Thursday, 26 July 2012

Return to Angband

It's been a long time since I talked about a roguelike, hasn't it?

I do intend to get back to reviewing more examples of this fun class of games; indeed, I hope to get one of Crawl out soon.  That is not what this post is.  Rather, I want to go back and talk about Angband again.  I want to go into the mechanics in more detail than in my original post, and also offer some strategy and tips.  This will be the first post in a short series looking at Angband; if this goes well, I might give NetHack the same treatment.1

Before giving my own opinions, let me mention some other useful places to look around the web.  First off, the official forum is one of the best places to get information, strategy and reports of games.  The ladder can also be helpful; in particular, you can see what kind of gear winners tend to have.  You can also look into the spoilers, either in the /lib/edit/ subdirectory or online here.

I'm going to be talking about the 3.x versions of the game.  I mostly play 3.2, also known as the easiest version of Angband; the current version, 3.3, is pretty similar.  There were major changes going from 2.x to 3.0, and to a lesser extent 3.0.9 to 3.1.  I will comment on these changes were relevant, but generally much of what I say will not apply to the 2.x series.  Also, I'm not going to talk about Angband v4 in this series of posts.  I consider it to be a completely different game, worthy in its own right but not my focus here.

My last aside is on spoilers.  I have already pointed out where you can get most of the information about the game that is not immediately obvious.  Some people, however, like to play without that knowledge, as it makes victory that much more enjoyable.  For that reason, I will divide the remainder of this post into four sections.  The first will discuss the user interface; this will be partly overview.  I will point out some useful options that might not be immediately obvious.  The three other sections will offer hints and tips with progressively more spoilers.

The User Interface

Generally Useful Commands and Options

Unlike NetHack and Rogue, Angband has a separate inventory and equipment list.  This makes it easy to see what gear you have equipped.  Angband also uses a single letter2 to put gear on.  This has the important side effect that each piece of wearable equipment can only ever be used for one purpose.  For example, you can never wield armour as weapons.  This simplifies the commands at minimal gameplay cost.

The most important command in general is 'I' (shift+i, for investigate).  This will give you detailed information on any item in your inventory, that you are wearing, or that is on the floor where you are standing.  There are many items which do not have immediately obvious uses, and using 'I' will clarify most of them.  There are two important comments.  First, for unidentified items, you won't learn too much.  Second, for weapons the game will conveniently calculate how much damage that weapon will do, based on your current knowledge of the weapon, your other equipment, and yourself.3  This is a pretty recent feature, added in 3.1 (I think).  It was introduced to avoid busywork, and because combat in Angband has some long-standing oddities that new players would find it hard to figure out otherwise (see later).

One of the most useful elements of the Angband user interface are the squelch options.  Squelching a type of item makes it invisible, though it will continue to be generated.  There are many, many items that you want to ignore; from things you can't use (spell books you can't read) to things that are bad (potions with detrimental effects) to things that are simply no longer interesting to you (non-magical items later in the game).  You can squelch an item with the command 'k'.  You can manage squelching more generally through the options menu, '=' then 's'.  The one thing to be wary of is that until 3.2, in addition to ignoring items you can actually destroy them with 'K', and you might not want to.
The options menu, with squelch settings highlighted.
Squelching is useful to reduce clutter and help focus your attention on things you might actually want.  While it is certainly possible to play the whole game without it, I strongly encourage liberal use of squelching, especially as the game goes on.

There are a few more useful things in the options menu.  First, the hitpoint warning ('h') is very important.  By default, Angband will give you no particular information when you are running close to death.  You can change that with this option.  The warning is set as a percentage of your life; I usually work at 20%, but some people choose 50% or even higher.

Another useful function is found in the display options ('b').  The first option will change the colour of your icon on screen as you take damage.  This may not work with all tile sets; you can always switch to ASCII through the Options -> Graphics menu in the menubar.

A very, very important option that I ignored for two long is the use of sub-windows.  This works best with a decent size screen; still, I get some benefit on a netbook.  Sub-windows can be turned on using Window -> Visibility in the menubar.  What is shown on them can be adjusted with through the options menu, '=' then 'w'.  I recommend monster list and item list as a minimum; the first shows the monsters on screen, the second the items you have found on the level.  You might also consider messages, inven/equip or equip/inven or status.
Turn on the subwindows as shown, not through the in-game options menu.  Two subwindows are shown.

