Are Shoals/Nest Intentionally Much Harder?


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Vestibule Violator

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Post Monday, 20th June 2016, 08:01

Are Shoals/Nest Intentionally Much Harder?

I guess the better question is, SHOULD they be much harder?

I've found Shoals to be so much harder than swamp that it feels intentional. Swamp has always been relatively easy, and some of the newish additions like thorn hunters and treants(thank you enchanted forest!) have helped with the difficulty(or at least the previously bland enemy selection) slightly. However, it seems to me like the difference between swamp and shoals is still huge.

Spiders nest and snake pits are much of the same. Snake pits has a few nasty's, shock serpents can be a real pain without rElec, those ally teleporting nagas can be dangerous without blink, but aside from that its relatively easy. But then look at spiders nest! Emperor scorpions, ghost moths, mobs of spark wasps, and fucking entropy weavers. Even their basic enemies are powerful: wolf spiders are fast and evasive, torpor snails can slow you down, tarantella's can confuse you through MR, jumping spiders can net you, and orb spiders have arguably the deadliest ability of all: They make people stop playing optimally just to tab them out of frustration. Just to add on top of that, they recently added mobs of smiting Bee-ataurs(which belong in swamp along with elec wasps imo).

However, despite being much harder, the lair branches themselves still aren't much of a challenge, but their overall difficulty isn't quite the discussion I'm looking for. Rather, its the large gap in power that the poison/water branches seem to have between their respective brethren. Is it intentional? Should it be? Am I completely wrong to say the difficulty difference is huge?

Personally, I don't have any issue with higher difficulty in most circumstances, but the non-slime lair branches are so easy most of the time that ending up with the 'harder' branch for each time just makes the game go longer with roughly the same probability of death assuming you are playing properly. As a result of this, the response to getting shoals and spiders nest is not "damn, I got the hard branches"(what I presume is the desired effect) but rather "whelp, looks like I'm in for a longer, more frustrating game."

Keep in mind, this is largely just my experience, and much is it is hyperbole for the purpose of the discussion. I don't mean to make any big statement here or try to push for a change from the devs, I'm just curious how other people view the disparity in challenge between the branches.
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Post Monday, 20th June 2016, 08:57

Re: Are Shoals/Nest Intentionally Much Harder?

I personally find snake the hardest, mainly because of guardian serpents and constriction. The other branches may have more average case difficulty but I don't find I die from average situations. When snake goes bad it goes really bad, and a lot of escape methods are unreliable there. I haven't actually died in a lair branch for a long time, but snake creates the most tricky situations.
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Tartarus Sorceror

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Post Monday, 20th June 2016, 09:36

Re: Are Shoals/Nest Intentionally Much Harder?

I think Shoals is the hardest(Snake second hardest) and Swamp definitely the easiest, so it's a bit weird that you either get one or the other between those two. I feel like it'd be less swingy if it choose between Shoals/Snake and Swamp/Spider.

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Post Monday, 20th June 2016, 10:49

Re: Are Shoals/Nest Intentionally Much Harder?

As far as I am aware: not intentionally harder.

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Blades Runner

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Post Monday, 20th June 2016, 20:38

Re: Are Shoals/Nest Intentionally Much Harder?

Yeah, good topic. Shoals has so many ways to screw up your positioning and so many monsters that do nutso damage at range and are faster than you in water. And you can find small armies of 'em RIGHT next to the entry stairs. Swamp has thorn hunters. And nothing else particularly dangerous.

Supposedly snake is harder than spider because you get shops?

I guess that most everything being way slower than you is harder than everything being way faster than you. I am not sure of the logic employed in that case.

The rune vault at the end of snake is harder than the rune vault at the end of spider, generally, I guess.
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Tartarus Sorceror

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Post Monday, 20th June 2016, 20:52

Re: Are Shoals/Nest Intentionally Much Harder?

Snake has a lot of enemies that can see invis, for one. It also has some tough tanky enemies with high MR, and shock serpents, which are scarier than anything in spider.

Most of the time if I have decent defenses I consider spider almost a free rune. Sometimes it can be a bit rough, but not usually. Probably depends a bit on what characters you play.

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Post Monday, 20th June 2016, 21:51

Re: Are Shoals/Nest Intentionally Much Harder?

dpeg wrote:As far as I am aware: not intentionally harder.


Maybe the more important question is: is it a problem that Shoals is significantly harder than Swamp?

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Post Monday, 20th June 2016, 22:04

Re: Are Shoals/Nest Intentionally Much Harder?

If the point of having multiple S branches is that the player make a choice between them, then having one branch be significantly harder doesn't help that.

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Post Monday, 20th June 2016, 22:37

Re: Are Shoals/Nest Intentionally Much Harder?

The main difficulty in spider nest is that it has huge monster density so you aren't allowed to rest while you're in spider. This tries to kill you via annoyance, so it should probably be changed since I don't think that's supposed to be the way crawl tries to kill you.

Then again, since all four of the lair branches are filled with really annoying things (water, monster density + webs, poison) that don't directly kill you, perhaps I just missed the boat here and this is actually the design goal.

