So I've finally figured something about Elves out

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So I've finally figured something about Elves out

Postby Lujo on Sat Mar 29, 2014 1:37 pm

So, this won't do anyone any good, but I finally put all the pieces of several things which were bothering me togather. Not much going on except the wonderful stuff Astral's been doing so I might as well get it off my mind.

So elves... I've been underplaying them. Back when I was playing, I'm not playing at all lately, but that doesn't really matter. I've been severly underplaying elves, probably moreso than any other race, and I've done almost everything with everything and I still couldn't think of a situation where I'd actually pick them as my race.

On the other hand, I've been singing praises about Sorcerers in general, and goblin sorcerers in particular, and also critisizing the class as being both incredibly storng and sort of reductive since most of it's strenght came from simply having +5 mana and being played as a strightforward prepped up spellcaster.

And then it hit me - the problem is that Sorcerers are not so much a class (the way I play them, and I've been rather sucessful with them) as much as Elves who start with a bunch of CP pops and have another CP benefit on top of their "Elf" one. It's why I go with the goblin so readily - if you took any elf, got a bunch of mana on him, you'd be looking for ways to refresh it.

Sure, you can go much higher on the +mana count with a heavy conversion Elf, but the simple fact is that you don't in fact need to. So whenever something called for a large mana pool spellcaster - I didn't go for an elf, I went for a sorceror. Starting with a large mana pool lets you spam for Mystera piety right away (and she gets you +2 more mana, +1 from subdungeon and you've got 18, find 2 more mana boosters + mystic balance = 4 fireballs), and if you're a gnome you get to refresh it easily, and if you're a goblin you get to refresh both health AND mana (and also up your fireball damage).

Bloodmages are better off as just about anything except elves (they don't really give a damn how large their mana pool is, and if you're just shooting for 12 eventually, Mystera and the 3 boosters or elven boots or 1 booster + mana pendant will get you there. Or to 15 + mystic balance, or you're even ok with 10 + mystic balance). Wizards are arguably fine Elves, but my wizard play is mostly about maximizing your Pissorff usage and that means Orcs over anything else, as well as kinda getting diminishing returns if you prioritize mana pool size over efficcency. Yes, Crystal Ball elf wizards can be ludicrous, but a bit overkill when they work and a bit too fireball focused for a wizard.

Anywho, I whish I came up with this earlier, but there you have it. The problem is that there's a class who's main selling point is that they're in fact elves which you can rivet other races on. This makes actual elves very redundant in my experience, especially since with Sorcerors you start CP'd and CP centric strats love an early advantage AND you don't have to prep for CP action to still get the benefits of it (without exploration due to the start).
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Re: So I've finally figured something about Elves out

Postby Lujo on Sat Mar 29, 2014 6:12 pm

Appologize for doublepost in advance, but I've thought about it some more and it's even worse than I originaly thought (or more consistent - I've really spontaneusly underplayed elves to a huge degree).

The thing is that if you go for an Elf spellcaster you'll need to convert stuff to get to +5 mana. 375 CP worth of stuff to be exact. You also don't really want to prep for CP - spellcasters have plenty of spellcasty preps. So you'll most likely be converting Glyphs. As a spellcaster. You'll have to time it, too. And find the fodder. If you want more mana you need more CP. And once you have enough mana, CP become useless. If you save your Glyphs for Refreshment, then your mana acquisition is fiddly and suboptimal.

So put all that to one side, and then consider starting the game with +5 mana, magnet fireball and having all the glyphs you can find at your disposal right up until the moment you convert them for XP for dings - and you can time that so that it doesn't overlap with refreshment. All the opportunity cost of having to prep/find CP disfavours Elves, and all the CP you have to spend just to get to where the sorcerer starts on his own coupled with the fact that you can't just convert for dings (goblin) or even mana pots (gnome) also disvavours elves.

I wonder why I didn't make the connection earlier o.O
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Re: So I've finally figured something about Elves out

Postby Blovski on Sat Mar 29, 2014 7:07 pm

I think you've almost hit the nail on the head here. The key thing is that elves need the big restores, so they're suited for the classes with easy XP bonuses or ones that use big pools for their spells. Hence, assassins, fighters and, in the second category, warlords. While I know everyone kind of did the elf assassin to death while it was obscenely op, it's still a really decent combo.

I kind of disagree on sorcerors - yes the +5 mana is a big deal but I think for me it's the really solid health regen powers at low levels that make them really unique in harder scenarios, while the mana shield is a nice little gimmick buster for some of the harder dungeons (VHOS and DL). There is sort of an overlap with Elves but again, you can be an elf, have the bonus mana for stronger normal attacks and a whole different set of class features to help you work it.
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Re: So I've finally figured something about Elves out

Postby Lujo on Sat Mar 29, 2014 10:15 pm

Well, kinda, I was puzzled by why I never used them, then I only today sat down and thought, "wait, it's not that they're unusable, so what am I doing instead of using them and why?". And that's what I've been doing. You can't really disagree on socerers since I didn't give an oppinnon as much as a report - I'm just saying I've consistently (but unconciously) picked Sorceror instead of any elf in any situation which called for a big mana spellcaster. I also skipped the spellcaster assassin entirely during all the time (but for personal reasons).

