The MAngband Newbie Guide

This guide is based upon The Angband Newbie Guide (TANG) by Chris Weisiger. It has simply been "MAngbandised".


Basic Training

When you load the game, and start a new character, go through the step-by-step instructions for picking a gender, race, and class. For your first time, I recommend choosing either a Half-Troll or Dunedain Warrior. Avoid the magely/priestly types; they're much more difficult to play. If you want basic information about races and classes, go to the on-line help and read Creating a Character.

After naming your character, you'll start in the town. The various numbers represent stores, where you can buy new equipment and sell stuff you've found in the dungeon. The little ">" is a staircase, the entrance to the dungeon. If you want to know what a specific symbol stands for, you can (l)ook at an item, feature, or monster. While looking, use the directions on the numpad to cycle through the different "interesting" things in view. There is also a full map function: type "M." It will bring up a map of the entire area. Finally, if you type "L," you can scroll the (full-zoom) map around the dungeon. In general, you can use M to find areas that look interesting and L to look at them in detail.

Take a look around the town, but avoid the Mean-Looking Mercenaries and Battle-Scarred Veterans; they can kill you fairly easily. A note on shop #7; it's the black market, where very powerful items are sold for an absolutely ridiculous price. ANY good item can show up in this store (barring artifacts), so look here for those items that don't show up in other stores. Buildings around town with colored doors are shops run by other players, these tend to even more expensive than the black market but often contain very rare items.

Be sure to visit shops #1 and #2, the General Store and Armoury, respectively. At the General Store, buy a cloak and a Brass Lantern, and a flask of oil or two. Sell your torches. At the Armoury, buy some of the light armor. Suggested: Hard Leather Boots, a Leather Cap, Leather Gloves, and a Robe. Your character may start out with armor - you can sell it or wear it, your choice.

This should have cleaned out your money. However, if it hasn't, it is strongly recommended that you go to the Alchemist's shop (#5) and purchase a scroll of Phase Door. If you get surrounded by monsters, read it, and you'll be teleported a short distance away.

Of course, it's possible that these items will not be available in the stores. The stores will "refresh" themselves every 1000 turns, getting rid of old items and buying new ones. If a store is out of something you need, wait for it to restock.

MAngband's not actually all that difficult to learn to play. You should get the hang of it fairly quickly.

From here on I'll be giving detailed dungeon survival information. Some of it is intuitive, and some of it you aren't likely to find out without a lot of deaths first. If you want to experience the painful learning process in all it's glory, don't read further. If, however, you're sick and tired of dying, read ahead.

On weapons and multiple blows

Whether or not you get multiple blows is determined by your weapon weight, your Strength, and your Dexterity. If you can get a high enough Strength and Dexterity (both over 18; only Warriors, Paladins, Rangers and Rogues can achieve this at the start of the game), then buy a light weapon, like a Whip or a Dagger. Check your Character display (type "C"). Somewhere on this page, there is a number that is your number of blows/round. Hopefully, this will be above 1. If it is, you can sell your original weapon.

Multiple blows become very important later in the dungeon. The more times you hit, the more damage your weapon does (obviously). What is not so obvious is the fact that at multiple blows, your magical enchantments to damage kick in many more times than with just one blow (see the section on the meaning of the numbers in your equipment). If you have 4 attacks with a Whip (not impossible), you get 4*1d3 damage from the damage dice. However, if the Whip has, say, +3 to damage, you also get 4*3 extra damage on top of the damage dice.

On important magical items

You might think that you can get by without magical items. If so, you're bound for an interesting, but short, stay in the dungeon. It'll probably be one-way, too.

The most important items have be those of teleportation. There are many basic types:

  • Phase Door: teleports you up to 10 squares away.
  • Teleport: teleports you across the dungeon, sometimes landing you in more trouble than you started in. Better than certain death, though.
  • Teleport Away: teleports a monster (or several monsters) away from you. Safer than Teleport, but you might not be able to get them all in one strike.
  • Teleport Level: moves you up or down one level. If the level you're on is full of dangerous monsters and you need to teleport, this could be your ticket to safety.
  • *Destruction*: This powerful spell removes everything except artifacts from the area around you, blasting the surroundings and causing rock to fall from the ceiling. If you're ever in deep trouble, this is the safest way to escape.

The second most important items are those of healing. Healing, in this case, covers Cure Light/Serious/Critical Wounds, Healing, *Healing*, and Life Potions, from weakest to strongest.