Lastly, a comment on moving around the dungeon.  It might seem obvious to just use the arrow keys or numpad to do so.  However, there is the danger of moving without thinking, or holding down an arrow key and running into something you didn't see.  You can reduce the chances of this happening by running.  In recent builds of Angband, you do this by pressing Shift + direction; you can also press '.' followed by the direction, which works in older versions too.  When you run, you travel in the direction indicated, including following turns in corridors, till something disturbs you.  The disturbance settings are sub-menu (e) of the usual options menu, but by default include visible monsters.

Advanced Options: Simplifying Commands

The remaining things I want to cover in this section all relate to customising the Angband commands.  Specifically, I want to discuss inscriptions, auto-inscriptions, macros and preference files.  These are more advanced topics, but for a little investment can simplify the game and remove a lot of repetition.  It's worth noting that I won't be going into all the things you can do by any means, but the help file contains plenty of information itself (section h).

Inscriptions are text that is added to an item.  You can inscribe an item using the '{' command, and you can set all items of a given type to be inscribed through the squelch settings menu.4  Inscriptions can also be removed with the '}' command.  There are two types of inscriptions: those you do for yourself, and those you do for the interface.

Inscriptions for yourself contain information that you could get using 'I', but you want to make obvious.  Some types of items have random resistances or abilities, for example.  Inscribing which particular one an item has helps you in choosing your equipment.

Inscriptions for the user interface are more complicated.  A full description can be found in the help files, under 'Customising the game'.  These inscriptions take the one of two forms:
  • { ! <Game Command> }, which means "do not use this item to <game command>"; and
  • @ <Game Command> <Number> }, which means "use this item to do <game command> by pressing <game command> followed by <number>".
The game command can be any command (that uses equipment) in the game.  If you omit this, the wear command ('w') is assumed.  The number can be any single digit choice, but you generally want to keep them mostly distinct.

The simplest way to illustrate the use of inscriptions is to give some examples.  Note that all of these can be combined with one another, and with any other inscriptions you like.
  • @0.  Anything with this inscription will be put on with the command 'w0'.  Conveniently, this is an intrinsic shortcut, so can also be done with the single keypress 'X'.  I use this inscription a lot for my primary weapon and my digging tool, assuming I have one, so that I can easily switch between the two.
  • @f0.  This inscription should only go on ammunition.  It works in one of two ways:
    • In older versions of Angband, this ammunition can be fired using the the key strokes 'f0', or a shortcut defined to mean that (see later).
    • In versions of Angband with the quiver (3.1 and later) this ensures that the inscribed ammunition will always go in the top slot of the quiver.  This can then be fired with the 'h' command.
  • !d.  This should go on anything you don't want to drop or sell by mistake.  If you try to, the game will ask for confirmation first.  You can also be more extreme, for example !!!!!d will ask five times before dropping or selling.
  • !.  This goes on something you don't want to run with while wearing; for example, a digging tool.
  • @m1, @m2 and so on.  These are good inscriptions for spell books, as they allow you to define shortcuts for any and all spells you want to cast.

I've mentioned shortcuts a couple of times.  These can be programmed using the 'Interact with macros' command in the options menu ('=' then 'm').  This lets you define macros or keymaps; keymaps are simpler, and all I have had to do so far.  Define a new keymap with 'h'; press the key you want to assign commands to, then enter the set of commands when asked.  There are some subtleties if any of these commands involve special characters, such as control, escape or return.  The help menu explains what you need to enter.  However, here's a couple that I use as examples:
  • My mage-class warriors have control+n redefined to 'm1a*'.  I have set Magic for Beginners to be automatically inscribed with @m1, so this opens up that spell book and attempts to cast the first spell in it, Magic Missile.  The '*' command switches to targeting mode.
  • All my spell casters have control+h set to 'b1'; and both Magic for Beginners and the prayerbook Beginners Handbook are inscribed with @b1.  So control+h lets me browse the spells in the first book available to my magic users at any time.
  • I have set 'I' to r1, and 'J' to r1\.  I have set scrolls of identify and the various scrolls of enchantment to @r1.  If I have any scrolls of enchantment, 'J' will read one and switch to my equipment menu so that I can choose which item I am wearing to apply it to; if instead I want to apply it to something I am carrying, I can use 'I' to bring up that menu.  If I have no such scrolls, then these commands instead read scrolls of identify, again bringing up the relevant inventories.
The final thing here is that you must save your keymaps before exiting the current session or they will be lost.  This is done through the same menu, option f - Append keymaps to file.  By default the game will append the keymaps to a file named after your current character.  Those keymaps will then be available to only that character, and others of the same name.  If instead you want to make your choices more broadly available, you need to rename the file.  The most commonly useful option is to name it after a character class.  For example, a file named 'mage.prf' will contain keymaps that are loaded for all mage characters you play.

