User:Luxidream/How to win really fast

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A realtime speedrun of NetHack is an attempt to ascend in the shortest amount of time. In order to ascend, a player must obtain all three of the invocation items, perform the invocation, obtain the Amulet of Yendor, and sacrifice it to their god on the Astral Plane. Most realtime speedruns are completed in under three hours of play, with some under two hours.

While it might seem to require extraordinary luck to ascend in under two hours, such as a wand of wishing or a large scroll or ring shop, this is a common misconception. Fast wins are achievable by every role without extraordinary luck, and some roles can do it consistently.

This guide will assume that you've won at least once, so won't explain strategies such as informal identification and Elbereth in full.

This guide also assumes that you have bones off (OPTIONS=!bones) because a speedrun route with bones is trivial.

The basics

The travel command _ is your bread and butter. You can use it, then select a dungeon feature on the map using its symbol and press . to travel to it. You can also cycle between items or unexplored areas by pressing o or x respectively.

Using vi keybindings is very useful, because numpad does not support using Control + direction to run. You can get around this by using PuTTY's "NetHack mode", which assigns hjklyubn to the numpad, or something similar.

Set up autopickup exceptions to reduce the amount of time you spend sorting through loot to see what items you want. This will depend on your role. For example, Valkyries will want to pick up tripe rations and eggs for confusion, but Wizards can cast confuse monster and may not need these food items. Most roles will want to pick up some useful items like horns and magic markers though, while ignoring less useful tools like the grappling hook.

Add MSGTYPE=stop options for any potentially run-ending message, including but not limited to lycanthropy, sliming, stoning, Vorpal Blade, drowning, and fainting. You will be going fast and are likely to miss these messages.

Set OPTIONS=runmode:teleport to skip the animation when using autotravel.

Turn off sparkle.

With the exception of some weak roles that may need a starting pet, OPTIONS=nopet can save some time waiting for the pet to follow you on each level.

Choosing a role

The best roles for realtime speedrunning fall into one of two categories: melee combatants with high strength and constitution, or spellcasters with the ability to cast the magic mapping spell. The three best roles for speedrunning are Valkyrie, Wizard, and Priest.

Dwarven Valkyrie

Unsurprisingly, dwarven Valkyrie is an excellent choice for speedrunning. They have virtually unequaled starting stats, frequently entering the dungeon with maximum carrying capacity from their strength and constitution. If you choose to startscum for better stats, it is important to have 19 or higher constitution, as this significantly improves the amount of HP gained when leveling up. Strength can be increased later on the Valkyrie quest. The starting +3 small shield is one of the best single pieces of armor any role can start with.

Their starting stealth is essential for clearing out special rooms such as the Sokoban treasure zoo, leprechaun halls, and throne rooms. Cold resistance can also be useful prior to obtaining reflection. However, their lack of poison resistance can lead to difficult situations involving killer bees or water moccasins.

Valkryies start with their endgame weapon already in hand, the +1 long sword that can be converted into Excalibur. Their quest artifact, the Orb of Fate, is also useful for saving time, as it reduces your need for better AC and can be invoked for level teleportation, which saves precious scrolls of teleportation.

Elven Wizard

While elven Wizards are fragile in the early game, they can save a lot of time once they obtain a wand of wishing to complete their kit. Although their stats are mediocre, their starting inventory can be the best in the game, potentially containing ascension kit items like the magic marker, ring of conflict, and ring of polymorph control, as well as guaranteed magic resistance. The guaranteed instrument can be used to enter the Castle.

A Wizard's greatest strength is their enhanced ability to write unknown scrolls and spellbooks, most effective with high Luck. The ability to write whatever they want, along with their inherent spellcasting ability allows them to easily obtain a variety of useful spells such as healing, identify, and magic mapping. Their quest artifact, the Eye of the Aethiopica, gives energy regeneration, which allows for frequent spellcasting.

Since their first sacrifice gift is Magicbane, which doesn't do much damage, Wizards often struggle with dealing damage on their own, so they use polyself strategies such as polymorphing into a master mind flayer to make up for this.

Elven Priest

Elven Priests can cast magic mapping, have the ability to see the BUC status of items, and may be able to train identify more quickly than Wizard if they also start with a level 1 divination spell. They gain more Pw than any other role because of their high wisdom.

If they are able to obtain Stormbringer, through either sacrifice or crowning, they can potentially exploit drain for gain strategies to obtain protection and clairvoyance from an aligned priest.

