Hardcore Oxygenarian Strategy

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Among the most difficult challenges in KoL is the Hardcore Oxygenarian (HCO) ascension. Forbidden from consuming food and booze, the number of adventures you can amass per day is severely restricted. Likewise, all stat bonuses from eating and drinking are unavailable. This article aims to impart what HCO wisdom is available. To get the most benefit from your limited number of adventures, use the Oxycore Guide to determine how best to spend your adventures each day.

Once you decide to leap into an HCO character, remember: you can always go to the account menu and drop the path if it becomes too tedious, at the cost of losing your path rewards.

Recommended Skills

Most of what is covered in the Hardcore Skill Analysis applies to Oxygenarian strategy as well. Given that Oxygenarians cannot consume food or booze, HCO characters should have a healthy roster of hardcore permanent skills prior to attempting an HCO run. Several skills acquire increased importance in Oxy. Most of your skills should focus on turncount reduction. The few turncount generators that are permable such as Pulverize, Super-Advanced Meatsmithing, and The Long View, also have high priority. Beyond these, there are a few support skills that acquire increased importance due to the length of an Oxy run. Below we describe why each skill is so valuable in Oxy particularly — refer to the Hardcore Skill Analysis for a broader picture of its use and relative importance.

Note that Oxygenarian does not use Standard restrictions.

Extremely Useful Skills

Other Useful Daycount-Reduction Skills

Support Skills

The following support skills gain higher importance in Oxygenarian runs relative to standard HC strategy:

  • Inner Sauce gives a passive 1 MP regen (more to Saucerors), which helps in maintaining buffs.
  • Superhuman Cocktailcrafting gives Moxie classes 10 bottles of tonic water (300-500 MP) per day for only 700 Meat — a massive and well-needed influx of MP when keeping numerous expensive buffs active.
  • The Moxious Madrigal adds 10 Moxie for a measly 2 MP, adding a good deal or survivability, especially with high ML.
  • The Magical Mojomuscular Melody increases your MP headroom to let you take better advantage of the tonic waters you acquire from Superhuman Cocktailcrafting. It also empowers early casting of Antiphon and Ur-Kel's, making those skills even more powerful.
  • Ambidextrous Funkslinging allows the use of two items per combat round. Its main application is in defeating the tougher bosses, like the Shadow Class enemy in the final quest. Stunning and healing items can be used in combination if players get close to being Beaten Up.
  • Advanced Saucecrafting and Impetuous Sauciness together allow you to cook useful 10-turn (15-turn for Saucerors) Reagent Potions, although the more useful potions require either farming for ingredients or finding the Filthy Hippy Disguise to get access to The Hippy Store. If you're having problems defeating monsters, especially in later levels, helpful potions can get you over the hump. Adding The Way of Sauce lets you spend your run fully reagented if you also get the hippy outfit. Very few top ascenders use this strategy, but some do, and many casual players enjoy it greatly. This strategy is most useful to Moxie classes. Muscle classes can use Blood of the Wereseal to similar effect, while Myst classes will be multiplying an offstat and not a main stat.
  • Adventurer of Leisure and Disco Nap give free rests for more HP/MP per day and for removing Beaten Up.
  • Some high-level class-specific skills are very handy to have right at the beginning, even if it's good for only one class:

Astral Items

Choosing the right astral item can be tricky. Don't bother getting an astral food, for obvious reasons.

If you're confident with surviving with 20 extra ML, then go for the astral belt, as Adventures are too precious to spend dozens of turns to powerlevel. If you are less confident, then the astral shirt is a good general choice with its +3 substats, with Prismatic Damage to make the early game very easy, plus it doesn't compete for equipment slots compared to other astral gear.

Mysticality classes (and others, to lesser extent) might want to consider the astral bracer or astral statuette for the added rollover adventures (although note the statuette is an off-hand item that can't be equipped if you get a chrome sword).

Classes

What class should you choose to do an HCO ascension (although you'll likely end up doing all of them eventually)? It depends on what skills you have marked hardcore permanent. You should strongly consider earning Karma in other ways to acquire the "essential" skills above before you start your Oxy career, but enjoying Oxy with few skills requires only patience.

Characters with few skills often enjoy playing Accordion Thief or a Disco Bandit, moreso with ATs than DBs. Since their primary stat is Moxie, it will be hard for monsters to inflict damage, and it will be possible to progress to more difficult regions of the Kingdom sooner. Pickpocket gives extra chances to grab required items. And if you have Superhuman Cocktailcrafting permed, you can convert soda water from The Market into bottles of tonic water for a extremely effective MP restorer. Accordion Thieves have an easy time with the early game, thanks to Accordion Appreciation and Accordion Bash. Disco Bandits, on the other hand, need a few exclusive skills to become fully effective, such as Flashy Dancer for deleveling tougher monsters, and Disco Dance 3: Back in the Habit for their 3rd level of Momentum. Although it can get expensive on the long run, those item drops bonuses from Disco Greed can come in handy.

