Ascension Strategy

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Much of this was written for NS11 ascension. And many other changes have happened after NS13, as well. As such, it is extremely out of date and needs that rectified.

This guide only covers Normal speed ascension strategies. The hardcore speed guide is on the Hardcore Strategy page.

Ascending quickly is essentially a race to gain stats as quickly as possible to get to level 13, while ensuring that all stats are at 70 or more and completing all the quests so that one can access the Sorceress' Chamber. Balancing or unbalancing your stats is a personal preference; some try to balance stats as much as possible, and some try to keep one or two much higher than the other(s).

Of course, you're not going to complete a two-day ascension the first time around. Each time you ascend, you earn karma which can be used to keep a permanent skill which can whittle off a few more turns from your later runs. In addition, the knowledge you gain with each mistake and success will make your future runs faster. Your first ascension may well be two months; but don't get discouraged, because everyone starts somewhere. You'll see your speed improving with each run you make.

Stocking Hagnk's

You are allowed to pull only 20 items or 20,000 Meat per day from Hagnk's Ancestral Mini-Storage. You can only utilize items from the Mall of Loathing by pulling them from Hagnk's.

Expensive items to construct

You should try to avoid adventuring in areas without optimal stat gain and areas in which you cannot comfortably survive (such as The Hole in the Sky) by stocking Hagnk's with required and otherwise helpful items.

Essential items to use if you are planning on a speed ascension:

You will likely not need to withdraw all these items from Hagnk's over the course of your run, but it is a good idea to have them in Hagnk's, just in case.

Food and Drink

Pull high quality food and booze so that you don't waste time farming for ingredients. You can either do this by farming for ingredients and making your food/drink items before you ascend, or outright buying the finished items from the mall. Be sure to check the Level required by your consumables, so you don't end up with a stockpile of items you won't be able to eat until you reach a high Level.

On the first day, choose food and drink that will give you the biggest gains in your primary stat. This will help you level up as quickly as possible so that you can reach the areas that give you the biggest stat gains per turn. Before level 7, when chow meins and hi meins become edible, strategies vary widely. Some ascenders prefer Pebblebräu for its high stat gains along with being only 1 drunkenness, for their booze needs. Similarly, the Ur-Donut provides massive stats, is only 1 fullness, and has no minimum level requirement. Other players prefer to use the low-level food from the Feast of Boris and the low-level booze from El Dia de Los Muertos Borrachos as reasonably balanced sources of both Adventures and stat points in their primary stat.

The easiest way to maximize your stat and adventure gains is to choose chow meins or hi meins (these are optimal) and TPS drinks or SHC drinks (these are optimal). If you use chow meins, choose the three "pure" stat chow meins (Knob sausage for Muscle, bat wing for Mysticality, rat appendix for Moxie); shun the pr0n and tofu. If you use hi meins, be sure to choose one with maximal gains in your primary stat. On the second day you may or may not want to balance your stat gains; some use another day of primary stat meins/drinks to further boost their level, while others start eating a more balanced diet. Definitely pay attention to whether you need to balance your stats via eating/drinking on the third day, otherwise you may become very unbalanced and find it hard to get the stat requirements to ascend.

Alternatively, some people focus on Muscle food/drink (preferably cold hi mein/hot hi mein and Mon Tiki/teqiwila slammer) no matter their class, in order to have more HP, hit more often, and hit harder with their weapons. Note, however, that Moxie classes use Moxie to determine their Hit Chance, and thus may want to maximize Moxie instead of, or in addition to, their Muscle.

Stat Bonuses

There are three main ways to increase stat gains from adventures: increasing the monster level, stat-gain-boosting familiars, and buffs.

Monster Level

One Monster Level (ML) is 0.25 of a stat point; e.g., a level 6 monster will give you 2 stat points 50% of the time, and 1 the other 50%. Things that will help you here are:

Use a Monster Aggravation Device on the Boss Bat and Bonerdagon. The Boss Bat britches and the Rib of the Bonerdagon are very powerful and will help reduce your pulls from storage. Do not use mind control for special drops with the Goblin King -- you want his crown if you already have Mr. Accessories, not the King's accessories. If you do not have access to Mr. As, you have the option of using a MAD for one of his accessories. That said, it is still quite reasonable to use a MAD on the Goblin King for some setting other than cape or balls to get additional substat points from the battle while receiving the crown.

Basically, you want to equip as many of these as you possibly can. Top ascenders will typically adventure with at least +30 ML, through the whole run. (The best records on the Fastest Normal Ascension leaderboards were set by people with 2 or 3 hockey sticks, who were able to get over 100 ML.) As you gain skills to keep you safe from monsters, you can equip more of these items at a time.

