Early game vs mid game vs late game


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Temple Termagant

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Post Monday, 20th February 2012, 08:48

Early game vs mid game vs late game

I'll get right to the point.

I find early game crawl to be exceedingly boring. So boring that I get extremely frustrated trying to get what I call a 'functional guy'. A functional guy is a guy who's cleared lair, and is pondering how to proceed with spells/skills. When I get a 'functional guy', I find the game extremely fun.

Dying on a non-functional guy (an early game character) doesn't bother me. What bothers me is how somewhere around 90% of my characters are dead non-functional guys.

Early game isn't challenging, because there's often no options to try. Do I drink a random potion I haven't IDed to beat this annoying unique, or do I just press TAB a few more times and start over? I assure you, it'll be slowing, paralysis or poison. Or maybe mutation. Could be restore attributes.

Do I try this here wand? Oh, nice. It just healed him. Or hasted him.

I often play Spriggans to avoid this, since the early game on Spriggans is relatively painless. I do not understand melee guys, at all. I blow things up. On my 'functional guys', if i have mana, I am winning fights, since I've played enough to understand my targets. The vast, vast majority of 'non-functional guys' run into Grinder, or a giant frog, or a hill giant, or an unseen horror, and just can't handle that. Spriggans somewhat bypass this by being faster than everyone. Besides maybe bees. I can't tell you how often I've been on that brink between non-functional and functional, and opened a door to bees and been like 'Uh, crap.'

Deaths of functional guys = learning experience. Deaths of non-functional guys = frustration.

This divide between the frustration of the early game and the joy of the mid/late game is something the development team needs to look at. I can tell you that I would find the mid game more fun if the challenge shifted to it. The mid game is often trivial, since you usually get 1 or 2 big nukes operational (but situational, due to food costs) and anything challenging you just trade food for... continuing to play. The late game is when you round out your big nukes with support spells, drop the hunger costs to something you can deal with, and then have to play tactically, since it'll throw difficult situations at you regardless.

So, to recap:

Early game = boring because you have few options available, a bunch of unIDed potions that typically turn out to be paralysis or slowing or poison, no way to deal with the plethora of OOD crap. Early game is insanely difficulty as a result.

Mid game = boring because _ALL_ encounters besides an early Mara, Mennas or Boris can be handled. You have 1 or 2 big nukes you can use to clear out difficult situations, or enough options (ID'ed might, zerk, agility, brilliance potions to handle difficult situations, wands, etc). Once you're functional, you just cruise on autopilot until D:20 or so. Mid game is trivially easy, but often enjoyable because it's so rare that you enjoy just blowing things up with no real challenge.

Late game = tactically difficult. You've got all your big spells up, with support spells and items. Any mistake you make is going to be in how you handle difficult situations, and a death is a learning experience. Late game is challenging and fun.

Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Monday, 20th February 2012, 09:34

Re: Early game vs mid game vs late game

If you lose 90% of your characters before lair you are doing something wrong. You can play better.

Abyss Ambulator

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Post Monday, 20th February 2012, 09:55

Re: Early game vs mid game vs late game

At one point I would have agreed with you - but now I find the early game to be probably the most enjoyable part of the whole game.

Yes, there are sometimes situations where there's just no way out, but if you look at the online records, there are some players with win ratios greater than 50% across a large number of games and very long streaks - so the number of times there is really no way out is a lot less than us mere mortals think.

I am tempted to agree about the bees, however. I think since the removal of Hive, the number of bee rooms appearing in the early dungeon when you are very unlikely to be able to deal with them has increased to an excessive level. (Actually, there might always have been that many bees and it might just be my imagination that they have increased since the removal of Hive.) However, I do think the current bee population makes stealth and cloud-type spells disproportionally powerful in the early game (even more so than they were already.)

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Swamp Slogger

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Post Monday, 20th February 2012, 10:37

Re: Early game vs mid game vs late game

First i'm going to quantify some stuff
Early game= Until the end of the lair, maybe a bit farther.
Mid game=first rune attempt to 3rd rune
end game=15 rune's +

Honestly the mid game is the best in my eyes right now. I'll admit to never personally getting to end game barring some wizmode experimentation, but i have screwed around with characters of friends who can actually beat the game. My various thoughts as follows

Early game= ok, depending on race/combo. Melee is super super boring right now. Melee vs mage in crawl reminds me of melee vs mage in DnD, and i'll probably do a big post about that later. In short though there is a lot of learning and strategy to this level, and it's here that some really neat combo's work that never make sense later.