Hints and Tips: (Almost) Spoiler-Free


The most important tip in Angband, or indeed in any roguelike: expect to die a lot.  The difficulty and permanent death is part of the appeal of this class of games; if you don't like it, play something else.  Death in Angband can come from nowhere, but once you have got a few levels most deaths will actually come from carelessness.  Whenever you die, try to figure out what you did wrong.

The most common mistake leads into the second most important tip in Angband: don't try and kill everything.  You can't.  Don't be afraid to run away.  This advice is particularly relevant to Angband; there is no limit on the total amount of stuff in the dungeon; more will be generated every time you enter a new level.  More items mean that you don't have to get that tempting item defended by high-level dragons; more monsters mean you can always grind for experience, if you think you need to.

The third most important tip: this is a turn based game.  If you do nothing, the game will do nothing.  If things are dangerous, stop and think.  Most of my characters have died from acting too hastily, or from trying to play while too tired or otherwise distracted.  Think of roguelikes as turn-based strategy games more than anything else

Character Creation

When it comes to creating a character, you should know that the default option these days is to assign characteristics using a points-based scheme.  The options to roll your characters attributes should be seen as a harder difficulty option.  You also want to focus your attributes to those that are most relevant to your class, rather than go for something balanced.

The easiest class at the beginning of the game is undoubtedly the warrior.  Warriors have the most hit points, and a reliable reusable source of damage in hitting things.  They're not the easiest class overall, but a beginner should definitely play their first few games with a warrior.  When you are ready to start learning about spells, the Paladin and Rogue are the easiest options, as they are both effective fighters early on.  I'll say more about this when I get into individual class guides.

While all classes are roughly balanced, the races are not.  A beginner should stick with High Elves or Dunadain.  They have the best abilities and lots of hit points.  Dwarfs, Half-Orcs and Half-Trolls are also good options, thanks to plenty of hit points and good fighting abilities.  Humans are a bit tricky because they have no Infravision.  Hobbits, Gnomes and Kobolds should be avoided by beginners, though they are very playable once you have some experience with the game.

All classes will begin the game with a certain amount of money, in addition to a reasonable set of starting equipment.  You should spend all your money before entering the dungeon, or at least as much of it as possible.  Good things to buy are cheap healing potions and scrolls of Phase Door (which teleport you a short and random distance).  Some more detailed suggestions will be offered both below, and in the separate character guides.


Scrolls of Word of Recall are a very important item: they let you travel between the town and the dungeon.  They take some time to take effect, so they are unreliable escapes, but you'll always want them so that if you need a breather you can return to the town and resupply.

You'll find a lot of stuff throughout the game; far more than you could ever hope to keep.  Don't be afraid to sell things you aren't using and to throw stuff away.  Indeed, when it comes to stuff you wear you should only keep three types of things.  The first is obvious, the items you currently have equipped.  Second are things you are carrying as alternates: either to identify; while identifying something else; or because they provide something your normal gear does not, like a resistance.  Finally, there are a few objects worth keeping for the late game; heavy weapons you can't effectively use right now, or heavy armour you aren't strong enough to wear are the main examples.

You can be slightly more cautious when it comes to comestibles.  Indeed, most of your home should be filled with surplus scrolls and potions that you can't buy in town.

Be aware that for each different type of resistance (fire, cold etc.) you only need one item that provides it.  Multiple items are then redundant.  The exception is that you can have both normal and temporary resistance; so drinking a potion of Resist Fire while wearing a ring of the same doubles your fire resistance.

