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-   -   Blackguards: 4.2.0 to 4.2.1 (http://angband.oook.cz/forum/showthread.php?t=9901)

archolewa June 25, 2020 03:47

That's fine. Fundamentally, I think my gripe is that low level Blackguards kind of have to play against type. I'm impatient and want to play my crazy berserker nowwwww x'(

So if there was a way give Blackguards just a little bit more resilience or damage in the early game, that would be awesome.

But if not, that's fine. The class is still a lot of fun and very unique.

DavidMedley June 25, 2020 18:03

Quote:

Originally Posted by archolewa (Post 146474)
I usee the default point buy, and have mostly played Dunadan and High Elf. The spells themselves are pretty reliable, I just find they often don't do much at low levels to improve damage output.

Default point buy spends 4 of 20 points for 1 point of Dex, which I think is always a mistake unless that increases your blows (at 17, 18/20, and 18/40) and even then I'm very loath to do it. A Dunadan BG can get back 7 character points by going to DEX 17 (or 6 pts at 18). Spend at least one of those to get INT to 13 and you'll have 1 more SP from levels 1-10 and 2 more from 11-20. Totally worth that 1 point investment.

Try to end your battles with enough SP to cast the cheap but critical spells you will soon need. Getting into this habit is critical, but a bit anti-thematic and that vexed me during the design process. Maybe I'll figure out a good way to get around that in the future, but for now it remains a key skill. Save enough to detect or leap or whatever else you anticipate needing. DON'T REST unless you have near zero SP anyway. Carry !CLT or =Open Wounds (now available in the Magic Shop) for maximum carnage per turn.

DavidMedley June 25, 2020 18:20

Quote:

Originally Posted by archolewa (Post 146466)
their low blows means their damage output is far below what warriors and paladins can do, simply because it's so variable.

Looking at Dunadan Paladin vs BG with default birth points and equipment:
Code:

BLOWS  DMG/RND  CHARACTER
2.3    12.3    Pally with Gauche
1.6    13.9    BG with Tulwar

Doesn't look so bad to me. Bless gives +10 to-hit, Bers gives +75 melee skill which is roughly as good as +25 to-hit in melee (downsides to Bers, obviously).

I worked hard to get BGs to play to type. That's basically the only way I've ever played them, occasional fortuitous item find aside. It's possible that playing them like very bad Rogues is still the optimal strategy -- maybe we'll have a competition and find out -- but I know that playing them as lovers of melee combat is fun and at least reasonably effective.

archolewa June 25, 2020 18:52

I never even considered using a ring of open wounds to improve SP gain. Ill have to try that.

And my difficulties with the damage output is more how variable it is. Blackguards in the early game are very feast or famine. On paper they are similar, but whiffing once with the Blackguard hurts a lot more than with the paladin.

archolewa June 25, 2020 19:10

I might also have to try with the Oposband style weapon damage. That might end up being a buff for Blackguard since it puts less emphasis on blows.

DavidMedley June 25, 2020 19:22

Quote:

Originally Posted by archolewa (Post 146493)
I never even considered using a ring of open wounds to improve SP gain.

It recovers 40 HP when activated and recharges pretty fast.

DavidMedley June 25, 2020 19:24

Quote:

Originally Posted by archolewa (Post 146495)
I might also have to try with the Oposband style weapon damage. That might end up being a buff for Blackguard since it puts less emphasis on blows.

There's a compatibility issue with the BG spells, tho, that we haven't worked out yet: The melee blows spells aren't very effective at dealing damage.

Pete Mack June 28, 2020 15:09

@David--
Sure, the BG starting character is as strong as a paladin. But as soon as there is +dam on the lighter weapon, it will start going ahead. Even a ring of reckless attacks will nearly double that pally's damage.

archolewa June 28, 2020 18:48

Quote:

Originally Posted by Pete Mack (Post 146601)
@David--
Sure, the BG starting character is as strong as a paladin. But as soon as there is +dam on the lighter weapon, it will start going ahead. Even a ring of reckless attacks will nearly double that pally's damage.

I think this does a great job of clarifying the difficulties I'm having with Blackguard's early game. Because the game is balanced around multiple blows, the Blackguard gains offensive capabilities much more slowly than the paladin or warrior, and while the spells are fun and interesting, they don't quite make up the difference. This means combat takes longer, which means there are more opportunities for things to go wrong, and I burn through more consumables. I almost never get gorged on CLW, but I find that happening all the time with my Blackguard, to the point that I will rest in town until I'm down to 60% satiation, and take a few rations with me when I go down.

I fear orc uniques while playing a Blackguard in a way I don't really with the Paladin or Warrior.

