Foo Strats (Or Newbie Crutches?)

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Foo Strats (Or Newbie Crutches?)

Postby Lujo on Sun Dec 09, 2012 7:47 am

We'll this was interesting: http://penny-arcade.com/patv/episode/ba ... -for-skill

We really ought to make a thread on "what the foo strats are"


Well here's mine with a bit too much attitude, and this list has problems. Some of these aren't foo strats (or elements) because there aren't other "more powerfull but more complex" stuff than them out there, just different. There's no real mechanical reason ever to outgrow some of them them except getting bored. But still here goes:

The "Prep-a-salve" strat has certanly become a fixture of my gameplay ever since the last playthrough, but depends quite a bit on having all the altars unlocked. In dungeons where you're guaranteed a EM spawn it's deffinitely too good to pass up, but the real deal is actually the "Martyr Wraps + Burn Salve" combo.

Taurog - going for the Endless Fury piety spike can really speed you along the early game. Works as an extreme variant in "Prepped-to-the-eyeballs" Taurog Monk counteirintuitive extravaganza mode, where he is very much a late-mid-game foo strat.

Drac - He's just plain better than other deities for physical types. His "piety based dragonshield" takes 40 piety, Taurog's one takes 2 MP's, 2 Inventory slots and more piety. He let's you get regen out of a fully explored map right at the boss fight and Bloodswell makes just about any other spiking option look bad and is shorthand for "one full HP loadout". Anything that justifies his existance as such is either intentionally over the top (Gaan'Telet, allthough I've done it without him) or really ought to be knocked down a notch IMO.

TT - in his goldmongering aspect, used to be THE staple for, well, goldmongering. This was addressed eventually by fixing the economy, removing gold gain from his big boons and moving his altar futher down south. Used to be ubiquous in my games, and fueled many a conversion heavy strat. I've also done old Gaan'Telet with TT paladins back when it was really, really annoying for res stackers with very little content unlocked. Wouldn't call him a proper foo strat because he's moderately skill intensive, and there is a lot of stuff going against him when it comes to late game challenges.

The "Make your own Namtars Ward" prep kit - which includes STR, reflex and dodge potions as preps, and used to include the slayer wand. Gamechanging is ungodly ways, overused by at least me to idiot savant levels, the kit allows you to powerlevel like a silly bastard in almost any circumstances. I honestly wonder if many of the VICIOUS dungeons would be close to doable without this nonsense, and I'm sort of dreading to add Namtars Ward to the routine even if Avatar's exploits clearly show it saves time and effort.

The Whoopaz potion - unwritten but strictly obeyed rule of not teaching newbies silly bullshit require any self-respecting poster to refrain from EVER posting about exactly what the damned thing does. All you need to know is that it's both gamebreaking and completely unnecessary, and a literal noob-tube foo strat which is probably around because the name was soo cool and iconic noone could muster enough cold efficent bureaucratic evil to scrape it. Also to give less expirienced players a shot at the hard stuff.

The Hack - is what it is, a cheat code made legit by stubborn "working as intended" stance on the side of the devs. However, it probably holds the dubious title of "the feature with the most inbuilt anti-mechanisms in the game", being arguably the only mechanical reason for the "undead" ability being what it is and/or there at all. And undead monsters having to be featured in every dungeon.

Sidenote on the Hack - i'm purpusefully not calling it by name on the same grounds as not explaining Whoopaz. Back when I was doing old Gaan'Telet run videos, the last one, with a Monk didn't end up on You-Tube. Why? Well, it was the fastest one, and the endgame consisted of me ritually converting Whoopaz, converting Martyr Wraps (the by far most damaging item in the game in the circumstances), and then proceeding to beat up a 10000 hp boss with practicaly nothing but The Hack. I tried to make a comentary for the vid 3 times and watchign it I just couldn't bring myself to make any comments which didn't ammount to "Dear god, can you believe this bulls**t ?!".

The Monk - the best runnerup contender for the "Most inherently broken feature", with too much stuff to list that's in there just to keep him and other %res stackers down. And with good cause. Yes they nerfed him. No, he's still a foo strat a lot of the time. At least it all caused that you can't really noob-tube through the game with "Monk Hackers", which is a good thing, probably. Is integral to the Taurog "Prepped up" roflstomp strats.

The Rogue - the other (or rather THE) foo strat class. When you do the math, he beats other widely regarded VICIOUS beating classes on point buy maths when it comes to abilities (or rather would if there was a point buy system). Extremely user friendly, built for striker shennanigans with almost any kind of phys damage spike, also builds into a brawler rather easily and efficently. Got slightly nerfed directly recently, but the discovery of how good TT potions are coupled with the fact GETINDARE can now allow him dodge prediction still have him firmly in the "King of the foo" territory.

