Forum:Have a good strategy for descension?

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I've been playing for around a month now and I can make it easily a few levels under Minetown, and have made it once to the top of Sokoban, and have been at most 12 levels down. It seems I'm not at all progressing in my skills. What do you do when you descend? What paths do you take? Do you go to Minetown then up and then back down the Dungeons of Doom? or do you skip the Gnomish Mines altogether? How do you descend? ---MastaJAG

Well, I like to hit the mines with about 50 HP and AC 0, if I'm playing a fighter. And you have to cultivate the art of dipping a toe into them and getting back out if it's too hot. Some people insist on poison resistance; I don't. Sokoban, also, isn't an all or nothing proposition. The first level is super-easy, and gives you a wand, food and scrolls of earth every time. I make a real distinction between the upper mines, and what comes below Minetown, too.
I wonder what role you're playing, and what exactly is killing you. Nethack is a game of power curves--you get stronger, that's one curve, and the dungeon get's stronger, that's another curve. It sounds like you're getting bitten at a point when the dungeon keeps getting stronger but you don't. If you're playing a Valkyrie, you should probably be dipping for Excalibur when you hit the Oracle level--that's one way to move up on your power curve. Minetown should move you a long way down the road on identifying things (in shops and with the altar), and, in 1/3 of your games, gives you a place to make holy water and do sacrifices. Just as a thought, you might read the "strategy" section of the article on the Gnomish Mines--I wonder if you're not pushing for Mine's end too early. I also wonder if you're neglecting the power of Elbereth, because you've started to get a bit cocky after you reach Minetown--that first troll with a polearm can be a real shock. The "Standard Strategy" article might be helpful, and there's an old classic on the net called "Maniac's Ascension Guide," some of which may be questionable, but it helped me ascend the first time. Mention some more specific problems and we can possibly give more tailored advice. Good luck!--Ckbryant 03:12, 11 May 2009 (UTC)


Wow, that was rather detailed and more than I expected, thanks though. I play barbarian mostly for their decent power and poison resistance, and I usually only die from too many creatures or randomly strong creatures getting me, and you're right, I always forget about Elbereth. Before I knew how dangerous the gnomish mines were below Minetown, I tried for Mine's end, but I realize how stupid that is now. I don't find the gnomish mines a problem at all; that is, I can hit Minetown easily going straight there, it's only the trapdoors that get me a level or two down that drop you a few levels. Because of this, I've started going to Minetown, then heading down to Oracle. But I switched it up, doing Oracle and maybe Sokoban first, then heading back to gnomish mines where I can probably hit Mine's end. I already know there's stuff I'm missing. I'm terribly inexperienced at identifying and all the other tricks more experienced players would know (dealing with and religion, managing pets, stockpiling strategies), and I think that's why I can't progress. I guess I sort of want either critique or a basic rundown of what your immediate goals are in the early game. Which paths do you prefer taking and why? ---MastaJAG

Barbarian is a good choice, because Poison Resistance is about the most valuable starting intrinsic you can have. What you're finding is that they can hit a serious "stall" after a fairly easy early game--that's one reason I prefer Valkyries, who get easy access to the game-winning combination of Excalibur, Mjollnir and the Orb of Fate. But that's a discussion for another time. I would advise you to look into a few things: 1. Read the article on Elbereth and start using it. Lots of the mid-level baddies respect it. 2. Really get your head into the identification game. This is the heart of Nethack. Curse-test everything with your pet or altars. Try on every piece of non-cursed armor and see how good it is. Engrave with wands. Price-identify stuff. Throw duplicate rings down sinks. The game is probably giving you _something_ that you can win with: a ring of regeneration? a wand of teleport? 3. Do your level best to get a good artifact weapon. This part isn't really up to you, as you have to find a co-aligned altar. But if you do, you can get Cleaver, which is very good until you get to Gehennom.
For a barbarian (because you have poison resistance and are pretty durable), Minetown is a good play. The resources there are _huge_. I'd head for Minetown as soon as I was, oh, maybe level 4 or 5. Then I'd probably skip Mine's end (assuming you haven't found Magic Resistance), and work my way down to Sokoban. Do everything but the final Zoo room, and then you just have to make a judgement call about whether you're strong enough yet (and whether the prize is worth the risk). Learn the art of preparing the battlespace: use junk weapons to engrave "Elbereth" on multiple squares (because they degrade) of the corridor outside the zoo, drop a junk item on each square to keep the Elbereth activated, and do your fighting in the corridor, against one opponent at a time. Don't be afraid to run away and heal. Same goes for thronerooms and so forth that you encounter in the main dungeon. Plan your attack, and plan for what happens if it all goes to Hell.
You're really well on your way. Good luck!--Ckbryant 13:23, 13 May 2009 (UTC)