Berder's Deep Elf Enchanter of Sif Muna guide
Do you like shooting fish in a barrel that are helpless to defend themselves? Do you like shaking a jar and making two bugs fight each other? Would you enjoy gaining people's trust, letting them do you a solid favor, then splattering their body parts across the landscape if you sense betrayal?
If the answer to these questions is "yes," then maybe you're just evil enough to play DEEn. Fair warning: DEEn is not for everybody. As of the time of this writing, according to the Sequell bot, (DEEn) has won 12 times in 13153 games (0.09%) which is about as low a winrate as it gets. However, two of those twelve wins are mine, and in the second one, I did 15 runes. I've played about 30 games with DEEn. Most of those games were when I didn't know what I'm about to tell you. There is a way to play DEEn that wins.
The purpose of DEEn of Sif Muna is to become a mage with a repertoire of useful, high-level spells from many schools of magic. By the midgame, Spellcasting will be your main skill. Here's a taste of what you will eventually be able to cast with reasonably low failure rate (ranging from around 0% to around 10%).
The main idea through the endgame will be to kill your enemies or stop them from reaching you in just a couple turns after you see them, and be very cautious. Use your many escape spells if enemies that you can't immediately kill or disable are about to reach you, or if you're getting low on MP, or if you are below about 75% HP. As a DE with a total magic focus you can't afford to enter melee. If a fight is going well you'll barely be touched, while chaos erupts around you. It's a great feeling to see your enemies frenzied and murdering each other, or running in fear, while you and your hasted servitor constantly hurl OODs so that three are in the air at any time, one- or two-shotting everything and blasting them into little bitty chunks all over the battlefield.
Sif is a good choice for a mage generalist. She gives you tons of spellbooks, so you will actually get all these spells. She also protects you from miscasts, which is a huge help when you're casting spells from so many different schools. Sif's channeling is very useful because you'll have downtime while enemies are frenzied or fighting your slaves or fighting your servitor, or while waiting for OODs to hit, and you can use this time to regain MP. Channeling is also useful to get just enough MP to cast an escape spell or that one last OOD to kill the enemy in your face, provided you can survive that long. Finally, Sif's forget spell ability is useful as you tailor your spell set for the endgame.
Some people say Sif is bad, and I'll admit that Vehumet or Ashenzari are also good gods. But my wins with DEEn so far are with Sif. She does give you enough to win.
The final goal is to have approximately these magic skills by around level 25:
- Spellcasting 25. You'll end up with a huge variety of spells and spellcasting helps all of them. It also gives you enough spell levels to memorize them all - and you'll need them.
- Hexes 20, mostly to increase the power of Discord
- Conjuration 20
- Other schools (that you use) around 10, or possibly 10-15 if it's really necessary to get failure rate down. This includes Summoning, Charms, Necromancy, and Translocation. Be aware that Spellcasting and increases in intelligence will also get your failure rate down if you're patient, so don't train these skills over 10 prematurely.
- Elemental schools of magic untrained unless you use them. If you go for the extended endgame you will eventually need one or more level 9 elemental spells, but that can wait.
- Dodging 20
- Fighting 15, for the HP. It's better not to train fighting until later on, because the HP increases are relatively small. You might choose not to train it.
- Invocations 10+, to get the most out of Sif Muna's channeling.
Don't worry about spreading yourself too thin by training all different magic schools. As long as you have enough skill to cast your spells reliably, you're good. Remember these facts:
- It takes more than four times the XP to train a skill from 10 to 20 than from 0 to 10.
- As you level up a magic skill, you get diminishing returns in spellpower. There's a much bigger gain in spellpower going from 0 to 10 than from 10 to 20.
- Skill level 27 - spellpower 110 (given a few assumptions and no spell enhancers). Skill level 20 - spellpower 100 (with the same assumptions). It's not worth getting uber high magic skill levels.
- Robe of the archmagi and staff of conjuration will do much more for your spellpower than training Conjurations to 27 will.
So you don't really lose much in the way of final spellpower for your main skills (Hexes and Conjurations), and what you lose in power you more than make up for in versatility.
Okay so that's the goal. How do you get there?
At level 1 you are very weak. Any two enemies can probably kill you if you engage them at once. A hobgoblin has a chance to kill you one on one. A worm or an adder will most likely kill you. Make sure you fight enemies one at a time, and maintain awareness of your escape route. It's useful to go downstairs briefly, from a safe situation, just to see if it's safe - if it is, those stairs become an escape route for you. Be ready to run the second the situation starts looking less than fully under control. Use Corona to lure enemies to you one at a time. Stay the hell away from any orcs or gnolls. Heal fully before fighting again.
For skills, switch to manual mode and train dodging, spellcasting, and hexes equally. Don't bother training any weapon skills - soon, you won't need a weapon much. You might also go for a little bit of stealth (4 or 5 max).
Level 2 is much like level 1, with just a little bit more HPs. Don't memorize either level 2 spell. They aren't very useful, and you need your spell levels for level 3.
Level 3 is where you get some power. Memorize dazzling spray and confuse, and start training Conjurations (as well as Hexes, Spellcasting, and Dodge). These are both quite powerful spells; confuse lets you take out lots of enemies, and then either stab them to death or run from them. Dazzling spray blinds and disables enemies, but it also deals quite a bit of damage and it can hit several of them. Until you find more spellbooks, dazzling spray will soon become your primary way to deal direct damage, capable of handling anything up to and including hydras and herds of yaks. For now you can stick to corona and melee fighting for the easier enemies, so that you conserve MP, but don't hesitate to confuse or dazzle any adders or ogres you find. For most enemies at this level, confuse has a higher chance of disabling an enemy than dazzling spray does; for an ogre you'll want to confuse it, then dazzling spray until it's dead. Do not fight ogres up close, even if they are confused or blind. They will kill you in two hits. Worms are also surprisingly dangerous in melee. Be sure to run away from any uniques and mark travel exclusions on them.