I want to emphasize that I love the idea of the Blackguard, and I appreciate all the work
that's being put into this class. We're just going against the grain of the game here, and I'm not sure we've quite gotten there yet.

Or I'm playing the Blackguard wrong. I'll have to try with a ring of open wounds as a source of renewable healing, and see if that makes a difference.

Also, does the incompatibility with the alternate damage style affect just the blows accompanied by spells like Leap Into Battle and Whirlwind, or does it also affect the extra blows you get from Werewolf? Because if it's just the former, I might try it anyway. Except for a brief period in the early game, I never use those spells for the damage (in fact, I rarely use Whirlwind at all).

Hounded June 28, 2020 20:32

Playing a Dunedain BG and up to lvl 37 using OA damage. Early game was delicate but then had to really slog through for equipment. The RNG gave me 3 low dam. Gondolins and two branded weapons for the longest time. A major saving grace was tactical use of the Leap Into Battle exploit.

Once I finally found a decent artifact weapon I started dropping like a stone and its become a hoot. What I've really appreciated is that heavy weapons I never touched before due to low attack numbers suddenly have competitive damage. Kind of gratifying when a Thanc dagger gets tossed in favour of a Trident of Venom.

Sky June 28, 2020 21:49

what's this thing about Open Wounds helping SP recovery?

DavidMedley June 28, 2020 22:05

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sky (Post 146625)
what's this thing about Open Wounds helping SP recovery?

It doesn't, but it also doesn't slow HP recovery. A key skill, in my opinion, is keeping enough SP at the end of fights that you're not hindered at the start of your next fight. Having sources of quick healing help this.

DavidMedley June 28, 2020 22:25

The heavy emphasis on light weapons with multiple blows in the early game (with most classes) is a gripe of mine as well. Way too many times I've had to dump some enchanted weapon in favor of the starting +0/+0 dagger or whatever. Start another thread and I'll join the chorus.

As far as the BG goes, I am very concerned about comments that say the class cannot be played to type. I think it's a learning curve issue, but time and maybe a competition will help clarify that.

Are BGs weaker than paladins and warriors? Maybe, but I'm not too worried about that. I'm 99% sure they're better than 4.2.0 BGs, so we're going in the right direction. There are only 2 winners on Angband.live last I checked and one is a Half-Orc BG, so they're certainly not hopeless.

DavidMedley June 28, 2020 22:32

Honestly, I think the best way to help the BG is to get rid of all this LoS cheese that is making me hate the game, especially the boss fights.

chem June 28, 2020 22:57

I just played a high-elf blackguard in 4.2.1. he died at clvl ~25, depthl ~800', while wielding an artifact sword and with a hodge podge of armor.

melee felt very underpowered.

archolewa June 28, 2020 23:18

Quote:

Originally Posted by DavidMedley (Post 146628)
Honestly, I think the best way to help the BG is to get rid of all this LoS cheese that is making me hate the game, especially the boss fights.

Don't you touch my LoS! LoS manipulation is one of the few parts of this game that I feel is remotely tactical.

Though, I don't really engage in any of the cheese (unless we consider anti-summon corridors cheese). The only time I abuse asymmetric LoS is when I'm fighting hounds, and I lure them into a room one at a time. But you know, I don't feel bad about that, because Hounds deserve all the cheese I can throw at them.

Nick June 28, 2020 23:21

Quote:

Originally Posted by archolewa (Post 146632)
Hounds deserve all the cheese I can throw at them.

But will they really appreciate it? Maybe save it for the rodents.

fph June 29, 2020 09:34

Quote:

Originally Posted by archolewa (Post 146632)
Don't you touch my LoS! LoS manipulation is one of the few parts of this game that I feel is remotely tactical.

Though, I don't really engage in any of the cheese (unless we consider anti-summon corridors cheese). The only time I abuse asymmetric LoS is when I'm fighting hounds, and I lure them into a room one at a time. But you know, I don't feel bad about that, because Hounds deserve all the cheese I can throw at them.

If that is the only way you abuse asymmetric LOS, I don't think your gameplay would change that much with symmetric LOS. You would still have a free turn against a lone hound (with all the others outside LOS) when they get inside the room.

archolewa June 29, 2020 15:02

Quote:

Originally Posted by fph (Post 146648)
If that is the only way you abuse asymmetric LOS, I don't think your gameplay would change that much with symmetric LOS. You would still have a free turn against a lone hound (with all the others outside LOS) when they get inside the room.

Ah ok. I think I misinterpreted what David meant. I was concerned it was some combination of features that would make it harder to manipulate the enemy AI to minimize the number of enemies who can see you or something (which I do make pretty heavy use of, fighting one on one is so much less dangerous).

