Talk:Role difficulty

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Shouldn't this be moved to "Role difficulty"? --Seen 04:31, 15 September 2006 (UTC)

Yes, you're right. I moved it. --Jayt 11:00, 15 September 2006 (UTC)

Starting Difficulty Versus Ascension Difficulty

I thought it would be good to clarify the difference between the two, instead of a one-dimensional difficulty model. 05:35, 13 March 2008 (UTC)

Role Difficulty Chart

I created the Role Difficulty Chart and I know that no one is going to agree with each other on the order, but I really wanted to see something like this the first time I came to this page instead of just a description of each role's difficulties. Also since I have yet to ascend a Monk, Rogue, Ranger, or Healer I'm not sure where to put them so I kind of grouped them near the bottom where I thought they might be. Spazm 01:09, 11 September 2007 (UTC)

I think it puts a good stick in the ground, and the disclaimers make it perfectly clear you're not trying to be definitive. I'd quibble with you on Valkyrie vs. Barbarian if you're trying to ascend, rather than just survive a few hundred turns longer as a noob--Excalibur, Mjollnir and the Orb of Fate make one hell of a great package. But it's obvious that your list is pretty solid.
I edited the chart slightly, putting Archaeologist above Healer. I wouldn't nitpick on which role is more difficult, except that I thought it would be better to make the chart more consistent with the main article. Action 52 06:44, 11 March 2008 (UTC)action
I don't like the role difficulty chart as it's listed. Having ascended close to 10 times now (and haven't ascended more because I get bored) I'd say it's something like this from easiest to hardest:
1/2. Barb/Valk (if I had to choose, probably Valk as easier)
3. Ranger (yes really this high, ranged attacks dominate melee early on especially)
4. Rogue
5. Samurai
6. Wizard
7. Knight
8. Monk
9. Caveman
10. Tourist
11. Healer
12. Archaeologist
13. Priest
Since this is such a radical change I'm not going to change the chart in the main article. I'd say 1/2 are close, 3-5 are close, and 11-13 are close. Tourists are notably better than the four roles below them IMO, simply because Tourists have good ranged attack options (darts are GOOD), while the three at the bottom have terrible ranged options.
Rangers are only hard if you equate "boring" with "difficult" and think that ranged combat is boring. Multifire arrows plus Elbereth is pretty much unstoppable for the entire game--it's good enough that you don't even really need a melee weapon if you don't want to bother with one.
Every class is more-or-less equally easy if you make it to the castle, and in vanilla I'd say you should never die once you grab the castle wand unless you simply run into something you don't know about that instakills you (like green slime). 18:44, 12 November 2008 (UTC) crate (too lazy to make an actual account)
Tourists and wizards are equally hard to play in the early game if you stick to Elbereth, daggers and lots of armor. I'd move tourists up in the scale, but I don't know how far because I specialize in wizards. --Tjr 17:53, 18 January 2009 (UTC)
I have come to agree with a lot of what crate is saying--Tourists are a lot easier than they get made out to be. Their starting darts are quite good for that stage in the game, due to the +2 enchantment. They also have lots of food so you can take yor time, and pretty much any weapon you come across can be raised to basic. Plus their starting gold makes it easy to buy good stuff you find at stores. Unless you are really unlucky with finding weapons and armor in the first few dungeon levels, they're actually not too hard even in the early stages.

Action 52 06:44, 11 March 2008

I would actually say that Healers and Archaeologists are easier than Tourists and Monks. With both roles, you can go for early protection by 1) having a lot of starting money as a Healer and 2) by identifying and selling a few gems as an Archaeologist. I find it far harder to succeed as a Monk. I would definitely vote that Priest is the hardest role as Tourist starting equipment is more powerful.

Now the article says "Cavemen can be considered a more difficult version of Barbarians" and the chart has Caveman as easier than Barbarians. This is a mess. I'm assuming that the reasoning for making Cavemen easier is that they have a guaranteed source of MR? The barbarian certainly seems to have an easier time at the beginning, though maybe I'm not taking proper account of the sling.

