Difference between revisions of "Nemelex guide"

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** '''Wild Magic''' - Avoid this card, unless you like random miscast effects.  
** '''Wild Magic''' - Avoid this card, unless you like random miscast effects.  
** '''Helix''' - Useful if you want mutations.  At low power it's an equal mix of good and bad outcomes.  At high power it is significantly biased in your favor.
** '''Helix''' - Useful if you want mutations.  At low power it's an equal mix of good and bad outcomes.  At high power it is significantly biased in your favor.
** '''Sage''' - If you had even the slightest iota of control over what skill starts leaching your experience points, this card would be great. As it is, the Sage card will almost certainly end up leaching points away from desirable skills into other places.
** '''Sage''' - Redirects half of incoming XP to a particular skill. If you had even the slightest iota of control over what skill starts leeching your experience points, this card would be great. As it is, the Sage card will almost certainly end up leeching points away from desirable skills into other places.
* [[Deck of oddities]]:  ''This is not a distinct deck;  These cards may appear unexpectedly in ''any'' deck, on a 1% chance per draw.  You will get a message of "This doesn't seem to belong here".''
* [[Deck of oddities]]:  ''This is not a distinct deck;  These cards may appear unexpectedly in ''any'' deck, on a 1% chance per draw.  You will get a message of "This doesn't seem to belong here".''

Revision as of 16:51, 3 October 2013

Version Unknown: This article may not be up to date for the latest stable release of Crawl.
Nemelex Xobeh is a complicated god who requires a lot of micromanagement, both for obtaining and using appropriate decks. This guide is meant to help people new to Nemelex.

Worshiping Nemelex

What kind of characters should worship Nemelex? Any character that can handle controlled risk.

Here are some popular choices:

  • Artificers - They start off with high evocations skill and need evocable items.
  • Trolls - They're not too terrible at evocations and the added flexibility is pretty useful. The Shuffle card allows them to become decent spell casters.
  • Small species - The smaller the character the better they are at evocations it seems. Spriggan Enchanters and Kobold Assassins are very good with Nemelex.
  • Undead characters (Mummies, Ghouls, bloodless Vampires, and liches) can use legendary decks of destruction more safely.
  • Felids have lots of stuff to sacrifice, and the decks help cover for some of their limitations.



Here are some general tips:

  1. Train Evocations early, but aim for around 10 rather than the high end, unless you have other plans for Evocation that make you want more. Nemelex's piety boost to the outcome of deck draws becomes more significant than Evocations at higher piety levels.
  2. Only draw cards from unidentified decks if you're standing on solid ground and a monster is around, but not directly next to you. Damnation will send you to the Abyss without another valid target on screen, and Flame has a 50% chance of casting fireball.
  3. A common piece of extremely questionable advice is to attempt to get a deck of Wonders as early as possible by sacrificing a stack of permafood the moment you start worshiping Nemelex. The payoff for doing so is the possibility of drawing an Experience card, giving you a sizable power boost that helps in the early game. What is usually left unmentioned is that the deck also contains Helix cards (which can leave you horribly malmutated), Shuffle cards (which will leave you with stats that are useless for the background you're playing), Wild Magic cards (think of them as playful little mini-Zot traps), and Sage cards (which often divert useful experience toward skills you will never use). Unless you're fine with the possibility of losing your character to a gamble, don't do this.
  4. Sacrifice everything you don't need as soon as you come across it. You'll get plenty of decks after awhile. Be aware that weapons and armor are much more common than other things, so if you don't want your decks heavily biased in favor of Destruction and Escape, stop sacrificing those item types once you've gotten the decks rolling.
  5. Use cards as often as possible until your Piety is maxed.
  6. Use Draw One and unmarked decks whenever you can handle the consequences (given the deck type) in order to maximize gifts. If you only use Triple Draw and marked decks, you will not gain piety fast enough and you will run out of decks.
  7. Nemelex is a great end-game god. You may want to stash away as many valuable items as you can. Then, switch to Nemelex and sacrifice everything at once to gain 100 piety (****) quickly.

Nemelex's abilities

  • Draw One - It allows you to draw cards without having to wield the deck.
  • Peek at Two - Use it to identify decks, losing one card in the process.
  • Triple Draw - Choose one from the top three cards, discarding the other two. Use it when you want a higher probability of drawing (or not drawing) a particular card. Be careful of triple drawing when the deck is near done. If there is only one card left, you will immediately play that card. This ability is strongly recommended for dealing with decks of Wonders, and it makes it much more likely to get the life-saver you need need when drawing from a deck of Escape.
  • Deal Four - Draw four cards from an unmarked deck all at once. If there are fewer than four remaining, you draw from the deck of Punishment. Only use it on decks which have been drawn from very little or not at all, as Punisment cards can be very painful. Deal Four-ing a deck of Summoning will give you a wall of monsters to cover your getaway, and using it on a deck of Destruction is useful if something needs to die immediately ("Firing the card cannon"). Just bear in mind that the usual precautions of drawing from Destruction still apply.
  • Stack Five - Stack the deck in your favor! Draw five cards, discard the rest. You get to choose the order of your deck. The only downside to this ability is that you don't gain any piety for using stacked decks.


