After further review: Melee still sucks

Discussion in 'Dungeons of Dredmor General' started by Marak, Sep 9, 2011.

  1. Marak

    Marak Member

    I just wanted a catchy title, I'm not going to be whining and raging here. Okay, maybe some whining. No promises.

    So, I just got done beating Lord Dredmor, 1.0.5, Moderation, Permadeath, with a variation of my Vampire Fencer build:

    Swords - Dual wielding - Vampirism - Astrology - Berserker Rage - Blood Magic - Burglary

    So, I did the usual: a mix of caster gear with some Absorbtion, and as much Counter/Dodge/Block as I could get. Dual-wielding Swords, of course. Using Astrology to buff my melee stats (Syzygy) and deal AoE damage/stun (Radiant Aura). Blood Magic to feed the Syzygy and Celestial Aegis buffs and synergize with the "constant combat" playstyle that Vampirism encourages.

    Things went fairly well, until I got to Floor 4. There, I was constantly being destroyed by Pumpkinns, which are the new Mask enemies. Way too much Piercing damage plus the annoying Poison Cloud spell spamming, killing every one of them comes down to getting good RNG so they don't sap your HP to half before finally dying. The Thrusties hurt a bit but were manageable. The new, 20-damage Fireball from Thermoblobbies was also an unpleasant surprise. Why is there a 20-damage monster ability on Floor 4 when you have roughly 55 health?

    In any case, I struggled through and prevailed over Floor 4 and continued on. Floors 5 and 6 didn't give me too many troubles, but then I started to hit the Melee Wall, on Floor 7.

    I've been tweeting @Gaslampgames about this a bit, but you can't elaborate worth a damn in tweets. The problem I come across is that, on these lower Floors (7-10), you're being asked to somehow mitigate an unceasing barrage of 20, 25, and even 30 damage attacks, of roughly 3-5 different damage types, which then change from Floor to Floor. Take Floor 7 - 30 Crushing from Snow Baals (groan), Piercing from Monstrous Masks, Ice damage from everything else, plus whatever Squiddies do. Sure, a Torque of Kanada helps a bit, eh - but then you get to Floors 9 and 10.

    I guess my main gripe was Floor 10. Arch Diggles are still ludicrous. It's pure RNG to kill one. You trade Dodge and Counter strings, and sometimes you'll kill one and take 10 damage and sometimes you'll get it to half health and it's dealt over 95 damage to you. It doesn't help that, with the HP buff to Warrior levels, the damn things have about 120 health each now. In order to beat Floor 10, I was forced to backtrack to Floors 5 and 6 and COMPLETELY EMPTY 3 Bolt Vending Machines, because in order to deal the thousands of damage to the dozens of Arch Diggles on the floor, I needed literally hundreds of bolts. Fighting them in melee, without softening them up to about 25% health with Bolts, was playing Russian Roulette with every single Diggle, and as you know, if you explore the majority of Floor 10 looking for Dredmor, you're going to have to fight 50 of them, or more.

    So my main point, I guess, is that, with armor that focuses on Dodge and Counter and Block, I couldn't "keep up" with incoming damage. Vampirism never really healed more than 5-8 damage per attack, even at Level 22, even with 18 Magic Power, even dealing 80 damage per swing. I don't know what it scales off of now, but whatever it is, I was leeching as much life on Floor 1 as I was on Floor 10 - and my HP had quintupled since Floor 1. To compound this problem, I would REGULARLY take 40 damage in a single round, from Arch Diggles and Fell Carrots and the new Djinn and sometimes even from the Leprechauns. Now factor in that sad fact that Drinker of the Dead does not scale, in any way, at all. Getting 4 Health back from an enemy that just did 60 damage to you feels like a slap in the face. I'd suggest something like having Drinker of the Dead restore 4 Health + (1/2 the floor you're on). Would 9 Health for a Floor 10 monster be unreasonable? I don't think so, given that you're up to Level 20-ish and should have over 100 Health with a Warrior-level-heavy build.

    So I found myself, if I attempted to melee my way through the floor, taking 30, 50, 80 damage per monster and getting about 20 health back per monster from eating corpses and thru Vampirism. You cannot keep up. There's Piercing damage, crushing damage, poison damage, holy damage, necromantic damage, and electric damage on that floor alone. How can you hope to adequately mitigate that many damage types? Even IF RNG is in your favor and you can keep some spare resist equipment in your bag, taking 3-4 points off of 20+ damage attacks only goes so far. If I hadn't found 10 Regen Potions and 12 Rejuv Potions, I would have died 4 times over trying to find Dredmor - and I'm only playing on "medium". I have no idea how you're supposed to beat that floor with that sort of build on Going Rogue, where each of the 75 Arch Diggles you will encounter have almost as much health as Lord Dredmor himself.

