The treasure hunter debate is an ongoing dispute about the value of the Treasure Hunter talent relative to other talents. The debate itself was largely initiated on the forums by gut's "The treasure hunter talent sucks" thread, and is one of the most widely read and commented on in the entire forum, although one of the greatest influences on the thread is the ADOM Guidebook's suggestion that treasure hunter is "Considered by many to be the best talent overall" and "Well worth the two prerequisites". The debate has been existent in some form more or less ever since the talent system was created.
In some sense, the argument is really a proxy for an argument as to which point of the game is the most significant to player's overall success. Proponents of Treasure Hunter often have less interest in consistently surviving the early-game, and prefer to focus their efforts on PCs who manage to survive to the mid-game, where the benefits of Treasure Hunter are most significant; players opposed to Treasure Hunter often feel that the most significant point of the game is the early-game, and that once the PC survives this crucial stage, the game becomes easy enough that winning is reasonably likely even without Treasure Hunter.
Arguments in Favour of Treasure Hunter Edit
Reduces Need for Scumming Edit
Proponents of Treasure Hunter argue that Treasure Hunter reduces the need to engage in tedious scumming techniques such as stairhopping or grinding in order to generate large numbers of items. Since the action of Treasure Hunter is passive, simply by playing the game normally, the player will generate many more items than they would otherwise acquire without the benefit of such scumming methods. Thus players who are strongly opposed to any repetitive scumming methods often feel that Treasure Hunter is extremely valuable.
Increased Items Result in Increased Survival Chance Edit
This argument proposes that the main limitation of early-game survival or mid-game survival is the lack of decent equipment. Since Treasure Hunter provides more gear, then a PC with Treasure Hunter will have, on average, higher DV/PV and a better weapon than one without, as well as more convenient items such as potions of water, potions of cure poison and scrolls of identify. The cumulative effect of these benefits over the entire game is quite significant, and with many more resources available to them, players with Treasure Hunter will be more likely to win.
Benefits of Most Other Talents are Minimal Edit
Some players argue that the net effect of all talents is fairly small: one or two points of PV or a few points of speed are unlikely to provide any significant effect on gameplay, whereas Treasure Hunter provides benefits that extend for a significant period of the game, and the benefits of the added items will rapidly exceed the minimal benefits of any other talent.
Benefits of Most Other Talents Decline Rapidly as the Game Progresses Edit
In a related argument, many players argue that while the effects of some talents may be significant early in the game, by the time that the player reaches, say Dwarftown or the Tower of Eternal Flames, the proportional value of those talents relative to the player's strength is minimal--that is, the 3 points of health from the Hardy talent are negligible for a PC who has over 100 health, for example.
Arguments Opposed to Treasure Hunter Edit
Treasure Hunter Compromises Early-Game Survival Edit
Treasure hunter requires two prerequisite talents of minimal value. In the early-game, particularly for vulnerable PCs, the selection of these talents will hurt the survival prospects of the PC far more than some other talents, notably the PV line of talents or the Speed line of talents. Proponents of this argument believe that since the majority of PCs die in the early game, it makes sense to maximize their survival prospects at this point, since late-game deaths are relatively uncommon. Furthermore, the proportional effects of these talents are quite significant in the early game--increasing PV from 0 to 1 is a huge improvement, for example.
Most Items Produced by Treasure Hunter are Junk Edit
The reasoning in this argument is that since the vast majority of items that the PC finds are junk anyway, and Treasure Hunter does not improve the quality of items, it stands to reason that Treasure Hunter will, on average, produce significantly more items that have essentially no value, and minimal items of significant value. The items that the PC gets that are better tend to be those that are found through means not related to killing monsters--or at least, not in ways that Treasure Hunter provides significant benefits--such as shops, guaranteed items, the Water Dragon Cave, grave-digging, killing monsters in vaults, etc.
The Only Benefit to Treasure Hunter is Convenience Edit
Players opposed to Treasure Hunter often argue that all of the benefits of Treasure Hunter can be replaced--and replaced more efficiently--through effective scumming. For example, stairhopping is a far more efficient way to generate spellbooks or potions of water than Treasure Hunter, and that players searching for those items in particular can easily generate all of the items they need with minimal effort anyway, so the only effect of Treasure Hunter is to provide a convenient, passive way, of doing something that is easily replaceable.