The current design philosophy in Angband is that you should be encouraged to use items you find.  Most of the really dangerous potions have been removed from the game, for example; drinking an unknown potion is less likely to kill you.  Similarly, almost no items are cursed so that you can't take them off when you wear them.  This lets you use weapons and armour you found in the dungeon to identify their properties with little risk.  Note that this very much does not apply to 2.x!

Finally, in the unlikely event that you're a veteran of NetHack, Crawl or similar and you are looking here for advice, be aware that Angband treats all weapons as pretty much the same.  There are no skills, no benefits to using the same type of weapon.  So feel free to upgrade your stuff whenever you find something better.

Hints and Tips: Some Spoilers


Strongly consider diving; that is, going deep into the dungeon relatively quickly.  Given the dangerous and unforgiving nature of Angband, it is tempting to stay at lower levels and look for good items and experience there.  However, there are three problems with this.  First, dangerous monsters are more likely to be generated early than good equipment.  Second, going deeper will allow you to learn more about the game; you'll see more monsters, learn how they behave and attack, and find new types of equipment that does new and interesting things.  Finally, Angband is an unforgiving game.  The longer you play, the more likely you will make a mistake that leads to death.  Diving deeper into the dungeon reduces the play time and forces you to focus, because most things you encounter are genuine threats.

Character Creation

Let's start with some more detail on good things to get at the beginning of the game.  I always get a shovel, though this is probably no longer wise.5  There is plenty of treasure to be found buried in the walls of the dungeon, and digging it out can be a useful source of money in the early game.  However, in 3.x you'll normally find yourself with plenty of money.  Digging tools do have other purposes, but those are more relevant in the later stages of the game.

The other particularly important thing to buy are flasks of oil.  With the exception of the Ranger, who normally can't afford it, all starting characters should buy all the available flasks from the General Store.  These can be thrown at enemies, providing a form of ranged combat that is quite effective early on.  Only the Mage and Ranger start with missile weapons otherwise, and the Mage's limited magic make flasks a useful backup.

One hint that only applies to earlier versions of Angband (2.x) is to check the General Store for a lantern.  If they have one, buy it; it's a vastly superior light source to the torches you start the game with.  In 3.x, lanterns can only be found in the Black Market, at prices too high for the typical starting adventurer.


Angband has a slightly odd damage system.  Because of how the number of attacks you get is calculated, a Warrior, Rogue or Paladin character will usually do more damage at the beginning of the game with a light weapon (dagger or similar) than a heavy one.  In particular, older versions of Angband will give Warriors broadswords at the start of the game, which you should promptly sell and buy a whip or dagger instead.  The most recent versions have made this less extreme, but the effect is still there.  Remember to use 'I' to check weapons for their damage output when comparing them.

Always keep an escape on hand.  There are several available:
  • Word of Recall is not really an escape.  There is a period between reading the scroll and its effect happening.  Normally, when you need to escape, you need to immediately escape.  Word of Recall just allows you to get to and from the town level with the minimum tedium.
  • Phase Door is not really an escape either.  It can get you out of some difficulties, but is only really good early on.  The scroll does have other uses, see below if you are curious for some of them.
  • A Staff of Teleportation is an essential option for pretty much all characters from the moment they can get one, to the moment they get immunity to Blindness and Confusion.  Staffs are not good options, because they are heavy and have at least a 5% fail rate for all characters.  But they are the only escape usable while blind and/or confused.  Ideally, you'd use a 0% fail method while you can, but sometimes things get away from you.
  • Scrolls of Teleport Level or (prior to 3.2) Deep Descent are the best normal escapes, for two reasons.  They get you out of the immediate danger, and you always get the first move on a new dungeon (so if you run into more trouble, you can escape again).  A delay was added to Deep Descent in 3.3, much like Word of Recall, so it works differently.  Note that you can't read a scroll while blind, but they have a 0% fail rate.
  • Scrolls of *Destruction* are the best escape, removing nearby monsters while leaving unique items behind.  (This latter functionality was once again removed in 3.3).  However, these scrolls are rare and have other uses (see below).
Finally, a comment on using spells to escape.  You should never rely on a spell as your only escape unless it has a 0% fail rate (which can only be achieved by the Mage and Priest).  If your teleportation spell has any chance of failing, carry scrolls.

