D1 rot race

Ghoul can run into a nasty rotting problem on D1 if he gets unlucky, which leads to a rushed D2. To counter this threat, visit downstairs as you encounter them. This behavior becomes less urgent as Ghoul gets established. Still, it is often better to visit a stair when flush with chunks than when busted after the floor is clear. Likewise, chunks collected from the stairdance will help clear the rest of the current level. Feel free to shout on the stair for dessert.

Ghoul should often autoexplore into the black with auto-pickup enabled to minimize turncount.

Ghoul charges more than any other species, even Troll, who at least retreats to regen kite. Ghoul has no such luxury. His endless hunger drives him ever forward. Fully armored and stealthy enough to retreat, he dares greatly.

God-branch progresssion

GhMo's god-branch progression:

  1. Kiku until 6* piety pain brand and Orc entrance
  2. Yred through Zot:4
  3. Kiku for low-corpse Extended, starting with Slime

Benefits of Kiku before Yred

Kiku allows GhMo to justify delaying heavy armor. Medium armor and buckler preserve his Stealth and avoid heavy AED penalties due to -1 Armor and Shields apts.

Both Kiku and Yred give undead allies. Yred's are better, since they're permanent and don't require spellcasting. However, Kiku also provides miasma and chunks on demand.

The long term benefit of Kiku is that Ghoul grows in a balanced fashion, rather than becoming a lopsided Yred low-Int heavy-armor death knight, then trying to transition back to casting spells after switching to Kiku.

It's not unusual for early GhMo Kiku to play both light and heavy armor simultaneously. For example, suppose he has a nice enchanted plate armor and a troll leather armor, plus a shield. If he wears the leather armor or removes the shield, he can cast Animate Dead and maybe Corpse Rot. So he recovers on top of a corpse while wearing troll leather armor. Or, if he doesn't need to heal, he just removes the shield to cast Animate Dead. He's not afraid of being caught under-dressed, because Necro spells will bolster his combat performance, enabling escape if not victory. Stealth also helps.

Kiku makes lighter armors viable for Ghoul, increasing flexibility. Heavy armor plus important spells incentivizes Ghoul to train Armor to primary, which is also good. Having both troll armor and the Regeneration spell minimizes downtime, crucial for Ghoul rot and piety gain.

Thus Ghoul is unusual in that he uses his +2 Stealth to mitigate the danger of aggressive auto-exploration and of armor removal atop fresh kills.

Whe GhMo converts from Kiku to Yred, he keeps his collection of highly relevant Necro spells, ensuring he can continue to grow as a solid hybrid caster. Without Kiku's spell gifts, Ghoul would be tempted to waste his severely limited spell slots memorizing spells that are a poor fit for the mostly-mundane Ghoul, or else just neglect his mage side. Both are bad outcomes given his low Armor and Shields aptitudes, which encourage lighter gear.

Ghoul aggressively uses Corpse Delivery whenever warranted. He lacks the kiting option, so this is his backstop. Piety cost is small, so use it for difficult fights.

There's plenty of time to reach piety 6* before switching to Yred for Orc. GhMo will certainly receive the second spellbook gift. If he doesn't get the Pain brand due to extreme piety expenditure, that's unfortunate, but it shouldn't happen. At that point Ghoul would have to decide how badly he wants a hand axe of pain to anchor his melee weaponry. He can delay Orc or Yred if necessary.

Shield and heavy armor are overrated

Ghoul Armor and Shields apts are both -1. This means Ghoul pays a large AED penalty for wearing a Shield and heavy armor early. For example, a Shield can cut claws AED by 25%.

(Ghoul offhand punches are negligible, from nil at XL1 to 7% AED at XL27. Against very high AC they might offer a 10% AED improvement. Certainly not worth foregoing a shield.)

That's why Ghoul prefers to grow into his shield and armor, rather than starting with them like GhFi. The gear is still beneficial to an XL1 Ghoul physical fighter, but not nearly as much as it is for. a HOFi.

A shield also interferes with Gh picking up a bow, which is a great solution to his meleeist one-dimensionality, giving him a strong ranged attack to counter clothies.

Ghoul dislikes a tank's drawn-out combats. He prefers to kill, eat and continue his charge.

Ghoul still wants a shield, of course. It's just not an unmitigated good, particularly early.

Early Kiku guide

GhMo immediately gets 3* piety and the first Kiku spellbook, which is guaranteed to give him Animate Skeleton and Corpse Rot. This is huge. Animate Skeleton supplements Ghoul offense in group fights, and provides a screen for his retreat. Ghoul has the tankiness to set up a Corpse Rot land mine, and miasma solves his inability to kite due to shy regen. Corpse Rot lets him hold chokepoints with ease, or retreat from them safely.

Those other Kiku spells are barely relevant in the early game. Pain requires too much spellpower and is rarely better than skirmishing. Regeneration and Vampiric Draining are redundant with eating chunks, and secondary at best. Spell failure chance is usually prohibitive. Regeneration is useful to speed out of combat healing, however.

