Hardcore Familiar Analysis

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This article is a work in progress. As new familiars are released they should be evaluated and added where appropriate. It should only include familiars judged to be "best for hardcore." This is obviously subjective and can occasionally seem arbitrary. If you disagree with the categorizations on this page, or feel that a familiar has been left out unjustly, please add comments to the relevant section of the talk page. The page currently considers up to familiar 267: Catburglar.gif Cat Burglar.

While this article is written with Hardcore non-challenge path players in mind, much, if not all, of it is also applicable to Softcore ascenders.

It should be said that when this page is talking about "what's best for hardcore", it really means "what will help me get runs done faster". In roughly descending order, that means:

  • Familiars that grant or directly save turns
  • Familiars that grant extra stats
  • Familiars that increase item drop rates
  • Familiars that heal HP/MP while doing one or more of the above things.

It is most important to have at least one familiar to fulfill each of three basic roles - turn generation, stat gains, and item drops. Beyond that, the familiars that provide a unique function are generally the best. For this reason, the best familiars are not separated into tiers. Instead, they are categorized by their function, and ranked roughly by importance as well as their availability within Standard within each category. Some of the best familiars exhibit some flexibility, and can be used in several ways, so these categories are not exact, but each familiar is filed under its most important function.

A few familiars (God Lobster, Stocking Mimic, Mini-Hipster, Baby Bugged Bugbear, and Reagnimated Gnome) can produce their familiar equipment for free. These familiars should always be used with their equipment. Most other familiar equipment requires 5 turns and 500 meat spent at the arena (also grants some familiar experience) or summoning a Box of Familiar Jacks with Summon Clip Art, and whether it is worth it is a complicated question. If you feel that the bonus supplied by the equipment is worth the 5 turns and meat, or one tome summon, then get it (don't forget opportunity cost of the turns sunk in stat gains missed and items not acquired).

Familiars that do a combo of one or more of the key functions are going to be higher rated than those that don't. Straight attack familiars are not very useful in this regard, though attack familiars with other qualities may be useful at times. Just because a familiar is ranked low here doesn't mean more laid-back HC, Softcore or Casual players think the same thing. This also means that new ascenders shouldn't panic because many of the top-rated familiars are rare and/or expensive, such as long-gone Mr. Store offerings, one-time event rewards and so forth. New familiars can and will come along that will equal or supplant them; in the meantime, use what you've got that works for you.


Familiar Categories
Category Symbol Definition
Combat
Combat
Helps during combat, including dealing damage, deleveling, and/or stunning
Item drops
Item drops
Increases item drop frequency
Meat gain
Meat gain
Increases meat dropped from monsters
Sub-stats
Sub-stats
Provides additional substats at the end of combat
MP Restore
MP Restore
Restores MP, during or after combat
Turn Management
Turn Management
Has functions that allow you to save or generate turns in a run
Special
Special
Provides other helpful miscellaneous effects


Familiars that can be received during limited-time content as well as past Mr. Store familiars will not be available during the current in-season challenge path, once they reach a certain age.


Limited-time content
Pre-2016 limited-time content Not available in in-season challenge paths.
Pre-2017 limited-time content Will not be available in in-season challenge paths after 2018.
2017 or later limited-time content Will not be available in some future in-season challenge paths.


Spleen Tier

Cannedair.gif

These familiars give you a lot of adventures for your spleen, where you would otherwise gain little or none. These familiars will decrease daycount for all consumption paths. Not all of these are necessary, but any combination of two or more is very useful.

Familiar Name Familiar Type Rarity Description
Goldmonkey.gif Golden Monkey Meat gain Sub-stats Turn Management Special FotY Drops spleen items, which generate turns/stats and have no level requirement. They also increase stat gains and meat drops as a Blood-Faced Volleyball and Leprechaun. Additionally, the Golden Monkey drops gold nuggets against monsters that do not drop Meat, you can receive a low-level buff from the Grim Brother every day, and the Unconscious Collective provides a few free rests.
Spleen Cost: Using a familiar that does not grant MP or items.
Grimbrother.gif Grim Brother
Uc.gif Unconscious Collective
Groose.gif Bloovian Groose
Stompboots.gif Pair of Stomping Boots Combat Item drops Turn Management IotM Can smash enemies into pastes, which generate stats and turns (and the occasional helpful effect). It also increases item drops like a Fairy and provides free runaways, which doesn't require additional MP to be spent, unlike the Bandersnatch.
Spleen Cost: Using a familiar that grants no stats or MP; no items or stat gains from stomped enemies – but pastes grant more stats than 2/3rd of the monsters you encounter during a run.
Tronguy.gif Rogue Program Combat MP Restore Turn Management IotM Drops Game Grid tokens, which indirectly provides coffee pixie sticks, which generate turns. It also restores MP in combat like a Star Starfish. Can also use excess tokens to buy little parachute guys, which provides extra HP and MP heal after combat when used and is reusable multiple times.
Spleen Cost: Using a familiar that does not grant stats or items; using a spleen item that provides no stats.
Babyworm.gif Baby Sandworm Sub-stats Turn Management IotM Increases stats like a sombrero. Drops agua de vida, which generates turns. It also increases stat gains. With an empty agua de vida bottle, you can finish the Level 12 Flyer sub-quest by flyering Cyrus the Virus (which takes only 7 turns with a ten-leaf clover), although this is slower than posting flyers in areas where you were adventuring anyway.
Spleen Cost: Using a familiar that does not grant MP or items; familiar does not give stats on the turn the item drops; using a spleen item that provides no stats. Drops items at slightly lower rates than more recent familiars.

