My First Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup Wins
January 11, 2019
After years of casual playing, I finally scored my first victory in Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup last month! It was a 3-rune win, and I was playing as a Minotaur Berserker (MiBe), so it was a very standard first win. Nonetheless, I wanted to talk about it here, if for no other reason than to demonstrate how I got better at DCSS (so much so that I actually won 2 other times between my first win and now).
As I said, I am a long time DCSS player. I am very familiar with the basics of the game, but for most of my play time I have not made a serious attempt to improve my skills. For a long time, I was under the mistaken impression that luck was the most important thing to a DCSS run, and that I simply had not been lucky enough to win yet. This was wrongheaded thinking, and in truth, there were serious flaws in my playstyle that culminated into making it very difficult for me to even succeed at the mid-game, much less try for the orb.
Shortly before Christmas, I decided that I had had enough of not winning at Crawl. I made a commitment to do whatever it took to score that first win and take me out of the noob echelons forever. I refered to Demise's YouTube video tutorial series (in particular his MiBe walktrough and his 'A Quick Guide to Winning' video). I committed to playing as closely to the method taught in those videos as I could, and I also made the decision to try and critically look at any losses I suffered and try to understand the point at which I made the decision that killed me. After a few tries, I had gotten a run all the way to a second rune, cleared Depths and Vaults:4, and was ready to go for my third rune. I chose the Slime Pits (though I had never played them because I never got that far before), and, though the journey was perilous, I slew the Royal Jelly and claimed my first ever rune 3. Next was the Realm of Zot (another entirely new experience). Suffice it to say, I was careful, I attempted to be prepared, and I refered to Crawl Wiki a lot, and that let me claim the Orb of Zot and perform a successful Ascension without very many hitches! I got my first win, and I was super happy with it! I stored a copy of my morgue file on my website. If you would like, you can check it out here.
I was so excited about my win! However, just to make sure it was not a fluke, I played another MiBe run the following day to retest my strategy. It was another success, and I scored my second Crawl win (morgue file for win 2 is here). This convinced me thoroughly that I had found the secrets to playing DCSS decently and winning semi-consistently. Namely, these secrets were: know your race and god intimately and don't be afraid to use their powers; make slow, deliberate choices, always remembering to minimize the amount of enemies you have to fight at once; and take the time to look critically at your mistakes and their outcomes so you can understand why they were mistakes in the first place.
I am very pleased with how much better I have become at Crawl just by following this advice. I am by no means a great player, and I still make lots of dumb mistakes, but there is a world of difference between the player I am now, and the player I was just in November. So remember to do your homework kids, and don't just rely on luck!