Identification is a scarce resource in Crawl. Here's some tips
on how to make life easier for yourself.
At the start of the game, it's often worth collecting all (or
most) of the weapons that you encounter. You might want to exclude
the really wimpy ones like knives or clubs if you really can't see
yourself wanting to wield one. Once you manage to find a scroll of
detect curse, read it. Any weapons which are cursed and which don't
have anything out of the ordinary in their description can be
discarded. Wield all of the others in turn.
If a weapon is 'special' (eg xxx of sharpnes/protection/venom etc) then
it will be identified immediately on wielding. If this doesn't happen,
then it's a normal weapon. That doesn't mean that it's +0,+0, however.
To work out the plusses on a weapon you will need to fight with it: how
long it takes to be identified will depend on (AFAICR) your Fighting and
weapon skills (but is random, so it could happen almost immediately, or
could take ages).
Note that if a weapon is 'glowing' that doesn't necessarily mean
that it's any good. There are plenty of +0 glowing short swotrds in
the dungeon... However, any *really* unusual adjectives (like
'slimy', 'pitted', 'golden' etc) indicate that the weapon is a
randart. These are often worth identifying even if they are cursed.
What's a randart? It's a special, one-off unique item which may have
powers above and beyond the ordinary. Identify it to find out what
they may be.
I usually decide on a weapon type of choice fairly early on (to
build skill levels in). I collect all weapons and detect curse on
them. If wielding one of the weapons shows it to be special, I change
my mind about my weapon type of choice and wield it :). If not, I
throw away all of the other weapons, and wield each one of my chosen
type in combat for long enough to work out their plusses and keep the
best one. Once I've found a decent ego weapon (sharpness, venom,...)
I ignore any non-ego weapons from then on.
Like weapons, it's often worth stockpiling armour, detecting curses
on it, and then wearing each uncursed item. This is especially true
in the Orcish Mines: you can collect a *lot* of armour off the orcs,
and there's usually an orcish ring mail of cold resistance or
something similar in the pile. It is a bit of a hassle having to
collect all of the armour together: detect curse scrolls aren't that
common, so you want to be carrying as much inidentified stuff as
possible when reading one.
In general you identify potions by drinking them :). I often leave
off drinking any potions until I have a decent collection: this means
that if one of the potions was poison or degeneration you'll probably
have an antidote to hand. Potions of healing are much more common
than any other sort, so if you've found a total of 10 potions and 4
of them are the same type then it's a good bet that those are the
healing ones: knowing that can save your bacon!
If you find a shop which sells identified
potions, buy all of the 'bad' ones. They'll only cost you 1 each,
and once you've bought a potion of eg. degeneration that type will be
identified for you in future, so you'll never drink one by mistake
:). Just seeing the potion in the shop won't identify that type for
you: you need to buy it.
Like potions, scrolls are usually best identified in the early
game by reading them. If any appear not to do anything, then save
those until you can identify them as they're probably useful.
Once you're past the first few levels, it's often worth being
careful when reading unidentified scrolls as the scroll of fire
starts to crop up, and it will ruin many of the other scrolls in your
inventory if you read it. It's safest to drop all of your scrolls bar
the one you want to test, move 5-6 squares away, and then read the
Rings and Amulets
Be careful trying these in if you don't know whether they are
cursed or not: a bad cursed ring can ruin your whole day. In general,
it often worth trying on an unid'd ring on the first level or two (as
you haven't lost much if it's bad), but otherwise wait until either
you've detected curses or you have a Remove Curse scroll.
If you're sure it's uncursed or you have a Remove Curse, try it
on! If it's not identified immediately, you'll probably have to wait
until you can identify it with a scroll.
If you're wearing an unidentified amulet, try
eating a chunk of flesh when you're not hungry. If you can, it's an
amulet of the gourmand.
If you're wearing an unidentified uncursed amulet
and seem to be missing a lot in combat, it may be an amulet of
inaccuracy. This is the only really nasty item which you tend to find
If you find a cursed ring, don't throw it away.
Identify it later, and it may turn out to be useful after all (like a
ring of teleportation).