Tier 1

Hasc01.gif Familiars with excellent functions and are among the best of their class. Hasc01.gif
Familiar Name Familiar Type Rarity Description
Slimeling.gif Slimeling Combat Item drops MP Restore Rare Acts like a fairy and can restore MP like a Star Starfish when fed equipment. If fed equipment made from meat stacks, the slimeling will drop slime stacks. The Slimeling also uses a modified version of the Pickpocket mechanic, giving it a chance to steal one piece of equipment per combat. This usually makes the slimeling a better choice that the Hound Dog when looking for equipment drops, even if MP is not an issue.
Hounddog.gif Jumpsuited Hound Dog Item drops Special Uncommon Increases item drops like a fairy with 125% of the dog's weight. Increases the frequency of combat encounters by floor(weight/6) to a maximum of +5%. Powerful but not useful all the time. Makes Sonofa Beach a lot quicker.
Gcube.gif Gelatinous Cubeling Combat Turn Management Uncommon Acts as a fairy and delevels at the start of combat. While its effects are nothing special, what makes the Cubeling good is that it drops items that save turns in the Daily Dungeon. The eleven-foot pole lets you skip elemental tests altogether without spending a turn, the ring of Detect Boring Doors allows you to skip a chest and 2 additional rooms, and Pick-O-Matic lockpicks can be used as an alternative to skeleton keys before you can obtain them. You only need to put in 12 combat turns with the Cubeling to get all three items, then you can ditch it for the rest of the run. Also useful during a Gourdcore run.
Hobomonkey.gif Hobo Monkey
Meat gain
Uncommon Increases meat drops like a leprechaun with 125% of the monkey's weight, and drops a bit of extra meat. Useful every ascension for the nuns and squeezing extra meat out of the beefy bodyguard bats. The Hobo Monkey is a go-to choice if you do not already have a higher leveled Leprechaun-type familiar when you get to the Nuns.
Blackbird2.gif Reassembled Blackbird
Special
Common These familiars speed up exploration of The Black Forest while active, saving a few turns there. After acquiring either hatchling, a different familiar can be used while retaining the exploration bonus.
Blackbird1.gif Reconstituted Crow
Spacejelly.gif Space Jellyfish
Combat
Turn Management
Special
IotM Acts as a Barrrnacle at the start of every combat anda allows you to extract jelly from elementally aligned monsters, which are 1 speen items that produce a variety of helpful effects. You are guarenteed to get the jelly on the first extract each day, with diminishing returns for each subsequent use. Jelly can be cooked with toast to produce 1 fullness items of the same ability as the jelly. Each jelly produces 50 turns of an effect (or 25 when consumed with toast). Each effect includes +5 elementally aligned damage, +10% to all attributes/+30% to a specific attribute, +5 stats/+3 to a particular stat/30% item drops. In addition, there is a bonus effect. Depending on the jelly you'll get either a free run away/banish, free booze with the next drink, a 10% discount at the next item purchased from an NPC store, forcing a monster to drop all of its items (similar to a yellow ray, but without sharing the same cooldown]] or the ability to force a non-combat.

Outside of ascension, the jellyfish offers further utility underwater. When adventuring underwater, functions as both a Blood-Faced Volleyball and a fairy, while giving a free sea jelly each day to speed underwater exploration.

