Question about melee builds.


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Slime Squisher

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Post Sunday, 25th September 2011, 00:12

Question about melee builds.

Been playing a lot of casters and just kinda tired of it so looking for a change of pace. Tried many different fighter builds and all met with gruesome deaths, mostly just by attritioning out from poison and really just a lack of offensive options. It seems like the entire strategy playing a fighter type build revolves around just trying to survive until you luck out on some randarts or early protection items. I use all the ranged weapons I come across but most of them miss and only really damage low level monsters. I really don't know whether to level armor, dodging or both. Do I keep fighting on all the time? Sorry for all the noob questions but I dunno, I just can't seem to get the hang of melee.
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Post Sunday, 25th September 2011, 00:26

Re: Question about melee builds.

For an easy intro into Melee you can't go wrong with TrBe (or TrMo especially in .10). You can basically hold down Tab until D:4 with these guys. Things do start to get hairy about the time you are clearing Lair.

MiBe is great also. Very solid melee base that is capable of using much more armor than the Troll.
KoboldLord wrote:I'm also morbidly curious now as to how Shatter is abusable for 'stealth tricks'. It's about as stealthy as the Kool-Aid Man smashing through the walls and running through the room

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Post Sunday, 25th September 2011, 00:36

Re: Question about melee builds.

If you don't care about magic, the best melee approach (IMO) are Berserkers. Their powers are very useful for surviving the early game, which helps with that whole "survive until I find good equipment" angle.

Not that going berserk (and later Brothers In Arms) can solve all your problems, though - you're right in that skill management matters. Most characters have to choose between Armor or Dodging - it's hard to get both high EV and AC on the same character, especially for short runs. Which one depends on your species (and aptitudes) - Kobolds obviously are better off focusing on Dodging, while tough high-HP races like Minotaurs probably should go for Armor. And yes, keep Fighting on all the time. There is no reason for any melee character ever to turn that off.

As for ranged weapons, your best bet is to use them to finish off enemies who try to run. If you're going to use ranged as a main means of offense, you need javelins, large rocks (if you're a Troll/Ogre), or at worst slings with good bullets. Darts and thrown stones just don't have enough stopping power, and bows/crossbows have too many penalties if you use a shield (or don't feel like switching them out for your melee weapon all the time). Another way to approach ranged is to use blowguns and needles - poison (and even better curare) are really good against most early enemies. No matter my character type (melee, caster, berserker, whatever), I pick up the first blowgun and needle pile I see - it usually comes in handy, and I can always drop it later if I need the space or when poison stops being so useful. By the mid/late game with Berserkers, I usually don't use ranged weapons at all, and rely more on wands when I need to hit something at range.
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Post Sunday, 25th September 2011, 00:55

Re: Question about melee builds.

@HC - What do you propose for races like Troll/Ogre as far as Armor/Dodging?

I like to go with a bit of both on my Trolls because until they find a Dragon armor they are pretty much reliant on robes and EV, but I'll stick them in a dragon armor of some flavor once I find one so the Armor skill comes in handy as well.
KoboldLord wrote:I'm also morbidly curious now as to how Shatter is abusable for 'stealth tricks'. It's about as stealthy as the Kool-Aid Man smashing through the walls and running through the room

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Post Sunday, 25th September 2011, 01:03

Re: Question about melee builds.

I'll confess that I've never quite ascended with Trolls or Ogres, partly because of that very issue.

Your approach sounds sensible, though. Troll Berserkers in particular don't need many skills, so switching to Armor skill later on doesn't set them back much. Troll armor is also a nice midgame armor for them, if you can find/make it. I like to use a large shield in this case, too. Yeah, giant spiked clubs might rock, but Trolls and Ogres are such glass cannons, I just can't pass up another line of defense...

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Post Sunday, 25th September 2011, 05:17

Re: Question about melee builds.

Don't train dodging on ogres and trolls unless you would like to invest massive amounts of xp in exchange for +2 EV. Get a good type of dragon armour and train armour if you'd like.

Re: the OP, I've written a simple and effective guide for MD melee characters (you can find it through the knowledge bots by searching for 'tartakower'). Sadly, many inexperienced players choose not to follow it because it explicitly says not to use shields, and people who don't know better tell them to use shields no matter what.
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Post Sunday, 25th September 2011, 05:53

Re: Question about melee builds.

Is training a ranged weapon ALWAYS good for a melee character? If not, why isn't it?

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Post Sunday, 25th September 2011, 06:25

Re: Question about melee builds.

Poncheis wrote:Is training a ranged weapon ALWAYS good for a melee character? If not, why isn't it?


You'll definitely want some manner of ranged option, but it doesn't necessarily have to be a weapon. Evocations works great if you can find an attack rod early enough. Some deities provide ranged options that can be powered with invocations skill. Light-armored fighters can cross-train into offensive magic, some of which is much cheaper than a dedicated conjurations or elemental build.

It may be possible to win with button-mashing melee alone by lucking into particularly excellent equipment and having unusually and consistently favorable monster spawns, but at best it is a luck-based mission with not much chance of success.
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Post Sunday, 25th September 2011, 06:53

Re: Question about melee builds.

Even a few points into Throwing or Slings can make a world of difference for a melee build.
KoboldLord wrote:I'm also morbidly curious now as to how Shatter is abusable for 'stealth tricks'. It's about as stealthy as the Kool-Aid Man smashing through the walls and running through the room
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Post Sunday, 25th September 2011, 22:53

Re: Question about melee builds.

mikee wrote:Sadly, many inexperienced players choose not to follow it because it explicitly says not to use shields, and people who don't know better tell them to use shields no matter what.


Tried following this advice by running an Exe Axe and damn near got myself killed in melee. I'll stick to the Shield and One Hander until I hit the point in the game where I'm facing regular Torment and Hellfire, thank you very much.
KoboldLord wrote:I'm also morbidly curious now as to how Shatter is abusable for 'stealth tricks'. It's about as stealthy as the Kool-Aid Man smashing through the walls and running through the room

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Post Sunday, 25th September 2011, 23:17

Re: Question about melee builds.

It's a bit of a stretch to call four lines of text a 'guide', and it honestly isn't a very good guide. It gives one piece of advice that is downright bad (skill training), and then throws out a couple other pieces of advice without explaining or justifying them in any way. Anybody who can win with this guide would probably win at least as easily without it.
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Post Sunday, 25th September 2011, 23:58

Re: Question about melee builds.