At level 4 you get Enslave and this is where the fun starts. Now bands of orcs and gnolls present more of a challenge than a lethal threat. Enslave a few orcs, tell them to wait, and let them kill their non-enslaved friends. If you have a leftover enslaved enemy, you can confuse him first, then stab or dazzle him.
However, watch your MP very carefully, and always make sure you have a safe escape route planned. If you don't have enough MP to confidently handle the enemies you see, with a safety margin - long before your MP actually runs out - get the heck out of there. This rule will serve you well through the rest of the game.
Also remember that any orc or gnoll you see is probably part of a band. Don't try to kill him with dazzling spray, because that's just shaking the beehive and you don't have enough MP yet to kill the whole band safely that way. Enslave him and keep the fighting well away from you.
This is where I personally start having an easier time with DEEn than with DECj. Enslave and confuse are very powerful, disabling one or more enemies in potentially a single turn. And they're relatively safe to use due to their long range and fast action. In contrast, a DECj at this stage spends much more time with enemies right in their face and even in melee range. Aside from the fun factor of messing with enemies' minds, the easiness of this stage of the game is a good reason to play DEEn.
By lair you'll be worshiping Sif Muna, and midway through Lair you'll probably max out piety and get your first gift spellbook. Train magic skills so you can cast whatever spells seem useful. Keep training Fighting and Dodging at about 15% each - you need to be as durable as you can be. Be mindful of the spell list from the introduction - any of those spells are good ones for you. And keep training Spellcasting as your highest skill. Shoot for approximately the skill levels in the overview section.
Remember to check the wiki for stats on each monster you encounter - specifically check their magic resistance to see if enslaving or confusing them is likely to work.
Dealing Enough Damage
Dazzling spray starts to become frustratingly weak by midway through Lair. You can rely on enslaving things and letting them deal damage, instead, but you'll also need a better direct damage option. If you don't get a book with OOD you can settle for Iskenderun's Mystic Blast or Battlesphere to deal your damage, or a bolt spell. But don't train the bolt element excessively - it's just while you're waiting for OOD. Mostly train conjurations if you want the bolt to be stronger. Mana Viper is also a possible option to deal damage in Lair or Orc, though it starts to become unusably weak later on. Not a problem with sif muna since she'll let you forget it.
Go for gear that increases your magic power, or failing that, that increases your defenses. Dump any gear that just increases strength or melee damage. Robe of the Archmagi is great, and so is a staff of conjuration, or a staff of summoning once you find Spellforged Servitor.
Blink frogs are extremely dangerous to you since "enslave and let them kill each other" doesn't work well because they're spread out, and they're so spread out that dazzling spray often can only hit one at a time, and running from them is not very effective. If they swarm you they can deal a surprising amount of damage. Try never to fight a blink frog unless near a staircase up, with plenty of MP. Dazzling spray is your best option, though not great.
Work your way towards the goals of the first section. By now you'll have tons of spells from books you found and sif muna.
Throughout the game, keep devoting around 15% to dodge. You'll never be durable, but it will help a little. Once you get deflect missiles, keep it up all the time. You can also start training some fighting if there's nothing else you need more.
Make sure you have invisibility (the spell, or several potions) and see invisible before going to the spider's nest or realm of zot. There are ghost moths there. These things can make you instantly helpless, then chase you down and kill you. What you have to do is turn invisible the moment you see them, which prevents them from draining MP, then blow them up with OOD when you get a shot.
If you choose to go for the extended endgame you'll need to branch out even more, mostly into necromancy and elemental magic. The following becomes required:
- Necromutation if you go anywhere there is torment (hell, crypt). It's also great with Sif for hungerless channeling - keep lichform on almost all the time.
- Mutation resistance and/or necromutation if you go anywhere that things can mutate you
- You need regeneration in hell, because healing outside of combat by waiting is not very effective, because hell keeps dropping more enemies on you at regular intervals. After combat you can channel back to full MP, cancel lichform, then start regen. But make sure to cast lichform again the instant you see an enemy with torment.
- Borgnjor's Revivification can be nice, but perhaps not strictly necessary. Blinking out of trouble or climbing stairs is just as good or better in most situations.
- Controlled blink. If you don't have it already, you need it desperately. You are very fragile and haste is not enough to get away from all enemies. Control teleport + blink, or passage of golubria, are not going to work on floors with -cTele (i.e. the most dangerous places).
- Firestorm, Shatter, and/or Glaciate. You're a Deep Elf; in the end you can have two of these ultimate spells, to better deal with resistant enemies. Shatter is also nice for breaking into steel vaults. Once you have these spells, you might find you don't need Discord anymore because lots of enemies in Hell or Pan are immune/extremely resistant to it, and it takes much longer for them to kill each other than it would for you to kill them. Sure, it's a waste of XP, but... you're a Deep Elf and the extended endgame has plenty of XP. Don't worry too much about it.
- Lehudib's Crystal Spear or Iron Shot. This will make your servitor much more effective than OOD when fighting nearby enemies. But keep OOD because it has good range and can't be stopped by high EV. When the servitor is alternating between OOD and LCS instead of casting pure OOD, that also means OODs will collide much less often.
This is just something I get a kick out of. You have Enslave and OOD and let's say you've enslaved a vault guard. Together, you and your pal have murdered everybody else in the vicinity. So what do you do? You tell him hey, check out what's over there, I think I heard something. Then you shoot him in the back. That moment when the OOD is hanging in the air, but he's still your friend doing what you asked him to do, just before he's literally blown into bloody chunks - that's the most evil moment in the game.