Mid game= probably the best crawl has to offer, but now it's more about exploring and surviving. At this point you're starting to get your death machine mode. Learning that key spammable spell or found that super weapon that you just Tab through everything with.

Late game= Needs serious work. A huge issue is that the game as is kinda has a natural flow on when you do what runes, and yet after a point you sorta hit god mode from what i've seen. You have a small list of creatures to look out for, and everything else is dust. Even your threats are usually met with "make sure your buffs are up at all times and then nuke it with X" X = your strongest spell usually. Prep quickly becomes more important than combat.

Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Monday, 20th February 2012, 11:22

Re: Early game vs mid game vs late game

Eji1700 wrote:First i'm going to quantify some stuff
Early game= Until the end of the lair, maybe a bit farther.
Mid game=first rune attempt to 3rd rune
end game=15 rune's +


A useful distinction: endgame usually refers to 3/4 runes, Zot, win. Anything beyond that is post-endgame.

Halls Hopper

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Post Monday, 20th February 2012, 11:44

Re: Early game vs mid game vs late game

My 2 cents : I play DCSS for more than 3 years. I have killed thousands of chars, and never won the game. I understand very well the frustration of the early game, because I have spend tons of days on 2min playing chars (I think my best shot is 10 sec :p). After spending time on monster spoilers, play some powerfull classic combo, and learnedhow to deal with mobs, I can now survive to late game with such combos.

But from time to time I want to change my game play, and I must learn again how to deal with the early part. And I fear I completly miss the point with lots of combo. But there is one thing I have learn : on the early game, I MUST flee (most of the time). I have learn this while reading the deep elf conjurer guide, and rediscovered it later with the DS demonic gardian mutation.

From my point of you, learning to flee is the most difficult part of the game because it's counter-intuitive (think about melee chars). With a wizard, after reading spoilers, I realized it was the best thing to do, but never tought about this before. Later, with the introduction of the demonspawn mutation, I played a lot this specie, and discovered the major utility of the demonic guardian mutation : when a demon appear, I must go back, and take time to think, and consider reatreat. And if more than one demon appear, I must retreat and come back later.

I think the game lack of warning point about the dangerousity of what we meet. Recently I started to read more the char ghost's descrition, and tended to avoid them more. As I said I used the demonic guardian mutation as a tension bar, maybe the game could display such information?

Tartarus Sorceror

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Post Monday, 20th February 2012, 12:52

Re: Early game vs mid game vs late game

Cedor wrote:I think the game lack of warning point about the dangerousity of what we meet. Recently I started to read more the char ghost's descrition, and tended to avoid them more. As I said I used the demonic guardian mutation as a tension bar, maybe the game could display such information?

Enemies' names are color coded by threat in the ASCII version. I think it started in 0.9, but my memory may be off.

There's a line in the description about how difficult each enemy is, relative to your current character level.

Halls Hopper

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Post Monday, 20th February 2012, 13:18

Re: Early game vs mid game vs late game

Ho, I should have point that I play on tiles :p I haver seen such color on names before.

And I think I'll find it boring to always check mob description on every encouter. Plus, I think the tension is computed with all the monsters on LOS.
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Dungeon Master

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Post Monday, 20th February 2012, 16:17

Re: Early game vs mid game vs late game

Cedor wrote:Ho, I should have point that I play on tiles :p I haver seen such color on names before.

And I think I'll find it boring to always check mob description on every encouter. Plus, I think the tension is computed with all the monsters on LOS.

Yeah, it would be nice to have something equivalent for tiles. The relative difficulty is calculated by comparing the monster's XP value with the player's XL, not from tension.
<+Grunt> You dereference an invalid pointer! Ouch! That really hurt! The game dies...

Swamp Slogger

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Post Tuesday, 21st February 2012, 01:08

Re: Early game vs mid game vs late game

One thing to bear in mind is that the difficulty in reaching "functionality" varies immensely from role to role. Backgrounds like Fighters and Warpers can be hellishly difficult to get rolling, whereas backgrounds like Ice Elementalists and Transmuters generally have everything they need to coast through the Lair without much problem if played well.

But apart from that, it's important to develop good habits. For example:
Kilnborn wrote:Early game isn't challenging, because there's often no options to try. Do I drink a random potion I haven't IDed to beat this annoying unique, or do I just press TAB a few more times and start over? I assure you, it'll be slowing, paralysis or poison. Or maybe mutation. Could be restore attributes.

Do I try this here wand? Oh, nice. It just healed him. Or hasted him.

