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Old March 22, 2016, 21:01   #1
Therem Harth
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Thoughts on endgame

So I managed to get a Dwarven Priest ("Hippy") to DL99 - not cleanly, mind, the game was heavily save-scummed. But anyway...

Things were interesting for a while. I was diving rather ridiculously fast, dungeon level 70-something when Hippy was in the mid-30ish character levels.

I eventually quit (for good) after a dozen or so bouts with Sauron. Basically he had too many HP, I was not doing enough damage, it got into lengthy battles of attrition for which I lacked the resources. Mostly this involved repeatedly hitting macro keys, and teleporting away a minute later after running out of consumables. Things like Glyphs of Warding, and anti-summoning corridors, seemed to make little difference; you just need looooots of consumables for Sauron, and probably even more for Morgoth.

Interestingly, while Sauron was mostly just annoying to fight, two uniques were actually really dangerous. The first being Cantoras, the second being the Tarrasque.

Once I realized the Tarrasque could breath disenchantment on me for instakill damage, I just teleported it away whenever it showed up. Cantoras, OTOH, I went out of my way to avoid. Something about his spell flags makes him prone to spamming whirlpools, which at +30 speed is quite dangerous.

Vecna OTOH was more in the category of Sauron - a blasted nuisance with a lot of hitpoints...

Anyway my main thought on the final fights is: they need fewer HP, and a more dangerous assortment of spells. Morgoth I didn't get to, but Sauron should be thrilling, not boring.

...

Over the game I noticed some other stuff too:

- Artifact weapons are mostly not very good, as far as Priests are concerned. Too heavy, not enough damage or hit chance. Heavy ego weapons seem to be better, but unfortunately I had been squelching them for some time...

- Related: does the edged weapon penalty actually do anything at high levels? I was wielding Durin's axe for a while (until to got disenchanted), and never noticed anything serious.

- Disenchantment attacks are nasty! I hadn't realized artifacts could be completely disenchanted in V, and that so many monsters hit to disenchant. It'd be nice if the Alchemist stocked enchantment scrolls like in ToME 2, for restoring disenchanted weapons.

- Speaking of which: the Bow of Amras was cool, until it got disenchanted. Bows do a heck of a lot of damage.

- Likewise, for a while (mid-levels) I was keeping offensive rods around. In ToME they're useless due to hitpoint inflation, but most of them are pretty good in V. Especially Lightning and Acid Ball rods.

- I was rather anxious to find a copy of Wrath of God, but it turned out to be pretty useless aside from the *Destruction* spell. In particular, Annihilation is awful - barely more damage than Orb of Draining, only one target, almost ten times the cost, and doesn't work on most monsters. I'd rather have Orb of Draining duplicated in the book as the first spell.

- Priestly healing, OTOH, is amazing. You can just wade into herds of Ds and Us, tossing Orbs about and whacking things and occasionally healing.

- Then again, there's not much reason to tackle super-powerful monsters. Deep in the dungeon, drops from weak monsters - trolls, giants, less powerful dragons, and whatnot - are almost as good, and much less risky.

...

Overall: I'm kind of torn on the grindy nature of the game.

On the one hand, it's kind of cool to wander about taking on pits and whatnot, wondering what will turn up next.

On the other, it's not so cool to need to keep doing that, on and on, because you don't have good enough items for the final fights.

Personally I feel like the game should allow grinding, but not encourage it, and definitely not require it.

Maybe I'll try Sil next...
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Old March 22, 2016, 21:25   #2
fizzix
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A couple thoughts.

I don't think grinding is actually currently required. By grinding I mean repeating levels over and over again to find the consumables or levels you need. Angband can be fairly consistently won by only visiting each level once (forced descent) and not exploiting summoners for XP. However, it does have a lot of "windowpane" monsters, by which I mean tons of monsters that you just wade through wreaking death.

The priest is a class that wins by attrition. A good endgame priest is probably doing something like 300 damage per round with their weapon, which is about half of what an endgame warrior is doing. So you've picked the most extreme class in which to have drawn out battles. On the other hand, priests are the class least reliant on consumables, because of access to 0% fail healing.

That being said, I do tend to agree with the general consensus that uniques (across the board) have too many hit points. The uniques haven't been rebalanced in a looooong time even though the speed of the game has increased considerably in many regards. They hearken back to a grindier era. I do like that the Morgoth battle does have this epic quality, but I'm not so sure we need the same epic quality for Angamaite of Umbar or Bill the Troll.

