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Old July 13, 2020, 22:26   #1
fizzix
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4.2.1 Druid feedback

I recently played a Druid on angband live (and on twitch). The character isn't done yet, but he's rapidly approaching the confrontation with Sauron/Morgoth, so I figured I'd give some feedback now on the gameplay. I'll start with some general stuff and then do a detailed feedback on the Druid spells, just like what was done for the Priest.

First. The game is still awesome. I love a lot of the new changes, both the ones for flavor and the ones for gameplay. A lot of the specifics will come below, so I'll focus on the general here. The early game is great, and so is the midgame. Pacing is pretty spot on through say dlevel 50, clevel 30. Forced descent felt a lot more difficult than it used to be (that may be because I'm rusty, but even if it's not, that's not a bad thing!) I didn't play forced descent in this game for that reason. The endgame drags a bit, as it always has, but this might be ok. If most players die before the endgame (and most do) it's ok to have the endgame drag.

I am a big supporter of the new split between movement speed and global speed (which the druid can get in fox form or eagle form). I think this opens up some possibilities, including perhaps a "staff of movement" which gives +1 moves and can be a weaker version of the "staff of speed". The other staff that I think should exist, and be sold in stores too, is a "staff of detect life." The main reason for this staff existing is for flimsy characters like necromancers to not be instakilled by a blood falcon on the other side of a door.

I like that high level resists are now really important. My previous character got one-shot from a double-move nether bolt from a druj. I had never prioritized rnether in the past. But now it's important.

I made pretty good use of slow monster, and hold monster can be tactically useful early on. Stun monster is also pretty good. Confuse monster is only good for a fairly small window. I didn't find much use for sleep or scare, both are too unreliable, and don't buy enough time. You are far better off teleporting away. (Plus monsters can often execute their most dangerous attacks when fleeing, which feels a bit off). In all cases, the wand forms are good but the staff forms were useless. A staff of sleep monster is more likely to wake up a monster than cause it to go to sleep. Staves are heavier and hitting everything in LoS can often be a liability rather than an advantage. Buffs/debuffs has always been a bit of a weak spot for Angband, so it does feel nice to have these be useful and I have to relearn a bit how I approach the game (which is great!)

One suggestion I would have is to update the speed of a monster on recall to include current buffs/debuffs. Does casting slow more than once actually slow the monster more? Does it increase the slow time? Neither? The game doesn't currently tell you.

I love the enemy humanoid reskins. These are pretty much 100% good. The one monster I really think needs some rework is the ents. They are fast, tanky, hit hard, and track you across the level. Rather than nerfing them in a usual way, I might suggest giving them a flag which causes them to fall asleep if the player is out of sight (for some number of turns?) Blood falcons are also a bit of annoyance, but they're only a real problem for characters that have no way of detecting them.

On the endgame non-uniques. The new late game dragons are a nice touch, but super powerful, and probably not worth fighting. The new demon, the fury, can be a bit of a problem because of the move through walls. Demon summoning can get a bit out of hand because of it. I think not allowing monsters to summon while they are in a wall would solve a good chunk of the problems.

I really like the new black breath mechanic. The druid has a spell counter, but I imagine it's kind of a pain for other characters, and probably necessitates hoarding vigor mushrooms. The movement of the ringwraiths to later level bosses leaves a bit of a hole in the midgame uniques. I think some of the late game uniques could be weakened and moved earlier to take their slots. I'd target monsters like the Phoenix, Tevildo, Feagwath and Cantoras for "demotion" I'd also like to see the three stone trolls weakened and dropped to dl25 or so. After all, these monsters weren't anything special.

Monsters with trample probably should not be summonable. While it makes sense from a reality perspective, it's really not fair for a player to fight a long lengthy battle with Lorgan only to have him get trampled by his summon at 10% health. Stuff like that is very deflating.

Onto the spells!
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Old July 13, 2020, 22:54   #2
archolewa
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I thought the Phoenix *was* a a midgame unique? At least, I usually encounter it first between DL 50 and 60. Granted, you don't want to fight it usually when you first encounter it, but I find you almost never want to fight the midgame uniques the first time you encounter them.
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Old July 13, 2020, 22:57   #3
fizzix
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Lesser Charms:

Detect life: Absolutely necessary staple. Class would be unplayable without it

Fox form: Nice early game utility/escape spell. I didn't make as much use of it as I didn't really understand the +1 moves mechanic at start.

