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Old September 16, 2020, 19:56   #1
drquicksilver
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YAWP, 4.2.1 mage thoughts, movement speed artifact balance

Mage has always been my favourite class and in 4.2.1 it still is. After more failed gnome mages than I care to count, I finally won with a high-elf (first mage win in any version).


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I chose to play almost exclusively with the spells; I didn't really find any good damaging wands in the early game so I simply skipped most of the high-HP targets (including the most of the early uniques) until I had enough SP to kill them. I did get the two best mouse rings I've ever seen early (both <+4> with only -5 and -6 to damage - not that I was using melee anyway) and I had Legendary stealth. I hit level 30 at 2100' and I spent a long time around that depth looking for fruitlessly for the first dungeon spell book. I don't know exactly why this one survived through that point when all the gnomes died - maybe it was the extra HP but it doesn't feel like it. I think I just got better at staying away from risky targets.

The best part of Angband for me is when a lucky but unusual find makes a playthrough unique; for this character it was at level 32 when I found a vampire pit and cleared it slowly and painstakingly by fireballing from a distance and resting often. The message "the pair of leather boots are unaffected" kept me intrigued and determined to finish off all the pesky blue Vs and it turned out to be Wormtongue's boots. These are fantastic for a mage. I gave up waiting for Arcane Control and decided to dive, carefully clearing small vaults and special rooms with Teleport Other. A chest at 2850' gave me not one but two sources of telepathy - Theoden and a cap and I finally found Arcane Control at 2900' just lying on the floor. I used my new mana bolt to kill Rogrog and he dropped Thorin's shield and it felt like the tide had turned.

At this point I started having too much fun clearing out vaults with stealth and teleport other and built up a very good collection of rods and consumables, although not many useful artifacts. I was again waiting for a dungeon spell book and again it didn't show up and I dived further; at 3700' I found the Tome of Power lying next to the stairs! I headed down - nice finds included the Arkenstone of Thrain, and an elven cloak of the magi allowing me to get Legendary stealth with only one mouse ring on. I hit 4900' at level 39 and found Narya, and a few levels later the One Ring just lying in the middle of a tiny little special room - not even walled in with permanent rock. I didn't wear it because I didn't want to lose my stealth. Speed rings were plentiful but stingy - I must have found seven or eight rings of +9 or +10 but only ever found two above +10, being +11 and +12.

I wanted to try killing Morgoth with Mana Storm so I knew I needed levels and I'd neglected xp by concentrating on vaults and loot. I was worried it would take forever to reach level 50 but quite the contrary. I had been running around with a mouse ring and a speed ring, switching to double speed rings for fights, but I replaced that second speed ring with Narya for the immunity and the stat boost; did I think 3, maybe 4 sweeps of 4850'/4900' killing mostly Ds, Ls, Ws and Us and uniques, avoiding things which breathed disenchantment or shards (my two resistance holes) and that got me to level 50. Generally I focused on monsters with less than 5000 hp and xp around 10x their hp. Feanorian raiders are suprisingly good xp for example. I was interested to note that you get a lot more potions from killing monsters than raiding vaults - I built up a load of healing/*healing*/restore mana/enlightenment in this brief phase of the game. I also found plenty of potions of experience, I suspect at least 10, to help me on my way to level 50.

Sauron was then no harder than the other late-game uniques (no harder than Lungorthin or Measse, I felt). Morgoth I was massively over-prepared for. I did wear the One Ring for the final fight but mostly because I could; really the only benefits were finally getting Resist Disenchant (which doesn't matter) and with Narya I had only CON 18/200 so the extra stats just pushed me up to my maximum HP. I only made +21 base speed with that permutation but I kept myself hasted with my rods of speed. It's funny that the One Ring was such a tiny benefit for this character - partly it obviously benefits melee characters more with the (+15,+15); similarly for melee characters it is great to get telepathy from a ring slot but I was quite happy getting telepathy and +3 CON from my weapon slot; finally the only stats I really cared about were INT and CON and I'd already found an equipment combination which had those close enough to max.

I completely forgot to take my stack of *Destruction* with me so I fought Morgoth entirely in open areas. I had a bad moment when after the first time I teleported him away he got stuck behind a permanent walled vault and I ended up dropping to level 49 (and nearly level 48) from the experience drain as I tried to find him again. It took me quite a while to notice I had a rod of restoration in my pack! There were a couple of turns when I could have died as he summoned multiple unique L/W/p and I had to teleport them away one by one but they didn't all cast their high damage spells at once (in fact, they didn't cast them at all). In retrospect I could have cast Door Creation but I never used that spell and forgot about it. Otherwise I just used four potions of restore mana, 3 potions of *Healing* and five charges from my stack of rods of healing; used Explosion to push him away from me when he got too close and was liberal in using Genocide/Mass Genocide whenever I felt like it.