Anyway, with a subjective chart like this, I think a little more discussion might be warranted before we make any drastic changes. -- Slandor 17:26, June 20, 2010 (UTC)

Ugly Chart

Why is the chart so ugly? Can we please go back to the original thing without any "disclaimers"?

We can include details of how difficult/easy a role is in their own articles, that's what they're for after all. Let's keep the chart clean.

Rank Role
1 Barbarian
2 Valkyrie
3 Wizard
4 Samurai
5 Monk
6 Knight
7 Priest
8 Caveman
9 Rogue
10 Ranger
11 Archeologist
12 Healer
13 Tourist

Gneek 18:44, 2 April 2008 (UTC)


It seems to me that although constitution is relatively easy to raise, having a higher constitution at the beginning will correspond to a lower ascension difficulty because you will gain more MAXHP during the easy run of experience levels--one through ten.Ih fek 19:31, 13 March 2009 (UTC)

Yes, of course. The current state of the difficulty list is a joke. 09:48, 1 December 2011 (UTC)


Slandor asked me to justify knights being the second easiest class? Points in their favour:

1) They get a good starting AC and good weapon. This AC can be improved further by obtaining mines armour of course, but this helps them *get* to the mines

2) Obtaining Excalibur is easy and straightforward. This means they have a strong weapon throughout the game.

3) After obtaining level 3 or so, they can #ride their horse (if you don't mind about dying a couple of times before trying this you can do this at the start of the game). This not only means they can joust it means they can run quickly (and therefore get away from early enemies), as well as counteract their starting strength/ring mail combo which puts them close to the burdened limit.

Casmith 07:27, July 4, 2010 (UTC)

These are good points, especially the AC, but I'm not sure they mean that Knights are the second strongest role for relatively inexperienced players (which is what this should focus on). Knights require pretty careful horse management; I think you have to dismount the pony to allow it to get kills and level up, which brings you back to the problem about the burden limit.
Stats are also a problem; not only is there the burden limit, but if Dx is low (the knight I just started had a Dx of 8) it can be hard to hit monsters. Once you have Excalibur that should be less of a problem, but that means being sure you can water moccasins with a very rusty sword. Food can also be a problem, since you have to save treats for your horse, but I find I have to keep stashing food rations because of that pesky burden limit.
Overall, knights seem like they require a fair amount of subtle strategy that goes beyond the "walk into them and they fall down" strategy that works for barbarians and samurai (as well as valks). There's a lot more pet management, and decisions about when to ride and not; not to mention that mithril is hard to get if you don't like attacking peaceful dwarves. That may make them more likely to ascend if played well, but not the easiest class, if you see what I mean.
It'd probably be a good idea to split the table up, into roles ranked by early-game/mid-game/late-game difficulty, to take account of the roles that are easier to play from the very beginning versus the roles that get some significant advantages pre-quest (like Excalibur or Magicbane) and those that get significant advantages post-quest (PYEC, Eye of the Aethiopica). Or just ditch the table, which seems like it's going to be the opinion of the last person to edit it. Purely subjective tables don't work in an article like this; we can just list the pros and cons of the role and leave it at that.
Oh, and I think it's not true that "Most agree that (dwarven) valkyries are the strongest class, followed by knights and samurai." Most people seem to think that barbarians and valkyries are the easiest classes -- they may not be right, but that's what they seem to think. In a sentence about peoples' opinions you should probably just stick with valks. Slandor 01:41, July 5, 2010 (UTC)
I was assuming that the table is "easiest to ascend/least likely to die if the class is played well". Is that not the case? Your comments seem to suggest a bias towards "how far can you get if you don't know too much strategy" (ex: knights seem like they require a fair amount of subtle strategy). This is not meant to sound aggressive, sorry if it does. Casmith 00:06, July 6, 2010 (UTC)
No problem. Honestly I don't know what the table means anymore, since it's undergone a number of edits by people with different opinions and agendas, but I was thinking that the article was more about which classes are easiest to ascend for a not-too-experienced player. After all, a really good player (not me) can ascend any class pretty reliably, which means that all classes are pretty much equally likely to ascend if played well. As David Damerell says in the linked RGRN thread, "Well, our player is "spoiled", but presumably no Marvin - otherwise the difference between ascension rates with classes are too small to pick out." Not to mention that people who are experienced enough to max their ascension rates will have figured out their own preferences, and don't need the table. So I was thinking of "easiest to ascend" as "easiest to ascend for people who don't quaff fountains but still aren't experts." (In line with that, the article used to discuss Barbs and Valks specifically as recommendations for new players.)
Another thing is that by "subtle strategy" I really meant "subtle strategy that's specific to knights"; the riding, herbivorous pet, and lance all require specific strategies that other classes won't be using. It's easy to imagine someone who's pretty good at the other classes and has trouble playing knights. Insofar as playing a knight requires more different strategies than other classes, I'd say that makes them harder, even if they can be ascended more reliably once you've mastered all those strategies.
As I said before, though, I think the table may just be too subjective at this point, and the best thing about the article is the discussion of the specific pros and cons of each class. Slandor 01:50, July 6, 2010 (UTC)