    And even if you are not a Vampire, how do you heal through that much damage with food? 100 Health is almost 2 Omelettes, and you only get enough eggs in an entire Dungeon to make about a dozen. IF you manage to find Cheese and Sliced Bread you might have a half-dozen 40 Health sammiches - both numbers subject to the RNG of Fud machines, of course. So you're trying to top off your 100 Health pool with 15-health cheeses after the first 15-20 Arch Diggles - not going to happen, unless you find a "safe spot" and Digest or mash the spacebar until it breaks.

    I'm just curious if maybe I'm Just Doing It Wrong™, because I really only won because of luck. I was lucky enough to find just enough Healing Potions and Crossbow Bolts to make it to Lord Dredmor about 70% of the way through exploring the Floor. If he hadn't shown up in the room that he did (or shorty thereafter), I was going to run out of resources (read: crossbow bolts) and die to an Arch Diggle. This begs the question: why was my survival, as a dual-wield Vampire Fencer with a Doul's Possible Sword and an Artifact Sword of Moste Uber 30-plus Damageness, dependent on how many Crossbow Bolts I had left?

    Should I have been wearing tons of Heavy Armor and nerfing my Vamp attacks and ability to keep my Astrology Buffs up instead of trying to Dodge and Counter and Block and dabble in a single (melee buffing) spell school?

    Should I have been hoarding resist gear and trying to go through entire dungeon floors with 6 open inventory spaces, spending 3 seconds managing my inventory for every 1 second I spend exploring and fighting?

    Is it "okay" for a Melee build to have to bring 255 bolts (literally!) and a 16 or 20-damage Crossbow along to conquer the final Floor, because fighting in melee is a completely terrible idea and 2 "bad RNG" attacks in which you get dodged and/or countered can set you back your entire health pool or just outright kill you?

    Has anyone done a dual-wield vampire build and had better luck? One where you could fight an Arch Diggle and not worry about dying to each and every one unless you pumped it full of 10 crossbow bolts before engaging?
  2. 123stw

    123stw Member

    I beat GR twice with dual wield sword vamp, no spells, and uses all the heavy armors. The only thing I can't melee is Dredmor himself. Never fire a single shot of crossbow. With the new melee armors, 3 leech, and a good escape mechanism, I think melee is just fine now.

    Vampirism scales horribly to magic power now, so you won't need to worry about that.

    So yeah, you already know the problem, just get rid of that astrology and use heavy armor. Astrology is not made for melee, and cannot replace heavy armors. If you must have 1 magic school go with psionic.

    Besides, it's not like I am the only one who's reporting success with pure melee since 1.05.
  3. Haldurson

    Haldurson Member

    Exactly -- if you are going to melee a lot, you need better protection. Melee is fine if you are well-equipped. Being a hybrid using mage gear is a problem.
  4. Derakon

    Derakon Member

    Incidentally, Syzygy can be obtained through the Pan-Galactic Gargle Blasters. My completely magic-less character's had a syzygy buff going for a couple of levels now from a single drink.

    As for trading melee blows, I suspect you're only supposed to be able to do that if you're wearing heavy armor. I'm on level 9 right now with my character and even with two shields and serpentine plate (27 damage reduction / 14 piercing resist) getting hit by enemies hurts enough that I'd rather stay out of melee. Fortunately unarmed combat and dodger mean that you don't have to get hit if you don't want to. Your build was considerably more offensive than mine.

    I do currently have 1843HP worth of food in my pack, though (including 10 omelets, 13 grilled cheese sandwiches, 10 dire sandwiches, and a bunch of miscellaneous cheese), and contrary to what you say, big healing items aren't really that much better than small ones except that they take up less inventory space. You really hurt yourself as far as this is concerned by taking Vampirism -- it gives you more staying power in any one individual fight thanks to the leech, but means that doing badly in one fight makes the next one much harder. I suspect Vampirism would be well-paired with alchemy for healing potions, or wand lore for coral wands, so you have something to top yourself up with when the fight's over.
  5. 123stw

    123stw Member

    Yeah Vampirism is really good if you have an out of combat heal. So it works great with wand lore, alchemy, psionic, and fungal. Personally I like wand lore best because it cost no skill points and has a very low maintenance when compare with alchemy/fungal. Alchemy is also good if you are also picking smith. Just alchemy lv 2 can give you 2 healing potion per ingot and 4 per iron ore.
  6. rederick

    rederick Member

    Melee isn't that bad at all. Just completed a run with a pure warrior skill build, albeit on easy, being the only difficulty I hadn't beaten yet. Fights would have been a bit more protracted on GR, but the stats you have are just phenomenal. Especially in those rare instances where you have every proc active at the same time.

