Annotated Playthrough Vicious Halls of Steel Sorcerer
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Vicious Halls of Steel is likely to be the first Vicious dungeon that most players will encounter. Like all Vicious scenarios, it is many steps harder than Hard, and is intended to be a challenge for an adventurer fully decked out with the very best preparations in the game. The Indomitable has 50 death protections, meaning that he cannot be spiked to death, whereas Count Blah Blah has blink and lifesteal, meaning that he cannot be out-regenerated. The rank-and-file monsters all either do magic damage (Wraiths, Warlocks, Animated Armors) or are virtually unfightable (Illusions and Steel Golems). It follows that magic resistance will be very important.
Sorcerer is probably the second easiest class to beat Vicious Halls of Steel with (I award first place to the Berserker). His hybrid fighting style gives him strong options against the varied monsters, and his Manashield power has a unique interaction with hostile death protections. For this run, I prepped:
Elven Boots: The 15% magic resistance is very handy. The +3 mana is perfect for the Sorcerer, putting him exactly at the 3 fireball threshold
Magnet Fireball: Sorcerers really need this to be consistent, especially since my guild prep is geared towards fireballing anyway
Translocation Scroll: Comboed with Elite items to snag something good. Yendor would be perfect, but Dwarven Guantlets or even a keg would be good too.
Elite Items: See above. An alternative strategy would be to prep Apothecary, allowing more access to things like Fortitude, which would allow me to deal with 1 or 2 illusions. If I did this, I would replace the Translocation scroll with a Compression scroll
Slayer Wand: To be used on a high level monster, preferably a Steel Golem or Illusion. If I had chosen the Compression scroll, I would probably choose the Bear Mace instead.
Potion Kit: Health, Mana, Schadenfreude, Whupaz, Burn Salve
I find a WONAFYT right away. Very nice.
I spam it as I explore, clearing hallways and 'seasoning' popcorn monsters for later consumption. I come across a Wraith-2. I realize that with the burning bonus, I can just barely beat this thing without having to get manaburned.
Lots of stuff going on here. I continued spamming WONAFYT until I captured all of the level one monsters. I'm having a hard time finding good targets for my next kill. I'm looking for one of two things:
1) A level two that I can take right now
2) A level three (maybe four) that I could handle after dinging off of one of those captive popcorn monsters
I also found ENDISWAL, which I;'m leaving on the floor in case I find a secret subdungeon. I'm starting to feel frustrated with the lack of options when I stumble across both Dracul and Glowing Guardian. Glowing Guardian is great when found at 1st level, and GG into Dracul is one of the best conversion chains in the game. This is too good to pass up. Still, I hold off joining GG until something happens that makes me commit...
...which happens with my very next step. If I had even one more hit point, I could take that Warlock.
So I worship the Guardian, take one hit of Absolution, and then got to town. I know it looks like an unwinnable fight on the combat prediction display, but remember that I can cast three fireballs and that each one heals me of 12 damage.
Lots of stuff happened here. I leveled up and used WONAFYT to corral all of the level 2 monsters. I then converted it to make space and gain piety, took Humility, and then used the rest of my piety on Absolution. There are two more 1st level candidates for Absolution. I want them both, but first I need to do some inventory management. Those two extra prayer beads will clog up my last inventory slot, so I'd better make use of it now.
I buy an Alchemist's Scroll for the conversion alone.
And then I Absolve the last two candidates. It sucks to Absolve preslowed monsters. That's 14 xp gone, as well as 7 chances to ignite burning and also a number of curse removals. To make it worth it, I really have to leverage this extra health while it's still relevant. It's also important that I obtain enough piety to get Enlightenment before the boss fight, and still have enough room to escape GG's religion before the potion phase. Since I joined at first level, I am confident that I will be able to do all of these things.
With my absurd health, I can easily take that Wraith-3, but I need to do better than that. Remember, I'm effectively level 2, so beating a Wraith-3 is nothing special and a waste of my advantages. However, I think I see a way to leverage it into something very nice. Leveling will give me 10 hitpoints and 5 base damage. With my 22% magic resistance, I calculate that I will just barely be able to soak a hit from this AA-6 after dinging. If I use my mana on the AA and my health on the Wraith (and in that order), I should be able to badly weaken the AA after the ding, and then finish it off with a second pass. I do similar calculations for those two 7th level monsters to the right, but conclude that they are impossible to approach this way.
So here I go. I triple fireballed the AA and then killed the Wraith. I really hope I did my calculations right.
I whack him over the head, and then empty my mana. This costs him three death protections and about a third of his attack power. From here, I could poke one of those popcorn monsters to ignite the burning, but I don't think it's worth it. I'll just attack instead.