Since role difficulty is so subjective, let's turn those perennial arguments into a poll. I'd fancy a box in an unobtrusive corner, like the monster template. However, my attempts end up very ugly. Would someone with more wiki wizardry please make prettier polls? ([[w:c:Help:Polls]]) Tjr 16:19, July 9, 2010 (UTC)

<div style="float:left;width:60%;min-width:200px;"> <poll> Poll: which is easiest? (No rerolling, no conducts) They're roughly equal I'm a specialist for one role Archeologist Barbarian Caveman Healer Knight Monk Priest Ranger Rogue Samurai Tourist Valkyrie Wizard </poll> </div>

<div style="float:left;width:60%;min-width:200px;"> <poll> Poll: which are easier? (No rerolling, no conducts) They're roughly equal I'm a specialist for one role Spellcasters Melee fighters Ranged (non-magical) fighters </poll> </div>

I like the idea of a poll, a lot, but I think we might need to be asking a more complicated question -- something like rank order of roles. The disagreements aren't so much about which role is easiest (I think Valk may have stayed on top through all the edits) but how to order them in the middle. Are Cavemen really easier than Barbs, for instance? (The reasons given seem pretty weak to me.)
Also, for the second poll, should there be a third option for "ranged fighters"? Slandor 19:39, July 9, 2010 (UTC)
If you find a way to poll the rank order of roles, I'd be delighted. Tjr 02:16, July 10, 2010 (UTC)
The polls I was thinking of were done through the Condorcet Internet Voting Service. They probably couldn't be set up on-site, though. And... yeah, it looks like anything more complicated than what you've got can't be done through the built-in polls, and I don't even know enough to help you with that. Oh well. Slandor 18:21, July 10, 2010 (UTC)

I think we have to accept that players have different agendas when deciding role difficulty. When asking players you will find that they have much less experience of some roles (I rarely play Arc, Kni, Mon, Val)--PeterGFin 18:12, 2 July 2011 (UTC)

Different approach

Instead of a straight ranking, maybe it would make more sense to do a chart, breaking down the different parts of the game?