    As depicted here
    <a href=";current=FullWarBuild.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a>

    I did manage to melee Dredmor to death, hanging on by the skin of my teeth. Refused to use an escape consumable, it was me and him to the death.
  7. 123stw

    123stw Member

    Well this is my "melee" character with the most success. No buffs except those I can keep indefinitely.

    Notice that it does have pact of fleeting life and vampirism, so I am leecing 18 life a hit with these defense stats.

    <a href=";current=necrofeet.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a>
  8. Zentay

    Zentay Member

    Melee as a whole isn't underpowered anymore. Some builds may be.

    And yes it is absolutely okay to ask players to use lots of resistance items. Also to bring lots of bolts if you're weak in melee. On going rogue difficulty at least, which I assume we're talking about here.
  9. rederick

    rederick Member

    @123stw Not a bad spread of stats at all. I can only imagine the amount of hits you have to dish out down there per kill, but that 18 health back per hit is large. What are arch diggles hitting you for without blocking/crit? Like 5 or 6?

    I spent so much time arching diggles on my GR run back in 1.03, that I don't remember much more than they slammed me for 30 damage with the old armor stats :p
  10. DerpTyrant

    DerpTyrant Member

    Melee is definitely a lot better now.
    It's all about how you play, what items you use and what skill you use and level up. Atm I'm on floor 8 with: DualW/Swords/Vamp/WandLore/Assassin/Burglary/Smithing on GR/PD ofc.
    The only problems I had were in level 4-5, but that's because I was still using the same armor and weapons as in level 2. Level 7 was difficult, but I used wands/bows/thrown and got through it. I was really fun, having to be tricky and "inventive".

    Still, it seems to me OP you had really crappy armor. I never had problem with melee combat. I'm thinking of going Master of Arms for my next build and I can't wait how "indestructible" will I be then.
  11. 123stw

    123stw Member

    Since leech also adds piercing damage, this build actually deals 23 + 17, or 40 damage. It's not dual wield damage, but it's on par with weapon/shield builds. Also, Tenebrous Rift with 20 magic power is still pretty solid, so it got the offense to get by.

    As for arch diggle, I didn't pay attention to the non crit hits, but yes I can safely say I can out leech them as long as they don't crit.
  12. Marak

    Marak Member

    I'll admit, gear was a problem that entire run. I was using a Staff for most of the game and taking the penalty because it head twice the damage output of my off-hand Sword. I didn't find a suit of armor better than a Steel Breastplate until Floor 9. Krong cursed me as often as blessed me and ruined my only good Pendant and one of my Helms, and without Archaeology I had to try and find replacements.

    Ahh well, whatever, I guess I'll try it again and just load up on the heaviest armor I can strap to my undead body and see if it goes any better.
  13. Derakon

    Derakon Member

    Or at least get some form of out-of-combat healing, like wand lore, alchemy, shrooms, or psionics. Lack both that and good armor is the real death sentence. Basically your complaint is "Vampirism isn't able to let me ignore other ways of healing", which is just silly. Vampirism exists to let you slack a little on armor and/or to extend how long you can stay in melee, not to make healing obsolete entirely. Given that you have to give up food, the primary source of normal healing, you should expect to need some additional way to make up the slack.
  14. 123stw

    123stw Member

    That's why I take smith and don't use anvil on anything other than xbows.
  15. srulz

    srulz Member


    mind sharing your Necro Fist build?
  16. Marak

    Marak Member


    I always took the stance that since I am giving up food, Vampirism should be able to sustain me on its own merits, supplemented in EMERGENCIES by Healing Potions, which are still allowed. Perhaps that's part of my problem.

    In any case, I'm giving it another go with a Vamp - Dualwield - Swords - Burglary - Assassination - Artful Dodger - Berserker and a focus on Heavy armor vs. Dodge and Block. If I still get roflstomped by Arch Diggles, I'll be back ;)
  17. Psiweapon

    Psiweapon Member

    Why not try the following?

    Vamp - dualwield/shields - mace - armor - smithing - artful dodger - berserker

    (mine's with shield)
    It's the only thing that's carrying me through GR... everything else has died on the, what, 3rd or 4th room? You go into battle, you get a crapload of buffs.

    I'm now on the Quest for Serpentine and up to now I have been able to go toe-to-toe with anything save certain named monsters.
  18. dbaumgart

    dbaumgart Art Director Staff Member

    This is an absolutely fascinating discussion of gameplay, I love seeing the mechanics boiled down to their essence via builds in ways I don't possibly have time to experience directly. (For example, I see the Ankh has made an appearance at the center of a vampire-necro leech build much as intended.) It's helping a lot to inform what I'll be doing in the next patch and beyond.

    So just saying thanks, I really appreciate you guys spilling much ink about melee builds.
    Exile likes this.
  19. 123stw

    123stw Member

    I put it on dredmor wiki.
  20. srulz

    srulz Member


    Ah, lovely..thanks!