But yeah, if he's just talking about getting rid of asymmetric LOS, I don't have a problem with that. If anything the asymmetric hurts more than it helps since you can't really tell if something sees you until it breathes it on you (or you know the LOS rules, which I don't really).

DavidMedley June 29, 2020 16:49

I'm talking about, for example, pelting Morgy where he can't see you and is too dumb to move to where he can see you or to summon some friends to help ferret you out. This is how I finished off my only recent win, BTW. Or making long diagonal corridors where you can hit the enemy many times around the small bend but they can't see you. Assymetrical LoS is a great term for it.

Sideways June 29, 2020 17:26

Quote:

Originally Posted by DavidMedley (Post 146655)
I'm talking about, for example, pelting Morgy where he can't see you and is too dumb to move to where he can see you or to summon some friends to help ferret you out. This is how I finished off my only recent win, BTW. Or making long diagonal corridors where you can hit the enemy many times around the small bend but they can't see you. Assymetrical LoS is a great term for it.

The Morgoth situation (and probably the hound situation too) aren't really asymmetrical LOS, though; they're a situation where neither side is in the other's LOS but you can still shoot Morgoth with sufficiently careful aiming. So while making LOS symmetrical would eliminate hockey-sticks, it wouldn't change a ranged Morgoth fight much.

DavidMedley June 29, 2020 18:26

OK, good point... so shooting stuff you can't see, like putting English on a fireball or something... JFK's magic bullet...

Huqhox June 30, 2020 09:56

I believe a sufficiently skilled bowman could trim is arrow so it would swerve during flight... so maybe there's some merit in it

DavidMedley June 30, 2020 18:23

But none of the bad guys have this ability? Or think, "Hey, someone that I can't see keeps shooting me... let me use this incredible power I have to summon some friends!"

Pete Mack June 30, 2020 19:22

No. Arrows are spin-stabilized (by the curve of the feathers), so any curving is essentially random.

Sky July 1, 2020 01:12

Quote:

Originally Posted by DavidMedley (Post 146626)
It doesn't, but it also doesn't slow HP recovery.

.. was it changed in 4.2.1 ?
because AFAIK ring of open wounds has specifically "impair hp recovery".

DavidMedley July 1, 2020 03:26

BGs have impair HP naturally. You can wear two rings and it won't make a difference.

Huqhox July 1, 2020 12:46

Quote:

Originally Posted by Pete Mack (Post 146703)
No. Arrows are spin-stabilized (by the curve of the feathers), so any curving is essentially random.

(Yes I know this is OT)

That's what I thought too until I looked it up... apparently it's possible to adjust the fletching so that the arrow curves in flight. As to how much and how reliable, I've no idea. I just thought I'd throw it in there in case anyone wanted some head cannon :D

Pete Mack July 1, 2020 14:02

So... seeker ammo should be required for LOS abuse? Because the sling can never be nerfed enough!

DavidMedley July 4, 2020 00:47

Quote:

Originally Posted by archolewa (Post 146612)
I fear orc uniques while playing a Blackguard in a way I don't really with the Paladin or Warrior.

On my latest BG run I'm plastering Orc uniques and it made me remember that I have on my previous runs, too. Not "shoot-and-scoot kite Orcs so they never lay a glove on me like Money Mayweather vs some tomato can" plastering them but "go toe-to-toe with them and outlast them 'cause I got an iron jaw like Rocky Balboa" plastering them.

Here's my script. Choose the first available:
- HP dangerously low, phase door away
- If SP >= 6 and Orc is not stunned, use Maim
- If (SP near max or HP near min) and (SP >= 4 and CL >= 20 and blows <= 2.0), use Leap
- If (SP near max or HP near min) but Leap isn't appropriate, use Maim again
- Normal melee attack or item usage as appropriate

Stunning really lowers an enemy's melee damage output. Casting when you are seriously hurt can be a decent source of healing without requiring a turn (the theoretical max return of damage->SP->casting is to double your total HP).

I haven't done side-by-side comparisons between BGs and other classes, but I know this approach works well enough.

ADDENDUM: It occurs to me that before you attain CL 15 and buy the 2nd book from the store, BGs don't have much going for them vs unique orcs. If you're finding yourself in that spot, I'd say you're not bullying random monsters enough. It's much more fun and profitable to "seek battle" against weaker enemies as a BG than with other classes.

mrfy July 4, 2020 05:12

Quote:

Originally Posted by DavidMedley (Post 146802)
ADDENDUM: It occurs to me that before you attain CL 15 and buy the 2nd book from the store, BGs don't have much going for them vs unique orcs. If you're finding yourself in that spot, I'd say you're not bullying random monsters enough. It's much more fun and profitable to "seek battle" against weaker enemies as a BG than with other classes.