There is basically no context in which you should be zapping unidentified wands at dangerous uniques. There's simply no reason for it. When you get a new wand, just use it to blast the next rat or goblin you see to identify it safely. You use a charge, yeah, but knowledge of the wand's properties are more important.

In fact, you shouldn't be engaging dangerous uniques AT ALL if you can help it. If you spot Sigmund or an ogre or something when you know you don't have the tools to beat them reliably, then just get the hell out of there. If they were asleep and didn't notice you, then drop down a travel exclusion and never come back. If they chase you, then get to the nearest staircase, go down a different staircase, and do your best to just avoid that part of the map, leaving some of it unexplored if necessary. Apart from an unlucky paralyze from Grinder or confuse from Sigmund, not many enemies, uniques or not, can chase you down if you have the good sense to flee before closing in on them. Don't just flail on Edmund and hope for the best; run away as soon as you see him and maximize your odds of survival.

Of course, it's still possible for things to go terribly wrong, and some character types have bigger margins for error than others, but smart play will go a long way. I'm not the best player in the world, and there are plenty of backgrounds that I can't get rolling anywhere near reliably, but these days when I die it's almost never because one BS situation popped up and I had no chance to survive. It's usually because I've been repeatedly bullied out of multiple partially-explored levels by enemies I wasn't willing to engage until I fall too far behind the curve and get cornered and killed by depth-appropriate enemies.
Last edited by Sjohara on Tuesday, 21st February 2012, 02:24, edited 1 time in total.

Swamp Slogger

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Post Tuesday, 21st February 2012, 01:37

Re: Early game vs mid game vs late game

Sjohara wrote:It's usually because I've been repeatedly bullied out of multiple partially-explored levels by enemies I wasn't willing to engage


Yes, the distribution of horrible uniques is very uneven. Sometimes I see only a handful, other times damn near everyone shows up by D:8.

until I fall to far behind the curve and get cornered and killed by depth-appropriate enemies.


That's when I'm playing well. All too often the above makes me go on tilt and I start taking dumb chances, and shortly thereafter I start a new char who maybe has better luck.

Temple Termagant

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Post Wednesday, 22nd February 2012, 07:06

Re: Early game vs mid game vs late game

Thanks, all

While there were some that agreed with my perspective, the consensus veiwpoint is that I'm not Doing It Right, which I acknowledge.

I just burned through 2 days of SpAKs, all of which never got anywhere near 'functional', since I decided to run from anything I knew would be threatening. I ended up typically on D:10 at XL:5, since a Spriggan melee guy with a +2 short sword can't handle much of anything more than 'Large Snake/Adder'.

First MfIE I fire up, I lose in the vaults because I misclicked on a meat ration instead of a grape because I was starving and needed to blink out of a pickle. I should use the 'e' interface to eat. I've been burned by mouseclicking before. Oh well.

I just may not have the patience to treat 'non-functional' guys the way you need to treat them to do well in the early game, and my style of burning through guys to get a 'functional' character is possibly not ideal play.

I play on a shared Dropbox folder with another guy, so we share ghosts, and it's been obvious since day one that he plays methodical and careful, and rarely gets a rune... while I play reckless and aggressive, and have won a handfun of times and have recovered almost all the runes (over a number of guys).

Sounds to me, from what I hear here, that optimal play in the early game with the race/backgrounds that typically have fewer options is, perhaps, even more difficult than learning to kill things in Zot with Ice Storm.

Backgrounds like Fighters and Warpers can be hellishly difficult to get rolling


I find warpers relatively easy to get semi-functional, since Shroud is so good now.

There is basically no context in which you should be zapping unidentified wands at dangerous uniques.


Agreed. Often times, you shoot one at a rat and nothing happens. Or you just picked up one and you haven't had time to shoot one to see what it does.

You have to agree, when you find yourself in a pickle, blasting a tough enemy with a wand of random effects is... worth trying.

I ran into an early Snoog, by walking down a corridor and there he was, next to me, and I hit him with a wand of random effects, which turned him invisible. I ran, and managed to get to the stairs. Went up the stairs, and there's an uninvisible Snoog! I hit him with the wand of random effects again, which enslaved him. I walked away from the stairs a bit, told him to wander around, and went back down.

Success! Rare, but.... fun when it happens.

but these days when I die it's almost never because one BS situation popped up and I had no chance to survive.


Yeah, but the fun in the game, I think, is that BS situations pop up MULTIPLE TIMES in any successful character's life. The 'functional' ones are the ones that managed to get out of it.

Yeah, it would be nice to have something equivalent for tiles. The relative difficulty is calculated by comparing the monster's XP value with the player's XL, not from tension.


