Skull Cavern is hard for me :(

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Macha0703, May 3, 2020.

  1. Macha0703

    Macha0703 Space Hobo

    why is it so hard, i'm on year 2 AND I CANT GET A SINGLE IRIDIUM ORES TO UPGRADE MY TOOLS! Please give me tips, I watch all tips in youtube but still it's not working i'm crying srsly this game is the best but the skull cavern, I want to keep playing make iridium sprinkler and all but this is not working really well!!! :,(((((
    • FickleRhubarb

      FickleRhubarb Twenty-three is number one

      Well, yeah! Here's what I finally did (end of Year 2, my non-gamer-new-player main savefile):
      Desert Warp Totem: You need to get there early.

      Staircases: Either buy stone like crazy with your oodles of money (expensive) or get Jade Crystalarium(s) going (or long term Jade savings) and buy one Staircase for each Jade (unlimited) at the Desert Trader east of the bus on Sundays only.

      Bombs: I bought at least 100 of each bomb type from Dwarfie. I didn't end up using any cherry bombs or many Mega Bombs. I hardly used my pick at all.

      Food: Pumpkin soup was a cheap and easy luck booster for me. I took a couple dozen. I hear Salad is probably fine.

      Weapon/Health: I didn't end up relying on my weapon much, so I don't know that it's all that important that I waited to have the Galaxy Sword. But having high max health/energy (lots of Stardrop events) is a good thing.

      Screenshot tool: I often used the in-game screenshot tool for Floor overviews, which is a trade of real-world time for in-game time.

      Training (Groundhog Day!): Once I had my gear. I waited for a lucky day and then I quit moving forward in that savefile (alternatively you could back up that day to use again). I repeatedly went to the Skull Cavern (quitting before 2am) just to see how it works. I still have a lot to learn, but I found out when I finally made it to Floor 100 for the first time (after several quit and repeats), it had taken me about 30 Staircases. I am still on that day in that savefile. I am still learning about the Skull Cavern (you know, developing an intuition of whether to use bombs, craft a staircase, or kill a monster and developing an eye for shafts/holes).

      Iridium: The floors aren't paved with Iridium at 100. But there is enough Iridium and Prismatic Shards to make it worth my while if I get to Floor 100 by 10pm so I can slow down and mine a bit more.

      I'm no expert at Skull Cavern deep diving. But at least I am no longer afraid of that terrible place. I'm keeping that day for a while longer to practice on.
        Last edited: May 3, 2020
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      • ThorfinnS

        ThorfinnS Orbital Explorer

        What is the problem, exactly?

        How many levels into SC are you getting? Iridium is awfully rare in the upper levels. Ignore everything down to 20 or so.

        Or are you getting killed? Obsidian Edge is no longer sufficient unless maybe you are awesome at combat. Go back to mines if you have to to get a prismatic shard. And watch health. A couple mis-timed swings and you are at death's door. It takes a lot of practice to get the timing right.

        Bombs are your friend. Personally, I don't get much use out of mega-bombs, since I can't seem to get the hang of getting out of the blast radius. The regular bombs are my main go-to, but I probably use about 1/4 cherry bombs. I find them the most useful for iridium nodes.

        I mostly use stairs on monster levels and levels where stone is spread out all over the place, no good place to blow up lots of them in a go. Rather than taking a pick to the whole level, just skip it.

        @brandiganBTW has a good series he started March 23, 2020.

        Lots of good stuff there, but he did speed up the video, so if you want to really see what he's doing you have to slow down the replay.
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        • Elenna101

