Difficulty vs XL

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Blades Runner

Posts: 562

Joined: Thursday, 25th October 2012, 03:19

Post Saturday, 1st August 2020, 07:11

Re: Difficulty vs XL

"How difficult is the game as we go along? What is the relationship between experience level and difficulty?"

Instead of trying to use statistics and calculations, I think this sort of question can simply be more easily answered by asking players. As several other replies have pointed out, using data from Sequell is prone to errors and the data is complex. If you ask, you can get sophisticated answers from complex computers (human minds) that account for all those things and zero in on answering the core matter of the questions. You may get varied answers, but I think a number of things may be agreed upon.

But let me back up a bit, as for answering this question, first of all I don't think it's even the most relevant question to ask if you're trying to understand the difficulty levels of the game. I would say that the difficulty of the game is more based around the quality, quantity and relevance of items you obtain, which is random. If you find garbage, the game progressively can get worse or stay in the "most difficult" mode, but each time you find an item and based on how good it is, and how long until you find the next good item is what really dictates if it's going to be an easy or difficult game, more so than what XL you are at.

The other thing that matters is if you're going after an extended game or not, because these two goals would chart very differently. You can play in a manner to make a lower rune count game easier, but which leaves you in a position where a higher rune count game will be harder. You can also play in such a manner that the opening and mid game are more difficult but because you stuck to a more strict plan which was focused on preparing for later, the game is then easier later on.

Anyhow so if I were to answer (quickly at least) the first, most basic portion of the question which is generally asking how difficult is the game as we go along... I'd first refer to the two points I just made plus to give very large generalizations:

The first few levels are dangerous. The reason is that you'll for some portion of them not have found anything great yet. The other reason is that you're pretty weak and a pack of jackals or an unlucky encounter with an adder and dealing with poison can take you out, and you cannot run from them very well. After you reach level 3 or so, things get easier, until you run into ogres and orc priests. If you're careful and you know what you're doing they are usually manageable, but they are dangerous nevertheless.

After that, the game is all pretty easy IMO, with a few notable exceptions for early/mid game: paralysis can end you, monsters with wands of acid can be very unfair deaths, and monster cast crystal spears where you get a high damage roll against you, and getting sent to the abyss too early via banishment or distortion weapons. When I say all pretty easy, I consider this to mean everything in the game with the following other exceptions which come later on:

Orbs of fire, they can take down experienced players still, I consider them dangerous
Hell bosses, not at the top of my list for dangerous but they can be deadly
Pan bosses, again, not really awful but can be deadly
Hellion Island - you have to play it safe
Demonspawn with black mark if you're undead
Tzmitzles (sp?) if you're undead, thanks to silence hell effects and demon cast dispel undead
Tomb3 - the traps, the slow, torment, smite, taking damage on killing enemies - it's the most difficult part of the game and even some of the most powerful characters can slip up in here without care.

If I had to sum it up to be digested in a more simplistic statement, it would be to say that the opening (first few dungeon levels) and the finale (often tomb3) are the most deadly areas of the game, and correlated to XL that means 1-3 or 27.


Cocytus Succeeder

Posts: 2184

Joined: Tuesday, 3rd February 2015, 22:05

Post Saturday, 1st August 2020, 17:58

Re: Difficulty vs XL

Asking players is indeed one way of looking at the question. Unfortunately, I'm not aware of any surveys in this regard. Asking an unrepresentative sample (like the people who post on Tavern) is even more prone to issues of self-selection and noise than the Sequell data I'm looking at.

FWIW, the subjective answer you gave, namely that the first few dungeon levels are the hardest, is the same answer I got from the data.

Your comment about Tomb being very hard could be possibly correct, but I don't look at the deaths in Tomb in my data. (I could look at it in the future.) Just looking at XL 27 will not give the correct answer because most people don't do Tomb. For instance, I mostly only go for 3 runes and haven't done Tomb in ages -- and I still manage to hit XL 27 in my runs.

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Ziggurat Zagger

Posts: 6395

Joined: Tuesday, 30th October 2012, 19:06

Post Saturday, 1st August 2020, 20:00

Re: Difficulty vs XL

I've in the past looked at my games and measured my survival per character that made it to that dungeon level, and compared to my own perceptions, and found that I don't find the early game *particularly* more difficult than the later game (while you have less options for emergencies, there's also less things that can cause those emergencies, and most of those are uniques), for me it's a fairly even slope, and there's not a general area where I find the difficulty changes drastically.

There are particular situations and/or particular opponents I think are more difficult, and I would personally say that Tomb (particularly tomb:3) is more dangerous than any other rune (IMO changing the stairs to hatches put it solidly in first place). And when you compare similar areas, some are more or less dangerous than others, for example, I think the most dangerous Pan rune for most of my builds is Gloor, slow+torment+ high damage poison arrow + sumon executioners can get you under 100 hps from full in 1-2 actions pretty regularly, even with rN+++ and rPois, I consider him noticably worse than say Cerebov, who is potentially dangerous, but in a straightforward "big and throws a lot of fire damage at you" which you should be set up to handle comfortably enough, I have to reset the fight against Gloor more than any other pan boss, plus he's really annoying to try to sneak past, just because of the layouts of his area. But I would say the dangerousness of pan in *general* (and pan runes compared to other runes specifically) isn't generally a lot higher or lower than the things you've done prior to it (adjusted for your character's power level) and I woudn't say there's an order of magnitude of difference between the most/least difficult pan runes.

And of course there's specific things that come up early and late that are dangerous. Early Sigmund/Grinder/Thing with acid wand, or the like, even some unexpected ones, I recently died to a Terrance who normally wouldn't be a problem on D:3 (typically I can avoid him if I can't kill him) once as a FE, but he was wearing fire-resistant chain and I couldn't do damage to him with my spells (literally they did no damage) and he started the fight with a haste potion and I had not yet found a scroll of blink or teleport or a potion of haste (I managed to read/quaff all my unid'd consumables before he killed me) and I had happened to encounter him too far from the stairs to escape, and he managed to kill me before his haste wore off (The +0 spear I was using for a weapon wasn't enough). That's not the kind of thing I attribute to *general* difficulty level though, usually encountering Terrance is a non-threatening thing, and even encountering nastier stuff isn't really *deadly* unless combined with some other situation, the average case has a lot of outliers. It's also hard to notice the "safer than normal" outliers, as they tend to not stick out
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