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June 3: Minotaur Assassin, Again

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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.

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June 2: Minotaur Assassin

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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

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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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High Elf Gladiator Analysis (and Why I Hate Damage Traps)

Analysis

It’s hard for me to really evaluate HEGl because I didn’t get this one very far. As I mentioned in a note at the end of my last post I ended up losing shortly after my narrative cut off when I walked into a bolt trap at low HP, instantly killing me. However, I got far enough to get a feel for the combo, so I’ll go ahead and give a preliminary analysis.

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May 30: High Elf Gladiator

Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup 0.13-a0-1284-g77c6466

Overview

Gladiators are the light armour melee class, which makes them well-suited for a High Elf intent on melee. High Elves have a positive dodging aptitude and negative armour aptitude, and while both are fairly modest they’re enough to give decisive favor to EV over AC as the best choice for a defensive focus. High Elves also have a +2 aptitude for long blades, quite high, so I choose a falchion as my starting weapon. Long blades are one of the strongest weapon groups in the game, and falchions are hands-down the most damaging weapon you can start with, so this will play in my favor. I’ll eventually be dipping into bows as well as my ranged option, since I have a decent aptitude there as well and need something to make up for what is sure to be lackluster defense capabilities, but for the very early game these should be enough to carry me. Overall, this is a fairly strong combo, (listed as viable, and for good reason), and though I’m not sure I can ascend it I expect to make it quite far with good play and careful planning. I’ll be putting all of my stat points into dexterity, to raise my EV, and aiming to worship Okawaru.

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May 29: Octopode Wanderer

Overview

This is a fairly dismal combo. Wanderers are the “random class” – all of their starting skills most of their starting equipment (rations aside) are entirely randomized. With excessive startscumming this can actually result in a character with a better start than most standard backgrounds, but in most cases you’ll end up with an unpowered, redundant or just plain bad skill spread. Combined with an octopode, the outright squishiest class in the game starting out, this probably spells an early death. I don’t expect to survive to Lair, let alone ascend.

As expected, I come out with a downright awful skill spread. 3 levels of fighting, 2 of of short blades, and 1 each of bows, dodging, stealth, traps and invocations. Fighting, dodging, stealth and traps are all essential skills in the long run, but nothing that’s going to help me much in the early game. Short blades are useless to me unless I plan to build a stabber, (which I don’t), I didn’t even start with a bow, and I’m not even sure if I’ll have a god that uses the invocations skill. The one bright spot with this start is that I started with two important consumables – a potion of heal wounds and a scroll of teleportation. These are arguably (along with potions of curing) the most useful consumables in the early game, as heal wounds will save me when low on HP and teleportation can allow me to escape from unwinnable situations, so starting with both identified and a supply of 1 each is a great benefit.

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