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Old July 15, 2010, 18:16   #1
NotMorgoth
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My Attempt at Diving in Sangband

My Attempt at Diving in Sangband: the (Probably Short) Life of Arrogant the Dunadan.

The way I generally play Sangband is to take quests as often as possible until I either get all my spellbooks (for a caster) or get enough other stuff that I feel I can go down faster (for a warrior.)

I find that while quest rewards are only occasionally useful (eg they are a good source of dungeon books,) the main effect of doing quests is that I get a lot of experience, so my characters are generally overpowered compared to normal in-depth monsters, and uniques and pits are often (not always) relatively easy.

I decided to experiment with a more diving-like style of playing, doing fewer if any quests. and going down as quickly as I could manage. I did not anticipate it would be much like Vanilla diving, as monster generation works differently, so low level monsters are very unlikely to be generated deep in the dungeon, and if I go down too fast I will probably soon get to a depth where I cannot fight anything. My lowest turncount to win the game is about 1.3 million, so I'm intending to aim to win in under 1 million as an initial goal.

I decided to play with a Dunadan, as they have good con/HP but still have reasonable stealth. I have previously tried something similar with a High Elf, but decided to go with the Dunadan this time for the higher con.

The character is intended to play a bit like a Vanilla rogue, using melee as an important method of offense, and magic (sorcery) mostly for utility spells. However, magic devices rather than archery will be my primary ranged combat method. Depending on what equipment I find, I am keeping the option open to take the Oath of Sorcery in the late game and convert to a full mage, as melee becomes an increasingly unattractive proposition towards the end of the game due to the number of monsters that hit to disenchant, drain stats or drain charges.

The skills I am using are:

Swordsmanship: it was a tough decision between swords and martial arts; wrestling is probably superior in the long term (not sure about karate,) but I find it can be a bit weak in the midgame, when a swordsman will probably be benefiting from some resistances, stat bonuses or abilities from a weapon such as Westernesse or one of the lesser artifacts. Since I often find this the hardest part of the game, I went with swords.

Archery (Bows): I will be using mainly magic devices later on, but good devices can be a bit hard to come by initially, and I want to be able to shoot at things without having to worry about conserving charges, at least until I get some nice stacks of wands/rods. Archery is intended as a stopgap until then.

Spellcasting / Magical Power / Wizardry

Magic Devices

Stealth (I am much better at playing stealthy characters than non-stealthy ones, otherwise I would probably have played a Giant instead)

Dodging (mostly for the ability to wear heavier armour without affecting spellcasting)

Spell Resistance


Ok, that's a long enough post already, I'll continue in the next one. By the way, I didn't take notes or anything, so I'll be writing from memory, and it will be a bit disordered and haphazard.
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Old July 16, 2010, 22:57   #2
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Hmm, so I meant to update this as I played, while I could still remember what monsters I met and what I did on what levels, but I got ahead of myself and went on playing (just one more level... etc ) and now I've forgotten most of the details.

Anyway, I decided to do the first 3 quests, both for the experience and for the rewards (gold in early quests) so I could buy healing to survive the next 10 or so levels.

The first quest was 5 giant red centipedes on DL3. These are potentially quite dangerous to a beginning character as they have +10 speed, so are not easy to run away from. So I spent some time on DLs 1-2 killing kobolds and the like to get my skills and HP up. The only melee weapon I could afford was a dagger, so my damage output was not that great either.

Next up was kobold dart throwers on DL6; they weren't that hard as I was careful not to let more than one in LOS at a time so I wasn't getting hit by more than one poison dart per turn.

Third was giant yellow scorpions on DL8. These were a bit more dangerous, and I had to use a lot of healing to survive.

After this, I went down around 10 levels, not exactly diving, but looking out for easy things to kill and stuff to pick up. The only thing of note I found was the dagger 'Aethanc' from a player ghost on DL19. It was my main weapon for a surprisingly long time, as I really didn't come across anything else useful, and the lightning brand made it surprisingly effective against many monsters.