Thoughts on the mage class:

I love the new spell list. I used every spell except Door Creation (which I forgot about) and Dimension Door (which I would probably have used if I didn't have Boots of Wormtongue). I particularly like the earlyish game when monsters with elemental resistances and vulnerabilities really matter - it's very satisfying for some reason choosing the right spell for the right opponent, with different tradeoffs (destroying items on the floor) and different damages. At a certain point in the game when the typical monster just has so many HPs that they take forever to kill with fire ball or frost bolt, mana bolt comes along (although in this particular game I did wait a long time for that spell book!), but it is then almost disappointing to have a simple unresistable spell which does no item damage and is the right choice in almost every circumstance.

I hardly used attack wands/rods in this game although I certainly have in others - partly just depends if you find a good one early. I did collect Wands of Drain Life and I used them for certain high-value kills (especially some early kills on Great Wyrms which I couldn't manage with my limited SP in "one round"). I used Tap Magical Energy a little, especially when INT was low-ish and SP was very limited but for the most part I stealthed around and limited myself to monsters I could kill with my own SP pool. I never spent the time to properly understand what kinds of wands and what size stack you need to get the best use out of it. I used slow monster from a wand or rod on almost every opponent; once I had a staff of speed I used that whenever I wanted to kill a particularly tough monster; once I had a rod of speed I used that almost every time.

Mana Channel I used constantly from the point that I could afford it and I had enough SP to make it worthwhile.

Detection seems annoyingly high failure rate and I mostly just cast the individual spells.

Thrust Away has too high a failure chance and instead I heavily used Explosion to keep monsters back from me and stun them.

Mana Storm feels like another big step-up in power: subjectively as big as the step up from Frost Bolt to Mana Bolt. However it seems too annoying to use until you have, say, INT 18/200 and level 49. That's probably fine I guess.

Thoughts on movement speed and artifact balance:

The +10 movement speed on Wormtongue is game changing. Once I understood how it worked (and once I had some other source of global speed) it gave me such an advantage in the classic shoot-and-scoot gameplay which is a natural style for mages anyway. At first glance I imagined that Wormtongue was still strictly inferior to a set of Boots of Speed because +10 movement speed only improvements movement; but given the way the energy system works and turns are assigned, the difference in the way it stacks with other speed, once you pick up some other sources of global speed it's fantastic. (As an aside, this seems likely to be completely opaque to new players; I was an active player when the energy system was first introduced so I understand how it works but it's certainly not intuitive).

The thing which, I believe, saves it from being a game-breaking attribute is that in the standard artifact set it's only available on this one pair of boots and that the boots slot is valuable - Boots of Speed are relatively common past a certain point in the game and you are more-or-less guaranteed to get a +10 set, or a +8/+9 set of Elvenkind. So Wormtongue ends up being a choice which then restricts your flexibility elsewhere - to get full benefit from it you will certainly give up one ring slot for a Ring of Speed and maybe even two, and there are other great rings to wear. Of course if you find Ringil or Cubragol you're good to go - but those are rare finds.

Similar to extra blows, then, it feels like movement speed can be balanced in a standard artifact set where you can design the tradeoffs required to take advantage of it but is really hard to balance in random artifacts.

In conclusion - a fun class, a fun game, thanks for all the hard work!
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Old September 16, 2020, 21:59   #2
DavidMedley
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Tangential to your excellent AAR: Should teleport other go into vaults when TP self always stays out of them?
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Old September 17, 2020, 09:55   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidMedley View Post
Tangential to your excellent AAR: Should teleport other go into vaults when TP self always stays out of them?
+1 for this
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Old September 19, 2020, 03:06   #4
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Originally Posted by DavidMedley View Post
Tangential to your excellent AAR: Should teleport other go into vaults when TP self always stays out of them?
I'm guessing Morgoth wasn't in the vault so much as the vault was between him and @ and he kept unsuccessfully trying to go through the vault as the shortest path.
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Old September 19, 2020, 04:36   #5
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do movements speed bonuses and base speed bonuses stack ?
and if they do, do they follow along just one bonus curve?


