Strategy Thread for Party Diving

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Giant Mottled Ant Lion
Posts: 218
Joined: Sun 10.11.2002, 19:58

Strategy Thread for Party Diving

Post by Ashi » Fri 25.07.2008, 07:18

Hey, I thought it might be nice to put up a thread for partying strategy, what with all these popular level 1 weekends! Feel free to share your own and help us increase the success rate of these dives... we don't want everyone going *SPLAT* right off the bat!

I will probably be using a LOT of screenshots in this thread. Consider yourself warned!

The Number 1 Rule Of Partying

STICK TOGETHER! A party can and usually will dive much further than any of the members could by themselves. This is only effective as long as the party functions as one unit: all members must contribute their melee damage, their healing, and their firepower to the same fight. In this way, it's as if one über-powerful character is walking around slaughtering the monsters!


OK, the scene shown above might be a bit overkill. However, the idea is this: the monsters are designed to challenge a SOLITARY player who has levels and gear appropriate to that depth. So if you have two or three players fighting that monster at once, the advantage is so much greater that you can do it with gimp gear and low levels (the whole point of powerdiving in parties). So why do low level parties get wiped so often? The biggest reason is that they do not stay close together! A mix of character classes and MAngband ability often results in differing play styles, and so the natural tendency is to split apart. Some players might run ahead because they don't want to wait for casters to rest, or because they hunger for battle. Impatience is a big killer, because not all classes are equal at the same level (and so the weaker classes advance the slowest). In addition, since EXP is gained somewhat slowly in parties, it's not uncommon for some players to go chase after every monster they can find to get some extra EXP. Finally, some players don't change their play style in party situations and just go on as if they were solo. This is the worst, because (1) other party members might have been counting on your support, and (2) it's no different than diving by yourself at depths you would normally avoid, and with gimp gear. This is just asking for death! Whenever someone separates themselves from the group, they are bound to get in trouble:


What if someone lags behind? Don't "wait for them to catch up". Turn right around and get back to them. It doesn't matter if there are several more @'s running ahead and only one lagging behind; you should run back and stick with the one who fell behind, even if the others don't stop. Whoever gets separated from the group is more likely to die, so never leave anyone alone for too long. Remember, they can't see the same corridors that you have explored, so they are likely to take a wrong path while trying to catch up to you and thus get separated even further.

I think you should always keep an eye on your formation when you are in large groups. If you notice the group split apart, don't hesitate to point it out. It's not rude to request that the party regroup if too many @'s have gone their separate ways. What's rude is running ahead and not waiting for everyone else.

Yes, most of this is pretty obvious, but you'd be surprised how many people ignore this most basic rule.

Party Size, Class Distribution, and Formation

What's the optimum group size? It really depends on what classes are in the party. For a mixed class group, 3-4 is best. For a group consisting of melee-only classes, 2 is best. Actually, any group should not have more than 2 "tanks", because boredom will set in very quickly and the tanks will wind up going their separate ways looking for something to fight. Similarly, groups larger than 4 become somewhat unwieldy. Pits and vaults specifically are hard to tackle with a huge group. It's also a lot easier for the @'s to split apart when there are a lot of them running around.


The best way to deal with a huge party is to split it into subgroups that stay on separate dungeon levels. Smaller groups are generally more efficient, and of course the exp is better.

Now what classes should go in each group? If one group has a Mage, it will need at least one tank; fortunately, almost any class can tank for a mage. If there is a Priest, they will want a somewhat stronger melee class to tank, such as a Paladin or Warrior. This way, the priest can focus on healing. Aim for a balance between front and back line classes: too many tanks, and the party will break up; too many squishies, and the party will be easy to kill if it gets mobbed.


The above formation is pretty good: two tanks and two support classes. With lots of open space like that, the group formation is rather flexible. However, in tight spaces, positioning of the @'s is a lot more important. The reason is that archers and casters can shoot through other players, but healers can not. Thus it is very important that healers have line of sight to the tanks at all times! In narrow corridors, this means that the priest should stand directly behind the tank. Also, when fighting a huge mob such as an Orc unique, the tank shouldn't run straight inside where he is likely to be surrounded, because this will block LOS for healing.


Pooling Cash and Gear

This is a vital strategy for level 1 dives. The basic idea is "don't be greedy". Equipment decisions should be made based on what benefits the party as a whole. When you find ego items, try to give them to whichever party member will benefit the most. Don't be greedy: either more ego items will show up later and you'll have your chance at them, or the whole party will die and nobody will keep anything. Heavy armour and high damage weapons should go to the tank, items that boost stats should go to characters who depend the most on that stat (WIS for priest caste, INT for mage caste, etc.), books should go to the players who can cast from them, light armor for mages, blunt weapons for priests, wands and rods for back line classes, and so on.

