ARCHIVED A.Siochi's Felid Transmuter guide

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Version 0.9: This article may not be up to date for the latest stable release of Crawl.


This article contains advice from other players, which may be subjective, outdated, inaccurate or ill-advised. Read at your own risk and alter to fit your play style as necessary!


THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN FOR AN EARLIER VERSION OF CRAWL, AND IS NO LONGER RELIABLE. TO HAVE IT REMOVED FROM THE ARCHIVES, PLEASE UPDATE IT FOR THE CURRENT VERSION.

Why a Felid Transmuter?

Tired of Kobold Berserkers? Find it too hard to find the right balance with a High Elf Wizard? Just looking for something different? Why not a Felid Transmuter?

Felids make for a very crafty style of game play. You're too fragile to stand toe-to-toe in combat like a Mountain Dwarf. Yet you also lack the capacity for high-powered Conjurations like a Deep Elf. You're stealthy like a Vampire, but your inability to use daggers prevents you from really taking advantage of Stabbing. And to top it all off, you can't even wear any equipment aside from jewelry! So you can't out-fight your enemy, out-blast your enemy, or just stab your enemy in the face. Instead, you'll have to out-think your enemy!

And that's what makes Transmutation spells so great: you have a lot of flexibility to choose the right approach. Are there multiple opponents? Confuse them with Evaporate! Is your enemy susceptible to Poison? Spider Form! Need to get past an Ice statue? Ice Form! Need to do a lot of damage fast? Blade Hands! Do you absolutely, positively got to kill every last m-----f---er in the room? Dragon Form! As a Transmuter, you are not restricted to using the same strategy for every situation.

Interested? Then this guide is for you.

Introduction

Felids have some nice advantages: small size and naturally high Dodging aptitude gives rise to high Evasion. They have an innate bonus to speed and are naturally good at Stealth, both of which helps them pick their battles. While they can't use weapons, they do have fangs and claws, which help with Unarmed Combat. Finally, they can eat meat at any time, meaning that hunger is almost never a problem.

Not having to worry about hunger means that Felids can freely make use of spells. While Felids are not especially good at spells that directly deal damage, they have amazing aptitudes for Translocations and Hexes, a great aptitude for Charms, and above-average aptitude for Transmutations. Even better, Felids have a natural 20% bonus to MP.

Overall Strategy

You are an ambush predator. You are both stealthier and faster than your prey. Use this to your advantage!

Use your stealth and speed to first locate your prey, then withdraw around a corner. In hiding, cast your buffs. Burst out from the shadows, head straight for your prey and try to take them down before they even know what is happening to them! Quickly decide if the combat is going your way. If not: retreat, regroup, and try again. Remember: only the end result matters, and no one is counting how many tries it took you.

You do best when you face one opponent at a time. Divide, then conquer.

  • Use your stealth to draw opponents one-by-one.
  • Use confusion effects to neutralize groups of opponents, then bring them down individually. Evaporate and Mephitic Cloud are great for this in the early game.
  • Use your speed to separate opponents: faster opponents keep up with you, slower ones lag behind. Dispose of the fast group, then turn your attention to the slow. Swiftness really helps with this.

When you are facing just one opponent, you still have multiple tactical options.

  • Kite big opponents. You're faster than most things out there---faster than almost everything if you use Haste and Swiftness---so make your opponent spend its turns catching up to you. This combines particularly well with the poison attack of Spider Form. With luck and care, you can defeat an early Ogre without suffering a single hit.
  • Overwhelm soft opponents. Use Haste or Berserk with the highest-damage form you have available---Blade Hands is great for this. Consider quaffing a Potion of might. This works really well with lightly-armored spellcasters.
  • Outlast tough opponents. Increase your defenses with Ice Form or Statue Form, and use Evaporate with poison to deal damage over time. Ice Form is particularly effective against hydras.
  • Confuse and blitz ranged opponents. Use Mephitic Cloud followed by Swiftness, Haste, or a semi-controlled Blink to quickly close to melee distance. Centaurs, in particular, are significantly worse at melee combat than they are at ranged combat.
  • Take advantage of weaknesses. Is your opponent is susceptible to poison? Use Evaporate or Poisonous Cloud and Spider Form. Cold? Use Ice Form. Fire? Use Poisonous Cloud and Ignite Poison, followed by Dragon Form.

Skills

Your first goal is to get your Transmutations skill high enough to be able to cast Spider Form. This spell is your main spell in the early game.

Finding the right balance between combat skills and spell skills is a little tough. This depends very much on what spellbooks you find and when you find them. Generally, train combat skills whenever you can, and train spell skills when you need to learn new spells.

Felids are naturally much better at defense than at offense. You should therefore try to focus on offensive skills to compensate.

Combat Skills

Besides the normal skills for a hybrid class, FeTr should raise...

