Wizard vs. Cat II: The Embarassment

Here’s what’s great about the Internet(s). You can be reading an evolutionary biologist’s blog and come across a link to a discussion about who would win in a fight in D&D: a level 1 wizard, or a cat. A discussion answered by a computer simulation. (The answer: the wizard wins 42.3% of the time.)

Needless to say, my first reaction was: sure, that’s great for D&D, but what about NetHack?

There’s only one way to find out.

  -----      ------
  |..%+@#####....$|
  |...|   #  |....|
  |....%#####|....|
  |...|     #......#
  |....     #--.---#
  |...|     ########
  -----      ###  ####
             #    ## # #############
             #       ###--------  #    ------
            -.----     #.......|###    .....|
            |.....######|......-#####  |[...|#     -.-+--- --
            |....|      |+...$>|##%####|..(.-#     |....(...|
            |....|      --------    ###|....|######.$.......+
            |....|                    #....$|      |........|
            +.>..|                     ------      ----------
            ------



Paul the Evoker           St:11 Dx:15 Co:13 In:18 Wi:10 Ch:8  Chaotic
Dlvl:2  $:0  HP:12(12) Pw:4(7) AC:8  Exp:1 T:274

That is to say, I went into debug mode of NetHack, made myself a chaotic male human wizard, found a dead-end passageway (the wizard is the @ in that screenshot), and used the debug mode’s wand of wishing to wish me up a stethoscope (for checking a monster’s health and stats) and a cursed scroll of genocide (to reverse-genocide housecats). All other items and stats were what the game randomly gave me at the beginning:

Weapons
a - a blessed +1 quarterstaff (weapon in hands)
Armor
b - an uncursed +0 cloak of magic resistance (being worn)
Scrolls  
i - an uncursed scroll of identify
j - an uncursed scroll of earth
q - a cursed scroll of genocide
Spellbooks 
k - a blessed spellbook of force bolt
l - an uncursed spellbook of healing
Potions
f - an uncursed potion of levitation  
g - an uncursed potion of extra healing
h - an uncursed potion of sickness
Rings
d - an uncursed ring of shock resistance
e - an uncursed +1 ring of protection (on right hand)
Wands
c - a wand of teleportation (0:4)
n - a wand of wishing (0:1)
Tools
m - a magic marker (0:69)
p - a stethoscope
(end)

That ring of protection gives a -1 boost to AC (NetHack is so old school, lower AC means better protection). The strength stat is also pretty good for a level 1 wizard. I ignored the potion of extra healing and the healing spell in the experiment, since I forgot about them figured the ring of protection and starting strength were good enough starting advantages.

So, how nasty is a housecat in NetHack? Let’s use the stethoscope:

What do you want to use or apply? [cmnp or ?*] p
In what direction? l
Status of the housecat (neutral):  Level 3  HP 17(17)  AC 5.

So, the housecat has two more experience levels, 5 more hit points, and its AC is 3 lower than the wizard’s. Not looking good. I suppose taking on a kitten would’ve been easier, but I believe the question was about a cat, not a kitten.

But hey, the wizard’s got a quarterstaff, so let’s see what happens in physical combat:

You miss the housecat.  The housecat bites!
You miss the housecat.  The housecat bites!
You hit the housecat!  The housecat bites!  The housecat bites!
You miss the housecat.  The housecat bites!--More--
You die...--More--

It’s not even close. Wizards are not made for physical combat, and cats are vicious. I’m not going to bother setting up any exhaustive tests of the scenario; I’m pretty sure the odds of wizard survival are just about 0%.

And in case you’re thinking “you’re a wizard, moron; why don’t you cast force bolt at it?”: level 1 wizards only have enough power to cast force bolt once before needing to rest. One force bolt isn’t going to take down a housecat, so then you’re back to staff-to-teeth combat. Maybe if you’re lucky you’ll have a chance of surviving.

The moral is: don’t let your level 1 wizard get cornered by a housecat in NetHack.

                       ----------
                      /          \
                     /    REST    \
                    /      IN      \
                   /     PEACE      \
                  /                  \
                  |       paul       |
                  |       0 Au       |
                  |   killed by a    |
                  |     housecat     |
                  |                  |
                  |                  |
                  |       2007       |
                 *|     *  *  *      | *
        _________)/\\_//(\/(/\)/\//\/|_)_______

7 Responses

  1. now that’s awesome….

  2. On the high scores list on my laptop, spot #9 is a level 3 knight, killed by a kitten. Not even while helpless. Knights start off with a sword, ring mail, helmet, small shield, and leather gloves. Killed by a kitten.

    I assure you the high scores list on my old desktop PC is much less embarrassing than the one on my laptop; the desktop at least had a few victories on it. But apparently uninstalling NetHack when converting it to a home-brew Tivo-clone wiped the high scores list.

    NetHack is evil.

  3. I have only read about NetHack, and it makes me cry.

    The wizard/cat duel was not very scientific, which is rather unPaulish, but I trust you anyway. :)

  4. If you think NetHack’s bad, don’t even think about Slash’EM.

    Also, if you want to try to refute my conclusion, be my guest. :-)

  5. Remember the part where I said “I trust you anyway”?

  6. apparently newts are pretty badass as well…

  7. Luckily newts can’t actually hold swords.

    Salamanders can, I think.

Comments are closed.