Martyr Wraps - are currently this game's Noob Tube, or at least were at the time of my last playthrough. If they haven't changed since the last "only works if you can see the monster" nerf, they probably still are.

And not mine, but what I gather from Darvin's posts these days:

Warlords - are still a class built around exploiting the old CYDSTEPP variant, you know, the one which was kind of exploity and were only really balanced in my eyes if you compared them to rogues (because what isn't?) and if you could count accidental deaths due to DP related missclicks as actual balancing. It's tellig that almost every time a VICIOUS dungeon was universally being complained about as undoable to the point that it eventually got nerfed, the warlords were ussualy the only guys going "what do you mean undoable?", but somehow the connection was never made. Anyway, I say foo strat, others may disagree and/or go "well, we can't nerf all of them".

So, any thoughts, any ones I've missed?
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Re: Foo Strats (Or Newbie Crutches?)

Postby Gavster on Sun Dec 09, 2012 3:11 pm

This is what happens when you play too much DD folks. :D
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Re: Foo Strats (Or Newbie Crutches?)

Postby q 3 on Sun Dec 09, 2012 3:42 pm

It's funny, if I were to make my own list there would be almost no overlap. Mostly because I hate having to prep anything, to be sure, but some stuff just doesn't seem all that overpowering to me.

For example, in my experience, Dracul is nearly impossible to get piety with, and way too easy to piss off); he's an excellent 2nd deity for late conversion and bloodpool exploitation, but in most dungeons if my deity roster is, say, Binlor, Pactmaker, and Dracul, I'm not going to go "yay, Dracul!" I'm probably just going to restart.

I've never really understood the mystique about Whupaz. Yes, it's helpful. Is it worth prepping (since you're limited to 5 potions and there are many other potent potables to choose from) and keeping in your inventory for the entire dungeon? Eh. Take a look at your "total damage" stat after a successful run, especially in a vicious dungeon, and then consider that (outside of one particular dungeon) Whupaz likely amounts to less than 5% of it. And that's all it does.

Same thing with "the hack" - until you mentioned undead, I honestly had no idea what anyone meant by it. (After all, everyone knows the real secret to beating Naga City is fireball spam.) I'll go for it with an Assassin, since I'm probably cheesing that particular deity anyway, but for anyone else it's a tough sell - it costs a lot of piety from a god who is fairly stingy with piety at low levels, and then you basically have to convert out immediately lest that same deity utterly screw you over for using his own boon.

~

Anyway, enough whining, here are a couple other items for consideration:

Glowing Guardian. At level 1, the instant you find a GG altar you can boost your max HP by 12 (+5 starting piety and +1 from a sparkle). With a couple of glyph conversions and/or the rest of his sparkles you can boost your max HP by another ~20. Gain a level and you can then go back to level 1 with +5 base damage and another +10-18 max HP (Humility stacks with all the various HP boosters). The only other deity who gives anywhere near that much power that easily is Taurog, and Taurog is way more of a dick than GG these days. Dracul and TT actually make you suffer for their rewards if you want them right away, but GG is willing to give you some of his nicest toys right up front, very few strings attached.

Assassin. Sure, stat-wise the Rogue and the Monk outperform everyone else, but the Assassin literally breaks the game with Swift Hands, which may as well be called "win button." It lets him completely neglect his damage stat without penalty, something no other class can even attempt. Moreover, the optimal strategy for this class involves not expending any resources on any monster other than the boss. I'll repeat that for emphasis: the Assassin doesn't have to expend any resources on any monster other than the boss. Some classes call level 9 Animated Armors and Illusions "too hard." Assassins call them "lunch."
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Re: Foo Strats (Or Newbie Crutches?)

Postby q 3 on Sun Dec 09, 2012 4:40 pm

You know, after watching that video, I don't think either of us have identified many true "foo" strategies. My understanding is that a "foo" strategy has three key components:

(1) It's readily available to new players;
(2) It's easy to use and master;
(3) It's powerful enough to get you through a significant chunk of the game, but weak enough that you'll eventually run into a brick wall that requires different strategy.

Third-tier classes and second-tier deities aren't readily available, and Whupaz isn't even close - it's locked behind the longest, toughest quest chain in the game. New players aren't going to get it until they've already mastered more difficult strategies.

Many of the strong strategies we've identified are actually rather difficult to learn. Monks and Rogues have debilitating weaknesses that must be overcome, and the obvious ways of overcoming them are often not the best - e.g., Dwarf Rogues are distinctly inferior to Orc Rogues who find some other way of increasing HP. Dracul and Tikki Tooki are fairly stingy with piety and/or require counterintuitive play. Etc.

