Brainstorm: a better ranged combat


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Post Tuesday, 8th July 2014, 19:22

Brainstorm: a better ranged combat

At this point I think there's widespread agreement that the current numbers for ranged weapons are just too strong. I know there's work underway to come up with better numbers while keeping to the excellent goal of keeping ranged weapons using similar formulae to melee weapons for clarity.

However, I don't think finding the right numbers is possible with the melee formulae, because the melee weapon formulae is based on the premise that you'll keep getting better weapons as the game goes on. Having to use a falchion all game is awful, and starting with a claymore is broken, but in a weapon class with only one weapon (slings, crossbows), you're forced to make a choice of that nature. Essentially what I'm saying is that melee weapons only work with their current formulae because of loot upgrades.

As such, bows are in the best shape, since they have two weapons in the class and one isn't a starting weapons. but overall, if we want to preserve ranged using melee formulae, we need one of the following solutions, some of which are quite radical:
* Introduce at least 2-3 weapons in each ranged skill so that a range of quality is possible.
* Introduce another mechanic that applies on top of the existing ranged mechanics so that we don't corrupt the relationship to melee mechanics but rather extend them. Examples include special-cased delays (like cutlasses), weapon skill affecting the range you can fire, or having some method (consumable?) allow you to increase the number of shots fired per "fire" action (a loot-based modification of firing speed, in effect).
* Remove the skill for (say) Crossbows: they become a loot item instead of a weapon you build skill in. This wouldn't address Slings, though.
* Merge all the ranged weapons into a single skill and use them as a loot progression.
* Change which ranged weapons can be starting weapons.

If we don't come up with something outside the box, I think that either we will need to allow the ranged formulae to diverge away from melee again or else resign ourselves to the fact that the weapons cannot be balanced.

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Post Tuesday, 8th July 2014, 19:31

Re: Brainstorm: a better ranged combat

Well, part of the merging was to give them each separate pathways for calculating stuff, but with shared code. (Which is I believe the primary motivation for doing things the way they were) so it's entirely possible to give ranged combat a different sort of skill progression than melee weapons, it just requires math, and effort :)
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Post Tuesday, 8th July 2014, 19:50

Re: Brainstorm: a better ranged combat

Ah, I missed that detail. If changing the specific number in the formulae is fair game, then a lot more options become possible. For example, having ranged weapons lose one delay for every 3 (or 4) skill levels instead of every one, or having ranged weapons start with low base damage and gain a significantly higher damage percentage with skill would allow for some better beginning-to-end-of-game scaling.

Edit: Checked w/ PleasingFungus. PleasingFungus said they'd prefer to keep the skill:delay ratio the same as for melee if possible.

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Post Tuesday, 8th July 2014, 21:00

Re: Brainstorm: a better ranged combat

Well from a player perspective the only benefit of the ranged combat reform is that it's actually sort of possible to figure out how ranged weapons behave compared to melee weapons, and if you change the formulas then you're completely getting rid of that benefit

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Post Tuesday, 8th July 2014, 22:13

Re: Brainstorm: a better ranged combat

Lasty wrote:Ah, I missed that detail. If changing the specific number in the formulae is fair game, then a lot more options become possible. For example, having ranged weapons lose one delay for every 3 (or 4) skill levels instead of every one, or having ranged weapons start with low base damage and gain a significantly higher damage percentage with skill would allow for some better beginning-to-end-of-game scaling.

Edit: Checked w/ PleasingFungus. PleasingFungus said they'd prefer to keep the skill:delay ratio the same as for melee if possible.


Well, if that's going to be the case, then what needs to happen is that a significantly smaller amount of damage needs to come from ammo, and larger amounts need to come from the launcher, and there needs to be a variety of launchers for each category, probably at least 3. 4 or 5 would be better. Perhaps a distinguishing mark between the different varieties of launcher should be what chunk of the base damage comes from ammo.

Something like this:

Crossbows:
Ammo: Bolts, 4 base damage
Hand crossbow: 1 Handed (2 handed for small races), base damage 1, max delay 12
Light crossbow: 2 Handed, base damage 4, max delay 14
Heavy crossbow: 2 handed, base damage 7, max delay 16
Arbelist: 2 Handed, special large torso races only, base damage 12, max delay 20

Bows:
Ammo: Arrows, 2 base damage
pixie bow: 1 handed (2 handed for small races), base damage 1, max delay 8
short bow: 2 handed, base damage 3, max delay 11
long bow: 2 handed, base damage 7, max delay 13
war bow: 2 handed, base damage 12, max delay 17

Slings:
Ammo: Stones 3, Bullets 6
Leather sling: 1 handed, base damage 0, max delay 12
Steel sling: 1 handed, base damage 2, max delay 14
War sling: 1 handed, base damage 4, max delay 16
Great sling: 2 handed, base damage 6, max delay 20
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Post Tuesday, 8th July 2014, 22:20

Re: Brainstorm: a better ranged combat

I'm still a little confused by your reasoning here, Lasty. You argued in IRC that any ranged weapon that did significantly less damage than melee wouldn't be worth using, since it'd be better to invest in melee & use positioning to avoid ranged combat instead. (And of course a ranged weapon that did the same or more damage as melee would be overpowered, since ammo isn't a strong constraint for most weapons past the early game.) How would any of these suggestions address that?

I asked you this on IRC, but you replied with a lengthy non-sequitur. (Essentially the OP of this thread.)

duvessa wrote:Well from a player perspective the only benefit of the ranged combat reform is that it's actually sort of possible to figure out how ranged weapons behave compared to melee weapons, and if you change the formulas then you're completely getting rid of that benefit

This is essentially the reasoning, yeah. Delay is the one reasonably transparent part of crawl's combat math, at present; I'd prefer not to lose that.

Siegurt wrote:Well, if that's going to be the case, then what needs to happen is that a significantly smaller amount of damage needs to come from ammo, and larger amounts need to come from the launcher, and there needs to be a variety of launchers for each category, probably at least 3. 4 or 5 would be better. Perhaps a distinguishing mark between the different varieties of launcher should be what chunk of the base damage comes from ammo.

