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Path Overview: 2CRS

2023-11-27 // Old Man Yells At Paths

Some paths are really, really simple. One small restriction here, a little boost there, a tiny tweak to the core mechanics there, et cetera. When I think about the 40+ challenge paths that Asymmetric has produced for KOL, I'd say something like 30-40% are really easy to abstract, even if some of the tiny changes resulted in big gameplay modifications. Two Crazy Random Summer.... well, that one isn't really one of the simple ones. It's a supremely weird path, and features some really curious and engaging balancing mechanics. Let's dive in!

Core Path Modifications

In the prequel path to 2CRS, if you had to try and sum it up in one word, the general theme was "randomness" -- random monster modifiers that would change the tenor of your fights. 2CRS shares that core theme, but goes in a wholly different direction. Instead of randomizing your monsters, 2CRS randomized... well... basically everything else? Specifically:

  • Everything in your inventory gains a variety of bizarre cosmetic modifiers, making your entire inventory a cacophony of colors, vibrating gifs, and oranges that were now named "moldy small wobbly"
  • All items that give you buffs and effects had the effects they gave you randomized to a random hookah-eligible effect that existed prior to the path's inception
  • All equipment enchantments are replaced with random enchantments (with a few relatively small exceptions)
  • All food and drink had their quality randomized, making crappy food good and good food crappy

All of these were modified according to class and moonsign, meaning that in-season, there were 6 * 9 = 54 different "eligible" seeds you had to pick between. A ton of options! There were a few small nuances around all of these game changes, too. For one, the only food that was eligible to hit "epic" tier turngen were beverage items; this had the funny effect of making the Hermit, randomly, the greatest restaurant in the game -- the Hermit sells two beverages (catsup and ketchup), which meant in something like 50% of the class/moonsign combinations, Mr. Hermit was the only source of high turngen in-season. In addition to these, there were a handful of items (most notably the latte lover's member's mug) that have hardcoded custom enchantments that overrode the 2CRS enchantments.

In addition to all of these modifications, meat drop on monsters was capped at 1000, in an attempt to curb the path's value as a best-in-class meatfarming solution.

That's quite a lot of changes! How does it change the speedgame?

Consequential Speedrunning Diversions

There were three big slowdowns in the path:

  • Due to the meat cap, you cannot do the nuns quest in the war in less than 100 turns. (This makes it, uh, pretty bad!)
  • Due to the fact that the filthworm effects weren't included in the potion pool, you cannot clear the filthworms for the war quest
  • As with filthworms, the items for Knob Goblin Perfume and Stone Wool don't actually work; luckily, Stone-Faced was actually in the pool, so (in-season) something like a third of seeds had a reasonably accessible route to find stone wool (or, if it didn't, could wish it using the genie bottle); this represented a pretty massive seeding advantage if you could find a good seed with Stone-Faced on an accessible potion, as you only got 6 wishes in a 2 day run, and you had to wish Stone-Faced twice to unlock the Hidden City

However, there were a few nice positives to benefit path runners:

  • The randomized effects were (largely) pretty neat -- it meant that stores like The Armory & the Leggery & the Meatsmith suddenly had viable speedrun helpers, like sleaze damage swords or +item% pants. While familiar weight wasn't directly helpful in standard through a bander or professor-like, you generally had significantly higher familiar weight in 2CRS than you would have in a normal path, due to the wealth of random items lying around everywhere that you could get to give you specific benefits.
  • The randomized potions were, in some seeds, a huge help. There were a ton of seeds where Green Smoke Bombs could be effectively capped with the wealth of powerful +item% effects you could snag from common items; buffs like +100% item drop "Certainty" could appear on hair-spray and Ben Gal balm from the General Store, or black paint from the Black Market, or other super common potions. Pulverize was uniquely powerful in this path, as many powders and nuggets ended up giving strong benefits like free crafts and Stone Wool replacements.
  • For lower-shiny players, certain seeds were extremely comfortable from a combat perspective. The primary seed combination used by speedrunners while the path was standard -- Club Possum (Seal Clubber / Opossum) -- had the effect New and Improved on cheaply summonable Love Potions, which allowed you to bank an entire ascension's worth of a +100% initiative, +200% stats buff that trivialized even the hardest fights for a low-shiny player. (Twinkly Powder also gave +100% muscle, so at the expense of virtually zero resources, you could run around with 300% boosts to your muscle before you even considered your equipment. Pretty nice!)

