What Tactical advice revolutionised your playstyle?


Ask fellow adventurers how to stay alive in the deep, dark, dangerous dungeon below, or share your own accumulated wisdom.

Shoals Surfer

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Post Sunday, 20th November 2016, 06:50

What Tactical advice revolutionised your playstyle?

I've been splatting a ton of promising characters lately due to impatience and bad tactics. I'm not super new to crawl(started playing offline since 0.15) but I have not won a single game, which has made me pretty frustrated.

So, I want to ask people if there was a piece of tactical advice that really changed it up for them, before they got a win. Practise makes perfect,of course, but there has to be a more efficient way of doing things when you're dying on the easiest combos in existence.

EDIT: Finally got my first win as CeFi^Oka after taking the advice in this thread to heart and taking nago's advice on making it so the tab key doesn't move towards enemies.
Last edited by Vajrapani on Saturday, 26th November 2016, 23:28, edited 1 time in total.
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Swamp Slogger

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Post Sunday, 20th November 2016, 08:29

Re: What Tactical advice revolutionised your playstyle?

I'm still fairly new to (and bat at) this game, but the most useful advice I've gotten is simply to recognize threats and to react on time. I would often wait until I had really low hp or was completely surrounded before trying to escape, at which point it was often too late.

In practice, this means you need to take your time whenever you see an enemy to consider your chances and options. If you see something powerful in the early dungeon, consider if you can beat it using any powers/consumables available to you (make good use of early wands and such), if you can retreat to more favourable terrain, if you can simply run away to some upstairs and try later or if you immediately need to use a more drastic escape option such as teleportation or haste. If you try to fight something and it removes 1/4 or more of your health in a single attack, then reconsider the fight immediately and go through your options once again.

There are of course many variables to this consideration and a lot of it comes from experience, but trying to react on time instead of when you're at the brink of death really helped me get better at the game.

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Post Sunday, 20th November 2016, 09:26

Re: What Tactical advice revolutionised your playstyle?

There are many other threads and posts that say a lot of the same things in different ways, but Berder's Guide to Safe Crawling thread has a lot of good advice distilled in a single post. Even as someone with wins at the time it gave me some food for thought.

Personally, for the longest time, I had a bad habit of reactively pressing a key or two to "retreat" after losing a good chunk of my HP. In a turn-based game that's quite stupid. So it took me a while to teach myself the habit of immediately pausing when the situation got dangerous and review my options.

Quite early on I remember reading advice to increase the percentage of HP that give you a warning. Some players have even higher %, but putting the following into .crawlrc seemed to help me react quicker to low-HP situations:

  Code:
## Warn earlier (default: 30%)
hp_warning = 50
mp_warning = 0
hp_colour = 75:yellow, 50:red

Also, playing (and splatting) a lot of squishy octopodes improved my tactical habits a lot: luring and fighting in safe spots, knowing what to fight and what not, retreating/using consumables early.
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Vajrapani

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Post Sunday, 20th November 2016, 10:05

Re: What Tactical advice revolutionised your playstyle?

crate wrote:So instead of giving you lots of advice and overwhelming you with information, I will provide instead this single, not-as-simple-as-it-sounds piece of information I use to tell apart good players from not-good players: You should almost never move toward an enemy that is in your line-of-sight. Once you understand this you will improve.


This one helped me.

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ZipZipskins

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Post Sunday, 20th November 2016, 12:38

Re: What Tactical advice revolutionised your playstyle?

"It's a turn-based game."

Sounds obvious, but there's an urgency that sets in, in tight spots. I used to end up playing faster.

"In sudden crowds, look for the summoner."

I used to fight off the summons, which is a Canute job.

"Look up every single new monster ion the wiki when forst encountered."

Spoilery, but really helped me avoid silly mid-game deaths.

Oh and the MOST game changing I recently got given on reddit:

"Consumables are limited, piety is a renewable resource."

Spam those divine abilities!

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Shoals Surfer

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Post Sunday, 20th November 2016, 23:01

Re: What Tactical advice revolutionised your playstyle?

Any time you find your character in a bad situation, just stop playing for a minute while you evaluate.

You can get up and take a break, you can chat with spectators if playing online, you can ^F ingame to search for items that might salvage the character, you can alt-tab out and do something else for a bit to shift your context, you can save the game and come back later if you like.