I'm not sure I'd want to run into you down a dark alley. ;)

But seriously, your method sounds interesting and I'll have to try it when I choose Blackguard again.

archolewa July 4, 2020 07:05

This was the basic strategy I was using, and it worked great...until you had a string of spell failures, and/or you whiffed your one attack per round. Then I was running away with my tail between my legs. And even if that worked, I got ground down by the unique's escorts. And I'm pretty aggressive about smashing mobs as a blackguard, so it's not like I was diving too aggressively.

The only time I found this strategy worked with any sort of consistency was the first time I played the BG, when I found Totilla early.

And I honestly never found the healing from casting spells to be sufficient to keep up with the damage I was taking. It could take the edge off of it, but that was it. And since I usually had 1.6 or more blows vs. 1 blow for leap, I'm not convinced it was actually better than just attacking and phasing away to use cure light wounds.

I honestly don't know how you're getting an iron jaw. My BG's jaw is made of glass. They just can't do enough damage fast enough, or have high enough hitpoints, or enough healing to win a long fight (and most interesting fights with a BG are long in my experience).

Cuboideb July 4, 2020 16:51

Perhaps increasing the initial number of blows can help. I had an easier start with a paladin or ranger (with a strong race, like dwarf). Or equip them with a katana.

DavidMedley July 4, 2020 17:05

It is not working for you, or was not working for you, and that sucks. I don't know if discussing it more will help or not.
Quote:

Originally Posted by archolewa (Post 146806)
I usually had 1.6 or more blows

This is too many blows. I basically never have this many blows as a BG before statgain. Try a heavier weapon. But even if you do have this many blows, why does "whiffing your one attack" hurt so bad? You've only used 0.60 turns to whiff with 1.6 blows.

Quote:

1 blow for leap, I'm not convinced it was actually better than just attacking
I agree that's why in my script I don't use Leap unless it's an increase in blows. Just keep using Maim to maximize self-healing and enemy stun.

Quote:

And I honestly never found the healing from casting spells to be sufficient to keep up with the damage I was taking.
Are you using Maim? Stun is a very underrated effect for melee. It reduces accuracy and damage by 25% each, creates a 10% chance to miss turns completely, and gives the player +10 to-hit on crit rolls. I think it cuts enemy damage output by 35-40% (.75 damage * .9 turns is 32.5% reduction without including the additional misses).

DavidMedley July 4, 2020 17:06

1 Attachment(s)
I did an experiment. I created a level 15 Blackguard with basic equipment available in the store and then fought Ufthak (depth 14) 3 times. I defeated him all 3 times without retreating, though it was pretty close in every case. I had no consumables and no ranged attacks. I fought with the starting tulwar (+0, +0) 11.5 dmg/rnd on 1.3 blows. I started with full HP and SP. The 2nd and 3rd times I kept track of how much healing I got out of Maim (and occassionally Bers when he wandered a square away). I got 136 and 159 points of healing on a character with about 160 max HP. I had one =Open Wounds but I forgot to use it every time grrr.

I meant to exit without saving but I forgot on the third try. So I can't easily post the save file for you to try exactly this again. Here's the dump: http://angband.oook.cz/ladder-show.php?id=23688

Attached is the save file after the 3rd battle. You could use the debug commands to heal and try Ulfast (depth 16, human but orc-like) or Shagrat (depth 19) with this equipment set. CL20 should be sufficient for Shagrat I would think, even with this kit, and you can mix in the 2 blow Leap at that point.

DavidMedley July 4, 2020 17:18

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cuboideb (Post 146813)
equip them with a katana.

Katanas are nice, but have a cost of 594 out of a starting budget of 600 iirc.

DavidMedley July 4, 2020 17:26

Took this same character with the same horrible kit to CL20 and defeated Shagrat on the first try as well. I remembered to use =Open Wounds this time :D

archolewa July 4, 2020 17:51

I'll have to try it with lower blows the next time I try a Blackguard (got frustrated with the class, so now I'm trying again for a Mage win). It's also possible that I wasn't using Maim Foe enough (I used it whenever stun ran out, and often times didn't if my shield bash stunned him for me, sounds like you use it more frequently than that?).

If 1.6 blows is too many, then it sounds like the default point buy for BG isn't optimal and needs to be changed, because that's what I get when I go with the default stat allocation. As far as the weapon I use, I always go with whichever one gives me the most damage per round. I pretty much ignore weight. Do Blackguards get some special bonus out of using heavier weapons that doesn't show up in the damage per round calculation?