Didn't even look at the guide tbh.

The Exe axe alone works great when clearing out demons/undead, but while you're still clearing D and V there are just too many enemies that have blockable ranged attacks that can gang up on you in melee (not always a 1-tile corridor available, sometimes you still have to face 3 at a time) for the switch away from a Shield to be viable at this point.
KoboldLord wrote:I'm also morbidly curious now as to how Shatter is abusable for 'stealth tricks'. It's about as stealthy as the Kool-Aid Man smashing through the walls and running through the room

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Post Monday, 26th September 2011, 09:24

Re: Question about melee builds.

KoboldLord wrote:it honestly isn't a very good guide.

Somehow I doubt this (particularly "honestly"), considering your history of trolling me on this forum.

To others: it's a pretty good guide, although it was written particularly for 0.8 so could use some revision. The idea is simplifying this combo, as it really should be simple and easy to understand. I also strongly dislike subjective information in guides (see: the wiki), so I've made an effort to avoid its inclusion. I know several people on irc have followed this guide, and although I am open to criticism about it I have received no complaints.
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Post Monday, 26th September 2011, 09:26

Re: Question about melee builds.

bobross419 wrote:
mikee wrote:Sadly, many inexperienced players choose not to follow it because it explicitly says not to use shields, and people who don't know better tell them to use shields no matter what.


Tried following this advice by running an Exe Axe and damn near got myself killed in melee. I'll stick to the Shield and One Hander until I hit the point in the game where I'm facing regular Torment and Hellfire, thank you very much.

At what skill level were you using it? Are you familiar with how attack delay works and how that should affect your weapon selection? What armour were you wearing, and how much AC did you have?
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Post Monday, 26th September 2011, 09:55

Re: Question about melee builds.

mikee wrote:Sadly, many inexperienced players choose not to follow it because it explicitly says not to use shields, and people who don't know better tell them to use shields no matter what.

mainly because shields are good to have, at least for the normal game. and that's what inexperienced players focus on...
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Post Monday, 26th September 2011, 11:45

Re: Question about melee builds.

slowcar wrote:
mikee wrote:Sadly, many inexperienced players choose not to follow it because it explicitly says not to use shields, and people who don't know better tell them to use shields no matter what.

mainly because shields are good to have, at least for the normal game. and that's what inexperienced players focus on...

I am talking about a 3 rune game. I consider extended optional content, so I will always mention explicitly 'for extended' if I give advice for it.

Assuming you're someone who advocates shield use, do you mind if I quiz you?
1) Do you know what affects blocking chance with a shield?
2) How much do shields slow attack speed? How much shield skill is needed to reduce/eliminate that penalty?
3) How much damage per turn can you expect to be giving up if you use one handed weapons instead of two?
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Post Monday, 26th September 2011, 13:02

Re: Question about melee builds.

I think one thing that makes shields attractive to new and intermediate players is that quite aside from the issue of how much damage they prevent, they are also a good source of resistances, and are often the only available source of something useful like rPois or rElec.

My current character wouldn't even have considered going to Hell or Pan, and would probably have had a lot of trouble in Zot if I hadn't found a randart large shield with rF++, and many of my other characters have had similar experiences.

It is often very hard to find the resistances you 'need' - and although these often aren't really necessary (for a great player), the less experienced you are as a player the more you rely on having them - and a shield is one more way to get them.

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Post Monday, 26th September 2011, 15:05

Re: Question about melee builds.

mikee wrote:Assuming you're someone who advocates shield use, do you mind if I quiz you?
1) Do you know what affects blocking chance with a shield?
2) How much do shields slow attack speed? How much shield skill is needed to reduce/eliminate that penalty?
3) How much damage per turn can you expect to be giving up if you use one handed weapons instead of two?




1) yes, http://crawl.develz.org/wordpress/bots and enter shields.
2) knowledge bot has these values as well. as a normal sized character with an armour you need 5 for a buckler.
3) if you have the best weapons of all types available you give up 3-6 base damage (or slaying). would have to look that up in the online calc table to see exact numbers.

If you go for enemies that torment, smite or hurl hellfire after you going without the shield may be a no brainer.
for enemies that pepper you with arrows or hit you with a tree the shield is a good thing to have.
it eliminates a lot more damage from incoming sources than the damage you lose, especially if several enemies are hitting you at once.

as a fighter who does not train magic skills you usually have enough xp for the few points of shield skill. and if you are at max level and hack through fiends and mummies you can wield your executioner axe, the xp spent for shields at 15 will just be a few dozen enemies worth of xp, but a full game worth of survival.
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Post Monday, 26th September 2011, 16:44

Re: Question about melee builds.

Jeremiah wrote:I think one thing that makes shields attractive to new and intermediate players is that quite aside from the issue of how much damage they prevent, they are also a good source of resistances, and are often the only available source of something useful like rPois or rElec.

My current character wouldn't even have considered going to Hell or Pan, and would probably have had a lot of trouble in Zot if I hadn't found a randart large shield with rF++, and many of my other characters have had similar experiences.

It is often very hard to find the resistances you 'need' - and although these often aren't really necessary (for a great player), the less experienced you are as a player the more you rely on having them - and a shield is one more way to get them.

I'm sorry, but I cannot consider this a reason to build a character a certain way. You might as well advise a new player to play octopodes for all of those slots to get resistances from.
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Post Monday, 26th September 2011, 16:57

Re: Question about melee builds.

[quote="slowcar]
3) if you have the best weapons of all types available you give up 3-6 base damage (or slaying). would have to look that up in the online calc table to see exact numbers.[/quote]
This is the question I think most people would have trouble with because the formula for damage in melee is rather complicated and they would rather not deal with it. I think not dealing with it is perfectly fine as long as you're not giving advice that it's relevant for. In any case...
For the record, base damage and slaying are not the same for dpt calculation, even though they're similar overall. Also, you'd want to use a demon blade for comparison (your 3 is from double sword vs. triple sword?). Well, here are two weapons I see come up a lot while discussing this topic: demon whip and executioner's axe. If you do the calculation you will see that with maxed melee skills and no brands, dwhips and exec axes do roughly the same damage against 0 ac targets. However, most targets have AC (for example, a stone giant has 12. an orb of fire has 20), and the exec axe will perform much better against them. Most brands will also improve the exec axe's damage more than they will the demon whip's. I hope it's not too much to ask that someone knows this when giving advice about weapons.

it eliminates a lot more damage from incoming sources than the damage you lose, especially if several enemies are hitting you at once.

