The Smite Problem is an umbrella-term for various debates in the Dwarf Hammer community about the smite attack, an unsoakable instant-kill attack that can be used by God at any point in the game, through no fault of the player's. Discussions of the smite problem generally fall into two categories: attempts to convince the dev-team to eliminate the smite attack, and the cultivation of strategies to counteract it.
The case againstEdit
Nothing is more frustrating than slogging your way over the course of six hours through seventy of the hundred levels of the Caverns of Creation, playing better than you've ever played before, than to suddenly be told that you've lost the game and, because this is a rogue-like with all the tasty permadeath and no save-scumming that the genre entails, you have to start all over. Because it's not subject to anything the player's done, nothing is learned from being smote.
The case forEdit
But, others argue, there is something to be learned from it: you have to find ways to mitigate the smiting. It's not a bug, not a cheap death, but rather an element of the game to be planned for and around-- the dominant strategic aspect of Dwarf Hammer.
A frequently-proposed alternative to eliminating it altogether is to make it only active in the later stages of the dungeon; common suggestions are levels 60-100 or 75-100. The dev-team has said they are considering such a change (to the outrage of some) but as of January 26, 2010, the smite attack is still active on all levels.
Dwarf Mallet is an unofficial variant of Dwarf Hammer that removes the smite attack (among other things). Many in the community consider it inferior to the original, while others argue that it makes a number of improvements-- the removal of smite being chief among them.
Some players advocate sticking to one "pure" strategy while others hedge their bets with a mix of each.
Because smite deals physical damage equal to the player's max hp, players who start the game with -1 hit points (the so-called zombie status) are not harmed by the subtraction of positive hit points to their negative pool. This should, in theory, guarantee that the player will win the game, but the presence of healers and the game's built-in hit-point recovery mechanic make it difficult to reach the 100th level.
Luck & KarmaEdit
Player seek out ways to greatly increase their luck (by either deeds or the acquisition of luck-bonus gear), thus decreasing the chance that the attack will never strike in the first place. Similarly, players try to balance the game's karma in their favor by sticking to various codes of conduct. This can be effective in the early stages of the game, but karma is of little help on its own during the final battle.
Mating with a non-dwarf will tip karma against you, but mating with a puppy will always and automatically cause the smite attack. Triggering this one-time-only attack early and praying for a miss is not going to work on its own. But accumulating a lot of luck or wearing the Sasquatch Hide Armor before triggering it increases the chances of surviving, thus getting it out of the way.
Sentient Ring of CastingEdit
If the player has the Sentient Ring of Casting, they can set a healing spell for two moves hence, then trigger the event on the next move through either bad karma or, more reliably, by mating with a puppy. On the second move, after the player has been struck dead by the smite attack, the Sentient Ring of Casting will cast the heal spell and give the player 1 precious hit point.
A very patient player with a crystal Composition Type (and the infinite mana that comes with it) could also set the spell for one move hence, and continuously do it until by luck of the die the spell is cast.
Sasquatch Hide ArmorEdit
The Sasquatch Hide Armor has an 80% miss chance for all physical attacks, including smite, meaning that if smite is cast, it only has a 1 in 10 chance of hitting. Certainly not foolproof, but popular.