However, keep in mind that raising monster level raises the monster's HP as well. The more you raise a monster's level, the more you're going to have to hit it for.


Stat-boosting familiars are also important. Volleyball-type familiars will give you better gains at low monster levels, but Hovering Sombreros will give you better gains at high monster levels. See Sombrero vs. Volleyball for details.

Equip wax lips on whatever familiar you choose for +3 stats per fight.

The best familiar strategy is hotly debated among the fastest speed ascenders. Some popular strategies are to use the "Volleychauns" (Cheshire Bat, Cymbal-Playing Monkey, Nervous Tick, Hunchbacked Minion, Uniclops, Chauvinist Pig, Dramatic Hedgehog, and Bloovian Groose) to gain extra Meat, the Jill-O-Lantern or Penguin Goodfella for its attack power, the Spirit Hobo for its MP restoration, or the Pygmy Bugbear Shaman for a combination of extra items and stats at the cost of MP, among others. It's largely a matter of personal playstyle; however, almost all of the top speed ascenders use Hovering Sombreros for stat gain, often in conjunction with a fairy-type familiar in areas with required drops (such as The Goatlet). The Mr. Store familiars may be difficult for the typical player to obtain, since they require either Mr. As to purchase from Mr. Store or many millions of Meat to purchase from the mall.

Buffs and Skills

There are four skills that are crucial for speed ascending: The TT skills Amphibian Sympathy and Empathy of the Newt, the PM skill Leash of Linguini and the AT buff Aloysius' Antiphon of Aptitude. These buffs should always be on in a speed ascension, with the possible exception of Aloysius' Antiphon of Aptitude. It is also very useful to have Ur-Kel's Aria of Annoyance for certain areas. (At level 6 and up, the Aria is equal to or superior to the Antiphon (in terms of total stats gained), if you can deal with the additional monster level. Of course, having them both on is even better.)

If you don't have the skills to cast these (or friends to cast them on you), you can contact a buffbot. A buffbot can give you many turns of each buff for a very low price. However, buffbots can only cast buffs on you (not skills, which can only affect the caster), and can only cast on you if you are already out of your Ronin period. If you are trying to ascend speedily, the Ronin period will come to cover a large majority of your turns (and will eventually encompass the entirety of your runs).


There are a few items that can help you gain extra stats, too:

  • ice baby: Another form of the iceberglet, the ice baby is an off-hand item that gives you +3 stat points per combat.
  • flaming juggler's balls: A form of the Great Ball of Frozen Fire, this one-handed ranged weapon grants +2 stats per combat.
  • orange snowcone: Received from the Tome of Snowcone Summoning, the January 2006 item-of-the-month, this flavor of snowcone gives 20 turns of Orange Tongue: +3 stat points per combat.
  • green snowcone: Also from the tome, this flavor of snowcone gives you 20 turns of Green Tongue: +5 pounds of familiar weight. If you are using a stat-boosting familiar, you should see extra stat points as a result.
  • black snowcone: Also from the tome, this flavor of snowcone gives you 20 turns of Black Tongue. This gives both the orange and green tongue effects (as well as the other non-stat-affecting tongue effects).
  • Knob Goblin learning pill: +2 stat points per combat, but you'll get less dropped Meat. This effect is handy enough that you might consider pulling all the pieces of the Knob Goblin Elite Guard Uniform so you can purchase as many of these (and the pet buffing spray) as you can afford.
  • Knob Goblin pet-buffing spray: +5 to familiar level, but your stats will drop 10%.
  • orange-frosted astral cupcake: Per combat battle, you receive an additional +3 substats, lasting 20 adventures.
  • pilgrim shield: +3 stats per combat when equipped, as well as a host of other useful benefits.
  • white candy heart: +1 stat per combat, as well as +3 to all attributes to help you survive higher level areas, and +1 familiar experience to help raise it quickly you if you choose to switch from a volleyball-type to a sombrero familiar.

Recharging MP

In order to use your skills in and out of combat, especially for maintaining buffs, use the Meat taken from Hagnk's in terms of expensive autosold items (like the facsimile dictionary) and buy MMJ if you can access it, or other restoratives if not. The Star Starfish Trick for restoring MP also works, but it reduces the benefits of one turn each time you use it. In a speed ascension, each turn is highly valuable.

An alternative to using consumables is equipping items that restore MP. The most popular of these is the jewel-eyed wizard hat for its skill cost reduction alongside the restoration. Other MP-restoring items are listed at MP Restorers.