However, in all other respects they are worse than Wizards, lacking their starting inventory and ability to write unknown scrolls and spellbooks. The Pw boost from the Mitre of Holiness is also less reliable than energy regeneration.

Barbarian, Samurai, Caveman, Knight

These are generally straightforward melee roles that are worse than the Valkyrie, since they have worse starting inventory and harder quests. Barbarian is notable for having poison resistance, avoiding some difficulties that a Valkyrie encounters. Barbarian, Samurai and Caveman all have excellent starting constitution and are viable picks. While Knights can easily obtain Excalibur, they can struggle due to having less HP and carrying capacity than the other roles.


Despite having the worst HP of any role, Rangers deserve an honorable mention due to being good fighters with the starting bow and highly enchanted cloak of displacement.


Monks' inability to wear armor without obtaining the luckstone can slow them down. Martial arts is not a very effective weapon. The threat of Master Kaen may force players to obtain the wand of death from Orcus before completing the quest, especially in future versions when the scroll of scare monster is no longer effective against quest nemeses.

Rogue, Archaeologist, Healer, Tourist

Low strength and a difficult early game can hamper these roles.

OK, so you picked Valkyrie, what now?

Not writing this for every role, sorry.

The time splits and sequence are good estimates for beginners. There may be reasons to change this route in your game; examples include obtaining Excalibur before Minetown or using a large graveyard to gain levels and access the Quest early.

General tips

  • Collect as many scrolls, potions, and rings as possible without going out of your way. It seems counterintuitive for a speedrun to pick up "useless" loot, but later polypiling can consume scrolls and rings very quickly. Potions are useful for diluting into holy or unholy water.
  • Assign letters to commonly used items. Most time wasted in NetHack is spent in the menu reading a huge list of items. The more you can streamline this process, the better.
  • Stash management is sometimes necessary (this is NetHack, after all). Put your fragile items in a box next to the stairs, lock it, and don't spend too much time on it. Once you have a bag of holding, this becomes entirely unnecessary.
  • Don't expect to have extraordinary AC and HP for the endgame. A Valkyrie with AC -10 and about 120 HP is in a very comfortable position for a speedrun, and worse is still winnable. You shouldn't spend precious resources and time trying to enchant your armor or nurse dance for extra HP. Your magic marker charges are better spent on scrolls of charging and magic mapping.
  • Know when to avoid fighting. If you're in Gehennom with AC -2, fighting a minotaur in melee will take most if not all of your health.
  • Play accurately, not recklessly. If you're in a difficult situation, it may be better to think for some time than to charge forward and die. This is especially true in critical areas like the Astral Plane and Moloch's Sanctum.

Things you should not bother with

  • Protection beyond the first purchase
  • Eating jewelry
  • Maximizing Luck
  • Obtaining Mjollnir/Grayswandir from sacrifice
  • Fort Ludios
  • Stealing from shops with a pet (or having a pet in the first place)
  • Excessive farming
  • Nurse dancing
  • Obtaining sleep, disintegration, shock resistance in Gehennom
  • AC better than -20
  • Stashing items once you have a bag of holding
  • Fireproofing armor

Reach Minetown (5:00)

Starting at DL:1, it is helpful to explore most of the early dungeon levels to look for shops, loot, and altars. However, the Gnomish Mines levels are often not worth fully exploring, especially if they are dark.

Arriving at Minetown should be easy enough for a dwarven Valkyrie with a peaceful Gnomish Mines. Along the way, you should anger and kill a dwarf for a pick-axe and possibly some better armor. If you do not obtain the pick-axe now, you will need to get one from random generation or an Elvenking, which are much more difficult to find.

If the temple is coaligned, pick up holy water. Holy water is an essential item, and needs to be obtained through either an altar or a blessed confused scroll of remove curse.

You can also dip for Excalibur here if you happen to be level 5, don't plan on returning, and don't mind the additional risk of running past the Minetown watch.

If you find Orctown, many players will restart. While Orctown shouldn't slow you down enough to warrant this, clearing Orctown is not a good use of time and can be dangerous to a Valkyrie lacking poison resistance.

You may obtain a wish here from a magic lamp, if you are lucky. At this point, the best wish would be gray dragon scale mail. There is some debate about whether silver or gray dragon scale mail is better, but for a speedrun, we are interested in saving wishes later in the game. Most variants of Medusa's Island have a 75% chance of having a shield of reflection, and there is a 50% chance of reflection from Sokoban.