I don't see why any damage should come from the ammo, except for slings, since they have the stone/bullet dichotomy (assuming that we want to keep that). The 'steel' brand would need to be changed, but that doesn't sound difficult.

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Post Tuesday, 8th July 2014, 22:40

Re: Brainstorm: a better ranged combat

PleasingFungus wrote:
Siegurt wrote:Well, if that's going to be the case, then what needs to happen is that a significantly smaller amount of damage needs to come from ammo, and larger amounts need to come from the launcher, and there needs to be a variety of launchers for each category, probably at least 3. 4 or 5 would be better. Perhaps a distinguishing mark between the different varieties of launcher should be what chunk of the base damage comes from ammo.

I don't see why any damage should come from the ammo, except for slings, since they have the stone/bullet dichotomy (assuming that we want to keep that). The 'steel' brand would need to be changed, but that doesn't sound difficult.


Well, "steel" is just a brand, like flaming or frost or whatever, we could keep ammo *brands* and just have all ammo *damage* be 0, that'd probably be just fine (and would simplify things immensely.) I also think that the steel brand's side effect of reducing mulch rate is fine. I don't see that we'd have to change steel at all really.

I agree about keeping stone/bullet dichotomy, but that's rather simply implemented as a "after we've gotten the base damage of the sling, add (or subtract) (two? three?) from it'

With no ammo damage to concern ourselves with, my little suggestion just looks like this:


Crossbows:
Hand crossbow: 1 Handed (2 handed for small races), base damage 5, max delay 12
Light crossbow: 2 Handed, base damage 8, max delay 14
Heavy crossbow: 2 handed, base damage 11, max delay 16
Arbelist: 2 Handed, special large torso races only, base damage 16, max delay 20

Bows:
pixie bow: 1 handed (2 handed for small races), base damage 3, max delay 8
short bow: 2 handed, base damage 5, max delay 11
long bow: 2 handed, base damage 9, max delay 13
war bow: 2 handed, base damage 14, max delay 17

Slings: (-3 base damage for bullets)
Leather sling: 1 handed, base damage 6, max delay 12
Steel sling: 1 handed, base damage 8, max delay 14
War sling: 1 handed, base damage 10, max delay 16
Great sling: 1 handed, base damage 13, max delay 20

(Note I changed great sling, because I realized it was not interesting as it was)
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Post Wednesday, 9th July 2014, 00:28

Re: Brainstorm: a better ranged combat

Siegurt wrote:
List of weapons



I predict confusion over the top-tier bow being a War Bow but the War Sling being the middle-tier. Why not use other adjectives? Why restrict ourselves to quasi-medieval terms? Why not a Bronze Bow or a Compound Bow?
Not really liking "Steel Sling" as a name either. Maybe "Sling-staff" can be the top tier (2-handed!) and we bump the other two down.



I've also thought often about maybe having matchlocks as a rare crossbow type weapon. But I feel like that would encourage crossbow users to gather up and stash bullets (tedious undesirable behavior) just in case they find one.


Edit: Double Crossbow instead of heavy Crossbow. Because I have an irrational hatred of just adding "heavy" as an adjective.
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Post Wednesday, 9th July 2014, 00:45

Re: Brainstorm: a better ranged combat

Before we paint this specific bikeshed I would like to point out that there's no consensus that these changes are actually worthwhile, especially among those who could enact such a change.
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Post Wednesday, 9th July 2014, 02:04

Re: Brainstorm: a better ranged combat

PleasingFungus wrote:I'm still a little confused by your reasoning here, Lasty. You argued in IRC that any ranged weapon that did significantly less damage than melee wouldn't be worth using, since it'd be better to invest in melee & use positioning to avoid ranged combat instead. (And of course a ranged weapon that did the same or more damage as melee would be overpowered, since ammo isn't a strong constraint for most weapons past the early game.) How would any of these suggestions address that?

I asked you this on IRC, but you replied with a lengthy non-sequitur. (Essentially the OP of this thread.)

I'm sorry, I didn't realize I hadn't fully (or at all?) answered your question. I stand by the argument that if ranged weapons are approximately as good as melee weapons, then ranged weapons are too good, and if ranged weapons are significantly weaker than melee, then they will rarely be a good choice. That's not to say that there's no way to balance ranged weapons: even without new mechanics, I think they work fine as long as they're slightly weaker than e.g. polearms for a given level of investment, but they also can scale from starting weapon to end-game weapon in the same sort of way that melee weapons do.

Without one of the proposals above, I don't think that it's possible to achieve that goal. After our IRC discussion moved forward, it sounded like the people in that discussion were leaning towards solving the situation with the first and least radical of my suggestions, adding new weapons. Siegurt's already come up with a starting proposal for new weapons, which I haven't yet had time to consider.

Edit2: some of the other proposals attempt to address the difficulty of balancing ranged weapons against melee weapons in a less symmetrical way, but those would be radical changes that would probably require a lot of time and adjustment to get right.

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Post Wednesday, 9th July 2014, 04:38

Re: Brainstorm: a better ranged combat

Lasty wrote:I'm sorry, I didn't realize I hadn't fully (or at all?) answered your question. I stand by the argument that if ranged weapons are approximately as good as melee weapons, then ranged weapons are too good, and if ranged weapons are significantly weaker than melee, then they will rarely be a good choice. That's not to say that there's no way to balance ranged weapons: even without new mechanics, I think they work fine as long as they're slightly weaker than e.g. polearms for a given level of investment, but they also can scale from starting weapon to end-game weapon in the same sort of way that melee weapons do.


All right; I can agree with that.

I will note w.r.t balance that there's an existing scaling mechanism for low skill, re: ammo. Since ammo tends to be scarce in the early game, it is okay (and in fact good!) if ranged weapons are disproportionately strong early on, since they can only be used in a limited number of fights. (And the 'early game' lasts for quite a long time for crossbow-users not following a gifting god... all the way until snake if they're lucky, and vaults if they're not!)

