Post Tuesday, 2nd April 2019, 01:28

YAVP: 3-rune OgEE of WJC

So, why an OgEE of WJC? I've never won an ogre and we just messed with ogre aptitudes (Maces & Flails to +1 (it's OK to have an easy choice but it doesn't have to be stupidly good), spell aptitudes a mix of -1 and -2 vaguely informed by Linley Crawl ogre / ogre mage aptitudes); Earth Magic is one of the -1 aptitudes. Why WJC? I'm still trying to get a win in with every god before repeating a god, and it turned up first and looked vaguely viable.

This was an interesting game, with the character starting out entirely dependent on spells for offense and building that up to LRD, then using spells to soften things up for melee with Ozo's Armour and martial abilities, but then putting on gold dragon scales, using large rocks for ranged offense, and only casting Animate Skeleton routinely. There was an abrupt transition between me having 3 precious large rocks I didn't want to risk mulching on easy targets to having dozens of large rocks and being able to throw them at everything, rendering single-target spells a bit pointless - and, while I threw a fair few, once I'd recovered the lifetime supply of javelins from Shoals I could have just used those and never cast another Stone Arrow.

The first problem I had was Terence on D:2 with a flail of draining. Ogres seem to suffer badly against weapons of draining (or distortion) - against attacks that just do damage your huge HP offsets your terrible defences a bit, but anyone with a weapon of draining can suck all your skills away in no time. He immediately clobbered me for a ton of damage and I fled to D:1 and cleared D:2 by repeatedly trying different stairs and just running away when I saw him. Taking the gamble on getting trapped by him paid off when I found an altar to WJC.

Wu Jian was an interesting god. The downside, I guess, is that a lot of the time it's "Uskayaw, only fiddly and you have to use melee"; you can do a lot of extra damage provided you do these specific things, whereas with Usk you can just hammer away however you like and get the benefits. The upsides, of course, are not having to train Invo, being able to get benefits on demand (especially at the very start of a tough fight where Usk wants you to kick things off unaided), better mobility powers, and I'm pretty certain Heavenly Storm is better overall than Grand Finale. It's also a little odd that Usk is the dance god but it is with WJC that you spend all your time dancing around in combat.

I cleared D:3 but then thought I'd have another crack at Terence; he might kill me, but his flail was almost certainly a far superior weapon to what I had. I got down to 4 HP (and a shortage of consumables), but overcame him; I now had his +3 flail, but red drain leaving me practically no skill in anything except a very little Earth Magic. I was reduced to Sandblasting everything because it was my only ability that still worked, and hoping my stones didn't run out before I'd worked off the drain.

As such I was not overcome with joy to meet Dowan and Duvessa on D:4. After running away once I'd separated them; I managed to polish off Dowan with just-back-online Stone Arrows, narrowly escaped a vengeful Duvessa with a blink, and would come back to collect her after clearing D:5 and working off most of the drain.

On D:9 I found the Lair and a randart ring with {*Corrode +Inv rN+ Str+2 Int+7}, which I'd use for a while, first to get LRD online and then to let me cast spells in acid dragon scales, the best armour I'd found and, happily, armour that mitigated the effect of the *Corrode. I was definitely feeling a painful lack of defences; all the extra HP didn't really compensate for poor evasion and AC. I was particularly aware that in my previous game I'd got to the Lair and almost immediately got killed by two spiny frogs, without either the ability to run away or the consumables to turn the tide of the fight. As such, when I got a +3 dire flail of protection off an orc warrior here, I switched to it. I'd seen some ordinary giant clubs on ogres, but an unbranded giant club didn't seem worth it.

On Lair:1 I got Animate Skeleton, which I'd use all game; easy to get online, cheap to cast, and even the weakest skeleton ally can stand in the way of an iron shot. I hit a volcano on Lair:2 where I nearly died repeatedly, with the worst point being 3HP because I misjudged the flame cloud zone; I survived and made it out (with a large stash of potions of resistance which helped with OOFs and electric golems later), but was very low on consumables for a while afterwards.