The luckstone at Mine's End is not useful to you, since you may lose several minutes to collect it, and it does little for a Valkyrie, only serving as a slight accuracy bonus. The Orb of Fate acts as a luckstone and will be obtained later in the run.

Price identification

Throughout the game, making use of price identification will be helpful. Since you have a limited number of scrolls of identify, and Valkyries are unable to cast the identify spell, price identification is essential for formally identifying the most useful items.

You can reduce the time wasted by price identification by only classifying scrolls and rings. Scrolls you want to find are base 20 (identify), 60 (enchant weapon), 80 (enchant armor, remove curse), and 300 (charging, genocide, stinking cloud, punishment). Base 100 scrolls can be formally identified to isolate the useful gold detection and magic mapping. The base 300 rings (conflict, polymorph, polymorph control, teleport control) can all potentially be useful to you, and the base 200 rings can include levitation, regeneration, and free action.

Complete Sokoban (25:00)

While Sokoban can be skipped, the Sokoban prize can often save you a wish, and the random rings and wands can be essential to your final ascension kit.

You should obtain Excalibur before entering Sokoban. You will encounter the Oracle before entering Sokoban, so you have a good chance of obtaining it.

The first level of Sokoban can actually be skipped without pushing any boulders by walking through the pits.

A user has suggested improving this page or section as follows:

"TODO: Recommend some more shortcuts for players. There must be more! --Luxidream (talk) 05:26, 13 February 2021 (UTC)"

You should memorize the solutions for the Sokoban levels. While most levels are straightforward, some levels might have shorter solutions that involve moving boulders into places where they can no longer be used.

Level 2a

 ----          -----------
--.>--------   |.........|
|..........|   |.........|
|.A-----.-.|   |.........|
|..|...|CF.|   |....<....|
|.D.E.B...-|   |.........|
|.G..H..|..|   |.........|
|.----..--.|   |.........|
|........|.--  |.........|

Solve normally until you reach this position. Here, you can push B up one square, and E one square to the left, then use the small loop to the right to fill in the remaining boulders. This only immobilizes B.

Level 4a

-------.------         |.| 
 |...........|         |.| 
 |.A.B.C.D.E.|         |.| 
--------.----|         |.|
|...F.G..H.I.|         |.|
|...J........|         |.|
-----.--------   ------|.|
 |..K.L.M...|  --|.....|.|
 |.....N....|  |.+.....|.|
 |.O.P...Q.--  |-|.....|.|
-------.----   |.+.....+.|
|..R.....|     |-|.....|--
|........|     |.+.....|
|...------     --|.....|
-----            -------

From the starting position of 4a, push A to the left, E to the right, B to the left, D to the right, C to the left. This immobilizes boulders A and E but allows you to begin pushing boulders into holes without using the bottom chamber for storage. Note that if you make any errors, you will need to use a scroll of earth, because there are only two extra boulders for this puzzle.

If a monster is created behind a boulder you are pushing, the quickest way of killing it is with an attack wand. If the monster is sufficiently weak, you can also kill it by throwing Excalibur, but this is risky if you can't kill it immediately. The normal methods of gathering up junk weapons and rocks works, but is a bit slower.

The Valkyrie's stealth should allow you to enter the Sokoban zoo without awakening any monsters, provided you have a quiet way of opening the door. Chopping it down with a pick-axe, destroying it with a wand of fire, wand of cold, wand of lightning, or wand of digging, or using an unlocking tool or wand will work.

When fighting your way through the Sokoban zoo, be wary of monsters that can wake up the zoo, such as peaceful monsters that make noise when angered (black naga, tengu), invisible black lights, and exploding monsters like gas spores and flaming spheres. If you are forced to fight, retreat into the corridor.

Obtain the Castle wand of wishing (50:00)

Ideally at this point in the game, we would do the quest, since it's the next area below Sokoban. Unfortunately, we need to be level 14 for that, and there's not an easy way to do that. Farming is obviously out of the question, and Valkyries have bad intelligence and charisma, so using incubi will also waste a lot of time. You can get lucky and find a large graveyard with enough wraiths to level up, but that's not always possible. Thus, the best course of action would be to get the wand of wishing at the Castle, which will give us the means to enter the quest.

There are several ways of fighting monsters at the Castle. It is strongly recommended that you prepare for at least one of them before you dig down to the Castle.