That said, I'm not opposed to the idea of a limited number of new launcher types. I just think the starting launcher types can be made a bit better than a naïve DPS comparison to starting melee weapons would suggest.

-

To help guide discussion, I'll mention my own thoughts on weapon type differentiation. Slings, as one-handed weapons, are a natural choice for a staves-style "good results for investment, but limited peak potential", since a one-handed weapon can be used by many character types. (And therefore the strategic versatility of a weapon type that demands only limited xp investment fits well.) Probably a basic sling type with something like 12/6 delay, and then a rare, lajatang-style upgrade, would be appropriate.

Bows and crossbows could take the role of 2h m&f and longblades respective; the former more common, but giving slightly worse returns for skill investment than the latter, and lacking the latter's rare high-end weapon types. I'd perhaps lean toward keeping the same 2 bow types, and adding two more crossbow types to make three (early, mid/late, and rare), but that's more-or-less off the top of my head.

I'm not set on these choices, but I'd appreciate if people at least tried to express their reasoning behind any weapon types/numbers they suggest; Siegurt, I appreciate your list of numbers, but it's hard to talk about it while having no idea what your reasoning for any of your choices is!

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Post Wednesday, 9th July 2014, 04:49

Re: Brainstorm: a better ranged combat

btw if you're going to change ranged combat I have two suggestions:

1) make ammo mulch on every shot (this is an enormous interface improvement at basically no cost other than adjusting ammo quantities)
2) make it actually possible to run out of ranged ammo; this is supposed to be the thing that distinguishes ranged from melee from conjurations (as I said in another topic: no limit per-fight but limited per-game; vs no limits at all; vs limited per-fight but no limit per-game) but in practice you have infinite ammo

note that 1) really makes it easier to also accomplish 2)

I think both of these are actually much more important than making ranged combat more "balanced"; and of note: if you make 2) a thing, then it's actually ok if ranged weapons are stronger than melee weapons (to a degree) since you literally cannot use them against everything or you run out of ammo

There's another option if you don't want to make ammo limits a real thing, and that's to just eliminate ammo entirely ... I would strongly suggest pursuing one of those two options.

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Post Wednesday, 9th July 2014, 05:36

Re: Brainstorm: a better ranged combat

crate wrote:btw if you're going to change ranged combat I have two suggestions:

1) make ammo mulch on every shot (this is an enormous interface improvement at basically no cost other than adjusting ammo quantities)
2) make it actually possible to run out of ranged ammo; this is supposed to be the thing that distinguishes ranged from melee from conjurations (as I said in another topic: no limit per-fight but limited per-game; vs no limits at all; vs limited per-fight but no limit per-game) but in practice you have infinite ammo

note that 1) really makes it easier to also accomplish 2)

I think both of these are actually much more important than making ranged combat more "balanced"; and of note: if you make 2) a thing, then it's actually ok if ranged weapons are stronger than melee weapons (to a degree) since you literally cannot use them against everything or you run out of ammo

There's another option if you don't want to make ammo limits a real thing, and that's to just eliminate ammo entirely ... I would strongly suggest pursuing one of those two options.


Yeah I've been talking with people about both of those things as well. The latter is more of a longer-range thing (if it's on the horizon), but the former seems both straightforward and relatively harmless.

Assuming that you include minq?may's suggestion of multiplying generated ammo by current mulch rates, implementation of (1) would be relatively simple. Unsurprisingly, the largest differences would be large rocks - e.g., stone giants would go from having 2-6 large rocks to having 60-180... which seems like it would have some undesirable impact on gameplay. You could not increase large rock generation, but then you'd might need to generate significantly more floor rock piles to avoid starving large races for ammo. Objstat suggests ~300 large rocks are generated in a game at present, and checking recent oghu wins found they hurled 800-3000 (!!!) large rocks. Even if we want to limit large rock throwing a little more, a factor of 10 reduction seems excessive... Looks like about half of those 300 rocks are generated on monsters, so we could increase floor pile size by a factor of 3 and end up with about 600 large rocks per 3-rune game, which sounds like something in the ballpark of reasonable.


(2), as you noted, would probably follow (1)...

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Post Wednesday, 9th July 2014, 05:39

Re: Brainstorm: a better ranged combat

PleasingFungus wrote:Assuming that you include minq?may's suggestion of multiplying generated ammo by current mulch rates, implementation of (1) would be relatively simple.
I hope you mean dividing by current mulch rates...

Anyway I'm not convinced that throwing being 50 times better for large races than for other races is something worth keeping in the first place.

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Post Wednesday, 9th July 2014, 05:44

Re: Brainstorm: a better ranged combat

PleasingFungus wrote:
Lasty wrote:I'm sorry, I didn't realize I hadn't fully (or at all?) answered your question. I stand by the argument that if ranged weapons are approximately as good as melee weapons, then ranged weapons are too good, and if ranged weapons are significantly weaker than melee, then they will rarely be a good choice. That's not to say that there's no way to balance ranged weapons: even without new mechanics, I think they work fine as long as they're slightly weaker than e.g. polearms for a given level of investment, but they also can scale from starting weapon to end-game weapon in the same sort of way that melee weapons do.


All right; I can agree with that.

I will note w.r.t balance that there's an existing scaling mechanism for low skill, re: ammo. Since ammo tends to be scarce in the early game, it is okay (and in fact good!) if ranged weapons are disproportionately strong early on, since they can only be used in a limited number of fights. (And the 'early game' lasts for quite a long time for crossbow-users not following a gifting god... all the way until snake if they're lucky, and vaults if they're not!)

That said, I'm not opposed to the idea of a limited number of new launcher types. I just think the starting launcher types can be made a bit better than a naïve DPS comparison to starting melee weapons would suggest.