So it's kind of a reoport that a vet player who's been around the block a few times has actually managed to completely intuitively pick the socerer (a class!) over any other class + elves in every possibly circumstances where an elf might be considered. Having said that I do play elf fighters (but not to my recollection either Assassins or Warlords). But if the plan is big mana & fireballs it doesn't even occur to me to pick an elf, and that's telling. Because I used that to pick up most of my VT's :(
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Re: So I've finally figured something about Elves out

Postby Darvin on Sun Mar 30, 2014 3:08 am

I personally quite enjoy elves. It's all about leveraging those full-restores. Sure, they're no Goblins, but as far as damage-spiking characters go they can be a lot of fun.
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Re: So I've finally figured something about Elves out

Postby TheSchachter on Sun Mar 30, 2014 8:16 am

My main gripe with elves is that they have terrible synergy with Mystera's Refreshment, and do worse than Gnomes with Jehora. Usually if I want to play a caster (in a situation that asks for god preps) I find that those gods are the most reliable basis of most caster-strats. (EDIT: I should probably specify that I don't think this is so much a weakness of the race itself as it is me preferring gnomes due to those points :))

Also, I agree basically 100% with what Blovski said.

BTW what was it that nerfed elf assassins? Changing the old poison to the new poison, or..? (I wasn't playing back then)
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Re: So I've finally figured something about Elves out

Postby Kestrel on Sun Mar 30, 2014 10:15 am

Blovski is right about those three classes. The problem with a large mana pool, in general, is that blackspace is a finite resource and if you are using 3+ fireballs' worth of mana per fight you start running out of it in the mid-levels. Fighter/assassin does solve this by giving easy level ups. More fireball damage, more refills. Elf fighter is probably the best fighter.

Also there's lots of mana sources. Mystera/Earthmother, elven boots/zot, extra mana boosters/prep. If you're running purist and might not have access to these, then elves might be more attractive.

As far as personal style goes, orc wizards are my favourite choice for VT runs, never felt the mana pool held me back.
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Re: So I've finally figured something about Elves out

Postby Lujo on Sun Mar 30, 2014 12:12 pm

^ Blovski and I aren't disagreeing really (or at least I'm not disagreeing with him), and I totaly see Darvin's point too - but it sorta reinforces what I (rather academicaly) originally said. Elfs kind of feel like a self-imposed challenge (managing the restores, make sense if you're purist) even in most situations where they'd be the no brainer choice (you need a big mana pool).

But for a class who's benefit is rather straightforward and obvious, CP => large mana pool, it's actually rather difficult to pick them for sensible reasons compared to other options in too many cases (for all the reasons we all said). What Kestrel said about blovski being right concerning blackspace is full on right and affects more than just running out - sorceror (played the way I play him, that is simply an elf guard with 375 CP from the start) doesn't have to waste any time assembling his big enough mana pool. It's not just sinergy with refreshment that's the issue, it's sinergy with mystera when it comes to piety generation. Takes no effort or exploration to start spamming like mad...

Anywho, it's quite a deep topic (and noone's saying elves are unusable or unenjoyable or unbreakable). Or that sorcerors HAVE to be played as more efficent elves (just that if you do they're techincally strictly better than elves in too many cases when it comes down to a variety of stuff / effort involved).
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Re: So I've finally figured something about Elves out

Postby Blovski on Sun Mar 30, 2014 12:25 pm

Exactly. By disagree I only really meant that I take sorcerors usually to deal with death protection gimmicks and for the obscene low-level healing powers rather than to solve fireballable obstacles (in which case, usually Gnome Bloodmage or once in a blue moon elf assassin or fighter for me). By the same token, elves are sorcerors you can rivet other classes onto.

It's a slightly less severe version of the issue with Dwarves - you need the full and percentage-based restores and you need to leverage the big health pool for relatively quick levelling so you don't end up with no blackspace and you also need relatively quick conversions. Hence, assassins great because they take high level targets and level tons off popcorn. Fighters great because quick progression and good popcorning and often Wonafyt, Prince of Utility Glyphs, as well. Warlords are kind of just because if you get to reeeedeeekyouloose mana levels you can get like 2-3 death protections per schadenfreude and 1 per mana potion plus any refreshments you have hanging around, plus crystal ball plus just general silliness, and because having three death protections in a fight often makes a big difference to how efficiently you use blackspace as opposed to levelling.

