An alternative categorical approach to Hardcore Skill Analysis.
Spending your precious Karma on making skills permanent is a core part of the game, and with over 280 skills to spend your karma on, it can be quite daunting to figure out what skills to prioritise. This page analyses these skills to help you make an informed decision.
Some important notes to be aware of:
- The skills on this page are split into numerous categories based on their primary function, and then ranked within those categories. When it comes to deciding what skills to perm, you should ask yourself what primary function you feel would be the most useful, and then choose the best skill from that table.
- A number of skills at the top of various lists have shaded backgrounds. These are considered to be the most powerful skills in the game for hardcore ascension and so it is strongly advised you collect these skills first.
- As this page it designed to help you decide what to spend your karma on, skills that are automatically marked hardcore permanent are left out of the main analysis, and are instead moved to their own section at the bottom of the page.
- Skills that are useful only for one class are listed separately from all the other skills and categories in the Class-Specific section.
|Skills that are primarily used to grant more adventures per day|
|Generating extra turns each day lets you speed up your ascensions by allowing you to do more each day. The top 5 skills in this tier are exceptionally strong for Hardcore ascensions and should be prioritised immediately for most players.|
|Pastamastery||Pastamancer (5)||10 MP||Allows you to summon 3 dry noodles per day and passively allows you to cook noodle dishes. As painful penne pasta can be made without spending any turns finding ingredients, this ensures that you will always have an easy source of good food available. While this skill is pretty good by itself, it gets extremely good when combined with Advanced Saucecrafting as you will be able to make reagent pasta instead.|
|Advanced Saucecrafting||Sauceror (5)||10 MP||Allows you to summon 3 scrumptious reagents per day and passively allows you to cook them into reagent pasta and potions. Reagent pasta is some of the best food you will eat during a hardcore ascension and will provide an enormous turn generation improvement. Furthermore, any spare reagents can be put towards milk of magnesium, which provides at least 10 extra adventures. Lastly, the other reagent potions give you the option to make powerful stat boosting buffs that can help with tough boss encounters if you're desperate.|
|Advanced Cocktailcrafting||Disco Bandit (5)||10 MP||Allows you to summon a random selection of 3 little paper umbrellas, coconut shells and handfuls of magical ice cubes per day, and also passively grants the ability to mix drinks using these garnishes. These improved drinks are a marked improvement over what you would otherwise be drinking for most of your ascension. Getting the fruits to make the base mixed drinks that these garnishes improve can be tricky before level 9, so don't forget that typical tavern swill can also be improved with these for your day 1 drinking.|
|Superhuman Cocktailcrafting||Disco Bandit (15)||Passive||Increases the number of garnishes you summon with Advanced Cocktailcrafting from 3 to 5 per day, letting you fill more of your liver with good booze, and lessens the chance of RNG screw not giving you the right garnishes to match the ingredients you have. If you're playing a Moxie class you get further bonuses - having this skill will let you improve basic booze and mixers up to 10 times a day at Nash Crosby's Still. This allows you to make superhuman cocktails, and to upgrade soda water to tonic water, which is a very efficient MP restorer.|
|The Ode to Booze||Accordion Thief (12)||50 MP and AT song slot||Gives you 5 - 20 adventures of the Ode to Booze effect, which gives you extra adventures from booze at a rate of one adventure per drunkenness, but reducing the buff by one turn per extra adventure. It is an extremely costly buff, especially since getting full use of it requires multiple castings, and may be impossible to cast early in a run without ways of boosting your maximum MP. Despite these potential issues, it can easily generate 15-29 adventures a day, depending on how over-drunk you can get (highest being with a bucket of wine).|
|Saucemaven||Sauceror (11)||Passive||Increases adventure gains from Hi meins and reagent pastas. 10 adventures per dish for Mysticality classes, 5 adventures for Muscle and Moxie classes. As reagent pasta should now be your primary food source, this is an extra 10 or 20 adventures per day.|