  • Unarmed Combat The more the better. This skill is going to be almost the only way you do damage. It is most beneficial to train it to multiples of five, since it is at these points that attack delay is reduced by .1 aut.
  • Stabbing Given that Felids have an excellent aptitude here, it's worth gaining a few levels of this. They will never be getting the one-hit kills that Spriggans can get from this, but having a few levels will help in quickly taking down confused or otherwise disabled monsters.

Magic Skills

The big magic skills are Transmutations, Translocations, and Charms.

  • Transmutations - You'll want this to be very high. Strangely, many Transmutation spells don't directly get better with a higher Transmutation skill. Instead, you need a high Transmutation skill in order to make use of all of the dual-school Transmutations.
  • Translocations - When you find a spellbook containing Blink, train Translocations up high enough to use it at Excellent. Do the same when you find Shroud of Golubria and Phase Shift.
  • Charms - Similar to Translocations. When you find a spellbook containing Repel Missiles, train until you can cast that at Excellent. Do the same with Haste and Deflect Missiles.

Many Transmutation spells have two schools. You'll therefore want to train some of the elemental schools for at least a few levels. Unfortunately, Felids are fairly mediocre at elemental magic. Felids are least bad at Fire, Air, and Poison. Training a few levels in each of these gives nice results: Fire improves Ignite Poison and Dragon Form, Air and Poison give you access to Mephitic Cloud and Poisonous Cloud, Air helps you gain Repel Missiles, Deflect Missiles, and Swiftness, and Poison helps Spider Form.

  • Conjurations - Since you're likely to train at least one elemental school, it's worthwhile to train Conjurations a bit, too. This will give you access to useful ranged attacks. Spells such as Throw Icicle or Iskenderun's Mystic Blast can be a lifesaver against certain vexing opponents.

Invocations and Evocations

Train Invocations while worshipping Elyvilon. A few levels of Evocations pays off, as you'll be able to make use of Evocable rings and amulets.

Stats

Start by increasing strength to between 8 and 10. After that, there doesn't seem to be an easy rule for increasing stats. You will need a little bit of everything.

  • More strength is better, as it increases your combat damage and carrying capacity.
  • More intelligence directly increases your chance to successfully memorize and cast spells.
  • More dexterity increases stealth, evasion, and the damage you deal while using Blade Hands.

Overall, it seems like intelligence and dexterity are a little more important to you than strength.

Gods

Elyvilon

Elyvilon is a great choice of god for Felids during all phases of the game, due to their fragility.

Jiyva

Jiyva is an interesting choice for middle/late game. Jiyva's abilities---while random---can help fill in holes in your resistances. In particular, Jiyva really shines in that he/she/it grants you some control over mutations. Additionally...

  • If you switch after clearing the main dungeon, you will more-or-less immediately max out your piety. Just summon a jelly on each level and let them devour everything.
  • Resistances are a real problem for Felids, as they can only wear jewelry. Not only will Jiyva grant you random mutations---and therefore sometimes resistances---but Jiyva also grants the ability to remove bad mutations. Thus you can fearlessly look for more resistances by drinking potions of mutation. As a transmuter (in 0.9 at least), you start with Fulsome Distillation, letting you get even more potions of mutation. If you have the spell, don't eat corpses straight: some corpses are biased towards giving you bad mutations, and on average distilling will give you more mutations overall.
  • For Felids, the hooves, horns, and talons mutations have no drawbacks! You can't use any equipment anyway, and these mutations greatly improve your unarmed combat damage output.
  • Jiyva protects your stuff from destruction. As a Felid, you'll be very dependent on potions and scrolls, so this comes in handy.

Spells

Transmutation

The key to being a Felid Transmuter is flexibility. Look for spells that grant you flexibility in dealing with situations. The various "Form" spells are an excellent example of this: some forms raise your defenses, some raise your offenses, and some are balanced. Some grant resistances, some grant vulnerabilities. Always try to choose the right approach for your situation!

Which spells you choose to learn and use will both influence and depend on which elemental skills you choose to train. If you train Fire and Poison, for example, you'll make use of Spider Form, Blade Hands, and Dragon Form, but probably not Statue Form.

As a Transmuter, the following spells are available in your starting spellbook.

  • Fulsome Distillation / Evaporate - This is a powerful combination in the early game. It represents your only area attack, great for taking out early orc groups. You may consider using a scroll of amnesia to forget these spells later on, if you learn cloud spells. This is particularly advised if you worship Elyvilon, as Elyvilon frowns on the use of Necromancy spells.
  • Spider Form - This spell is your early-game workhorse. Spider form increases your AC, your Evasion, and grants you a poison-branded attack! Even better, the ability to cling to walls allows you to cross water and avoid (some) traps!
  • Ice Form - With this spell, your transmutations begin to really pay off. Resistances are a real problem for Felids throughout the game due to their equipment restrictions. Not only does Ice Form increase your combat abilities, but it also grants you rP+ and rC+++! The form is also especially handy against hydras: normally, felids have trouble with these, since their claws remove heads. Ice Form does not remove heads, and does extra damage to boot.
  • Blade Hands - This is your middle/late game workhorse. Blade Hands (or more appropriately "Blade Paws") is particularly useful in that you can use all of your combat mutations while under its effect. You will attack with blades, punches, fangs, horns, etc. And unlike Dragon Form, you will still have the advantage of Felids' naturally high evasion---which is particularly helpful in avoiding bolt spells.