Item selection in Angband can be tricky because there are a lot of possible resistances available, and they can pretty much all be found on any type of item.  Well, maybe not light source.  Still, there are a few general guidelines.

First: speed is king.  There are few items worth taking over an item that boosts your speed.  Higher speed means more damage output, the chance to run away from more monsters, and less chance of monsters acting multiple times between your actions.  +10 speed allows you to act twice as often as 0 speed; -10 half as often.  Similarly, +20 speed is roughly three times as fast as zero, but after that you start to hit diminishing returns.  The fastest monsters have +30 speed; you must be able to match that speed by the end of the game.  Since a potion or spell of speed gives you +10 speed, this means you need to get +20 speed from your equipment.

Speed may be king, but Free Action is essential.  Free Action gives you immunity to paralysis and slowing, both good ways to die.  Get it as soon as possible.  See Invisible, resist Blindness and resist Confusion6 are also very useful, as already discussed.  You will also eventually need to find resistances to Fire, Ice, Lightning, Acid and Poison.  There are monsters in the game that can one-hit kill you with breath attacks in those five types.  An old guideline said you needed Fire and Ice by dungeon level 20, Lightning and Acid by 30, and Poison by 40.  That is too cautious2, but you should be wary below those depths.


Angband is a turn based strategy game.  I'm repeating that because it is important, and because it's relevant to what I'm about to say.  In strategy games, information is usually key, and Angband is no exception.  Spell-using classes should recast their detection spells often to keep aware of things they can't see; the biggest weakness of the Warrior class is its lack of such an option.

There are two basic types of detection available: detection of monsters, and of dungeon features.  Monster detection can in turn be got from several spells and items, and is more and more vital as you get deeper into the dungeon.  The different types available early in the game all have weaknesses:
  • Detect Monsters is found in the Mage, Ranger and Rogue spellbook.  It is the best early-game option, revealing all monsters within range except invisible ones.  However, past about dungeon level 20 there are some nasty invisible undead to be afraid of.
  • Detect Evil is found in the Priest and Paladin prayerbook, and is also available from a staff that can be bought from the Magic Shop.  It reveals all evil creatures in range, visible or not.  This ignores a lot of awkward monsters, such as Zephyr Hounds, golems (including Drolems), elementals and others.
  • Telepathy sometimes shows up early.  It misses certain creatures considered to have no mind, such as golems and some undead.
The best monster detection is found in either the Reveal Monster spell from the Mage set of spell books, or the Detection spell from the Priest prayer books and the Rod of Detection.  These reveal all monsters within range.  It takes a while to get them, of course.

Dungeon detection is simpler.  You need to repeatedly cast spells of Detect Traps, either innately or from Scrolls or Rods.  Traps can kill you throughout the game; so you should not walk anywhere that you haven't magically checked is safe.  Of course, early on you'll have to take the chance, because you won't have enough mana or items.

Aside from trap detection, the other useful dungeon detection is Detect Treasure (or Detect Objects in earlier versions).  This reveals the location of items, allowing you to focus your exploration of the dungeon to those areas.  One of the key benefits of the Rogue is that it is the only class able to cast this spell without items.

Hints and Tips: Unrestricted


As with all roguelikes, a key part of Angband is identifying the stuff you find in the dungeon.  This task is eased somewhat by the shop level, and in particular the ability to by Scrolls of Identify from the Alchemist and Staffs of Identify (or Perception, in older versions) from the Magic Shop.  That said, it takes a while to get enough money to buy as many of these as you need, especially given the need to buy other things (like escapes or spell books).  So here's a general guide to identification in the early game.