|The Long View||Turtle Tamer (12)||Passive||Passively gives 3 adventures every rollover. A significant decrease in turn generation compared to the skills above, but is particularly useful for Oxygenarian ascensions.|
|Transcendental Noodlecraft||Pastamancer (15)||Passive||Increases the number of dry noodles summoned by Pastamastery to 5 per day, and also gives Mysticality classes access to The Wok of Ages. Combined with Pulverise, this lets you make hi mein instead of reagent pasta for a reasonable turngen boost for Mysticality classes. However each hi mein will cost you 2,000 meat and an unavoidable cooking turn, so it can be a bit of a resource drain.|
|Lunch Break||CRIMBCO Handbook||10 MP||Once per day lets you summon a sack lunch for 10 MP. These should be left unopened until you are at level 11, at which point opening them can give casseroles, which aren't bad if they can fit in with the rest of your diet plan. These can be upgraded to lasagnas if you're a Mysticlity class via the wok, but they don't get the Saucemaven bonus so it might not be worth it. Was more useful before Saucemaven existed.|
|Fashionably Late||CRIMBCO Handbook||Passive||Passively gives 1 adventure every rollover. This is extremely unlikely to make a difference to your daycount, unless you're really really cutting it close. Nice for Oxygenarian ascensions, of course.|
|Pizza Lover||Turtle Tamer (4)||Passive||Slightly improves adventure gains from pizzas. If you get an incredible pizza to drop, then this gives you a small boost, otherwise you will never use it. Extremely niche use.|
|Skills that give you more familiar weight|
|Smart use of your familiars gives you powerful benefits such as improved item drops chance, more meat, more stats per fight and MP. Heavier familiars are better, making familiar weight skills very powerful skills that you give you more of what you want, when you want it. They also make beating the Naughty Sorceress's familiars easier too, which is nice.|
|Amphibian Sympathy||Turtle Tamer (3)||Passive||Passively increases familiar weight by 5lbs. This is widely considered the single most powerful skill that does not directly generate more turns. With Sympathy, pet-buffing spray and irradiated pet snacks, you can achieve the 20lb familiar requirement for beating the Naughty Sorceress's familiars without any adventures spent specifically levelling them up.|
|Leash of Linguini||Pastamancer (11)||12 MP||Increases familiar level by 5lbs for 10 turns at the cost of 12 MP. While more familiar weight gives diminishing returns on most familiars, the MP cost is easily manageable and the benefits are still pretty good.|
|Empathy of the Newt||Turtle Tamer (8)||15 MP and turtle totem||Increases familiar level by 5lbs for 5 - 20 turns at the cost of 15 MP. As many players, will be unlikely to spend the time and resources upgrading the turtle totem, you will usually only get 5 adventures of the buff per cast, making this cost 3 MP per adventure to maintain. This is often too expensive to run all the time, and so this skill is low priority compared to the other familiar weight boosters, and the diminishing returns from more familiar weight make this skill less useful.|
|Curiosity of Br'er Tarrypin||The Traveling Trader||10 MP and turtle totem||One extra familiar experience per fight for 5 - 20 turns. Not all that cheap, but if you can afford to run it early on for the primary familiars you plan to use, then it can all add up to a pretty reasonable boost in the long term.|
|Testudinal Teachings||Turtle Tamer (9)||Passive||Very slightly increases the rate at which your familiars gain experience. Has very little impact, but it's passive.|
|Skills that get you more item drops from combats|
|Many quests in the game require you to get items to drop from monsters, so making that easier will speed you up. Additionally, you will also get more items that can be autosold for extra meat, or more equipment, or extra ingredients to cook into food and booze, or more useful potions and combat items, and so on. The take home point here is that making items drop more often helps quite a lot.|
|Mad Looting Skillz||Disco Bandit (8)||Passive||Passively increases item drops by 20%. This is a huge bonus and has no maintenance costs. A very powerful skill, what's not to like?|
|Fat Leon's Phat Loot Lyric||Accordion Thief (7)||11 MP and AT song slot||Increases item drops by 20% for 5 - 20 turns at the cost of 11 MP. You don't need to run this all of the time but the bonus is pretty large, so you might end up running it all the time anyway. And in the grand scheme of things, extra item drops gives you more to stuff to autosell, so it partially pays for itself.|
