Nabalzbhf's Merfolk Ice Elementalist Guide

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The following article is a character guide. This article contains advice from other players, which may be subjective, outdated, inaccurate or ill-advised.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!
Version 0.15: This article may not be up to date for the latest stable release of Crawl.

If you choose a Merfolk Ice Elementalist, you get to play with a lot of different options. You're already an excellent melee fighter with your Polearms/Dodging aptitudes, but you also have great buffs for defense, a summon for backup, and some Conjuration spells for dealing with enemies at a distance!

If you haven't already, read the walkthrough and strategy guides. This guide assumes at least some familiarity with Crawl, and therefore doesn't cover extremely general aspects of the game.

This guide is partially based on Vigrid's Hill Orc Fighter Guide, so if you're looking for something with less spellcasting and more smashing stuff with shiny weapons, definitely check that out. If anyone wants to edit this guide, I only ask that you do two things: Replace incorrect information rather than outright removing it, and keep things general so that players can adapt it to suit their needs.


These are the skills you should be considering, and some information as to why. Visit the skill page for information on any I didn't cover.

Major Skills

  • Polearms: Focus this immediately! Once you reach minimum delay with your current weapon, you can begin to focus on other skills.
  • Fighting: This increases your accuracy, and your HP. Good if you don't want to die from one hit.
  • Dodging: Your most important defensive skill. Keep it high, and stay away from heavy armour.
  • Charms: Used by everything from Ozocubu's Armour to Haste. Definitely keep an eye on this.
  • Ice Magic: Obviously you should raise this, all of your starting spells use it.

Minor Skills

  • Shields: Extra protection at the cost of decreased damage. Read the "armour" section below for more information.
  • Armour: You'll put XP into this eventually, especially if you end up wearing fire dragon armour. Just don't start off too fast.
  • Spellcasting: This mainly gives you extra spell slots, level this if you need more spells.
  • Conjurations: This can help get spells like Throw Icicle castable, but it's not too important.
  • Summoning: A few levels for Summon Ice Beast is fine, but don't invest in this much.


  • Evocations: An early ring of invisibility or amulet of rage is very useful. Level this as needed.
  • Invocations: You'll want at least enough to bring your god abilities' failure rates into the single digits, possibly more depending on the god.
  • Stealth: Being able to run away before a fight even begins is always good. Invest a few levels in this.


You'll want Dexterity for increased evasion most of the time, but if you move on to heavier armours, Strength can help offset the spellcasting and evasion penalties. For instance, you'll want at least 11 strength if you're wearing fire dragon armour. Your starting Intelligence is more than enough, just don't assume you'll ever be casting Glaciate.


If you never use spells, your character will almost certainly die, it's as simple as that. If you don't want to cast, go play a Berserker. By the end of your game you'll want a wide selection, but it's best to start off slow, getting your most important spells castable. Then you can branch out.

Starting Spells

Freeze will be your primary form of attack until you've raised your pole-arm skill. It ignores AC/EV, and slows cold-blooded enemies like adders, but the damage caps out fairly quick.

Ozocubu's Armour should be the second or third spell you learn. It offers AC, helping to offset your poor armour aptitude, and could last you well into the late game!

Throw Frost is good for taking out stuff at a range. Grab it when you get the chance, either before or after Ozo's.

At this point, you have a few options. Pick up Condensation Shield for more defense, Throw Icicle for increased ranged damage, or Summon Ice Beast for allies that can help you fight and escape! All of these are good, so pick up whichever you want, whenever you need it.

Later Spells

Further ice spells you can learn include Bolt of Cold, Freezing Cloud and Ozocubu's Refrigeration. All of these are very effective against groups of enemies, but none of them are necessary, so I would advise being choosy about which ones you memorize.

Meanwhile, charms are definitely recommended. Repel Missiles, Regeneration, Shroud of Golubria, Spectral Weapon, Deflect Missiles, and Haste are all excellent spells.

Some cheap but useful spells from other schools include Animate Skeleton, Apportation, Blink, Cure Poison, and Summon Butterflies.