Nemelex will give you only pure decks, but decks found in the dungeon are likely to be mixed decks, which are generally inferior.

Pure decks:

  • Deck of destruction - A variety of ranged attacks scaling with power level. This deck has been buffed a good deal since this guide was originally written. In particular, the Torment card has been removed. At low power the only risk of self-harm is the 50% chance of Olgreb's Toxic Radiance on the Venom card. At power level 2 the Pain card casts Symbol of Torment and the Spark card casts Orb of Electrocution. To protect yourself from the latter, be sure to target any draw from a Legendary deck at least 4 squares away on a clear path.
  • Deck of dungeons - Spam plain and ornate versions of these decks to get gifts, but beware of blocking off sections of the dungeon. This deck allows you to alter the terrain around you. It's a pretty well balanced deck in terms of utility. Beware: Drawing the Trowel card from a lesser deck may create an Orange crystal statue, so carry a wand of disintegration around.
  • Deck of escape - This deck allows you to escape or avoid danger. It's very useful at higher power. The only "dangerous" cards in this deck are Damnation (if you're alone), and Flight (it might turn you into a bat or spider for a limited time).
  • Deck of summoning - This is the best deck for difficult battles (and the safest one for a non-Nemelexite). It's also the least dangerous deck at higher power. If you summoned a hostile monster you can keep drawing cards and hope for a Crusade card, or for other summons to kill the renegade. Alternatively, run away and wait for it to disappear.
  • Deck of wonders - This deck is very powerful, but the majority of its cards are dangerous. Triple draw from this deck. Alternatively, you may want to triple draw from this deck first, then stack the rest. The best cards are Experience, and if you want mutations, Potion and Helix . Everything else is highly situational.

Other (mixed) decks:

  • Deck of changes - A mix of wonder and battle cards. Spam these decks (against weak enemies) while wearing an amulet of resist mutation, or triple draw with enemies present.
  • Deck of war - A mix of destruction and escape cards. Spam these decks against weak monsters to gain piety.
  • Deck of defence - A mix of emergency and battle cards. Spam plain and ornate versions on weak monsters. Stack the legendary version of these decks, since they tend to have a lot of Elixir cards.


The comments below are useful if you are using one of Nemelex's abilities to choose which card to evoke. If you are just drawing at random without knowing what is coming out, well, at least this section will tell you what just happened to you.