  • Cure L/S/C Wounds: These generally restore a pitiful amount of hitpoints. Cure Light Wounds is in fact useless. However, the two more powerful potions also remove temporary bad effects like poison and cuts. Cure Criticals also removes confusion and blindness. Always carry some with you once you start getting confused by monsters.
  • Healing and *Healing* potions: The former restores 300 hitpoints, the latter 1000. Both also remove all temporary bad effects, barring fear.
  • Potions of Life: the perfect healing potions, restoring 5000 hitpoints (about 5 times more than you'll ever have), restoring all drained stats and experience, and removing all bad effects except hunger. These are very rare; save them in your home for a dangerous fight.

There are various methods of Identify which you need. Identify comes in the form of scrolls, Staffs of Perception, Rods of Perception, the spell Identify, and the prayer Perception. These will tell you any magical properties of the item, like magical bonuses to hit and to damage, and magical bonuses to stats. It also tells you if the item is cursed. It tells you what a wand/rod/staff/potion/scroll/mushroom/etc. does, and this is very important. There are nasty potions deep in the dungeon that you do not want to drink! Sometimes, the descriptions of the items are a little obscure; things like Staves of Holiness and Power, Mushrooms of Unhealth, and others. You may have to experiment a bit to determine their powers.

There is also an advanced form of Identify, in scroll form only, called *Identify*. It tells you every single property of an item, like whether or not it lets you see invisible monsters, sustains stats, gives you regeneration, and so on. You should only use these on artifacts or the high-level ego-items (Westernesse, Holy Avenger, Defender, Elvenkind).

Notes on lighting: You can't do much without light. You won't be able to see most monsters, cast spells or read scrolls, or, in general, see the dungeon. There are items which will light up the dungeon, but only parts of it. Any item/spell of Light or Illumination will light up the room you are standing it (or part of the corridor). A potion of Enlightenment/the prayer Clairvoyance will light up the entire level.

Finally, the most useful magical item in general is a Scroll of Word-of-Recall (often abbreviated WoR). When you are in the town and read it, you are teleported to the lowest level you have been to in the dungeon. When read in the dungeon, you are teleported to the town. The activation takes place about 50 turns after reading the scroll, so it's not a perfect escape method.

On Resistances

There are many different kinds of attacks in MAngband, generally falling under physical, magical, and breath attacks. They can all cause specialized kinds of damage, which can kill a character if he/she does not have resistance to that attack. There are many different attacks which have corresponding resistances. There are three basic types: "low" and "high" elemental, and magical. The low elements are acid, electricity, fire, and cold. The high elements are poison, light, dark, shards, confusion, sound, nether, nexus, chaos, and disenchantment, and blindness. The magical resistances are fear, free action, and hold life.

Resistances are provided by items and by racial characteristics. For instance, High Elves automatically resist light effects. Dwarves resist blinding attacks (you can read about these in the Creating a Character section of the on-line help). There are certain types of items that provide the basic (low) four resistances . These are Defender weapons, Robes of Permanence, armors of Resistance and Elvenkind, and Shields of Resistance (Multi-Hued and Power Dragon Scale Mails also provide these, but both are incredibly rare). Many artifacts also provide some or all of the basic resistances, and also perhaps one or two "high" resistances.

Resistances generally chop off a significant amount of damage, ranging from 1/5 to 2/3. Also, it is possible to doubly resist the basic four resistances and poison (single resists for these each chop off 2/3s of the damage incurred). When you doubly resist these, damage is chopped to 1/9. Double resistance is NOT having two permanent sources of the same resist! Double resistance is having both a permanent source and a temporary source (for instance, drinking a potion of Resist Fire while wielding a shield of Resistance provides double resistance to fire). Multiple permanent sources do nothing for you.

Resistances are vital to survival in the dungeon. For instance, the most powerful of fire dragons, the Great Hell Wyrm, can breath fire (big surprise). Unresisted, the damage caused is 1600 HPs worth; more than enough to kill the mightiest of warriors (if he's lucky, a warrior might top out at about 1200 HPs at level 50). However, if you have fire resistance, this is chopped to 1/3-533 damage. If you doubly resist the breath, the damage is a paltry 178 HP.

On Important Depths

There are certain depths in the dungeon beyond which it is important to have a certain resist or attribute. The depths given here are guidelines, and should not be taken literally. However, if you decide to go past the depth without the attribute, be very careful and don't complain if you get the dreaded "It breathes -more- You are dead" message.