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Blades Runner

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Post Monday, 20th June 2016, 22:42

Re: Are Shoals/Nest Intentionally Much Harder?

all before wrote:If the point of having multiple S branches is that the player make a choice between them, then having one branch be significantly harder doesn't help that.


Yeah, good point. Is there any character that would do shoals before spider or snake ever? Merfolk with insane MR, maaaaaaybe?

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Post Monday, 20th June 2016, 22:52

Re: Are Shoals/Nest Intentionally Much Harder?

merfolk in general because having spriggan speed and +25% EV is pretty good
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Tartarus Sorceror

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Post Monday, 20th June 2016, 23:00

Re: Are Shoals/Nest Intentionally Much Harder?

Anyone with invis spell/cloak should do Shoals before Snake, because almost nothing in Shoals can see invis. Basically aquamancers are the only threat.

Not before Spider though, because Spider is even easier with invis.
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Post Tuesday, 21st June 2016, 00:11

Re: Are Shoals/Nest Intentionally Much Harder?

Shoals is really easy if you have some form of deflect projectiles, whether it be through a shield or RMSL. And Swamp can get kind of dicey if you get the ending with the 27 headed Hydra...
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Post Tuesday, 21st June 2016, 00:55

Re: Are Shoals/Nest Intentionally Much Harder?

lerny also can't see invis, which is why I mentioned trivializing swamp endings with an invis potion(wait that wasn't this thread)
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Post Tuesday, 21st June 2016, 03:04

Re: Are Shoals/Nest Intentionally Much Harder?

LH dies to wands he isn't difficult at all
take it easy
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Post Tuesday, 21st June 2016, 04:38

Re: Are Shoals/Nest Intentionally Much Harder?

Arrhythmia wrote:LH dies to wands he isn't difficult at all


I've died to LH only once, and it was because I teleported adjacent to him after reading a teleport scroll trying to get away from him.
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Post Tuesday, 21st June 2016, 04:53

Re: Are Shoals/Nest Intentionally Much Harder?

crate wrote:The main difficulty in spider nest is that it has huge monster density so you aren't allowed to rest while you're in spider. This tries to kill you via annoyance, so it should probably be changed since I don't think that's supposed to be the way crawl tries to kill you.

Then again, since all four of the lair branches are filled with really annoying things (water, monster density + webs, poison) that don't directly kill you, perhaps I just missed the boat here and this is actually the design goal.


I'm gratified to see that I'm not the only one who really dislikes Spider. Personally, I would prioritize making Spider less of a chore to do far over worrying about balancing the four branches. I don't know how much in the minority I am about disliking Spider this much, though. (And it seems I care less than others for making each game allocate resources/challenges with a similar level of difficulty.)
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Post Tuesday, 21st June 2016, 05:14

Re: Are Shoals/Nest Intentionally Much Harder?

crate wrote:The main difficulty in spider nest is that it has huge monster density so you aren't allowed to rest while you're in spider. This tries to kill you via annoyance, so it should probably be changed since I don't think that's supposed to be the way crawl tries to kill you.

Then again, since all four of the lair branches are filled with really annoying things (water, monster density + webs, poison) that don't directly kill you, perhaps I just missed the boat here and this is actually the design goal.


I've never heard a better description of spiders nest.

I miss the days when ignite poison took them out handedly. :(
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Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Tuesday, 21st June 2016, 07:18

Re: Are Shoals/Nest Intentionally Much Harder?

For some reason I'm always happy to get Spider instead of Snake. I haven't found the monster density a big annoyance. Maybe it's because typically if I'm not wearing heavy armour I'm stealthy, and if I'm wearing heavy armour, well, AC is good in Spider. Snake feels more tedious to me with guardian serpents and sharpshooters...
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Post Wednesday, 22nd June 2016, 02:50

Re: Are Shoals/Nest Intentionally Much Harder?

I don't think there's a significant balance issue here. I usually prefer to do Swamp/Spider before Snake/Shoals, but in my experience the difference between any two of them is pretty small for most characters. Access to one of a few specific abilities/spells can immediately flip the order from its default setting, and a nasty unique or unfavorable terrain/monster combo is all it takes to eliminate the "no-brainer" and make me puzzle my way carefully between the two branches.

Because of and/or despite this fact, here's a FR for y'all: Generate only one "S" branch per game. They're all much easier than Vaults/Abyss/Slime/Tomb for most characters, and it's an easy way to further streamline the game and tighten the belt on XP. Plus those other four branches (and/or a Hell or Pan rune) are much better differentiated in terms of threats, tactics, etc. -- why should we be allowed to get away with clearing only one of them in a 3-runer? At the risk of my already embarrassing winrate, force me to play harder!
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Post Wednesday, 22nd June 2016, 15:32

Re: Are Shoals/Nest Intentionally Much Harder?

Reptisaurus wrote:
all before wrote:If the point of having multiple S branches is that the player make a choice between them, then having one branch be significantly harder doesn't help that.


Yeah, good point. Is there any character that would do shoals before spider or snake ever? Merfolk with insane MR, maaaaaaybe?


