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I've been playing Nethack for years but don't get anywhere near the end for one reason or another. I'm experienced enough to not eat old corpses, wear cursed items or pick the wrong fight, but what I don't know is how quick to move down. I can empty Sokoban and all the Mines but I'm never powerful enough by the time I reach the Quest level and end up dying to something trivial while trying.

Should I just keep running about killing wandering monsters until I feel strong/equipped enough for lower levels?

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I've finished my game for the wizard so I can outline the strategy which was working for me. I don't know what parts you know exactly, so I will tell you everything I consider important.

First of all, dump your quarterstaff and try to use daggers as your main weapons. They can be not only wielded, but also thrown, and if you become skilled in using daggers, you will be able to throw several daggers at once. Ten daggers or so is a good number to start with. Also I'd find an armor which doesn't hinder spellcasting (like studded leather armor) and try to enchant the cloak. Obviously enough, you should try to learn as many spells as possible and get all the resistances you can.

I advise not to go into the Gnomish Mines when you find the entrance. You can reach the Minetown easily, but you won't be able to reach Mines End yet and get out safely. So instead of going to the Mines, go to the Oracle and then to Sokoban. Sokoban should train your strength because you will move boulders a lot, which is helpful, and also you will get some gold and a gift at the end, which is, as you probably know, either bag of holding or the amulet of reflection.

After Sokoban you should go to Minetown and try to reach Mines End. Minetown has an altar and if you're lucky, it will be your god's altar. If that's the case, you should offer corpses of recently killed monsters to your god until you get Magicbane. This is a magical dagger, which is extremely helpful in combat.

Mines End will give you a luckstone (and also some gems). You have to fight a lot of monsters there though, so stand on the stairs and use Elbereth to keep them off. If you have Magicbane, engraving done with it will be harder to erase.

If you have survived Mines End, you can return from the Mines to the main branch and safely descend until you come to the level with the quest portal. Don't worry, if you haven't reached level 14, the first quest level usually has Wraiths whose corpses raise your level when eaten. If you still need to gain levels, descend lower in the main dungeon. Usually I don't linger in the level after I have explored all the passages. You should aquire necessary level before you reach Medusa's island.

When your level is enough, you can finish your quest. Your nemesis won't be tough if you know how to hinder his healing. After you finish him, you get your quest artifact which replenishes your power, and later on you shouldn't have any problems.

That's the basics of the wizard strategy.

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  • I find wizard easy to play with the right rings and restart if I don't get anything immediately useful (slow digestion, invisibility, etc). Dumping staves is a new approach, I'll try it. Jan 24 '11 at 23:34
  • I hope it helps. Ideally you have Magicbane wielded and a stack of daggers quivered. Of course, you can't find Magicbane easily, but you still should wield a dagger to train your dagger skills. Wizard relies much on his spells, but without the Eye of Aethiopica power regenerates slowly, that's why throwing daggers is the best way to keep monsters at a distance.
    – Malcolm
    Jan 25 '11 at 9:40
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With regard to your one specific comment, many of the classes have quest levels significantly harder than the normal dungeon. Unless I feel I'm quite confident (GDSM, artifact weapon, 3-star cloak, emergency wand, etc) I'll continue down the dungeon to the castle and possibly pick up the /WoW before returning to the quest level.

I'll try to edit in more later.

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