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Old March 25, 2019, 10:51   #6
Join Date: Nov 2013
Posts: 1,194
Grotug is on a distinguished road
tl:dr: don't underestimate the factor that rod rarity plays in their power assessment.

I've always found rods very balanced compared to staves and wands. Their rarity combined with their recharge time is a pretty big penalty as is the lack of an option to recharge. My impression is that most players who rely on devices to deal damage use wands, not rods. I've never played MAngband, but given the general principle of 'all things are equal' I think the stack of rods of acid bolts is still inferior to whatever else you've found by then (ie all the other things you find in the time that you find ten rods of acid bolts are likely to eclipse the benefit of a literally limitless supply of acid bolts).

Don't rods also do less damage than wands? By the time you've found 10 rods of acid bolts, you've also found something else that is twice as efficient as dealing damage as the 10 rods, like 18 wands of acid bolts that deal more damage per zap, fail less often and are 50% lighter. For my money the weaknesses of rods outweigh the benefits: unless I find three or four elemental bolt rods in quick succession (which sometimes happens) they are just not worth the bother for me as a primary source of dealing damage. For me rods are a stop-gap until I find a better way to deal damage.

The other thing to consider is: what are you doing while you are waiting to have collected enough rods to rely on them solely? Surely it's a pain to pile them at home until you have enough of them that they replace your wands? And if you're carrying both wands and rods, well that's a lot of weight. And then consider the following scenario: you spend 10 hours patiently collecting rods of acid bolts. You've accumulated 8; and you're excited to almost reach the magic number of infinite acid bolts, and then you die. I imagine this penalty alone is more than enough to compensate whatever imagined benefits a stack of 10 rods of acid bolts has over other means of dealing damage. As such, as someone who tries to win games relatively quickly, rods of healing are almost useless. Now, if you spend hours and hours collecting them and turn count doesn't matter, (make a rest key for 10,000 turns) I suppose they can have some utility; but they are still used as rapid regeneration, not as a reliable save given their high fail rate (though I admit I don't know what the fail rate is for a level 50 mage). Not to mention that you'll have collected 100 !*healing* in the time you collect ten rods of healing.

Rods are also weakened by their recharge time being independent of @'s speed.

In conclusion: Rods' rarity combined with their recharge time means there's almost always a better option by the time you have a significant stack of them. Therefore rods seem better than they actually are. The allure of a device that never needs to be charged, never runs out, deals infinite damage is tempered by the reality of what it takes to collect enough of them to realize that dream, and all the other things you find and collect in the time you reach it. By that time an infinite acid bolt machine gun is about as exciting as a virtually free magic missile spell (which eventually becomes free by virtue of regeneration). The reality is that all rods seem better than they actually are, not just damage ones. I've often been tantalized by the allure of finding enough rods of speed that I'd get unlimited temporary speed; but before I've ever found enough of them that dream is always shattered by a better one: I've found enough powerful speed gear to render a stack of rods of speed obsolete before I've ever gotten the stack big enough for the infinite speed bonus. Or put more simply: before the stack is complete the dream is shattered by a better one: Morgoth is already dead.
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Last edited by Grotug; March 25, 2019 at 11:01.
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