This is not really true. Blocking chance decreasing significantly against multiple opponents. This information is in the link you sent me. So... the SH stat is actually weaker (less reliable) than AC or EV. But the number can be bigger so it is more exciting I guess.

as a fighter who does not train magic skills you usually have enough xp for the few points of shield skill. and if you are at max level and hack through fiends and mummies you can wield your executioner axe, the xp spent for shields at 15 will just be a few dozen enemies worth of xp, but a full game worth of survival.

You should have high AC and 40%+ gdr. You really want more physical protection instead of more damage output?
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Post Monday, 26th September 2011, 19:02

Re: Question about melee builds.

mikee wrote:
bobross419 wrote:
mikee wrote:Sadly, many inexperienced players choose not to follow it because it explicitly says not to use shields, and people who don't know better tell them to use shields no matter what.


Tried following this advice by running an Exe Axe and damn near got myself killed in melee. I'll stick to the Shield and One Hander until I hit the point in the game where I'm facing regular Torment and Hellfire, thank you very much.

At what skill level were you using it? Are you familiar with how attack delay works and how that should affect your weapon selection? What armour were you wearing, and how much AC did you have?


Axes was at 20-22. Yes, Plate Mail with some MR, AC was mid-40s.

Point blank I nearly died because of advice you gave about not using a shield. Switching back to the shield gave me a much higher survivability in the exact same situations even going back to a subpar weapon like a War Axe. I've got the Exe/No Shield ready for when I get to parts where multiple enemies are sending unblockable attacks my way which is great, but all through D, L, O, H, V, Sw, Sh, I'm much better off having the additional shield strength.

Here is the guide by the way for anyone that doesn't feel like searching:
My mdfi guide: SKILLS: 1) Turn off everything except fighting, axes, and armour. For the whole game. Drop your starting shield.
STATS: Raise Int to 8, then raise Str. SPELLS: Don't cast these.
GODS: Okawaru is best (in that order). WEAPONS: Stick with a hand axe until around 10 skill, depending on how comfortable you are with slow attacks. Upgrade to a broad or war axe, then a battleaxe, then an exec axe, as soon as your delay is about 12 or better.


Delay was below 12 when I attempted this. Even at 27 Fighting, Axes, Armour there have been quite a few situations in the regular game where things get too hairy with just the Exe axe. No spells? Took me all of 20 minutes running around in the Abyss to get Swiftness and Blink castable.

I'll give you that the Exe Axe is great when its just a one on one fight, even better since I've got a Holy Wrath brand so undead and demons drop faster than a cheerleader's panties. I also agree that using a shield against some monsters in the game is totally pointless and that at some point it will be better to lose the shield.

But really... I'm at 27 Fighting, Axes, Armour. 19 Shield. 13 Invokations. 14 M&F. 9 Spellcasting. 8 Slings, Charms & Translocations. 6 Evocations.

Your "guide" basically says to waste 85 Skill Levels over the course of a game? You don't even suggest to turn on Dodging (Which can make a difference) after everything is at 27 or boost Invocations until Finesse is at Great+. I'm glad some dudes on IRC were able to "follow" this guide, but I'm quite frankly a little skeptical about them following it to a T. I'm just glad its in some obscure place on the Knowledge Bot.

Best part of a guide is explaining WHY a person should make the choice that you suggest. So far in the guide there was no explanation and in this thread all you've done is ask questions and have some snarky comment about Octopodes. You've put in absolutely 0 work in backing up your claims where as multiple people have cited examples from in game about the benefits of a shield during early-mid-late game.
KoboldLord wrote:I'm also morbidly curious now as to how Shatter is abusable for 'stealth tricks'. It's about as stealthy as the Kool-Aid Man smashing through the walls and running through the room

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Post Monday, 26th September 2011, 19:08

Re: Question about melee builds.

I don't think there's any legitimate reason to get all confrontational about this. The choice between shield and two-hander is not an obvious one, and even if you have a preference sometimes you really have to bow to the resources a particular game deigns to give you. It's not particularly good form to take answers that are largely correct, nitpick some minor issue, and pretend the other posters was wildly off-base.

I'm rather fond of shields. It's quite a bit easier for most characters to get SH to exceptional levels than it is to get EV to the same heights, and as long as you avoid getting swarmed you can reliably shut down nearly all damage from the majority of pre-Zot sources. My preference doesn't mean a player can't do fine without, either. The higher power of some of the better two-handed weapons does make a difference.

bobross419 wrote:Best part of a guide is explaining WHY a person should make the choice that you suggest. So far in the guide there was no explanation and in this thread all you've done is ask questions and have some snarky comment about Octopodes. You've put in absolutely 0 work in backing up your claims where as multiple people have cited examples from in game about the benefits of a shield during early-mid-late game.


Very well said. In order to be actually useful, a guide needs to explain the difference between the various alternatives for a choice, so newbies can make an informed decision of their own. If you expect them to follow along unthinkingly, you're treating them as nothing more than a bot to program.

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Post Monday, 26th September 2011, 19:49

Re: Question about melee builds.

This is the question I think most people would have trouble with because the formula for damage in melee is rather complicated and they would rather not deal with it. I think not dealing with it is perfectly fine as long as you're not giving advice that it's relevant for. In any case...
For the record, base damage and slaying are not the same for dpt calculation, even though they're similar overall. Also, you'd want to use a demon blade for comparison (your 3 is from double sword vs. triple sword?). Well, here are two weapons I see come up a lot while discussing this topic: demon whip and executioner's axe. If you do the calculation you will see that with maxed melee skills and no brands, dwhips and exec axes do roughly the same damage against 0 ac targets. However, most targets have AC (for example, a stone giant has 12. an orb of fire has 20), and the exec axe will perform much better against them. Most brands will also improve the exec axe's damage more than they will the demon whip's. I hope it's not too much to ask that someone knows this when giving advice about weapons.