Pooling gold is generally a good idea as well. Since carrying capacity is based mainly on STR, weaker players will often leave the heavier (and often more valuable) gear to be carried by the strong players. Once the party has returned to town, those with high CHR should sell the group's loot. The gold pool can then be used to buy what the group as a whole needs the most; this could be a single "big-ticket" item such as more damage for the tank or a stat-boosting item for the caster.

Phew! That was a hefty post... I'll take a break for now, expect some more later.

Crystal Ooze
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Re: Strategy Thread for Party Diving

Post by serina » Fri 25.07.2008, 08:50

Just a head up for those meleers who want 100% action and tends to run away from the group. If the casters get either +WIS, +INT and REGEN, they can keep up at a much better pace.

Usually if I play a mage or priest, it goes slowly at first. Then the first WIS/INT item I get, everything speeds up ALOT for a few levels. Then when you get that AND regen, you move at a pace similar to what a starting warrior can do.

Any meleer being healed by a steady priest and backed up by a firing mage or ranger can kill anything extremely quckly and in many cases without any risk.

We need some sort of universal language that's quick to say and understand for when the mage detects a young dragon ahead, and everyone lacks resists. If I type Red d E for instance would mean a red dragon is East. Then the mage needs to know what the dangerous monsters are, and report them before the party runs into a nasty ambush. Or maybe the mage can yell STOP and everyone will retreat to the mage and with the mage. Just a few ideas that might help.


Giant Mottled Ant Lion
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Joined: Sun 10.11.2002, 19:58

Re: Strategy Thread for Party Diving

Post by Ashi » Fri 25.07.2008, 21:57

Warrior Strategy

As a warrior, you'll invariably be called on to be the "tank". This means that your job is to get in the front of every fight and take all the hits so none of the other party members get hurt. This might sound like a rough job, but someone needs to do it! (And just between you and me, if you tank well, the other party members will probably give you all the best gear.) Usually, the tank should lead the party through the dungeon. In this way, the tank will run into monsters first, and assuming you didn't leave the others too far behind, you'll already be in proper front line / back line formation for the fight. In a party with two front line classes, pick one to lead the way, and follow that player only! Don't run off in a different direction. If the party is of mixed MAngband experience, choose a leader with decent knowledge of the game, if possible. You might also pick a leader with better stats and gear, since they will be getting into combat before anyone else. The leader doesn't even need to be a Warrior; as an example, Rogues make great scouts with their additional speed, stealth, and detection.

As a warrior, you will actually be held back if you party at level 1. By nature, warriors are excellent powerdivers, and players that know what they are doing can dive a warrior to 500ft and gain the first 10-15 levels with minimal effort. However, support classes will make a BIG difference later on, so it is worth the effort to get weaker classes up to speed in the beginning. In early game, you'll essentially be a bodyguard as the healers and casters level up in the shallows. Keep them alive, and the party will soon become a deadly force!


The biggest change you have to make when in a party is to slow down and keep the group together. It's only natural for the front line players to run ahead, but if you notice the others falling behind, DON'T keep going! Your job is to protect the back line classes, so if they fall behind, you need to stop and go back. It is essential that you do everything you can to keep the group together. If the group is split up, either fragment can fall very quickly in a surprise attack.

When partying with casters and healers, remember that they need to rest after battle to regain SP. If you continue moving and they don't follow right away, just wait up for them to finish resting. Also remember that they may need to set macros as they gain new spells, so try to be patient for this.

When partying with a healer, try to keep line of sight to the healer at all times. They can't heal through monsters or other players, so don't let anything get in the way. Also, if you start getting damaged in a fight while separated from the group, try to run towards the healer. Don't run in the opposite direction, especially if the healers are trying to make their way towards you!

Even though you'll be in the lead, mages and other casters can detect for uniques, vaults, orc pits, etc. It's always a good idea to let them detect for you so you know where to go. If you are trying to powerdive or resurface, give them some time to detect for stairs as well, then rest for mana if necessary.

Since warriors have the best pseudo-ID and usually the best STR, it's best if you carry most of the weapons and armour that the party finds. Level 1 parties usually aren't fully geared, so drop any average items for others to use if they want. Try to find out if someone in the party has identify capabilities, such as scrolls or spells, so they can ID any "good" or "excellent" gear. Mages get the spell at level 11, but be warned that it is very mana-intensive for a long time. Be prepared to rest when having the mage identify the loot. When the group recalls to town, it may be profitable to give the loot to a player with higher charisma so they can sell it at a better price. Many (but not all) warriors have pretty low CHR scores.