  • You can break the drawbridge, wear a ring of conflict, and fight your way through.
  • You can play mastermind with a tonal instrument to raise and lower the drawbridge killing most of the monsters instantly.
  • You can levitate to the back and let monsters fall into the holes.
  • You can phase into the correct tower as a xorn and escape with the wand.

The following information pertains to an upcoming version (NetHack 3.7.0). If this version is now released, please verify that it is still accurate, then update the page to incorporate this information.

Intelligent monsters at the Castle are now aware of the holes leading into the Valley of the Dead.

Failing all of these, with sufficient AC and weapon enchantment, you can break down the drawbridge with a wand of striking, retreat to the maze behind you, and fight. However, this is slow and dangerous, so searching the dungeon for useful items leading up to the Castle is better.

On your way downwards, you should be using telepathy to find special rooms like leprechaun halls and throne rooms. Leprechauns can have defensive items, and their gold can be used to buy protection or clairvoyance from an aligned priest. Throne rooms also have defensive items carried by weaker monsters like hobgoblins and bugbears, with the potential of a wish from the throne and even dragon scale mail if you find a throne room deep enough in the dungeon. The barracks is dangerous but an especially important room, since Yendorian army members stronger than a sergeant can carry bugles, an important tool for scaring other monsters and opening the Castle drawbridge. Be ready, since they will play the bugle if given the chance, waking all the soldiers in the area. If you are very close to leveling up, you may even seek out a swamp, since the eels give large amounts of experience points, though this comes with its associated dangers.

At Medusa's Island, it can be difficult to dig down because of the nearby water, which will fill your hole and blank your scrolls. Use a scroll of earth to fill in the water surrounding you if there is not enough land.

If the level below Medusa's Island is a maze, you should use a scroll of magic mapping to find the upstairs and fight Medusa, provided you have a way of dealing with her like a blindfold or levitation. In most variants of Medusa's island - the exception is the one with ravens - the statue of Perseus is accessible from the downstair of the level without requiring levitation, so killing her and obtaining the potential shield of reflection or levitation boots can be very profitable.

The minotaurs in the maze levels below Medusa's Island are very dangerous, especially with poor AC. They are best avoided. If you accidentally encounter one, note that they have 0 MR, which gives you several options to evade them.

If you hear doors opening, you're at the Castle. The sharks can deal a surprising amount of damage, so stay away from the moat to heal. Use one of the aforementioned methods to clear the Castle and safely obtain the wand of wishing.

Complete the Valkyrie quest (1:10:00)

With the wand of wishing in hand, we're finally able to get a bit stronger. Use your wishes wisely though, you don't have many of them. You don't have the luxury of writing several scrolls of enchant armor in this run. Save at least one readily available wish for emergencies (1:1).


Good wishes:

  • 3 holy charging. Pretty standard. Make sure you don't have charging already.
  • 3 cursed genocide. To generate wraiths to gain levels or dragons for dragon scale mail. Bless one to genocide liches.
  • Magic marker. You will need at least one to map Gehennom, and possibly more to recharge your wand of death and Orb of Fate.
  • Holy greased bag of holding. Saves time managing inventory and encumbrance. You can ascend with a sack, but it's not fun.
  • Ring of conflict. Very important for crowd control.
  • Ring of levitation. For the Plane of Air and crossing water. Skip if you have controlled polymorph, potions of levitation, or boots of levitation.
  • Fixed greased +2 helm of opposite alignment. Required for the ascension run and potentially the Astral Plane.

If you have extra wishes:

  • Ring of teleport control. Can be used with the Orb of Fate to level teleport, saving walking or digging through levels. Can also be used on the ascension run to teleport directly to the up stairs.
  • Wand of polymorph. This wish depends on the amount of items that you have. The more scrolls and rings you have, the more effective polypiling can be. This can be an excellent wish if you are missing many items from your ascension kit and also have lots of junk. If you have a ring of polymorph control, this is also a good source of flight, which can substitute for levitation on the Plane of Air.
  • 3 cursed potions of gain level. Saves time, but very costly.
  • Holy fixed +3 pick-axe. It would be very unfortunate if you had to make this wish. If you have enough wands of digging, that will suffice for clearing paths through Gehennom.