Have some nice combat skills? Then perhaps Muscle is the way to go. Seal Clubbers and Turtle Tamers get an innate 50% bonus to their maximum HP; in conjunction with Muscle (upon which base HP depends) being their main stat, and Blood of the Wereseal (percentage change in Muscle based on moonlight) being available at The Smacketeria, they are the most resilient classes in the game. Projections for wereseal bonuses can be accessed on the Noblesse Oblige website.

All-healing Medicinal Herb's medicinal herbs are also sold at the Muscle guild store, so fighter classes can take a licking and keep on ticking. For those not willing to sacrifice a valuable spleen point on herbs, a scroll of drastic healing will accomplish the same thing (though only available late in the game), and the Pastamancer's Cannelloni Cocoon skill heals all wounds for 20 MP.

Seal Clubbers can blow through some parts of a quest thanks to Batter Up!, but that and Ire of the Orca should be permed first, otherwise you only use it for 2 quests. On the other hand, Turtle Tamers can pick up valuable turtles through Turtle Taming along the way, including decent Back items and a few very useful potions.

Pastamancers and Saucerors have a natural 50% bonus to their max MP, and have access to Gouda's Grimoire and Grocery for magical mystery juice, by far the best MP restorer in mid and later levels. Offhand cookbooks raise spell damage to make spells hit harder. If you can manage their MP, combat should be a cinch for them.

Saucerors have little worry concerning MP, since Inner Sauce and Soul Food gives them a lot of MP, and if they have Curse of Weaksauce permed, then they will have practically unlimited MP when managed right. Pastamancers can kill anything very efficiently with some prep: Thrall Unit Tactics with a good chefstaff will allow them to cast Entangling Noodles + Stuffed Mortar Shell to kill anything for little MP, should Cannelloni Cannon with Bringing Up the Rear attuned with Flavour of Magic not do the trick.

Familiars

Having a few familiars prior to beginning your HCO run can help out immensely, and since Standard restrictions do not apply to Oxycore, you have a large selection of familiars to choose from.

A spleen familiar is highly recommended for HCO ascensions, as they are your only major source of turn generators. Except for the oldest Spleen familiars that require turns to get a spleen item, each Spleen familiars have their own benefits. Baby Sandworm can be used for a very fast flyering with Cyrus the Virus with just 2 clovers and 7 turns, Pair of Stomping Boots gives free runaways, Rogue Program lets you trade extra tokens for regen from little parachute guys, and the FotY Volleychauns' spleen items give enough stats to level up to 3 or 4 quickly.

A Gelatinous Cubeling also helps out immensely because it drops items that speeds up The Daily Dungeon.

To minimize the amount of turns spent powerleveling, having a stat familiar helps. While a Volleyball-type familiar gives a larger boost early on, Sombrero vs. Volleyball shows that an equal weight Volleyball beats the Sombrero until 83 ML. This amount of ML is fairly easy to reach after Level 6 or so or even earlier with some IotMs.

Beyond this, much of Hardcore Familiar Analysis applies to Oxycore as well. The more utility functions you have (Obtuse Angel/Reanimated Reanimator winking, Free Runaways, etc.), the better.

Moon Signs

Some moon signs are much more useful than others in an HCO ascension. Or more accurately, some are downright worthless. All moon signs have access to Monster Aggravation Devices, which boost Monster Level. Several bosses give bonus drops when their level is boosted by a given amount.

Degrassi Knoll

The innards of Degrassi Knoll yields two relatively small (but useful) benefits and one potentially major benefit to casters. Innabox and The Plunger provide free smithing and meat paste combining, respectively, which saves turns and meat for simple crafting (Innabox cannot perform Super-Advanced Meatsmithing or Armorcraftiness). Additionally, the gnolls will sell most of the parts necessary for a meat car and meat maid (plus items needed for crafting for The Smith's Tome owners); other classes will have to adventure in Degrassi Knoll to acquire these. The detuned radio is the Knoll's monster aggravation device, raising ML by up to ten points.

Having access to mushroom farming is a nice benefit to Mysticality classes, not for crafting noodles or mushroom wines, but for crafting Chefstaves, which saves a few precious turns.

As for individual signs:

  • The Mongoose increases Muscle gains and grants 20% more physical damage.
  • The Wallaby increases Mysticality gains and grants a 20% boost to spell damage.
  • The Vole increases Moxie gains and grants a 20% increase to both combat initiative and maximum HP/MP.

Little Canadia

Little Canadia provides 2 zones with a little variety for the early levels, although these really don't provide much benefit.

