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Old February 10, 2009, 16:48   #1
bebo
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on mages

After gaining some experience in the game with rogues I'm more and more tempted to start playing again with my favorite class: the mage

DISCLAIMER: this post pretends in no way to be an in depth analysis but rather a source of ideas to spark a discussion, with the aim to help players new to the mage or that consistently send them too early to the grave (like me). Input from experienced and/or knowledgable players is not only welcome but asked for . This stems from the fact that I find the "official" angband guide to be not that helpful.

Some thoughts on them (from a diver perspective)

In the past the main problems I've had were:
1) low hitpoints
2) low carrying capacity due to stat allocation (INT,CON,STR - in that order of importance)
3) blindness and confusion screw you, especially at the beginning
4) scarce killing power
5) inability to level up without huge risks due to the very low damage output (see previous point) at lower dlvls

For the positives (apart from their inherent awesomeness ):
6) early access and low fail rates for excellent detection spells (and all spells in general)
7) relatively early access to awesome spells (teleport self, teleport other, haste self)
8) high magic device
9) high spell points (pretty obvious, but might as well state it)

Point 1 can be addressed with very careful play, which is paramount with mages (as my endless deaths taught me)

Point 2, is a relatively minor annoyance in the early game, and can be addressed without too much hassle at later stages

Points 4 and 5 are the real deal breakers - i have been thinking a bit on ways to "overcome" them, here are some thoughts:

- relying on wands and later rods/staves found in the dungeon is crucial, I used to discard them all too easily - particularly wands of light and wonder (which i still think is underpowered)
- a decent longbow (ie enchanted as early as possible) is also crucial; xbows are too heavy
- in the past I have mainly played with high elves, for their stat bonuses (not to mention see invis.) - but the huge exp penalty (200%) only aggravates point 4, impacting negatively consequently on point 6. The solution would be to play as a human; see invis is not that hard to acquire, and detect invisible is probably available early enough to the mage; faster leveling while diving means you are better equipped for anything, the negative being low stats - maybe too low? Gnomes are the second obvious choice, Free Action being an excellent thing to have

Advice? Thoughts?
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Old February 10, 2009, 16:59   #2
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EXP penalties are overrated as an obstacle. A HE mage is no more than 3 character levels behind a human mage. The additional INT, CON,and STR makes a big difference, as does the big bonus in shooting to_hit.

Because of the exponential nature of experience, faster leveling isn't all that much faster, and it can be offset somewhat by diving faster with a more powerful character. The only time it really matters is around cl 25 for haste self.

Also, Rogues get detection relatively early as well, all things considered. It doesn't take much time to reach cl 20, where a rogue has reliable detection for everything except invisible monsters.
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Old February 10, 2009, 17:59   #3
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About point 3, I'd say staffs of teleport self are doubly as important for mages. They have lower failure rates for them, and can be used even when blinded/confused. Many players recommend lingering around these depths were wands are more common in order to get enough money to buy staffs of teleport self.

About points 4 and 5, I'd say dragons. And if dragons hit too hard, hounds then dragons. Most hounds die quickly to arrows; in fact, most everything dies quickly to arrows if they have a nice high to-dam number next to them. For later levels, in version 3.1.0 it is not too hard to find highly enchanted, branded arrows lying around, or at the weapons shop or black market.
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Old February 10, 2009, 21:30   #4
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a few more observations after a few turns of play

- initial gameplay, even when diving, is considerably slower in the earlier levels; the early availability of detect monsters and detect STD's (copyright buzzkill) is offset by the frequent need to rest to replenish sp for magic missile. This though may be because in my game the weapon shop had only xbows available, no bows or slings (dang!) - will have to play with a bow from the start to see how this affects gameplay.

- lack of detect treasure is a pain, item and gold gathering is hampered, and this reflects on the purchases in town after the first recall (and i imagine even the second, until one finds rods of detect treasure, which are fairly common though). I had the added bonus of not finding ?ID in the alchemy shop to identify a ring and some weapons i gathered; what is the optimal play here? sell anyway for id and a small amount of gold (without being able probably to buy them back) or wait, in case thy prove to be helpful (ie free action or resistances at this point). I always quaff all potions and read scrolls to id at this point, preferrably on top of a stair in case of emergency and with a visible monster. with ID available and lucky weapon finds purchases from the magic shop may be available (apart from the second book, which is paramount IMHO)

- cats are REALLY dangerous - their high speed is a pain, and ?phase may not be enough
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Old February 10, 2009, 21:40   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bebo View Post
a few more observations after a few turns of play

- initial gameplay, even when diving, is considerably slower in the earlier levels; the early availability of detect monsters and detect STD's (copyright buzzkill) is offset by the frequent need to rest to replenish sp for magic missile.
Is there any objection to giving mages a significant boost to their starting SP? In addition, how about scaling up their SP per level as well?

There's been much discussion about reforming mages, since they don't do anything particularly well, but that seems like that could be an uncontroversial start.
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Old February 10, 2009, 22:32   #6
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- jellies have proven to be really good targets: high exp reward, no risk (although also no drops); the availability of magic missile makes them a good target for a mage

- i'm starting to believe the purchase of a shovel might be worth it, treasure veins are plentiful and could give a substantial money boost at the beginning
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Old February 10, 2009, 22:49   #7
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Shovels aren't worth it. Getting beyond dl 5 is. And a longbow is definitely worth it, especially playing High Elf. You get a lot more mana that way, as well.
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Old February 10, 2009, 22:58   #8
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Shovels aren't worth it.
But how else are you going to dig out the entirety of level 1? Mages don't have enough strength.

Just because turncount is a 32-bit variable doesn't mean you can't max it out.
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Old February 10, 2009, 23:11   #9
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But how else are you going to dig out the entirety of level 1? Mages don't have enough strength.

Just because turncount is a 32-bit variable doesn't mean you can't max it out.
I tried that once in 2.7.9 with a hacked shovel. It crashed the game. Apparently there were more grids in a level than the engine could handle open floors. Since it's not the sort of problem that ever comes up normally except in variants with open levels I don't know that it was ever fixed for V.
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Old February 11, 2009, 01:26   #10
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It has been fixed in V3.1.0 - I've just tested it. (Not with a clvl1 Mage, though )
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