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Best polytrap pet?

For one thing, that's an awfully subjective term. But even subjectively speaking, it's hard to argue for a Balrog being the best. Sure, it does a lot of raw damage, but its damage over time is crippled by its speed of 5. A dragon does slightly more than half as much damage, but is almost twice as fast, so its DOT is very similar. And being faster, it's much more likely to keep up with you. A minotaur does even more damage than a Balrog and is three times as fast (granted, it doesn't fly). Arch-liches, purple worms, and Titans also have distinct advantages which can easily make them more useful than a Balrog. --Darth l33t 04:39, 18 January 2011 (UTC)

The speed system works entirely differently in inter-monster combat. Monsters can attack at most once per turn Dogmove.c#line630, and the defendant has a 75% chance to retaliate, no matter how slow he is Dogmove.c#line639. A hasted balrog is at 62% player speed. That also means it's at 62% optimal combat rate, and further speed (minotaur, titan...) has no effect on damage output per turn.
Pets don't keep up with you, you keep up with them. Aspiring pacifists, get used to it. In the beginning of the game, you have to walk back and forth until your cat gets into the mood to come. In mine town, you are almost guaranteed a tin whistle, which makes things a bit easier. The real breakthrough is a magic whistle. Pets are so much more useful once you can instantly surround yourself with a living fort that will kill monsters.
Dragons, titans, jabberwocks, mind flayers, and so on theoretically do a lot of damage. However, they do not fight. Instead, they eat. This is a big problem for a pacifist or any weak character if you need it to kill enemies before they kill you.
Arch-liches are formidable opponents but horrible pets. All they have is a measly cold attack, and they constantly get in your way. That means you cannot run away half the time. To make things worse, they are very hard to control, so you cannot price-ID stuff or buy protection. No thank you. Since they cannot be polymorphed, I always abandon them in Sokoban, never to return.
Purple worms are a special case. Some people swear by them, citing their instakill attack and the fact you can easily get them to level 49 in the Valley of the Dead. My personal experience is that they don't last long. They either die or eat shapeshifters and slimes. If your play style is slow and you prefer keeping multiple pets in case they hit traps or die, the worm will eventually become confused from hunger and start eating your other pets.
Finally, balrogs have few but powerful attacks. This is important when fighting jellies, because each individual attack seems to trigger the passive counterattack. The other extreme are mind flayers: letting them wander near a jelly means losing them.

--Tjr 05:05, 18 January 2011 (UTC)

What about mastodons? They're pretty unlikely to get distracted eating corpses (they only eat fungi), and they're faster and have stronger attacks than balrogs. The only downside (and this may be bigger than I think) is that they are difficult to keep fed, but it seems like careful planning might be able to deal with that. In particular, if minetown contains trees, it shouldn't be at all hard to get enough fruit to feed them for a while. They also will eat people food if starving. -Ion frigate 07:15, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
I used mastodons while farming for an archon in Vlad's Tower for my 11/10-conduct ascension. They work well as long as you burn Elbereth on all squares for them and put a food ration there. Somehow, they were the first to die when I left the safe area. In a different game, I got one out of a polytrap, and I was happy until it suddenly got confused from hunger and nearly wiped out my character in one hit. --Tjr 13:32, 18 January 2011 (UTC)