Path Focus: In-Standard

To start, let's examine the IOTMs that speedrunners had available during the 2CRS season.

items available in 2CRS

This is, honestly, a pretty good suite! It doesn't quite match up to the raw power of the modern suite, but it has a comfortable mix of delay burning resources, copier resources, summon resources, and leveling tools. It also has a variety of cozy "tail-cutting" items, like macrometeorites for monster rerolls and the space planula to summon up an astronomer. It also has several of the "big stat stick" items that help survivability and enable fun turn-cut strategies. In terms of the best IOTMs available, the biggest hitters aren't too different from other 2019 paths -- Kramco and Asdon are both absurd power players, even with magical sausages nerfed in this path (as they aren't size 0, they're size 1+). The Garbage Tote isn't actually quite as powerful as it normally would be, as the significantly higher in-run +item and +stat boosts make the champagne charges and the shirt charges a little less relatively powerful.

The biggest diversion from normal IOTM valuation comes from the rune-strewn spoon cocoon -- in normal paths, this effectively saves you 4500 meat or generates +5 turns by allowing you to double dip on moonsigns. Not really a ton of value. In 2CRS, though? It allows you to effectively combine the benefits of two distinct seeds -- you start in one, buff up for the rest of the run, and switch over to your new seed to enjoy a new set of benefits. We were pretty lucky that the spoon dropped early in the path's standard timing, because the amount of extra thinking and diving this took to revise our approaches was wild. While the seed swap benefits aren't enough to say "oh, this is the most valuable item in standard for 2CRS", it was invariably one of the biggest planning motivators runners had to work around when planning out their approach for their last few speedruns.

So, IOTM suite aside -- was 2CRS fun? I'm a bit biased here, personally. 2CRS was the first time I got remotely close to a Gold Star in-season run; it was just the second path I had collected a full standard IOTM set for, and I found it to be a massively fun spading exercise that was extremely enjoyable on virtually every level. I made a bunch of spreadsheets as guides and public resources; all of them are out-of-date now, as 2CRS seeds have changed since the path's standard period, but you can find a nice Python-generated overview of all accessible items in-path with what their modifiers and effects were here, and a simpler cheat-sheet with a few highlight effects here.

Putting the exactitudes aside: to me, 2CRS was a blast. One thing that I emphasize often when talking about KOL speedrunning is that the core path speed doesn't need to be really fast to be really fun. There have been paths that are super fast with wildly low turncounts that I still considered extremely unfun to play, and there have been extremely slow paths that rank among my favorites. 2CRS is in the latter camp. Through the novelty of the wildly changed speed game, 2CRS managed to toe the line well. It was unmistakably slower than Standard that year -- and not by a slim margin, either. Which makes total sense when you look at the three big slowdowns -- losing the ability to do two war sidequests is a brutal increase in turns spent for the war, so much so that some speedsters actually chose to do McMillicancuddy's duck quest, one of the worst quests in the game. Fun enchantments can increase your comfort level, and a few more GSBs are a nice mild benefit. But at the end of the day, turning about 27 turns of 16-32 kills apiece into 100-something turns of 8 kills apiece is just a massive gulf to deal with, especially when you add on the diversions that some runners had to take if they weren't sticking with good ol' Club Possum.

But, despite the slowdowns, the bizarre potions and the need to dig into the seeding, 2CRS was a rewarding path. The actual changes felt simple ("make the items more random") but the cascading impact throughout your quests and paths was interesting to plan around and fun to react to.

Path Focus: Unrestricted

As you might expect from the core mechanic's fundamental slowdowns, 2CRS remains quite a difficult path for speedsters. As of writing, The Garfather (#394715) holds the Pyrite Plug for the fastest hardcore 2CRS run with a 2/319 run in unrestricted. This is quite a bit faster than Lyft's in-standard Gold Star of 2/462 in hardcore, but we're hovering around 1/200 as the top speed for Hardcore unrestricted runs in vanilla paths; the fact that 2CRS hasn't even broken the 1-day Hardcore or 300 turn barrier yet is a sign of just how heavy the extra unmanageable war turns can weigh on a path.

However, I suspect breaking the 1-day barrier in hardcore is a bit more plausible than one might think. Semi-retired speedrunner worthawholebean (#1972588) pulled off a 1/1337 softcore run in 2CRS in winter of 2020. It was for an incredibly funny reason (that I will discuss in our next section), but the core thrust of Bean's run was to simply generate as many turns as humanly possible, and while we didn't really focus on incredible turnbloat in-season, there are a handful of silly and semi-buggy interactions in 2CRS that allow for you to go way, way over the mark on generated turngen if you are explicitly trying to do it. A non-exhaustive list of organ-value-enhancers includes:

  • Each black label you use adds 3-4 adventures to each bottle of base booze (rum, whiskey, vodka, gin, and tequila) you consume -- normally, this doesn't really matter much, as it turns a 3 drunkenness drink into 6 adventures instead of 3. But in some seeds, with size 1 base booze, this amounts to turning the base booze into 6-10 adventures per inebriety, a very solid baseline liver value quite comparable to some of the best-in-class options outside of 2CRS
  • The Saucemaven skill adds 5 adventures to each saucy pasta. Most saucy pastas are 5 fullness in the core game, making this a +1 adv/full skill; in 2CRS, some seeds have size 1 saucy pastas, allowing you to (with some annoying farming) generate food that gives adventures in a 9-11 adventures-per-fullness range, wildly above the normal number you'd be getting from your stomach in the path
  • Elven "limbos" gingerbread were the core culprit behind worthawholebean's hilarious 1/1337 bugged run; TPTB fixed it to make it a bit more reasonable, and harder to use it alone to generate over a thousand turns. But you can still, in some seeds, get limbos gingerbread up to about 10 adventures per fullness, which is quite good

This is not to say that a 1-day HC is easy. After all, nobody's done it yet! It would be a difficult task -- you'd have to carefully weigh the amount of turngen you need against the amount of turnsave you're leveraging, and you'd need to be careful about your choices. But I suspect a 1-day hardcore 2CRS will happen someday relatively soon, and we'll be eagerly awaiting the beautiful mind of the madlad who does it.

Any other fun anecdotes, stories, or strategies worth mulling on from the path?

Alright, time to talk about some of the weirder parts of 2CRS. As I noted earlier, TPTB placed a meat cap of 1000 meat on 2CRS, with the goal being to prevent 2CRS from being a degenerate meatfarming path. They succeeded, in a sense. You can't just ascend into 2CRS, generate cheap gobs of meat drop, and cycle through endless turns in Barf Mountain for troves of meat. So, in "explicit" meatfarming, 2CRS is pretty bad.

That isn't the full story, though. Because while a meat cap exists, there isn't a cap on familiar weight, and (as aforementioned) there are many tricks you can use to boost the efficacy of your organs, generating diets that are similar to or better than the turn generation you'd get in a "normal" aftercore at a lower expense. The key to 2CRS comes in the item potions. Due to the way that potions randomize, buying a bunch of cheap garbage in the mall that pushes you to a standing item drop rate of 1800% -- enough to cap a 5% drop -- is difficult but not impossible, especially if you combine two seeds with a moon spoon. If you combine that with high familiar weight and a temporal riftlet or a reagnimated gnome, you can end up getting a pretty wild setup where you're running upwards of 900 turns a day with enough item drop to cap virtually any farmable drop in the game. This ability to boost your stats cheaply makes 2CRS by far the best path for item farming; during the van key and duffel bag heyday, 2CRS was a common choice for bleeding edge duffoneers trying to eke out as many bags as possible for quick duplication of powerful food and booze. (It also is why I have multiple 16,000 turn softcore 2CRS runs in my ascension history.)

Also, farming items isn't the only thing this weird little path can do -- due to the inclusion of buffs like Craft Tea in the pool, 2CRS can have random benefits when you are looking to generate a patently absurd number of crafts. I mentioned Bean's 1/1337 shenanigan earlier in this post -- the funniest part about that run isn't even the raw turngen or the funny number, it's why he did it. KOL's 2020 Crimbo featured a store where you could trade in certain kinds of wads for the Crimbo currency, creating a massive unexpected spike in the price of wads. Bean, being a filthy capitalist, decided to take advantage of this and try to pulverize and craft as many wads as humanly possible, buying out virtually everything in the mall under a certain price that could be smashed into a wad. Bean then realized that he needed crafts to cook wads up into the "currency" form of the wad (a Hot Wad, if memory serves) from the stuff he was getting from his pulverizes, and it would be far too expensive to rely on clockwork chefs or chef-in-a-boxes to make it work. This led to his realization that his true savior was 2CRS -- by ascending into a seed with Craft Tea on twinkly powder, he was able to turn his wad transmutation into an easy manual multi-craft, generating hundreds of thousands of turns of the freecraft effect to bankroll his wad creation. All in all, the madlad made a good 500 million meat or so on the deal, a completely hilarious amount and the start of Bean's ascent into increasingly hilarious farming shenanigan lore. 2CRS even had a time as the purely optimal PVP solution, as angst burgers and acrimonies were randomly sized, allowing some PVP enthusiasts the ability to generate obscene gobs of fights every single day. (This has since been patched, thankfully.)

So, yeah. 2CRS is ridiculous, straight up. In standard, out of standard, for farming, for aftercore.... all over the place, really. It's KOL's wild, wild west... and this is a game with an entire path about being in the wild west! Throw caution to the wind and try it today -- you too can finally experience the magic of your very own moldy small wobbly.

moldy small wobbly Article contributed by Captain Scotch