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Old September 1, 2007, 15:37   #1
g. rodrigues
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A newbie meets Angband

I started playing Angband a few weeks ago. Never played any rogue games before, but have a considerable experience with rpg alikes.

In a nutshell, I'm finding the game *very* addictive and infuriatingly frustrating

I have to start by admitting that I can't stand ASCII. It just looks like a spaghetti jumble of letters, with hardly any visual clue as to what is on the screen. So I always play with graphical tiles (forgot which set exactly, though). Problem is, some monsters and traps are way too dark to see them.

On to more content related issues. Newbie alert is in order. In these 2-3 weeks of play I have already tens of deaths under my belt. I can get to depth level 5 easily, but after that I always make some stupid move and I try to take down some bully that ends up killing me, or gung ho my way against a room filled with nasties, trying to swallow more than I can chew, or I'm just not paying enough attention, e.g. tapping a direction key continuously until you are heads on with a novice warrior that basically bashes you to a pulp.

What follows is a laundry list of notes, in a semi-random order. Feel free to chime in and advise this poor newbie.

- The class I've played so far: mage. I simply dislike warrior-like classes who just dive into the fray, offer their bodies to the brunt and brute-force their way out. But after getting hosed quickly more than a few times, I changed into a paladin (dunadan). But paladins have poor shooting, slow like hell to gain magics (especially offensive). So, I was left with hack and slash as my only weapon (a darn effective one, though) and after getting to level 10 at depth 5 (easily, compared with my previous games, I reckon) I got bored and suicide-ed him. Also tried a ranger, but it's just not me. Back to mages.

- High elf mages. High stats. See invis is really invaluable. Always point-based (I dislike auto-roller systems: wanting to maximize the hell out of your stats, you stand there tapping at your keyboard until you get a good roll or hell freezes over. Feels really stupid). How I crank my stats: after some games, I found that the sweet spot for int is 18/50 so I aim for that. Thats 22, almost half of my alloted points. I crank dex to 18 and get a decent bonus for armour and fighting, and pour whatever is left in str and con.

And I always end up struggling with weight. In my current game (my best one until now), I found a *slay giant* mace. It's 15 pounds weight (yikes!) but this is compensated by +3 bonus to str, but even so I have to aggressively manage my inventory so I do not see my speed plummet down.

- In the first few levels, I sleep after every battle, since I never have enough mana. When I start getting decent levels (10 levs, which I can routinely get by now), I switch to search mode and hit the do-nothing key to watch my hp/mana fill up. I also make ample use of Detect Monster, after being ambushed a couple of times. Costing only 1 mana it has saved my bacon a few times. Probably, the most useful spell for me, after Magic Missile.

- Mages being so fragile, my tactic until now is to raise 2 levels per depth level. I also tend to clear out the whole dungeon. Well, not exactly clear out, since more monsters keep popping up, but you get my meaning.

A question: How do monsters generate? They clearly do pop up when you sleep, but do they pop up when you are awake?

- Magic missile is my friend. In my first few games that was the only weapon I used. Even now, against "normal" single isolated monsters, I just missile them to death. Only jackals die from my dagger (grin). Then I slowly started to learn a few new tricks. Mana costs of other spells make them not cost-effective, that is, the damage done per mana point is not good enough. This is especialy grievous in the first levels where the quantity of available mana is so small. Of course, I need more experimentation here.

What I have learned so far:

- The sleep spell. Draw the guys to a corridor and get them lined up then lightning bolt them to hit them all. When running low on mana (or hp's from the attacks of the first guy), sleep the first guy in the line, back out, rest, go back, rinse and repeat.

- After dying some painful deaths to hordes of snagas, I found out that they are weak against light, so I used the above technique with light beams instead of lightning.

- Confusion seems to be good against mage-like monters, to prevent them from casting spells at me (e.g. ... confusion).

- Always carry phase door scrolls and a teleport staff/scrolls to bail me out. Died a few times, when trying to bail out and... spell fizzled. Grrrr... But the weight (especially staves at 5 pounds each) and the equip slots is just killing me.

- After being killed by confusion from a lowly orc shaman, I learned the value of stocking on cure critical potions.

