ToME: the Tales of Maj'Eyal

Everything about ToME
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 3:04 am 

Joined: Wed Mar 25, 2009 3:27 pm
Posts: 72
I just got my first insane victory. It was in the normal campaign. I chose a halfling anorithil because I hadn't played as halflings a lot and there wasn't any victory for that combination in the character vault with the settings that interest me (main campaign + insane roguelike + no addons that significantly alter difficulty).

Here's the character: ... f3f8c2c605
Here's a list of other winners using those settings, as close as I could get using the character vault's query interface: ... aj%27eyal#
People seem to like Shaloren for this I guess? But halfling is a perfectly good choice too; I wouldn't claim that I was doing something more difficult than what those people did or anything like that.

Notes on character design:

Name was a randomly generated one.

The character vault says I may have played offline, but as far as I know I didn't. I guess my connection to the server must have failed.

I added no addons and did not use the item vault. The one thing that makes my game installation non-stock is a tweak I made to remove the dying dog sounds from the town soundtrack. There is an addon for that, but I didn't want any addons, so I just got in there and did it myself. This is a bit silly but whatever, it has no effect on gameplay.

My stats strategy was to build Mag and Con very much, with a few points in Str to unlock things, and then most remaining points in Cun (and a few more in Str so I could carry a lot of stuff). I like having a lot of health and I like carrying a lot of stuff.

My class talent strategy was to give myself a few good attacks, both jumpgates, and at least two highly upgraded circles. The glyphs category interested me too but I decided to stay with circles, mainly because I thought the silencing circle might make the final battle much easier. (I had just reached said battle as a Shalore Cursed, also on insane roguelike, only to be briskly obliterated by lightning and manathrusts and such. So I was very interested in neutralizing Elandar.) In the circles category I ended up only upgrading Sanctity and Warding, because the other two appeared to mainly just be more ways to attack, and also because I thought I would hurt Aeryn too much if I relied on circles other than Sanctity; I wanted to protect her if possible. Otherwise, I just picked some stuff. You don't get a lot of choices with an anorithil I guess, other than whether or not to unlock circles, or glyphs, or both, or neither. I ended up with what felt like extra points, which I eventually poured into Mind Blast, Shadow Simulacrum, and Corona, as sort of an exploratory effort.

In generic talents I scattered my points around more evenly than I would have expected... there are so many good choices. I found a temporal explorer early on and got the Chronomancy category, which I expected I would eventually unlock, mainly because of how much I love the idea of Contingency. But then I ended up forgetting to unlock it I guess, and not even minding. (It's actually unlocked now, but that's because I won a category point in the infinite dungeon; I have yet to use any of the talents in it.) It would have been better, after all, to just take Precognition by itself for scouting, rather than learning the locked category. But I thought I would either unlock it or eventually find a repented thief to give me Track. I did not, and so for nearly all the game I had a wand of clairvoyance equipped; fortunately it was one that gave me extra darkness damage and some negative life! (At the end of the game I was finally able to unequip this, thanks to a very very nice amulet that provided, among other nice things, telepathy to All. Weirdly, the best thing I could ever find to take its place in the tool slot was a pickaxe, which had the very excellent "quickening" feature that reduces spell cooldown periods slightly. It's hard to beat that, on a wizard...)

In racial talents, I unlocked all but only heavily upgraded the first, because partway through my game I finally figured out that critical hits are actually quite good (I had ignored them for a long time), and then I wanted lots and lots of them. I wanted every Light talent heavily upgraded of course, but I couldn't afford it, so I mainly focused on Bathe in Light, which I thought could help me protect Aeryn. In chants and hymns, I also wanted everything, but I focused on their primary benefits and on their turning on/turning off benefits.

Chants and hymns are really cool now! They are much more interesting than they used to be. I like them a lot. It sucked to only get one of each (unless you poured in a huge load of talent points). And it's great to get special benefits from toggling them. They are very strong, and I think I used the primary benefits of all six of them at various points, and the toggling benefits of five of them. (I did not ever rely on the Hymn of Detection toggling effect, because I haven't gotten around to learning how the heck invisibility really works in this game; it just confuses and annoys me so I usually turned it off as soon as it was applied. Eventually I may try a rogue or something and finally learn how to sneak...)

