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Old July 6, 2020, 21:58   #1
drquicksilver
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Priest spells in 4.2.1 - my thoughts on the 'new' books

Some notes on the priest spell selection in 4.2.1, having just played a priest reasonably successfully although nowhere close to a win. I'd be interested to hear thoughts from people who regularly win this game and understand balance better than I do...

Novice's Handbook
(a) Call Light
Key utility spell. Don't think I ever used it to damage light-sensitive monsters though.
(b) Detect Evil
Key utility spell. Only detecting evil is good flavour for the class.
(c) Minor Healing
Felt a little weak for the first few (15?) levels, especially compared to plentiful potions. When the character grows up a bit this is great for topping up HP if you are temporarily out of range of your enemy.
(d) Bless
I never remember to use this. I have no idea if its bonuses are actually useful at typical low levels when melee is a struggle
(e) Sense Invisible
Very handy when you don't have an item granting see invis
(f) Heroism
Only used this once or twice when annoyed by fear. Not a core spell for me.

Cleansing Power
(a) Orb of Draining
Getting this early makes the early priest game so much less of a slog. Keystone spell throughout the game even though it struggles a bit against high-HP monsters.
(b) Spear of Light
I never really used this. Early on when being able to light corridors is really really useful, this is too expensive (at least I had limited SP and didn't want to give up on one more OOD); I just kept a Rod or Wand of light around. For damage purposes, almost all light-sensitive monsters you care about are evil and OOD is way better value for the SP. Maybe if it's damage was higher and scaled a bit?
(c) Dispel Undead
Not a bad spell but getting that many undead in LoS at once is a bit niche.
(d) Dispel Evil
As per my earlier comments in another thread, this just seems like terrible value for the SP and the risk - getting lots of evil monsters into LoS and waking them all up is a big price to pay unless you are going to do huge damage on them.
(e) Protection from Evil
I read somewhere that this is useless since you never really care about monsters lower level than you - that sounded plausible to me, so I never even tried it
(f) Remove Curse
Niche spell, thematically good. I think I used it once on some ring I wanted to wear.

Healing and Sanctuary
(a) Portal
Awkward spell because it's too high range to be used as a phase door replacement but sufficiently low range that it quite often doesn't get you safe. I still used it lots because it's better than using up consumables. Does give the class a flavour different from mages.
(b) Remembrance
Convenient (and thematic) spell. Saves you hoarding restore life levels potions
(c) Word of Recall
Convenient. Saves a slot.
(d) Healing
Expensive and high failure rate means you can't rely on this spell until very late in the game (later than I got). It is handy though.
(e) Restoration
Minor convenience and thematic
(f) Clairvoyance
Great utility, seems slightly out of theme?

Battle Blessings
Note - this is the only book with spells written not in the order of spell level. Seemed odd.
(a) Enchant Weapon
This is a quirky spell. It comes so late that by the time you get it, you are almost certainly wielding and artifact or one of the better ego weapons and it's fairly unlikely you can enchant them much. So where it's really useful is enchanting stacks of arrows - this is a major convenience but feels "odd" - not quite in theme for a priest, or at least not really in theme with the other spell selection.
(b) Enchant Armour
Most of the time characters have at least one or two pieces of non-artifact gear with low plusses (possibly due to acid damage) so this spell is great for topping things back up.
(c) Smite Evil
I think this is really niche. By the time I got the book, every weapon I would consider using had multiple slays or brands; there were a few evil monsters who would resist those elements or not apply to those slays and in that case this was a slight improvement - but not huge. I know that for certain particular high dice weapons or artifacts this is potentially significant but - like I say - quite niche?
(d) Glyph of Warding
Very powerful spell and helps make priests feel unique.
(e) Demon Bane
I never got to level 42 but I think my Smite Evil comments mostly apply. This is a more powerful brand though, so it seems more significant if you happen to be fighting demons.

Wrath of the Valar
(a) Banish Evil
Fun spell, very useful, I should have used it instead of dying.
(b) Word of Destruction
Very useful in some cases
(c) Holy Word
Never tried this out. It sounds like dispel evil + heal+cure self could be useful in some circumstances.
(d) Spear of Oromë
I used this a little but failure rate was still high. It seems like it could actually be a meaningful alternative to OoD.
(e) Light of Manwë
Did not reach level


Summary:

The books and spells were well-paced. I got all dungeon books with enough of an interval between them to make them feel like exciting finds when they arrived. There were enough new spells which I found useful to keep my playstyle changing which is I think one of the fun things about pure casters. Themtically, it seem odd priests don't get Curing except as a side effect of some of the heal spells? Not really a gameplay issue but I carried CCW the whole game, you might imagine a priest wouldn't need to (at least once it had pConf).

For me Battle Blessings is the most problematic book and I don't find the enchant/brand spells entirely compelling. I wonder if instead some appropriately balanced combat enhancement spells - temporary boosts to Str/Dex/Con or even +dam or +attacks? Temporary status resists (blind/fear/conf/stun) would be a good 'alternative' to mages getting temporary element resists?

Overall a great improvement on 2.8.x priests (the last I played). Thanks for all the hard work!
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Old July 7, 2020, 00:19   #2
fizzix
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In previous versions, bless and heroism are both very useful for low level characters, so if you reroll a priest, I'd recommend making an effort to try them out. Protection from evil can be very useful for fighting uniques that are about at your level but otherwise hit hard. It's a niche spell though for sure.
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Old July 7, 2020, 04:17   #3
archolewa
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In my experience, Spear of Light was very useful in the midgame for dealing with Wraiths. No way is orb of draining better for clearing a corridor full of Light sensitive monsters. Also, saving me a slot alone is worthwhile in my book. I'm constantly struggling to figure out what I should take with me and what I should leave home, or even abandon in the dungeon when I find something I want to keep.