I ran into significant problems with novice rogues, and later Bullroarer and Wormtongue, stealing all my money (and some other stuff) so I could not replace healing, WOR etc.

I avoided the orc uniques and Mughash, as i did not think I was strong enough to fight them and their escorts.

I came across very few useful magic devices apart from some wands of Magic Missile and Stinking Cloud from the shop. So, I decided to take another quest - 14 fire giants at DL20 in the hope I would get a good offensive wand as a reward.

However, when I went down to the quest level, I met a unique (I think it was Nar,) and used up nearly all my healing and ?phase fighting him. This made it hard to fight the fire giants, and I had to retreat and so failed the quest.

Another interesting find at about this time was a scroll of Acquirement, which produced Full Plate Armor of Resistance. This would have been an awesome item, as I had no other source of resistances, except that it was so heavy I could not wear it without going down to -2 speed, and it also made my spellcasting much worse.
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Old July 17, 2010, 02:05   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NotMorgoth View Post
My Attempt at Diving in Sangband: the (Probably Short) Life of Arrogant the Dunadan.
The skills I am using are:

Swordsmanship: it was a tough decision between swords and martial arts; wrestling is probably superior in the long term (not sure about karate,) but I find it can be a bit weak in the midgame, when a swordsman will probably be benefiting from some resistances, stat bonuses or abilities from a weapon such as Westernesse or one of the lesser artifacts. Since I often find this the hardest part of the game, I went with swords.

Archery (Bows): I will be using mainly magic devices later on, but good devices can be a bit hard to come by initially, and I want to be able to shoot at things without having to worry about conserving charges, at least until I get some nice stacks of wands/rods. Archery is intended as a stopgap until then.

Spellcasting / Magical Power / Wizardry

Magic Devices

Stealth (I am much better at playing stealthy characters than non-stealthy ones, otherwise I would probably have played a Giant instead)

Dodging (mostly for the ability to wear heavier armour without affecting spellcasting)

Spell Resistance


Ok, that's a long enough post already, I'll continue in the next one. By the way, I didn't take notes or anything, so I'll be writing from memory, and it will be a bit disordered and haphazard.
I don't know how you're coping with that many skills. I tried this character out a few times this afternoon, and it feels like a really slow start.

Aethanc is branded, which is pretty insane in the early game for Sangband. It's a flat +toDam, which is very hard to get.

BTW, which version are you using?
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Old July 17, 2010, 08:25   #4
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I'd say 8 - 9 skills are good for a Sang char endgame;
But IMHO in the start you should completely ignore Dodging, all the 3 spellcasting skills and probably SpellResistance, to make the char evolve faster.
Pump those skills much later.

Camlost, what skills would you ditch / put on in that char, early and later? ^^
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Old July 17, 2010, 09:31   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Atriel View Post
I'd say 8 - 9 skills are good for a Sang char endgame;
But IMHO in the start you should completely ignore Dodging, all the 3 spellcasting skills and probably SpellResistance, to make the char evolve faster.
Pump those skills much later.
+1. You can get to cl 20 or so before the cost of unused skills rises above 1, so I would definitely focus on just swords and bows until then. Even stealth and spell resistance are pretty pointless until you can crank them up a lot. As soon as you see the cost of spellcasting rise, cancel that spend and store up as much xp as you can, then pump the other skills you want all at once.

Once I've finished my current 3-skill char (wrestling, devices, spell resistance) I'll try this one.
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Old July 17, 2010, 10:13   #6
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Yeah, I did not intend to learn all those skills right from the start; as you suggested, I focussed almost entirely on swords and bows initially, then started learning devices. The others came later, though I also put some points into stealth early to get the Sneaking talent.

I did not do too badly initially; where I really ran into problems was on DLs 30-40, which will be explained in the next update.

