Standard strategy

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Before You Begin

You may find these pages helpful from an overall strategy perspective:

The very basics

Firstly, learn how to move your character, fight monsters and go up and down stairs. Take advantage of diagonal movement keys. Pressing ? brings up online help which explains the basics of playing the game and how to move your character.

If you dislike the default vi-style movement keys, you may want to enable the number_pad option which lets you use the number pad to move your character. To do so, press O and select the option from the menu. On some servers (for example, NAO), that option is enabled by default. Which one is "better" is mostly a matter of personal preference.

The first lesson a new player should learn is: take it slowly! Never use the auto-repeat feature of the keyboards: press each key deliberately and carefully — and take your time. Use _, g and G to move safely down corridors.

Use > and < to go down and up stairwells — if you cannot find one, search along walls (s) until you find a doorway; you may need to search around 10 times on a bit of wall before you find one. If the door is locked and you do not have an unlocking tool, you can kick (ctrl + d, or k with number_pad enabled) the door down, although it is preferable to leave the door locked and come back later when you have found an unlocking tool.

The goal of the game is to get the Amulet of Yendor which is on level 50 or so of the dungeon, so head down slowly and explore the dungeon carefully. For now, your main goal is survival.

When you come across a monster, first look it up in this wiki to determine whether it is a good idea to fight it. Moving into the square it occupies will attack it. When fighting, watch your HP (health), and if it goes below half of its maximum, run away to heal (do not wait until you have only 1HP left!). Healing occurs slowly as you explore the dungeon or rest (.).

After you have killed a monster, you will usually want to eat its corpse, but make sure that you check that monster's entry in this wiki to determine if its corpse is safe to eat. If you do not eat corpses, you will probably die of starvation.

In the first few dungeon levels, do not eat kobold corpses — they are poisonous —, and also do not eat the corpses of creatures you did not kill during the previous 50 turns (with the exception of lichens).

Some monsters are not safe to attack with melee — if you fight a floating eye in that manner, for instance, you may get stunned for hundreds of turns, thus becoming an easy prey to creatures lurking around; use ranged weapons or magic instead, and check this wiki for the entries of monsters you do not know to avoid such nasty surprises.

If your HP gets below 6, or in case you are "weak" with hunger or otherwise in a dire situation, use the extended command "#pray". Do not do this more often than once every 1000 turns, though, since that may anger the god you are praying to, which would probably make things even worse for you.

Engraving "Elbereth" on the ground will stop most monsters from attacking you and cause them to turn to flee while the word remains intact; during an emergency, you can write it in the dust by typing E, then -, then "Elbereth", but then it will not last long — there are ways of making it more durable, so it pays to learn about engraving.

The early game

The goals of the early game are completing the first two branches off the main dungeon — Sokoban and the Gnomish Mines — and gathering basic supplies and resistances. You may find some nice armor or sacrifice for a shiny artifact weapon, but such luck does not always happen.

Goals

  • Gain magic resistance and reflection. These two defenses counter many powerful attacks that would otherwise harm your equipment, severely damage you, or even kill you. They cannot be gained intrinsically, and must be provided by worn or carried equipment. Because they are so vital to survival, are rarely randomly generated, and often come packaged with other useful attributes, many early wishes are spent to gain one or the other.
  • Gain poison resistance. Without poison resistance, any poisoned attack or trap has a chance of being instantly fatal. Several classes acquire poison resistance intrinsically early in the game, but others will want to consume monsters that provide a safe chance of getting this valuable resistance. A unicorn horn, tinning kit, ring of sustain ability, or source of restore ability can also help you by allowing you to consume poisonous corpses without suffering attribute loss.
  • Complete Sokoban. Sokoban has wands, rings, and one of either a bag of holding or an amulet of reflection, both of which are quite useful. It is also no-teleport, which makes cornering unicorns for horn harvesting or gem tossing very easy.
  • Complete the Gnomish Mines. The Mines are the first branch, but some players consider it to be dangerous, as it is inhabited by swarms of dwarves and gnomes — which, individually, are slow and weak, but tend to gang up, and may be generated with wands that will kill you very, very fast. However, Minetown may contain many shops and is guaranteed to contain a temple, so it is an excellent place for price identification, BUC testing, donating to a priest, and finding useful loot. Particularly dangerous traps may be generated below Minetown, so it is not recommended that you venture down unless you have some method of dealing with them. However, there is a luckstone at the bottom of the Mines, which is a useful thing to carry around once you can get your luck up.
  • Gather useful knick-knacks. Any pieces of your ascension kit are great, but you will want to gather other things that will be useful later on. Potions can be alchemized or watered down for blessing, scrolls can be blanked, and extra magic armor and tools can be saved for later polypiling.

