The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Fall Fashions

I didn’t pre-order Dominant Species … well, because I’m trying not to pre-order games, and something in the description seemed off. Now I’m in the (inevitable) “Was I wrong” phase of second guessing. This thread on BGG isn’t helping.

Hey Mikko, I still keep dying at Nethack although I’m now getting down to level 5-8 or so (on average). (Sadly, this counts as significant improvement) What next?

I have no real thoughts about the IGA awards. I haven’t played2/3rds of them, and have had time to fall out of love with the rest (except maybe Hansa). I chalk this up to a curmudgeonly disposition.

Actual gaming to happen later this weekend. So actual content may resume shortly.

Update — Yea! Ring of Invisibility and good Armor on early levels. Boo! Cursed Lodestone that keeps me from escaping a horde of Rothes. Another quick loss.


Written by taogaming

September 5, 2010 at 9:56 am

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  1. Patience and practise? It’s a tricky, fiendish game trying its hardest to get you. Give it a finger, it’ll tear out your whole arm.

    I’m not the best guide to the dungeons, I last played NetHack about when the most recent version of the guide was published (looks like Quake was the FPS of the day – and frankly, Half-life is pretty much the only more recent FPS I’ve played…).

    Mikko Saari

    September 5, 2010 at 10:26 am

  2. I totally missed Dominant Species until now. Thanks for that link.


    September 5, 2010 at 10:29 am

  3. You can dip cursed items into fountains to get them uncursed. It works only infrequently, but for something like a lodestone that you really need to get rid of, it’s worth the risk of attracting snakes and water demons.

    You can avoid picking up lodestones in the first place by kicking any gray stone you find before you pick it up – if it’s a lodestone, it won’t move.

    Dave Dobson

    September 5, 2010 at 12:48 pm

  4. DS sounds like an area control game w worker placement…. W some random elements when setting up each round, but with open info. Sounds great to me. Will prob pick it up at some point.


    September 5, 2010 at 4:34 pm

  5. 1) Play a priest. Priests have the innate ability to detect whether an item is cursed or not. Helps you avoid all sorts of unpleasantness.

    2) #pray. About every 1000 moves or so, you can pray safely. You can shorten this interval by sacrificing fresh corpses on altars of your alignment. If your god is pleased with you when you pray, you’ll get a range of benefits. If you’re not a full HP, you’ll be healed. If you’re at full HP, you’ll gain a few max HP. Your possessions can get uncursed or blessed, you can prevent getting turned to stone… the list goes on. Prayer is good. Just don’t pray too often, or your god will become displeased.

    3) Train your pet. Acquire tripe rations (and ideally a leash) and bring your pet to a shop. Let him in, then stand in the doorway. Whenever your pet drops something on the space directly in front of the doorway, on the very next move throw a tripe ration at him. Do this a couple of times and your pet will be trained to pick up items and drop them in front of the door, where you can pick them up at no cost. Now, when you find a ring, wand, or book shop, it’s party time!

    4) Use holy water to bless stacks of items, especially ENCHANT ARMOR/WEAPON and IDENTIFY scrolls and POTIONS OF GAIN LEVEL. Create holy water by dropping water potions on altars of your alignment and #praying, or by dipping them in holy water (conveniently, priests start with holy water). Create water potions by dipping undesired potions in fountains (they’ll dilute). I also like to dip unwanted scrolls in water to create blank scrolls, then use a blessed magic marker to create blessed scrolls of whatever I want.

    5) Eat a floating eye corpse to get telepathy, and find a blindfold. REALLY useful for avoiding very bad situations.

    6) If you find (or wish for) a wand of polymorph, stack everything you don’t want in a pile and zap the pile.

    7) Engrave ELBERETH to prevent monsters from attacking you. You’ll need a marker or sharp implement.

    8) Find a bag of holding!

    9) Repeat commands by preceding them with numbers (10s will search 10 times) to reduce tedium. The game will abort the repeat if something “interesting” happens, so you won’t just repeatedly search while something attacks you.

    10) If you ever get a wish, remember that you can wish for multiples or enchantments (3 blessed scrolls of genocide, +3 blessed rustproof erodeproof corrodeproof longsword). The greater the number, the greater the chance that you’ll get only 1 (so most players wish for only 2 or 3).


    September 5, 2010 at 4:35 pm

  6. Hmm, think this is tongue-in-cheek? From the description of Dominant Species:

    “The cylindrical action pawns (or ‘AP’s)”

    Fred Bush

    September 6, 2010 at 12:22 am

  7. I thought we had learned about the downside of cylindrical components at least as far back as Elfenland! The octagonal prisms of Puerto Rico are greatly superior.

    Eric Brosius

    September 6, 2010 at 7:41 am

  8. For nethack, go to
    and read some of the strategy articles. Then practice, because it takes a bunch of games to learn how to manage your resources well enough to finish the game. Valkyries are easy beginner characters. If you successfully sacrifice at an altar, you’ll get Mjollnir, which should be strong enough to get to you to the special levels.


    September 7, 2010 at 11:08 am

  9. Yes, valkyries are good and I’ve got lots of good results with them (though my only ascension is with an archeologist). Make your valkyrie lawful and once you’re on level 5, dip your long sword in a fountain and if you’re lucky, you’ll get the Excalibur.


    September 7, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    • Yup. And a dwarf, so you get infravision. And if you don’t get Excalibur (or even if you do), sacrifice at a lawful altar (or chaotic or neutral, but that takes longer) until you get Mjollnir.


      September 8, 2010 at 12:10 pm

      • A quick hint if you are playing a dwarf: be careful not to blessed genocide mind flayers. But it’s a good idea to regular genocide both mind flayers and master mind flayers.


        September 10, 2010 at 1:58 pm

  10. Lichs make a good target for genocide, too, particularly master lichs,

    Mikko Saari

    September 10, 2010 at 11:12 pm

    • Yes, blessed genociding L is a good thing. Eels can be a pain, too. And Rs.


      September 12, 2010 at 8:47 am

  11. I love Dominant Species, but you can probably tell that by my review. I am up to 4 plays and could easily see it hitting 20 by the end of the year. Which is not bad for a 3 hour game. I recommend it with 3 or 4 if you are playing with new players. Five and six look to be better if you have more experienced players who are going to be able to better understand the nuances.

    Jesse Dean

    September 11, 2010 at 9:51 pm

  12. Yup, practice and patience. There are a ton of unique ways to die. The spoilers are sadly necessary, although I totally admire a friend who spent at least two years playing without spoilers (for those people who are more into the journey than the destination).

    My two cents of advice is:
    — never hit a command until you have seen the results of the previous. I cringe when someone holds down left arrow. Shift-arrow or “n5s” is better.
    — if you die to monsters, use Elbereth more.
    — if you have food problems, #pray for food more
    — use ‘s’earch instead of ‘ ‘wait.


    September 12, 2010 at 4:24 pm

  13. Valkyries are by far the easiest to ascend, however I think Barbarians are the easiest to play early on. This thread has hooked me back, and I’ve got a good Valkyrie going right now on NAO (just cleared out the castle).

    Most of the suggestions here are spot on. As stated above, patience and practice is key… You will die, and often, but if you learn from each game you will get better.


    September 14, 2010 at 4:40 pm

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