Xoskeleton.gif XO Skeleton
Item drops
Turn Management
Special
IotM Increases item drops like a fairy while restoring hp/mp like a Ghuol Whelp. Provides a skill that delevels and forces a non-conditional item drop similar to that of Rave Steal. Drops Xes and Os, which can be spent at the XO Shop. The ability to steal single items is one of the main reasons to use this familiar, and it makes retrieving certain items like filthworm glands a trivial matter. The Xes and Os can be used for varying potions and consumables, and the most useful of these is the bridge truss, which covers half of the bridge over The Orc Chasm on its own, and saves a lot of time and grief.
Robotender.gif Robortender
Combat
Item drops
Meat gain
Sub-stats
MP Restore
Turn Management
Special
IotM Increases meat drops like a leprechaun while dropping cocktail ingredients, both new and generic (based on the monster's phylum). These can be used to make some unique cocktails of good, awesome and epic quality while granting 40 turns of a useful buff. It can also drink the drinks it makes for extra abilities for the day. Aside from providing easy drops for mixing traditional cocktails, it offers a lot of versatility not only for unique, high quality booze that gives powerful buffs, but it can have its own functionality improved greatly by adding abilities that other familiars may provide. This potentially includes doubling its meat drops, improving specific substat gains from fights, increasing item drops like a fairy, dealing damage in combat and dropping actual items during battle. For one familiar, it can do a lot to make your runs easier and faster, whether it is used for one turn or most of your run. As the cherry on top, it also gives Extra PvP Fights.
Catburglar.gif Cat Burglar
Item drops
Meat gain
Special
IotM A Fairychaun that accumulates heist charges over combats, each of which allows it to steal a single non-conditional item from one of the last three monsters fought. The first heist gained requires 10 combats, with each additional heist requiring double the number of combats. This counter gets reset at rollover, while previously accumulated heists remain.

While its functionality does overlap with disintegration/yellow rays, the heist occurs post-combat (regardless of whether the item actually drops or not), and it is possible to obtain multiples of the same item with multiple heists (which is useful for items like ores from the mountain man or cheese or milk from the dairy goat). Additionally, it is especially ideal when you only need to force a single drop at a time, which makes obtaining single items like the mohawk wig, amulet of extreme plot significance or any of the filthworm glands a breeze.

Intergnat.gif Intergnat
Combat
Item drops
MP Restore
Turn Management
Special
IotM Acts as a fairy and drops bacon after every combat. Additionally, it places a random modifier on the monster you are fighting, which further increases its capabilities between attacking, restoring MP, dropping more bacon, dropping demon summoning components (as well as access to a new demon summon) and additional combat skills. There are two key uses for this familiar.

The first is that bacon can be used at the meme shop to access powerful items such as a yellow ray combat item, a one-use copy, an awesome quality 15-fullness consumable and a combat item that can produce an extra daily dungeon token.
The second offers availability to demon summoning components, which is especially important if skipping the first floor of Spookyraven via copying Writing Desks. Additionally new demon you can summon thanks to this familiar can provide further utility towards speeding up an ascension. As such, the intergnat offers a lot of varied utility that is a great asset for most types of ascensions.

Tottot.gif Trick-or-Treating Tot
Combat
Item drops
Meat gain
Sub-stats
MP Restore
Turn Management
Special
IotM This little guy does it all. Acts as a Ghuol Whelp with a 100% activation rate regardless of the costume equipped, with additional bonuses based on the costume (familar equipment) equipped. In a typical run, she has three permanent costumes and three temporary ones. The three permanent costumes give +15 to all attributes, +5 Adventures/+5 Pvp Fights on Rollover and Superhuman Resistance to All Elements respectively. The three temporary costumes give +150% item drops, +300% meat drops and +15 stat gains respectively. Powerful and versatile. Gives additional bonuses during trick-or-treating and has additional costumes for Fallout Shelter runs.
Puckman.gif Puck Man Combat MP Restore Turn Management Special IotM Acts as a Levitating Potato and Ghuol Whelp. Drops a yellow pixel after every combat, which can be crafted into various helpful items at The Crackpot Mystic's Shed. This includes food and booze in the form of pixel lemons and pixel daiquiris, which grant 10 adventures on average for 2 fullness or drunkenness. Potions that can be crafted include yellow pixel potions, which grant +20 Monster Level for 20 adventures, and miniature power pills, which grant +100% to all attributes for 30 adventures.

In addition, occasionally drops power pills, which can be used to insta-kill an opponent without the combat taking an adventure like Lightning Strike, while still getting normal stats, meat, item drops, and other after-combat occurrences. In a 3-day run, up to 9 power pills can be collected.

Mspuckman.gif Ms. Puck Man
Machelf.gif Machine Elf Combat Item drops Meat gain Sub-stats MP Restore Special IotM At the beginning of combat, stuns, staggers, delevels, or restores a sizable chunk of MP. If the combat is a boss, also grants 1 turn of Inner Elf, which gives +100% to all attributes, weapon damage, and spell damage. At the end of combat, grants extra substats of one type, a bit of meat, or one of six abstraction items. These abstractions are size-1 spleen items, which grant no adventures and a 50-turn effect that either increases an attribute by 100% or stat gains of an attribute by 25%. Also drops a Deep Machine Tunnels snowglobe at the end of combat, once a day.