thoughts:

1. if they follow along the same curve, then when base speed becomes available, having some of that curve fillied by movement speed is actually detrimental

2. if they don't .. too much speed.
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Old September 19, 2020, 17:01   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sky View Post
do movements speed bonuses and base speed bonuses stack ?
and if they do, do they follow along just one bonus curve?


thoughts:

1. if they follow along the same curve, then when base speed becomes available, having some of that curve fillied by movement speed is actually detrimental

2. if they don't .. too much speed.
My understanding is that global speed affects how quickly you regain energy, while movement speed effects how expensive movement is. So they stack in the sense that speed makes you recover energy faster, while movement speed means you need less energy to recover.

As far as too much speed...eh. On standard artifacts at least movement speed is incredibly rare. As mentioned earlier, I think it might just be Wormtongue's Boots, and there are plenty of other boots out there that will be more useful (i.e. Boots of Speed).

Wormtongue's Boots and the movement speed bonus are very nice early in the game, but I find they tend to be less important once you start finding Boots of Speed.

Can't comment on randarts. Don't play with them, don't care about them.
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Old September 19, 2020, 17:07   #7
drquicksilver
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sky View Post
do movements speed bonuses and base speed bonuses stack ?
and if they do, do they follow along just one bonus curve?


thoughts:

1. if they follow along the same curve, then when base speed becomes available, having some of that curve fillied by movement speed is actually detrimental

2. if they don't .. too much speed.

It's separate, not the same curve. It reduces energy cost rather than increasing the rate of energy gain - exactly like multiple bow shots per round or fast casting.

This was my point, really - it's not inherently unbalanced and in the standard artefact gain it's only available on one set of boots (where it's a tradeoff against other good boots) and certain shape changing forms (which are only available to particular classes and have their own tradeoffs).

In random artefacts it can be though...
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Old September 21, 2020, 08:52   #8
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Originally Posted by drquicksilver View Post
In random artefacts it can be though...
I need to check what would happen if movement speed is added to a cursed artifact... because the code isn't made for negative movement speed.
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Old September 22, 2020, 02:27   #9
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Originally Posted by drquicksilver View Post
It's separate, not the same curve. It reduces energy cost rather than increasing the rate of energy gain - exactly like multiple bow shots per round or fast casting.

This was my point, really - it's not inherently unbalanced and in the standard artefact gain it's only available on one set of boots (where it's a tradeoff against other good boots) and certain shape changing forms (which are only available to particular classes and have their own tradeoffs).

In random artefacts it can be though...
keep in mind that i'm flying blind here, i have never played with these new bonuses as i am perpetually stuck on 4.1.3

what i'm thinking is that, by the endgame, in randarts games at least, it's fairly normal to have Spd +35, as smaller +Spd bonuses tend to be scattered around the non-boots artifacts and they add up quite a lot.


So, when you get to the Morgoth fight, if you got +35 Spd, an Haste, AND your move energy cost is reduced, you get to pillardance Morgoth, which would require ... uh .. about +175 (roughly) in old 4.1 terms.
Obviously you do not get the full damage bonus but it's still waaaay overpowered.

A system that does what Nick wants without breaking anything would need to add X "invisible" speed to the same curve, So, if you have +10 normal speed and +20 move speed, you get to attack twice PLUS one extra move = the equivalent of +30 Spd.

But, if you have +10 Spd and +10 move, you get 2 attacks and *sometimes* a second move.
This way the original Spd curve does not get nerfed in attack, and you still get a move bonus, but only as-if it was normal speed stacking.




if this is confusing, this of it this way: "an artifact bonus that gives you +1 full round of attack". That would be overpowered, no?

Because for a character with +0 Spd, that's the equivalent of a Haste potion. But for a character with +10, that's the equivalent of +20 Spd. And to character that is at Spd +30 a full extra round would need +70 Spd (roughly). That's the equivalent of adding +40 Spd.
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Old September 22, 2020, 02:43   #10
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Speed does not work that way, either in 4.1.x or 4.2.x. +70 speed is 4.9 times normal, which is the highest speed attainable; even if you did get +175 speed, it would still be only 4.9 times normal. If you're at +15 speed - 2.5 times normal - you're already so fast you can never double your speed.

Remember, too, that movement speed only affects movement (walking/running); non-moving actions, like actually attacking a monster, still cost the normal 100 energy. You can't pillardance someone through movement speed alone, nor can you get more attacks per unit of time.
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