-

To help guide discussion, I'll mention my own thoughts on weapon type differentiation. Slings, as one-handed weapons, are a natural choice for a staves-style "good results for investment, but limited peak potential", since a one-handed weapon can be used by many character types. (And therefore the strategic versatility of a weapon type that demands only limited xp investment fits well.) Probably a basic sling type with something like 12/6 delay, and then a rare, lajatang-style upgrade, would be appropriate.

Bows and crossbows could take the role of 2h m&f and longblades respective; the former more common, but giving slightly worse returns for skill investment than the latter, and lacking the latter's rare high-end weapon types. I'd perhaps lean toward keeping the same 2 bow types, and adding two more crossbow types to make three (early, mid/late, and rare), but that's more-or-less off the top of my head.

I'm not set on these choices, but I'd appreciate if people at least tried to express their reasoning behind any weapon types/numbers they suggest; Siegurt, I appreciate your list of numbers, but it's hard to talk about it while having no idea what your reasoning for any of your choices is!


My reasoning for the numbers I picked was more or less "you should have access to a slightly weaker than melee weapon at varying intervals" I more-or-less inverted your interpretation of bows/crossbows, I had "slightly weaker than mace/flail" in my head when I was sketching out crossbows, and "slightly weaker than longblades" in my head when sketching out bows.

I decided to make a one-handed long/crossbow, because I think it would be nice to have such a thing available (also the 'pixie bow' because I wanted a 'really weak, but faster than normal speed' launcher and it seemed to fit in with my roughing things in.

I made the one handed variants weaker than the two-handed counterparts (I had "weaker than onehanded short/1 handed long blades" in my head when I threw out slings)

I've done lots and lots of stupid stupid math using base damage, delay, skills, and the attack formulas, so this was literally just winging it with that in the background, almost no work at all went into picking the numbers other than my feel for what's balanced in a ranged weapon. My expectation is that real numbers will have to be actually run through a calculator at least, and probably a lot of fsims before becoming a good set of balanced ranged weapons. I just threw some numbers out there to have a starting point. I also had some arbitrary 'rarity' assigned to them in my head, based largely on what I was making it 'weaker than' which I neither bothered to mention, nor do I think is really important :)

Also I'm not really attached to the adjectives at all, they were picked mostly from sheer arbitrariness.

Hm, Also, now that I'm thinking about it, something else which popped into my head: I think there should be a "giant sling" only usable by ogres/trolls, which fires large rocks. Damage/delay to be something to be decided later, which makes sense in the context of other ranged weapons, and makes sense as an alternative to throwing them.
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Post Wednesday, 9th July 2014, 06:28

Re: Brainstorm: a better ranged combat

reducing large rock usage by a factor of 10 actually sounds entirely reasonable to me btw

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Post Wednesday, 9th July 2014, 06:42

Re: Brainstorm: a better ranged combat

duvessa wrote:
PleasingFungus wrote:Assuming that you include minq?may's suggestion of multiplying generated ammo by current mulch rates, implementation of (1) would be relatively simple.
I hope you mean dividing by current mulch rates...

Anyway I'm not convinced that throwing being 50 times better for large races than for other races is something worth keeping in the first place.

I'm just kind of reluctant to make ogres much weaker than they already are.

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Post Wednesday, 9th July 2014, 06:55

Re: Brainstorm: a better ranged combat

PleasingFungus wrote:I'm just kind of reluctant to make ogres much weaker than they already are.


Independent of the large rocks thing, Og isn't that weak, if it is "weak" at all.

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Post Wednesday, 9th July 2014, 13:01

Re: Brainstorm: a better ranged combat

I like PleasingFungus's suggestion that slings should get one additional weapon and crossbows two more. I would aim for something like this:

Sling: one hand, 7 dmg (stone), 10 dmg (bullet) dam, 12 delay, present rarity
Better sling: one hand, 10 dmg (stone), 13 dmg(bullet), 13 delay, rarity approx equal to demon trident.
This design is aiming to leverage the rarity of sling bullets to allow slings to be under-melee-curve with stones and on-melee-curve with bullets. If bullets aren't rare, then this design isn't ideal -- Trog and Okawaru are fine here. The lesser sling ranges from hand axe to quarterstaff, and the greater sling ranges from slightly worse than quarterstaff to equal to demon sword.

Shortbow: two hands, 8 dmg, 13 delay, rarity unchanged
Longbow: two hands, 15 dmg, 18 delay, rarity unchanged or slightly rarer than present
The short bow is slightly worse than a trident. The longbow is somewhat worse than greatsword/glaive/battleaxe and becomes a significant upgrade over the shortbow, but at the cost of significantly higher skill investment.

Hand crossbow: one handed, 10 dmg, delay 15 (min delay special-cased to 10), scimitar rarity.
Crossbow: two hands, 16 dmg, delay 18 (min delay special-cased to 10), current rarity.
Better crossbow: two hands, 22 dmg, delay 20 (min delay special-cased to 10), lajatang rarity.
This design casts crossbows as always slow, but packing a big punch per shot, making them good for piercing armor. The comparison to melee weapons is a little indirect, but hand crossbow ends up being an armor-piercing dagger at 10 skill, regular crossbow is an armor-piercing war axe at 16 skill, and the top-end crossbow is an armour-piercing glaive at 20 skill.

Edit: I strongly approve of crate's suggestions, leaning towards always-mulch over infinite ammo, but I understand that they're probably a separate project if they do happen.

Edit2: changed up the slings to remove special casing.
Last edited by Lasty on Wednesday, 9th July 2014, 17:54, edited 1 time in total.

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Post Wednesday, 9th July 2014, 15:21

Re: Brainstorm: a better ranged combat

PleasingFungus wrote:
duvessa wrote:
PleasingFungus wrote:Assuming that you include minq?may's suggestion of multiplying generated ammo by current mulch rates, implementation of (1) would be relatively simple.
I hope you mean dividing by current mulch rates...

Anyway I'm not convinced that throwing being 50 times better for large races than for other races is something worth keeping in the first place.

I'm just kind of reluctant to make ogres much weaker than they already are.
I'm not sure whether this is sarcasm or not so I'm gonna go ahead and assume it's not. Og is an extremely strong species right now independent of throwing, it is most likely in the top 10 and certainly above median.