I think this is a good discussion to have alongside the combat rework. I have a strong desire to do a full rebalancing effort, but I'm sort of holding off to see the gameplay changes as they come in. (And I also will desperately need new statistics).

The Tarrasque is probably IMO the most difficult monster to defeat, more difficult than Sauron for sure. Cantoras though, usually isn't that bad.
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Old March 22, 2016, 22:06   #3
Pete Mack
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Sauron only has a lot of HP if you are playing priest.
Did you use buffing?
Did you use an anti-summoning corridor, or fight him in vault with lots of short passages?
How big was your weapon?
Sauron isn't too hard to kill if your base speed is over 20 (30+ hasted). But you do need to be able to do damage.
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Old March 22, 2016, 23:43   #4
Therem Harth
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If it helps, this was with Angband 3.3.2 (the Debian Stable stock version).

@fizzix

I think Cantoras was especially bad because I lacked RSound, and at one point RConf. (I erroneously thought RChaos would provide that.)

Tarrasque would have been worse, but I was fast enough that I could always get the first move.

And yeah, I did get the impression that priests are made for grinding.

As far uniques and HP, IMO having better spells/attacks is an important corollary. Maybe more spells that mess with dungeon terrain? It'd be interesting if Sauron could cause earthquakes outside of melee, or otherwise have more tricks than just tank-like HP.

@Pete Mack

I tried an ASC at one point, it didn't do much good. (And by that point, the summonings didn't matter much, except for undead uniques and Black Reavers. Most of them were quickly ablated by OoD splash damage.)

I think the problem came down to damage. Like I said, I'd been squelching powerful ego weapons, and most artifacts weren't that good. I was definitely not topping 300 per round with anything I had - not OoD, not melee, and definitely not the ruined Bow of Amras. Half my problem was probably being too enthusiastic with the squelch settings.
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Old March 23, 2016, 00:22   #5
Pete Mack
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M generates earthquakes, so S doesn't need to. The nest bet for big-damage late-game weapons are Mace of disruption HA or +2 attacks (or Fury). The latter do massive damage against all monsters, and are just brutal against undead (1000 dam/turn for a warrior; 750 for a priest). Cantoras is no threat with one of them. You definitely need to watch for better bows and weapons. The other big endgame ego weapons are somewhat problematic for a priest. But there are plenty of artifacts that work fine too.
Amras, however, is not remotely an endgame weapon. Amrod may be if you need CON.
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Old March 23, 2016, 00:27   #6
Pete Mack
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Here's a recommendation: Make a save file around level 45 and keep playing it until you win or come close. Don't actively save scum; it defeats the point of the game. Restart from a useful starting point to learn the mid and late games. That helped my game enormously. And maybe play a more flexible class than priest. Kobold rogue, or High-elf ranger are always good.
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Old March 23, 2016, 01:35   #7
Therem Harth
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@Pete Mack

Hmm, thanks. That seems like a logical next step.

For the record, my method of save-scumming was to keep savefiles and preferences in a local Git repository, and commit when anything notable happened. When Hippy died, I'd check out the last commit.

And if you want me to be honest, I had a lot more fun with this than... any non-savescummed game I've played in a while, actually. It was only at DL99 that things started getting boring. YMMV I guess, though half of it was probably the novelty of actually getting to high levels.
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Old March 23, 2016, 02:21   #8
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Late game uniques like Vecna or Ungoliant certainly take a long time to kill, but the mid level ones usually die fast for me. The reason for that is that I dont usually engage them as soon as I am able to win; instead, I wait till later, when I am deeper and they drop better stuff, at which point I also am likely to be more powerfull.
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Old March 23, 2016, 02:54   #9
Pete Mack
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Unoliant has to be the most boring unique in the game. A huge bag of hit points, and the only dangers are poison, dark, and strength drain. She does take a significant number of potions to handle, but no real risk.
And yes, it's good to avoid uniques you can't kill easily until later. The ones to aim for are breathers vulnerable to double resist (i.e Smaug and company.)
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Old March 23, 2016, 13:58   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Theram Harth
actually. It was only at DL99 that things started getting boring.
I think here is where an option like forced descent really shines. It's also the main impetus behind the creation of that option. The standard "optimal" way to play is to dive to 98-99 and scum those levels repeatedly killing easy to loot monsters and bailing immediately if approached by something unhandleable. It'll get you endgame gear, but damn is it boring.

How to improve the endgame experience without a forcing mechanism is difficult, and I don't have any really good ideas. Maybe it's just not worth worrying about?
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