While active or with the effect from the snowglobe, grants access to The Deep Machine Tunnels underneath The Wrong Side of the Tracks, a zone containing scaling monsters that also drop abstractions. With the Machine Elf active, combats in this zone will not take any adventures, for 5 combats every day. In these combats, using the right abstraction against the right monster will convert the abstraction into a new abstraction that does not drop normally. These new abstractions are also size-1 spleen items that grant no adventures and a 50-turn effect, one that gives 100% Item Drops, one that grants +10 Familiar Weight, and one that grants +100% Initiative.

Galgrill.gif Galloping Grill Combat Sub-stats MP Restore IotM Acts as a Hovering Sombrero and a Hot-aligned Star Starfish. Also drops handfuls of hot ashes, which can be used as a strong combat item or cooked into a +ML potion, shakers of dry rub, which increases stat gains from food, bottles of lighter fluid, which can be used to skip some noncombats in the Tavern Cellar, and off-stat boosting potions, useful for survival and the NS tower off-stat test. In total, the Grill gives more substats than any other familiar except for the Artistic Goth Kid or Mini-Hipster while they have fights remaining.
Fistturkey.gif Fist Turkey Combat Item drops Meat gain Sub-stats Turn Management IotM Increases Item Drops like a fairy, and attacks enemies, sometimes staggering them. Always acts at the beginning of combat, performing one of the following: attacking, granting substats for one stat, or granting a bit of Meat. Occasionally drops high-quality effect-granting booze (Friendly Turkey , Agitated Turkey, or Ambitious Turkey) at the end of combat, depending on your level, up to 5 drops per day.
Crimboshrub.gif Crimbo Shrub Combat Sub-stats Meat gain Special IotM Attacks enemies with elemental damage and grants extra substat gains after combat, weighted toward a given stat. Has decoration options for customizing the familiar's abilities, once per day:
  • Specifying which stat the extra substat gains are weighted toward
  • Tuning the type of elemental damage dealt
  • One choice out of:
    • Restoring HP after combat
    • Occasionally granting extra PvP fights
    • Blocking monster attacks
  • One choice out of:
    • 150-turn cooldown Yellow Ray
    • 100-turn cooldown skill that grants 2000-3000 Meat
    • Gift exchanging, allowing you and random players with the familiar to occasionally give and receive duplicated item drops at the end of combat
Hatrack.gif Mad Hatrack Combat Item drops Meat gain Sub-stats MP Restore IotM Multi-purpose familiar whose function depends on the hat/pants placed on it. Duplicates a lot of other familiars, usually at lower weights/efficiencies than the real familiar. Highly versatile provided you can get the appropriate hat/pants and are willing to spend the effort looking it up. Faxing a sleepy mariachi and yellow ray-ing it for its drops the spangly sombrero/pants, which turns both the Hatrack and Scarecrow into to a double-weight Fairy/Potato with a high level cap.
Pantscrow2.gif Fancypants Scarecrow
Cheerleader.gif Steam-Powered Cheerleader
Item drops
IotM Acts as a Fairy and Barrnacle. For the first 100 fights (200 with its familiar equipment), it is equivalent to as as much as a 1.4x Fairy/Barrnacle, its effectiveness decreasing every 25/50 turns until it's a normal weight Fairy/Barrrnacle. Also provides some decent buffs during combat for that turn.
Minihipster.gif Mini-Hipster Combat Sub-stats MP Restore Special IotM While adventuring with either of these familiars, a non-superlikely adventure will be replaced with a scaling combat that doesn't take a turn. This can occur up to 7 times per day, saving as many turns and providing free stats in the process.

While both of these familiars perform the same primary function, and share the same counter to boot, their secondary abilities differ between them. The Mini-Hipster performs greatly varied actions such as providing substats, recovering MP and assisting with combat. Meanwhile, the Artistic Goth Kid acts like a Blood-Faced Volleyball that gives Extra PvP Fights. His scaling combats drop crayon shavings, which can be used as a percentage-based delevel or be crafted into low-level Moxie equipment.

Crayongoth.gif Artistic Goth Kid Sub-stats Special
Reanimator.gif Reanimated Reanimator Sub-stats Special IotM By default, it acts as a Blood-Faced Volleyball. Occasionally collects monster parts, allowing it to increase item drops, meat drops, attack, delevel, and/or block enemy attacks, independent of weight and dependent on the number and type of parts collected. The main use of this familiar, however, is a skill that lets you turn an enemy into a wandering monster, appearing 3 more times that day, 15-25 turns apart. This is very useful for fighting multiple copies of an enemy that allows you to speed up a quest considerably, especially when combined with the Fax Machine or genie bottle.
Nanorhino.gif Nanorhino Combat Special IotM Delevels at the start of combat and deals elemental damage, but its main feature is its charge function. When fully charged, using a class combat skill will give you one of three buffs, respective to its source. While the buffs are decent by itself, if you Unleash Nanites with 40 or more turns remaining for these buffs, it will dispel the buff for another powerful effect: banish the monster until rollover, convert a monster into a stronger monster with much higher stat yields, or a "Yellow Ray" disintegration. In particular, banish is particularly notable since it's one of the only banish sources in a standard run, but disintegration is good if you do not have any other Yellow Ray effect and conversion can yield a huge amount of stats if used properly. It requires spending turns with a mediocre familiar if you want to use these effects more than once, however.