In current versions of Angband, the emphasis is on identify by use.  A key part of this has been the removal of the 'sticky' curse, that prevents you taking something off.  In current versions, these only exist on unique items and some rings.  Unique items are always recognised as such when you pick them up, so everything else is safe to try.  This does not apply before 3.1.  In older versions of the game you need to be much more careful.
  • As noted, unique items are recognised as such when you pick them up.  If you can't spare a scroll of identify on it, you can look it up in the spoilers.
  • Certain bonuses are revealed as soon as you wear something.  This includes boosts to speed, attributes, see invisible, and brands.
  • When you hit a monster, any bonuses to hit or to damage on any items you are wearing are revealed.  Note that these bonuses are most common on weapons, obviously; but are also moderately common on gloves and rings.
  • Slays are revealed when you hit a monster of the appropriate type.
  • Similarly, whenever you are hit you learn any armour bonuses.
  • Any resistances or protections are revealed when you are hit by the appropriate attack; e.g. fire resistance when you are hit by a fire attack, or Free Action when a monster tries to slow you.  However, for the most desirable resistances this is not usually a good way to learn their existence; if you suspect something might have unknown resistances, use a Scroll.
Remember that while Angband has a fairly complex set of possible enhancements for equipment, the number of different combinations is still fairly small.  Some useful examples:
  • Any weapon with a boost to AC has either the Defender or the Holy Avenger egos; determine which by seeing if it has Slay Evil.
  • A weapon which boosts Strength, Dexterity and Constitution has the Westernesse ego, giving it Free Action.
  • A piece of armour that gives you +1 to Strength, Constitution and Infravision is Dwarven, and so also has Free Action.
  • Headgear that boosts a mental attribute also sustains it.
  • Interesting shields in the early game have either one of the basic four resistances, or all of them.
  • Boots that are classed as {Excellent} have one of the Speed, Elvenkind, Stablity, Stealth and Free Action egos; only Free Action and Stability are not immediately revealed when you wear them.
Lastly let us consider jewellery.  It is possible that you might find cursed rings early in the game that lower your attributes.  If you do, return to town and get a Scroll of Remove Curse.  Note that there are rings that give you negatives that are not cursed; rings of the Dog, the Mouse or Reckless Attacks, for example.  These offer bonuses to counteract their penalties, and are quite useful for the right characters.


Here I am counting all items you don't wear, except spell books.  These also can be identified through use.  Be warned that prior to 3.1 this is again a really good way to get killed.  However, the really nasty stuff--potions of death and so on--has been removed.  One simple option to bear in mind is that you can always sell something to identify it, and this is a good choice for everything other that wands, staffs and rods.  Those items are likely to be too expensive to buy back and can be tested relatively safely.
  • Most mushrooms will always be identified on use.  The exceptions are Fast Recovery (only when cut) and Vigor (only when your attributes have been lowered).  The most dangerous thing about trying a mushroom is that it will be one of Vigor, which is the only type worth anything past the very early game.
  • The most dangerous potion is a potion of sleep; potions of slowness are also tricky.  Drink potions when there are no monsters around, but you are slightly wounded (in case it is a healing potion).  Also, be aware of the Brawn/Intellect/etc. set of potions, which raise one ability and randomly lower another.  These can be irritating if they lower one of your key abilities, and start showing up around dungeon level 10 or so.  If a potion has no effect, it is probably Boldness, Restore Life Levels or Neutralise Poison; two of those can be bought in town.
  • The most dangerous scrolls are the Summoning scrolls.  For this reason, always read unknown scrolls on stairs in corridors.  Also be wary of the Curse Weapon/Armour scrolls, though those don't usually show up early.  If a scroll has no effect, it is most likely Detect Invisible; Satisfy Hunger is also possible.
  • The most dangerous wand is Haste Monster.  Aim a wand at a low-threat monster to ensure that even if it is, you'll be safe.  If aiming wands at monsters doesn't do anything, try walls, doors and traps.
  • Again, Haste Monsters and Summoning are the most dangerous staffs.  I generally first try staffs when there are no monsters around and I am on stairs.  If that doesn't identify it, next try it when you have visible enemies; but it could also be a Staff of Curing, Cure Light Wounds or Detect Invisible.
  • All rods are positive, though the rod of Polymorph can potentially be dangerous.  If using a rod doesn't immediately identify it, it is probably a rod of Curing.

Item Selection

There are a few more words to be said on equipment choices.
  • The potions that raise one attribute and lower another are worth drinking, if the attribute they raise is useful to you.  A Wizard should always drink potions of Intellect; a Warrior not so much.
  • Unless you have another source of speed, try to always carry a potion of Speed.
  • Potions of Cure Light Wounds, Cure Serious Wounds, Neutralise Poison and Boldness are generally not worth carrying.  If you have nothing else, hold on to them, but once your inventory starts to fill they are definite candidates to throw away.  The first three potions can be replaced by Cure Critical Wounds; the last by Heroism.
  • Potions of Resist Fire and similar are poor replacements for equipment-based resists.  Sometimes that's all you have, but I generally don't have space to carry these things.  They are most useful for Warriors in the later stages of the game, as I'll discuss in more detail in that article.
Most other comments on gear are class-dependent, or already covered.