          Elenna101 Subatomic Cosmonaut

          FickleRhubarb has some good comments - just some additions/suggestions:
          • If you don't have a ton of stone, you don't absolutely need it, extra staircases will mostly just speed you up a little - but do bring a few hundred stone at least (or ~5 jade to trade for staircases on Sundays) because you'll want to skip any monster floors. They take up way too much time for basically no reward. Also, when you get to the big spiral floors (the ones shaped like floors 19, 59, and 99 in the mines), skip those with staircases too if you don't get a ladder on the first few rocks broken. They take forever to get through otherwise. Like Thorfinn said, you also want to use them on floors with no good bomb spots, but that's more intuition-based. The rest of these tips are based on my runs and runs I've seen on Twitch which use 10-20 staircases a day max.
          • I also use regular bombs the most, but YMMV. I don't worry too much about the blast damage because I'm always eating for health anyways, a little more blast damage probably won't hurt. But the mega bombs just cost so much more and they don't seem worth it, because you want to place your bombs where there are large clumps of rock, and the groups of rocks usually aren't big enough to warrant a mega bomb. Anyways, yeah, bring tons of bombs and favour using them over your pick. And I agree with Thorfinn, cherry bombs are nice where you just have an iridium node or two with no other nearby rocks and a regular bomb would just be a waste.
          • It's *possible* to do Skull Cavern with the Obsidian Edge (helps if you have a club too), but I wouldn't recommend it. If you kill a few hundred dust sprites, you'll probably get a prismatic shard to turn into the Galaxy Sword, and you'll get a bunch of coal that you most likely need for crafting.
          • Also, optional but helpful tip: If you do the special attack (right-click on PC) with a club, and immediately mash the regular attack (left-click), you'll get a bunch of extra hits. This works better if you can position the enemy to be between you and a wall or rock so they don't get knocked back. If you can buy the Galaxy Hammer and get good at this, you can kill enemies super fast.
          • Speaking of enemies, with enough speed buffs (see below about food), you can run fast enough to just dodge the enemies, even the bats and flying serpents. Then just go around placing bombs and going down ladders. Don't waste your time fighting enemies! You want to get as far down as possible because iridium spawns increase further down, and you'll do that a lot faster with bombs.
          • If you absolutely need to fight enemies, remember that the serpents' hitboxes are slightly larger than they appear, so you need to swing just slightly early. It does take practice.
          • I divide my food into two categories: food for buffs and food for health. The latter has to have no buffs on it, or else they will override the buffs you want. Or you can do what FickleRhubarb did and just bring a ton of food with the buffs you want, but that's more expensive. (E.g. pumpkin soup is only 90 health, but one pickled pumpkin can be sold to buy 3 salads which are 50 health each.)
          • For health, I usually bring salads - you can buy them from Gus for cheap, and you can get an infinite supply of them. Other nice options are cheese (although unless you have a ton of cows it may take some time to save up enough cheese for one skull cavern trip), and iridium-quality salmonberries/blackberries. But you can bring anything you have a lot of which heals a decent amount of energy. Just make sure you do have a lot of it, because you'll be eating it fairly often. You never want your health to be below about half full, because it's very easy to get one-shot by a powerful enemy if you're low on health.
          • For buffs, IMO luck (which increases ladder drop chances) and speed (for dodging enemies) are the best. Mining just gives you extra mining levels which makes your pickaxe take less energy, but energy shouldn't be an issue at all because a) you're using bombs and b) you're eating a lot. Defense could also be nice, I guess, but I'd rather rely on food to stay healthy. After all, the whole reason you're going in is for iridium, which requires ladders so you can get low enough.
          • Note that food buffs don't stack with each other, but coffee stacks with any food buff, I guess because it's not a food. (I have no idea if coffee stacks with green tea.) So you absolutely want to get some coffee and keep eating it. Either buy it from Gus while getting your salads, or bring ~3 diamonds to the desert on any day and trade them for espresso, which lasts 3 times as long as regular coffee.
          • Looking at luck, speed, and defense, you basically have four options for buffs - lucky lunch (+3 luck), crab cakes (+1 speed and +1 defense), pumpkin soup (+2 luck and +2 defense), and spicy eel (+1 luck and +1 speed). Lucky lunch is a pain in the butt to get and I wouldn't count on it. Once you get low enough to see iridium crabs you'll get some crab cakes if you kill a few of them, but I prefer spicy eel. Pumpkin soup is a reasonable choice, and is not too hard to cook if you plan ahead in fall. But I prefer spicy eel. Firstly, the +2 speed from spicy eel + coffee makes it a lot easier to run away from enemies. Secondly, if you have some rubies saved up, you can easily trade them for spicy eel at the desert merchant, no cooking necessary. If you don't have rubies, go to floor 80 of the regular mines. If you don't see a ruby node, go back to 0 and then to 80 again. Rinse and repeat. You should get 2-3 rubies pretty quickly (took me 3 hours or so when I tried it), which is all you need for one day.
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          • Pangaea

            Pangaea Forum Moderator

            Skull Cavern is hardest when you're unprepared. @FickleRhubarb has some good points.

            Here's some other things to consider:

            - Levels 51-59 in the mines is great to farm in preparation for SC. You'll get lots of coal, iron, and stone, allowing you to craft bombs and staircases. You'll also be killing lots of bats which will give you wings to craft lightning rods you'll need to create battery packs for crystalariums and iridium sprinklers. You can also go for the vampire ring which might be useful whilst you get used to combat in SC. Additionally, you'll be killing a lot of dust sprites which can get you the burglar's ring which drops more monster loot.

            - You should always have at least one +1 speed item in SC. Coffee is the easiest to obtain. Coffee and espresso speed buffs will stack with other food buffs so make sure to also bring food for other buffs such as +luck, +defence, or +speed.. Spicy eel (+1 luck and +1 speed) and coffee/espresso is probably the best combo for SC dives. I also like to use espresso + crab cakes for a total of +2 speed and +1 defence if I'm farming SC for monster loot or omni geodes. Also bring food for HP recovery. Salad is probably the best to use.

            - Only go to SC on a minimum of pyramid luck days.

            - Use a sword in SC if you're not good at combat. The block secondary is very useful when fighting serpents, especially if there are multiple ones.

            - Avoid fighting at all costs unless you're going specifically to get monster loot. Most monsters in SC can be dodged easily.

            - Always use a staircase on overrun floors. Other times to use staircases are when you haven't found the stairs or a shaft within 30 seconds on the floor or if you come across a spiral floor.

            - If you come across a treasure room, break the rocks because there's a good chance for a shaft to spawn.