On Lair:5 I found a giant spiked club, which I branded. Note to self - check first if it's cursed -2. I had a stack of scrolls of brand weapon, so this wasn't a major setback, but it was pretty annoying and sloppy play on my part. I found an acquirement on Lair:6, picking armour and getting a shield of protection. Thanks, Crawl, but I was planning to use a giant spiked club.

Having cleared the Lair without much further difficulty - at this point I was mostly killing things by Whirlwinding them, stepping back, casting Stone Arrow, repeating, which let me get an attack and a spell in versus one enemy attack - I cleared D:10 (another unique party with Grum, Psyche, and Erolcha) and went to Orc.

In Orc I branded another GSC, getting freezing, and started to enchant it up. I also read another armour acquirement, getting a large shield of protection. Thanks, Crawl! I also found the Shield of Ignorance vault with orange crystal statues; easy to clear with LRD but, seriously, Crawl, what's with all the shields?

I worked down the Dungeon until it started to get hairy around D:15, then went to Snake. Here I found myself really suffering from poor defences; having nearly 200 HP is scant consolation if every naga warrior can take half of them away, and the bigger nagas' solid defences and HP meant that Stone Arrow and hence the Whirlwind-and-cast technique wasn't much use. Nagas being slow meant I could walk away from a lot of stuff, but sharpshooters, snakes, and poison spitting were all causing me serious problems. I worked down to Snake:3 (killing Nikola thanks to my stack of resistances) but it seemed pretty clear Snake:4 was a bad idea.

Shoals also seemed like it would be a disaster - it wouldn't matter at all how much damage I could do up close if every merfolk I saw could fill me full of javelins, and once I got shallow water between me and the stairs, I wouldn't even be able to retreat easily. For want of a better option I went to Elf; elves also can hit pretty hard, but at least they're relatively fragile.

Elf 1 and 2 went by pretty easily, and I decided to try the Hall of Blades. Here I killed an eveningstar of electrocution; now, I'd already dumped 5 enchant weapons into my GSC, but manifestly my current setup just wasn't working, and maybe I should take all those shields Crawl kept giving me as hints, especially since I also had a stack of enchant armour I didn't know what to do with - I didn't want to dump them into acid dragon scales when I didn't expect to wear them all game. I'd regret the loss of those 5 enchant weapons, but the eveningstar was good from the get-go (and already at mindelay) and I did get it to +9 eventually.

Even with no Shields I immediately got 20-odd SH as well as the AC from the large shield of protection, and the effect was dramatic, an enormous improvement in defences. Also, ordinarily large weapons enjoy a bit of an advantage even before mindelay in that if you kill your opponent with an attack, you don't care how long the attack takes to deliver - but the way WJC martial attacks deliver one or two moves' worth of damage all at once reduces that factor. I went back to Snake and cleared Snake 4 with little difficulty, laughing off all kinds of things that had been serious problems beforehand. In particular, I think Vashnia and her pack of sharpshooters might well have killed me without the change of setup. The temporary inability to use LRD was a nuisance, but not the end of the world.

I went back to Elf:3; I almost immediately got the remaining gold to buy a ring with {EV+6 Str+3 SInv} which I'd use all game. The rest of E:3 didn't really yield much directly useful, but the XP overcame enough of the shield penalty that I could go back to using all my normal spells.

Shoals didn't prove troublesome; by now I think I'd added an amulet of reflection in place of a mostly-useless amulet of magic regeneration (my low-level spells and high Spellcasting aptitude meant I was almost never low on MP) so fauns and the like just spontaneously killed themselves.

Vaults 1-4 gave me Throw Icicle, which effectively replaced Stone Arrow, which was now very weak against typical monsters, and gave me a ring with {rN+ MP+9 Str+4} which, while I normally preferred +4 protection, was handy for clearing Crypt without getting drained quite so dramatically. It also gave Ozo's Armour; fire and ice dragons and giants were becoming a problem, and I realised I could swap to a +2 robe of resistance and not really compromise my defences overall. (I had rings of rF and rC, but my existing rings were both pretty good so I didn't want to have to swap them for fights if possible. In Stoat Soup you can still move with Ozo's up, so it's not useless in conjunction with WJC martial attacks; instead you can't cast it without a monster in view, which stops Hypothetically Optimal Man exploring with it, casting it before opening doors and taking stairs, etc.)

