ARCHIVED Mr. K's Deep Elf Fire Elementalist guide
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The Deep Elf Fire Elementalist is a conjurer with little resiliency, but possibly the greatest offensive arsenal in all of Dungeon Crawl. Furthermore, the new skill training system, introduced in 0.9, allows you to compensate for weaknesses and enhance strengths more easily, making the character a reliable bet to get to (and clear) the Realm of Zot and even Ziggurats with little opposition.
- Deep Elves have the best aptitude for magic in the game. This includes a whopping +4 to Spellcasting and Charms, +3 to Hexes, +2 to Necromancy, and +1 for everything else save for Earth Magic, which is at 0. Not only that, but they gain a lot more MP than average (+3), and get a guaranteed Int increase every 4 levels. You'd be crazy to play them as anything but pure blasters!
- That said, they do have less HP than average (-2), but since 0.9 all races start with a bit more HP, which tones down the early game difficulty slightly. You won't get crushed by your first hobgoblin very often anymore. You'll also have to devote some stat increases to Strength, which starts at 5.
- Moreover, while training the Fighting skill used to be the bane of all spellcasters, the new skill training system allows even Deep Elves, with their bad aptitude (-2), to simply focus Fighting and gain more HP without having to ever swing a weapon. This offsets their greatest late-game weakness, a lack of HP.
For an example of this character, see this DEFE journal.
The overall goal of a Deep Fire Elementalist is to get access to the most powerful Conjurations as early as possible to overpower their enemies with superior firepower. While defense still matters, never turn off your offensive skills until you've mastered them.
The Fire Elementalist starts with a Book of Flames containing the following spells:
- Flame Tongue: your basic nuke. Not as good as Magic Dart, but still effective, except versus crimson imps. Stricly an early game spell.
- Throw Flame: long-range fire nuke. You'll use this a lot in the early game and a bit in the mid-game. By late-game, you should forget it.
- Inner Flame: don't bother, when it works it's brilliant, but often it won't. It can also kill you if the enemy happens to blow up too close to you.
- Conjure Flame: excellent tactical applications for this single-tile cloud spell. Undead and mindless enemies will happily walk through fire, intelligent monsters will stay away. Can be forgotten in the mid-game once you've learned other cloud spells or Fire Storm.
- Sticky Flame: not as good as it once was, due to its reduced range, but never misses and deals damage over time, perfect for some of the enemies prone to flight. Since dangerous enemies who can melee you for huge amounts of damage start creeping up in the mid-game, this spell's usefulness takes a nosedive right about then.
- Fireball: much better area of damage spell than Inner Flame. This will let you clear the Orcish Mines and the Lair. Upgrade to Delayed Fireball eventually for emergencies, like ghost moths, and keep it throughout the game unless you're desperate for additional offensive spell levels.
Vehumet is a no-brainer. He guarantees access to the most powerful Conjurations in the game, makes them cheaper, gives them a longer range, and improves your success rate with them. If you've never learned Fire Storm at level 15, well... it's fun. The MP gain from killing also favors area of damage spells and a large MP pool, which you'll definitely have.
It's also possible to go for Sif Muna, but the powers are simply not as good. Why get protection from miscasts when you can enhance your success rate to not miscast in the first place? Why train Invocations to spend a turn restoring MP when you can do it automatically by killing (sometimes gaining more MP than you just spent!)? Sif Muna's only real advantage is the infinite amount of books she'll provide, which is good late-game for versatility but can screw you over early because of its randomness. Vehumet's guaranteed book gifts are just more reliable, and it's not like you'll never be able to find or buy other books -- especially since you'll quickly be able to tackle the first few floors of a Ziggurat with ease. Also, by the late game, it's nearly guaranteed you'll have found a crystal ball of energy, which with proper Evocations training restores a lot more MP than Sif Muna's channeling, though with some added -- but manageable -- risks.
An alternate choice -- but only a late-game one! -- is Kikubaaqudgha. While losing your access to Vehumet's spell-enhancing powers hurts a lot, Kiku offers some advantages, especially once you've received all of Vehumet's books.
- Piety is easier to maintain when scumming the Abyss or Pandemonium. Vehumet only cares about destroying living beings and the undead, while Kiku accepts the deaths of living beings and demons, which are plentiful in the late game.
- MP regen via corpse delivery and Sublimation of Blood. Not as powerful as Vehumet's MP gain from killing, since it requires extensive preparation and doesn't work depending on the monster types found in the level, but still better than nothing.
- All books of Necromancy gifted as Piety rises. Access to the Necronomicon, in particular, can be game-changing thanks to Necromutation, Haunt, Borgnjor's Revivification, and Death's Door.
- Protection from death curses, Haunt-induced sickness and torment. This is amazing for clearing the Tomb and mummy-themed Ziggurat floors, among others.
Do keep in mind that abandoning Vehumet has severe drawbacks. Not only will he visit punishments on you routinely, but your spells's success rates will take a dip and you'll lose the extra range and MP cost reduction. Also, if you're clearing Ziggurats (where gaining Vehumet piety is fine) and have a way of dealing with mummies (such as summons) then Kiku may not be for you.
