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Some More IM Tactics: the Thinking Cap
07-14-2005, 07:00 PM
Post: #1
Some More IM Tactics: the Thinking Cap

Thinking caps aren't all that terribly rare in Ironman, but you have to wonder if they are worth identifying. After all, they only have durability one, so if you take even one hit (melee, arrow, or spell) that stuns you you'll stand a chance of losing it forever.

And not only that, but the Thinking Cap adds +2 to spell levels of spells you cast. But if you don't KNOW the spell in the first place, the Thinking Cap doesn't help you LEARN it in order to cast it.

So, doubly useless, right?

Well, that's not the entire story. Let's take a look at that +2 to spell levels aspect first. It doesn't say that it will add 2 to spells already known, it says it will add +2 to spell levels for anything you can CAST. There are several ways to cast a spell, of which knowing the spell by reading a book and casting it from your mana-store is just one method. There's also casting from scrolls (for which you have the required Magic prerequisite), casting from staves (for which you have the required Magic prerequisite) and casting from Unique staves. Now why separate the second and third issues? Because when you find a unique staff, a.) the spell woven into the staff will automatically display when you ready the staff, and b.) there is NO magic prerequisite you need to fulfill in order to ready a Unique staff (perhaps a Strength prerequisite, but no Magic prerequisite). Then means that if a Rod of Onan drops in your IM game, even the lowly Warrior will be able to ready it and cast golem from it.

So, this means the Thinking Cap could potentially help increase the efficiency of any spell --- offensive or defensive -- that rely in some way upon slevel. Next question: how many spells rely on slevel in some fashion?

Well, it's easier to ask, "How many spells DON'T rely on slevel in some form or fashion" because it's just that prevalent. In Classic Diablo, the following spells are NOT affected by slevel: Apocalypse, Identify, and Resurrect. Every other spell is affected by slevel in some way; either in damage done, duration of spell, number of spell effects, speed of spell, or mana cost of spell. So, in general, it's better to cast the spell with an identified TC on rather than with it off, with the only exceptions being Apocalypse, Identify, and Resurrect.

But is that really how it works? A small test on the workings of the Thinking Cap to test its abilities. I took a level 20 warrior with no known spells but wearing +magic jewelry and had that warrior cast a Fire Wall from a scroll. According to Jarulf, the spell should last [8 seconds + 8 (slevel) seconds] = 8 + (8x0) = 8 + 0 = 8 seconds, and sure enough, each cast lasted around 8 seconds. Now add a TC and we'd have duration 8 + 8 (0 + 2 [due to TC]) = 8 + (8x2) = 8 + 16 = 24 seconds, and again, that is the noted effect when tested. Thus readying a TC let's you cast a slevel 2 Firewall from a scroll, even if you DON'T know the FW spell.

Then I went to Adria and bought a book of Firewall and read it. The slevel 1 Firewall cast for duration 16 seconds, while readying the TC to drive slevel up to three increased spell duration to 32 seconds. These test results were the same whether the spell was cast from a scroll, staff, or from memory and mana-store.

Now for the more important test. A Mana Shield cast from a scroll when the spell is not known is cast at slevel 0 and stops no damage. However, a Mana Shield cast from a scroll when the spell is not know AND A TC IS READY casts at slevel 2, and stops 1/3 damage!

BUT, and here is the important stuff, test results revealed that if you cast the MS from a scroll without knowing the spell but having a TC readied AND THEN REMOVE THE TC AFTERWARDS, then the Mana Shield still functions as a level 2 Mana Shield, stopping 1/3 damage, without risking the TC being lost to wear and tear!

When is this MOST important? Can you say, final combat versus Diablo? There's a big difference in the damage Diablo will do against you if you have a greater than slevel zero Mana Shield ready or not! Plus, if you saved some MS scrolls (a number of which drop in practically every IM game), every member of the party can go up against Diablo wearing an slevel 2 Mana Shield, thus stopping 1/3 of the Demon Lord's damage every attack! (Mana Shield scrolls have no magic requirement to cast.)

How would you like to go into the final combat with Diablo only doing 2/3 of his usual damage (20-40 versus 30-60)? A few of his attacks won't even stun the higher clevel characters!

Not bad for a durability 1 item.

Now for general area where having a TC on is going to help.

Area #1.) Increasing spell damage: Bloodstar, Elemental, Fireball, Firebolt, Flash, Guardian, and Nova.

Area #2.) Increasing spell duration thus increasing potential damage: Chain Lightning, Firewall, Golem, Guardian, Lightning.

Area #3.) Increasing the number of effects created by the spell: Chain Lightning, Charged Bolt, Flame Wave

Area #4.) Increasing the speed of the spell, (making it less likely to be dodged): Fireball, Firebolt, Holy Bolt

Area #5.) Increases the power of a healing or defensive spell: Heal, Heal Other, and Mana Shield.

Area #6.) Increases the duration of a defensive spell: Infravision, Stone Curse.

Area #7.) Decreasing the mana cost to cast the spell: ALL spells except Apocalypse and Nova.

And finally, some specific situations where spell-casting while using the TC will come in very handy:

Situation #1.) Mana Shield
As per above

Situation #2.) Heal and Heal Other
Not only will readying the TC make casting less costly to you if you happen to know the spell, increasing the slevel of each spell INCREASES the amount of healing done. So again, wear that TC if you are planning on casting a Heal or Heal Other, OR when you are planning to Heal yourself using a Heal scroll.