Um, old poison to new poison is the big change for elf assassins (old poison was basically indefinite until you attacked. it was obscene). Also mage plate was introduced at +1 mana per level, and Crystal Ball had a different cost that wasn't quite as limiting in practise (like, it was non-scaling or something). At the peak of this silliness I did VHOS using just fireballs and swift hands.
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Re: So I've finally figured something about Elves out

Postby Lujo on Sun Mar 30, 2014 1:19 pm

Oh true about the reverse Elves = sorcerors you can rivet another class onto - in theory. The issue in practice is the nature of fireball slinging and how it revolves around sweet spots. (Except for bloodmage, who's does better as a dwarf or halfling than anything else tbh).

Thing is, what you really want with your big mana fireball chucker is sweet spots, >10 mana thresholds which give additional fireballs. An elf needs to work for theirs, a sorceror... doesn't. Elven boots are impossibly easy to locker early, you locker those, you're at 18 mana from the moment you step in. If you find mystera you're at 20 easily AND with mystic balance that's your new sweet spot. For doing nothing, really. It's easy even with a prepped mystera, and you don't even have to find a single natural mana powerup. Or if you want to shave off 25 Mystera Piety you can prep the subdungeon and have one right next to the entrance. And there's other ways to go about this, as has been mentioned.

And then the difference really shows - an elf CAN hit this sweet spot, but he's 5 mana behind so he has to convert stuff and has fewer initial mana to spam for piety so he ends up wasting more blackspace on it (mystera piety generation costs blackspace when you think about it). So he can get to 20 mana + mystic balance, and the sorcerer kinda sorta starts out there or at least takes way less effort to get there. After that, if you want another fireball, and elf has to come up with not one CP pop but 5. Less than that is mostly useless, so a relevant CP ammount to get something out of an elf isn't 75 anymore it's 375 - AND he's allready had to burn CP to get to 20.

Now since refreshment gives 50% of your mana pool, 20 + Mystic balance IS the sweetest sweet spot from the cost/effect standpoint since you get 2 more fireballs per glyph. If halves are rounded down (and I suppose they are) with 25 you don't get anything (you get 2 mana, so you need 3 glyphs to get one more fireball out of it) and you need 30 mana to get 3 fireballs. You can turn your mana potions into 50% with the cauldron so the same math applies. So if you wanna really get somewhere with an elf after mystic balance and 20 mana you need... 750 more CP, and it allready took you CP to get to 20. If you're refilling via refreshment, you'll have a hard time doing without burning all your refreshment fuel (glyphs) so you'll reeeely have to overprep for CP.

So going there isn't really worth the hassle, IMO, unless you're dead set on doing it. If you can have the sweet sweet 4 fireballs 20 mana setup with no CP involved and use all the CP for any kind of refill (dings or potions), you'll beat the elf for efficency every time. Plus, I'm a big crystal ball abuser (it used to have a non scaling cost, it was ridiculous) and I didn't really need elves - CB and schadenfreude for 4 fireballs and way less effort was enough for me to do any vicious and most VT runs.

Yeah, it kinda goes both ways - why use the Sorcerer when I can just use the elf, and if you approach it from that direction it the sorceror looks rather bland (+5 mana? So he's a weak elf then? What do his other abilities do?), but when you get down to bussiness and execution the elf turns out to be an "inefficent sorcerer". Or at least has for me.

As for the places other than fireball chuchking (or specific elf-friendly classes) where an elf might apply and you obviously cant pick a sorcerer, here's my experience:

Warlord - there's a lot of competition. Find/prep EM, and the size of your mana pool ceases to be relevant. This is true for most any spellcaster but Warlords who prep EM can go ORC and really disregard mana pool building completely. Go mystera or JJ and a gnome will serve you better. Go cauldron + EM + Halfling, find cydstepp - you don't even have to be a warlord. Cydstepp has even more spread out sweet spots than burndayraz so they've been even more about the refills than the mana pool size for me. If you can hit the 2nd threshold, only an elf can get to the third reliably, but the CP cost is intense.

Assassin - honestly, I haven't played too many spellcasting Assassins. I can see how elves can work there, and you obviously can't pick sorcerer and assassin any other way. But if you could easily hit the sweet spots without being an elf (and you obviously can what with all the goblin assassins running around) you'd never even consider elves.

Fighter - here I do pick elves, but mainly because I tend to go for TT for obvious hilariy, and that cuts me off from mystera, which also means no mystic balance. And it's not like you can't go Goblin or Dwarf and go nuts, or even Human/Orc + TT and take stuff out with potions.

Oh, and elves don't have any sinergy with B2P. Any dwarf or halfling who runs into it can go nuts with spellcasting (see Astral's halfling transmuter sillyness for blowing it out of the water).

EDIT: So sure, if the PQI sends you to a dungeon best approached with a big mana engine and fixes your class for you to be something with no enablers for big mana, you'll likely go elf (but there's tons of ways to go about it, really, once you unlock everything). But as long as your class isn't pre determined, and you think about it with a bit of logic and experience and don't want to specifically challenge yourself, "elf guard++" sorcerer probably is the superior choice. Again, at least it was for me...
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