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Old January 8, 2016, 00:00   #1
kandrc
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Experiences of an Angband player playing Nethack

I've been playing Angband since Frog-knows. Won literally hundreds of times. I tried Nethack for a few days back in college, probably 1996. Dipping in fountains, nymphs stealing my stuff, I quickly determined that it's silly and quit. I might have had 3 hours in it, and after 20 years, I think that counts me as a new player.

Somebody on these forums (forget the handle) is a recent convert from Nethack, and his(?) posts got me curious, so I decided to try it again. It's widely regarded as among the most difficult games ever created. I rarely, if ever, see Angband on such lists, so I decided it might be an intersecting challenge.

Starting from essentially zero, after two weeks and in my third attempt, I ascended a chaotic elf wizard. I then ascended my next game, a lawful dwarf valkyrie. Another death and I ascended a weaponless, wishless, polymorphless vegetarian monk. In 6 weeks, I've ascended 5 times with 4 deaths for a 55% win ratio.

And I'm bored.

Over 20 years of Angband and I'm still playing happily. Six weeks of Nethack, and I still think it's silly, it's easy even when you self impose conducts, and it's far too scripted to be replayable (and yet there are people with hundreds of ascensions; I don't know how they do it!).

So my take: Angband >> Nethack
And it's harder, too. Kudos to those people who make those "hardest games ever" lists for putting a roguelike on them, but they're putting the wrong one.

No intention of starting any kind of flame war here, but just in case, I'm wearing Narya and a blessed fireproof +5 cloak of displacement.

EDIT:

Oh! And the eating! Don't even get me started on the eating! Nethack is a game of eating. But don't eat too much, or your dexterity will go down! WTF?

Last edited by kandrc; January 8, 2016 at 00:09.
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Old January 8, 2016, 00:33   #2
Estie
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Nethack would be more difficult (than Angband) if you wouldnt use spoilers. Some of the procedures are so weird that youll never figure them out by yourself (at least this was the case 20 years back when i played, maybe they have upgraded the hint system).

Whether that is the kind of difficulty you like is another question. For me Nethack was great when it ended with the acquirement of the amulet. Read blessed scroll of teleportation, exit, game is won. All content that was added after is grindy, aggravating and anticlimactic imo.

The last thing I spent my time with in Nethack was to make Excalibur +30. It was an arduous process, much harder than simply ascending, but it kept me busy for a while getting it with various classes. When they nerfed the process for whatever reason, I moved on.
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Old January 8, 2016, 00:52   #3
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Yeah, it's mostly about spoilers.

My "favorite" is that using a Wand of Digging/Striking (IDC) in the Sokoban levels will decrease your luck... without giving you any indication... and it'll just mean that you can insta-die to various effects later.

There's also the classic fall-down-stairs-wielding-a-cockatrice-corpse scenario which -- while fun in isolation -- ultimately (game-play-wise) just means "do-X-to-avoid-dying" (in extremis).
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Old January 8, 2016, 01:04   #4
kandrc
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Estie View Post
maybe they have upgraded the hint system).
No such luck. The game's probably impossible without spoilers. For instance, one of my deaths was because I (attempted to) sacrifice a cockatrice that I killed on the alter. There is no in-game clue that you touch things to sacrifice them. The character had already completed the castle and was about to enter Gehennom. I was working on getting crowned to fill a resistance hole. Instantly stoned.

And the invocation ritual is completely convoluted. How is anybody ever supposed to figure that out?

In another game, I was level 13 and had just gotten to Minetown (ridiculously high level to get there the first time). I had a ring of polymorph and a ring of polymorph control, and I was chaotic, so I polymorrphed into a master mind flayer, killed all of the guards and shopkeepers, took my giant pile of money to the cross-aligned temple and bought several points of divine protection. Despite having been pretty deep in the main dungeon, I hadn't found an alter yet, and I needed Magicbane, so I killed the priest and sacrificed a gnome or something like that. I'd read enough spoilers that I should have known better, here, but I didn't. Despite being chaotic, in killing so many peacefulsI had transgressed, and the alter converted me instead of the other way around. According to the spoilers, you can't complete your quest if you are not your starting alignment, so I had to suicide (this character was almost endgame strong already). I suspect that a helm of opposite alignment would have allowed me to complete the quest, but I didn't think of that until later, and the spoilers aren't clear on it. Regardless, convoluted.
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Old January 8, 2016, 02:54   #5
AnonymousHero
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No such luck. The game's probably impossible without spoilers.
Well, I heard mention of a player who did it in under a month without spoilers. (Or was it two months? The details are fuzzy).
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Old January 8, 2016, 03:25   #6
kandrc
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Well, I heard mention of a player who did it in under a month without spoilers. (Or was it two months? The details are fuzzy).
I don't believe it. Not *completely* unspoiled, anyway. Imagine you're searching for stairs in the lowest level before Molluch's Sanctum, and you're unspoiled, so you don't even know about Molluch's Sanctum. You've mapped the whole thing, smashed all the boulders, no stairs, but you do find a vibrating square, so of course you think, "hey, I should traipse back up to Minetown and buy seven candles (which I didn't already buy and burn for light) and put them in this candelabrum, then I should come all the say back down here, light the candelabrum, ring this bell (which I didn't already use all the charges on), and read this book." Non sequitur much?

Otherwise unspoiled aside from that little bit of esoterica, I can believe that somebody with rougelike experience can ascend Nethack in a month.
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Old January 8, 2016, 03:49   #7
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Isn't the Oracle specifically there to tell you how to do things via in-game hints? Plus there's rumors to be found, fortune cookies, etc. I too have heard of players beating the game unspoiled, though doing it in a month would take absurd amounts of free time, I think.
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Old January 8, 2016, 05:42   #8
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I don't believe it. Not *completely* unspoiled, anyway. Imagine you're searching for stairs in the lowest level before Molluch's Sanctum, and you're unspoiled, so you don't even know about Molluch's Sanctum. You've mapped the whole thing, smashed all the boulders, no stairs, but you do find a vibrating square, so of course you think, "hey, I should traipse back up to Minetown and buy seven candles (which I didn't already buy and burn for light) and put them in this candelabrum, then I should come all the say back down here, light the candelabrum, ring this bell (which I didn't already use all the charges on), and read this book." Non sequitur much?
That's not actually that obscure compared to other things in puzzle games from around the same era. Plus the book, the bell and the candle is a fantasy cliche.
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Old January 8, 2016, 07:27   #9
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Maybe the unspoiled ascension happened before the candelabrum bit was added. But yes, I remember that the oracle reveals this part (iirc if you give it money).

Remembering that there is google, I found this:

https://groups.google.com/forum/#!to...ck/wci4E96iKc4
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Old January 8, 2016, 09:14   #10
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Nethack is definitely silly. Tried a couple times, got bored quickly. If you want a real challenge roguelike with a story and straightforward gameplay, try ADOM. The new version, with all extra features/fixed after the crowdfunding, is amazing.
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