Remove Hunger: Utility, saves an inventory slot. Really shines later on when paired with the regen spell

Stinking Cloud: The first damage spell the druid gets. Damaging things early on is a bit difficult for druids and there's some room here for improvement

Confuse Monster: This is the prime way a druid survives between cl 5-20, after which is falls off to near uselessness as most of the monsters resist

Slow Monster: Very useful spell all the way through the game. Speed is super important in angband and a speed debuff is one of the strongest debuffs you can give a monster


Gifts of Nature
---------------

Cure Poison: Only has niche uses

Resist Poison: Double resist is always useful, and this guy makes poison based monsters a piece of cake

Turn Stone to Mud: One of the best utility spells in the game.

Sense Surroundings: Mapping is one of those very nice things to have that isn't absolutely necessary. I'm rarely willing to devote a slot to it, but when I get it for free, I spam cast it.

Lightning Strike: I didn't make too much use of this. The stun feels like it wore off way to quickly and the damage was not worth the mana cost

Earth Rising: This spell I did make a lot of use of. Beam spells can be very efficiently cast and this guy is no exception. Nice alternative to just giving the druid "lightning bolt" For a while this was my prime method of damaging monsters along with rods and artifact activations.

Creature Dominion:
----------------------

Trance: Never made use of this spell

Mass Sleep: Never even cast this spell. It could actually work, but my experience with staves was never positive here. Needs second opinion.

Become Pukel-man: This spell comes too late for a character to make use of. You can't reliably cast it until the fairly late game at which point the -5 speed is a killer. If I had to offer an alternative, I would remove the speed penalty from this guy (and maybe the damage reduction) and keep the acid immunity. It would then be a niche spell to deal with acid monsters. I would then add a transform spell to book 2 maybe that does what this guy does, gives you damage reduction, extra melee damage, a speed debuff. The goal of this guy would be to give the druid a way to handle groups of lowish level meleers like orcs and trolls.

Eagle's Flight: A very nicely designed spell. Useful for tactical repositioning, especially in conjunction with the regen spell. In the correct terrain, it can essentially be used as controlled blink which is very powerful.

Bear Form: I didn't realize until I got bear form that you keep your weapon stats when transforming. I was afraid this spell would be useless because by this point I had found some powerful endgame weapons. However, this is not the case, and bear form is actually a really cool spell.

Nature Craft:
----------------

Tremor: I've never found earthquake spells to be useful. They're not reliable enough that you can get a wall where you need it. And the fact that they only sometimes remove a monster (if that's the case) make them too finicky. You can't use them to spot remove a dangerous monster or to modify terrain except in advance. Perhaps I can make use of it in the final battles in lieu of destruction.

Haste Self: Super powerful spell. An insta cast before every battle once you get it, even at 50% fail rate.

Revitalize: Endgame spell to counter drains from black breath

Rapid Regeneration: I love, LOVE, the design of this spell. This is an amazing alternative to just another heal spell. It gives the druid a unique tactical combat strategy which often involves casting eagle flight, moving safely away, detransforming and regenning health. A+++ Would recommend considering giving the druid a weaker version in the town books.

Herbal Curing: Niche use to combat black breath. If black breath wasn't a thing, this spell would be pointless.

Wild Forces:
---------------

At the point of the game where I got this book, using spells for damage wasn't really useful compared to bear form and melee. With one exception which I'll get to.

Meteor Swarm: If I had this spell at CL30 and it was castable then it probably would have found use. But I didn't, and by the time I got it, it was underpowered. The fact that the meteors destroy items means that you can't use it in situations where you care about loot which greatly diminishes its utility.

Rift: This is the most useful spell in this book. The ability to reposition a monster is powerful

Ice Storm: I think this spell could be more useful if the stun lasted longer. As it is, it seems to go away after just one turn for every monster I cast it on.

Volcanic Eruption: I haven't figured out how to use this spell usefully

River of Lightning: This spell winds up being a utility spell to mop up weak level monsters. It's such a late spell that I haven't really found much use at all for it.


Extra notes on the transform spells. I really love the addition of transmutations to Angband. They're a new quality of spell that requires some tactical thought. You get a buff, often a substantial one, at the expense of not being able to use your items or cast other spells unless you transform out and waste another turn retransforming back. I think some additional descriptions in the transform spells would help, like letting you know that you keep all the equipment and weapon bonuses. I really think a low level melee focused transform (like what pukel-man is supposed to be?) could really benefit the druid class, as it would make you look forward to those late game transforms. The 5th book is underwhelming, the druid just doesn't feel like it makes it through damaging with spells. But it's possible that's just because I found it too late and my weapons are too good.