- The duel with wormtongue taught me the value of speed potions. I am still learning the value of speed and its tactical uses, but meseems it is really very important. Too bad, I have not been able to find speed potions in the stores. Talk about luck...

- Hell, now I always carry some wand of slow monster or stinking cloud or whatever I happen to find in the dungeon, so that I have yet another something to throw at the critters.

- Most painful death experience until now. I read a scroll of object locate to vacate the inventory and lo and behold! there was a room packed full of objects to my right. Only seen a room like this once in all my games. Casted detect monster and alright, it was packed full of nasties. So I start drawing them out from the room. Kill them, back out, rest, draw some more, etc. First snagas, then hill orcs were all killed. Back again, and some air hounds were on my tail - first and only time I met these nasties. It was all very fast and I must have panicked, because before I knew it I was down to 1hp. I teleported to safety... just to die from poison Bye bye, nice room filled with loot. Hello, character generation screen.

- In my current game (the best until now), I already killed all the uniques I found (Bullroarer, Mughash, Lagduf, Brodda, Wormtongue and Grishnack). Wormtongue was the toughest, since I had to make use of something that until there I had neglected - speed potions. All uniques, with the exception of Smeagol. Nothing that I throw at him seems to make a dent. Im down at 0 mana and is still at almost 100% full health. Can't melee him because he will will just steal my money and puff away in smoke. Being unique, slow, sleep and confuse don't affect him. I fire arrows but they do little either. Is there a way to kill him (at a reasonably low level) or I am just wasting my time?

And Wormtongue dropped the Cloak of Thingol, my first artifact ever! Yay! *with clenched fists* Yo Morgoth, yo' ass is mine! Pity I have not been able to scrounge an *identify* scroll to reveal the hidden powers of it...
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Old September 1, 2007, 16:12   #2
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I think I've not seen Wormtongue for the first year of playing, so you are doing well.

> tapping a direction key continuously

A very bad thing. You know about running? Shift-arrow.

> sweet spot for int is 18/50

a good idea

> dex to 18 and get a decent bonus for armour and fighting

a bad idea, mages don't fight (in the early game in V and almost never in most variants)

> in str and con.

again a good idea

> I switch to search mode and hit the do-nothing key

bad --- you can be ambushed, while resting stops at the first sign of trouble (just like running), if you don't want to regenerate fully, just set a resting counter

> I also make ample use of Detect Monster

Do you know about macros? Makes spell-caster life easier.

> monsters keep popping up

they do not po up, but crawl from various dungeon holes, fissures and wells, optionally teleport

> do they pop up when you are awake?

yes, just no too close to you --- they prefer to be safe when they appear

> Smeagol. Nothing that I throw at him seems to make a dent.

be patient and phase a lot

Good luck!
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Old September 2, 2007, 00:13   #3
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Bandobras covered the majority of the comments I wanted to make, so just in short:

For the strength/item weight problem: I find it tolerable to move around slowed to -1 up to -3, if I feel I can manage the monsters in given depth.

Mages are probably the hardest class to get going. Check here - http://angband.oook.cz/fun/mages.php

ASCII power \o/
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Old September 2, 2007, 00:44   #4
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You need a wonder to kill smeagol early, preferably in the form of a wand. Get him into one of the bigger rooms first, then fire away.
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Old September 2, 2007, 10:17   #5
Big Al
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I'm not a terribly great Angband player, so take any following advice with a grain of salt.
Quote:
Originally Posted by g. rodrigues View Post
I have to start by admitting that I can't stand ASCII. It just looks like a spaghetti jumble of letters, with hardly any visual clue as to what is on the screen. So I always play with graphical tiles (forgot which set exactly, though). Problem is, some monsters and traps are way too dark to see them.
I started out with graphic tiles for a while and once I got more familiar with the monsters and commands I switched back. Now I wouldn't dream of anything but ASCII. No big game difference, really.

Quote:
[Snip - I play mostly HE mages]
I play a lot of mages too. It's often good to play a different class/race combo sometimes - you get to learn different strategies with a different class and then go back to mages again and you have a bunch of new-found set of strategies.