Kill monsters at range, always rest to fill up MP, and learn all the spells in your initial book (except for Inner Flame) as soon as you can. Finding an altar of Vehumet ASAP is a priority, so save your scrolls and only start reading them when you reach Dungeon level 4: this way, if you read a scroll of magic mapping, you may discover the Temple.
Once you earn Vehumet's second power, the failure rates of all your initial book's spells should drop down to 1%, no matter your skill. At this point focus Spellcasting to get as much MP as possible and to prepare yourself for the next batch of spells you'll learn. By now you should have found the Lair and the Orcish Mines: start by clearing the Lair, using Throw Flame, Fireball spam, and the occasional Sticky Flame. Just be careful not to bite off more than you can chew, and use potions of speed or any other tools at your disposal to escape whenever the situation looks too dangerous. Once you're done with the Lair clear the Orcish Mines for gold and the guaranteed level 4 shops -- a jewellery or book shop is an incredible boost.
Your most annoying enemies in the early game will be:
- Crimson imps, which are immune to fire, unless you stumble upon a wand of frost/cold/magic darts to take them out. A wand of polymorph other can work too: they'll turn into another tier 5 demon, most of which are not immune to fire. Failing that, just lure them to the level above, melee them until they blink, then go back down. That'll learn them. A weapon of holy wrath will work in a pinch.
- Centaurs. Their arrows hurt. Try to find a buckler, and don't forget, once you enter the Lair, to focus Fighting and get 3-4 levels for the extra HP.
- Lightning Bolt: lets you start training Air Magic. Can hit multiple enemies multiple times. Not very accurate, though, and extremely loud.
- Bolt of Cold: harder to cast but does more reliable (and more silent) damage. You can just turn off Ice Magic to not train it; Vehumet's spell success enhancer and your Conjurations skill should be enough to let you cast it. However, if you're using a Fire Magic enhancer, it won't jive with Bolt of Cold.
Freezing Cloud is also an option, depending on your Conjurations and Air Magic skills. Along with Fireball it'll let you deal with pretty much anything you'll encounter.
Vehumet's second book is the Book of Power. Make sure to learn Orb of Destruction (blowing up uniques with a single spell is great!) and, if you feel like it, Iskenderun's Mystic Blast. The latter is cheap, elementally neutral, and can replace Sticky Flame in your arsenal. Poisonous Cloud is another option, especially if you've still got to tackle most of the Mines, Lair, or Elven Halls by the time you can learn it.
You'll eventually receive the Book of Annihilations from Vehumet. Keep track of your failure rate with Fire Storm, and when it's at ~40%, make an attempt to memorize it. It may take you a couple of tries; keep in mind that if you fail, the book will punish you with a Conjurations miscast, dealing severe damage, so don't do it unless you're at full HP. When you do learn it, focus Conjurations and Fire Magic to decrease your failure rate until it's sub-10%. Congratulations! You're now ready to destroy everything that crosses your path.
Your most annoying enemies in the mid game will be:
- Centaur warriors and yaktaurs. See centaurs in the early game. Blow them up good.
- Hubris. Once you acquire the Book of Power, and especially the Book of Annihilations, you'll turn into an engine of destruction... but you're still incredibly fragile. It's important to keep an eye on your MP and remind yourself to take it slow and easy.
Reduce Fire Storm's hunger cost by whatever means necessary (staff of energy, amulet of the gourmand, items with +Int, focusing Spellcasting) until you can cast it reliably without starving yourself. Then it's simply a matter of casting it to catch as many enemies as possible in its blast radius (to recover as much as MP as possible), waiting for the rest of the level to run over because of the loud noise, and repeating the process until everything within a mile has been cremated.
Your end-game spell arsenal should look a little like this:
- Fire Storm: duh.
- Ring of Flames: protection from fire and most sources of cold damage, Fire Magic enhancer.
- Repel Missiles/Deflect Missiles: for yaktaurs and whatever else decides to take potshots at you.
- Blink + Control Teleport/Controlled Blink: to reposition yourself or escape.
- Fireball/Delayed Fireball: it's a free Fireball, it can let you kill enough enemies to regain MP for that last Fire Storm you need.
- Abjuration/Mass Abjuration: Vehumet will also gift you all the Summonings books, so take the opportunity to learn them both to counter summoners. Though a Fire Storm to the face also works brilliantly.
- Orb of Destruction: still a great spell in the late-game for dealing with monsters that are extremely resistant to Fire, such as golems or bone dragons. You can also use it to dig rock in a pinch.
- Haste: nothing much to say about it. It's Haste. Kill stuff faster. Or run away faster.
- Sublimation of Blood: amazing for emergency MP regeneration. Try to always carry around a few chunks of meat if you can. Otherwise, if you're at full HP, you can use it on yourself, but it'll hurt.
Many, many more spells deserve to be included in this list; take a look at the Conjurer guide to learn more.
Other than normal caster-oriented skills, you should consider training...
- Evocations: in the late-game you'll want to use a crystal ball of energy to regen MP. You may also come across powerful rods or legendary decks of cards; both of these will benefit from high Evocations.
But not training...
- Stealth: by the end game, you'll be slinging raging infernos around routinely, so... turn off Stealth at the start. It won't affect your survival too much, and it'll divert some much-needed XP to other skills (Stealth eats up quite a bit of XP).