Other spells I might consider giving the druid is some kind of passwall or teleport through wall spell. I think this would dovetail nicely with the tactical repositioning gameplay that I found is necessary with a druid. However, it might be too powerful that it obsoletes eagle form.

In my ideal world, angband would have a "charm animal" spell but that would take a lot of work.

The last spell I could recommend is a "summon tree" spell which basically makes a tree at a specific spot for some number of turns. The tree doesn't attack, but has a finite amount of hitpoints, and monsters will try to kill it like they would a door.

Overall, the game is a lot of fun, Druid is a lot of fun. Good work Nick and company!
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Old July 13, 2020, 23:02   #4
fizzix
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Quote:
Originally Posted by archolewa View Post
I thought the Phoenix *was* a a midgame unique? At least, I usually encounter it first between DL 50 and 60. Granted, you don't want to fight it usually when you first encounter it, but I find you almost never want to fight the midgame uniques the first time you encounter them.
So Uvatha was a unique that used to appear in the mid 40s and you could kill him. He was tanky but a pure melee monster. Adunaphel was another that you could handle at depth, and you wanted to because she would track you from across the level and just be a constant pain in the bum. Neither could do that much damage to a character to one shot them when you first come across them.

Phoenix is native to 54 and it has two super powerful breaths. You either need to have fire immunity or double resist for it to be possible to fight the Phoenix. And still it's very fast moving and melee is a pain without immunity.
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Old July 13, 2020, 23:07   #5
archolewa
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fizzix View Post
Phoenix is native to 54 and it has two super powerful breaths. You either need to have fire immunity or double resist for it to be possible to fight the Phoenix. And still it's very fast moving and melee is a pain without immunity.
OK, so you mean midgame uniques your character can actually fight, not uniques that show up in the midgame. That's pretty much just the stone trolls in my experience (and maybe Beorn, though I'm not sure he shows up *quite* in the midgame yet).

I'm surprised you don't make heavy use of magical mapping. I use it all the time, for every class. I pretty much always reserve an inventory slot for it, and anytime I don't have it, I feel like I'm flying blind.

As far as summon tree, what about summon huorns? Sure, they don't block line of sight, but they'd be incredibly tanky summons who could still block enemies from reaching you (or from summoning their own).

Also, if the Druid's quake spell is anything like the Blackguard's I don't think it would be useful in lieu of Destruction against Morgoth. I tried it against Maeglin, and at least the Blackguard's version just doesn't disrupt LOS as well as Destruction does.
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Old July 13, 2020, 23:15   #6
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Originally Posted by archolewa View Post
OK, so you mean midgame uniques your character can actually fight, not uniques that show up in the midgame. That's pretty much just the stone trolls in my experience (and maybe Beorn, though I'm not sure he shows up *quite* in the midgame yet).
The trolls, rogrog (although he's been beefed up a bit I think), lokkak, khim and ibun (and even mim I guess), castamir perhaps. There aren't too many, so I think there can be some more here.
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Old July 14, 2020, 04:32   #7
DavidMedley
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fizzix View Post
Become Pukel-man: This spell comes too late for a character to make use of. You can't reliably cast it until the fairly late game at which point the -5 speed is a killer.!
Minor quibble: -5 speed is much less of a penalty late in the game.

Interesting suggestions on changes to this. Another idea could be movement-only slowness, and we'd need to throw in no tele as well.
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Old July 14, 2020, 09:35   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fizzix View Post
Lightning Strike: I didn't make too much use of this. The stun feels like it wore off way to quickly and the damage was not worth the mana cost
I used a few casts of this to stun every tough opponent even if I was going to kill them in melee.