I put four points into Staff Combat solely for the sake of Channel Staff, which I ended up using quite a lot; it was my only significant use for mana, other than Premonition which I just left on all the time. I don't know whether that was actually a good investment... maybe I could have used one more Sunlight attack and, like, a wand or something, to give me things to do while my other moves were on cooldown, instead of relying on Channel Staff. Oh well, it worked out fine. (And now, with the Staff of Absorption, Channel Staff is suddenly my best attack.)

Other than the chronomancy thing, I had no special plans for escort quest rewards. An anorithil has enough abilities already I think. I don't even remember what rewards I got, though I did succeed in most of the escort quests.

Speaking of quests--I planned to destroy Zigur, and I did. But the quest was hung up by a bug, and after that the Grand Corruptor wouldn't talk to me anymore or give me any rewards. So I had to spend all the rest of the game with the anti-antimagic quest unfinished.

Oh and that reminds me of prodigies. I might have gotten the corruption one for the 250 health, but my quest had bugged so I couldn't. Instead I went with Cauterize, to replace my never-unlocked Contingency, and Eye of the Tiger, to synergize with my high critical hit rate and (possibly) keep my defensive powers fresh and ready. I don't know how much either of these actually helped. Cauterize definitely activated a couple of times, but I think I always had a way of reviving when it did, so I guess it didn't directly save me. But maybe it indirectly saved me somehow. And Eye of the Tiger is one of those invisible powers that you generally don't notice when they're working. I guess it probably helped, maybe a lot. Or maybe not.

The arc of my actual adventure was pretty normal I guess: Struggle at the start, try really hard not to get lazy about approaching named monsters without setting up your jumpgates first, die a few times, eventually succeed at reaching Dreadfell etc., and coast on your immense power from then on. Toward the end of the game I did make a special point of trying to clear out EVERYTHING so that I would have as many unique items as possible; I wanted a nice suite of ways in which to possibly disarm Elandar and/or protect Aeryn. This turned out to be very helpful, albeit not exactly in the way I had intended; I ended up with good stats on my inscriptions and very nice control over my resistances, my critical hit stats, and my healing modifier, all of which together was better for my survival than any particular unique item was. I think that my poor Shalore Cursed from my previous run could have had a real chance, if I'd spent this much time hunting out items with that character, instead of just blasting through all the orc strongholds and ignoring their vaults.

The only big hiccup, aside from a somewhat painful final battle, came when I met Grand Geomancer Vor, who in my experience at least seems to be the only orc that matters. I mean he's not super super strong, but he's stronger than I expect him to be, and on this run he actually managed to paint so many layers of flame over me as to get me killed. I might have escaped him if I could have used my jumpgates, but he had gloves of dispersion or something and he kept turning them off. Fortunately I had the Blood of Life and I was able to revive and escape. When I returned, I dug a little maze in the walls and drew him over to it; that turned out to protect me well enough to allow me to kill him. I think he was a summoner too though, so he did pop up some hounds and ritches and such behind my back in the tunnels I had dug... he was pretty aggravating.

Surprisingly, the overpowered multi-hued wyrms in the armory were not a big problem. I took that as a positive sign. I think now that the natural thing to do would have been to use Shadow Simulacrum on them! But I don't think I had that talent yet at that point. That's a shame, since that type of situation is exactly where it shines. It doesn't work on bosses (or uniques I think), but it is STRONG against especially tough normals, elites, and rares. It really evens out a lot of battles. I was surprised at how helpful it could be.

My circles also felt very very strong. Circle of Sanctity is excellent at turning mages into wimpy physical fighters, and Circle of Warding is pretty good at reducing the effective strength of anybody else. I got loads of use out of both of them.

