Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Zombie Slayer Optimization - Step 1: Setting the Baseline

Between Bad Moon runs, I’m going to try optimizing the other types of ascensions I may attempt.  In each of the different challenge paths, my best runs are mostly between 4 and 7 days, but all of those runs were completed before the recent revamp of the Level 8 and 9 quests.  The Level 9 quest in particular seems like a massive barrier to the modern speedrunner, so I want to do a few runs to try to figure out the best way to handle those new quests.  I’m hoping to achieve 4-day runs across the board, so a lot of modifications will likely need to be made, assuming it’s even possible.

What follows is a day-by-day commentary on my recently completed Hardcore Zombie Slayer run.  The goal is to look at what happens each day and isolate some improvement that can be made.  I'll only mention the major milestones; once I have a more-or-less optimal run strategy down, I'll describe everything in a lot more detail. 

For the record, my relevant Items of the Month are the Reagnimated Gnome (familiar that increases item drops), Bear Arms (a vital item, these occupy my main and offhand slots throughout the entirety of my runs), and a VIP Key (vital for the Fax Machine and buffs from the Pool Table and Swimming Pool).  I have also completed enough Zombie Slayer runs to start with 30 skill points, allowing me access to every skill from turn one, and I have an Astral Belt, which I wear continuously until I hit level 13.

Day 1:
Hit level 8, completed all council quests up to 7
Received Stomach of Steel

Pretty well optimized:
Hovering Sombrero to start, fax lobsterfrogman on turn 1
Hovering Skull until level 6
Switch to Sombrero and rush to Stomach
Complete quests as possible

Notable ideas:
Run Reagnimated Gnome during Friars to increase chances of Hot Wings; will that reduce stat gains too significantly?

Day 2:
Halfway to level 10, completed all available council quests
Unlocked Hidden Temple (with spare Stone Wool), Haunted Ballroom, and Pirate’s Cove
Prepped GMoB
Completed Daily Dungeon run

Sad optimization:
Hovering Sombrero unless actively looking for item drops (like in the eXtreme Slope and Orc Chasm)
Hit the Shore when the timer expires to get all the Tower items and unlock Island
Complete Daily Dungeon run
Spend adventures between council quests by prepping for future – unlocking Hidden Temple, unlocking parts of the Manor, prepping GMoB, unlocking Poop Deck, gathering pixels, gathering and identifying DoD potions

Notable Suggestions:
Improve Orc Chasm quest –
Make the bridge more quickly?
Survive A-Boo Peak Map for an extra round?
Increase +ML above 100 to speed up Oil Peak?
Better/easier stench resistance for Twin Peak?

Can’t see a good way to get enough +ML to push above 100, so that may have to stay.
A-Boo Peak might benefit from waiting until level 11 and Black Market – Can of Black Paint gives extra elemental resistance, and extra HP may allow to survive one more round
Stench resist for Twin Peak benefits similarly

Build bridge and complete Oil Peak at level 9, wait until level 11 to finish quest

Day 3:
Just hit level 11, started Macguffin quest
Finished Giant's Castle
Got everything I needed from the Hole in the Sky
Made a Digital Key
Collected and identified all the Dungeons of Doom potions
Unlocked Haunted Gallery, Belowdecks, Hidden City, and Spookyraven Cellar
Completed Daily Dungeon run

Acceptable optimization:
Stubbornly ran the Sombrero for most of the day
Spent adventures between Council quests cleaning up future necessities (mainly unlocking areas)
Completed Council quests as they became available
Completed a bounty at the Airship - Score!
This day was mostly about preparing for the future and hitting level 11; not a whole lot to be improved there.

Notable Suggestions:
Run the Gnome any time that I need a drops (pixels, potions, Giant's Castle, Hole in the Sky, etc.)
Powerlevel after completing all future preparations

Day 4:
Finished the Macguffin quest
Finished the war, completing 4 sidequests, with just 3 adventures remaining

Excellent optimization:
Used Gnome while in Spookyraven Cellar, Palindome, and Oasis
Picked up a mojo filter in Oasis, allowing a second Astral Energy Drink
Hit the Gallery to reach level 12
Took nearly 20 adventures to get GMoB, but other sidequests went quickly
Finished the war 9 Muscle away from level 13

Notable Suggestions:
None, this day went about as well as possible, save for the RNG

Day 5:
Finished the run 50 adventures into day 5

The lair was just the lair, standard fare

So, I missed the 4-day goal by 50 adventures.  I think this run was representative of most, as the RNG wasn't particularly bad or good overall.

For the next run (which won't happen for a while, as the next challenge path should appear tomorrow), I should be able to shave a few turns off by using the Gnome more vigorously at various points (when going for the Friar's quest, Dungeons of Doom potions, and the Giant's Castle, most notably).  The place with most room for improvement is definitely the level 9 quest - my plan is to construct the bridge and complete Oil Peak at level 9, but then wait until level 11 to complete the other parts.  That way I'll have access to a Can of Black Paint for extra elemental resistance to make the other peaks easier.

There's definitely some room for improvement, but I'm still pretty proud of my 967-turn HC ZM run (my best one yet!).

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