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Post Wednesday, 9th July 2014, 15:56

Re: Brainstorm: a better ranged combat

duvessa wrote:I'm not sure whether this is sarcasm or not so I'm gonna go ahead and assume it's not. Og is an extremely strong species right now independent of throwing, it is most likely in the top 10 and certainly above median.

Ah, looks like I was out of date. Using the crude metric of winrate:

* (og cv=0.12) has won 23 times in 3412 games (0.67%): 8xOgBe 7xOgHu 2xOgWz 1xOgAr 1xOgDK 1xOgGl 1xOgHe 1xOgMo 1xOgNe

* (og recent) has won 232 times in 21313 games (1.09%): 51xOgHu 39xOgBe 20xOgAK 15xOgWr 10xOgSk 8xOgAM 8xOgAs 8xOgGl 8xOgWn 7xOgFi 7xOgIE 7xOgNe 6xOgAr 5xOgCK 5xOgFE 5xOgMo 4xOgDK 4xOgWz 3xOgTm 2xOgAE 2xOgCj 2xOgEn 2xOgSu 2xOgVM 1xOgEE 1xOgHe

* (og cv=0.15-a) has won 89 times in 5534 games (1.61%): 18xOgHu 15xOgBe 14xOgAK 11xOgWr 6xOgGl 4xOgFi 3xOgIE 3xOgWn 2xOgAs 2xOgFE 2xOgNe 2xOgTm 1xOgAM 1xOgAr 1xOgDK 1xOgEn 1xOgMo 1xOgSk 1xOgWz

I haven't played much og recently, so I was unaware!
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Post Wednesday, 9th July 2014, 16:07

Re: Brainstorm: a better ranged combat

PleasingFungus wrote:
duvessa wrote:I'm not sure whether this is sarcasm or not so I'm gonna go ahead and assume it's not. Og is an extremely strong species right now independent of throwing, it is most likely in the top 10 and certainly above median.

Ah, looks like I was out of date. Using the crude metric of winrate:

* (og cv=0.12) has won 23 times in 3412 games (0.67%): 8xOgBe 7xOgHu 2xOgWz 1xOgAr 1xOgDK 1xOgGl 1xOgHe 1xOgMo 1xOgNe

* (og recent) has won 232 times in 21313 games (1.09%): 51xOgHu 39xOgBe 20xOgAK 15xOgWr 10xOgSk 8xOgAM 8xOgAs 8xOgGl 8xOgWn 7xOgFi 7xOgIE 7xOgNe 6xOgAr 5xOgCK 5xOgFE 5xOgMo 4xOgDK 4xOgWz 3xOgTm 2xOgAE 2xOgCj 2xOgEn 2xOgSu 2xOgVM 1xOgEE 1xOgHe

* (og cv=0.15-a) has won 89 times in 5534 games (1.61%): 18xOgHu 15xOgBe 14xOgAK 11xOgWr 6xOgGl 4xOgFi 3xOgIE 3xOgWn 2xOgAs 2xOgFE 2xOgNe 2xOgTm 1xOgAM 1xOgAr 1xOgDK 1xOgEn 1xOgMo 1xOgSk 1xOgWz

I haven't played much og recently, so I was unaware!

As a comparison, overall winrate:
* (cv=0.12) has won 887 times in 111867 games (0.79%)
* (cv=0.15-a) has won 1436 times in 178744 games (0.80%)

EDIT: Also compare to Mi and Mu:
* (mi cv=0.12) has won 157 times in 11487 games (1.37%)
* (mi cv=0.15-a) has won 141 times in 11295 games (1.25%)

* (mu cv=0.12) has won 22 times in 4662 games (0.47%)
* (mu cv=0.15-a) has won 16 times in 5129 games (0.31%)

Also to compare stable to stable:
* (og cv=0.14) has won 31 times in 3203 games (0.97%): 8xOgHu 5xOgBe 3xOgAr 3xOgSk 2xOgCK 2xOgMo 1xOgAK 1xOgAM 1xOgAs 1xOgDK 1xOgIE 1xOgSu 1xOgWr 1xOgWz
* (cv=0.14) has won 1009 times in 127091 games (0.79%)
* (mi cv=0.14) has won 132 times in 10165 games (1.30%)
* (mu cv=0.14) has won 14 times in 3171 games (0.44%)
Last edited by nilsbloodaxe on Wednesday, 9th July 2014, 16:17, edited 1 time in total.
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Post Wednesday, 9th July 2014, 16:11

Re: Brainstorm: a better ranged combat

You'll note though that OgHu has the most wins in both "recent" and "0.15" games, so it's hard to say that throwing large rocks is immaterial to their success, particularly considering throwing large rocks is currently the most damaging attack per skill level at all points in the game. (Also consider that large rocks were also penetrating in 'recent' games, which was also a 'throw large rock' power bump)

However even if large rocks were removed entirely I wouldn't consider ogres super weak, definitely not anywhere near the top 5 (Lack of armour is a big deal, not entirely made up for by GSC) but not in the bottom 5 either. I would call them boring with no large rocks (OgWr is a lot of fun to play) but that's personal preference :)
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Post Wednesday, 9th July 2014, 16:25

Re: Brainstorm: a better ranged combat

winrate is an awful metric, but you can pretty easily see that og is an excellent species for winning since it has +3 hp and +3 fighting and 0 exp and a +3 weapon apt

also just about everyone i'm aware of puts trolls in the "top 5" (or maybe 6), and you'd be nerfing those too! caring about some species being weaker than others (assuming ogres are, which they aren't) and not caring about some species being stronger than others is a logical impossibility so good job breaking reality i guess???

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Post Wednesday, 9th July 2014, 17:20

Re: Brainstorm: a better ranged combat

crude indeed to measure the strength of a race like that.

It could be said that it's silly to have th be extra-good for large races for no reason, but then so are M&F for those same races and we do have a two weapon types that belong exclusively to 2 and 1 race respectively.