The important thing is just to take a minute and stop doing what you were doing, because DCSS is a game where you almost never die to a single mistake. By the time you notice that your situation has gone downhill, you've probably been making a series of tactical misplays for *at least* the last 10 or 20 turns.

A corollary to this is to set your hp_warning to something like 85% in your rcfile. If your character's HP ever dips below that and you don't know _exactly_ what you're doing, you've probably made a misjudgment in choosing to engage.

There's also the old trick of setting force_more_message and auto_exclude for every unique in the game, and setting force_mores for dangerous things on top of that, if you have the tendency to multi-tap your moves.
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Abyss Ambulator

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Post Monday, 21st November 2016, 00:17

Re: What Tactical advice revolutionised your playstyle?

Importance of luring enemies in the early game
Usefulness of Dig/Disint
Teleport sooner rather than later, it's not uncommon for me to teleport at 90% health when there's a situation I know will develop badly.
Cleaving is underrated
Use and timing of divine abilities is important. For example I won a MiBe without using any movement keys in combat except when tabmove would not let me approach the enemy due to terrain. Players outsmart themselves so much this way.
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Post Monday, 21st November 2016, 06:47

Re: What Tactical advice revolutionised your playstyle?

Implojin wrote:Any time you find your character in a bad situation, just stop playing for a minute while you evaluate.

You can get up and take a break, you can chat with spectators if playing online, you can ^F ingame to search for items that might salvage the character, you can alt-tab out and do something else for a bit to shift your context, you can save the game and come back later if you like.

The important thing is just to take a minute and stop doing what you were doing, because DCSS is a game where you almost never die to a single mistake. By the time you notice that your situation has gone downhill, you've probably been making a series of tactical misplays for *at least* the last 10 or 20 turns.

A corollary to this is to set your hp_warning to something like 85% in your rcfile. If your character's HP ever dips below that and you don't know _exactly_ what you're doing, you've probably made a misjudgment in choosing to engage.

There's also the old trick of setting force_more_message and auto_exclude for every unique in the game, and setting force_mores for dangerous things on top of that, if you have the tendency to multi-tap your moves.


Playing on my mobilephone while commuting to work actually helped me with this. Since mobile connection has a tendency to lagg and the controlls are smaller, you can not just tap away like you do on an actual key board. This forces you to play slower and you have more time to react to each and every situation. It is very tedious most of the time, but it also keeps you alive. :P I did win my first 15rune playing on my phone.

"More time to react" sounds really silly in a turn based game, but when the turns are so small/short, it actually matters. :)

Cocytus Succeeder

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Post Monday, 21st November 2016, 09:25

Re: What Tactical advice revolutionised your playstyle?

Changing tab default behaviour from running towards monster to stand still (and throwing things) increased my win rate of about 300%
I think this is the only tactics necessary to win DCSS.
screw it I hate this character I'm gonna go melee Gastronok

Cocytus Succeeder

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Post Monday, 21st November 2016, 12:32

Re: What Tactical advice revolutionised your playstyle?

sanka wrote:
crate wrote:So instead of giving you lots of advice and overwhelming you with information, I will provide instead this single, not-as-simple-as-it-sounds piece of information I use to tell apart good players from not-good players: You should almost never move toward an enemy that is in your line-of-sight. Once you understand this you will improve.


This one helped me.

Crate's one-line advice is profound. The link in my sig goes into detailed advice but it all does boil down to that one line: there is almost always something better to do than move towards an enemy. One of the subtler points about that: noise (AI behaviour differences to visual vs audio cues).

Tartarus Sorceror

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Post Monday, 21st November 2016, 16:23

Re: What Tactical advice revolutionised your playstyle?

nago wrote:Changing tab default behaviour from running towards monster to stand still (and throwing things) increased my win rate of about 300%
I think this is the only tactics necessary to win DCSS.

What is the rcfile setting please?
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Cocytus Succeeder

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Post Monday, 21st November 2016, 17:58

Re: What Tactical advice revolutionised your playstyle?