    1000': Free Action, See Invisible
    1250': Basic four Resistances
    1900': Maxxed Stats, Confusion Resistance, Blindness Resistance
    2000': Poison Resistance
    2500': Hold Life
    2700': Chaos Resistance, Nether Resistance
    3000': Permanent and Temporary Speed of +20 or greater
    4000': Permanent + Temporary Speed of +30 or greater
    4950': As much as you can get. Sustains, Speed, every resistance, 

Notes: If you have high infravision, you can probably hold off on See Invisible for a few levels. Not very many, however; Ghosts start showing up soon, and they're cold-blooded.

Without Free Action you are very dead. Carrion Crawlers (among other monsters) have a melee paralyzation attack, which can keep you immobile until death. Also, monsters start getting the paralyze spell about here. Nothing is more aggravating than watching a puny monster slowly kill your character as you watch, helpless.

Confusion and Blindness resistance are vital. If you have these, you can rely on scrolls of Teleportation to get you out of any situation. Before this, you need Staves of Teleportation which can be activated when blinded or confused, although with a decent failure rate. Scrolls are fail-safe.

Poison Resistance is necessary because two monsters, Ancient Multi-Hued Dragons, and Drolems, start showing up at about that depth. Both of these monsters breath poison for huge amounts of damage (700 and 800 points, respectively).

Hold Life is very nice, but not important. If you can't get it, carry lots of Potions of Restore Life Levels.

Chaos Resistance is vital.

On Secret Doors

Throughout the dungeon, many doors are hidden from view. To find them, use the (S)earch command, which toggles on and off the Searching mode. Search mode effectively doubles your chances of finding secret doors (however, doors can only be found in squares directly next to your character).

However, it is often difficult enough just knowing where to search. Usually, situations like this will have secret doors (walls containing secret doors are marked by *s):

  #*###   ###''###   ####*#    ###**##
  *@...   ..'@.'..   ..@'.*    ..'@...
  *....   ..'..'..   ...'.*    ..'....
  #**##   ###**###   ####'#    #######

In general, if you see a door all on it's own in a corridor, there are usually others nearby. If you find a corner in a corridor with two doors, look for more. Intersections often have some secret doors. Finally, secret doors will never be in a situation where you have to move diagonally to open them. The dead-end situation (the first one) usually does have a secret door, but not always. If you search for a while and don't find anything, just give up and move on. Sometimes a dead end will occur near the end of a map, where there is no room to have a continuing corridor, and so no secret door is generated.

On Level Feelings

When you enter a level, you receive a feeling giving you a vague idea how good the level is. These feelings range from "boring" to Superb. The better the feeling, the better the items on the level, and the more difficult the monsters. Each unusual item or monster bumps up the rating of the level a bit. An item or monster is considered unusual if it is out of depth [normally occurs at a lower depth; for instance, a Longsword has a base level of 20, and would be considered unusual anywhere above that level (although not below it)]. Items can be out of depth without necessarily being anything special; a normal, non-magical katana could provoke a high level feeling at low depths, because it is so unusual. Also, pits (large rooms filled with a single type of monster) and vaults (dense, dangerous rooms with many out of depth monsters and items) can cause high level feelings. There is also a Special feeling, which tells the player that there is an artifact on the level (most of the time. Sometimes, especially in the earlier levels, a monster pit or a vault will often trigger a special feeling). Also, if you have not spent enough time on the previous level before entering the new one, you get the feeling "Looks like any other level" which gives you no information whatsoever.

On weapons and armor

Your equipment will always carry around little numbers that tell you how effective it is. Armors take this form:

A Foobar (+x, +y) [a, +b] (+c)

Weapons take this form:

A Foobaz XdY (+x, +y) [a, +b] (+c)

When unidentified, armors will show just this:


Weapons will show this:


(+x, +y). This is the item's magical bonuses to hit and to damage, respectively. These are added to whatever other bonuses you have when you attack. Some armors have bonuses to hit or to damage, but they are almost exclusively artifacts. Many body armors have a small negative number before the base armor bonus (see below); this is a penalty to hit (the armor is so heavy that you have trouble moving around in it). However, this penalty is small enough for all but the youngest of characters to ignore.

Rings of Accuracy or Damage have a single (+x) or (+y). When worn, they affect your damage done/chance to hit in melee battle. They do not affect missile combat.

[a, +b]. This is the item's base armor class and magical bonus to armor. The higher, the better. While theoretically, a weapon could provide a base armor bonus, none of them do, and only a few weapons have a magical bonus to armor.

Rings of Protection have a single [+b], which increases your AC. They are also practically worthless; the valuable ring slot is almost certainly better off being used for something else, even rings of Slow Digestion or Feather Fall.