The mid game

The mid game involves the remainder of the Dungeons of Doom, including the Quest and Castle. You will get a wand of wishing during this portion of the game, so you will be able to flesh out your equipment.

Goals

The late game

You should have most (if not all) resistances, good stats, and excellent equipment by this point. Wands are twice as likely to be generated in Gehennom as in the rest of the dungeon, so you may find many wands useful for the end game.

Goals

  • Go through Gehennom. This portion of the game is composed almost entirely of mazes, which can be frustrating and boring to map. There are some ways to ease the pain. Digging a path between the upstairs and downstairs (and perhaps also into other regions) when possible can help reducing mysterious force induced headaches and Rodney visitations during the ascension run. Powerful demons make their homes in Gehennom. Though most heroes have sufficient firepower, by the time they get there, to tear through the hellish overlords, if you get yourself into a pickle, your god will be unable to help you while you are in the fiery depths. Be prepared to face Juiblex, Orcus, Baalzebub and Asmodeus, and possibly a much nastier foe if you are unlucky.
  • Kill Vlad the Impaler. The upstairs to his tower is located between the 9th and 13th level of Gehennom. Once you do find it, the tower has a couple of nice goodies, notably an amulet of life saving. Vlad himself is a pushover, hardly more powerful than a vampire lord, but carries the Candelabrum of Invocation, which is required for the invocation ritual.
  • Find the vibrating square. The vibrating square is located at the very bottom of Gehennom, and is not marked on the map in any way. Since this can take some time to find, you would rather do it before drawing the ire of the Wizard of Yendor. Once you do find it, it is recommended that you mark it in some way so that you do not have to go through the hassle again.
  • Optionally, you may wish to dig some form of straight path between the up and down staircases of each level, particularly the maze levels, to speed up travel.

The end game

The first step in the end game is killing the Wizard of Yendor. He is the single most persistent and irksome enemy in the game, so before slaying him, you should have everything arranged. Remap any levels lost to amnesia not recorded (hopefully none), pack the wands, scrolls, potions, rings, and tools for your ascension run, and take a deep breath.

Goals

  • Kill the Wizard of Yendor. The portal to his tower is located in one of two fake towers. His tower is fairly straightforward, but the man himself is a pest. He can curse your inventory items, summon nasties or a clone of himself, and use touch of death. He can also steal your quest artifact, the invocation items, and the Amulet of Yendor. Once you kill him, he will not leave you alone until the end of the game; if he does not simply reincarnate to face you again, he may throw any number of maledictions in your direction. However, you need the Book of the Dead he carries to...
  • ...perform the invocation and retrieve the Amulet. Once you have killed the Wizard, you should have all three invocation items, allowing you access to the Sanctum. Once you hack your way through the undead and priests standing in your way, you will face the High Priest of Moloch. Kill him to retrieve the Amulet. From here you can return to dungeon level one and take the upstairs to begin the final test.
  • Pass through the Elemental Planes. The Wizard can reappear at any point up to the Astral Plane, so do not let your guard down. Levitation is very useful here, as is a way of detecting the portals (confused or cursed scroll of gold detection is popular). Conflict can also help to keep the masses of super-elementals off your back, especially on the Plane of Air, where the air elementals can chew through your health in an incredibly short time.
  • Welcome to the Astral Plane! There are many creative strategies for dealing with the hordes of angry priests and angels, as well as the formidable Riders. Good luck and Godspeed.

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