And it could be that my whiffing with each blow is more psychological than anything else. The whole energy gain to next turn thing is so opaque that I largely ignore it. I just notice that sometimes I can land two attacks before the enemy gets to do anything.

DavidMedley July 4, 2020 17:59

Quote:

Originally Posted by archolewa (Post 146819)
Do Blackguards get some special bonus out of using heavier weapons that doesn't show up in the damage per round calculation?

Yes. Their spells do more damage.

EDIT: You can see that in the numbers; it's not hidden. But it doesn't show in the damage per round calculation.

archolewa July 4, 2020 18:12

Quote:

Originally Posted by DavidMedley (Post 146820)
Yes. Their spells do more damage.

O_O

Well, that explains a *lot*. I thought the blows from the spells were just standard weapon swings. What exactly is the formula for the blows from spells? Is it the weapons damage plus some bonus based on weight?

DavidMedley July 4, 2020 18:30

Quote:

Originally Posted by archolewa (Post 146821)
Is it the weapons damage plus some bonus based on weight?

I think I anticipated this response with my edit above. Heavier weapons do more damage per blow. You can see this in the weapon's stats. BG spells do a fixed amount of blows without regard to weight. Therefore heavier weapons generally work better with BG spells.

archolewa July 4, 2020 19:53

Ok. Well, my latest mage bit the dust, so I figured I'd try another High Elf Blackguard, this time (mostly) prioritizing weapon weight over damage per round, and dropping Dex down a few points and pumping int instead. I actually dropped Dex down as low as I could while still getting 1.3 blows with my starting Tulwar, and pumped Int up to 18. Maybe a bit excessive, but hey, figured why not.

So far at least, things have been going *much* more smoothly, and the character is playing *much* more like a brutal, hard-to-kill berserker. Survived an early Deep Descent quite handily, including killing Lagduf with the help of a wand of stinking cloud, and have been chewing through the orc uniques (including Azog when I accidentally summoned him with a Wand of Summon Monster) like I do with paladin and warrior.

So yeah, dropping Dex and pumping Int made a huge difference. Don't know that weapon weight has mattered all that much (though I did find some heavy weapons early, first a Battle Axe, and then a Lance both of which I used quite effectively), since by the time I hit level 20, I found Forsagil, but even with that I'm only swinging 1.1 times.

So after all of this run around, I think the takeaway is that we should tweak the default point buy for Blackguards when rolling up a character. Dex should be de-prioritized in favor of Int. Those extra points make a *huge* difference in spell failure rate, which seems to me to pretty very critical for Blackguard, since with unreliable spells, they're just a crappier fighter. But with reliable spells they're tougher than Treebeard.

DavidMedley July 4, 2020 21:06

Glad it's going better. I like the suggestion to change the default buy. I hadn't thought of that until you mentioned it a few pages ago. I don't know how to do that, but it's a good idea. Way more people than I would have thought use the default buy.

DavidMedley July 4, 2020 21:13

A couple months ago I was watching someone play a half-troll BG with the default point buy so he had an INT of 6. He's like "I don't find the BG spells that useful!" :D :D :D

Sphara July 5, 2020 06:02

Quote:

Originally Posted by DavidMedley (Post 146817)
Took this same character with the same horrible kit to CL20 and defeated Shagrat on the first try as well. I remembered to use =Open Wounds this time :D

Even though you had manipulated AC to be as high as 70, beating Shagrat with 1.3 attack +0+0 Tulwar, should tell people how goddamn strong spell Maim is.

If you REALLY want to have bad times with early orc uniques, try a Necromancer :D

DavidMedley July 5, 2020 06:30

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sphara (Post 146829)
manipulated AC

??

I didn't try to manipulate anything. Is the body armor too good?

Sphara July 5, 2020 09:51

Quote:

Originally Posted by DavidMedley (Post 146830)
??

I didn't try to manipulate anything. Is the body armor too good?

For your experiment, the character AC was crafted to be 70 by debug commands. I guess 'manipulated' was a wrong choice of word then, if it really sounded rude to you.

DavidMedley July 6, 2020 00:22

I just wanted it to be fair. I conjured up all the XP and the villains as well. But I don't think many CL 15s will be jealous of the equipment.

Cuboideb July 6, 2020 00:38

Thank you David for your tip about Maim Foe. I didn't realized that it was so useful for starting the game. I reached dlvl 20 quite fast with it (half-elf with focus in STR and INT). :)

wobbly July 6, 2020 13:52

Quote:

Originally Posted by DavidMedley (Post 146824)
Glad it's going better. I like the suggestion to change the default buy. I hadn't thought of that until you mentioned it a few pages ago. I don't know how to do that, but it's a good idea. Way more people than I would have thought use the default buy.