I don't know how much Corona ended up helping. It was probably pretty good, but it's hard to tell. I wish you could see some automatically gathered statistics on that sort of thing. That would also help a lot with Eye of the Tiger.

Mind Blast kinda sucks I think; that was another surprise. It would be decent if it worked more often I guess; obviously confusion is a powerful effect. But it's one of those things that mainly work when you don't need them (i.e., on weak enemies). Maybe it would work better on lower difficulty settings? In this run I think it wasn't worth upgrading.

The only other big thing I can talk about is the final battle.

I went in with all these ideas of what I could maybe do to silence or otherwise disable the sorcerers, or to heal Aeryn... and I ended up having to discard most of them. I had some nice antimagic items (Spellhunt gloves, antimagic totem) but I could not use them because they'd turn off my chants and hymns while I waited for them to charge up. I had some blizzard-creating sword that could turn its blizzard into an ice wall, and I thought I could use that to either imprison Elandar or imprison myself (by hitting myself with the sword) and get a nice rest, but it turned out to be too unwieldy to actually do that, mainly because my accuracy was too low--I couldn't even reliably hit myself! I had various other special-effect items that seemed promising, but I just couldn't justify using any of them... other than my trusty old gloves of dispersion. That was the only thing that really survived from all my efforts to get anti-sorcerer items.

As soon as I got into the fight, I of course slapped down my Circle of Sanctity. It of course did not work. I used a silencing torque on Elandar; that also failed. I shrugged and ran for the demon portal, so I could close it before the darkness-making demons could arrive, because I hate those things. When I got back to the center, Aeryn was hurting a bit, but still alive. I gave her some healing light and then closed the dragon portal.

My healing light was not enough. Aeryn is pathetically weak compared to the sorcerers. She had good talents (temporal warden stuff, including a set of dogs!) but her level is just insufficient. She has no chance, except maybe if you do some crazy trick I guess, but I didn't have any such trick ready. Maybe an archmage could do it somehow. I went for the skellington portal and when I came back her stuff was in a pile on the floor. I think she needs to be given a higher level, on insane difficulty at least. It is no good for her to be so uselessly weak.

I could have left the elemental portal open so as to give myself opportunities to use Shadow Simulacrum later on, but instead I saw some xorns and became uncomfortable and closed the thing. It was probably for the best. By then I had a decent setup going with my jumpgates. I eventually refined this nicely: I put one gate just above the tip of the top-center wall formation, and the other in the opposite position, below the bottom partition. This turns out to give exactly the maximal teleportation range between the two, and it lets you dodge either way around the partition after you've teleported. I kept those two spots through the whole battle, even though Elandar, who was also a time mage of some sort, eventually started rearranging the partitions with his temporal anomaly powers.

At first I felt helpless against the sorcerers, but after a while I built some confidence in my ability to survive and started taking shots at Argoniel here and there. I dispersed her bone shield; fortunately she seemed to have no healing powers. After a long while I finished her off.

Elandar was very different. He had loads of healing power, in the form of Arcane Reconstruction, and I seemed to have no way to stop him from using it. Also, he had Frostdusk. That was a terrible thing. I was mainly set up to attack with darkness, but darkness damage would heal him unless I managed to turn off his Frostdusk. So I would limp and teleport around the room, hiding and healing most of the time, occasionally popping out to hit him with light or fire or dispersion. Occasionally I would knock out Frostdusk or Essence of Speed and then he'd get weaker, but it was barely helpful. If I hurt him more, he would just heal more.

I think I spent hours dancing around the room with him like this. I looked through all my items but for the longest time I couldn't come up with any plan better than dispersion + my usual attacks. On a previous character (this was in nightmare difficulty), I had managed to burn up all his mana, mainly with Mana Clash... I had no Mana Clash on my anorithil of course. But I thought that maybe I could still make him use up his mana... and sadly, that is what I did.