I agree about the Dispel spells. Having lots of enemies in LoS is a *really bad idea*, so spells that need me to be in LoS of lots of enemies need to be incredibly powerful to be worth it. Neither of these spells...are.

Protection from Evil is great early in the game, when your level tends to outpace your floor. Protection from Evil allows you to swing down orc uniques before you've got enough SP and a low enough failure rate for orb of draining to be reliable. So, briefly useful for priests, utterly useless for paladins.

Smite Evil is wonderful because it makes your endgame gear selection much more flexible. This spell basically guarantees that you'll be able to smite Morgoth, so you can focus on finding a weapon with a big hit dice, or other useful intrinsics. Especially beautiful if you find the Glaive of Pain, or a powerful Chaos Blade.

Demon Bane is a *wonderful* spell to use while wielding a Mace of Disruption. I found a Mace of Disruption of Extra Attacks once as a paladin. The damage I did with that thing while Smite Evil and/or Demons Bane were active was incredible.

Word of Destruction is honestly my bread and butter spell for an endgame priest. Being able to just wipe out *everything* including uniques is incredibly useful. It's also really nice for blocking off line of sight against Maeglin and Morgoth (cast it before they get to you), both of whom tend to wreck your anti-summoning corridors. Wear something that aggravates monsters for even better results.

In theory, I think Holy Word is meant to let you heal without going on the defensive. Spending a turn not hurting your enemy kind of sucks, especially against the nastier uniques. However, I rarely use it, because I've never been able to get it down to 0% fail rate. And taking that risk just doesn't seem worth it to me. Safer to phase away and Heal, or just tank the hits while healing.

I used Spear of Orome some. My biggest problem with it was that it becomes reliable at about the same time that Heal does (maybe a bit after), and I never found it did enough damage to justify taking SP away from Heal.
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Old July 7, 2020, 18:43   #4
DavidMedley
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drquicksilver View Post
Some notes on the priest spell selection in 4.2.1
Great write-up! Do Blackguard next!!
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Old July 7, 2020, 19:12   #5
Sphara
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Light of Manwe is basically a poor man's Mana Storm.
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Old July 7, 2020, 19:19   #6
DavidMedley
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What were your starting race and stats?

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Originally Posted by drquicksilver View Post
(b) Spear of Light
this is too expensive
I like when spells are nearly identical to items. Like, if I've been playing a bunch of non-priests and using Rods of Light, and then I get to this spell in the priest book I'm like "Oh, that's how they made those Rods! Took this spell and bottled it up somehow." The spell could also be more effective than the item at higher levels and still give me this feeling.

It does seem a bit expensive compared to the cheap and plentiful rods, though.

Quote:
(e) Protection from Evil
I read somewhere that this is useless since you never really care about monsters lower level than you
The implementation of this frustrates me because it's either awesome or it sucks. There's a fair bit of discussion about this already. I put a tab in my spreadsheet for it to demonstrate how the current one works and I put in an alternative proposal -- CL/(CL+ML*2)
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets...y4Kyo9wODJWAFQ (PfE tab)

Quote:
(f) Remove Curse
Niche spell, thematically good. I think I used it once on some ring I wanted to wear.
I suspect these spells and items have not really been adjusted for the removal of sticky curses yet

Quote:
(f) Clairvoyance
Great utility, seems slightly out of theme?
Rename: "Divine Guidance"? How about "Revelation"? I rather like that second one.


Quote:
(a) Enchant Weapon
This is a quirky spell. It comes so late that by the time you get it, you are almost certainly wielding and artifact or one of the better ego weapons and it's fairly unlikely you can enchant them much. So where it's really useful is enchanting stacks of arrows - this is a major convenience but feels "odd" - not quite in theme for a priest, or at least not really in theme with the other spell selection.
Good point about the ammo. IIRC if you get really lucky you can get weapons as high as +15 with spells like this.

Quote:
Overall a great improvement on 2.8.x priests (the last I played). Thanks for all the hard work!
Great review. Thanks for writing!
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Old July 8, 2020, 09:09   #7
drquicksilver
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidMedley View Post
What were your starting race and stats?
Character dump after some stat gain but not too much is at http://angband.oook.cz/ladder-show.php?id=23687 - I think I used the default point buy?

Quote:
Great write-up! Do Blackguard next!!
Actually playing a druid now. Blackguard after, maybe.

Quote:
Rename: "Divine Guidance"? How about "Revelation"? I rather like that second one.
The other odd thing about clairvoyance (and I like the name Revelation too) is that I dropped my rods of magic mapping and treasure detection for it, but it doesn't detect buried treasure. Definitely not important but... odd?
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Old July 8, 2020, 12:11   #8
archolewa
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drquicksilver View Post
Actually playing a druid now. Blackguard after, maybe.
Just dont use the default point buy. Reduce your Dex and put those points into Int. My winning blackguard started with 18 int, and had a much better time of it than the ones that used the default point buy.
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Old July 8, 2020, 17:26   #9
DavidMedley
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drquicksilver View Post
The other odd thing about clairvoyance (and I like the name Revelation too) is that I dropped my rods of magic mapping and treasure detection for it, but it doesn't detect buried treasure. Definitely not important but... odd?
Seems like a thematic design decision to me, and a reasonable one.
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