|Powers of Observatiogn||Fragnk, the Regnaissance Gnome||Passive||Passively increases item drops by 10%. Less powerful than the above skills, but it's passive, so the bonus is free. And what's better than free? When free gives you more stuff.|
|Thief Among the Honorable||Accordion Thief (10)||Passive||Passively increases item drops by 5% and meat drops by 10%. The item drop and meat drop one-two-punch combo is a nice improvement to your economy and speeds up quests too! Not by much, but hey, every little helps.|
|Singer's Faithful Ocelot||A Vending Machine||15 MP||Increases item drops by 10% for 10 turns at the cost of 15 MP. More expensive than phat loot lyric and half as powerful. Too expensive to run all the time, but gives a reasonable boost that helps speed up getting important drops.|
|Natural Born Scrabbler||Hobopolis||Passive||Passively increases item drops by 5%. A very small gain, but it's passive, so it's better than nothing.|
|Master Accordion Master Thief||Accordion Thief (13)||Passive||Passively increases pickpocket chance by 10%. Only useful for moxie classes, and requires you to get the jump. Mostly niche use for places like the filthworms and when you have access to free runaways, you can take off all of your ML and try to save a turn by pickpocketing then running away if successful.|
|Sensitive Fingers||Disco Bandit (14)||Passive||Passively increases pickpocket chance by 10%. Same as above.|
Combat Rate Modifiers
|Skills that change the odds of getting into a fight|
|Adventures are typically split into two types; combats and non-combats. When it comes to completing quests, being able to push the odds of getting either into your favour can help speed up how long it takes to complete the quest. Of the two, boosting the rate of non-combats is significantly more useful than boosting the rate of combats. So much so, that the combat rate increasing skills are pretty low priority.|
|Smooth Movement||Disco Bandit (14)||10 MP||Increases the rate of non-combats by 5% for 10 turns at the cost of 10 MP. This will speed up quite a lot of quests, saving you a significant number of turns. But be careful, the effect is not shruggable! Mutually exclusive with Musk of the Moose, casting this will remove musk, and vice versa.|
|The Sonata of Sneakiness||Accordion Thief (13)||20 MP and AT song slot||Increases the rate of non-combats by 5% for 5-20 turns at the cost of 20 MP. Typically twice as expensive as Smooth Movement and uses a song slot, but is just as powerful and stacks with it, so you will want to run both. Will save you a significant number of turns across the ascension.|
|Musk of the Moose||Seal Clubber (14)||10 MP||Increases the rate of combats by 5% for 10 turns at the cost of 10 MP. Nowhere nearly as useful as non-combat modifiers, but has its uses in a couple of places, most notably the notorious Sonofa Beach. But be careful, the effect is not shruggable! Mutually exclusive with Smooth Movement, casting this will remove smooth, and vice versa.|
|Carlweather's Cantata of Confrontation||Accordion Thief (14)||20 MP and AT song slot||Increases the rate of combats by 5% for 5-20 turns at the cost of 20 MP. Typically twice as expensive as Musk of the Moose and uses a song slot, but is the same power level and stacks with it, so you will want to run both.|
|Skills that heal you|
|Let's face it, you're going to take damage at some point, and Doc Galaktik charges through the nose for HP restoration. And those Muscle classes are probably going to want to save their spleen for something other than Medicinal Herb's medicinal herbs. While many classes can buy healing skills in-run, perming more efficient healing skills will save you meat, sometimes quite a substantial amount.|
|Cannelloni Cocoon||Pastamancer (12)||20 MP|| Most sources of healing in the game are on a per-point basis - the more you need to heal, the more it costs. Cannelloni Cocoon is different because it's a flat cost for a full heal, making it the most efficient healing skill once you need to restore big chunks of hit points at once. While at first it might seem like your maximum HP isn't high enough as many classes to make it cost efficient, having this permed does prevent you from needing to buy other healing skills in-run, which in itself is an efficiency saving. And some classes don't have very efficient healing skills anyway.
It's also really really good for aftercore or normal ascensions, if you enjoy those too.