Macro your tab key (ctrl-d -> m -> tab) to
  Code:
===hit_closest_nomove


And for throwing stuff put in your RC:
  Code:
autofight_throw = true
autofight_throw_nomove = true
screw it I hate this character I'm gonna go melee Gastronok

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Post Monday, 21st November 2016, 22:34

Re: What Tactical advice revolutionised your playstyle?

stick to the stairs like fucking glue, retreat back to them early and often

this is also the tactical advice which made me no longer enjoy playing crawl purely to win and pushed me towards playing to accomplish stupid gimmicks, speedruns, etc

Shoals Surfer

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Post Tuesday, 22nd November 2016, 20:16

Re: What Tactical advice revolutionised your playstyle?

Changing tiles position helps with issues of bad luck.
Never run into a group. Wait there or move back a tile. Unless u go berserk or have reflection or superior skill levels.
Back track to cover if u can't deal with ranged threats.

Pay attention to your skill level, it will let u know if typical monsters will be dangerous or not.

Giants often have giant rocks, which squish u. hard.

Spider Stomper

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Post Tuesday, 22nd November 2016, 20:41

Re: What Tactical advice revolutionised your playstyle?

Psieye wrote:
sanka wrote:
crate wrote:So instead of giving you lots of advice and overwhelming you with information, I will provide instead this single, not-as-simple-as-it-sounds piece of information I use to tell apart good players from not-good players: You should almost never move toward an enemy that is in your line-of-sight. Once you understand this you will improve.


This one helped me.

Crate's one-line advice is profound. The link in my sig goes into detailed advice but it all does boil down to that one line: there is almost always something better to do than move towards an enemy. One of the subtler points about that: noise (AI behaviour differences to visual vs audio cues).



This is the most important advice and is one the reasons that the very first thing I make sure to pick up is stones when starting. However I often don't follow this advice rigorously (I always do it to some extent) even if I know its a good idea because I get tired of being super careful. Usually I only rigorously follow it when I am feeling really weak or there is something I really want to be careful of, for example an open Lair 6 and I want to be very careful about death yak packs or even worse pull two death yak packs at once. I have found I play considerably better on octopodes because my constant feeling of being flimsy basically shifts my mind into this method of thinking. Whereas when I play a Formicid, even though there is no tele backup plan, since I generally build them tanky I go a bit more ham on things.

Edit:
I think the main other thing to realize, especially if you background is normal non-roguelike rpgs, is you very rarely are entirely safe. 20 AC with no GDR and 20 EV is pretty good defense for the lair but against something like a komodo dragon at that level with a low HP species it only takes one bad roll to ruin your day. You roll 1 on AC and don't evade and the komodo rolls high damage that can be very bad. Even if the chance for that is only 1/20 or whatever that is still 5% chance since you wind up killing thousands of monsters with many attack that scenario will play out quite a few times.

You may have a 90% chance of not dying and in a normal RPG that is good since you can just reload a save and you will win "easy". But a 10% of dying in a roguelike in general is actually basically close to a guaranteed loss if you push that envelope 100 times. The wrinkle with crawl compared to many other roguelikes is that everything is very variable. You can always hit weakly. You can have an Executioner Axe and 27 skill and you can still roll a 1 do the same crappy damage a hand axe would, it just happens less and you can hit alot harder.

Even coming from other rogouelikes its not just knowing that something is a big or low threat. You need to shift your threat assessment thinking into "What happens if I roll bad and he rolls good?". Unlike many roguelikes, there can be radical swings and fairly bad/abrupt consequences. Many times I opt to simply run from a D4 or 5 Ogre even on a pretty strong meleedude even if I "should" win simply because there have been too many cases where I rolled wrong once or twice and died. I distinctly remember getting one shotted by an ogre on a guy I thought was doing pretty well and I was like "That complete BS! I had good AC!" but then I was like "Ok, well that is the number. He can hit that hard. Its a fact. Its rare but it can happen. If I don't want to be one shotted do not fight that thing without HP greater than that number. Even if its only 5% of the time with those defenses." This is espcially true in the earlier levels where even with GDR your AC is probably not enough to matter for that GDR so you basically have no guarantees at all.

Everything is a risk, everything is a sort of decision threat assessment but Ithink some newer players get thrown by the math of Crawl since it purposely has considerably more variance than other RPG systems, specifically to keep you on your toes.

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Vajrapani

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Post Wednesday, 23rd November 2016, 01:38

Re: What Tactical advice revolutionised your playstyle?