  • Deck of destruction:
    • Vitriol - Two-thirds chance of a decent acid attack, one-third of turning a (living) monster into a Pulsating lump, which just sucks. They're not worth much XP and their attacks mutate you, though they're extremely slow. Sure, you can turn weak critters (like rodents) into one to gain more experience, but it's a waste of time.
    • Flame - It's a decent card, just make sure that the target is at least one square away from you, as there's even odds of casting a Fireball.
    • Frost - It's slightly less random than the Flame card. A good offensive card.
    • Hammer - This card is kinda worthless in the early-game -- the Striking effect does barely any damage. And Stone Arrow is a pretty weak 1st tier effect compared to the elemental cards. However, it does allow Iron Shot to become available much earlier than normal, and evoking Lehudib's Crystal Spear later on for free is pretty nice.
    • Venom - Avoid this card unless you are immune to poison, or you are willing to immediately imbibe a potion of curing. There is an even chance this card will cast Olgreb's Toxic Radiance, which will poison you as well as your enemies.
    • Spark - Be careful. The Orb of Electrocution effect can easily kill you, if you have no electricity resistance or below 100 HP. Aim it 4 squares away from you.
    • Pain - Similar to the Spark card, but it's not nearly as powerful. At power level 2 it casts Symbol of Torment, harming you as well.
  • Deck of dungeons:
    • Water - Fills the surrounding area with water. At high power, it creates large patches of deep water. Merfolk and Tengu get the most benefit out of this card. Merfolks get an EV boost and gain an axillary attack (tail slap). Tengu can permanently fly once they reach a certain experience level. Monsters incapable of swimming or levitating will have difficulty fighting in the water. Characters with confusion spells can drown masses of enemies at once!
    • Vitrification - Turns walls transparent. Less useful now that you can't target things through clear walls.
    • Dowsing - One of the few ways to get divinations effects. Detect Secret Doors, Detect Traps, and temporary telepathy.
    • Trowel - Creates either a useless statue, a horribly dangerous statue, an altar, or a random portal. Only draw this card from legendary decks to create portals to nice, loot-filled places (i.e labyrinths, troves, etc.).
    • Minefield - Train your Traps & Doors skill or get killed by a Zot trap! You can also lure monsters over the traps, but I wouldn't recommend it. Monsters tend to activate Zot traps repeatedly to harm you.
  • Deck of escape:
    • Portal - At high power, it causes controlled teleports. It's useful if a controlled blink can't take you far enough away from danger.
    • Warp - The best escape spell in card form. At high power, it causes Controlled Blink. In general, controlled blinks are better than controlled teleports, since you can still control the general direction of your blinks in areas that disable teleport control.
    • Swap - Switch places with an enemy. It has its uses, such as getting to the stairs or getting out of a blocked corridor. It does not let you drop monsters in deep water or lava.
    • Velocity - A nice card that gives you a free speed boost.
    • Tomb - Tomb of Doroklohe was a broken spell, so it isn't surprising that this card is overpowered. Remember that it skips squares that are already occupied, including by plants or fungi. (That can be useful.)
    • Banshee - Fear scroll in card form. Nice in the early-game, but it's useless later on due to high monster HD.
    • Damnation - Banish an enemy or yourself to the Abyss. It can be used in emergencies to escape if you're desperate.
    • Solitude - It's Dispersal. There are several better cards to choose from.
    • Warpwright - Creates a teleport trap next to you. Use it at the end of a corridor to prevent monsters from coming near you.
    • Flight - The Velocity card is better.
  • Deck of summoning:
    • Crusade - Enslavement or Abjuration (sometimes both). Controlling enemies is always fun. :-)
    • Herd - Summons a lot of natural animals. It's pretty nice.
    • Pentagram - Summon a 1 at high power. It's better than Makhleb's Greater Servant invocation, because they're guaranteed to be friendly!
    • Dance - At high power, it summons either a katana or executioner's axe with a speed/elec brand! Great card.
    • Foxfire - Pretty broken card in general. Summons tons of wisps and vapours, which are notoriously hard to kill due to their high AC/EV. At high power, it summons a swarm of yellow/red wasps which can easily clear out 2/3 of a branch end by themselves.
    • Bones - Decent card. Bone dragons are awesome. Remember to Haste them.
    • Repulsiveness - It's better than Summon Ugly Thing.
  • Deck of wonders:
    • Potion - Gives the effect of a random potion among: Agility, Brilliance, Might, Curing, Confusion, Slowing, Paralysis. At higher power, it has a chance of giving Magic, Invisibility, Speed or Resistance.
    • Focus - Reduces your lowest stat by one and raises your highest by one. Do not use it if your stats are dangerously low.
    • Shuffle - Swaps your stats around. Useful if you want to turn a fighter into a mage.
    • Experience - This card is wonderful. Always pick it, if you can.
    • Wild Magic - Avoid this card, unless you like random miscast effects.
    • Helix - Useful if you want mutations. At low power it's an equal mix of good and bad outcomes. At high power it is significantly biased in your favor.
    • Sage - Redirects half of incoming XP to a particular skill. If you had even the slightest iota of control over what skill starts leeching your experience points, this card would be great. As it is, the Sage card will almost certainly end up leeching points away from desirable skills into other places.
  • Deck of oddities: This is not a distinct deck; These cards may appear unexpectedly in any deck, on a 1% chance per draw. You will get a message of "This doesn't seem to belong here".
    • Genie - Even odds of an acquirement or nastiness. Nastiness is even odds of decay or degeneration.
    • Bargain - Gives you a special temporary buff, which will discount store prices by 20% for the length of its duration.
    • Wrath - Invokes the wrath of a randomly chosen god against you.
    • Xom - Xom acts with a severity of 5 + random2(power / 10). If you're actually following Xom, he goes to maximum amusement first!
    • Feast - Sets your current nutrition level to 12000.
    • Famine - Sets your current nutrition level to 500.
    • Curse - Curses one or more items in your inventory. It may also (1/6 chance) decay your potions, even in recent versions.
  • Mixed decks:
    • Elixir - Healing! You'll want to draw this card from a legendary deck to get the full HP and MP heal effect.
    • Battlelust - Acts like a might potion or a slaying bonus. It's useful if you're a fighter, especially if you use fast weapons.
    • Metamorphosis - If you specialize in unarmed combat, this card can be nice. (Beware: you lose the benefits of most of your armor, so this is NOT a card to invoke carelessly.) Probably most useful to change forms for a speed boost when running away.
    • Helm - Meh. It's okay. There are much more useful defensive cards around.
    • Blade - The Dance card is better for immediate, temporary aid. However, you can use this card in combo with a scroll of vorpalize weapon to give a permanent brand to a weapon.
    • Shadow - Invisibility with an added stealth boost. Very nice for stabbers.