Giant Mottled Ant Lion
Posts: 218
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Re: Strategy Thread for Party Diving

Post by Ashi » Sat 26.07.2008, 05:01

Priest Strategy

It's generally assumed that priests will be healers when in parties. There are actually a few exceptions, but I do recommend that you set some party healing macros anyways, for emergency use. A Priest can easily tank for a Mage in a 2-person party, for example, in which case the priest only needs to worry about self-healing. Since high level priests are one of the most powerful forces in the game, they can easily lead late game parties. Also, in a Priest-Priest duo, each priest will probably only need to worry about self-preservation.


However, as party size and level increases, each member should become more specialized to one role. Priests tend to become back line healers, especially in parties of 3 or more. Your job is to heal everyone that gets hurt, which, if the party members play their roles well, should only be the tanks. The key here is to have fast reaction time! You need to be able to heal as soon as the fighter drops to low hp (which will usually be when the @ turns into a number). A smart tank won't sit there thinking, "Hmm, maybe I won't die," rather, they'll start quaffing expensive healing potions as soon as they get low on HP. You must provide healing BEFORE they start wasting potions! Watch that @, if it turns into a 6, hit your heal macro!


Here's a brief tutorial on party healing:

The ( key is used to target friendly players, in the same way as * is used to target monsters.

To use a healing prayer on another player, use a capital when selecting the spell letter. For example, if you use p1b to cast Cure Light Wounds on yourself, then you will use p1B to cast it on another player. Thus, your party healing macro will look like this:


This macro will target whatever party member is low on HP and cast Cure Light Wounds on them. You will want to make a macro like this for each healing prayer that you learn. I recommend having your highest 2-3 healing prayers macroed at all times, with both a self-use version and a party-healing version.

Remember that healing others requires a clear path: no other players or monsters can be in the way when you try to heal someone. This means that you need to stay close to the tanks at all times in order to have healing ready.

Using your SP wisely is key. You don't need to go overboard healing everyone up to full if the fight is already over, because they'll just have to wait for you to rest for your SP back. Also, if you aren't the one fighting all the monsters, you don't need to stack up your Bless and Protection from Evil prayers for fights. It will just leave you low on SP and possibly unable to keep healing the fighters. Don't overuse prayers with high mana cost and fail rate, either, because it will mean extra resting time. Sure, it might be fun to watch an entire room full of Orcs or Werewolves dissolve to your Dispel Evil, but you should avoid using it excessively until the mana cost and fail rate are less of a hindrance.


As Zal pointed out, items that give Regen and +WIS are the most valuable to party healers. Don't worry about weapons and armour; just get the basic books and then save up for regen or stat items. You should be fine with most average/good gear found by the party in the dungeon.

A fighter with a constant stream of healing from a priest can take on some VERY tough monsters, but this doesn't mean the fighter is invincible. A warrior that runs straight into a room full of unresisted Earth hounds, for example, will take enough damage that the priest's mana reserves will drain very quickly. Some caution is always in order, to prevent any situations where the priest runs out of mana to heal.

Orb of Draining is a very nice ranged attack and can have devastating results when combined with other party members' spells or melee. Since tanks don't need healing ALL the time, you can use OoD for ranged damage during the downtime. It's also great for eliminating pests that you don't want to melee, such as jellies and thieves.

Even with all this healing power, you might want to carry a few cure potions on the side, just to wipe off confusion and blindness if they come up.

Giant Mottled Ant Lion
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Joined: Sun 10.11.2002, 19:58

Re: Strategy Thread for Party Diving

Post by Ashi » Sat 26.07.2008, 07:25

Mage Strategy

Mages are notoriously weak, and while they have some awesome damage spells, they easily fall to anything that can get close enough to melee. That's why mages benefit the most from partying: any additional @'s are meat shields that keep the mage safely out of melee. With someone else keeping the melee monsters busy, a mage can easily destroy creatures that would otherwise have crushed the mage in mere seconds.


The first few levels will be very slow, because you will have low mana and resting will take a long time. Use your spells sparingly at the very beginning, so you don't hold the party back with too much resting. After a tough fight, though, don't hesitate to announce that you are resting, and the rest of the party should give you some time.

As with priests, regeneration and +INT items will be your priority. Don't worry about weapons or armor; they will only slow you down. Focus on getting the basic books first, then save up for regen and stat boosting items.

Magic Missile will be your staple for a long time, so macro it to a key that you can hit quickly and frequently.

Stinking Cloud is not worth the SP cost at early levels, especially with the reduced effectiveness of ball spells in MAngband. If you must use it, you are better off with wands (which are quite common).

Lightning Bolt is always a beam, so try to get a line of monsters for maximum benefit. This one is really good for orc pits and orc uniques who fill corridors with their armies. Spear of Light is a little better if you can get a line of orcs that are susceptible to light. When there are a lot of Hill orcs, though, stick with Lightning Bolt.

Wonder is fun because of the chance for high level spells to come out, but don't use it on anything you wouldn't want to see hasted!