            - Even with the nerf, slingshot + explosive ammo can be a great tool to expedite your descent.

            The only thing I disagree with @FickleRhubarb about is the use of crystalariums. Diamonds and rubies are better options once you can get a bunch of crystalariums going. You can buy espresso and spicy eel for diamonds and rubies, respectively. You'll be farming plenty of stone to just craft staircases.

            Lastly, don't expect to make it down to level 100+ every time. Leave that to the "pros". The more you practice your combat and cultivate your knowledge of the skull cavern the deeper you'll be able to go. And don't feel like you're being slow. I didn't start going into SC until year 4.

            Edit: I see @Elenna101 posted whilst I was writing this. She has great advice too.
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            • FickleRhubarb

              FickleRhubarb Twenty-three is number one

              Thank you to both voices of real experience for the corrections and additions. I need to learn to appreciate and use speed buffs. I also need to try the club and slingshot tricks (I am pretty terrible at combat). And maybe I will use my Eel pond for it's originally intended purpose. I'm glad to know it takes much less than a dozen Spicy Eels for buffs plus Salads for energy.

              Question: at about what floor or at about what time of day do you consider slowing down and farming?
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              • One More Day

                One More Day Cosmic Narwhal

                I'd actually agree with rhubarb and say that Jades are best for the Crystalarium. If you're swapping Diamonds at the Desert Trader, all they will do is effectively make Coffee about 15% cheaper to buy, but if you're going to Skull Cavern, the savings on Coffee for 2 whole days would only be about the same as selling one single Iridium Bar.

                I think it makes more sense to just pony up the tiny bit of extra cash for the coffee, and instead take full advantage of the Crystalarium to get maximum profit from each dive into Skull Cavern. Replicating Jade takes 2 days, so each machine will produce 3.5 Jade a week. If you set up as little as 30 of them with Jade, they will produce, on average, over 100 Jade per week. Each Jade can then be traded for a Staircase, and those staircases can be bought in unlimited quantities; that's a lot of floors in Skull Cavern skipped very quickly and cheaply on every dive, to get as deep as possible as quickly as possible, for maximum profit from getting iridium ore, which gets more abundant the deeper you dive down. It's a fraction of the cost of buying stone from Robin.

                If you want to set aside half a dozen Crystalariums for Rubies, that'll be enough to keep you munching Spicy Eel all day every day, then put the rest to work on Jade.

                Floor 250 ish or about noon for me, usually gives me 14 hours or so to get plenty of ore, but that's just personal preference, I don't know how optimal that is. I stack hundreds of stairs bought with Jade
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                • ShneekeyTheLost

                  ShneekeyTheLost Black Hole Surfer

                  Eh, I tend to just... not care about the Skull Cave. I mean... why? What resources are unique to the Skull Cave that are actually in demand? What do you actually use Iridium for? Okay, there's the ring, if you want to basically combine glow ring and magnet ring into a single ring so you can wear something else with it. And iridium sprinklers, although there's little point to them by the time you can get into the skull caves. You need maybe six of them for your greenhouse, which you can simply get from Korobus if you're really hurting for them. And with a million to a million and a half per season depending on how willing you are to put time into your greenhouse, you can already afford pretty much anything you want even if you never plant another crop again.

                  After Year 3, Gramps gives you the statue that prints iridium daily, so there's even less need for skull cave after you get that. Prismatic Shards net you the Galaxy Sword, but that's a circular argument as you won't need any of the Galaxy weapons if you never bother with the Skull cave in the first place. Plus you can get prismatic shards from Omnigeodes (which are less farmable than they used to be, but still not uncommon in the regular mines) if you're really hard up for it.

                  Skull Cave to me has always been for those who enjoy the challenge of exploration and combat. I've rarely bothered with it since that's always felt more like an awkward chore than anything enjoyable. But YMMV, of course.
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                  • Pangaea

                    Pangaea Forum Moderator

                    I usually don't stop. When I go to the Skull Cavern I go for the whole day. I clear out my inventory except bombs and such the night before. In the morning I head straight to the obelisk and go until 2am.

                    I have to admit my main reason for SC diving is to farm omni geodes and not iridium ore (need magic turban still). So I don't actually care about getting super deep. Around 90-120 is what I normally get to and that's plenty of iridium ore for me. Like I said, I use diamonds and rubies for buffs from vendor and pick up enough stone to just craft stairs. I don't actually use stairs that often since it doesn't make sense to skip floors a bunch and miss possible geodes.

                    Yeah, same. All through year 3 I gathered iridium ore from statue and upgraded everything without ever going into SC. Like mentioned, my only real goal in SC is to farm geodes.
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                    • ThorfinnS

                      ThorfinnS Orbital Explorer

                      If you are getting 100 or so jade per week, you wait two weeks between missions? Or are you running several hundred crystalariums?

                      Personally, I'm getting to about where @Pangaea is, but that's with little to no jade stairs, because I'm losing interest by about Summer 1. TBH, after planting a few hundred starfruit with DSG, I just can't get excited enough to bother harvesting it.

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