Actually, what I'm thinking now, is that if I try a similar character again, I might ignore the spellcasting completely and get armor forging and infusion instead, and hope this lets me get + Speed earlier, as lack of speed often seems to be the main barrier to going down faster in Sang.

Edit: I did put a few points in Spellcasting etc right near the start, just so i could cast Detect Monsters.

Another edit: Aethanc, and weapons like it, are the reason I took Swordsmanship rather than martial arts. It's not that uncommon to find a branded weapon early; my previous character got a Cutlass of Flame as a quest reward and found Orcrist not long after.

However, I think there may be a bug in the branding code, as Aethanc has an electric brand but seemed to do just as much damage to monsters that resist lightning as those that do not. I know there is a bug with one of the branding rings giving the wrong resistance when activated, so maybe it's related.

@Camlost: I'm playing your latest beta with gameplay changes. I don't know how it compares to the latest 'official' version, as I jumped straight from 0.9 beta 13 (or something).

Last edited by NotMorgoth; July 17, 2010 at 11:47.
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Old July 18, 2010, 00:52   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Magnate View Post
+1. You can get to cl 20 or so before the cost of unused skills rises above 1.
So the way this works [in the version mentioned] is that the skill level used in the experience cost calculation is either (power-10) or skill level, whichever is higher. This means that at power 13, skill 0, the game will pretend you have a skill of 3 when calculating costs to raise the skill.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Atriel View Post
Camlost, what skills would you ditch / put on in that char, early and later? ^^
I've found bows to be fairly underpowered in the early game, so much so that I'm considering tweaking them (again). Leon added the cheap '1dX' arrows at my behest, but they seem insufficient. I'm curious if there are suggestions.

I can't seem to play a stealthy character all that well (eventually I run into something that's awake and can kill me).

Devices and dodging and even resistance can be put off until the late earlygame or midgame.

Of course, if you take all this advice, you'll end up with a character that looks a lot like most of my winners. I'm really hoping to find out that some of these other pathways are reasonable choices, and that I'm just bad at them. Otherwise, I'll need to rebalance them, and I'm not sure what that will require.
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Old July 18, 2010, 03:13   #8
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I don't think bows are too badly underpowered, though there does seem to be a considerable jump in power when the 2dx ammo becomes available. Maybe making X3 launchers a bit more readily available would help. They seem weak compared to throwing initially, but throwing is horrible in the late game due to the high inventory cost of carrying stuff to throw.

I have found the main weakness with all kinds of ranged weapons is not the damage but the difficulty of actually hitting with them before I have maxed dex, though I haven't played a dedicated archer or crossbowman in the current version.

Re stealth; I find it useful because while there are always some awake monsters (notably vortices and hounds), without it everything is awake and it seems like you have to fight every monster in the universe just to get to the stairs. I've lost many dwarf characters on DLs 40-50 due to this.


One suggestion I can think of to tweak this (though I have no idea how hard it would be to code) would be to give stealthy characters some kind of way to misdirect monsters away from him, maybe by creating noise in another part of the dungeon through a 'ventriloquism' type talent, or making false trails. It would also be nice to see perception getting more useful; I've had some ideas about this but they're probably too long to go in this post.

One thing I did notice with my recent burglar character was that the quieter combat due to the burglary skill made quite a big difference. When I met Ancalagon, I could go round silently killing his escorts one by one without waking the others, until I could fight Ancalagon alone (though obviously having Gurthang helped a lot.)

A minor tweak that could make a difference would be to make monsters in pits not automatically awake, giving a stealthy character a greater chance to avoid the pit if he wants to.
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Old July 18, 2010, 14:49   #9
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Ack, I typed out a long post describing my continuing adventures then my connection went dead and I lost it.

I really can't be bothered to type it all out again, but suffice to say that Arrogant died on DL69 to a stupid death that had nothing to do with attempting to dive, but had already passed the 1 million turn target. Dump here.

Scrawled across the bottom of his tombstone are the words 'Arrogant will return'
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