Bad wishes:

  • Any kind of dragon scale mail. You have a great chance of getting this from a cursed scroll of genocide.
  • Speed boots. These are generally unnecessary. Use potions of speed for the Astral Plane. They can reduce harassment on the ascension run by saving in-game time, but are very low priority.
  • Jumping boots. Also useful for the Astral Plane, but see little use elsewhere.
  • Partly eaten chickatrice corpse. It's less resource intensive to reverse genocide cockatrices.
  • Wand of teleportation. While powerful on the Astral Plane, you probably don't have enough wishes for this.
  • Gauntlets of power. On a Valkyrie, this amounts to a +3 ring of increase damage, which is hardly worth a wish. Throwing Mjollnir isn't important.
  • Scroll of magic mapping. This is a better target for polypiling since it is relatively common.
  • Ring of free action. This is often considered a critical ascension item, but conflict does far more to reduce the damage you take. Not worth a wish, but hang on to it if you find one.
  • Ring of slow digestion. You won't run out of food on a speedrun.
  • Cloak of protection. MC3 is not worth a wish. Play carefully around dangerous monsters like green slimes to avoid the danger.
  • Scroll of enchant armor. Another suitable target for polypiling if you haven't found it and need it for dragon scale mail. Enchanting armor is otherwise unnecessary.
  • Sceptre of Might. While it can give conflict and magic resistance, it must be wielded to give magic resistance, and can be stolen.
  • Magic Mirror of Merlin. Relying on artifacts that can be stolen for MR is still a bad idea (see above).
  • Grayswandir. Excalibur is more than enough to win.
  • Amulet of life saving. There is a guaranteed one in Vlad's Tower.
  • Wand of death. Orcus has one.
  • Helm of telepathy. This is a nearly useless item.
  • T-shirt. You don't have the resources to enchant this, and it's easily obtainable by polypiling anyway.
  • Tins of dragon meat. If you are desperate to obtain a resistance, use reverse genocide instead. Shock resistance is not necessary.
  • Any kind of figurine. Pets are too slow.

After completing the Castle, you need to leave the Castle to find the quest portal and gain levels until you are at least level 14 to do the quest. The quickest way to escape the Castle is via level teleportation through a cursed or confused scroll of teleportation. Teleport control is not necessary here, since you are very likely to be taken upwards (the range is 1 to DL+3, inclusive).

The best way to gain levels would be to drink some potions of gain level, but these are hard to come by, since most monsters will drink these on sight. Luring wraiths from the Valley of the Dead by level teleporting while adjacent to them after waking them up is another option. Failing these, reverse genocide of wraiths is the fastest method.

While in the quest branch, it's recommended that you levitate or wear water walking boots if you have them. If you trigger a fire trap on the ice, you will fall in the water and lose most of your scrolls.

You should obtain fire resistance in the quest home level from a fire giant or fire ant. There are many fire traps on the quest and in Gehennom that will reduce your maximum HP. This also prevents the instadeath from falling into lava, though you still lose your boots if they are leather and not fireproof.

On the goal level, if the upstairs is completely surrounded by lava, it's likely that you will need levitation to kill Lord Surtur. You can wake him by using a cursed potion of invisibility on the stairs, zapping a wand at him, or using conflict and waiting until he is attacked. Lord Surtur himself can hit fairly hard, though is otherwise unimpressive. His MR of 50 makes him vulnerable to a wand of polymorph or wand of sleep, and he is killed instantly by a wand of death. He also cannot fly, so if you need to heal, you can move over the lava. After killing him, pick up the Bell of Opening and the Orb of Fate. Invoke the Orb of Fate for a quick escape.

Invocation (1:30:00)

With the quest complete, it's time to head into Gehennom proper. In order to perform the invocation, you still need the Candelabrum of Invocation and the Book of the Dead.

Vlad's Tower can be found somewhere between the ninth and thirteenth levels of Gehennom. The best way to find it is to level teleport to DL:(Valley+8) and search from there with magic mapping. Failing that, you can start from the top; it doesn't use much more time. If you encounter Asmodeus or Baalzebub's lairs, it's quicker to bribe them rather than fight.

The following information pertains to an upcoming version (NetHack 3.7.0). If this version is now released, please verify that it is still accurate, then update the page to incorporate this information.

You can now search for dungeon features with a crystal ball by entering any of < > _ \ # {. Doing so will find all of these features regardless of which one you entered.

The intelligence check when applying a crystal ball now uses a d8 instead of d20 if it is your own quest artifact, or d16 for other blessed crystal balls.

This makes using the Orb of Fate to map Gehennom much more efficient than using magic mapping scrolls, provided you have a pick-axe.

