Monday, April 15, 2013

Game 13: Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord (NES) - Won! by Werdna

"There I was, just hanging out with some buddies playing Vampire the Masquerade, when all of a sudden a band of adventurers proclaimed I had stolen Trebor's amulet and they were there to reclaim it. While true, I couldn't stand the transgression. Really Trebor, is this the best you can do?"
At least someone won Wizardry last night. Werdna was at the top of his game with a first turn, very first action, Tiltowait. The most powerful spell in the game, and here I thought I was hot stuff having two mages with a few of these in reserve. This spell has the potential to obliterate my entire party with a max damage of 150. Each character ranged 70 to 130 HP.
Nooooo! I'm supposed to cast that
I started the session with some glimmer of hope that I might put this game behind me. I hadn't considered the possibility that Werdna would lead with such a devastating spell. At level 13 my mages and cleric gained their most powerful spells, which I tried to use during the final fight.

Looking back, I didn't see much need to change my class when I felt like the characters were at the top of their game. Alex, the lead fighter was sporting nearly 130 HP and had acquired some exceptional equipment.
Blade Cusinart is awesome, or I should say... was
Sean and Flewin also gained some good equipment such as an Epee of Excellence, Tanned Leather (better than padded), and 1st Class Plate. Having even my thief with negative AC was a nice sight, but my confidence didn't match reality.
Thankfully the run option has succeeded the majority of the time
I should have known better; I was constantly assailed by enemies that posed a greater threat than I knew how to handle. Especially those that were resistant to magic. The benefits from fighting these tough battles were tiny compared to the risks. Most of the time it was still better to grind against Murphy's Ghost.
Of all the fights I've won, Frost Giants were the only ones award this amount
It was nearing the end of my play session; I adopted a now-or-never mentality and pushed forward, towards Werdna's lair. Did I feel completely prepared? No. Did I feel like I stood a chance? Yes, obviously. So, I headed in after healing up.
I'm pretty sure it was after 3, which may explain why he was so mad... also I didn't have an appointment
I took a deep breath followed by a resounding sigh of consternation. Werdna was surrounded by what looked like a dangerous group of vampires. I was certain their level draining would give me trouble. What I didn't expect, as mentioned before, was the first volley of Tiltowait.

I still held out hope as one of my mages had miraculously survived and had his own Tiltowait queued. Alex, the lead fighter was drained and paralyzed. My remaining party members fell to more party damaging spells delivered by the vampires. The following turn the game knowingly taunted my lack of options.
Would you like to die or stare at the screen?
Dying at Werdna is the worst place. Not only is my party gone they are virtually unreachable. I would need to defeat Werdna to collect them. This would also require taking less than six characters as that's the only way to gather up the fallen character, one-by-one. I might as well have teleported into a wall.
You will be avenged!
I blame my poor luck on turning off the solid walls for the more classic feel of a lined dungeon. A classic look was a nice thought, but now I realize this must have also turned up the difficulty to 11.
A hidden difficulty setting... not really
So, what now? I have characters available to grind against Murphy, but I want to mitigate the risk of Tiltowait. I figure over 200 HP for each character is a necessity. I may make all new characters to focus ability points on vitality and fighters to maximize damage soaking potential.

I'll start with a group of fighters, change classes 4 - 5 times through cleric and mage for spells, and finally arrive at a party of fighters/ninjas (if I'm lucky enough, a thief if I'm not), a cleric, a mage, and a wizard.

I can't imagine anyone watching such obscene amounts of grinding for 8+ hours, so I'm not going to bore anyone other than myself. I'll stream my progress again once I've finished and start collecting treasure.
Poor Murphy, what did he do to deserve this fate?
I'll alleviate the strain of grinding solely on Wizardry by also playing Star Saga 2 at the same time. A slow turn based text adventure should fit nicely with the braindead button mashing on the NES.
Session Time: 4h00m (Total Time: 22h20m

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Game 13: Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord (NES) - Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

And so ends the party... for now
One second I think I'm making progress, that I have some handle on the game, and in the next it throws a curve ball. I guess I ventured too far, too fast. I should really take this game one fight at a time, stay close to the exit.

I was exploring the fifth floor and doing well; I have a little over half mapped out. I even discovered a couple interesting items: a ring of jewels (not sure what this does, if anything) and an epee of dismay (pretty sure this was cursed, so I sold it). Then, all of sudden, my magic ceases to function.
Fizzle? Why?
I'm at a loss as to why magic quit functioning for my party. I thought it was a single room, but the effects lasted as I made a beeline for the exit. Unfortunately, I had been in the middle of deep exploration and there were many doors between me and the elevator, and even more to the stairs. The party fought bravely.

One by one my party started to fall, Pacpix was first to several breath attacks from dragons. I had no way to heal between battles and my mages were now useless, but there was a glimmer of hope. Only two more doors to get through, and I had just saved Alex from poison with a neutralizing potion. I think I mentioned it before, but entering doors seem to have a higher chance of encountering enemies.
The enemies' magic works fine!
I felt despondent as I saw the screen above. My hopes of making it back dashed. I considered my options. I could quit this game... no, I knew there were difficult games to get through. It's the sole reason I made the rule not to let up until a game was won. It's just... 13 hours, and I have little to show for it. At least I have my maps.

I set about making another party. It took a good 20 minutes, and as I'm about to assemble them I remember the thief, THIEF, that I dragged down to level 9. Maybe I could sneak through, find some friendly monsters, and get out with most of the party. I didn't have the funds to raise them yet, but it'd be good to have them back.