Quote:
Become Pukel-man: This spell comes too late for a character to make use of. You can't reliably cast it until the fairly late game at which point the -5 speed is a killer. If I had to offer an alternative, I would remove the speed penalty from this guy (and maybe the damage reduction) and keep the acid immunity. It would then be a niche spell to deal with acid monsters. I would then add a transform spell to book 2 maybe that does what this guy does, gives you damage reduction, extra melee damage, a speed debuff. The goal of this guy would be to give the druid a way to handle groups of lowish level meleers like orcs and trolls.
This certainly wasn't my experience - I used this spell to handle 90% of my fights from the time I got the book (around 1500') to my death at 1750' or so. It definitely works to plough through orcs and trolls with no damage at all (just look out for occasional melee hard-hitters like giants). In combination with Slow Monster and Haste Self I used it against all the melee uniques around that depth, including the tougher orc uniques and Bill, Bert, Tom. The -5 speed is obviously significant but just don't use it around monsters with very high damage attacks where a double-attack is a game-ending risk, and damage reduction is huge against small monsters.(It didn't contribute to my death, by the way, I wasn't using it then )
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Old July 14, 2020, 14:40   #9
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I probably haven't played 4.2 enough to take the following statements to the bank, but I think if there is one thing that I really miss about the previous versions of Angband and the monster overhaul is Uvatha and Adunaphel not showing up in the DL40s. I think Fizzix makes a good argument for them (or something like them) being there. I think I'm a bit too attached to my fear of Fagweath to have him demoted, though. I think muddling with iconic monsters too much kinda "breaks" the "history" aspect of the game over time that players have developed with different memorable monsters. I mean, lots of people have plenty of memories of Faegwath and to have him suddenly be a low level 40s unique would just be unsettling and odd at best.

Had I read your comments on the Ents (and I would extend it to Huorns) after first playing 4.2 I'd be 100% behind you in your suggestion but I've slowly adapted to their difficulty and feel their unique behavior, albeit very annoying, add an urgency to certain situations that make the game more interesting. I actually find Huorns much more problematic than Ents because by the time they show up I don't have any good means of dealing with them and end up using a lot of ?phases or leaving the level. I feel like Ents are less common than Huorns as well.

I suppose, since we're on the topic of Druids and nature (I admittedly know very little about the class in its current form as I haven't yet played it in the current version), but it might be interesting to distinguish the Druid class even more by giving them a spell that pacifies nature: Any natural creature in the game that is not evil and not awake at the start of the level can be pacified; made neutral for a time based duration or until harmed. I suppose they could have a small chance to resist the spell, and maybe certain reputation-bearing natural creatures like sabertooth cats could have a higher chance to resist the spell.

They wouldn't be asleep they'd just lose interest in the player as a target for a time, so they would stop pursuing the player for, say, 30+1d80 turns. It would be an expensive spell early on with a high fail rate so it wouldn't always trivialize ents and huorns, but I think given how annoying these 'monsters' are it's perhaps not a bad idea to give players who hate dealing with them an option to make them less bothersome without completely neutralizing them as a threat.

Moving the Troll Trio lower would further limit how long 'slay troll' is useful for in the game. Though, I admit, in terms of flavor and "history" I would not be bothered by having these trolls weaker. I would mind seeing iconic uniques like The Phoenix, Cantoras, Faegwath or other deep ones demoted, though. I suppose having Tuvildo demoted wouldn't be irksome as he is like 500X stronger than his strongest servant and he would be more interesting showing up at a shallower depth.

One minor quibble I have about Angband is that there are *very* few spells that a Warrior cannot cast. I think having detect life is a great hole in the Warrior's kit of utility spells he has to make due without and giving him access to it would be an unwelcome buff to a class I love to play and would make diving much safer. I suppose giving blood falcons the EVIL flag could solve the issue for weaker non-life detectors, but I personally wouldn't be a fan of this solution. I think weakness holes like this one help distinguish the classes from one another and given that the early game is one of the more fun parts of the game to play dying early on isn't such a big deal.
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Old July 14, 2020, 16:04   #10
fizzix
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Originally Posted by drquicksilver View Post
This certainly wasn't my experience - I used this spell to handle 90% of my fights from the time I got the book (around 1500') to my death at 1750' or so. It definitely works to plough through orcs and trolls with no damage at all (just look out for occasional melee hard-hitters like giants). In combination with Slow Monster and Haste Self I used it against all the melee uniques around that depth, including the tougher orc uniques and Bill, Bert, Tom. The -5 speed is obviously significant but just don't use it around monsters with very high damage attacks where a double-attack is a game-ending risk, and damage reduction is huge against small monsters.(It didn't contribute to my death, by the way, I wasn't using it then )
Interesting. When I was CL 30 (when the spell is first castable) I had 70ish SP and the fail rate was 50%, which meant that I couldn't reliably cast it and haste and I always prioritized haste. Also, at this point I was at DL 50+ and none of the monsters you mentioned (except for the unique trolls) was anything close to a concern. By the time it was castable, I already could wade through all those weak monsters without caring about the spell.

I didn't feel like I was playing quickly, but I guess I'm still a relatively fast player.

I also found something like 4 copies of book 4 before I found the first copy of book 3.
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