If you do not have a unicorn horn when encountering Juiblex, use holy water or a potion of extra healing to cure the illness.

Be sure to pick up the loot on the second floor of Vlad's Tower. Even if you are currently wearing an amulet of reflection, you may find a shield of reflection later, allowing you to use the amulet of life saving. The water walking boots can be used to blank useless scrolls and potions if you lack a wand of cancellation, and can be used to cross water if you lack a ring or boots of levitation.

Vlad the Impaler's covetous behavior and speed buff in 3.6.1 make him a more troublesome opponent. The quickest way to dispose of him is using a cockatrice corpse, but that's not always practical. If you are strong enough, another straightforward way is to run to the stairs ahead of him, force fight towards the doorway, and hold down Control+A until he expires. If you have particularly bad AC, he can hit very hard with a two-handed sword, so exercise caution. Blocking the stairs with a boulder also works.

From here, you can use the standard Gehennom mapping strategy of mapping every other level until you reach Orcus. You need his wand of death to kill the Wizard of Yendor, so pop up from under him and drag him to the upstairs below. The shades can be troublesome if you are attacked in melee, especially if you lack extrinsic speed, so avoid this by using a scare tool or conflict.

Now is a good time to wish for a helm of opposite alignment to wear when exiting the Sanctum to mitigate the effect of the mysterious force. It's also a useful item if you happen to be unlucky on the Astral Plane, allowing you to ascend on the chaotic altar as well.

If you have one wish left (1:0), it is strongly recommended to wrest the wand of wishing at this point because it becomes significantly more difficult after killing the Wizard of Yendor. If you are low on charges, the best item to wish for here is a magic marker.

To fight the Wizard of Yendor, it's possible to lure him from outside his tower with a drum of earthquake, but those are rare. If you can polymorph into a master mind flayer, your psychic blast with #monster should be able to wake him if you stand as close as possible to him at the top of the level. Since this consumes 10 Pw, and Valkyries usually have around 20 Pw at this point, this can take some time and a few attempts.

With teleport control, it's possible to level teleport from the bottom level of the tower into the top level, skipping most of the first two floors.

After killing the Wizard with the wand of death, dig or level teleport down to the vibrating square level. Use portal detection to find the vibrating square and perform the invocation.

Victory (2:00:00)

Moloch's Sanctum should not be troublesome. The initial graveyard can be mostly skipped with stealth, unless the Wizard harasses you with aggravate. Try not to fight the high priest in melee unless absolutely necessary, since they hit very hard with their weapon attack and spellcasting. The best way to kill them is by zapping your wand of death, but they have a small chance of wearing a cloak of magic resistance. In addition to shock, the high priest also resists fire, poison, and sleep, so keep this mind if you are forced to fight them.

Ascending through Gehennom should be straightforward, if you don't lack magic marker charges to recharge your wand of death. (To lessen the mysterious force's problems, remember to put on your helm of opposite alignment.) You should levitate to avoid holes dug by monsters and unknown trapdoors.

You can eat the Wizard of Yendor’s corpse for a chance at teleportitis and teleport control. Teleportitis can be useful for saving in game time by teleporting to the upstairs, reducing harassment and traversing unexplored levels more efficiently.

If the Wizard is attacking you and you need to buy time, he stops following you if he is carrying the real Amulet. This can give you a breather and some time to wrest your wand of wishing if you didn't do it earlier.

If you level teleported to Vlad, you may have skipped either Asmodeus or Baalzebub. If so, make sure you aren't wielding Excalibur when you go upstairs for the opportunity to bribe them. If you anger them by accident, it's better to go downstairs and fight them than try to walk to the upstairs, since they can summon horned devils that can steal your Excalibur or even Dispater, an aggravating spellcaster.

If you have cursed potions of gain level, use them on levels that are especially difficult to traverse, such as Asmodeus's lair or the Valley of the Dead.

When you reach the Valley, you can safely remove your helm of opposite alignment. If you remain chaotic, hostile Archons can spawn in the Planes and in the dungeon, which can be very troublesome due to their stunning gaze and ability to summon nasties.