Pick your battlefield on every encounter. Chose where every fight happens.

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Post Wednesday, 23rd November 2016, 04:40

Re: What Tactical advice revolutionised your playstyle?

When fighting monsters, pretend there is a fast ranged enemy approaching you at all times.

Lair Larrikin

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Post Wednesday, 23rd November 2016, 10:42

Re: What Tactical advice revolutionised your playstyle?

One thing that took me forever to realize, but when I did it had a massive effect on my winrate:

If a fight is going bad you can just walk away from it.

Not blink, not teleport, not haste, just simply walk at 1.0AUT while in contact with monsters. Usually if combat started and I had no escape consumables or an obvious stairs it was do-or-die-time.

As an example. you are fighting an orc warrior and its going decently but not great. All of a sudden two more orc warriors appear and they have you surrounded in an L-shape. Instead of standing your ground and hoping you can clear them it is better to walk around them while they are pummeling on you to get to a safer position (towards explored space, a corridor or a stairwell).

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Post Wednesday, 23rd November 2016, 13:54

Re: What Tactical advice revolutionised your playstyle?

To add to that, remember that walking away from a monster or monsters faster than you can still be a good idea, if you're leading them somewhere worthwhile. Even a chei character should do this sometimes.

For example, lets say you're a chei worshipping normal speed race using a non-axe, with 6 stars of piety on D6 somehow, and you find yourself out in the open with 6 bees coming your way. For the purpose of this thought experiment, we'll also say there's an eye of draining nearby that sapped all your MP, and you have no potions of magic.

Now, you might think it's best to just hold your ground and fight the bees, since you'll take a lot of hits walking away, while doing no damage. But that might not be true. While you'll take a fair amount of hits walking away, you also have to consider all the free hits the bees get on you if you're surrounded, as you are only hitting one at a time.

So there's a certain distance it's worthwhile to walk to get to better terrain. If you take 3 steps and take 9 hits in the process, that looks pretty bad, but from that point on you're only fighting 1 bee at a time, taking 1-2 attacks per attack you put out.
If you don't take those 3 steps, and decide to fight all 6 bees, you're taking 6-12 attacks per attack you put out. Even if it only takes you 2 attacks to kill each bee, you absorb a lot more hits that way than you would have if you had walked to the corridor.

So while it's obviously useful to walk away from enemies slower or the same speed as you, it's good to keep in mind that it is often still worthwhile to walk away from enemies faster than you, assuming you're headed to advantageous terrain.

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Post Wednesday, 23rd November 2016, 16:47

Re: What Tactical advice revolutionised your playstyle?

Having been killed enough times by bipeds with with big scary weapons, I have taken to learning Tukima's Dance whenever practical and peeling that weapon off before they can swing it at me. I see it as a purely defensive spell now. There's not a lot of defensive spells so I don't have a hard time justifying the spellslots.
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Crypt Cleanser

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Post Wednesday, 23rd November 2016, 23:06

Re: What Tactical advice revolutionised your playstyle?

Forget who said it but: Think of your character as 007.

You're not a tank mowing down all the baddies in the dungeon, you're a slick assassin plotting 10 moves in advance, using different tools for different situations, and continually asking "how can this go south?"

New DCSS players are constantly thinking "ok, how am I going to kill this guy?" Good DCSS players are constantly thinking, "Ok, how is this situation going to kill me?"

Slime Squisher

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Post Thursday, 24th November 2016, 13:31

Re: What Tactical advice revolutionised your playstyle?

STOP. STOP TABBING. SLOW DOWN.

Sar

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Post Thursday, 24th November 2016, 13:51

Re: What Tactical advice revolutionised your playstyle?

lethediver wrote:Think of your character as 007. You're not a tank mowing down all the baddies in the dungeon

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Post Friday, 25th November 2016, 07:56

Re: What Tactical advice revolutionised your playstyle?


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Post Saturday, 26th November 2016, 22:34

Re: What Tactical advice revolutionised your playstyle?

Run away from monsters, not towards them.

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Post Sunday, 27th November 2016, 14:00

Re: What Tactical advice revolutionised your playstyle?

You will run into more than 20 situations in which you have a 5% chance of dying. So it's best if you always play it safe (and boring).
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