Frost, Fire and Acid Bolt will be useful for solitary, powerful monsters, such as uniques. Watch out for resistances, though, and switch to a different element if you see the message "The _____ resists a lot." If all else fails, you can just use Magic Missile.

Once you hit middle levels, you'll have the ability to use both nuking and enfeebling magic. Nuking refers to pure damage spells, such as Fire Bolt or Cloudkill. Enfeebling spells weaken monsters, making them less of a threat to your party. Examples of enfeebling spells include Shockwave, Slow Monster, and Mass Sleep. Enfeebling spells are valuable against single tough monsters, including uniques and particularly scary out of depth monsters. Be careful, though, as many uniques and high level monsters are immune to status effects.

The weaker enfeebling spells such as Slow Monster and Confuse Monster are only really useful against low level monsters, and so you won't be using them very often. However, you may want to note that a confused monster won't cast spells, and a slowed monster will usually only be doing half damage.

Mass Sleep is a good one if you are partying with a Rogue. Rogues get a backstab bonus from sleeping monsters, so you can just put them all to sleep and let the rogue take care of them. It's also good if the party is about to get mobbed, as it will put some of the creatures to sleep long enough for you to run away or get into a better position. It also is useful in rooms that are taken over by breeders, as it will stop the breeding while you close them in, run away, or just squish them all.

Shockwave is the most valuable, as it stuns the monsters, making them unable to do anything. When taking on a REALLY nasty monster, you can just spam Shockwave while the tanks melee it down and the healers take care of any damage that happens between stunning effects.


Nuking spells will be more effective against groups of monsters. The threat of monsters in groups lies in their numbers, so you should focus on whittling them down rather than enfeebling just one or two at a time. Mass Sleep is an exception, but don't waste your mana on creatures that resist it, such as hounds.


Frost, Fire, and Acid Ball are decent nuke spells when the fail rate is low, but you have to be careful as they destroy ground items. Don't use frost ball when the party is hunting stat potions, and don't use acid ball or fire ball in vaults full of loot.

Cloudkill is a good choice, as it has decent damage and does not destroy any loot.

Ice Storm, while expensive, is good for both damage and stunning at the same time.

Rift should not be used in a party, because the short range teleportation is unpredictable and can be dangerous to the party.

Finally, let's not forget about utility spells! They can be a huge benefit to the party, so long as there is effective communication. As Zal pointed out, discussing strategy is tough in big parties because of the fast pace. Make sure you let the party know when you gain these abilities, so they can expect to increase the level of strategy.

Stone to Mud is a big strategic spell in mid and late game. Experienced players will usually be able to come up with some clever corridor that you can make to prevent summoning while somehow allowing any size party to fight the monster. In early game, you can use it to harvest treasure from the walls, but don't make it a hindrance to the party if you need to rest every time you do so.

Identify is very valuable and will allow the party to equip themselves from dungeon loot a lot faster. Make sure you announce when you have gained the spell, and offer the service whenever the party finds some good loot. Similarly, offer your services when you gain Recharging spells.

Detection spells are important at all stages of the game. Most other classes will not have the same detection ability as a mage, so be on the lookout for monsters and announce any dangers you may find BEFORE the party runs into them!


Stair Creation is useful if the party wants to dive to a specific depth. However, many parties will rather explore the dungeon as they go down, ensuring that appropriate amounts of EXP are gained.

Teleport Other is the friend of the greedy: you can get rid of monsters that are too powerful for the party to take, usually because there is a sweet vault with excellent items! Just be careful that you do not get any other party members in the beam, because it teleports @'s as well. You can take advantage of this by teleporting people who have run out of healing just before they die. However, be warned that teleportation becomes dangerous at greater depths.

ALWAYS carry some curing potions, because confusion and blindness will be your downfall.

Ancient MultiHued Dragon
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Re: Strategy Thread for Party Diving

Post by Warrior » Sat 26.07.2008, 16:48

This is an awesome guide and I'm posting this to add comments (if I can think of anything to improve it any further) at a later time.

I'll also sticky it. Great work!
-- Mangband Project Team Member

Seedy Looking Human
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Re: Strategy Thread for Party Diving

Post by Hal » Tue 29.07.2008, 15:25

Another thing that is important is communication between group members. I've gotten into a couple of bad situations because I either messed up some strategy that someone else had planned without communicating, or because someone cracked open a vault or pit before I was ready, because I didn't tell them to wait. Same goes for stairs - when power diving, it's good to have the strongest character (or someone with *dest*) to go first, and have other people wait for the down point to be clear.

I guess that goes with waiting - give the characters that need time to prepare (regen mana, recharge items, cast battle spells) a chance, and make sure that you communicate well.

you can talk to a party just like you can talk to a player - the first couple of letters of the party name followed by :

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