Here's a bit of endgame fun for people that have the VICIOUS artifacts. Lots of you have already done this, but I've never seen it explicitly mentioned before. The idea is to combine a Warlord, Namtar's Ward, Reflex, Quicksilver, Scahdenfreude, Vineform, Clearance, and Entanglement for an outrageous number of free hits. It's a little bit like what Lujo was doing with Rogues to get 1st level boss kills, but not as extreme and no requiring any luck.
The craziest version is the Orcish variant. You explore the map, racking up Earthmother piety as you go and tossing it all back into Vineform. Convert anything you can get your hands on. When you're ready, kill the biggest monster you can find. Assuming HARD or easier, this should be a 9th level monster. Orcish damage is an incredible force multiplier at first level. You will get an outrageous number of hits:
1: Quicksilver dodge
2: Reflex strike. If your target has first strike, be sure to take an Entanglement boon first so that Reflex works properly
3: Tank one hit on natural health. If you can't do this, you didn't take enough Vineform or you need to find a monster with less damage. Settle for an 8th level if you have to.
4: Use your precast death protection
5: Cast CYDSTEP and quaff Schadenfreude
6: Cast CYDSTEP again off of the Schadenfreude mana
7: Use Namtar's Ward
8: Use Clearance (possibly more than once)
9: Finish with an Entanglement
The guaranteed IMAWAL is great here. That first kill will put you up to level 6. From there, stomp the remaining 9s and 8s and then get the boss. This approach works well on open maps and runs into trouble on cramped maps, where you can get easily cut off by your own plant spam. Shifting Passages is probably the best possible map for this strat, since the map starts out so open and you will complete it with so few kills.
For a more traditional game, take an elf. Convert as hard as you can, aiming for 20 mana for double CYDSTEPs, or 25 mana for a CYDSTEP per mana potion. You won't be able to get the outrageous 1st level kill like an orc can, but you will be able to knock out a 3 or 4 without using your potions. You'll also use up less exploration getting started and will need much less Vineform to be functional. You'll also get double the power out of your Schadenfreudes. This is a good approach on cramped maps where massive plant spam isn't a good idea.
I took the elf variant to VHoS and it worked first try. I even got unlucky and failed to hit 20 mana (the glyphs were all in a remote corner
), which effectively wasted my racial advantage, so there's a lot of room for error. This is one of the few melee builds that doesn't rely on resistances to survive, so you can actually fight the Steel Golems. You will need to be able to clear your curses near the end, so that you can exploit the interaction between Vineform and The Indomitable's corrosion ability, but that's easy to arrange.