GhMo Kiku levels Int early, casting Animate Skeleton and Receiving Corpses for HP and allies. His Int quickly leaves the Stat Zero danger zone. Even if GhMo Kiku wears heavy armor and shield for combat, he can remove it to cast Animate Skeleton. Solid Stealth helps avoid surprises while under-dressed.

At 6* piety, choose Pain brand, not Necronomicon. Ghoul can hardly cast some of its spells, and can't cast the others.

Pain brand a dagger, quickblade or hand axe. The latter provides low-cost competitive cleave damage, important since Axes apt is -1. The high accuracy and low mindelay skill cap of the hand axe keep it competitive with +1 UC.

Breaching Orc with Kiku's wrath

When GhMo switches to Yred, Kiku wrath is net advantageous. He wears heavy armor and forgoes casting Necromancy. Wrath miasma helps in tough fights.

GhMo Yred would usually breach the Orc:1 entrance without a chunks reserve. The below plan permits him to breach it with an enormous chunk reserve.

Kiku's wrath per XL

Kiku wrath does the following:

  • Miasma
  • Corpse Delivery and hostile Animate Dead, producing zombies/skeletons of floor type
  • Slows – 20-22 turns XL5
  • Drain stats XL9
  • Non-durably summon Shadows XL7, Soul Eaters and Reapers XL10.

Kiku also punishes 5% of Necromancy spells. Relevant effects are stat drain and summons. GhMo is happy enough to wear heavy armor and skip Necro casting for a while, so there's little reason to tempt fate.

Kiku's wrath is best faced in Orc. Hostile Corpse Delivery creates humanoids and wargs. The humanoids lack equipment and obviously can't cast. This makes them pushovers, Trolls excepted. Enemy undead may conveniently block LoF for orc mages and skirmishers. They also yield XP.

This is much better than being beset by fast Lair undead reinforced by hydras, komodos etc.

The Dungeon monster set is inbetween Lair and Orc.

The Orc:1 stair is a fine place to have Miasma support. If Kiku gets nasty with Slow or summons, escape is only an ascent away.

Breaching Orc entrance

Here's how to burn Kiku breaching Orc. First, deplete Kiku piety:

  1. Use Black Sun until depleted
  2. Ascend. Receive max corpses, emptying MP bar.
  3. Convert to chunks and skeletons, perhaps leaving a Corpse Rot landmine.
  4. Stairdance and fight.
  5. Loop 2 until entrance clear.

Once shouting fails to pull, consider using a Scroll of Noise, if the zone extends beyond shout range from the stair, and you hear more foes in the distance.

If only one Orc:1 downstair is accessible, treat it the same as the Orc entrance.

Abandon Kiku once piety is depleted, and use his wrath instead. Don't convert to Yred until the current chunk inventory is depleted, since doing so requires a trip to his altar.

UC fsimming and weapon selection

Fsim will measure throwing weapon damage rather than UC, if any throwing weapon is quivered, including throwing nets. So drop them all first.

Fsim can mislead Ghoul in another way. It's common to find a weapon better than UC. The danger is that it likely won't stay better. Ghoul UC apt is +1 vs melee weapons -1, so UC scales about 50% faster. Deemphasizing UC can easily leave Gh ineffective vs tough meleeists such as Death Yaks, and without alternative means to win.

Therefore UC is always primary. Other melee weapon skills are no more than secondary.

Beware gloves! Particularly early, they severely nerf Ghoul UC damage. It's easy to forget and put one on, then not realize why some fights turn difficult.

Secondary weapons should be weapon brands other than proportional damage. For example, pick flat damage brands, or ones that apply a status effect.

A venom dagger or whip of elec, trained to secondary, is sometimes better than claws vs high AC foes. A branded venom dagger is a great Ghoul weapon because it mitigates shy regen and lets Gh finish with claws once max poison is reached. Kiting backwards also uses Gh stealth to lose pursuit.

Going Pain-branded hand axe

As GhMo gets better geared, temptation mounts to wear gloves and switch from UC to Axes. Kiku's 1-time Pain brand facilitates this. A low-mindelay hand axe becomes the center of GhMo's meleeist weaponry, supporting branded spear and whip while he wears artifact gloves and a shield. These weapons deliver cheap flexibility, while GhMo can still take the gloves off for raw attack power. He can also use UC while gloved, if surprised by a foe with high resistances, such as a Demonic Crawler.

Remember that the proportional UC penalty of gloves decreases as UC skill increases.

Early troubleshooting

Questions to ask:

  • Are spells and armor balanced appropriately?
  • Using Corpse Delivery, Animate Skeleton and Corpse Rot?
  • Charging hard enough when have chunks? (Barely loot, only reanimate.)
  • Best weapon option is UC or other?