Upon reaching the Planes, if you lack confused scrolls of gold detection, you can use the Orb of Fate to detect portals, recharging it as necessary. You can use the Amulet of Yendor to find the portals on Fire and Air more easily, because you have more freedom of movement on these planes, but they are also the most dangerous, so be wary. Levitation on the Plane of Water is no longer possible, so you will have to wait in a bubble for the portal. An amulet of magical breathing or polyform with magical breathing can be used to enter the water, but progress is slow due to water turbulence, and without an oilskin sack, you will lose all of your potions and scrolls. A polyform with swimming can be faster, but is not always available.

On the Astral Plane, you should avoid melee with Famine and Pestilence, especially if you lack a unicorn horn, as you will not be able to cure the stun in that case. In general, you should head for a high altar that is close to your current location, avoiding Pestilence if possible, since it is more dangerous than Famine. If you wished for a helm of opposite alignment, at worst, you will need to examine only two altars in order to ascend. Cursed genocide is useful here for creating cockatrice corpses, as well as the standard strategy of using a wand of teleportation.

Congratulations, mortal!

You just beat a game that might take years to play in less than a couple of hours. Go brag on the subreddit/IRC/Discord/all of the above. If you didn't use any pastes, have the !bones option, and played on a public server, you can submit your run to here.


Why not use dig for victory?

Dig for victory is a risky and inconsistent strategy for Valkyries. You need to find a pick-axe and a tonal instrument early on, which may not be possible. Since Elbereth has been nerfed significantly, you may have difficulties avoiding the sea monsters in the moat without a permanent Elbereth. Without a means of dealing with minotaurs and other deadly monsters, it's easy to find yourself in trouble. Even if you do manage to succeed, you may not have a quick way to level teleport to the quest portal, and will not be able to wish for an entire ascension kit with only 5-7 wishes. The strategy outlined in the guide should win quickly and consistently, since you should gather enough essential items or polyfodder while exploring.

But I didn't pick Valkyrie? / My favorite role is better than Valkyrie!

This would be too long if I went through every role. If you want a non-Valkyrie role to play, Wizard has the potential to be faster than Valkyrie but is much more difficult, and Barbarian is more consistent at winning than Valkyrie but is somewhat slower.

Why don't you play human Valkyrie?

Human Valkyrie loses time in the Gnomish Mines killing gnomes. They also gain less HP per level than dwarves and have lower maximum constitution, giving them significantly less health throughout the game. Humans lack infravision.

The only benefit they have is being able to genocide mind flayers with a single scroll. These can usually be avoided with careful play.

Why don't you wish for [ITEM]?

Wishes are very tight. At least one wish will usually be dedicated to a magic marker, helm of opposite alignment, source of magic resistance or reflection, and scrolls of charging. You may also need a bag of holding, teleport control, ring of conflict, or other items. Emergency wishes can also be necessary (Demogorgon, Yeenoghu). Since you have 5-7 wishes, this leaves no room even for popular ascension kit items like speed boots and gauntlets of power.

Why don't you use polyself strategies?

Polymorphing into a master mind flayer or other form can be powerful, but is ultimately unnecessary for Valkyries, who have a great weapon and excellent HP. It can be useful, but isn't recommended for beginners because of how easy it is to attack a cockatrice or other dangerous monster and lose your run. Uses include waking the Wizard of Yendor from outside his tower, flying to substitute for levitation, or simply for the increased damage and additional HP.

Do I twoweapon Excalibur with a silver saber/long sword/katana?

In general, twoweaponing is not advised. If you decide on twoweaponing, you will need to wear silver dragon scale mail along with a cloak of magic resistance in order to have magic resistance, reflection, and an amulet of life saving. This often requires an additional wish for the cloak of magic resistance, since it is exceedingly rare outside of bones. Forgoing twoweaponing allows you to use the shield of reflection found at Medusa's Island or from an Aleax with gray dragon scale mail, often saving a wish.

Twoweaponing can also slow you down in Gehennom, because it is cumbersome to switch between a pick-axe and a set of two weapons. A player wielding a single weapon can hold a pick-axe in the offhand and press x to swap to it quickly.

What if I get an early wand of wishing?

In general, you can skip Sokoban. Most runs choose to enter Minetown anyway since you need a pick-axe, and the shops are still useful. You also have the option of attempting the quest before the castle.

It's important not to get overexcited and waste wishes, since any unused wish can potentially save time later in the game.

Sub hour splits

In case you weren't challenged enough, it's possible to get a sub-hour ascension without skipping Sokoban.

Minetown - 3:00

Sokoban - 15:00

Castle - 23:00

Quest - 30:00

Invocation - 45:00

Victory - 1:00:00