Tier 2

Hasc02.gif Familiars that can be handy in a niche role, even if you have all the above familiars, but are generally not essential. Hasc02.gif
Familiar Name Familiar Type Rarity Description
Godlob.gif God Lobster
Combat
Item drops
Meat gain
Sub-stats
MP Restore
Special
IotM Increases stat gains like a Blood-Faced Volleyball. The main benefit of this ability is to challenge the God Lobster for three free fights per day; winning each fight gives you one of its many pieces of familiar equipment (all of which tune or augment its base functionality), a 33 turn buff or a substantial substat bonus to stats. The main use of this familiar would be for the free fights, and the free substats by extension, while the buffs and equipment have some utility depending on your other available resources.
Pokefam47.gif Stooper
Turn Management
Common Increases liver capacity by 1 while it is your active familiar. There is no point to adventure with this familiar, but it can be used to imbibe an additional one drunkenness booze item along with your nightcap for some extra adventures the next day.
Dumpsterfire.gif Garbage Fire
Item drops
MP Restore
Special
FotY Acts as a Fairy and Ghuol Whelp. Occasionally drops burning newspaper, which can used as combat items or fashioned into a variety of useful equipment that disappears at rollover. It also drops some food, booze and potions. Good as a generalist and for quality of life, but it doesn't offer anything particularly noteworthy or unique.
Opticandle.gif Optimistic Candle
Item drops
Sub-stats
Special
FotY Acts as a Fairy and Blood-Faced Volleyball. Occasionally drops glob of melted wax which can be fashioned into a variety of useful objects and food. Good as a generalist, but it does not offer anything particularly noteworthy.
Pokefam48.gif Disgeist
Special
Common Decreases the frequency of combat encounters by floor(weight/7.5), to a maximum of -10%. Useful if you cannot reach -25% combat frequency, but it provides no other abilities when active and it needs a lot of familiar weight buffs to be reasonably useful.
Cactusbud.gif Mutant Cactus Bud Combat Meat gain Very Rare If there is a lot of moonlight coming from the Grimace moon, then this will be an improved leprechaun. Occasionally slightly better than a hobo monkey.
Chocolab.gif Chocolate Lab
Item drops
Special
IotM Acts as a Fairy in addition to producing additional sprinkles from monsters. As the only familiar that increases monster sprinkles that automatically makes him the best in class. It is unclear whether harvesting sprinkles will speed up or slow down a HC run, but at a minimum you are going to want to do it until you perm the useful Gingerbread City skills.
Bandersnatch.gif Frumious Bandersnatch Combat Sub-stats Special IotM Acts like a Blood-Faced Volleyball. With Ode to Booze activated this familiar gives free runaways, one of the two familiars that do so (the other being the Pair of Stomping Boots. It also provides additional functionality with combat skills, making combat much easier while potentially levelling the familiar up faster. However, since new skills were added to every class, its combat functionality is less useful than it used to be.
Smimic.gif Stocking Mimic Combat Meat gain MP Restore Item drops Sub-stats IotM Acts like a Cocoabo and also drops useful items that will give a lot of stats, item drops and meat gains. The stat gains from BitterSweetTarts as well as the item drop bonus from Polka Pops are very useful, and the Mimic can provide additional MP to boot. Getting such important candy drops is very unreliable, however, and the MP restoration can be provided by other familiars that offer better abilities overall.
Medium 0.gif Happy Medium Sub-stats Turn Management IotM Acts as a Blood-Faced Volleyball and increases initiative. Every monster kill charges up the Medium, which is used to siphon the spirit of a monster to create booze. They are good to awesome quality 2-drunkenness boozes that also give buffs depending on the monster type siphoned. The buffs, unfortunately, are largely overshadowed by newer buffs and mechanics, while other familiars like the Robortender can provide better (and more reliable) drinks and offer more utility.