This is not really true. Blocking chance decreasing significantly against multiple opponents. This information is in the link you sent me. So... the SH stat is actually weaker (less reliable) than AC or EV. But the number can be bigger so it is more exciting I guess.


Sorry, but saying "0 backup" and "snarky comments" is kinda out of place regarding this. I don't see one place where this isn't understandable.

At the end of the day it may be down to personal preference how you play but the easiest way to play a character like MDFi is still the two-handed axe.
Anyway, even in a three-rune game plenty of threats can't be dealt with by using a shield... frost/fire giants, orbs of fire, dragons of all types, bolts of fire/cold from casters, lightning... just take a look at the threats and killers in Zot. Besides the berserk Orb Guardians many of them cannot be counteracted. And, pre-Zot, said giants and dragons occur a lot in late V and D. Some frequent unique killers (Margery and Nikola for instance) aren't impressed by your SH either.

And, just for the record, some numbers I've posted that will explain quite a bit even without knowing the complicated formulae (which I don't fully know myself, but just playing the two different character types frequently will help a lot) but some basic mathematics:

Demon Whip 11/+1/11 min delay 5
Demon Blade 13/-1/13 min delay 6
Demon Trident 13/+1/13 '' '' ''

Now the two-hander...
Executioner's Axe 20/-6/20 min delay 7
(Giant Spiked Club 22/-7/18 min delay 7)

Right... two-handers require more skill points, granted, but you are saving up on the Shields skill. And 20/-6/7 is clearly superior to 11/+1/5.

In general, I'd support the use of demon whip + buckler on a primary caster since I would want to keep skill points for my spell skills and 12/5 skills is a lot less than 26/0. I might also want a demon whip if I ever played a primary physical ranged character. As a Fighter along Minotaur, Hill Orc or Mountain Dwarf lines, or especially as a Berserker, the axe will not only be better at killing stuff but will, in the end, result in higher HP at the end of each fight, especially as a three-rune game progresses towards its end.

This might just be me having back luck, but: over the course of 1052 hours, 3579 games (of which an approximate 2300 were not startscummed Wn), 83* Okawaru, I have only seen one shield of resistance, and that was a buckler. The unrand I have found about 2-3 times. Randarts pop up occasionally, but nothing to rely on.
On the other hand, I seem to find rF+/rC+ rings and potions of resistance for emergencies every game. Plus, GDA (by Zot), dragon armour (by late V), and plate mail of rC+/rF+ are nothing too seldom either. :|
Last edited by cerebovssquire on Monday, 26th September 2011, 20:08, edited 3 times in total.
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Post Monday, 26th September 2011, 19:55

Re: Question about melee builds.

cerebovssquire wrote:Sorry, but saying "0 backup" and "snarky comments" is kinda out of place regarding this. I don't see one place where this isn't understandable.


Alright, I stand corrected on the 0 backup. Got lost in bad formatting.
KoboldLord wrote:I'm also morbidly curious now as to how Shatter is abusable for 'stealth tricks'. It's about as stealthy as the Kool-Aid Man smashing through the walls and running through the room

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Post Tuesday, 27th September 2011, 02:44

Re: Question about melee builds.

I like how, in the same post, I have been accused of being confrontational and a clearly confrontational post directed towards me was congratulated.

bobross419: Those questions and the analogy to octopodes were all made in good faith. I was asking you those questions as follow-up to try and see what was causing the problem. My goal here is to help others play better, not to inflate my own ego. My understanding is that something else may have gone wrong or you were just unlucky with your situation. You are very quick to blame me for troubles in your game.

Here is a specific version of some data I alluded to earlier. I was a bit off in my calculation.

expected dpt, maxed skills, 0 enchantment, 0 brand, 0 ac opponent
dwhip: 28; exec axe: 31.4

same vs. stone giant
dwhip: 16; exec axe: 22.9

vs. 0 ac opponent, +9 enchantment and freezing brand
dwhip: 42; exec axe: 47.1

same vs. stone giant
dwhip: 30; exec axe: 38.6

And still, the only data supplied in this thread is by me. Where are the stats about awesome damage prevention by shield users?
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Post Tuesday, 27th September 2011, 03:35

Re: Question about melee builds.

Why would we need to supply hard numbers? In your own example, the executioner's axe only deals yield roughly +8 dpt over the demon whip against a stone giant, an improvement of only 27%. Overkill is wasted, so the same stone giant dies in two to four units of time in each case. The demon whip is at most one unit of time behind the executioner's axe, and only against particular stone giants that happen to have, say, 91hp instead of 90.

It isn't like you're arguing that a shield won't do anything at all, right? Well, going by those figures, it needs to block a single attack per fight to at least break even. Or one in four attacks over time, if you prefer.

Look, I'm not going to argue that using a two-handed weapon is wrong or somehow clearly suboptimal. It's not. All I'm willing to argue is that using a shield is also valid, and a player should base their final decision on the actual availability of equipment in a particular game. Advice to newbies should try to teach them how to choose for themselves, not try to make the decision for them. Sorry if this position isn't very satisfying to argue against, but I'm not going to stake out some crazy extreme just to be on the other side.

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Post Tuesday, 27th September 2011, 03:56

Re: Question about melee builds.

mikee wrote:bobross419: Those questions and the analogy to octopodes were all made in good faith. I was asking you those questions as follow-up to try and see what was causing the problem. My goal here is to help others play better, not to inflate my own ego. My understanding is that something else may have gone wrong or you were just unlucky with your situation. You are very quick to blame me for troubles in your game.


mikee, I'm sure you can understand how your statements could be construed as confrontational considering that tone doesn't translate into text. Sorry if I came off like an ass myself, but I'm still of the opinion that pointing noobs to use 2h over 1h+Shield for a 3 rune game isn't the best advice. Too many beers at this point to have an actual debate about it, so I'll just let it drop and see how the rest of the thread plays out :)
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Post Tuesday, 27th September 2011, 05:58

Re: Question about melee builds.

KoboldLord wrote: In your own example, the executioner's axe only deals yield roughly +8 dpt over the demon whip against a stone giant, an improvement of only 27%. Overkill is wasted, so the same stone giant dies in two to four units of time in each case. The demon whip is at most one unit of time behind the executioner's axe, and only against particular stone giants that happen to have, say, 91hp instead of 90.