And, perhaps most importantly, nearly everything we've identified is strong enough to tackle the toughest challenges. Monks, Rogues, Warlords, and Assassins are quite capable of curb-stomping most if not all of the vicious dungeons. Dracul, Tikki Tooki, and Glowing Guardian are widely considered the three strongest deities. Whupaz is Whupaz. Once you master one or more of those strategies, you'll basically never run into a situation where they're too weak to see you through.

~

So if I were to try to identify the real "foo" strategies in Desktop Dungeons, here's what I would say:

Fighters. They're the first real class you unlock, and their abilities are deliberately designed to be easy for new players. Find same- or lower-level monsters, kill them, repeat until you're strong enough to kill the boss. Use your death protection to save yourself from a dumb mistake, or if you're clever to gain a small advantage against the boss. Before the Fighter buff, they ran into big problems late in the game, too, and even now the Fighter-user will have to learn new strategies (i.e., kill things that aren't the same level as you) to stay competitive late in the game.

Humans. The first race that you unlock, and one of the most straightforward. 99% of all strategies ultimately come down to "hit things until they die," and Humans are the best at hitting things. They remain competitive throughout the entire game, though. (If Orcs were more easily accessible, they would be even more of a "foo" strategy, but alas they require quite a bit of effort, patience, and/or luck to unlock.)

Taurog. Likely to be the first deity you unlock, and with the most straightforward beginner strategy: eschew magic. Hit things until they die. Inventory space isn't very important at the beginning, either, since you have few shops and even fewer preps. He also gets too weak to rely on sooner or later, although opinions vary as to when. (And even when you use him late in the game, your strategy will require significant adjustment from "hit things until they die.")

Berserkers. Likely to be the first second-tier class that you unlock (there was even a quest for it at one point, and might still be). Much like Taurog, they encourage you to simply hit things until they die. They also run into trouble late in the game - and unlike Fighters, who got buffed to be better for longer, Berserkers have inexplicably been nerfed.

Other possible candidates: Thieves, Priests, Glowing Guardian, Blacksmith sword and shield, Fine Sword, Health Pendant
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Re: Foo Strats (Or Newbie Crutches?)

Postby Lujo on Sun Dec 09, 2012 5:03 pm

q 3 wrote:You know, after watching that video, I don't think either of us have identified many true "foo" strategies.


This is likely, I'm just reading the rest of your stuff but this made me laugh cheerfuly :) MAke that factually true, because of all the things you said. I was wondering what of the stuff I've, for example, listed is actuall foo stuff, and what's just over the curve / broken by design.

Ok, read it :)

q 3 wrote: example, in my experience, Dracul is nearly impossible to get piety with, and way too easy to piss off); he's an excellent 2nd deity for late conversion and bloodpool exploitation, but in most dungeons if my deity roster is, say, Binlor, Pactmaker, and Dracul, I'm not going to go "yay, Dracul!" I'm probably just going to restart.


Piety farm Binlor with possibly picking up a boon, swap into drac to pick up sanguine/res/lifesteal and use consensus for the last bloodswell and probably win easily? I've done this many times, it's really effective if you can limit your choice of what you want from Drac. Or use consensus to swap back into Binlor to dring potions if you want?

Now beck to the subject at hand:

It's a good place to point such stuff intentional or unitentional power strats out, because some of it was ment to be newbie crutches, and was always justified as that (or something) but turns out to be too powerfull to outgrow.

Assasins are deffinitely a good mention, I have to say. I used to use them a long time ago, but the "really, really broken by design" nature of swift hands sort of always had me not even considering them when thinking about balance. Your writeup sums them just about right.

And so is most of everything else you've said.

Allthough by the sheer number of people who've "discovered" the Rogue on their own that his unlock time has little to do with whether he's foo or just broken. And as for The Hack - well, it used to be available from very early on, and the only reason it's not really applicable everywhere is that there exists a monster subtype who's "hat" is pretty much being only immune to it. It's on par with swift hands as far as breaking fundamental rules goes.

And generally speaking, I guess the game has two "tiers" of gameplay elements - the beggining ones and the lategame ones. Each with it's own set of "strictly better/easier to use" set of preps, strats and stuff.

The Fine Sword is deffinitely fit's in there, Thieves being good generalists as well, I guess, and I guess plenty of people have had a moment of realization that the Troll Heart is actually a better long term item than the Health Pendant, even if the Pendant is hell'a strong, so it's a good spot as well.

And as for GG, I don't know. I mean you are right, but it took me months to figure him out (back when he was even simpler), and TT didn't so then it's just me.
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Re: Foo Strats (Or Newbie Crutches?)