There's something fishy going on in the default pt buy. This is what it supposedly does:

Code:

* 0. buy base STR 17
 * 1. if possible buy adj DEX of 18/10
 * 2. spend up to half remaining points on each of spell-stat and con,
 *    but only up to max base of 16 unless a pure class
 *    [mage or priest or warrior]
 * 3. If there are any points left, spend as much as possible in order
 *    on DEX and then the non-spell-stat.

What actually happens when I test in-game is every class gets 17 str & 18 dex except the pure casters.

DavidMedley July 6, 2020 20:39

Is Necro a pure class?

wobbly July 7, 2020 06:13

It's defining it as
> 5 blows = warrior
< 5 blows = caster

Nick July 7, 2020 23:10

It seems like it might be a good idea to include the default starting stats in the datafile for classes, since blackguards have completely broken the (already fairly dodgy) algorithm for assigning them. This won't be completely straightforward, because race has an effect as well. Possibly the datafile should have priorities for the algorithm rather than straight points.

Thoughts?

archolewa July 7, 2020 23:44

Ok, so just pulled off my first Blackguard win (character: http://angband.oook.cz/ladder-show.php?id=23703).

I say pulled off, but the fight against Morgoth wasn't particularly long or close despite making a few mistakes
(forgot to bring scrolls of Phase Door). Here's my analysis of the class:

Overall, it was a very fun game that did a good job from beginning to end of capturing the hyper resilient berserker vibe.

Early game, the Blackguard's strength over the paladin or warrior is that they can heal a little while still attacking.
Being able to hit an enemy at full damage while effectively reducing your enemy's attack to scratch damage was huge. This is
also why focusing on Strength and Intelligence is so important. Blackguards are as dependent on reliable spells as mages.

Mid and endgame, the Blackguard's strength is that they always have full SP. Always. By dungeon level 50, I was at or
near full SP almost the entire time, and even if I wasn't, a few rounds with enemies got me up to full real fast. Being perpetually at full SP is huge. This made the Blackguard's midgame *much* stronger than the Warrior or Paladin's. This was also the first game I've ever used an item that aggravates enemies (the Chaos Blade Doombringer). Was a *lot* of fun before being slightly outshone by a Holy Avenger Mace of Disruption.

My fight against Morgoth was also very dynamic. I avoided using Werewolf against him at first, because I didn't want to spend two turns healing (drink potion, cast werewolf). Especially since the endgame was very stingy with healing potions. The last thing I wanted was tobe locked in a cycle of Werewolf-heal-Werewolf-heal. I cast Berserk a bunch of times before Morgoth got to me for the extra accuracy (every little bit helps, and an endgame Blackguard's spells are basically free). The first half of the fight was me whaling on Morgoth while periodically stunning him with Maiming Blow, while he danced around my Rune of Protection. Once I was out of runes, I would send Morgoth flying with Forceful Blow, pepper him with arrows of Holy Might while Taunting him, and then do it again when he got close. Once I ran out of arrows, I went full werewolf and swung him down (used all my Healing and better potions too! Not that I had many). I even used Howl of the Damned once to scatter some of his summons.

Now that I think about it though, I probably should have gone werewolf from the beginning. When I needed to heal, I should have shifted back, healed, sent Morgoth flying with Forceful Blow, and then gone back to Werewolf when he was one move away.

All in all, I was impressed by the number of spells I ended up using against Morgoth.

Some thoughts on some of the more noteworthy spells:

Leap into Battle - Used a lot in the early game, less by the time I got Werewolf. Was used mostly for the extra healing, and to hunt down a fleeing foe. Closing on a hostile enemy is just rarely a good idea, when they're perfectly happy to walk up to you themselves.

Whirlwind - Great against packs of Dreads, and for chewing through popcorn quickly. Nothing quite so satisfying as having four Dreads surround you in a corridor, and watching all four G's vanish with a single spell. Mostly niche though. Getting surrounded is usually a bad idea even if you can hit them all at once.

Shatter Stone - Not sure if this, or Werewolf is my MVP. Once I hit floor 50 and had basically infinite SP, I used this all the time. I used it to close on enemies, bypass enemies, carve out anti-summoning corridors for facing enemies. I used it to keep the space around me clear while fighting Morgoth so that I could dodge the ceiling.

Maim Foe - Another great spell. Used it every opportunity I could get, and made most stunnable Uniques utter chumps (Sauron and Morgoth still put up good fights though).