Quote:
And I always end up struggling with weight. In my current game (my best one until now), I found a *slay giant* mace. It's 15 pounds weight (yikes!) but this is compensated by +3 bonus to str, but even so I have to aggressively manage my inventory so I do not see my speed plummet down.
Basically, I rarely pick up any heavy weapons or armour unless they have a good sell value in the early game. Mages shouldn't really be fighting at all, so I wouldn't bother with eg. slay maces. Being a couple points slowed is not a big deal if you're careful. At worst, if you're up against a fast unique, drop some heavy stuff, do your battle, and pick it up again.

Quote:
- In the first few levels, I sleep after every battle, since I never have enough mana. When I start getting decent levels (10 levs, which I can routinely get by now), I switch to search mode and hit the do-nothing key to watch my hp/mana fill up. I also make ample use of Detect Monster, after being ambushed a couple of times. Costing only 1 mana it has saved my bacon a few times. Probably, the most useful spell for me, after Magic Missile.
Very, very important. It's immensely useful to know what you're up against around that next corner. If there's any doubt that you can't take it on, run away.

Quote:
- Mages being so fragile, my tactic until now is to raise 2 levels per depth level. I also tend to clear out the whole dungeon. Well, not exactly clear out, since more monsters keep popping up, but you get my meaning.
I used to do this a lot too. Then one day, I realised that I can survive equally well if I go at 1 char level per dungeon level compared to two clvl per dlvl. Probably even better. With a High Elf Mage, I can often buy the second book from the start and then go to 500' in the first trip down. By that time my char is about level ten. Don't bother clearing out levels - stick close to the safety of staircases. As long as you are constantly detecting for monsters, you can avoid most danger. Pick and choose the fights. There are many things (eg. jellies) that are a cinch to kill from a distance. If in any doubt, retreat to a staircase and fight from there. That way you can escape at a moment's notice.

Quote:
A question: How do monsters generate? They clearly do pop up when you sleep, but do they pop up when you are awake?
It's something like every ten game turns, a 1/160 of a chance of making a new monster. They always appear a minimum distance away from you (25? squares). Whether you're asleep or not doesn't make a difference.

Quote:
- Magic missile is my friend. In my first few games that was the only weapon I used. Even now, against "normal" single isolated monsters, I just missile them to death. Only jackals die from my dagger (grin). Then I slowly started to learn a few new tricks. Mana costs of other spells make them not cost-effective, that is, the damage done per mana point is not good enough. This is especialy grievous in the first levels where the quantity of available mana is so small. Of course, I need more experimentation here.
The spells are arranged such that the low level spells do more damage/mana, but less damage/time. I like frost bolt (or some combo of magic missile and frost bolt) once I get up a bit of mana reserve. Eg. use a few frost bolts to take down a unique quickly, then mm the underlings to save on mana.

Quote:
- After dying some painful deaths to hordes of snagas, I found out that they are weak against light, so I used the above technique with light beams instead of lightning.
A big part of the game for beginners is figuring out which tactics work against which monsters. Make use of the monster memory often.

Quote:
<snip - about ?phase, !CCW, etc>
Always try to carry some means of escape. Staves of teleport are just about a sure thing, but, as you said, heavy and expensive. Scrolls of teleport (or teleport level) are cheaper and don't burn up in one go, but you can't be blinded to use. Some combo of CCW's and escape scrolls normally works well enough at the start.

Quote:
- Most painful death experience until now. I read a scroll of object locate to vacate the inventory and lo and behold! there was a room packed full of objects to my right. Only seen a room like this once in all my games. Casted detect monster and alright, it was packed full of nasties. So I start drawing them out from the room. Kill them, back out, rest, draw some more, etc. First snagas, then hill orcs were all killed. Back again, and some air hounds were on my tail - first and only time I met these nasties. It was all very fast and I must have panicked, because before I knew it I was down to 1hp. I teleported to safety... just to die from poison Bye bye, nice room filled with loot. Hello, character generation screen.
Sounds like a vault of some kind. Often filled with good treasure, but also with extra tough monsters and traps. Don't go near it unless you're pretty sure of dealing with everything there (either killing it or teleporting it away). Oh, well, Angband is a learning game, and now you know that air hounds move quickly and breath poison. Next time you'll know to avoid them until you're tough enough to face them.