See how he lost two death protections? That's because Manashield counts as a separate attack. The shield hits first, then your attack goes through, so if the monster has very low health, you can get twice the effect.
To finish the job, I have to refill my resources, but that's okay because I wanted to explore a bit anyway.
I've got him, but I don't land the killing blow directly.
Instead I use my last fireball on this AA-7. This causes the burning to ignite, killing the other AA, leveling me up, and setting me up to do the whole thing over again to this AA-7.
Which I do. During the refilling stage, I find Tikki Tooki, who is an even better exit strategy than Dracul. Very nice! Here I am poised to finish the Animated Armor, but I also have two fireballs to spare.
So I burn the Wraith a bit. And then I make a terrible mistake. I noticed that I had a lot of health relative to what the AA will do. After some calculation, I decided that I had enough to punch the Wraith and still be able to finish the fight with the AA. This is risky, because if I screwed up the math, I'll be manaburned, and recovering will require either a potion or a Protection boon, either of which are unacceptably expensive and might trap me in GG's religion.
As you probably guessed, I totally botched the math. I somehow confused my maximum health with my current health. Oops! Not good.
Thinking quickly, I drink my Schadenfreude potion and then punch that Golem-2. That gives me enough mana to finish the AA. I chose to attack the Golem because I knew that I would immediately be killing the Wraith by magic, neatly clearing a curse stack while incurring no extra damage to me. After dinging off of the AA, I finish the Wraith, catapulting me to level 5.
I find Blah Blah, IAMAWAL, an AA-9 and an Amulet of Yendor just waiting to be translocated. Perfect! I going to use this to knock that AA out and get a pile of xp.
I empty all of my resources and then yoink the Amulet. Notice how two of the Warlocks have damage? That's because I had leftover health after attacking the AA. I used that to hit the Warlock 8 once, and then had just enough left over to hit the Warlock 5. Maybe nothing will come of it, but it's good practice to wring yourself dry like that before leveling.
Yendor totally refills my resources. That AA is in trouble now. Also, somewhere during all of this I used my Slayer Wand on that Illusion-8 that used to be in the lower left corner, mostly to clear space, bu also to prevent it from giving Blah Blah a safe haven later.
Empty again, but I planned for this.
That weakened Warlock-5 let me ding once again, and now I have enough resources to IMAWAL a popcorn monster and still win the fight easily. I look at my piety and see that I'm at 99. I'd better get Enlightenment before I forget abut it. I would hate to lose piety to overflow. I pick up a sparkle, become enlightened, and am now a beast.
That was nice. You can't always get level 9 kills in vicious. Still, I am bothered by the fact that I still haven't found Indomitable. I had intended to start fighting him at level 6, and now I am effectively level 8! I would go ahead and finish off that Warlock-8 now, but that would level me up, and I want to save the ding for Indomitable. The Warlock will be able to heal, but I knew that might happen when I set him up.
I empty my resources into him, and then poke popcorn monsters to ignite the burning whenever possible. Indomitable does insane damage at first, and you want to fight him as indirectly as possible until you've worn him down.
When it's clear that I can't keep going, I level up and start in again. He's weak enough that I don't need to exploit burning anymore, and each attack costs him two layers of protection.
Eventually, I run out of resources again. This time it's no big deal, because his damage is now pathetic. If it weren't for the massive pile of corrosion I'm suffering from, he'd be toothless. That's why I prepped a burn salve!
From here, he can be easily fought through regeneration tactics.
After winning the fight, I go to the apothecary and drink another burn salve.
You want the level to be fully explored before engaging Blah Blah. I realize that I never did find that secret subdungeon. Either it doesn't spawn in vicious or its hiding in one of those deep corners. It's not worth digging out, so I just convert ENDISWAL.
I made another bad mistake here. I was trying to clear the death protections off of the AAs in preparation for converting to Tikki Tooki. This was a very good idea, but I over clicked and ended up wasting my last realistically obtainable level up without having used my resources on Blah Blah. This is bad.
I buy everything that has a decent conversion ratio, as well as a keg of health and even the health pendant (on the theory that it will make my potions that much more effective). I worship TT and spend all of piety on the Reflexes boon.
I quaff Quicksilver, Whupaz, and Relfexes. My first attack on Blah Blah does so much damage that he probably thought the world was ending. Which for him, it was.
In spite of the wasted level up, I am still able to win through potion abuse. With my insane health, each one was recovering 70 hitpoints, which was enough for me to keep pace with the vampire. I harvested the popcorn to mollify Tikki Tooki, who was growing impatient with the ongoing slugfest. It was a good thing that I cleared the death protections on those AAs before converting, or I would have been screwed. I just wish I hadn't misclicked while doing it.