(+c). This is the item's magical bonus to other statistics: Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, Constitution, Dexterity, Charisma, Speed, Searching, Infravision, Might (Extra Might adds to the multiplier on a bow, crossbow, or sling), Shots, Attacks, and Tunneling. Not on every item, it is generally a good reason to choose the item. [Note that it does not affect every stat in this list! Most items that have a +c only affect one or two of these stats. Some items affect more (A Weapon of Westernesse affects Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution)].

As a side note for the above: MAngband follows the parenthesis for any item. If you see a number in brackets, like this: [b], it is a bonus to AC. If it is in parenthesis, like this: (+x), it is either a bonus to a stat or to hit/damage (and which should normally be obvious by the name of the item). For instance, a Holy Avenger (a powerful ego-item), looks like this:

A Mace (Holy Avenger) (2d4) (+7, +5) [+4] (+1)

Thus, it rolls 2 four-sided dice when attacking, has +7 to hit and +5 to damage, increases your AC by 4, and increases a stat (In this case Wisdom) by 1.

XdY. This is the weapon's base damage. When you successfully hit a monster, X number of Y-sided dice are rolled. This number represents the amount of damage you do to the monster before magical bonuses. A Longsword, for example, rolls 2 five-sided dice (2d5) when you hit a monster.

On Slays

Many weapons you find in the dungeon are considered to be particularly deadly against a type of creature. These qualities are collectively known as slays. They double, triple, or multiply by five the damage done by the damage dice. They DO NOT affect bonuses to damage. Thus, while slays may play an important part in the early game (especially if you find a weapon of Slay Orc), in the later part of the game, where magical bonuses to damage all but take over combat, slays play a very minor role. The rundown on slays:

Slay Evil, Animal: x2 damage dice
Slay Undead, Demon, Giant, Dragon: x3 damage dice
Slay Dragon: x5 damage dice

The elemental brands ("of Melting", "of Burning", "of Freezing", and "of Shocking") all do x3 damage dice to those monsters not resistant to the relevant element.

On the Colors of Monsters

You can often determine some information about a monster based solely on it's color. This would be the color it is described as, like "a White Dragon," not the color of it's image on the screen (you can't rely on a white "p" to be a cold based monster! It will probably be a paladin or some such). In general, White monsters are cold-based, Red are fire-based, Blue are electrical, Black is acidic, and Yellow/Green are poisonous. A Multi-Hued monster is all of these. Crimson monsters can cause weakness.

On the Preferences

The preferences screen is reached by typing "=". It contains many different preferences that make MAngband more enjoyable. There are a few that I would recommend. Turn both stacking options ON. This maximizes your treasure collection.

On the Autoscummer

Available in the Preferences screen, the autoscummer keeps generating levels until it comes across one that is interesting, meaning that it has a decent level feeling. At shallow depths, it doesn't do much, because it's very hard to generate out of depth monsters and items. Some people consider it cheating, but keep in mind that, along with better items, the autoscummer brings nastier monsters, and the monsters generally outweigh the items. The autoscummer becomes more effective at deeper depths.

On Death

In MAngband when you die you become a ghost and have the option to resurrect. If your ghost is killed, you are dead for good. As a ghost you can simply drift up through the dungeon floor, you don't need to use the stairs, you will be resurrected when you walk into the temple ( shop number #4).

When you are killed and turned into a ghost your equipment falls to the floor. Rather than drift up to town to resurrect (thus loosing all your equipment permanently) you may prefer to ask for a rescue. Another player can come down into the dungeon and read a Scroll of Life next to your ghost, life will return to your body and you can pickup your equipment or what's left of it.

On MAngband Time

If there is one feature of MAngband that tends to confuse people (especially veterans of other roguelikes), it's how the speed system in MAngband works. Most other roguelikes have a simple incremental system, where +1 to speed means you move twice as fast as normal-speed monsters, +2 is three times as fast (or twice as fast as fast monsters), and so on.M Angband has a decimalized version. +10 is the old +1 to speed, and +20 is the old +2. This allows for characters to be "half again as fast" as a monster, with the in-game effect that the character occasionally gets a free turn.

Advanced techniques for killing monsters

Many of the traditional Angband advanced techniques are too tricky to handle in the fast paced MAngband.

The Anti-Summoning Corridor, does work though. It requires a little time to set up. This can be done just about anywhere. Dig a twisting corridor into the rock, and station yourself at one end of it. When your opponent arrives, he won't be able to summon any monsters next to you. This is a very important technique for fighting many higher-end monsters which very quickly bring in a horde of other monsters.