Venom - Great when it was useful, but so many enemies resist poison that it was fairly niche. Still, I briefly had the Glaive of Pain, and being able to do 1000 damage to enemies who aren't resistant to poison was awesome. Even with my MoD, I was doing north of 700. Made greater titans actually worth killing.

Howl of the Damned - Didn't use very often. I can see its merit in crowd control, but I generally prefer to avoid crowds that I need to control (as opposed to slaughter mercilessly).

Relentless Taunting - Situational, but the situations came up frequently. Used this a lot against Hounds, and against a couple of uniques comboed with Forceful Blow. Also, does Relentless Taunting do anything when an enemy is in melee range? Does it increase the chances that an enemy will melee you rather than breathing or casting spells?

Werewolf Form - Awesome spell. Loved the flavor of how transforming inflicted fear on enemies. My standard pattern against uniques was to stun them, shift to werewolf form, and go to town. Usually I was able to kill them before the stun went down.

Bloodlust - Eh. I could see how some people might like this spell, but I found the drawbacks way too severe. There were just too many ways that hallucination, being slowed, or randomly attacking an opponent whether I wanted to or not could go wrong. Only times I used this was against uniques that I wasn't too worried about that I wanted to swing down a bit faster to hopefully cut down on consumable use/destruction.

Forceful Blow - At first, this spell looked like a dud to me. The damage wasn't *that* impressive. Not when you're swinging a MoD (Holy Avenger) 5 times every attack. Plus, why would you *want* your enemy to leave melee range? Blackguards are at their best in melee! However, then I realized that Makar the Warrior only has melee attacks. So against him I proceeded to knock him across the room, pepper him with arrows, and then knock him across the room again. Don't think he attacked me once. I also used this plus Relentless Taunting against Morgoth and Gothmog to great effect.

Quake - This felt like a dud to me. The types of situations where it might be useful were situations I avoided entirely (i.e. closing on an enemy across an empty room). Plus, the LOS blocking really didn't seem to be that good. For one thing, it was too random. Too good a chance that that really nasty Wyrm of Annihilation you don't want to see you would still be able to do so after casting it. Certainly it wasn't anywhere near as good as Destruction. I tried using this against Maeglin to see if it could help me keep his summons under control, but an anti-summoning corridor was still better, despite his tendency to punch holes in it.

All in all, I think the class is very powerful and a lot of fun. Definitely one of the more fun and interesting berserker style classes I've seen in roguelikes.

archolewa July 7, 2020 23:46

Quote:

Originally Posted by Nick (Post 146909)
It seems like it might be a good idea to include the default starting stats in the datafile for classes, since blackguards have completely broken the (already fairly dodgy) algorithm for assigning them. This won't be completely straightforward, because race has an effect as well. Possibly the datafile should have priorities for the algorithm rather than straight points.

Thoughts?

Any reason you couldn't just manually assign default starting stats for humans in the data file, and then programmatically apply the modifiers that the other races provide?

DavidMedley July 8, 2020 05:53

Wow, great review archolewa. A lot in there that I might address individually in the future, but I agree with basically everything and didn't notice anything I strongly disagreed with.

Quake was added last and isn't meant to be amazing, but it's position in the last book implies greatness. I think it's pretty useful when you get into trouble with too many monsters having LoS on you. I think it's thematic enough and can be used kinda like Taunt to keep monsters from attacking you from range. Reducing its cost, effect, and required level is certainly a possibility for the future.

Speaking of Taunt, any time a monster might use an ability, Taunt cuts those chances in half. Under consideration is to report the instances when a monster would have used an ability but didn't. No one seems to trust that it actually works! :D

DavidMedley July 8, 2020 06:15

Quote:

Originally Posted by Nick (Post 146909)
might be a good idea to include the default starting stats in the datafile for classes
Thoughts?

A good algo would take into account breakpoints for each stat... or at least that's how I approach the birth screen. But that's a PITA and fragile. So setting the points to assign to each stat on a class by class basis sounds like a simple but resilient choice. This would communicate to the player which stats are important and which are not.

Blackguard needs everything except Wis, so might be something like this:
STR 6
INT 5
WIS 1
DEX 4
CON 4

But it's very debatable... I'll put 8 in STR or DEX if that gets me more blows. I never put 12 points in any stat. Anyway, the above communicates "hey, don't sleep on INT or you might regret it" but they're always free to reduce INT, and often they'd be right to do so.

mrfy July 8, 2020 06:15

Quote:

Originally Posted by DavidMedley (Post 146918)
Speaking of Taunt, any time a monster might use an ability, Taunt cuts those chances in half. Under consideration is to report the instances when a monster would have used an ability but didn't. No one seems to trust that it actually works! :D

Yes, in my game it didn't seem like it did much. Observer bias. :)

archolewa July 8, 2020 06:51

Quote:

Originally Posted by DavidMedley (Post 146918)
I think it's pretty useful when you get into trouble with too many monsters having LoS on you.