Other useful transmutation spells include the following:

  • Statue Form - More resistances! Statue Form provides rPois, rElec, and rN+. You'll also do more damage per attack than with Blade Hands, though you'll attack less frequently. This form is therefore useful against high-AC opponents, and best combined with Haste.
  • Necromutation - This spell is not terribly useful in the average three-rune game, and even less useful for felids than for many others. Its main features are that it provides torment resistance and that it removes spell hunger. Torment is not a huge problem in a three-rune game, and felids need resistance to it less than others: having so few hit points, they lose a lot less by being tormented. As for spell hunger, this doesn't matter hugely for felids, given their ability to stuff themselves silly on chunks.
  • Death's Door - Consider this spell, in combination with Haste. Felids have good aptitudes for both its schools, and it is more useful to them than it is to any other race. This is because of felids' innate low HP and multiple lives: casting this spell leaves you little worse off than you were before, and the invulnerability usually lasts long enough to finish off nastier enemies. The multiple lives that felids have means that this spell is considerably less risky for felids than other races, though they should still be very careful with it. Think of it as a more powerful but higher-risk berserk - you gain greatly enhanced combat prowess in exchange for being worse off when it wears off. It can also be used to fill in a resistance you don't have, for example if you encounter an orb of fire.
  • Dragon Form - This is the big late-game payoff. You gain rPois and rF++ with rC- as a drawback. Felids gain innate rC+, though, so this drawback isn't actually so bad. You also gain +50% HP! Dragon Form will significantly boost your AC, though at the cost of your Evasion. Perhaps the whole point, though, is that you will do a LOT of damage, dispatching dragons in only a few hits.
  • Dig - This is a fantastic utility spell. You need to take your opponents one-by-one, and the easiest way to do that is in a one-tile-wide corridor. Dig in a zig-zag pattern to break your opponent's line of sight. This spell is also of great use if you do decide to worship Jiyva and need the altar in the Slime Pits---use dig to create three-tile-wide corridors in the slime pits in order to avoid contact with the caustic walls. It's also the only way into the treasure vaults in Slime Pits.
  • Ignite Poison - This combines wonderfully with Poisonous Cloud. If your opponents aren't poison-resistant, poison them. If they are (such as undead), burn them!

Other

Felids have an amazingly high aptitude for Translocation spells. Useful Translocations include the following:

  • Blink - For obvious reasons. Especially since, as a Felid, you are likely to be faster than your opponent. When things go bad, use Blink to open up some space, and then run for the nearest hiding spot.
  • Shroud of Golubria - This is an essential defensive spell. Some attacks which would otherwise damage you---that is, attacks which have already gotten past your evasion---will have their damage canceled. As Felids have really low hit points, avoiding damage is essential.
  • Phase Shift - Sometimes overkill is the best policy. Evasion doesn't seem to suffer from diminishing returns: higher evasion is seemingly always better. As a Felid, avoiding damage is essential! And don't forget that evasion helps you avoid bolt spells and dragon breath as well.

And Felids are also excellent at Charms.

  • Repel Missiles and Deflect Missiles - Coupled with your high evasion, Deflect Missiles at high spell power means that you'll simply never get hit by ranged attack, bolt spells, or dragon breath.
  • Swiftness - Fleeing, closing to melee distance, kiting, and pursuing fleeing opponents are all made easier with Swiftness.
  • Haste - Unarmed attacks are already the fastest in the game. With fangs, claws, horns, etc., you'll get an unreasonable number of unarmed attacks. Bring Haste into the mix and your opponents will be reduced to a fine red mist of blood before they even land a hit.

You will probably train at least one elemental skill. If you train Poison, for example, the following spells are also useful:

  • Sting - Simply put, ranged attacks are useful. Sometimes all it takes is a little bit to drop that fleeing enemy.
  • Mephitic Cloud - This replaces the Fulsome Distillation/Evaporate combo if you worship Elyvilon.
  • Poisonous Cloud - This spell combines wonderfully with Ignite Poison.

Equipment

In particular FeTrs should look for...

  • Try to keep an amulet of rage around at all times, and train Evocations high enough that you can use it reliably. Early/middle game Felids suffer from very low damage per attack. High-AC opponents are therefore a real challenge. A well-timed Berserk does wonders.
  • A ring of wizardry is particularly helpful as a Transmuter. Most of the forms you can change into involve a penalty to spell success (most notably Blade Hands). A ring of wizardry helps ensure that you can still cast spells reliably while transformed.
  • An amulet of conservation is vital, as you are forced to rely so much on potions and scrolls.