|Adventurer of Leisure||Disco Bandit (9)||Passive||While the main function of this skill may appear to be making Disco Nap better, it also provides two free rests per day, which are great for small heals when resources are tight, or for healing Beaten Up. With experience you should be getting Beaten Up less and less, so the two free rests are all you need. A nice quality-of-life passive that generates you some resources.|
|Disco Nap||Disco Bandit (3)||8 MP||Now that we already have Adventurer of Leisure permed, Disco Nap goes from the least efficient healing skill to the second best, and is better than Cannelloni Cocoon if you need to heal less than 80 HP. It will also clear a number of irritating debuffs such as Cunctatitis, and gives you yet another free rest each day too!|
|Executive Narcolepsy||CRIMBCO Handbook||Passive||Another passive free rest per day. Now you're at 4 per day.|
|Tongue of the Walrus||Seal Clubber (9)||10 MP||Heals 30-40 HP and cures Beaten Up. Was more useful before free rests could also cure beaten up. You shouldn't really be getting beaten up more than 4 times per day, but if you do, then this skill will help you.|
|Fortitude of the Muskox||Seal Clubber (1)||Passive||A passive 1-2 HP regen. Every little helps. This is only noticeable during the first few levels, but that is also when healing is at its most expensive.|
|Saucy Salve||Sauceror (2)||4 MP||Heals 10-15 HP, but only during combat. Will stagger the opponent during the first use, and only sometimes during subsequent uses. Can potentially save your ass in a worst-case scenario, but in practice you will very rarely use it.|
|Lasagna Bandages||Pastamancer (3)||6 MP||Restores 10-30 HP. Will very occasionally save you 2 MP over casting Disco Nap if you have less than 30 HP to restore.|
|Antibiotic Saucesphere||Sauceror (10)||15 MP and saucepan||A buff that gives 4-5 HP regen based for 5-20 turns based on your best saucepan. Ridiculously expensive for the benefit, you will never cast this.|
|Cringle's Curative Carol||Crimbo Carol||5 MP and AT song slot||5-10 HP regen for 5-20 turns for 5 MP. Way better than Antibiotic Saucesphere, but you will never cast this either because it uses a song slot, and cannot compete with better songs.|
|Spirit Vacation||Turtle Tamer (1)||1 adventure||Full HP restore and 10 turns of +10 max MP and 8-10 MP regen, but at the cost of 1 adventure. Not worth the adventure cost, you might be better off not perming it so you don't accidentally cast it.|
|Hibernate||Seal Clubber (2)||1 adventure||Full HP restore, cures Beaten Up and 5 turns of +3 stats per fight, but at the cost of 1 adventure. Not worth the adventure cost, you might be better off not perming it so you don't accidentally cast it.|
|Skills that improve combat|
| Killing monsters is about dealing enough damage while minimising resource expense. In general, dealing more damage in less combat rounds is expensive, but comes with the benefit of being hit less. Whether killing enemies quickly or slowly is more efficient generally depends on your class, skills, and how much you're pushing things by running lots of monster level or fighting above your means.
Note that most classes are better at killing enemies using their own class skills, so this category focuses on the perms that tend to help multiple classes. See the individual class skill tables for more class-specific analysis.
|Tao of the Terrapin||Turtle Tamer (15)||Passive||It can be tough to accurately represent what Tao does for you because of the complexities of how Damage Absorption works and the fact that the bonus granted by this skill varies with the power of your hat and pants. But don't be fooled by its simplicity and vagueness, this skill will massively reduce the amount of damage you take. And because Damage Absorption is a percentage based reduction, it only gets better as you are able to run more and more Monster Level.|
|The Moxious Madrigal||Accordion Thief (1)||2 MP and AT song slot||Provides +10 moxie for 5-20 turns at the cost of 2 MP. Extremely cheap to run and makes a very big difference in the early part of an ascension, where HP and MP are typically at their most scarce and expensive. Having this skill can single-handedly let you start running monster level immediately, kickstarting your ascension and letting you reach important milestones sooner.|
|Entangling Noodles||Pastamancer (3)||3 MP||Once per fight, if you are a Pastamancer, this will stun the enemy for 3 rounds of combat. That's pretty good, but cheap to buy in-run anyway and so not worth perming this soon. For all other classes however, it's a stagger and 8-10 delevel once per fight, which is quite a lot of very cheap delevel. Being able to fight monsters with stat points a single-digit amount above what you have is pretty common when you are low skill and cannot run much bonus monster level, so using this skill lets you very cheaply bring monsters down to a manageable level.|
|Curse of Weaksauce||Sauceror (12)||8 MP and curse|| Delevels the attack and defense of the enemy by roughly 3% of their original attack value every combat round. For Saucerors it also gives back massive MP when you kill the enemy with a spell. This skill single-handedly makes using spells viable as a Sauceror, letting them generate incredible amounts of MP. It is one of the best delevelling skill in the game for all classes, although Entangling Noodles is cheaper earlier on as it gives a large, fixed amount of delevel, while this skill's delevel scales to the enemy. Combined, these two skills give you a fair amount of delevelling on the cheap which can be much cheaper than buying and using the combat skills of the class you're playing, at least while you're not running too much monster level.
