Wand strategy

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There are 24 wands in NetHack.

Management of wands is an important part of the game. Some wands are useful early in the game but become nearly useless later. Some wands are frequently carried for immediate use, while others are often kept in stashes. Wands are heavier than rings or scrolls (though only a third the weight of potions), so choices must be made.

Not that all wands have value as polyfodder. Some wands with offensive potential may be picked up simply to keep them out of enemy hands.

Another important consideration with wands is deciding which are worth recharging, as scrolls of charging (and/or magic markers to make them) are typically a scarce resource.

Wands That Are Always Useful

Wand of wishing: See the wand's page for full details. These wands are always good to have. It's hard to beat getting an item of your choice, and you'll likely end up using a few charges before Gehennom to obtain rare and necessary extrinsics. However, there are strategies in which people save a wish for as late as the Astral Plane.

Wand of death: A very powerful offensive tool. Particularly valuable as a last-ditch weapon when facing a difficult opponent, or for efficiently dispatching the Wizard of Yendor and other endgame threats.

Wand of secret door detection: Often stashed until the end game, when it is useful for finding the secret door in Moloch's Sanctum and the portals in Endgame.

Wand of digging: These are the fastest way to cut through rock, which is helpful in some situations, such as the Plane of Earth, or as an escape item when zapped downwards. A digging implement (such as a pick axe) can do the same things, but are much slower.

Wand of fire and Wand of Lightning: Although useful for their attack potential early on, their real value lies in their ability to burn permanent Elbereth squares.

Wand of teleportation: Useful both as an escape item and for teleporting enemies away. Prized for crowd control. While you can't teleport yourself in no-teleport areas, it can always be zapped at enemies to teleport them.

Wand of polymorph: Since self polymorph is of limited duration (and random without a source of polymorph control), this wand is useful early on for polymorphing pets or polypiling, and later in order to polyself into a metallivore for jewelry eating.

Wand of cancellation: There are many utility uses for this wand - see its page..

Wands That Are Useful Early

Wand of striking and Wand of magic missile: The low damage potential of these wands for ranged attacks makes them less useful as the game progresses. Early on, they are worth keeping, especially if you don't have good ranged options. You're likely to find many of these, so the best strategy is to use and drop as they are not worth recharging. Keep in mind that they are likely to miss against monsters with good AC, especially the the wand of striking.

Wand of slow monster: Early in the game, this wand can be used to cripple fast monsters, allowing you to escape or use hit and run tactics. As monster MR increases later in the game, they become less useful, but still have a niche in that they can disrupt engulfing vortices and air elementals

Wand of light: Useful in lighting the Gnomish Mines. Not worth recharging.

Wand of create monster: When sacrificing repeatedly for a gift, the wand of create monster eliminates the wait for a random monster to come along.

Wands That Are Useful Through Midgame

Wand of sleep: Eventually monsters you will encounter will be too powerful to be bothered by sleep spells, and some monsters are never vulnerable, but from early to midgame, this is a handy part of your ranged toolkit. Probably not worth recharging.

Wand of cold: Although useful for offensive purposes early on, the wand is useful later for freezing water if no levitation source is available.

Wands Of Limited Utility Value

Wand of enlightenment: The usefulness of this wand depends on whether you have an Identify source (for ring/amulet identification) and how well you keep notes on intrinsics you receive. Some players keep this wand in their stash rather than carrying it. Unless you are starved for identification and rely on this wand exclusively for discerning magic items' properties, you are unlikely to need to recharge it.

Wand of make invisible: This is typically a single-use wand: you zap yourself to gain the invisibility intrinsic. Note that zapping pets does not confer a benefit.

Wand of undead turning: This wand's chief value is in reviving corpses, which is useful in limited scenarios, such as bringing back fallen pets or killing a dragon again to try for its dragon scale mail.

Wand of speed monster: Zapping yourself (or your pet) with this wand gives you the speed intrinsic. These tend to be wands used once.

Wands That Are Usually Polyfodder

Wand of opening: There are some minor uses such as getting un-engulfed or removing punishment but is otherwise a prime candidate for polyfodder.

Wand of locking: Can create doors in empty doorways, which is sometimes useful. Apart from that skeleton keys are simpler and can be used infinitely.

Wand of probing: A stethoscope can be used infinitely.

Wand of Nothing: Only useful as polyfodder.