Source information

This section is for anyone interested in the inner workings of Nemelex. Thanks to Pan Et Circenses for diving the source code.


  • Every 20 turns there is a 1:35 chance of losing 1 piety.
  • Whenever you sacrifice something, there is a chance of gaining piety depending on the value of the sacrifice and your current piety.
  • Whenever you gain piety, your gift timeout seems to decrease.

Card countdown

  • Decks are only given with a card countdown of 0.
  • When you receive a deck, your card countdown is set to 10. Note, this is not the same as a gift timer.
  • In 0.10, waiting doesn't decrease the card countdown anymore. You need to use decks or sacrifice, and the former is not enough by itself.


  • Every item has a value, which is usually the price it sells for in stores. "Worthless" consumables, including the distillable or bottleable potions, rotten food, and scrolls of Curse Armour/Jewellery/Weapon, Noise, and Random Uselessness, have a value of 1 instead of their shop value.
  • As such, sacrificing things like potions of poison is fairly pointless. This is so that you cannot abuse Fulsome Distillation, turning potential summoning decks into decks of wonder. Note that potions of mutation are an exception to this rule, valued at 30.
  • Whenever you sacrifice an item, there is a VALUE:800 chance of decreasing your card countdown by 1.
  • The value of the item sacrificed is added to the weight of the corresponding type of deck (in the case of corpses, mass is used instead of value, making it relatively easy to bias towards decks of summoning):
    • Escape: Armor
    • Destruction: Weapons, Staves, Ammo
    • Dungeons: Misc. Objects, Jewelry, Books
    • Summoning: Corpses
    • Wonders: Potions, Scrolls, Wands, Food
  • You can toggle the sacrificing of entire classes of items in the detailed religion screen (^!). This can help reduce micromanagement of piles while you are trying to avoid certain kinds of decks.

Gift giving

  • Decks are only given with a gift timeout and a card countdown both at 0.
  • Decks are never given if you are over deep water, even for Merfolk.
  • For any action that may give a gift:
    • If you have been given no decks, there is a PIETY+1:50 chance of getting a deck.
    • Otherwise, there is a 1:3 chance of having a PIETY+1:200 chance of getting a deck.
  • The type of deck you get is weighted based on your sacrifices. To put it simply, if you have sacrificed an equal amount of value in every category, there is an equal chance of getting any kind of deck.
  • At 200 piety, your chances of getting a common/uncommon/legendary deck are 5%/60%/35%. It drops off at lower piety.
  • Your card countdown is set to 10
  • Your gift timeout is increased by 5+(random number up to 9)
  • The weighting of the deck type you are given is multiplied by 4/5
  • NO OTHER WEIGHTS DECAY; there doesn't seem to be any reason to hold onto items of a particular type and sacrifice them all at once hoping to get a certain deck. In fact, for rare stuff like jewelry, the sooner you sacrifice it, the longer you'll have it in your weightings for a chance of getting good decks.


Sacrificing items can give you piety, and getting piety decreases your gift timeout.

It looks like you always get piety for drawing from a deck. You can get up to 3 points: 1 point for using up a deck, 1 point for drawing from an unstacked deck, and a 1:3 chance of an extra point for drawing from an unstacked deck. Depending on the number of points you gain, you also have a chance of decreasing your card countdown, up to (40/70/100% chance for 1/2/3 points). I think the number of points is weighted by some kind of normal distribution to determine actual piety gain.

Based on all this, I think the best way to get a specific deck type in the late game is to spend all game sacrificing as much as possible to get a huge number of decks, and after you think you have enough stop sacrificing undesired categories entirely and rely on your decks mostly for piety gain.

The best advice I can give for gaming the system is never sacrifice anything of a type you don't want more valuable than your current piety+30 (230 at max piety). Everything above that I believe is guaranteed to give you piety, and extra value only goes toward deck weighting.

If you don't want decks of summoning, don't sacrifice really huge corpses (all corpses give piety at the same rate, but their weight in aum gets added to their deck weighting). Butcher such otherwise useless corpses to convert them to food, and sacrifice the chunks. Chunks don't have a lot of value, but at least you're getting something.

Late game if you have a lot of decks built up, you can use them to get more decks. The benefit of this is that you'll start decaying your more heavily weighted deck types without bumping them back up again.

Prior to 0.10 it was ideal to wait ~400 turns after receiving a gift before drawing more cards or sacrificing items, as it would only go toward reducing the card countdown (which would go to zero on its own anyway). In 0.10 the card countdown is only reduced by card use and sacrificing, and it is impossible to get a net gain in decks purely through card-draws. You must do some sacrificing as well in order to keep up your deck supply.