For example:

Role Early game Middle game End game
Valkyrie Easy Moderate Easy
Wizard Difficult Easy Easy
Monk Easy Difficult Moderate

I feel like this would be an approach that would, at the same time, be easier to come to a consensus on as well as being more useful than a straight up 1-13 list. Thoughts? - 21:57, 31 August 2011 (UTC)

It's probably too cluttered, and introduces even more subjectivity to an already absurdly subjective article - not only do you have to struggle with people's opinions of how easy various roles are in the early/mid/late games, but you have to struggle with people's definitions of those parts of the game as well. -23:54, 1 September 2011 (UTC)

Role difficulty chart, again

Can we agree to just remove this damn thing? It's subjective, and it tends to get rearranged randomly and a lot. Difficulty is too hard to quantify on such a linear scale, especially since it's already a vaguely defined term. Some examples:

  • Tourists are weak to start out, and if you're not playing super carefully few will make it. But, the role is very fun, fast and easy to play early on, given its scrolls of magic mapping. So putting it as a "hard" role is deceptive - it's a good thing for a mid-level player to try; I know for me, it was something like my fifth ascension.
  • Valkyrie vs. Barbarian, which is easier? This is like GDSM vs SDSM but worse. But moreover, it's pointless - both roles are very easy to start out with, and I think it's better that newer players get that instead of just seeing "Valkyries are easiest" or "Barbarians are easiest"
  • Monk has a difficult midgame, but an easy early game. Rogue is harder early on but with an athame and daggers is absurdly strong later on. So which is actually harder?

My point here is that there are so many vicissitudes to this, it's really not a useful chart. I propose it either be removed, or perhaps it could simply be changed to show the winrates on NAO. Yes, I understand that's not the best representation, since a lot of people startscum wizards; if someone has the capability to do this, perhaps such a chart could exclude deaths and quits on the first three levels. I know Sequell on ##crawl can do something like this; I imagine the same is possible on ##nethack. -Ion frigate 19:10, 4 December 2011 (UTC)

I don't like the new chart, either, because the stats are skewed toward experienced players. Experienced players already know what roles are easier or harder, and if they want these statistics they can look them up somewhere else (we could put them on a different page if we want to keep them).

Newbie players don't generally get streaks of 3, which means that this has very little meaning for them. For instance, it shows Archaeologist and Caveman as being quite high—what new player is going to find a caveman easier than a wizard? Cavemen do quite well on NAO, though, because only experienced players ever play them.

Maybe I'm being less than objective too, but I think the best approach would be to just remove the stupid chart. Not only does it lead to endless debate, it just flat-out isn't very useful. (EDIT: Just realized I already voiced this opinion below several months ago. This post gives a couple more reasons, though. Scorchgeek (talk) 01:17, 1 November 2012 (UTC)

"Objective Statistics"

I feel like this chart is even more useless than the previous chart. The problem is that it finds the likelihood of players winning that role in a place where they were "trying to win"...but what people who don't already have strong opinions about role difficulty want to know is "what is going to be the easiest for me to get a first ascension with." Having wizard third-from-last, for instance, is kind of absurd in this situation, given that a large number of players' first ascensions were wizards.

I say we just take out the stupid chart. All it does is cause arguments. Scorchgeek (talk) 00:30, 17 May 2012 (UTC)

Yeah it is definitely biased towards experienced players, but I don't think it's utterly useless. Firstly, the NetHack community is getting more experienced, since I think the lack of development is attracting relatively few new players. Secondly, why can't we have both? We could make a sortable chart, with both the current statistics and rankings of roles by number of online players with that as their first ascension.
Though that's of course not the best statistic either, since lots of players have prior local ascensions (out of curiosity, does what you're saying about wizards come from online statistics or more general knowledge?). One way to account for this might be to look at first ascensions that came after some threshold of losses, say 150+, to isolate actual new players. Basically, I don't think trying to get objective statistics on role difficulty is a lost cause, I just think we need to refine our chart. But as it is, it's definitely a good gauge of role difficulty for moderately experienced players, which is better than nothing. -Ion frigate (talk) 05:35, 17 May 2012 (UTC)

This chart could be improved by adding several different methods of analysis (I'm on board with that sortable chart idea). The problem with the current table is its selection bias: it only represents experienced players who are good enough to win a 2-game streak. Another problem pointed out by the RGRN post linked on the page is that there's really no reliable way to determine when the player was trying to win the game. The 2-game streak is specifically pointed out as being ineffective at discerning when someone was trying to win. Additionally, some players make separate accounts for conducts, for 3.6.0, and other things, so there's also not much reliability whenever we compute anything about a player's history.