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Post Thursday, 10th July 2014, 05:58

Re: Brainstorm: a better ranged combat

A first pass on sling and bow balance is now in trunk. The basic sling type is currently better than the basic bow type when using sling bullets, which is a little odd... probably a second pass will be needed in the near future, but this is a starting point.

Crossbows will take longer, and I have no strong feeling on what to do with throwing.

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Post Thursday, 10th July 2014, 08:02

Re: Brainstorm: a better ranged combat

all we miss now is another great chart to compare them at glance with other weapon!
screw it I hate this character I'm gonna go melee Gastronok
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Post Thursday, 10th July 2014, 10:00

Re: Brainstorm: a better ranged combat

PleasingFungus wrote:A first pass on sling and bow balance is now in trunk. The basic sling type is currently better than the basic bow type when using sling bullets, which is a little odd... probably a second pass will be needed in the near future, but this is a starting point.

Crossbows will take longer, and I have no strong feeling on what to do with throwing.


I think throwing should always be the fastest ranged option for the equivalent skill level, but not the most powerful.

A given thrown stone shouldn't ever be more damaging than slings and sling stones.
A given thrown tomahawk shouldn't exceed a... bow arrow?
A given thrown javelin shouldn't exceed a... crossbow bolt?
A given thrown Large Rock shouldn't exceed a... loaf of bread I don't know how to answer this one.

This might want to scale to size, I'd guess. I suspect I'm not answering this correctly as well.
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Post Thursday, 10th July 2014, 11:12

Re: Brainstorm: a better ranged combat

Frankly I believe there is already a fair amount of overlap amongst melee weapons and while the ranged reform has been a great improvement in terms of clarity on just how these systems work, it does look like they simply replicate the overlapping problems melee has but at range which only makes distinction increasingly just cosmetic.

I am not even certain the kind of niche ranged, nonmagical combat is meant to fill; offensive magic offers more variety in ways of attacking and is infinite but controlled by MP to tune the degree to which is affects the flow of fights, melee is infinite and controlled by nothing but has much more restrictive positioning demands, ranged is... melee but at full LoS, with changing brands on demand and no limit at all?
I mean sure, that is different but I still don't see much point to its implementation. Ammunition is supposed to be a long-term limit I believe, but it only means that the player restricts its usage enough that they have virtually endless ammo for everything that matters even if it means using a crappy knife for every non-threatening monster.

Of course this is not a new problem, and it's never been a huge problem since the ranged interface makes it unpleasant for the most part to use ranged over melee, even with ranged being melee++. But still it's a problem that is there and could use being looked at.
If one was to remove all ammo balance wouldn't change much out of the earliest game, although it'd make the problem more apparent as ranged interface would be simplified significantly. If one was to make all ammo mulch on hit and make it 1/4 as common it still wouldn't change much, it'd just hide the problem further by asking the player to melee more trash with weapons he does not consider the focus of his character; that and it'd also also cause the knowledge of when and where enemies carrying ammo start to appear become more relevant.
And frankly, is shutting the player out of using the "core" of his character semi-permanently because of misjudgements in ammo expenditure something stone soup would do? I know right now the development direction is at best turbulent, but is there any equivalent to this punishment for failure to address strategic options anywhere else in the game? I guess you could simply count not dealing with the most basic skilling properly, but then that'd hardly be apples to apples.

Many games use ranged weapons and ammo and many games use them to great effect. I don't believe stone soup really has the infrastructure to hold that kind of thing though, and to build it would require (like many other things) to introduce it from scratch into the equation and build the game's systems with it in mind; I think it can't be contested that currently ranged isn't part of any of that and exists as more of an afterthought that in theory sounds great, in execution undermines the rest of the balance of the game and in practice doesn't do a whole lot because it's awkward to use.

In all honesty, I like the idea of ranged combat and I enjoy the flavor it adds as much as the next guy, but I think offensive wands do a remarkably better job at what ranged combat is supposed to achieve.

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Post Thursday, 10th July 2014, 15:46

Re: Brainstorm: a better ranged combat

What about making ranged even more like magic by removing ammo altogether and providing some sort of skill-based, recharging "MP" equivalent for ammo? That way anyone can "run out" of ammo in the same way one runs out of MP, but then can get back ammo (and re-use their ranged weapon) after X time.

I don't have a real-world explanation of it other than some sort of "I ran out of ammo and now I have to somehow fabricate more" concept.
I don't know how that would work with thrown weapons.
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Post Thursday, 10th July 2014, 15:57

Re: Brainstorm: a better ranged combat

XuaXua wrote:What about making ranged even more like magic by removing ammo altogether and providing some sort of skill-based, recharging "MP" equivalent for ammo?

That's great, except that at that point I'd say "magic already exists; why do we need less-interesting magic with bows?"
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Post Thursday, 10th July 2014, 16:09

Re: Brainstorm: a better ranged combat

More spells like sandblast that use consumable reagents might be a way to replicate ranged combat within the existing magic system. I'm tempted to suggest spellcasting controlling "spell delay" but that's a pretty big can of worms.

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Post Thursday, 10th July 2014, 16:27

Re: Brainstorm: a better ranged combat

dck wrote: [Good points]


I'd only add / point out that if all ammo mulches on hit (which is a great idea) then the ammo shot by enemies will also mulch on hit. If centaurs/yaktaurs spawned with less ammo I think you could maybe make ranged combat more distinctive in terms of having to manage an additional resource over the course of the game; it also helps that fairly recent changes to Vaults and the introduction of Depths have made the game somewhat less of a 'taur-fest than it was back in 0.11 or whatever (though there are still lots of them).

I agree it would take some dedication and effort to get the numbers right, so that you feel legitimate pressure about when/how to use ammo, without making the weapons non-viable (though there's always Trog/Okawaru to alleviate ammo problems).