Postby sitnaltax on Sun Dec 09, 2012 5:42 pm

I am so confused as to what I'm missing from WHUPAZ. Except against bosses with huge piles of HP, it seems to be not much better than one of the free-hit potions.
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Re: Foo Strats (Or Newbie Crutches?)

Postby Lujo on Sun Dec 09, 2012 5:46 pm

sitnaltax wrote:I am so confused as to what I'm missing from WHUPAZ. Except against bosses with huge piles of HP, it seems to be not much better than one of the free-hit potions.


That is very true. It's designed to be a very user friendly newbie crutch, but you can't really unlock it as a newbie. I think it's only still around because of the rule of cool, and it's actually fine against multiple-boss dungeons, or multi form bosses. Having to waste an inventory slot and a potion prep slot on it, however, isn't so hot, especially when you, like me, routinely forget to use it on time -.-'

Still, it's also pretty good against debilitating bosses, and bosses you have to fight early, especially combined with free hit potions (Dragon Isles comes to mind, as well as Namtar's lair), plus, old Gaan'Telet would've been undoable for many classes without it.

Gavster wrote:This is what happens when you play too much DD folks. :D


To be fair it's been a looong beta, and the damned game is both addictive and has very little competition in-genre or otherwise. Despite all it's flaws and weirdnesses it's still one of the best ever made. :)
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Re: Foo Strats (Or Newbie Crutches?)

Postby q 3 on Sun Dec 09, 2012 6:28 pm

I do wonder how much the "foo" idea really matters in DD, since there isn't any PVP in which newbies need protection from vets. (PVP would be hilariously broken right now, with noob Human Fighters going up against vet Goblin Assassins: convert APHEELSIK -> Swift Hands noob. Repeat until no one wants to play DD anymore.)
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Re: Foo Strats (Or Newbie Crutches?)

Postby Lujo on Sun Dec 09, 2012 7:04 pm

q 3 wrote:I do wonder how much the "foo" idea really matters in DD, since there isn't any PVP in which newbies need protection from vets. (PVP would be hilariously broken right now, with noob Human Fighters going up against vet Goblin Assassins: convert APHEELSIK -> Swift Hands noob. Repeat until no one wants to play DD anymore.)


Yeah, true that.

But it is invoked / involved here, because both the pro's and the newbies are going u against the same challenges. You can foo your way through a game (or a segment) but on a different playthrough (or specific dungeons) you may want to evolve/improve/alter your playstyle. Or have to. How much of that is feasable depends on wether foo strats are actual foo strats (rather than insta roflcopters), how much of the early/mid/late sucess is dependent or independent on using such newbie crutches and so on and so forth.

It affects replayability to some degree, and dungeons which make me reach for the too dependent, but really simple strats that work everywhere sort of make me cringe when I find myself trying to do them otherwise. Most of those got nerfed or adjusted though...
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Re: Foo Strats (Or Newbie Crutches?)

Postby Darvin on Sun Dec 09, 2012 7:29 pm

This is what happens when you play too much DD folks. :D

No such thing


but in most dungeons if my deity roster is, say, Binlor, Pactmaker, and Dracul, I'm not going to go "yay, Dracul!" I'm probably just going to restart.

That's an awesome roster. Start with Binlor, piety farm, then convert to Dracul for the late-game. Use consensus and/or warrior's pact to help deal with Dracul's downsides (that is, piety gain and HP)


I've never really understood the mystique about Whupaz.

Its power has been severely decreased because boss HP has been decreased. It used to be that many non-vicious scenarios had bosses with HP approach 1000 (and with normal damage-levels, like ~100 per hit; we're not talking Super Meat Man here). Now there are very few vicious bosses that go that high, and they're almost always accompanied by other bosses. As a result, WHUPAZ has become much less valuable. I hardly ever use it anymore, to be honest. Dragon Isles for firstborn is pretty much it.


Moreover, the optimal strategy for this class involves not expending any resources on any monster other than the boss.

Completely false; good Assassin play revolves around collecting lots of bonus XP to maximize popcorn availability for the boss battle, which often means investing lots of exploration resources into early kills. While an Assassin certainly can play the way you describe, I do not feel it's the best way to play the class.


(1) It's readily available to new players;
(2) It's easy to use and master;
(3) It's powerful enough to get you through a significant chunk of the game, but weak enough that you'll eventually run into a brick wall that requires different strategy.

I think Taurog is pretty much the only one that qualifies under that more narrow definition, to be honest.


Monks and Rogues have debilitating weaknesses that must be overcome, and the obvious ways of overcoming them are often not the best - e.g., Dwarf Rogues are distinctly inferior to Orc Rogues who find some other way of increasing HP.

Agreed, although a Dwarf Rogue is still totally viable in vicious.
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