YAVP 06: MfVM^Fed
SavageFantastic the Sensei (level 27, 294/294 HPs) Began as a Merfolk Venom Mage on July 3, 2018. Was a High Priest of Fedhas. Escaped with the Orb ... and 3 runes on July 5, 2018! The game lasted 05:17:05 (108999 turns).
I splatted well more than twenty characters on my way to winning this Merfolk Venom Mage of Fedhas. During this splatting, I transitioned my strategy for the Yet Another Victory Project to the following: I will win the backgrounds using my preferred races -- Mf, Ce, Ko, Tr -- and then I will win the races using my preferred backgrounds.
Before this character I had been fruitlessly attempting to "cheese" the Venom Mage background by playing a troll or a kobold, ignoring my book, and immediately learning martial skills. It seems to be the case that early dungeon is tuned tightly around starting xp so these characters were all just a bit too vulnerable to make it through. So I rolled a merfolk -- the only one of my preferred races with actual poison magic aptitude -- and picked up a D:2 Fedhas. I knew Fedhas was a powerhouse who would kill everything that poison could not.
Poisonous Vapours was the only spell I learned from my starting book, but Poisonous Vapours is a darn good spell. Once I could evolve mushroom buddy tagalongs, I did that and walked through the dungeon punching things to death. On L:$ I built my first Oklobs and... they're good. They're real real good. I eventually trained my invocations quite high; I don't know if Fedhas hits diminishing returns, but later in V:$, three of my plants killed almost the entire floor.
I gained piety at an utterly glacial pace through Lair, but after that it skyrocketed and stayed rocketed. And then I beat the Orcish Halls in less than ten minutes on a character that didn't seem particularly powerful!
The rest of the game was... straight-forwardish. I think I was just in my comfort zone with a merfolk -- Mf was my second unrecorded species victory and it's basically a strong race in every regard discounting a negative armour aptitude.
I found Dragon Form in a shop in the Snake Pits so trained up transmutations to make that my end-game killdude. I later found Blade Hands in V:$, and when Zot felt a little too hairy I bought that spell and used it preferentially over Dragon Form -- Blade Hands didn't meld my boots of running! After swapping to Blade Hands it was just a matter of careful play to grab the Orb of Zot and ascend.
This game calls for more retrospection than my previous wins. Fedhas is a tremendously powerful god (after a slow start), and I did an inefficient job taking advantage of her gifts. The following are obvious areas for improvement:
It would've been nice for the game to spawn even a single food shop for me, but I would've had ample rations for Oklobs if I had been using Rain to grow plants. Regardless of my efficiency, Fedhas seems to quite easily carry a weak background through a 3-rune win, and I'm surprised she is never recognized as being so strong.
I didn't enjoy Dragon Form. There was an inital joy in "Holy wow, that damage!" and it does seem tailor-made to take down Orbs of Fire, but I felt like a pincushion trying to conquer Zot with a spell mostly appropriate for corridors. Of course, whenever one plays a new variety of character, one has a period adjusting to new threat-levels, and it speaks to the power of Dragon Form that I ascended in my first game using the spell.
I see this as coming down to personal taste; in a game with multiple powerful-enough ways to take on Zot, I wouldn't choose Dragon Form again -- for now. I thought it was my only choice when I hadn't found Blade Hands, but I had another excellent choice -- bare-fisted punching. Is bare-fisted punching as good as Dragon Form? Probably not. Is it good enough and way fun? Heck yes!