Organgoblin.gif Knob Goblin Organ Grinder Combat Meat gain Turn Management IotM Increases meat drops like a leprechaun and attacks for elemental damage. Also drops pies after a certain number of combats. If one of those combats is a boss, the pie will be a Badass pie. The turns used resets at rollover, but killing a boss with the Grinder before rollover can lead to a Badass pie the next day. The Badass pie yields good adventure and stat gains, but is somewhat overshadowed by newer familiars and skills overall, especially for shorter ascensions.
Jungman.gif Angry Jung Man Item drops Meat gain Special FotY A Fairychaun that drops a psychoanalytic jar every day. In particular, in the Crackpot Mystic's psychoses, you can find a morbid skull which drops more white pixels than the blooper. This is a much faster way to make the digital key than farming the 8-Bit Realm. The 30 turn investment to obtain the jar can be a nuisance, however, and white pixels can be obtained from other sources such as the Clan Floundry (requires a Clan VIP Lounge key) and through copying Ghosts.
Fireant.gif Mutant Fire Ant Combat Item drops Very Rare If there is a lot of moonlight coming from the Grimace moon, then this will be an improved fairy. Occasionally slightly better than a hound dog.
Holobuddy.gif Xiblaxian Holo-Companion
Special
Common Increases Combat Initiative by twice its weight. With just a few +familiar weight buffs, even a completely unleveled Holo-Companion could be helpful in reaching the initiative needed in To Catch a Killer (during the Level 9 Quest). It can also help in finding modern zmobies and ranking higher at Test Your Might And Also Test Other Things.The Holo-Companion offers additional prevention of enemies' attacks, of a similar relevance as a Levitating Potato, which adds to its overall utility.
Grimgolem.gif Grimstone Golem Item drops Meat gain Special FotY A Fairychaun that drops a grimstone mask every day. Of the content it unlocks, one particular zone lets you collect odd silver coins for a cost of a few adventures, which you can spend on useful items that help speed up a run, including bridge parts and faster Desert exploration. However, the 50 turn investment to get a mask is undesirable, and the turn savings can be very meager.
Frankengnome.gif Reagnimated Gnome Combat Item drops Turn Management IotM Normally acts as a Fairy, but can also perform other functions based on its familiar equipment, and one of these can be obtained for free every day. Three of them are combat-based, and in particular, the gnomish housemaid's kgnee gives free adventures once in a while like the Temporal Riftlet.
Obtuseangel.gif Obtuse Angel Item drops Turn Management Special IotM Functions like a Baby Gravy Fairy but is usually not used for that reason. When using the angel, you can use the Fire a badly romantic arrow skill once each day that will turn that enemy into a wandering monster that will appear two more times that day in any zone (or three times if you have the familiar equipment). This is generally worse than the Reanimated Reanimator, but there are some monsters, such as the Ninja snowman assassin that you only want to fight three times.
Babybugbug.gif Baby Bugged Bugbear Combat Sub-stats IotM Visiting The Cake-Shaped Arena will give you the basic familiar equipment for free. This can be freely transformed into a bugged balaclava, which makes the familiar act like a Blood-Faced Volleyball that gives an extra +20 ML, which can help to speed up certain quest parts (like the Defiled Cranny and Oil Peak). With the balaclava equipped it sometimes gives more substats than a basic Hovering Sombrero.
Miniadv0.gif Mini-Adventurer Combat Sub-stats MP Restore Special IotM When set to mini-Turtle-Tamer increases stats like a Blood-Faced Volleyball, and can restore MP like a starfish after player level 5. It offers a lower-upkeep benefit than the GGG or spirit hobo, and it scales better than Emilio after player level 10. It does not compete with the higher-tier stat familiars except in niche cases where MP generation is important.