At least in 0.9 (might have been in earlier but I never noticed) right clicking a monster tells me how difficult it will be, in the very first line after the generic description.

Anyhow, reading the replies here has actually made me feel better. Good Players all have told me that I should be getting 'functional' characters more often, if I play better. So there's a challenge there. I can certainly win on guys I get rolling, but now the challenge is to get guys rolling more often.

Swamp Slogger

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Post Wednesday, 22nd February 2012, 08:16

Re: Early game vs mid game vs late game

Kilnborn wrote:I just burned through 2 days of SpAKs, all of which never got anywhere near 'functional', since I decided to run from anything I knew would be threatening. I ended up typically on D:10 at XL:5, since a Spriggan melee guy with a +2 short sword can't handle much of anything more than 'Large Snake/Adder'.

See, Spriggan Abyssal Knights are precisely the kind of build which one might refer to as Not Good(tm). Abyssal Knights have some wonderful tools to get them out of ridiculous situations that they should never have survived, but offer almost nothing to help you out in run-of-the-mill encounters. Spriggans are extremely fragile and need tools that synergize with their strengths in order to survive run-of-the-mill encounters. Put those things together and you have a character with no states in between "slug it out straight-up" and "blind panic", and a Spriggan can't slug it out with anything. You played a Merfolk Ice Elementalist right after; surely you noticed the huge difference in viability between the builds. I mean, maybe there's some player somewhere who's amazing enough at the game that they can streak SpAKs, but it's kind of crazy to expect the average player to get anywhere with such an oddball character setup.
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Post Thursday, 23rd February 2012, 03:01

Re: Early game vs mid game vs late game

Kilnborn wrote:I play on a shared Dropbox folder with another guy, so we share ghosts,


this sounds like it might be fun (advantages of both online and local play)- is it difficult to set up?
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Temple Termagant

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Post Monday, 27th February 2012, 03:08

Re: Early game vs mid game vs late game

rchandra wrote:
Kilnborn wrote:I play on a shared Dropbox folder with another guy, so we share ghosts,


this sounds like it might be fun (advantages of both online and local play)- is it difficult to set up?


No. Whoever's going to share the dropbox folder you install crawl into all make dropbox accounts. One of those people make a folder in your dropbox folder, and install crawl there. You then share that folder to the other people, and everyone who's in the shared folder will download the crawl install into their local dropbox folder. From there, just run crawl.exe and play.

You'll see each other's characters in the load screen, you'll share the score screen, you'll share ghosts. There exists the possibility that if 2 people load the same guy up you'll end up with conflicted copies, but cleaning those out isn't all that hard if it happens. If your buddy says 'load my guy up and check him out!' you just need to wait for him to save out of the game, for dropbox to finish syncing, then load it up, save out and he needs to wait until it syncs back up before he loads his guy again.

He hates my ghosts. I tend to make crap like TrEEs and get kinda far with them, then he runs into that ghost that will melee him to death _AND_ blast him with LRD and stonearrow. He makes wimpy HEWzs that just spam mephitic. Actually, his ghosts are horrible.

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Snake Sneak

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Post Monday, 27th February 2012, 14:25

Re: Early game vs mid game vs late game

I know where OP is coming from. When I first started playing my approach was to "spam new characters to learn the ropes". My strategy worked very well for learning various things that can occur in the early game but it came at the cost of developing a spamming habit. This way of learning the game ended up being a two steps forward one step back sort of thing for that reason. In my experience it has been much more fun to return back to my very earliest approach of taking every single character I roll as a functional and serious character, because really, they are. The vast majority of deaths come from the player's failings rather than the game situation.

So take each character serious. A weakling human is scared as shit going into a god damn dungeon wherein thousands before him, perhaps even his own brother, have entered and never returned. Your character should behave accordingly.

Slime Squisher

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Post Saturday, 3rd March 2012, 18:02

Re: Early game vs mid game vs late game

Hmmm, I don't really know how this is supposed to sound, but here is my view on the game. I basically play the early game the same with every character. I autoexplore every level to lair and only really worry about losing characters that have a "good start". A good start is a nice randart, a bunch of potions IDed early, some good jewelry especially poison resist. Maybe a plate mail or something for melee, rings of wizardrys for casters, that kind of thing. Crawl is like an abusive ex. They beat on you and beat on you, being JUST nice enough to keep you around.

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Post Saturday, 3rd March 2012, 18:41

Re: Early game vs mid game vs late game

I often find that games with crappy starts turn out to be quite successful, while games with lucky drops see me quickly dead.

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