A guide for the best strategies to achieve Minimalist (No items besides your starting ones), as of V0.7.5.
Next update minimalist will become easier and allow pickup of Perks from Arena Rewards. This guide is for the truly dedicated who want to win the game with their starting gear only.
There are two different characters considered viable for this challenge (again, as of V0.7.5, when this guide is being posted), a select handful of Offensive Abilities, and a decent amount of Defensive Abilities, with a few of those standing out as much better than the rest.
The goal is to start out with a set of items that will single-handedly scale for you throughout the course of the run, as you will obviously not be able to pick up any other items. Not picking up any items means no consumables, no injections, no Perks, etc. Your starter gear alone has to carry you.
The two different characters that are currently considered viable for this challenge are Babouk and Voubi. Both have built in survivability through hitting things. Babouk has a generally better basic attack, and range. Voubi has huge potential to gain a lot of attack and ability damage through clones, but is considered a lot harder to pilot and easier to take hits with.
Please note that you want to prioritize “?” Rooms, as the Black Magic guy randomizing an item onto you does not count as picking up an item, and can get you an Armor, Doll, or new Offensive/Defensive ability with better modifiers.
Futhermore, if you go into Settings -> Gameplay -> Challenge Help and enable that setting, you’ll start your runs with a Ladybug and Green Energy Orb icon near your health bar. The Ladybug one is for Minimalist, the Green Energy Orb is for the no ability use challenge. So long as the Ladybug is onscreen you are in a valid Minimalist run. It will go away if you pick up a non-starter equipment item.
Setup 1: Armor Stacking
This setup revolved around the idea that you can pile up so much armor throughout the run that you’ll be able to tank through hits and use your Armor-scaling offensive ability for big damage.
- Turret (Unlocked through True Engineer challenge)
- Metal Cannon
Turret is the best Yellow Ability by far. It offers great damage potential without being anywhere near melee range, and sticks around for a while. As of V0.7.5, Voubi clones’ turrets deal full damage too, so you can get some absolutely insane damage output with 5 clones.
Metal Cannon is next on the list, and is inferior to the Turret for this challenge, due to just being less effective overall. However, Metal Cannon is still preferable over Rocks, which you should only take if you are offered a really good Trait and Defensive Ability.
- Plasma / Blood / Standard Shield
Wrench is the best option for this run hands down. It turns all the useless money you pick up over the course of this run into super valuable Armor, which increases both your survivability and damage. When you’re not at risk of taking damage (either because of the Wrench’s pause frames, or because you need to use your Energy on your offensive ability), you should use the Wrench at every opportunity. You want to end up spending all your money on Armor. The other Defensive abilities here don’t grant armor, so you should only take this run if your Trait provides you with a source of armor gain.
The Broom offers you the valuable ability to clear all enemy projectiles (including poops on the ground) from the screen. It can get you out of some tricky situations.
Shields (preferably one that doesn’t drain all your energy on hit), are the last survival-based option, and offer you a chance to block a hit, with possible upside, and gain I-frames afterwards. Just be careful that the enemies don’t surround you or fill the room with poop while you wait for an incoming attack.
Dumbbell is useful in that it boosts your damage early. Generally though, you prefer to spend energy on your offensive ability, so Dumbbell is really only good for early rooms
- Energy Shield
DIY: +5 Metal Scrapping is amazing, with a irrelevant downside. This can make Armor runs possible even without the Wrench. If you don’t have the Wrench, or this Trait, you basically cannot consider an Armor setup.
Prepared is a free early armor bonus at the cost of attack speed. It hurts your early offense, but later on attack speed is less relevant, with your turret dealing so much damage.
Energy Shield is a Strong Bones that can activate multiple times per room, with the downside of draining all your energy (at least 3) to activate. While it’s really good, I find that with the ideal Turret / Wrench setup, you need your energy way to much to spare any for Energy Shield to activate.
Untouchable gives you a chance to dodge, at the cost of losing coins when hit. It’s arguably better or worse than Energy Shield depending on how often you have Energy available.
Setup 2: Throwing Coins
This setup revolves around collecting as much money as possible to stack up the damage of Throwing Coins to be well over 100, giving you a good ability for single target damage.
- Throwing Coins
Throwing coins are (as of V0.7.5) the only item in the game scaling off of the amount of money you have. Since we can’t spend any money at shops with this challenge, something that scales off of money, and not something like our stats that we can’t increase, is fantastic.
- Coin Shield
- Other Shields
- Recycling Machine
If you try to use the Coin Shield whenever you have full energy, you can get a huge source of extra gold income. This gives some defense in the ability to block hits, while also helping to stack your offense.
We covered the Broom in setup 1, and it has the same benefits here, but also we can make use of the +1 Theft to supplement our income.
Other Shields offer some defensive potential. Depending on the Trait, they can sometimes be better than the broom.
Recycling Machine does grant you some money, but no defense whatsoever. If you get a highly defensive trait like DIY or Energy Shield, it’s worth considering.
- Crowd Favorite
Thief gives 3 Theft, 10% speed, at the cost of some Technology and Strength. While losing the Strength is no fun, the money gain and speed (to help dodge attacks) more than makes up for the loss. You’ll likely get less gold than you would from Greedy, but you don’t lose 50 on hit.
Greedy can get you a whole lot of extra money which means a lot of extra damage. Just don’t get hit :^).
Crowd Favorite probably gets you a good amount of extra money, but I don’t know, I haven’t done the math. I’m just trusting the Dev on this one that this is actually a good amount of net money gain.
Honorable is 5 free money every room. That’s some good value.
Masochist is a free Golden Veins. So long as you’re surviving, it’ll net you a nice amount of money with the amount of hits you’ll likely take throughout this run.
Scavenger is extra money, and those destructables add up. I’d expect maybe 100 money throughout the course of the run.
This section covers alternatives to Setup 1 and 2, and generally good options not specific to those setups.
- Meat Armor
- Achilles’ Heel
- Shield Master
- Lifelong Training
Meat Armor gives +15% dodge chance at the price of being unable to wear armor. Since we couldn’t pick up armor anyways, this is a huge free dodge chance.
Achilles’ Heel gives Strength, Max HP, and some irrelevant Tech. It does have a cost of taking double damage from traps, but for those stats, it’s usually worth it.
Shield Master gives you a free shield (as a part of your starting gear) and your shields reflect [20 + your spikes] damage. It’s a nice alternative source of damage while you stack up your main resource to boost your offensive ability.
Ugly and Needlephobia are Strength boosts with no downsides in this challenge.
Lifelong Training sets your Strength and Tech to 3, but gives a 50% chance to increase one of them every room cleared. Since we don’t care about Tech, this is basically setting our Strength to 3 with a 25% chance to gain a Strength on room clear. It takes 28 rooms on average to get back to 10 Strength. If you think you have what it takes to get that far on low damage, or can get lucky with the 25% chance, then go for it. Make sure you have an alternative source of damage (like shield master) to get you through the early game.