Well, more a sea lion, but you get the point
I picked up on this in Bloggorus' lovely metagame thread and thought I ought to maybe make an individual topic instead of hijacking it.
Anyway, as it stands, I don't think the various seals are very balanced or really of comparable value:
Transmutation - even (maybe especially) with the gold nerf it seems very hard to justify taking this. I mean, it's a nice small plus for the tinker but really of no value to the other classes as far as I can see. You can either
- get +3 gold (as tinker at least) and break one wall, which might let you hit a subdungeon
- change an item you've bought and got the use out of for another item of similar value (I guess viper ward or alch. scroll or something)... BUT you could do that with the translocation scroll and keep the conversion points from the first one.
Conversion - Well, as it stands, if you don't prep the sensation stone/go for Havendale bridge, you get a max of +50cp out of this one. With the sensation stone you can maybe hit +75cp. On the plus side, you can get this extra 50cp as soon as you hit a glyph you don't need.
Translocation is almost guaranteed to get you an item of equal or greater CP
Two test games on hobblers:
#1, human priest, no shop prep, trans. scroll - found viper ward (65cp), something worth 45cp (forgotten just what) and elven boots which I think are worth about 50cp. OK, I've forgotten the others, but I think viper ward was 65.
#2, human tinker, elite items, trans. scroll - found orb of zot (100cp) plus some other high-conversion things.
So even if you're simply trying to maximise CP, transloc. is a more flexible way of going about it that will often net you a better return.
Also, does translocation block you from achieving miser?
Actually this one is pretty well balanced, it's not overpowering, mitigates taking Taurog or JJ prep, great for big spenders. Not an every-strategy item but clearly useful for some.
Now this is the problem:
A translocation scroll can be worth 45odd gold and/or 100cp, it synergises very very well with elite and quest item preps, it can give you at a stroke as much gold value in items as the rest of the dungeon. In particular, if you can get an Orb of Zot or Amulet Of Yendar (both of which are very useful items but will prohibit more spending otherwise) by a translocation scroll you will usually straight-out-win a Hard or easier difficulty level.
Even without those two super-elite items, you can grab a load of cp, mitigate the usual spending-power implications of using the double-edged items (i.e. trisword and alch. scroll especially), grab an extra three health or mana potions, etc. etc. etc.
Now, the implications of this aren't neccessarily that the Conversion Seal and Transmutation Seal are completely without value (though the Transmutation Seal's applicability is even *more* dependent on the shops than the transloc seal, in that to use it efficiently you need one item that you can afford AND want to use for just a little while THEN a second one of roughly equal value you want to trade it for - especially given it no longer has implications for boss trophies).
Now, this imbalance is noted in the kingdom prep costs (though Transmutation is, I think, clearly the worst seal now) but that's really of little import not only because the kingdom economy stops being a worry after a while but also because when you retreat from the dungeon you take out your items' value with you
Rather, the translocation seal needs to be nerfed into being double-edged:
A couple of suggestions
1 - it cuts two or three (maybe as many as half of the) shops from the dungeon as bazaar gets wise to your thieving ways, meaning your chance of finding great items or quick conversion fodder drops radically if you prep it - with a standard number of shops and elite items prep you can not only almost always guarantee you'll get something worth having but also tend to take the double-edge off only having expensive shops - dropping the shop numbers will make it much more of a risky proposition.
2 - it only pays half the item price (I dunno, call it persuasion scroll or something), which is still pretty solid for getting you Yendar or Keg O Potions or whatever but which doesn't let it straight-outdo the transmutation and conversion seals. Tinker could still grab items outright, I guess, he's pretty fair as is. In particular, this would mean that it's no longer a straight (and fairly reliable) substitute for conversion seals, and that a transmutation scroll is more valuable if you happen to want to trade an item with a limited usefulness for another one, while still being worse for picking up a single big item.
Now, if someone's got a brilliant transmutation seal strategy then I take it all back but I can't see why anyone would prep either conversion seal or transmutation seal given how overpowered the current translocation seal is.