Since we're probably never going to pin down a magic formula for accurate, objective win rates, here are some various ways to calculate role difficulty that could go into a table:

  • Basic win rate. Number of wins divided by the number of games. No filtering.
  • Win rate excluding quits and escapes. Perhaps we limit this exclusion to escaping only by walking up the stairs from level 1, so that escaping by other means is included as a non-ascension. Clarification: The deaths "quit (with the Amulet)", "escaped (with a fake Amulet)", and "escaped (in celestial disgrace)" can probably be assumed to be a game that was trying to be won, and should not be excluded.
  • Win rate excluding start scummers. Quits and escapes make up for a lot of these, but some start scummers get more creative and kick walls, genocide themselves, throw their weapon at themselves repeatedly, or pray and get fried to a crisp by their god.
  • Win rate excluding games that ended in less than x turns. This is impossible to tune properly, but a good number is probably around 10, where most start scummers probably will have ended their game one way or another but not that many actual players have had the chance to die.
  • Win rate excluding fountain spammers. By excluding the "water demon", "water moccasin", and maybe "water elemental" deaths one would probably get rid of a lot of these but also any games where someone ran into a bones file with them. Also, it doesn't represent games where the player fountain-spammed and got some other bad result, like a nymph, that led to their death.
  • Total number of ascensions with that role. Prone to heavy selection bias, as some roles are much more popular than other roles.
  • Win rate among players who have over x ascensions, similar to the linked article on the page uses a data set of players with 13 or more ascensions and a fairly even spread of roles.

--Phol ende wodan (talk) 19:55, 1 May 2017 (UTC)

Comparing Samurai and Caveman

Comparing Caveman and Samurai is a bit odd. Ok, both are a balance between melee and ranged fight (and need not fear floating eyes) but there are much differences between them. The Samurai is better in terms of weapons. You starts with good ones, and can #enhance the sword skills, what is usefull since much Artifacts are swords. The Caveman is restricted in swords and getting unrestricted to basic when getting Vorpal Blade in't very usefull either. Good Weapons like Axes and Spears are rare in the early game and the Scepter of Might is not very reliable beacause covetous monsters may steel it. It gets much easier after the Castle when you get lots of spears, that make quick work of mindflayers. The Caveman is better in terms of ethics. While the Samurai has to follow some extra conducts, the Caveman may eat humans, dogs and cats. Instead of eating the K and C Rations dropped by soldiers, you can eat the soldiers and keep the permafood for bad times, and you can eat werecreatures to summon pets. While gravedigging and poison can be averted, it may often happen to hit accidently something peacefull or tame and the need to be lawfull is a disadvantage in terms of unicorn frequency, genocide and mysterious force. -- 17:11, 4 April 2013 (UTC)

> It gets much easier after the Castle when you get lots of spears

Really? I tried that once and thought it was ridiculous because they weigh so much.

While comparing any two roles is of course going to be somewhat difficult, all the fighter roles are pretty much the same with some minor differences in difficulty. Personally, though, I'd tend to agree with you: if I had to pick, I'd call samurai a more difficult version of barbarians, not samurai. Scorchgeek (talk) 20:05, 4 April 2013 (UTC)

"the Scepter of Might is not very reliable beacause covetous monsters may steel it"
Only your quest nemesis and the Wizard of Yendor may steal it (and nymphs/monkeys, but these may steal other things too and aren't covetous). In the case of Rodney, it helps to use a wand of death as soon as possible; even if he steals the Sceptre and gains player-style magic resistance, you should have another way of killing him, and he doesn't do that very often anyway.
"it may often happen to hit accidently something peacefull or tame"
You have to confirm that by default, and tame monsters are simply displaced by default. Additionally, in many variants and on NAO you can make it more difficult to confirm accidentally. —bcode talk | mail 22:34, 4 April 2013 (UTC)