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Your hour of destiny has come. For the sake of us all: Go bravely with Tyr!
— NetHack introduction for lawful Valkyrie

NetHack is a 1987 textmode computer roleplaying game. Matt Colville describes it as one of the greatest video games of all time.

Starting NetHack streams August 2018, Matt quickly became the number one NetHack streamer on Twitch. One might even say instantly. The NetHack streams give viewers an opportunity to chat with Matt due to the turn-based nature of the game, and are usually prefaced by music from the TimeRider. He finally completed the game on March 1st, 2019, having gone bravely with Tyr through many trials.

The NetHack streams were followed by streams featuring the game FTL.

Playthroughs[]

Matt plays NetHack on Twitch with an irregular schedule. He announced his intention to continue playing as a lawful female human Valkyrie until he ascends, which he achieved on March 1, 2019. His Valkyrie was always named Taarna, or some variation thereof, such as Taarna II or Taarna IX.

Before becoming a streamer, Matt has ascended (completed the game) once, a monumental feat given NetHack's legendary difficulty. However, this was some time ago, and was not streamed. Matt also played a valkyrie on that ascension.

Failed Valkyrie playthroughs[]

Previous incarnations of Taarna met many an ignominious end. Notable events included:

  • In true Norse mythic style, Taarna slew a green dragon but died from the dragon's poison
  • Taarna was bitten by a wererat, contracted lycanthropy, ate the wererat's body, and was punished for cannibalism

Valkyrie ascension[]

Matt's successful ascension took place between October 2018 and 1 March 2019. Matt stated that if he were to fail this run, he would quit streaming NetHack, at least for a time.

Notable events in this run include:

  • Taarna ate her pet cat to avoid starvation, gaining permanent intrinsic aggravate monster. Matt later considered this a good luck charm for the run; in fact this intrinsic drawback is largely mitigated by the Valkyrie's intrinsic stealth
  • Taarna rubbed a lamp (despite Matt's protestations that nothing would happen) and a genie popped out, granting Taarna an early wish. Matt wished for "Blessed greased +2 gray dragon scale mail", generally considered the best armor in the game
  • Doggywog Cookie turned into a bone devil and remained tame until Taarna lost track, only to meet Cookie on the way back out of the dungeon and consider trying to re-tame it, ultimately deciding to leave Cookie behind
  • Acquired both Mjolnir and the Gauntlets of Power necessary to throw Mjolnir
  • Completed an ascension kit including a shield of reflection, gray dragon scale mail, a ring of sustenance, a ring of levitation, a unicorn horn, a blessed bag of holding full of items, a cloak of displacement, and intrinsic invisibility
  • Genocided mind flayers and master mind flayers, after Taarna briefly became one to fly across the Medusa level and subsequently survived having her brain eaten by a mind flayer
  • Reached the bottom of the Dungeons of Doom, progressed through Gehennom, and killed Asmodeus, Baalzebub, Orcus, Juiblex and 17 pit fiends
  • Re-chaaaaarged the wand of death! [1]
  • Slew the high priest of Moloch, recovered the Amulet of Yendor, and climbed up through the dungeons only for the wand of death to run out of charges at a critical moment
  • Re-chaaaaarged the wand of death again, shot the Wizard of Yendor again, who survived thanks to his amulet of life-saving, but was killed anyway by the death ray's reflection
  • Rose through the elemental planes but accidentally forgot to remove the ring of conflict before entering the astral plane, causing the allied angels of Tyr to fight each other
  • Offered the Amulet of Yendor to Tyr and ascended after 45,367 turns as a level 17 human Valkyrie, having killed 2,208 creatures, and genocided 17 species, completing the game for only the second time ever, scoring a total of 2,678,820 points.

Wizard playthrough[]

Go bravely with Thoth!

On June 9, 2019, after some months of FTL streams, Matt began another NetHack stream. He intended to play a non-Valkyrie character, and this time chose a neutral female elf wizard named Pinna. Pinna had a cat named Vince, who she accidentally killed almost immediately.

Subsequent playthroughs[]

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic and into 2021, Matt has continued to sporadically stream NetHack. Having tried a handful of other classes and preferring the more familiar (and arguably easier) Valkyrie, Matt's adventures so far have not resulted in a long-term playthrough resembling that of Taarna.

Twitch emotes[]

Several emotes on Twitch were inspired by the NetHack streams:

Image Code
McdmGo.png mcdmGo
McdmBravely.png mcdmBravely
McdmWith.png mcdmWith
McdmTyr.png mcdmTyr
McdmTaarna.png mcdmTaarna

Strategies[]

Lawful human Valkyrie[]

Valkyries have high Strength and Constitution, giving them plenty of hit points, good melee ability, and high carrying capacity. It's generally considered a strong combination.

Matt avoids choosing dwarven Valkyrie, despite its increased Strength/Constitution.

Dipping for Excalibur[]

Matt usually dips for Excalibur early on. Dipping a longsword into a fountain when you are a lawful character of experience level 5 or above has a 1/6 chance to transform it into Excalibur, an exceptionally good artifact sword with many useful abilities. The Valkyrie always starts with a +1 longsword.

This strategy is not without risk. If you do not receive Excalibur, your sword will rust instead.

Gnomish Mines[]

Matt visits the Gnomish Mines dungeon branch first. These tend to be relatively safe as the dwarves found here are lawful and will not attack a lawful Valkyrie. Minetown is beneficial for its guaranteed altar (for identifying cursed items) and many shops.

He also always completes Sokoban, which always grants either a Bag of Holding or an Amulet of Reflection at the end. Taarna previously died here when a fire elemental caused her Potion of Paralysis to boil and explode, freezing her in place until she died from repeated attacks.

Vocabulary[]

  • Nert: The sound of moving through the Mazes of Menace, among other things.
  • Go bravely with Tyr!: An exhortation at the beginning of a NetHack run. It's part of the introductory text when starting a new game as a lawful valkyrie.
  • Doggywog: A dog, usually the starting pet. Taarna's dog is usually named Cookie.
  • Kittycat: A cat, usually a starting pet. Taarna's cats are often named Tinycat.
  • Scrollio: A scroll.
  • Potionay: A potion.
  • Rationay: A food ration.
  • Fuck off, <creature>: Typically said when fighting annoying gnomes in the mines.
  • Down, down to goblin town: Matt's traditional chant when descending stairs, especially when headed for Minetown.
  • Srawberry: Matt's typo when setting the custom name on the default fruit.
  • Go juice: Matt's beverage of choice, any caffeinated variety of Crystal Light.

Quotes[]

"Is this like Dwarf Fortress?"
"No, Dwarf Fortress is like this."
"... and re-chaaaarge the wand of death!"
— Matt, following an epic rant [2]
McdmGo.pngMcdmBravely.pngMcdmWith.pngMcdmTyr.png
— NetHack introduction for lawful Valkyrie
"Matt, what do you think of the Flat Earth movement?"
"There is no Flat Earth movement. There's just people who weren't raised right."
"Earth elemental? More like earth hell-emental!"
"What just got genocided?"
"Oh, a bunch of shit!"
"It has been an honor to share this with you all."
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