The primary benefit to visiting Canadia is for the logging hatchet, although it's usability depends on what class you are. Muscle classes have no trouble, Mysticality classes can manage as long as they have a spellbook or use it in the off-hand, but Moxie classes will need to buff their Muscle in order to hit stuff with it.

Another benefit Canadia is putting the meat gems from the pork elf goodies sack to use, should you elect to keep them rather than sell them for early Meat. Jewelrymaking and Really Expensive Jewelrycrafting are quite costly both in terms of meat and adventures to perform, but particularly for characters with rapid advancement of their Myst stat, the accessories produced can be equipped early.

Some of the jewelry items are far superior to what you would gain from quests or item drops — notably the vampire pearl items for those with the ability to pickpocket — and can last long into a run.

The Super-Secret Canadian Mind-Control Device is the Great White North's monster aggravation device, raising ML by up to 11 points.

The individual signs are:

  • The Platypus increases Muscle gains and grants +5 to familiar weight.
  • The Opossum increases Mysticality gains and grants extra adventures from food — useless for Oxygenarians.
  • The Marmot increases Moxie gains and grows a ten-leaf clover after one adventure per day.

Gnomish Gnomads' Camp

The Gnomish Gnomads' Camp may be the least useful overall, including HCO. The drop rates of the special items are too low to be of use without a Yellow Ray source, and even then farming for these items is questionable. You could try for a clockwork maid over 3 days with careful planning and free run-aways, but there are more valuable Yellow Ray targets for the first couple quests, which means it won't give as much returns. Fragnk's trainable skills are better off perming (for Torso Awaregness and Powers of Observatiogn, at least) beforehand. You also need to unlock the Desert Beach to access this place, and this is obviously more difficult than if the car parts can be purchased, like in Degrassi Knoll.

Now that the Naughty Sorceress Quest no longer requires one of the gum effects from South of the Border, the Gnomish Gnomads' Camp provides absolutely nothing for speeding up runs.

  • The Wombat increases Muscle gains and grants 20% extra Meat gains from monsters.
  • The Blender increases Mysticality gains and grants extra adventures from booze — useless for Oxygenarians.
  • The Packrat increases Moxie gains and grants 10% extra Item drops from monsters.

In Conclusion

Like for every other run, the Degrassi Knoll trumps the other two by a wide margin, although Little Canadia does have a small niche, even though said niche is hard to take advantage of.

Don't worry too much about picking the sign that generally helps your class the most. The area unlock often more than makes up for it. (For example, if you're a Muscle class, picking the Mongoose and being able to take advantage of all Degrassi Knoll offers can save more turns than picking Platypus or Wombat just for their abilities.)

Strategy With Clovers

Due to the length of HCO runs, players will have a decent surplus of Clovers. With the addition of free crafting skills such as Rapid Prototyping and Inigo's Incantation of Inspiration, there's no need to use these clovers for a chef-in-the-box, nor would they need it for a big rock to make a Rock and Roll legend due to the AT revamp.

Here's a list of locations with Clover adventure that directly speed up a run:

With some good +Item Drops and certain IotMs, only the A-boo Peak becomes essential for Clovering, or Itznotyerzitz Mine if you don't want to Yellow Ray a mountain man for ores.

And a few other zones for "quality-of-life" stuff:

If you don't need any specific items from Clover Adventures, your ten-leaf clovers are best used for stats in the appropriate room of Spookyraven Manor: The Haunted Gallery (Muscle), The Haunted Bathroom (Mysticality), or The Haunted Ballroom (Moxie). As the clover stats in these high-yield areas scale to your main stat, it's best to use them at the very end of the day or the end of your run.

Clovering low-yield areas is never a good idea — you should spend that time in an area that yields items, Meat and stats. Clovering for meat should only be done as a last resort, and reflects poor planning.

Semi-Rare Management

Because you can't consume a fortune cookie or a Lucky Lindy to reveal the semi-rare counter, HCO ascensions have particular problems finding these special adventures. The problem is exacerbated by an Oxygenarian's need to spend as many adventures as possible advancing quests and character level, which is generally done outside of areas with useful semi-rares.

Semi-rares can potentially be farmed once an initial SR is found. Since the SR counter resets to 100-120 adventures, HCO SR farmers can start adventuring in SR areas about 100 turns after their previous SR. However, this can result in serious adventure waste (not to mention that some special adventures can overwrite SRs and confuse the count), so this is not particularly recommended. If you wish to hunt for SRs regardless, then it's highly recommended to have some sort of free runaways available to mitigate the number of Adventures lost.

In the HCO context, the most useful semi-rares (and thus some areas where players may wish to farm SRs anyway) are:

Remember than combat semi-rares can be copied and faxed, so using a semi-rare counter for these is largely a waste.

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 - DD
IotMs: Tomes - Faxing - Copying - YR - Garden - Correspondent - Workshed - Tea party - Florist