Anyway, if you want to make crossbows distinct, you could make their ammo (even) more scarce than the other types—one way would be to have same prevalence in terms of generation, but average stack size when generated is significantly lower—but higher base damage for skill investment. That, plus the fact that bolt brands are way better anyway, could do the trick.

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Post Thursday, 10th July 2014, 19:22

Re: Brainstorm: a better ranged combat

dck wrote:Frankly I believe there is already a fair amount of overlap amongst melee weapons and while the ranged reform has been a great improvement in terms of clarity on just how these systems work, it does look like they simply replicate the overlapping problems melee has but at range which only makes distinction increasingly just cosmetic.

I am not even certain the kind of niche ranged, nonmagical combat is meant to fill; offensive magic offers more variety in ways of attacking and is infinite but controlled by MP to tune the degree to which is affects the flow of fights, melee is infinite and controlled by nothing but has much more restrictive positioning demands, ranged is... melee but at full LoS, with changing brands on demand and no limit at all?

I mean sure, that is different but I still don't see much point to its implementation. Ammunition is supposed to be a long-term limit I believe, but it only means that the player restricts its usage enough that they have virtually endless ammo for everything that matters even if it means using a crappy knife for every non-threatening monster... <snipped for length>


These are very good points, and I hadn't thought about ranged combat in quite this way; thank you!

If I was going to define the niche of ranged combat, it would probably be the use of "ranged weapons"; being able to upgrade your weapon in the same way that you can with melee weaponry. Sort of the inverse of Transmutations, which (insofar as the school has a focus at all) is magic that helps you attack in melee, with "upgrades" based on getting higher-level spells( castable), not better weapons. Neither of these are niches that need to exist, of course, but they're fun to play with.

Ammo, in that view, is not at all core to what ranged weapons are About. It's not a very relevant limit right now outside the early game, and if it were relevant, as you noted, it would let people screw themselves over a way that isn't very consistent with Crawl's philosophy.

Branded ammo is a significantly more interesting limit, as a kind of consumable upgrade rather than a necessity - making it rarer but more impactful would be nice, I think. Of course, that might again eat too closely into the design space of wands...
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Post Friday, 11th July 2014, 01:00

Re: Brainstorm: a better ranged combat

What if we did something like this:
1) Launcher ammo always mulches when shot.
2) When wielding a launcher and nothing is quivered, an infinite supply of basic ammo is quivered by default.
3) More interesting/powerful/whatever ammo's supply is tweaked such that you only have enough for the battles where you really need it to count (similar to how consumable supplies should be balanced)

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Post Friday, 11th July 2014, 10:28

Re: Brainstorm: a better ranged combat

What if swords, axes, and such dulled over time and you had to collect some arbitrary resource to sharpen them? Sound like a terrible idea? Well that's exactly what playing with ranged combat is like.
There is no reason to EVER use ranged combat in its current form. There are easier ways to win and there are more interesting ways to win; both of which are far less annoying than micromanaging arrows.
I honestly believe it's just a matter of time before ammo is removed altogether. I felt this way about chunks and item destruction, and sure it took years, but some day ammo will be removed. It's just probably going to take years.

Also, ranged combat is already different from melee combat. You can't use a shield or berserk, the brands are different, and different tactics apply to each of them. The only thing they really have in common is that they're both much worse than conjurations.

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Post Friday, 11th July 2014, 11:43

Re: Brainstorm: a better ranged combat

snow wrote:You can't use a shield

Slings do sort of exist now.

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Post Friday, 11th July 2014, 11:47

Re: Brainstorm: a better ranged combat

Yes the different tactic of shooting an arrow that does extra fire OR cold damage.
Incidentally one could argue ranged combat using branded ammo is berserk all the time. Only, much like everything else regarding ranged combat, extremely better and extremely more boring.

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Post Friday, 11th July 2014, 11:53

Re: Brainstorm: a better ranged combat

Dispersal ammo needs more love. How else would your fragile archer protect himself from melee brutes?

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Post Friday, 11th July 2014, 12:00

Re: Brainstorm: a better ranged combat

Step 1 grab the +2,+10 longbow "Piercer"
Step 2 manfully defend the patriarchy

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Post Friday, 11th July 2014, 13:39

Re: Brainstorm: a better ranged combat

snow wrote:There is no reason to EVER use ranged combat in its current form. There are easier ways to win and there are more interesting ways to win; both of which are far less annoying than micromanaging arrows.

Well, more interesting, yeah, but easier? Have you actually used ranged combat?

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Post Friday, 11th July 2014, 14:49

Re: Brainstorm: a better ranged combat

I've always interpreted ranged combat as a combination play-style of both melee and conjurations. What I see as the ideal design philosophy is using ranged combat to soften up foes to ~0-50% health as they approach, then finishing them off with melee if necessary. I like this because it lends itself toward underutilized builds; medium-armours and middling stealth (achievable in species without good aptitudes) in characters with less than good magic apts. You don't want to have so much ammo that you never get into melee (too much like a caster play-style, which feels uninteresting), and you don't want so little ammo that you end up feeling like you have to lure out weaker monster and slap them to death (like handicapped melee, also tedious). Patashu figured it out before me:

Patashu wrote:What if we did something like this:
1) Launcher ammo always mulches when shot.
2) When wielding a launcher and nothing is quivered, an infinite supply of basic ammo is quivered by default.
3) More interesting/powerful/whatever ammo's supply is tweaked such that you only have enough for the battles where you really need it to count (similar to how consumable supplies should be balanced)


To address PleasingFungus' comment about elemental branded ammo encroaching on wand philosophy (which makes sense), what if we got rid of Frost and Flame missle brands, and maybe remove Poisoned on all except needles. Improve the drop rate of steel ammo, and create a third grade like crystal ammo (another simple step up from steel) that was more rare (whatever the frequencies might be to make it balanced); this would help you deal with threats that would maul you if you let them in melee.
Introduce new, unique, brands to **differentiate from melee/magic/EVO** like say, Corrosive, to function like monster corrosion, or to simply ignore % AR. Mix and match brands (or just brand weights) amongst different launcher/missle types to help differentiate ranged combat skills from each other.