When set to mini-Accordion-Thief offers wildly-varying utility based on player class. Other mini-classes offer niche aftercore utility.

Tier 3

Hasc03.gif Familiars that are good for what they do, but are outclassed by better familiars. Hasc03.gif
Familiar Name Familiar Type Rarity Description
Parrot.gif Exotic Parrot
Special
Common When combined with a +familiar weight skill (e.g. Amphibian Sympathy), this familiar will provide elemental resistances. This can help you explore The Haunted Kitchen faster. It will also increase stat gains in the elemental tests in the Daily Dungeon. If you are lacking elemental resistance skills, the Parrot will also let you pass resistance tests such as the Icy Peak and reduce damage taken in A-Boo Peak.
Nosynose.gif Nosy Nose Combat Special Uncommon Acts as a Barrrnacle in combat. Having it as your active familiar grants you the skill Get a Good Whiff of This Guy, which works similar to Transcendent Olfaction with no MP cost (details need spading). It can be useful for players who did not farm up Olfaction, or if you need to save 40 MP.
Pokefam8675309.gif Mu
Special
Very Rare Increases elemental resistances like an Exotic Parrot while dealing prismatic damage during every round combat. Aside from being useful for certain areas that require elemental resistance such as Twin Peak and The Hedge Maze, it also has some use if you need prismatic damage to overcome heavy resistances, such as when fighting the wall of skin (without the beehive).
Pokefam46.gif Unspeakachu Combat MP Restore
Special
Common Attacks and restores MP like a starfish, while occasionally increasing the duration of current buffs. Slightly better than a normal starfish, and fairly unique in what it provides, but it is very unreliable in when it supercharges your buffs.
Rockinrobin.gif Rockin' Robin
Item drops
Sub-stats
Special
FotY Decent as a Fairy/Volley combo, while the robin's egg has some utility in terms of buffing, delevelling or being used for food/booze. However, compared to some other yearly offerings, it seems lacking.
Rattlesnake.gif Baby Mutant Rattlesnake Combat Sub-stats Very Rare If there is a lot of moonlight coming from the Grimace moon, then this will be an improved Blood-Faced Volleyball. Sometimes better than a basic volleyball, but never as good as the higher-tier stat familiars.
Spacebeastlet.gif Twitching Space Critter Combat MP Restore Rare Attacks and restores MP; both functions are doubled against Spooky and Hot monsters. Unlike other elemental Star Starfish familiars, this one functions very well when used in the copse and The Cyrpt, making it effective for restoring large amounts of MP early on when you are likely to need it the most.
Heboulder.gif He-Boulder Meat gain MP Restore Special IotM Increases meat drops like a Leprechaun and restores hp/mp like a Ghuol Whelp. Its main benefit is to provide a yellow ray via point at your opponent, which is the ability to guarantee all non-conditional drops from a monster, once per day and per 150 turns thereafter due to its yellow-ray cooldown (or 100 with its familiar equipment). While it is the first of its kind, over a dozen new sources of the mechanic have been implemented since this familiar’s inception, including the permable disintegrate skill (which shares the same yellow-ray cooldown as this familiar), rendering it largely obsolete. The red / blue rays it also provides are mildly useful at best.
Spelunker.gif Adventurous Spelunker Combat Item drops Meat gain FotY A Fairychaun that attacks and blocks. Also drops a Tales of Spelunking once every day, which is fun, but does not help in finishing a Hardcore run faster.
Choctopus.gif Choctopus Item drops MP Restore Subscriber's Bonus A fairy/ghuol whelp combo. Obsoleted by the Slimeling, which is also cheaper to get, but still an excellent familiar.
Dandylion.gif Dandy Lion IotM
Badger.gif Astral Badger
Sub-stats
IotM Astral mushrooms can be used to take a Great Trip. In addition to their high monster level, the monsters there have useful cupcakes, and you are guaranteed a single Munchies pill per mushroom, which will grant 3 adventures. If you are looking to cut turncount, the turns spent with the badger instead of a stat familiar and the adventures spent in the trip are not worth the benefits. If you are looking to cut daycount and you need to level early, the turns generated by the Munchies pill partially offset the cost of the trip, which may make at least a single day 1 trip worthwhile.
Dishand.gif Disembodied Hand Combat Special IotM Very powerful damage dealer. Not much use otherwise unless you really want to take advantage of a one-handed weapon's enchantment.
Ggg.gif Gluttonous Green Ghost Combat Sub-stats MP Restore IotM Increase stats like a volleyball, and can restore MP like a starfish when given food or booze, respectively. Useful, but does not compete with the higher-tier stat familiars. If you use a Gluttonous Green Ghost, be aware that it can also steal food drops from you.
Ghobo.gif Spirit Hobo
Pictsie.gif Green Pixie Item drops Turn Management IotM Increases items like a fairy and drops absinthe that can be used to visit The Worm Wood. Adventuring in the approriate location with 1 turn of Absinthe-Minded left guarantees an adventure that provides up to 150 substats, which may be better than other powerleveling options.
Llama.gif Llama Lama Item drops Sub-stats IotM Increases stats like a half-weight Volleyball and delevels defense. Drops gongs which provide several different options. Bird form restricts your options in combat for 15 turns but can provide a spleen item that provides a significant boost to item or meat drops or stat gains if you fight Spooky, Stench, or Hot aligned monsters, respectively. Path of the Roach takes 3 turns to use but gives significant statgain followed by a buff to monster level or item drops.
Emiliofam.gif Tickle-Me Emilio Combat Sub-stats MP Restore Rare / Untradeable Acts as a Volleyball and an improved Cocoabo. Compared to the Cocoabo, it acts more often, sometimes deals elemental damage, and produces a static 60 meat. If you are fortunate enough to own this familiar, it gives more mileage than a plain Volleyball or Cocoabo would.
Lilxeno.gif Li'l Xenomorph Item drops Sub-stats Special IotM Normally functions as a Volleyball, and with its familiar equipment it also functions as a Fairy, making the least restrictive, uncapped Volleyball/Fairy familiar in the game. Whether it's worth giving its Fairy function is debatable. Its content is largely for aftercore, and is rarely done during a fast run. It does, however, contain scaling monsters, and dog hair pills and distention pills can come in handy if you manage to find one.
Hippofam.gif Hippo Ballerina Combat Item drops Meat gain KoL Con A Fairychaun, but also deals Sleaze damage, delevels, and block attacks, making it strictly better than other Fairychauns, but not by much.
Sugarfairy.gif Sugar Fruit Fairy Item drops Sub-stats IotM Acts as a fairy, increases stats as a volleyball at the cost of MP. If not enough MP is available the additional stats accumulate in sugar plums for later use. Also occasionally drops other handy sugary sweets. The MP cost is quite high which makes its use questionable, but can be helpful in the unlikely event that you are swimming in MP. The Pygmy Bugbear Shaman has a slightly lower MP cost, but does not drop fruit. Both of these familiars cost too much MP to be useful in a fast ascension.