No, it doesn't work that way. These are just expected values (means). Melee damage and AC reduction both use random2, and the formula itself for player melee is highly randomized. It's not too uncommon to do 0 damage to something you are expecting to one-shot. So in short, more dpt is always good regardless of the target.
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Post Tuesday, 27th September 2011, 05:59

Re: Question about melee builds.

bobross419 wrote:
mikee wrote:bobross419: Those questions and the analogy to octopodes were all made in good faith. I was asking you those questions as follow-up to try and see what was causing the problem. My goal here is to help others play better, not to inflate my own ego. My understanding is that something else may have gone wrong or you were just unlucky with your situation. You are very quick to blame me for troubles in your game.


mikee, I'm sure you can understand how your statements could be construed as confrontational considering that tone doesn't translate into text. Sorry if I came off like an ass myself, but I'm still of the opinion that pointing noobs to use 2h over 1h+Shield for a 3 rune game isn't the best advice. Too many beers at this point to have an actual debate about it, so I'll just let it drop and see how the rest of the thread plays out :)

No hard feelings. If you change your mind and want to know more about dpt, let me know. =P
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Post Tuesday, 27th September 2011, 06:50

Re: Question about melee builds.

mikee wrote: So in short, more dpt is always good regardless of the target.

Less incoming dpt is always good.

in your calculations you assume the appropriate skill for the weapon. when you have axe skill 26 (and the appropriate exec axe) the game is 3/4 over. wielding 2h weapons without sufficient skill is sometimes a death sentence.

when i go with axes i usually use a 1h axe + buckler/shield, continue to train axes skill and switch to a 2h weapon much later (not necessarily at min delay). added benefit: you can switch back to the shield to close in to a yaktaur pack etc.
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Post Tuesday, 27th September 2011, 13:03

Re: Question about melee builds.

slowcar wrote:
mikee wrote: So in short, more dpt is always good regardless of the target.

Less incoming dpt is always good.

in your calculations you assume the appropriate skill for the weapon. when you have axe skill 26 (and the appropriate exec axe) the game is 3/4 over. wielding 2h weapons without sufficient skill is sometimes a death sentence.

when i go with axes i usually use a 1h axe + buckler/shield, continue to train axes skill and switch to a 2h weapon much later (not necessarily at min delay). added benefit: you can switch back to the shield to close in to a yaktaur pack etc.


Less damage will be dealt to you if noone is left to deal that damage.

In your calculations you assume the appropriate skill for the shield. I see "exceptional SH" "reliably shut down nearly all damage sources" etc. pp. and this isn't going to be a buckler. It's more of a large shield with at least 20 skill so you don't suffer to severely or not at all from penalties. And that isn't saving EXP.

Generally, as MDFi: You will have a battleaxe working fine (and by that I mean delay 10) by the mid-Lair or towards the end of Lair. It's a mere waste of points to use a buckler, especially since that 1) you won't always find one before mid-Lair and 2) bucklers were nerfed and don't give anything near the SH values everyone keeps going on about.
You can safely wield an executioner's axe at 20 skill (delay 10) by which not 3/4 of the game, but depending on species (assuming you're not a Deep Elf, High Elf or something, in which case: why are you even using Axes) and playstyle Lair, Orc, or Dungeon till Vaults till be over.

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Post Tuesday, 27th September 2011, 16:18

Re: Question about melee builds.

mikee wrote:No, it doesn't work that way. These are just expected values (means). Melee damage and AC reduction both use random2, and the formula itself for player melee is highly randomized. It's not too uncommon to do 0 damage to something you are expecting to one-shot. So in short, more dpt is always good regardless of the target.


If we weren't allowed to use simplifying assumptions, it would be entirely impossible to discuss the matter at all. I'm well aware that the damage is randomized. It's randomized for both types of weapon, in fact. That executioner's axe will also get bad streaks, but we can't very well cherry-pick the bad streaks for the axe and compare them to cherry-picked good streaks for the whip, now can we? I'll ask you to follow the same courtesy in reverse. On average, the whip will lag at most one attack behind the axe until you start running into very high armor or hit points values, and the shield only has to pick off a few attacks to compensate.

More important than dpt is ratio of dpt going out to dpt coming in. Maximizing the left half of the ratio is good, but minimizing the right half is sometimes more efficient. You already concede this point by assuming that the character in question is using heavy armor; heavy armor's accuracy malus can and will reduce your damage output. The trade is obviously worth it in the case of heavy armor, in spite of the existence of some attacks heavy armor doesn't mitigate, while shields are more situational.

cerebovssquire wrote:In your calculations you assume the appropriate skill for the shield. I see "exceptional SH" "reliably shut down nearly all damage sources" etc. pp. and this isn't going to be a buckler. It's more of a large shield with at least 20 skill so you don't suffer to severely or not at all from penalties. And that isn't saving EXP.


If you upgrade to a large shield with 15 shields skill, the penalty is -2 to accuracy. Oh noes! That's almost as bad as the accuracy penalty for upgrading to a two-handed weapon!

Wait, no it isn't.

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Post Wednesday, 28th September 2011, 02:14

Re: Question about melee builds.

That executioner's axe will also get bad streaks, but we can't very well cherry-pick the bad streaks for the axe and compare them to cherry-picked good streaks for the whip, now can we?

I have cherry-picked nothing in my post.

On average, the whip will lag at most one attack behind the axe until you start running into very high armor or hit points values, and the shield only has to pick off a few attacks to compensate.

This is ignoring the content of my post.

Maximizing the left half of the ratio is good, but minimizing the right half is sometimes more efficient. You already concede this point by assuming that the character in question is using heavy armor; heavy armor's accuracy malus can and will reduce your damage output. The trade is obviously worth it in the case of heavy armor, in spite of the existence of some attacks heavy armor doesn't mitigate, while shields are more situational.

I have made no comments of this nature, and I do not plan to.
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Post Wednesday, 28th September 2011, 02:26

Re: Question about melee builds.

To be somewhat more specific, shield penalties aren't just accuracy. If you are using a hand-and-a-half weapon, your weapon damage and delay will also incur a random penalty between 0 and your shield penalty. If you are using a one hander, that attack delay penalty is calculated twice, and the lesser of the two penalty values are used.

You can verify this by opening up fight.cc and looking for "player_shield_penalty".