Quote:
- In my current game (the best until now), I already killed all the uniques I found (Bullroarer, Mughash, Lagduf, Brodda, Wormtongue and Grishnack). Wormtongue was the toughest, since I had to make use of something that until there I had neglected - speed potions. All uniques, with the exception of Smeagol. Nothing that I throw at him seems to make a dent. Im down at 0 mana and is still at almost 100% full health. Can't melee him because he will will just steal my money and puff away in smoke. Being unique, slow, sleep and confuse don't affect him. I fire arrows but they do little either. Is there a way to kill him (at a reasonably low level) or I am just wasting my time?
I've yet to find a way to do it easily with mages. When ever I find him, I normally run away (and leave the level so that all my gold isn't lost) until later. Eventually, I manage it with a large number of phase doors and attack spells. A couple wands often help. Use stacks of ?phasedoor and wands to save on mana.

Quote:
And Wormtongue dropped the Cloak of Thingol, my first artifact ever! Yay! *with clenched fists* Yo Morgoth, yo' ass is mine! Pity I have not been able to scrounge an *identify* scroll to reveal the hidden powers of it...
Finding your first few arts is always fun...

Good luck, and as pav quoted, (can't be emphasized enough) if in doubt, run away.
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Old September 2, 2007, 11:21   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by g. rodrigues View Post
I have to start by admitting that I can't stand ASCII. It just looks like a spaghetti jumble of letters, with hardly any visual clue as to what is on the screen.
I feel just the opposite.. I tried both at first, and I really find the ascii a LOT easier to tell what is on the screen and going on, because everything is so much more distinct.

As for Smeagol.. he likes to pick up things.. so I usually just get him with arrows and hope that some of them miss him, because he has trouble resisting the urge to pick them up. Maybe not the best strategy, but it almost always works. The trick for me is to keep him occupied while I kill him.
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Old September 2, 2007, 14:06   #7
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Wow I was always thinking monsters pick things up without needing to use a turn and only on the positions they are walking over anyways. Or do they? Maybe you got confused with Smeagol's % random walk?
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Old September 3, 2007, 09:31   #8
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Speaking as a long-time *band player who has never won, I find mages much harder than melee types. It's just a different style of play - mages are all about killing from range, much like rangers only with fewer hp and weaker melee when they do end up using it. But better detection and escapes though, so there's your answer: detect often, know exactly which monsters you intend to fight and how, and avoid getting sidetracked or ending up in melee.

My mages always end up dying by phasing into the middle of a pack, trying to escape from some beastie that's too big to melee and is taking too long to plink to death.

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Old September 3, 2007, 14:57   #9
g. rodrigues
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Thanks

Thanks for all the tips. The ones about running and macros are particularly helpful. Although they have a cryptic syntax, they can cut down a significant portion of the drudgery.

From the replies and my own experience, the following seems to be emerging: mages are more difficult to play than melee classes, especially in the first levels. They kill from a distance, pick their fights carefully and have lots of means of escape which they use liberally.

And I have killed Smeagol already. Was at depth 14 or something, with 20 experience levels, when he appeared. I quaffed a speed potion and tried to manoeuver/phase door to avoid contact, while missile-ing him all the way. Made one wrong move, and puff! off he went with some of my money. But a few turns after, he was back. Being already at low health, I did the same dance and managed to kill him. Not a particularly satisfying kill (my char being at level 20), but the job was done.
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Old September 3, 2007, 23:39   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Limeade View Post

As for Smeagol.. he likes to pick up things.. so I usually just get him with arrows and hope that some of them miss him, because he has trouble resisting the urge to pick them up. Maybe not the best strategy, but it almost always works. The trick for me is to keep him occupied while I kill him.
Don't just give him all your arrows if you can't take him though! Use up your best spells and wands first, then start with the missiles if you think he will go down.

!Speed and ?Bless can make all the difference between offing Smeagol or him just dissapearing over and over with your gold. It's generally best to test him a little when you meet him before commiting to wasting useful items on a fight you can't win.
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