Some Rebuttals of Arguments Opposed Edit
Early-Game Survival Is Unimportant Edit
Some argue that although it may be true that Treasure Hunter adversely impacts early-game survival, that for general play, this isn't really that important. Since the player is free to reroll the character and start again, and has minimal time invested in character who dies very early, there is little harm in playing a number of characters until one is sufficiently lucky that they can survive the early hardships. Once the player reached the mid-game, the added items provided by Treasure Hunter will give that PC an advantage. Obviously, the argument does not apply in situations where the player is not free to reroll such as during Roman Republic games or other competitive games, and may not apply for players who spend considerable amounts of time roll scumming a particularly desirable PC.
Treasure Hunter Increases the Probability of Better Items Being Generated Edit
While most items are indeed junk, proponents of Treasure Hunter note that having a larger sample of items overall does mean that, integrated over the set of all items, players who choose Treasure Hunter will, on average, see more instances of high-value items such as amulets of life saving, rings of djinni summoning, or ego weapons.
Convenience is Reason Enough to Choose TH Edit
Essentially a restatement of the first argument in favour of Treasure Hunter, proponents note that the ability to generate more items without using scumming methods is a significant and worthwhile benefit in and of itself, and that even the increased number of common items Treasure Hunter generates will make the game, if not easier, at least more fun, since the player always has an abundance of useful consumables.
Some Rebuttals of Arguments in Favour Edit
Scumming is Not Necessary Edit
Players opposed to Treasure Hunter often argue that the argument that Treasure Hunter reduces the need to scum for items is a red herring, because no such scumming is ever necessary to begin with. The game provides enough items from guaranteed sources such as quests, and from normal item drops from monsters, shops, etc., to be sufficient to any player's needs. This argument is often supported by the assertion that prior to version 1.1.1, talents did not exist, and players during this period did not feel obliged to spend considerable amounts of time searching for more items.
Treasure Hunter Requires Many Kills to be Useful Edit
In many ways a restatement of the argument that Treasure Hunter improves early-game survival, players opposed to Treasure Hunter note that in order to see significant benefits from Treasure Hunter, many monsters must be killed. This, in turn, requires that the PC has already survived through some of the most difficult parts of the game, and is considerably more likely to win anyway.
Benefits of Some Talents are Significant in the Early Game Edit
This argument stresses the issue of proportionality: in the early-game, small increases to Health, PV, DV, or speed can be very significant because they can mean the difference between life and death. Choosing two talents (Alert and Miser) that provide no real benefits, and one talent that provides minimal early-game benefits, will have a proportionately weaker effect than choosing a large relative increase in one of these stats.
Benefits of All Talents (Including Treasure Hunter) Decline Rapidly Edit
In response to the argument that the talents that assist early-game survival degenerate rapidly in value as the game progresses, opponents of Treasure Hunter note that the same holds true for Treasure Hunter itself: certainly by the time the PC reaches the Casino, for example, the effect of having Treasure Hunter or not is insignificant. Further, they note that if the PC dies in the early-game with Treasure Hunter in an instance when they might have survived without it, arguments about the long-term viability of the talent are of minimal consequence.
Neutral Positions Edit
Some people attempt to take a neutral position on the issue, arguing that the choice of whether or not to take the talent depends heavily on race, class, and playstyle. Such individuals may argue that, for example, extremely new players should take talents to improve their survival, since their chances of making it to the midgame are generally dismal, or that wizards benefit more from Treasure Hunter due to increased number of books, whereas beastfighters may wish to avoid it since they are far less dependent on equipment than other characters.
Such positions are normally ridiculed by both sides of the debate as being too rational and conciliatory.
The Treasure Hunter Challenge Edit
In response to the dispute regarding the viability of Treasure Hunter, a forum-wide competition called Treasure Hunter, the Ultimate Showdown (THUS) was held in early 2009. Participants were divided in teams an favour and opposed to Treasure Hunter, generated a random character and played either with or without Treasure Hunter, and players who took Treasure Hunter were expected to do so by level 12. Points were awarded for reaching the Tower of Eternal Flames, regular victory and ultra endings. Each team had 14 members playing.
For the time of last update the standings were:
Both sides declared victory in the end.