I did go to Crypt next; almost the first monster I saw was a curse skull which I one-shotted with a large rock, something I mention only because it was so incredibly satisfying. C:1 had a wizlab, Zonguldrok's Shrine, which was very easy; nothing outside was a problem, and then I silenced the antique lich and just hammered it flat.

The rest of Crypt was odd in that C:1 was difficult (Khufu's pack got inconvenient torments in), C:2 was difficult (another curse skull I notably failed to one-shot, so I got flayed and tormented and had a tricky time running away), but C:3 was pretty easy; it wasn't the really easy one with flying skulls and jiangshi, but it just never got very hairy.

Depths was next and it was fine, with an odd crystal-walled large vault on U:3 absolutely packed with shapeshifters, elementals, and ball lightning. However, a gold dragon dropped scales and since I now had a huge supply of large rocks, I abandoned magic (other than Blink and the still incredibly effective Animate Skeleton) in favour of heavy armour and throwing rocks at anything at range.

That left the tricky 3rd rune question... but I was pretty sure Vaults was going to be the answer; indeed, while I had a hatch down to V:5, it seemed like Heavenly Storm (and haste/might/agility) would easily clear the welcoming committee while hiding me from the view of any vault wardens or ranged attackers who turned up, provided I had the sense to retreat early rather than get low and then have a vault warden get close and lock the stairs.

This worked out beautifully, not only clearing the initial vault guards but a whole lot of other monsters and doing so without me being in any serious danger at any point. I think I got up to 33 extra slaying at one point; I did once have to read a scroll of fear to get out of a complete circle of 8 vault guards who otherwise would have prevented martial attacks, but I had plenty of them.

Next step, Zot? Not so; a friend of mine and I have a little friendly rivalry going on, and since she cleared 10 ziggurat levels on a recent win, I thought I'd try for 11. Some of them got a bit hairy, especially a Pan-themed Zig 6 I had to Heavenly Storm on, but I survived and turned a profit on consumables; I could have tried more, but I didn't really need anything and 11 levels suffices to put the ball back in her court.

Next step, Zot, at least after buying all the consumables. I cleared Zot; I got teleportitis 1 from an OOF on Z:1, but since I had 22 potions of mutation, that was no big deal to roll out, getting MP-powered wands and rMut; and I'd been able to kill it without other difficulty, an encouraging trend.

Z:2 had the "dig_for_victory" transporter vault, which I unwisely went in. In the past I've cleared this by teleporting out rather than trying to run for the hatch; a fine idea, except this one had a quicksilver dragon in which promptly cancelled the teleport, and a curse toe which tormented me. Things rapidly turned very unpleasant and I managed to make it out only by Heavenly Storm, using multiple heal wounds, and using two more teleports; after the first one a moth of wrath berserked the dragon which I think stopped it breathing again. I could easily have died here and the decision to go in was obviously wrong.

Z:5 served up one major problem. Generally in Zot I'd been, oddly, finding draconian packs much more of a problem than anything else; normally I find drac packs are chaff and it's things like OOFs and curse toes you have to watch for. As luck would have it, a drac pack and Orb Guardian came out the orb vault entrance just as another one opened a door on the other side of the room I was in, and a moth of wrath turned up and berserked the Orb Guardian; then a draconian shifter blinked me off my line of retreat and things degenerated. I survived (obviously) but ended up using both my scrolls of summoning, something I was hoping to have available for later problems.

After that, the orb vault was a cakewalk; I did once get two OOFs at once but just Whirlwinded between them. The orbrun also was not too much of a problem, although maddeningly at one point I dug an escape route from an Ice Fiend which managed to torment me in the one turn it had me in LOS, and for a little while after that I was trying to balance keeping moving with dumping some of my vast potion of curing surplus into HP.

Half a dozen gods left; Kiku, Gozag, Fedhas, Ely, Ash, Jiyva.
Ascension reports with too many words since 2016.

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