Kung Fu

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Kung Fu is a combat and ascension strategy. It is used predominantly in Hardcore ascensions, but sometimes in Normal (softcore) as well.

The December 2013 Item-of-the-Month The Smith's Tome was designed to provide an alternative to Kung Fu strategy and in many ways supersedes it in an ascension context.


Kung Fu has many benefits, as well as some drawbacks which must be worked around. The core of the strategy is the synergy of three skills:

Skill Source Effects
Kung Fu Hustler The Autobiography Of Dynamite Superman Jones
(The Traveling Trader, 2011-01-11)
Confers intrinsics when fighting empty-handed
+20% items, +50% initiative, +L*3 weapon damage, +L*3 Spooky Damage. L = your current level
Summon Clip Art Tome of Clip Art
(Mr. Store, Sep. 2011)
Allows summoning frosty halo, shining halo, furry halo
Master of the Surprising Fist Way of the Surprising Fist
(special challenge path)
+20 to hit empty-handed, +10 DR, +10 damage

The Kung Fu Hustler intrinsics are acquired at fixed points over the course of 30 empty-handed combats.

Many players use this strategy without Master of the Surprising Fist, but it is quite rare to use it in Hardcore without the Clip Art halos. (Some softcore players may use it for the initiative bonus in The Defiled Alcove, or with a Mr. Accessory Jr. or a Jekyllin hide belt in place of a frosty halo.)


  • Your weapon and offhand slots must remain empty during combats, or you will lose the Kung Fu Hustler intrinsics, and have to build them up again. (You may equip weapons or offhand items during noncombats, or while spending turns crafting, and so on.)
  • There are times during an ascension when you are required (or very strongly encouraged) to equip a weapon during a combat. It is a good idea to save some of these zones/fights and do as many as possible together, so that the KFH intrinsics only need to be rebuilt a small number of times. (Ideally, this rebuilding should be done in zones where item drops are not critically important.)
    Places where it is necessary or advisable to equip weapons include:

Defeating Monsters

It is necessary to have some means of defeating monsters while you are empty-handed. There are many ways to do this:

  • Empty-handed attacks use Muscle to hit. With the +20 bonus from Master of the Surprising Fist, Muscle classes can frequently hit things with ordinary attacks. With the bonus damage from the KFH intrinsics and MotSF, these attacks are very powerful, often exceeding the damage one would get from weapons.
  • If ordinary attacks won't hit, sometimes boosting Muscle with skills and potions, or using Kneebutt, may be enough to tip the balance. See the Additional Skills section for tips.
  • Deleveling the monster may also help you hit it; Disco Bandits are particularly good at this.
  • Moxie classes may often have high enough Moxie to dodge monster attacks, but not high enough Muscle to hit the monsters. In these situations, they may choose to attack repeatedly, hoping for critical hits. Each "miss" will do only 1 point of physical damage, so this can be frustrating. Black Body™ spray may be used to increase the chance of critical hits.
  • Skills that automatically hit the target (spells, Toss, Clobber, and various class starting skills) are frequently used.
  • Combat Items may be used as necessary.

Additional Skills

While the strategy can be used effectively with only the core skill set in many situations, there are some additional skills that extend the range of the strategy, making it far more flexible (particularly in Mysticality class runs).

Skill Source Effects
The Power Ballad of the Arrowsmith Accordion Thief guild +10 Muscle, +20 Maximum HP
Rage of the Reindeer Seal Clubber guild +10% Muscle, +10 damage
Stevedave's Shanty of Superiority Accordion Thief guild +10% all stats
Song of Bravado Dreadsylvania +15% all stats
Kneebutt Turtle Tamer guild variable bonus to hit (up to +20), extra damage source, 50% chance of stagger
Lunging Thrust-Smack Seal Clubber guild +30(?) (or more) bonus to hit
Toss Turtle Tamer guild auto-hit skill (1 MP or 0 MP)
Clobber Seal Clubber guild auto-hit skill (1 MP or 0 MP)
Stringozzi Serpent A Beginner's Guide to Charming Snakes
(The Traveling Trader, 2010-04-30)
spell, physical damage over time
Flavour of Magic Pastamancer guild +10 spell damage, tunes Pastamancer spells
Cannelloni Cannon Pastamancer guild spell, tunable with Flavour
Entangling Noodles Pastamancer guild
other spells Pastamancer/Sauceror guild damage (varying)
Stealth Mistletoe A Crimbo Carol, Ch. 5
(Crimbo 2009)
Doubles subsequent Disco Bandit delevels
Tango of Terror Spookyraven as a Disco Bandit
  • Delevels by 8
  • Unlike other DB deleveling skills, this one can be used multiple times per combat, making it the best choice for perming.
other deleveling skills Disco Bandit guild mostly Deleveling

The choice of how to kill a given monster is highly situational. The focus is typically on how to do so most efficiently (lowest cost in terms of MP, meat, or nonreplenishable items).

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
Additional Paths: DG - 2CRS - KoE - PotP - LKS - GG - Y,Robot
IotMs: Tomes - Faxing - Copying - YR - Garden - Correspondent - Workshed - Tea party - Florist