That isn't too say I am really arguing either way in this whole shield thing. Both approaches are certainly viable, even when it comes to the extended endgame. Anybody disputing that can easily be disproved with a truck-full of winning morgues. I tend to prefer two handers for heavy armor characters now, but I wouldn't say that somebody who is using a shield is doing it wrong, especially if they are three runing. Shields are a pretty good defense through a lot of the game.

Really though, I think this whole thread has become a bit sidetracked. There is more to playing a melee character than the choice of 2h vs shield. Proper tactics and awareness are important too, and I think it would be nice to see some discussion of that.

The most common tactical mistake I've seen the games I've spectated is approaching a monster in newly revealed territory in order to melee it. This often reveals more new territory, while alerting other monsters. From a safety perspective, you want to be fighting as few monsters as possible at the same time. It is a much better idea to draw your monster back into previously revealed and cleared territory in order to deal with it.

If said monster is ranged, the standard method is to step around a corner and skip turns until the monster steps around the corner. At which point, you move one space in in and hack their face off. If you are really on the ball, you can even count the number of turns it will take them approach and move to the corner the same turn they do. That will put them directly next to you with no approach time.

If said monster is melee and will approach you every turn, you really just need to back off while they follow. Then pepper them with a ranged weapon while they approach. This is especially important to weaken monsters early on. You have a much better of chance of taking out that heavily injured ogre in melee than you do a healthy one.

If said monster alerts other nearby monsters, make sure you are backing off enough. The nearby monsters will be looking for you around the place of the alert, and won't follow the monster who actually alerted them.

Be sure to pick up some sort of ranged weapon early on. Even just chucking random clubs and shit from the first floor can save your life. A sling with sling bullets is a really useful early find, and something I would pick up with most any character. Even with no/minimal skill, it can still be really useful for weakening those approaching melee enemies.

The big thing which I find separates the more successful crawl players from the novices is the ability to identify a potentially bad situation in the making and avert it before it becomes life threatening. Granted, that is an important skill for any crawl character, but it is especially important for non-casting melee characters as they usually have fewer escape options. Sadly, this is a difficult skill to quantify on a message board. It is generally developed by means of lots of corpses. With each death, you should generally end up filing away a new situation as dangerous in your mind. The first time you get one shot by Nikola, or paralyzed by an ogre mage and clubbed to death, or chopped up by agnes with a vampiric lajatang, or piggified and slowed by kirke only to run into a hydra while you are escaping should all teach you a lesson. Looking up any new monster you encounter on learndb is often useful in gauging the sort of threat you are facing. The new white/yellow/orange threat system in trunk is a good step in the right direction for making this more apparent in game. You probably want to be extra careful when you see a monster with an orange name round a corner, and consider all of your potential escape options and available consumables before engaging.

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Post Wednesday, 28th September 2011, 02:36

Re: Question about melee builds.

It seems there have been some distractions involving my degenerate character and my many disconducts. These are irrelevant, so I will summarize and ignore further nonsense.

1) I am not advocating mindlessly following my advice re: axes. See my first post in this thread for my opinion of mindless behavior. Of course, if you find a dwhip or a shield of resistance on d:3, go ahead and use it.
2) A mdfi has a choice between using two-handed weapons or a shield and a one-handed weapon. Both choices cannot be optimal.
3) Two-handed weapons do significantly more damage than one-handed weapons and do not require waiting for a 'rare' weapon.
4) A character with high enough AC and gdr will take less expected damage (from all opponents) killing opponents faster than using a shield.
4a) Contrary to popular(?) belief, a shield is not very effective against multiple opponents, and so 4) is still true even in that case.
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Post Wednesday, 28th September 2011, 03:00

Re: Question about melee builds.

mikee wrote:It seems there have been some distractions involving my degenerate character and my many disconducts. These are irrelevant, so I will summarize and ignore further nonsense.


I assure you no personal animosity exists, and if I've given you any reason for offense none was intended. I didn't like your guide, and I am not convinced by your argument against shields being viable, but neither of those reflect on your character.

mikee wrote:1) I am not advocating mindlessly following my advice re: axes. See my first post in this thread for my opinion of mindless behavior. Of course, if you find a dwhip or a shield of resistance on d:3, go ahead and use it.


Ah, well, that's basically what I dislike most about your guide. You don't include reasonable statements such as this one in it, no doubt cut for space. Your guide would probably be much better if you wrote a more detailed one for the wiki, rather than cramming it into four lines on henzell. Sadly, henzell just can't cope with the level of detail needed for the job.

mikee wrote:2) A mdfi has a choice between using two-handed weapons or a shield and a one-handed weapon. Both choices cannot be optimal.


Certainly both can be optimal, at least theoretically. Two different builds can use different strategies to accomplish the same task, and get the same results. Earth elementalist play is different than ice elementalist play, but both are top-tier backgrounds that go into the midgame with top-tier suites of spells to work with even without access to random spellbook drops. The choice between two-handed weapon and a shield should be a similar stylistic choice, and if it isn't then there's more balancing to do.

Do you feel that two-handed weapons need to be nerfed to make them more competitive with shields? If they're so powerful that there's no choice at all, then I don't see what else could be done about that.
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Post Wednesday, 28th September 2011, 03:54

Re: Question about melee builds.

mikee wrote:4a) Contrary to popular(?) belief, a shield is not very effective against multiple opponents, and so 4) is still true even in that case.


Taking a look at the code it appears that shield penalty only goes up when an attack is actually blocked. So out of 4 attacks against you there are still good odds that one or even two will be blocked. Granted the penalty scales exponentially so the likelihood of a third and fourth block are negligible and non-existant. If the first attack isn't blocked then the second still has a full chance of blocking and so on down the line. Saying a shield isn't very effective against multiple opponents is a pretty broad generalization.

It just seems that the times where a 2h will prevail over a 1h+Shield against multiple opponents with blockable attacks* is highly dependent on the situation and how generous the RNG is being at the time. Since AC is mutually exclusive with SH its assumed that both builds would have high AC and ~40% GDR. The 2h still has a chance to do low damage just as the shield has a chance to not block, but the 2h has a higher chance to do more damage whereas the shield has a higher chance to prevent damage. If the difference comes down to 1 extra turn to make the kill I think that the shield would be more beneficial. Granted at some point the difference will increase to 2+ turns which is where I think the choice should really be considered as to whether you'd want to ditch the shield and go full dpt.