Some players use their familiars to aid in MP-restoration. Some popular MP-restoring familiars are the Spirit Hobo, the Gluttonous Green Ghost, and the Dandy Lion. The Ghuol Whelp is a cheaper alternative to the Mr. familiars. The Slimeling is also a good choice for recharging MP, if you happen to have one.

Regaining HP

If you don't have healing skills available (such as Tongue of the Walrus or Cannelloni Cocoon), you may be buying a lot of healing potions from Doc Galaktik if you're not a Muscle class (if you are, medicinal herbs rock!). Buy only the Ointment for healing between fights, assuming Doc Galaktik's Quest for Herbs hasn't yet been completed. A cost analysis can be found at Cost Analysis of Restoring HP and MP. Another option is to use scrolls of drastic healing. Depending on the average mall price (almost always 214 Meat) and your HP, these can very often give a much better Meat per HP healed ratio than ointment, especially since they can sometimes be reused. You may still want to purchase several Elixirs to keep on hand for use in combat, and to withdraw three or four big healing items for the fight with your Shadow.

If you do have healing skills available, figure out which one is most efficient for the amount of MP it costs to the amount of HP you need. Again, the math is done at Cost Analysis of Restoring HP and MP.

If you are powering your spells with soda water, and are tight on Meat, it may even be worthwhile for you to figure out how much Meat it costs you to replenish the MP used, and see if Doc Galaktik's various balms will be more cost-effective.

Finally, if you have access to both MMJs and Medicinal Herbs, the Herbs are more cost-effective than a Cannelloni Cocoon until level 10 (that's 100 Meat for the Herbs vs. 100 Meat for 1 MMJ, which does not give 20 MP until level 10). Of course, the Herbs are also subject to the limitations of your Spleen, which you might want to otherwise save for wads.

Intelligent Adventuring

Be seen in the right places. Adventure at the toughest places you can for your stats. If you can equip 3 Mr. As or other stat-boosting items, this makes a huge difference since you can adventure at the harder areas sooner. Kittiwake's Moxie Survival Guide gives detailed monster stats by location and has some good safe-adventuring recommendations. Be sure to check out the Safe Adventuring Guide in this wiki as well.

Use the Combat Frequency modifier items and skills to your benefit whenever possible. When completing the Penultimate Fantasy Airship, for example, it's best to get more noncombat adventures, to receive the Immateria and the S.O.C.K. as quickly as possible. Conversely, it's generally better to have more combat adventures in, for example, the location where your class's Gourd item drops, to get the item as a monster drop instead of receiving useless noncombat adventures.

Clovers and Semi-rares

Using Clover Adventures and Semi-Rare Adventures intelligently can help improve your run.


Specific Quest Advice

  1. Level 1: Running +non-combats speeds up The Spooky Forest Quest and is a good time to open up The Hidden Temple.
  2. During Spookyraven Manor Quest get a disposable instant camera (from The Haunted Bedroom) will speed-up quest in The Palindrome (Level 11).
  3. Level 10: Running +non-combats speeds up the Giant Trash Quest. Two ways to speed up finishing this quest (when on The Top Floor) are:
    1. When you get The Top Floor and get the Copper Feel adventure the first time choose "Harrumph in Disdain" as this finishes the quest.
    2. Equip a mohawk wig (a Burly Sidekick drop) and choose "Get the Punk's Attention" as this finishes the quest.
    3. Remember to get a chaos butterfly to speed up the level 12 sidequest McMillicancuddy's Farm.
  4. Level 12: Lots of minor tricks:
    1. Running +non-combats will help start the war, once you have the war outfit of one side equipped.
    2. Running +non-combats in The Haunted Bathroom speeds up the appearance of Guy Made of Bees for the Mysterious Island Arena quest.
    3. Running +item speeds up the gland drops in the filthworm lair.
    4. Running +combat and using Transcendent Olfaction on the first lobsterfrogman speeds up The Lighthouse Quest.
    5. See Defowl the Farm for advice on speeding up McMillicancuddy's Farm

External Links

*A spreadsheet tool has been put together to help players decide which locations give the best stat gains.(Link times out as of July 2017)

Ascension Strategy
Rankings: HC Skills - HC Familiars - HC IotMs
General: Class selection - Familiar usage - Semi-rares - Clovers
Paths: BHY - Fist - AoB - BI - ZS - AoJ - BIG! - KOLHS - CA2 - AoSP - SS - HR - Picky - Ed - Random
IotMs: Tomes - Faxing - Copying - YR - Garden - Correspondent - Workshed - Tea party - Florist