You won't use it for every encounter as a non-Sauceror once you are running large amounts of ML, but before then this skill can help make combats easier to manage, and the difference it makes to Saucerors is like night and day.
|Itchy Curse Finger||Sauceror (8)||Passive||Makes curses stagger during the round you cast them. This essentially lets Curse of Weaksauce get off a bit more delevelling at no extra cost before you risk getting hit back.|
|Stuffed Mortar Shell||Pastamancer (8)||8 MP||Sometimes you just need to deal lots of damage. While this skill can only be cast once per fight, and has a one-round delay until it does any damage, it can deal very large damage very cheaply. It does 32-64 points of damage plus half of your buffed myst in a random element (or physical) and always hits. This skill complements most classes combat styles, but often isn't quite enough to win combat on its own.|
|The Power Ballad of the Arrowsmith||Accordion Thief (4)||5 MP and AT song slot||Gives +10 muscle and +20 max HP for 5-20 turns. While song slots are very competitive, this is a very cheap way to raise your maximum HP by at least 30, which is huge in the early game. The muscle boost can also make things a bit easier for muscle classes. You won't run it all the time due to competition for song slots, but early on it's a cheap way to stop getting one-shot.|
Stat Gain and ML
|Skills that get you more stat gains from combats|
|Levelling up faster means reaching important milestones sooner, like consumption requirements, or having multiple zones from different quests all unlocked at once so a limited buff can be run across all of them back to back, or just making combat cheaper by having higher base stats. And, of course, levelling up fast means there is no need to spend any turns powerlevelling.|
|Ur-Kel's Aria of Annoyance||Accordion Thief (15)||30 MP and AT song slot||The primary stat gain skill, Ur-Kels gives (level*2) ML for 5-20 turns. This is too expensive to run and gives little reward early on, but at later levels you will want to try and run it all the time until you no longer need stat gains. Getting a combat suite that allows you to survive and deal with tougher combats is a higher priority, so this skill will take a while before you pick it up, but once you do, the boost is noticeable.|
|Skills that get you more meat drops from combats|
| While extra meat drops only explicitly speeds up one area of ascension, The Themthar Hills, having more meat means you can buy more MP to run more buffs, buy more Dispensary buffs, and makes it easier to buy skills in-run. While these skills are not high priority, they will add up to a reasonable boost over the course of an ascension.
Note that Thief Among the Honorable also gives +10% meat drops, but is listed in the item drops section due to the higher importance of item drops.
|The Polka of Plenty||Accordion Thief (5)||7 MP and AT song slot||Increases meat drops by 50% for 5-20 turns. This will easily pay for itself in a number of zones and is a very large boost. Competition for AT song slots can be tough, but many high meat zones like The Boss Bat's Lair and The Hidden City don't have much need for combat modifiers, and so this frees up a slot.|
|Nimble Fingers||Disco Bandit (6)||Passive||Passively increases meat drops by 20%. The second largest meat boost, and it's a passive!|
|Expert Panhandling||Sauceror (3)||Passive||Passively increases meat drops by 10%, and increases to 15% if you are wielding a saucepan in your mainhand. Only Saucerors will ever practically get the bonus.|
|Thrift and Grift||Hobopolis||Passive||Passively increases meat drops by 10%.|
|Gnefarious Pickpocketing||Fragnk, the Regnaissance Gnome||Passive||Passively increases meat drops by 10%.|
|Five Finger Discount||Accordion Thief (7)||Passive||Makes store items cost 5% less. Technically doesn't earn you meat, but directly saves you a little bit instead. That's sort of the same thing, right? Doesn't help towards buying guild skills, Doc Galaktik and shore trips.|
|Disco Leer (skill)||Disco Bandit (15)||10 MP and Facial Expression||Increases meat drops by 10% for 10 turns. Competition for the facial expression slot means you will only use this during Themthar Hills and aftercore farming.|
|Sticky Fingers||Accordion Thief (11)||Passive||Gives you a small amount of meat when you successfully pickpocket. Will amount to very little over the course of an ascension, and only for moxie classes.|