So, I did this, and it was just as disastrous. I ran into some dragon flies on the way down and was killed nearly instantly. Later on I would notice that Jonothan had disappeared from my roster. I wonder if only six characters can exist as out in the dungeon. Either that or some monster got a hold of him and dragged him off into oblivion. In any case, Jonothan is lost forever, along with the sturdy plate armor (best armor I've yet found). Well, time to get on with a new party.
Sean didn't start out as a very good thief
It was at that point I called it a night, and I truly considered moving on to another game. Who puts up with this? 13 hours, and starting the game all over again. Well, I ended up firing up the NES again today, and committed to an hour more at least. If I didn't make any progress after that, then I'd take some time off.

I didn't think anyone would want to watch me grinding out a new party, so I didn't bother to stream today. (My computer was also indisposed.)

Well, one thing led to another, and I decided instead of a single party I would make two. After getting to a point where I could once again grind on Murphy's Ghost, I made a second party and took them three by three to gain their experience.
Don't worry Sean, you're now the best candidate for ninja
It's been a very successful comeback up to this point. I took the new party to collect the Blue Ribbon. I did not put on the Ring of Death this time, and I now have the funds to raise my fallen party and then some.

The calls were not quite as close, and I managed to bring everyone back to the castle without incident. The only bad news in all this is the loss of Jonothan. I wonder, at what point do you think I can assault Werdna and get this over with?
My current roster
With this group of characters, I'd really have to suffer catastrophic losses to have the same setback as last time. Still, I feel I haven't made much progress. I'd like to see some gains in magical equipment that I can use, so I'm going to test the waters on the ninth floor. Wish me luck.

Session Time: 6h20m (Total Time: 18h20m)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Game 13: Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord (NES) - Fumbling in the Dark

At least there aren't any grues
Every step I take deeper into the dark depths of the dungeon sends shivers down my spine. I'm paralyzed by the fear of losing my party, any one of them. Any moment I can meet enemies that paralyze, poison, or instantly kill my party. And now, I've made a terrible mistake... actually a few.
No amount of planning can prevent this
I've now made it as far as the fifth floor, and I've yet to find much treasure in Wizardry. I found another statue and key on the second, which I can only guess allow me to progress past certain squares since there are ones marked as special, but nothing notable occurs.

On the third floor I finally started to get equipment from chests, but only things I could already purchase. I'm hoping to get something more interesting from the fights soon; otherwise, I don't see much benefit from fighting anything but Murphy's Ghost based on the risk involved. On the fourth I found the ninjas above, but more interesting is an area just outside the elevator.
I got lucky and no one died this time
From this fight I received my first real treasure. A rod of flame that can cast Mahalito (group fire damage), and a ring of death. Following this fight I received a congratulatory message and another quest item that allows me to use a second elevator.
How exactly does a blue ribbon unlock an elevator?
It's with this ring of death that I made my first mistake. I accidentally put it on. Now, how you may ask did I accidentally put it on? Well, it's all due to a handy little feature that allows me to equip all party members without visiting each of their equipment lists.
Can't cancel out of it once started either
So, there I was, having to continually click through all the equipment options. I honestly wasn't thinking about it, and started to click faster to get it over with. Then the following screen flashes for but a second, and my heart sinks.
Yes, Archivis, equipped the Ring of Death. The only way to remove a cursed item is back in town, and I was lucky to have enough healing to make it back as the ring ticks 3 HP every step. I then found the cost to remove a curse is equal to the cost of selling the item, 250,000 gold in this case. That would have been a helpful sale.
Do you take loans?
I considered my options. Maybe if he's dead I can remove a cursed item? No. Maybe I can get another ring from that fight and sell it to afford the removal? Maybe... but I'll need another character. I make one, Jaspar, and am underwhelmed by his progress. I headed to bed for the night.
Jaspar, why are your hit points so low?
At the start of my next session I reviewed my notes and stumbled upon a spell I had previously written off as useless, Loktofeit. It's a sixth level priest spell. It causes the party to return to the castle, but drops all  equipment and most gold. Drops all equipment? Could that really work?
Here goes nothing
And, it works! I welcome Archivis back to the party. Let's see now if I can get back on track. I head out to get another Ring of Death. This is was another mistake. First, Archivis dies during the second fight as I fail to silence the two mages before they both get off powerful Lahalito spells that damage the entire party for 20 HP each.

No worries, Durian just learned Di, which brings back the dead.
Oops? What do you mean 'oops'?
Apparently, it's not as effective as the temple, or I'm just really unlucky. Archivis is now ashes. When a character is ashed it costs double for the temple to raise the character. And, even then, the temple has a chance to fail.
And they bury him with all his gear
Sorry Archivis, again. I still had the second ring, so I made a new wizard to identify it so I could sell it. Somehow when I identified the ring though it immediately equipped on him. I rewatched the footage, and it was definitely not an accidental equip this time. Maybe this is a bug from how I got rid of the first one?

Around this time I decided to take the default party out for a spin on level 9. I handed off the blue ribbon and took the two elevators all the way down. I quickly found the chute down to level 10, and was lucky to run into only friendly monsters that I let leave.
Anyone know what Contra-dextra avenue means?
I didn't get very far though, as I never ran into a friendly monster past the first door. I wonder what chances my current party have at surviving all the way to Werdna. Would I really miss anything by attempting a raid on him already?
Werdna's lair offers the only change in scenery
Well, I know where Werdna is now, but I still have five dungeon floors left to explore. I've found my mage very useful in combat, and the wizard less so. I decided to make another for my next character.
Now if only I could stop getting decapitated
I'm unsure what more to do to prepare for the floors ahead. Should I continue floor by floor, or jump to the last and hope for better equipment? I could continue grinding on Murphy, but the return has nearly stopped. I've also considered grinding out a backup party in case my current gets wiped. I feel like I don't have a good grasp on where to go next.
I've hit a wall
Session Time: 6h00m (Total Time: 12h00m)