Other Strategy

As noted, speed is king in Angband.  One reason is that if you are faster than monsters, you can hit them and move away before they can hit you.  The old trick of 'Pillar Dancing' is basically this, where instead of running away in a straight line you run in a circle around a pillar.  In contrast, you need to be very wary around monsters that are faster than you.  They will get to act multiple times while you only get to act once; if those multiple actions can do damage comparable to your hit points, you must escape.  This is the problem with Morgoth: his Mana Storm spell can deal up to 600 points of unresistable damage, and two of those will kill almost any character.

Visibility in Angband is asymmetric: there are situations where you can see a monster and it cannot see you.  This happens at corners; someone at a corner can only see spaces next to them.  Someone a Knight's move away around the corner is invisible; but, this second character can see the individual at the corner.  This diagram shows the basic position:
The Kobold (k) cannot see me, even though I can see it. 
Make use of this to, for example, wait for approaching monsters one square back from a corner.

If you are using missile weapons or projectile spells, scrolls of Phase Door become very useful.  You can shoot an approaching monster till it is next to you, then read the scroll and hop a short distance away.  You probably can still see your target, so repeat.

Enemies that summon allies are among the most annoying and difficult foes throughout the whole game.  There are several ways around this.  The oldest one is the 'Anti-Summoning Corridor'.
A short but effective anti-summoning corridor.  The only space I can be seen, and the only space I can see, is the space diagonally next to me.
This involves digging a zig-zagging tunnel and hiding at the end of it.  This exploits two elements of the AI: monsters only cast spells (including summoning) if they can see you; and summoned monsters are only placed on squares you can see.  At the end of an ASC, if the monster can see you then it is standing on the only square you can see.  Note that this doesn't work against Morgoth, who can always tunnel through the rock.

An ASC needs time to set up.  A possible stop-gap is to use the Earthquake or *Destruction* spells to create irregular terrain.  Some levels will already contain such terrain.  This is also the standard strategy against Morgoth; save your scrolls of *Destruction* for the endgame, read them before he shows up, and fight him in those areas.

Learn how the hound AI works, as used by most canines and Zephyr hounds.  These creatures prefer to stay in a room, and will not follow you down a corridor unless you are below 50% health.  You don't want to enter the room, of course, because then they can surround you.

For wolves and similar, it is fairly easy if you have a ranged attack; just stand near the entrance to the room, and shoot whenever they enter your line of sight.  This doesn't work so well against Zephyr hounds, who will use their breath weapons against you.  Indeed, as a general comment, never allow multiple Zephyr Hounds to see you simultaneously.

The easiest option might very well be to just avoid these enemies.  For example, Plasma Hounds remain a dangerous threat long after they first show up.  If you have to fight them, however, a good trick is to retreat to a different room.  The hounds will follow you along the corridor, and enter the room to attack you.  Stand back so you can see them at the end of the corridor, but they cannot see you.  The corridor will force them to move in single file, so you can attack them one at a time.  Provided you have a decent damage output, be it through combat, missiles or magic, you can handle them with relatively little difficulty this way.

I've exhausted the tips I can remember for now.  If you have any questions, feel free to raise them in the comments and I'll try to answer them.  If they are particularly good, I'll update the main post, as I'm sure I've forgotten something I meant to include!

1. However, I've won Angband but never gotten far in NetHack, so that's unlikely.
2. 'w' in the default controls.
3. In particular, the game will not tell you about any bonuses on weapons that you have not yet identified.
4. Note that inscriptions set through the menu will not apply to items you already have.  You can fix this by dropping those things and picking them up again.
5. This may change if you are playing the 'No Selling' option, both because you cannot raise money through selling goods and because more money is to be found in the dungeon.
6. Called protection from Blindness and protection from Confusion in 3.3.

7. My first ever character to hit the bottom of the dungeon, level 98, did so without poison resistance.  He ran away from a lot of things.

No comments:

Post a Comment