You were all just storing them for the boss runs anyway, now you have choices on when to use them.
This is true, although that had to do with the biggest difficulty hump of just about every
level being the bosses. In any case, gnomes and halflings get about double the bonus out of this item than other races do, so I stand by my reasoning that if you're prepping one of these two, you will pretty much always be selecting those two races.
Gotta say the new battlemage ring is utter crap. I keep getting stuck on the Goo Blob level in the Gaan-Telet, and don't have enough spell-power to break through... but the battlemage ring is so underperforming now I think it hurts me too much everywhere else (and if there's a level filled with level 10 golems somewhere down there, that'll be the kiss of death). So far I've gotten some good distance with a paladin, rogue, and a melee-oriented bloodmage, but the goo blobs always end the run.
Piercing Wand is also really lackluster... actually, could we make it lower both
physical and magic resist to allow it to function as part of a one-two combo against physical resist enemies? Adding more utility would be helpful now that this item is weak, and we have very few ways to beat physical resist right now...
I'm pretty sure that Agnostic Collar is going to be necessary to do this (basically the same abuse as on Naga City to take advantage of the large number of alters). I think the best approach is to get to Tikki Tooki as early as possible (avoiding clearing out the top level) then use him to piety farm. Then go to the glowing guardian and use humility to get an extra level-up. Maybe use protection once, then switch out to Dracul and pick up a few boons there. Humility is definitely necessary, but you can't blow your potions before reaching GG so you need
to convert out, and there just isn't enough piety to do that by any conventional means.
Also, what's changed about the gods? Looking at Glowing Guardian, I don't see any differences...