On the previously mentioned character I absolutely demolished Crypt with a Exe of HW (high damage plus a lot of single tile corridors), but whenever Oki decided to drop a bunch of tough melee on me the Exe just couldn't keep up and I had to go back to 1h+Shield until he was mollified. Oki usually waited until I couldn't retreat into a corridor before dropping the turd on me and the makeup was usually (2 or all 3 of these)Titan, Frost Giant, Ettin; Centaur Warrior; (1 of these) orc warrior, orc knight. I was able to test in a few situations and I came much closer to death (having to use tele more than once) to escape when I was wielding the Exe (it was enchanted to at least +6,+6) whereas with the Shield I had a much higher survival rate only having to resort to a tele once.

Unfortunately, I've rolled back to .9 so I can't give the specifics of that character 100%, but I think that weapon delay might have been changed in trunk. When I tested the Exe delay at 27 Fighting/Armor/Axe my delay was 1.0 everytime. Was wearing plate mail (-6 EV) and had mid-20s STR so that shouldn't have had an effect.

Not trying to be confrontational at all, merely trying to further the discussion.

* - I don't think anyone will argue that a shield is better when facing a bunch of torment and hellfire flinging bad guys unless its god some great resists or major perks to it.
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Post Wednesday, 28th September 2011, 07:51

Re: Question about melee builds.

stating that 2h and 1h+shields are a choice based on the equipment found ins certainly true. if a guide targeted at new players does not mention this it is one sided, biased and possibly misleading.

the exact comparisons require too much code diving and calculations for my taste, if somebody feels inclined to do it and proves that 2h are far superior it would be a hint for the devs to change things, not to write it in a guide.
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Post Wednesday, 28th September 2011, 17:24

Re: Question about melee builds.

minmay wrote:
bobross419 wrote:Unfortunately, I've rolled back to .9 so I can't give the specifics of that character 100%, but I think that weapon delay might have been changed in trunk. When I tested the Exe delay at 27 Fighting/Armor/Axe my delay was 1.0 everytime. Was wearing plate mail (-6 EV) and had mid-20s STR so that shouldn't have had an effect.

Minimum delay (which you will be at with 26 Axes, no matter how big your body armour penalty) is still 0.7. Are you sure you had show_game_turns on and weren't just looking at the turn count?


100% sure. Swinging the Exe was taking 1.0 turns.
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Post Wednesday, 5th October 2011, 21:50

Re: Question about melee builds.

I think by far the easiest melee combo (or any combo for that matter) character to win with is the unarmed TrBe.

-- Roll a TrBe, turn off all skills except for Unarmed Combat... Find some good darts or javelins to kill runners, or soften up meanies.
-- Kill things in melee and eat them.
-- If you think the fight will be tough, and the coast is clear, berserk.
-- If low on hp after fight, use trog's hand. if you're facing a potential banisher or other magic hexer, use trog's hand.
-- As soon as you find large rocks, use them, and potentially train throwing to 6 or so.
-- As soon as you find any shield, use it, and turn on shield skill... The larger the better.
-- As soon as you find any armor you can wear with a negative EV, wear it, and start training armor.
-- Turn fighting on for a while just for the HP boost ... I typically don't take it over 10.
-- Optionally, train T&D up to about 6 or so... The new plate traps are devastating.

Summary so far: Skills on = Unarmed Combat, Fighting (to ~10), Armor, Shields

-- When you are entering a big fight, summon helpers. Typically when I run into Mennas, Mara, or an Ancient Lich, I'll summon 2 or 3 helpers. Don't worry about piety, it comes back fast ,and you don't need Trog's gifts.

Branch strategies:

Orc - usually pretty easy. Sorcerers can be tough, kill them quickly and with extreme prejudice. Keep a lookout for troll hides, as these will help you kickstart your armor training. Keep yourself full on orc corpses. On the branch end, be very careful about when you wade in berserking, you might pass out in front of a few orc sorcerors. I'd use BIA here if needed.

Lair - Careful with poison... since you have to melee everything, you can get horribly poisoned quickly here. To deal with Hydras, even though your claws will grow more heads, when berserked, you can usually out-damage them and kill them. If that strategy is too scary for you, use wands, or BIA. If you get the worm vault, get dragon armor possibly. Most big Yak packs will go down to a good zerking if you're careful.

Swamp - keep an eye out for swamp dragon corpses... the armor is a good way to protect yourself from poison. Lots of hydras here, so be careful how, when, and where you handle them. Slime packs can quickly merge and destroy you ... kill the slimes fast. I usually stairdance the insubstantial wisps, and mosquitoes. Take the end vault as slowly as you can, trying to lure the monsters out one at a time if possible. If you get overwhelmed, BIA!

Snake - make sure you have poison resistance by this time, otherwise strategy is pretty straightforward. Anacondas can be very bad here ... kill them carefully.

Shoals - Shoals 5 is a mixed bag. 2 or 3 BIA's will usually take our Illsiuw and his crew. Don't let yourself get surrounded.

Vaults + DL 15-27: By this time, your armor and shields should be defending you well against the yaktaur packs. If you're lucky you can upgrade now to Storm Dragon, or GDA, keep a lookout for it. You should be absolutely steamrolling everything in melee now.

Crypt: Bring lots of food, and lots of piety, and neither will be gained here. If you find your piety running low due to too many BIA's, come back later with full piety.

Zot: Here, you will probably get your GDA if you haven't found it already ... Hopefully you have 5-10 enchant armor scrolls handy to beef it up! At this point your UC should be 27, and your armor and shields skill approaching the 20's. You are ready. Melee in corridors, draw out the orb denizens into narrow hallways. Zerking smartly in the hallways will kill just about anything in Zot. Orb guardians should barely be able to scratch you in straight melee. Save the zerking for the ancient liches and orbs of fire.

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Post Thursday, 6th October 2011, 16:07

Re: Question about melee builds.

For ranged weaponry, I go throwing and slings because I pick up a shield.

I tend to put the sling away after a while, once I get some really good darts or javelins. Shoals:5 is where you can get the best javelins, many times a stack of +4 Silver or returning or Steel.
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Post Wednesday, 12th October 2011, 13:16

Re: Question about melee builds.