Equipment is very important for any class, but it's especially so for a melee heavy one like MfIE. Thankfully, polearms are abundant in the dungeon, and decent armour isn't rare by any means.


When you start, you'll have to use whatever polearms are available. This means even if you plan on using a shield later, it's fine to use a good two-handed weapon early on. Just swing your weapon a few times to check its current delay, and be very cautious if it's anything above 1.0. Never bother with scythes, unless they're an especially good artefact.

For quick weapons like spears and tridents, flat brands like draining, electrocution, and venom are good. Venom is especially good for kiting! For two-handed weapons like halberds and glaives, scaling brands like frost, flame, and vorpal are also good. If your two-handed weapon doesn't have a flame brand, make sure to keep a spear or trident for hydras.

In all cases, if you find a good weapon with a holy wrath, speed, or vampiric brand, hold onto it! Protection weapons can also be good, since your armour's AC value will be low throughout the early-mid game.

Eventually you'll want a demon trident if you're using shields, and a bardiche if you aren't. While you can't use a demon trident while worshipping a good god, The Shining One will transform one into the even better trishula.


You'll want to stick to robes, leather, or troll leather armour at first, since Ozocubu's Armour requires armour with an encumbrance rating of 4 or lower. If you absolutely need a particular resistance (such as poison resistance for Swamp), it might be worth wearing ring mail to get it, if you have no other option (such as a ring).

Eventually you might move on to a heavier armour. Dragon armour is popular in the late game, especially fire dragon armour for Zot. Anything heavier than that is not recommended, as it will heavily impede your evasion.

Shields are popular for their extra defense, at the cost of a lower damage output. Playing with and without a shield is acceptable, so often it's best to decide based on what spawns in your game. If you run across a "shield of resistance" early on, definitely use shields. If you run across a vampiric bardiche, use that instead!


  • Okawaru: The invocations Heroism and Finesse are both simple yet powerful additions to your toolbox, and he will give you weapons and armour of variable usefulness as you progress through the dungeon. While you can easily complete the game with Oka, if you want to collect all 15 Runes of Zot, swapping to another god is recommended (The Shining One is a popular choice).
  • Makhleb: Health on kills, piety-powered destructive blasts and the ability to summon demons. His summons are much more powerful than ice-beasts, and HP is always useful, so Makhleb is a good choice. The one catch is you absolutely have to level Invocations, or risk summoning hostile demons.
  • Yredelemnul: Perhaps the absolute best god if all you want to do is win. He allows you to raise the dead to fight by your side, and gifts undead allies, all of which become more powerful once you can hasten them. In addition to that, Pain Mirror is a great panic button, Drain Life can heal you when you need it most, and Enslave Soul allows to make any unique in the game your permanent servant.
  • The Shining One: A poor choice for the early game due to his restrictions, but one of the absolute strongest gods for the extended game. He has so many useful abilities, I'm not even going to try and list them all here. If you want to swap to TSO later, make sure to save Crypt until you've swapped.

General Tips

  • Remember your buffs. Casting Ozocubu's Armour and Condensation Shield before a tough fight can be the difference between life and death.
  • Use your ranged attacks. Trolls, giants, and any other highly-competent melee combatant should get some ice to the face before they get too close. Never engage them in straight melee.
  • Know thy enemy. Examine every foe you encounter. If they look dangerous, they probably are, and you shouldn't wade into an entire horde of them.
  • Merfolks love water. It makes you faster, better at dodging, and deep water can keep away plenty of enemies.
  • Better them than you. If you have allies, such as ice beasts, generally you want them to take hits for you, or at the very least, distract the weaker enemies while you mop up the rest. The game will continue if they're dead. It'll stop if you're dead. Besides, you have a reaching weapon perfectly suited for combat from the back row.
  • Items, Items, Items. If you have less than 5 varieties of scroll, wand, ring, amulet and potion on your person, chances are you're woefully under-prepared for the challenges ahead. When you believe a situation has a decent chance of getting you killed, don't make the mistake of being too conservative - use those consumables!