Situation #3.) Firewall
Increases the duration of the Firewall spell by 16 seconds; great for the Butcher and Leo and any boss (like dogs) or foes (like witches) that sit still when attacking.

Situation #4.) Golem in endgame
Usually two to four golem scrolls drop in a game. Have one ready for Diablo and the endgame, and be sure to have the TC on when you cast it.

Situation #5.) Holy Bolt in endgame
Once Diablo gets engaged in melee combat, he'll start getting stunned and thus won't be able to attack. Slap on that TC and start spamming out the Holy Bolts! You risk losing it, but hey -- it's endgame! Go for it!

Situation #6.) Mage conserving mana
Any time a mage casts a spell and wishes to conserve mana (such at Town Portal, TK, etc.), the spell will cost less mana to cast with the TC on rather than with the TC off.

So if you can keep that TC tucked away, there's plenty of situations where it will come in handy in IM, even with duration 1/1. You just have to be very very careful.

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07-15-2005, 12:30 AM
Post: #2
Some More IM Tactics: the Thinking Cap
Reading articles like these gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. Just like when Laz dropped me an Emerald (47) Buckler of the Tiger (43) some days ago...
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07-15-2005, 01:14 AM
Post: #3
Some More IM Tactics: the Thinking Cap
Nice post. I have a small nit, and an addition or two. You suggest that the damage reduction from a mana shield (above level 0) could help to prevent stunning against Diablo. This is false. The stun check is processed before any effects of mana shield are applied.

Where Thinking Cap will prevent stun, though, is by providing resistance to all three elements. This means that Thinking Cap cannot be damage by any spell except apocalypse. Thus, it should be possible to wear it safely on a 3-witch or lawyer-witch combo level, even with only 1 durability. Then you would get the benefit of both the resistances and the spell levels throughout the level.

Having +30 mana on a swap item can be at least a small resource advantage. Particularly if you find the TC early in the game, it can give you an extra heal per level up (or an extra heal per full blue potion).
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07-16-2005, 03:59 PM
Post: #4
Some More IM Tactics: the Thinking Cap
Ok Att, now that we are sure of it's use, the real question is when to ID it.

Say for example TC drops in dungeon level 2 or 3 or even anywhere in church for that matter. Do you ID it right away, or leave it for Cats, Caves or Hell.

My Opinion would certainly be NO to IDing it in Church. You don't need the extra mana and extra spell levels to survive church. Although in a three way session with no HB for Leoric an extra couple of levels on FB would certainly be the safer option (unless you have Att and a hunter's bow :) )

Leaving it for Cats would allow the TC to be used on Goat Shrines. The smart team would have TC equipped for Goat Shrines anyway for the chance of hidden shrines (Hidden shrines obviously can't destroy items - so you will definately have 11/11 durability if one is touched) and this way a slot isn't wasted on an already ID'd TC if a goat shrine turns out to be glimmering.

After levels 1-8 are completed - you either know whether or not you have a solid glimmering shrine and if one has been found, one tends to leave it as long as possible before using it, with the end of 15 being the ideal time for maximum effectiveness. Another magic helm is surely gonna drop so leaving TC to be ID'd would be unneccessary and therefore if a glimmering and TC are found in the same game, IDing the TC via scroll should be done immediately to start conserving mana and health pots.

From the latter stages of cats and more particularly in Caves, archers are replaced by magic/melee enemies such as Lava Throwers. The great thing about TC is that it also resists all 20% and we all know that magic attacks only wear down durability if a character is not resistant as Nystul has said. So though it wouldn't stand a chance against surviving arrows it will not be destroyed by any form of magic attack. So even at Durability of 1 it can be worn with safety throughout this stage of the game and indeed later (witches etc.) as long as a mage does what he is supposed to do, which is of course to avoid melee damage at all costs.

Ideally having an unID'd TC for the cauldron's in hell for the double chance of hidden/glimmering would be great but surely it's use in caves where the game can really start to get tough and a party needs healing regularly would outway the use of the extra potions it would take to survive without it.

Attika, you are definately right in that a TC is a great find and should be Id'd , but if found i would be adamantly against my party IDing it before either a glimmering shrine had been found or all goat shrines have been accounted for and hit by the warrior, unless the party was in dire straits.

*Note - Att and I currently have a paused two way IM Rouge/Sorcerer combo who have found a TC in Church. Something tells me we won't have the luxury of leaving it unid'd for all of cats but we will be sure to post it's effectiveness when we are finished, if i don't do something stupid like die or get it destroyed that is.

I'm interested to see if anyone feels it should be ID'd straight away, i have a habit of being too strict when it comes to IDing in IM.

Aarda's still throwing roses at the rain...
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07-18-2005, 04:44 PM
Post: #5
Some More IM Tactics: the Thinking Cap
one small nit on the above post, a hidden shrine can also choose the TC as the one to lower durability, but since it will not destroy it, it will stay 1/1. It's still 3/4 chance .

Characters: Standard Diablo Rogues: 'Paardenpoep' l36, 'Purechocolade' l31; Sorcerers 'Toverkol' l40, 'Zwarte Piet' l32, 'ZureHaring' l28 (no fb), Warrior 'Klotebeest' l29, LoL characters: rogues 'Roggebrood' l26 and 'Ironvrouw' l7, sorcerer ToverLol l20, warrior LolleBolleGijs l16 ironman character name 'Ironlady', read Toverlol's journey log
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07-20-2005, 05:37 AM
Post: #6
Some More IM Tactics: the Thinking Cap
ah, very true, thanks for spotting it.


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