Pretty good topic despite some of the snark. ;) I definitely learned some stuff about the game mechanics that I was unaware of (but I am pretty new DCSS).

I have two questions that seem appropriate here:

1) I couldnt find anything in the knowledge bot but I could be using the wrong search terms or might not be understanding something I did read. One thing I'm trying to get a handle is the interplay between armor and attacks, referring specifically to when you get the message saying "Your X armor prevented your attack". Is there a formual somewhere for this? Is it affected at all by your weapons skill or is it completely indpendent?

Questions/suggestions for mikee (but anyone can answer them ;) )

1. I am trying your guide and I do enjoy the simplicity as a new guy. I do think you should add a line about using ranged weapons. There has been some suggestions here but your thoughts on that would be appreciated. Im finding that early on snakes/small snakes are particularly annoying.

2. You asked someone if they wanted to know more about DPT. I would love to see an elaboration on that myself.

TIA everyone.

edit: I did find the entry on AEVP but my understanding is that is just applied to hit or miss...is there something extra that triggers the armor blocking your attack message?
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Post Wednesday, 12th October 2011, 13:41

Re: Question about melee builds.

vulturesrow wrote:1) I couldnt find anything in the knowledge bot but I could be using the wrong search terms or might not be understanding something I did read. One thing I'm trying to get a handle is the interplay between armor and attacks, referring specifically to when you get the message saying "Your X armor prevented your attack". Is there a formual somewhere for this? Is it affected at all by your weapons skill or is it completely indpendent?

edit: I did find the entry on AEVP but my understanding is that is just applied to hit or miss...is there something extra that triggers the armor blocking your attack message?


iirc from the last time I went code diving, the message triggers when you miss by a margin that falls within the margin for armor penalty.

As an example, say you have a -2 penalty due to armor. If you roll a 28 when you need a 35 then you get a regular miss message. If you roll a 34 when you need a 35 then you'll get the Armor/Shield message.
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Post Monday, 17th October 2011, 14:11

Re: Question about melee builds.

I'm with mikee on this one.

SH is kind of underwhelming in the late game. I mean, I had like 70 shield (Large Shield of Ignorance) and still ate most ranged attacks. It's pretty weird , but shield is next to useless in the late dungeon, Vaults:8, Zot, etc. I'm not even talkig about post-game (haven't seen it yet). Killing power becomes much more important then your defences (except resistances, but some attacks ignore even them) as you go and Executioner's Axe + Crossbow is way, way deadlier combo then demon whip + slings. You block 100% attacks (including torment and hellfire) from vanquished monsters.

On the other hands, shields really shine in mid game.

Probably training shields to 15, wear it for some protection and resistances until your main weapon skill is good enough for the great two-hander might be close to optimal.
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Post Tuesday, 18th October 2011, 15:11

Re: Question about melee builds.

To be honest, I'm all for 2-handers (most brands benefit them more), but I have to give it to shields for some things. First of all, wielding a 2-hander also removes the potential for more resistances/stat bonuses since you have 1 less equipment slot available. Of course you might be having that crazy good game with many great artifacts and you are maxed out in resistances and stuff without the shield. Also, without a shield, you're missing the potential reflection ego, which can really do some damage on ranged attackers (bouncing iron shot back at liches is fun), thus reducing the turns you have to spend hacking at them.

Now, I can't really offer you any numbers, but the way I see it -in the end of the day- it's just a matter of killing power vs survival ability and of course let's not forget, you have to be flexible and work with whatever the dungeon gives you.
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Swamp Slogger

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Post Thursday, 20th October 2011, 14:22

Re: Question about melee builds.

The thing is, the further you're into the game, the more killing power becomes essential to survival. The only defence you can count 100% on is your HP. The only enemy that can't ruin your day before you know it, is a dead one.

As for liches, they die in a few swings anyway, unless they pin you with summons in which case shield won't help you all that much anyway. Reflection does shine in Elf, but, again, crossbow works even better. And rod of destruction with Freezing Cloud in it (can't remember the name...) with reasonable Evocations makes Elf practically a cake walk.
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Post Monday, 24th October 2011, 13:00

Re: Question about melee builds.

bobross419 wrote:For an easy intro into Melee you can't go wrong with TrBe (or TrMo especially in .10). You can basically hold down Tab until D:4 with these guys. Things do start to get hairy about the time you are clearing Lair.

MiBe is great also. Very solid melee base that is capable of using much more armor than the Troll.

With multiple TrMo in .9 I've tabbed my way all the way to Orc 3, I don't know why you're saying you can hold down tab in til D:4. They are what I would recommend as a starting melee build.
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Post Monday, 24th October 2011, 19:12

Re: Question about melee builds.

Jabberwocky wrote:
bobross419 wrote:For an easy intro into Melee you can't go wrong with TrBe (or TrMo especially in .10). You can basically hold down Tab until D:4 with these guys. Things do start to get hairy about the time you are clearing Lair.

MiBe is great also. Very solid melee base that is capable of using much more armor than the Troll.

With multiple TrMo in .9 I've tabbed my way all the way to Orc 3, I don't know why you're saying you can hold down tab in til D:4. They are what I would recommend as a starting melee build.


You're going to require some basic tactics to deal with certain packs in the open (read: go to corridors and THEN hold Tab :P ), with centaurs and orc priests/wizards, and above all with hydrae in the Lair. If you don't want to get youself killed 9 out of 10 times, by the way. Also you want to run away and regenerate when opponents appear directly after fights.

Also, there's no reason if you're going to go Okawaru or Nemlex Xobeh or Makhleb or whatever (in 0.9 at least, and even in .10 I'd consider other starts to be optimal) not to start as TrGl/Fi (for a shield or, optimally, nets), TrAs (for needles and curare), Hu (for rocks and nets) even if you plan on becoming what is basically a TrMo later. Mo just has very few starting options.
Before anyone says "but unarmed sucks at low skills, D 1-3 is going to be bad" this doesn't apply for Tr. You have intrinsic +acc and +dam to UC.
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Post Monday, 24th October 2011, 20:12

Re: Question about melee builds.

monks start with ** for their first god now. And with large rocks as likely to generate as nets even in early game, TrMo seems as viable as any other melee background.
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