Other thoughts:
I very much agree that there needs to be 2-5 tiers of launchers.
I am concerned about fast species infi-kiting with unlimited supply of "basic ammo" as per above quote. Perhaps a limited supply of non-generating, never-mulching basic ammo?
No basic ammo for blowguns.
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Post Friday, 11th July 2014, 15:22

Re: Brainstorm: a better ranged combat

njvack wrote:
XuaXua wrote:What about making ranged even more like magic by removing ammo altogether and providing some sort of skill-based, recharging "MP" equivalent for ammo?

That's great, except that at that point I'd say "magic already exists; why do we need less-interesting magic with bows?"


I guess it'd be like rods and their recharging rates.
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Post Friday, 11th July 2014, 20:10

Re: Brainstorm: a better ranged combat

I like the idea of 2-3 (or slightly more) of each launcher type. Glad to see development is going in this direction. In very, very early feedback, I found a new hunting sling in a ghoul necromancer game, and while I have 0 skill in slings, I found that I can do some small but non-zero damage to things at range, and have used it to soften things up/get their attention. Feels a lot better than 2 damage slings did.

I'm not sure if I'll put skill into slings and train it up as a real damage source or not, but I very well may, depending on how much skill that'll take. Not sure if I'll find a great sling, or whatever other sling types come in the near future.

Edit: While it's easy to notice the sling itself went from 2 to 5, there's no way for me to check the damage of stones/sling bullets in game, is there? have those changed? They were 4 and 6 before, correct? So hunting sling + stone is base damage 9, and hunting sling and sling bullet is 11? Sling bullets are therefore a demon whip with 6 aut attacks instead of 5 aut for the actual whip?
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Post Friday, 11th July 2014, 23:22

Re: Brainstorm: a better ranged combat

Patashu wrote:What if we did something like this:
1) Launcher ammo always mulches when shot.
2) When wielding a launcher and nothing is quivered, an infinite supply of basic ammo is quivered by default.
3) More interesting/powerful/whatever ammo's supply is tweaked such that you only have enough for the battles where you really need it to count (similar to how consumable supplies should be balanced)


This could create a more interesting play style for ranged characters, at least in my experience with them. The basic ammo would probably be pretty weak, but still useable to deal with popcorn monsters. With low rates of branded ammo spawns you'd have to make the decision between using basic ammo to try and soften a scarier monster or using your small supply of branded ammo.
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Post Saturday, 12th July 2014, 01:32

Re: Brainstorm: a better ranged combat

At the risk of being more unpopular than I am, I suggest placing hard artificial limits on the amount of ammo that can be physically stacked/carried due to bulkiness.

60 sling bullets
40 arrows
30 bolts
15 tomahawks
10 javelins
5 large rocks

Remove directly branded ammo and relegate branding to an applique or dip with limited use quantities. Still limits use, still takes an inventory slot, but doesn't adjust ammo capacity.
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Post Saturday, 12th July 2014, 03:02

Re: Brainstorm: a better ranged combat

I guess adding more launchers would help the balance of ranged combat, but there's still the issue that was raised in this thread of it being really boring (you don't have the positional difficulties of melee or the MP limit/different ways of attacking of magic).
XuaXua wrote:At the risk of being more unpopular than I am, I suggest placing hard artificial limits on the amount of ammo that can be physically stacked/carried due to bulkiness.
That sounds awful, why would you do it?

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Post Wednesday, 16th July 2014, 18:29

Re: Brainstorm: a better ranged combat

I'm seeing things like arbalests and hunting slings in trunk now. How did all of this pan out? Anyone want to post a list of all the new ranged weapons (names, speed, etc)?
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Post Wednesday, 16th July 2014, 19:50

Re: Brainstorm: a better ranged combat

Damage/accuracy/delay (assuming sling bullets for slings):
Hunting sling: 9/2/12
Greatsling: 12/-1/14
Hand crossbow: 11/5/15
Arbalest: 18/2/19
Triple crossbow: 23/0/23
Shortbow: 8/1/13
Longbow: 15/0/17

Crossbows are now special-cased to have a minimum delay of 10.

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Post Thursday, 17th July 2014, 14:09

Re: Brainstorm: a better ranged combat

I've been playing a HaHu with slings. Early in the dungeon I read-id'd ?EW and ?branding on my starting sling, buffing it from +1 to +2 flaming. I had a small supply of bullets (generally about 30) which I used for the scariest monsters, but I mostly used stones (between 50 and 150 at most times). I rarely switched to a melee weapon at all, even for absolutely harmless monsters. With 12 Slings skill I was able to trash everything in the dungeon down through the Lair -- a yak pack seen at a range wouldn't be able to reach me, and neither would black mambas or hydrae. Spiny frogs and wolf packs would get close but not pose a significant threat, because I was able to invest the rest of my XP into defenses and Fighting. I cleared Dungeon and Orc this way and then turned to the Swamp, where I found a greatsling. At this point I already had 14 Sling skill. I didn't switch over right away, partly because by this point I also had Wyrmbane and partly because a +0 greatsling was unlikely to out-damage my +2 flaming hunting sling -- and the hunting sling was starting to get outdamaged by Wyrmbane.

After clearing Swamp I enchanted my greatsling to +4, and then headed over to Snake, where I primarily used Wyrmbane for the rPois. During this piece of the game I got another +2 on the greatsling and branded it to poison (oops). Also during this piece of the game, a patch was pushed that increased sling accuracy by not requiring ranged attacks to pass two separate attack tests. After Snake I headed to Vaults, where I proceeded to use the greatsling w/ rocks to kill everything without much trouble, thanks to the greatly increased accuracy, and yet my reserve of bullets and stones is higher than ever.

tl;dr: a flaming hunting sling with a double-chance to miss cleans up through lair, and a +6 greatsling cleans up Vaults. My recommendation would be to lower the damage on sling stones slightly and also not give hunters a +1 ranged weapon at the game start. Stones are plentiful, but bullets are not.
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