I don't disagree. I just avoid those situations, or use a scroll/staff of *Destruct* if I end up in them, hence why I didn't get much use out of it. It would I think be much more useful if it came online before *Destruct* was plentiful. As is, by the time you get it, you have the tools you need to avoid these situations, and you've probably got Destruct available unless the RNG's been really stingy.

I feel like it would be most useful if it came online in the early 30's.

Quote:

Originally Posted by DavidMedley (Post 146918)
Speaking of Taunt, any time a monster might use an ability, Taunt cuts those chances in half. Under consideration is to report the instances when a monster would have used an ability but didn't. No one seems to trust that it actually works! :D

I absolutely trust that it works. Killed the Skeleton Lord without him ever doing anything but attacking me (and seeing as how he was stunned, it was pretty pathetic). Similarly, Gothmog and Morgoth hardly ever summoned, and Morgoth only used Mana Storm a handful of times.

Though I didn't expect to cut it in half. That plus Maim Foe is a *huge* reduction in enemy damage capabilities.

Dooks July 9, 2020 14:32

Quote:

Originally Posted by archolewa (Post 146922)
Similarly, Gothmog and Morgoth hardly ever summoned, and Morgoth only used Mana Storm a handful of times..

Just read this part of the bg thread. I think I will be using Taunt more often! I have been having problems with 9-headed hydras and Hounds of Saurons multiplying. I'll try this out and see how things go.

archolewa July 9, 2020 14:47

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dooks (Post 146954)
I have been having problems with 9-headed hydras and Hounds of Saurons multiplying. I'll try this out and see how things go.

I always TO'd or otherwise avoided those two,even with Taunting. Not worth the risk, in my opinion.

Honestly, the Blackguard doesn't really change the calculus of which monsters are worth fighting and which aren't. The only monsters that I found worth fighting as a Blackguard that weren't worth fighting with other characters, was Greater Titans since they don't resist poison.

Well, and I did kill more uniques than I usually do. Normally I skip Ancalagon the Black, but this time I killed him (and would have died if I hadn't gotten my Con up so high, so probably still not worth fighting).

DavidMedley July 19, 2020 10:54

I'm still seeking my first win with a BG. My latest attempt was a Half-Troll. Pretty resilient, tho the low INT obviously presents some issues. Birth buy was 6/6/0/4/3 to hit important levels plus 1 point I can't recall where.

What I wanted to post about was the unique list of detectable monsters. It really makes a big difference, I think, and I want to look at the list of non-detectables a bit more closely in the future. In this Troll run I was in DL 40s and CL 31. I was using Seek Battle a ton, as you might expect, and found myself face-to-face with Huan!!! (native depth 90, SB will not detect) Bit of a tense moment there that I luckily survived. For the record, I later died at DL 57 and CL 33 due to reckless resistance gaps.

Short of ESP, is anyone using additional detection beyond Seek Battle, or are you just doing what I am and hoping to avoid any major mishaps with monsters left undetected?

I'm really glad Nick implemented this change (I had Seek Battle as a clone of Detect Life b/c I didn't know how to program Detect Fear). So much better thematic fit and really interesting imo to have a detectable list that is different from other classes.

archolewa July 19, 2020 15:00

I agree that Detect Fear is an incredibly good detection spell. Probably the best detection spell available to non-mage-bookers (though I haven't played either Druid or Ranger, so I don't know how it compares to Detect Life, I expect Detect Life to be the inverse of Detect Evil though, great early but not so great later). However, I did still use Rods of Detection to find nasties like Quthylugs (I always avoid Quthylugs, way to easy for things to go sideways fighting them), vortices, and the like.

Man, I hate vortices. Almost died a couple of times when I wasn't paying close enough attention and got chaos breathed on by that stationary vortex unique.

Edit: I honestly found High Elf to be the best Blackguard (though perhaps that's not a surprise, since High Elf is effectively "easy" mode for most classes). The high stealth helped keep my stealth from being *too* terrible, the high devices gave me a (often) better ranged option than bows, which Blackguards kind of suck at, and of course High Elves get stat bonuses to all the stats Blackguards care about.

Dunadan would probably be really good too, but I always miss intrinsic See Invisible (or even Infravision!) when I play them.

mrfy July 19, 2020 17:50

Once I find rods of Detection, I always carry and use them.


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