I've always found Shoals to be much easier than Snake, and I don't think I've ever successfully cleared Swamp.

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Post Wednesday, 22nd June 2016, 16:08

Re: Are Shoals/Nest Intentionally Much Harder?

Spider also, yes, has the separate problem that it is lots of fast melee creatures with small individual hits, so if you have lots of AC nothing will ever hurt you and if you are weak it is completely impossible. If you never take damage because you have so much AC then you don't have to rest so the monster density doesn't matter, but of course then the problem with spider is that, you know, it's never going to kill you.

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Post Saturday, 25th June 2016, 07:56

Re: Are Shoals/Nest Intentionally Much Harder?

Shoals is always hard no matter what. I only go there for the water nymphs.
Snake is sometimes difficult. mostly the fire magic and melee with the shield bearers.
Spider is a toss up. It's really easier when you are reflecting orbs of destruction back at spider orbs.
Swamp i've always found the easiest. Spriggans can be dangerous.

has anyone here ever made the orb of destruction spin in circles around the character? it's funny.
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Post Saturday, 25th June 2016, 09:05

Re: Are Shoals/Nest Intentionally Much Harder?

TonberryJam wrote:Spider is a toss up. It's really easier when you are reflecting orbs of destruction back at spider orbs.

It's even easier when you don't let the orbs hit you.
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Post Saturday, 25th June 2016, 11:58

Re: Are Shoals/Nest Intentionally Much Harder?

I don't quite understand the huge dislike for orb spiders.

Just stand near a corner, use ranged attacks (wands, throwing, untrained shortbow, spells, whatever). Poison needles work well. Oh there's an orb! Step around the corner. Position yourself next to another corner. Repeat.

Yes, if you insist on tabbing everything with a melee weapon they can be irritating, but ranged attacks do exist.

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Post Sunday, 26th June 2016, 08:44

Re: Are Shoals/Nest Intentionally Much Harder?

Making them miss you takes more work then just having most of them reflect. I mean when's the last time you made a orb circle you perpetually until you got bored of it, and changed your movement rotation?
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Post Sunday, 26th June 2016, 09:13

Re: Are Shoals/Nest Intentionally Much Harder?

Nothing stops you doing that if you find it fun, but "having most of them reflect" is not good enough when the rest that don't reflect will hit you (9d9 max damage). I rather kill the orb spiders without getting hit.
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Post Monday, 27th June 2016, 20:41

Re: Are Shoals/Nest Intentionally Much Harder?

I find spider and snake generally fairly even, but sometimes when you enter spider you get swarmed right away. One time I lost a pretty good DGFE because I got webbed, then confused on the stairs, surrounded by black widows and a couple tarantellas, and when I finally stumbled up the stairs it didn't matter, because every time I drank a cure pot I got confused again.

I find entering spider 1 to be the hardest part, once you have a clear entryway it's usually fine, and you have 3 stairs for the rest of the floors. Snake's entry isn't terribly hard usually, but it keeps a good level of danger throughout.

Swamp is way easier than shoals, I am always happy to get swamp. Water nymphs stealing staircases really sucks (upward staircases no less... come on that makes no sense! If the stairs are so flooded I can't see them, then the whole damn level must be flooded! So why can't I just swim up to the previous floor?!??!?)

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Post Friday, 15th July 2016, 21:56

Re: Are Shoals/Nest Intentionally Much Harder?

dowan wrote:Water nymphs stealing staircases really sucks (upward staircases no less... come on that makes no sense! If the stairs are so flooded I can't see them, then the whole damn level must be flooded! So why can't I just swim up to the previous floor?!??!?)


Because it temporarily transforms the stairs into ground. Water nymphs saw the number of adventurers that were using stairs for escaping, and developed a weapon to try to counter that.

Edit: oops thread necromancy.
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Post Saturday, 16th July 2016, 04:38

Re: Are Shoals/Nest Intentionally Much Harder?

Hnnnn... I'm inclined to agree.

Now keep in mind I almost exclusively play a gargoyle fighter when I say this.

Snake Pit is... Eh. Sometimes it's easy, sometimes it's not. It doesn't really stand out to me in any one way and I always feel apathetic about it.

I'm happy to get Swamps. It HAS tried very hard to kill me, including one time I got three swamp dragons and multiple hydras. On Swamp one. When I came down the stairs. But in general I just find it easier than any other branch.

I always feel hostile towards spider, ESPECIALLY ever since the entropy weaver showed up. Everything is a threat! The only thing not hurting me are the jumping spiders and frankly that's little consolation. Surprisingly, emperor scorpions and hornets are the things I'm always mildly relieved to see; far better than more orb spiders, pack of wolf spiders, or Okawaru knows what else. I can generally make it to the vault, but every time there's an entropy weaver or just too many unusual threats I get killed

I have developed a hatred for Shoals. I never considered it a threat but it has recently killed and near-killed me more than I care to admit. That branch is a MASTER at unusual tactics, restricting you, and ganging up on you. It's incredible how quickly I can go from just fine to the brink of death in that place. That branch more than any other has made me very cautious and deliberative, which is wonderful.
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