It took forever of course. And even once all ten thousand of his mana points were used up, he would still sometimes recharge enough to cast Arcane Reconstruction. But it did at least slow him down. I mean it slowed down his defense; his offense didn't have to slow down because he was an anorithil like me, on top of everything else, so he could always hit me with light and darkness.

My other big breakthrough came when I realized that, however pathetic it may have been, my most reliable weapon against him was the Rune of Reflection. Even better than that, I could sometimes charge up the reflection shield with healing light, allowing it to inflict something like 1000 damage maybe. Between that and my occasional Frostdusk cancellations, I was able to wear him down somewhat steadily.

During this period I became more and more casual with my own defense. I'd used my Blood of Life, but I was still wearing a Ring of the Dead, so I felt protected. And actually, he was not very well able to hurt me. In fact, strangely enough, I found that my best armor against him was the Primordial Infusion! My resistances were good enough by then that I guess even the little bit of damage affinity that infusion gives was enough to surpass the actual damage I was receiving, so that when I turned on the infusion, I would actually become invincible--and not only that, but my health would rise! Between that and my jumpgates, I had hardly any chance to die.

When I finally won, I was surprised to be allowed to return freely to the Gates of Morning, where I found Aeryn still at her post, alive! I don't know what that's about. I thought I was supposed to sacrifice myself or something. And obviously she died during the fight. There is definitely a bit more polish needed on the ending of this game... somebody, whether it's Aeryn or Linaniil or the Last Hope elder, should acknowledge the person who saved the world and came back with the staff! But nobody seems to care. Also, Elandar seems like he should really get agitated when Argoniel dies, but he doesn't even notice. There are some story beats missing, I think.

Okay that was my game. I'm in the infinite dungeon now and it's pretty boring. Time for a madness victory!

PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 3:28 am 

Joined: Sat Dec 13, 2014 3:38 pm
Posts: 350
Yes, I rescued Aeryn on Normal as a Dwarf Brawler, but only just (I think she had 8% health left, and in danger of getting fried by a fire wyrm when I killed the second boss). She really does need more staying power.

PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 3:30 am 

Joined: Sun Jun 15, 2014 12:19 am
Posts: 1154
Location: Yeehaw, pardner
Nice! Would you mind writing an anth guide? We've been lacking a real good one for a couple of major versions.

A little bit of a starters guide written by yours truly here.

PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 12:06 pm 

Joined: Wed Jul 14, 2010 6:36 pm
Posts: 36
Hey, I really appreciate this level of in-depth description of your strategy and thought process. Thanks for writing this out.

PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 1:42 pm 

Joined: Tue Mar 08, 2016 3:55 pm
Posts: 297
An incredible win, congrats!

PostPosted: Wed Jun 21, 2017 7:29 pm 

Joined: Wed Mar 25, 2009 3:27 pm
Posts: 72
Micbran wrote:
Nice! Would you mind writing an anth guide? We've been lacking a real good one for a couple of major versions.

I looked at a couple of guides just now and I guess I could write a new one... but I don't really want to. I don't like guides much. I just like to explore games on my own; that is the whole point for me. I would feel too weird writing a document whose purpose was to make it harder for other people to have the kind of fun that I am best able to understand.

Also I don't like the idea of influencing or being influenced by somebody who isn't a true expert anyhow. I suppose that you'd need to be a full-time professional player of such a deep game as this, to write a guide that I would really consider complete. Different guides will disagree, not just because of the change in versions but also because of differences in players' levels of knowledge of the various talents. I know a lot about Jumpgate but not too much about Corona; the main guide I looked at just now seems to have that the other way around. Many people are fine with that sort of variation I'm sure but I wouldn't really want to embed my personal style and my personal knowledge/ignorance map into a thing that was being presented as a general guide. It would feel more like a debate to me, concerning which talents are good and which are bad etc., and I don't find that especially fun.

Brent Not Broken wrote:
Hey, I really appreciate this level of in-depth description of your strategy and thought process. Thanks for writing this out.

Thanks for saying so; I sort of assumed that there'd be some weirdos out there who felt that way but it's good to have it confirmed.

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