-screen poisoning spell comparable to Ozocubu’s Refrigeration and Shatter), without fear of poisoning themselves though I’ve never found that particularly effective myself.

With all that in mind, I’ll be playing my NaVM the same way I’d play most VMs: worshiping Vehumet as soon as possible. If I was more comfortable with Nagas I might take a somewhat harder god, possibly Chei, but I’m not confident enough to do so. It’s hard for me to estimate how well I’ll do, since I’m very comfortable with my choice of class and god but inexperienced and possessing a poor record with my choice of species. If I had to guess, I’d say I’ve got equal chances of early death, tragic midgame loss, or glorious victory.

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