Basic Tier

Littlesmile.gifThese familiars provide basic levels of key functionality, and offer a nice starting point to work with.Littlesmile.gif

While they are largely outclassed by better familiars above, such as IotMs and FotYs, they are all either easy to obtain and/or inexpensive in The Mall of Loathing. Additionally, all of the base familiar types listed will never fall out of standard (and are often accessible during Bad Moon ascensions), although some of their subtypes might.

Familiar Name Familiar Type Rarity Description
Familiar15.gif Baby Gravy Fairy
Item drops
Common Increases item drops based off of its weight. Item drops are necessary in many areas in order to proceed, making a basic fairy very useful for the long haul.

Also applies to most Fairychauns, elemental fairies, Crimbo Elf, Grouper Groupie, Syncopated Turtle, Peppermint Rhino, and Mechanical Songbird.

Familiar12.gif Blood-Faced Volleyball
Sub-stats
Common Increases stat gains based off of its weight. A solid familiar to use for levelling up faster at the start of an ascension.

Volleyball properties also apply to the Pre-2012 Volleychauns, Ancient Yuletide Troll, Crimbo P. R. E. S. S. I. E., Grinning Turtle, Penguin Goodfella, Hovering Skull, and Baby Z-Rex.
The Lil' Barrel Mimic is noteworthy in that it increases substats like a volleyball while also dropping varying consumables (similar to those found in The Barrel full of Barrels). Additionally, it will restore HP & MP after every combat with its familiar equipment, making it one of the better familiars for the aspiring adventurer to utilize early on, especially for its price & availability.

Smilerat.gif Smiling Rat Common
Barrelmimic.gif Lil' Barrel Mimic
Sub-stats
Special
Common
Familiar18.gif Hovering Sombrero
Sub-stats
Common Increases stat gains based off of its weight as well as the enemy's monster level. While it starts out weak at the beginning of an ascension, its potency grows over time, becoming a valuable source of substats later on, especially when running additional +ML modifiers.
Familiar17.gif Star Starfish Combat MP Restore Common Attacks and restores MP. It is likely the most effective and reliable type of familiar for restoring MP quickly, and maximizing its usefulness can be done via the Star Starfish Trick.

The Animated Macaroni Duck is superior to the Star Starfish if you are a Pastamancer, which acts as if it's 20 pounds heavier if so. Otherwise, it's exactly the same as a Star Starfish.
A number of elemental starfishes of varying availability also exist, which are twice as effective when attacking opponents of the appropriate element. Some of them are as follows: Snow Angel (cold), Underworld Bonsai (spooky), Midget Clownfish (sleaze), Rock Lobster (hot).

Macaroniduck.gif Animated Macaroni Duck Common
Familiar16.gif Cocoabo Combat MP Restore Common Occasionally attacks, restores MP and HP, and provides meat. A good source of MP if you can survive enough combat rounds for it to trigger a few times, and useful for overall quality of life to start with, but it will be quickly replaced by superior familiars.

The Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot serves as a better Cocoabo overall, and even provides toast to boot.

Npzr.gif Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot Rare
Familiar2.gif Leprechaun Meat gain Common Increases meat drops based off of its weight. Aside from the obligatory usefulness in getting more meat from monsters with high yields (such as the beefy bodyguard bat), it also helps in recovering the sisters' meat and overcoming the wall of meat faster.
Woim.gif Oily Woim
Special
Common Increases Combat Initiative by twice its weight. With just a few +familiar weight buffs, even a completely unleveled Woim could be helpful in reaching the initiative needed in To Catch a Killer (during the Level 9 Quest). It can also help in finding modern zmobies and ranking higher at Test Your Might And Also Test Other Things.

Other

Hardcorex.gif Familiars that are useless or not as good as easily obtainable familiars. Hardcorex.gif
Familiar45.gif All Other Familiars No useful functions that aren't better gotten elsewhere These familiars all do a variety of non-useful things. If you are trying to ascend fast, you won't use them.
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 - AoWoL - Source - NA - GN - LtA - L.A.R. - PF - G-Lover
IotMs: Tomes - Faxing - Copying - YR - Garden - Correspondent - Workshed - Tea party - Florist