Min-Max Guide / Optimal Play

El Demente

Newcomer
This has helped me a lot! Thank you. Question: Fall 10 lands on a Wednesday, so Pierre's will not be open. Do we buy more pumpkins from Joja, or should we actually buy them on Fall 9?
 

Zamiel

Cowpoke
Hello,

Buy them on Fall 9 if you have the money, otherwise buy from Joja. Most of what you are doing in fall will depend on the specific challenge run that you happen to be doing, so just use your common sense for this part of the run.
 

BlaDe

Sodbuster
Just a couple of points in Appendix A that isn't entirely accurate imo.

For example, players like TheHaboo take the stance that using a specially crafted filename to get extra items is "cheating", but that exploiting a bug in the game to deal massive amounts of damage with a hammer is "not cheating". Haboo also takes the stance that manipulating RNG to get Desert Totems from the Casino is "cheating", but that manipulating RNG to sell clay is "not cheating".
I completely agree that rulesets are up to the individual, but some of the reasoning in this paragraph isn't correct. A lot of the examples aren't considered "cheating" per se.

Using the name execution tech to spawn items in trivialises a lot of the challenge.
Regarding the club smash exploit, quirks surrounding the use of it have been patched out, but the exploit itself has been kept. Yes the same argument could be made for name execution, but the use of it doesn't majorly affect the overall route as name execution would.
Haboo explicitly banned Casino strats. He doesn't consider it cheating, but it is so tedious to do that he banned it for sanity sake. Having actually done part of a day performing it (just to show it off), I agree.

This isn't to take away the purpose and work put into this route, but if you are referring to the reasoning behind the decisions of similar (yet different) challenges, I think it is important to portray them accurately.
 

Zamiel

Cowpoke
some of the reasoning in this paragraph isn't correct.
To be clear, in that paragraph, I have not provided any reasoning at all. I have simply listed four different things, and stated whether or not Haboo considers each thing to be allowed within his own personal ruleset. I maintain that the paragraph does accurately describe Haboo's personal ruleset.

The point of referencing Haboo in this section is simply to introduce the concept that different people optimize the game in different ways, using different rule frameworks. So, I don't think that it is the place of the guide to provide a detailed explanation for why Haboo chooses to do the particular things that he does - that's out of scope and not hugely relevant.

Using the name execution tech to spawn items in trivializes a lot of the challenge.
Regarding the club smash exploit, quirks surrounding the use of it have been patched out, but the exploit itself has been kept. Yes the same argument could be made for name execution, but the use of it doesn't majorly affect the overall route as name execution would.
This essentially boils down to "I can use bugs if I want, but only if they don't dramatically change the route."
That doesn't seem like a very good system to me.
We should note that the words "dramatically change the route" are left undefined, as a nebulous thing that can mean almost anything you want it to.

Haboo explicitly banned Casino strats. He doesn't consider it cheating, but it is so tedious to do that he banned it for sanity sake. Having actually done part of a day performing it (just to show it off), I agree.
This essentially boils down to "I can abuse RNG if I want, but only if it is not tedious."
That doesn't seem like a very good system to me.
Different people find different things fun. I think that it would be nice if we could optimize the game within a shared framework, independent of what we personally consider to be fun or not. And our guide presents one such framework.
 
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MaidenOfGore

Farmhand
The spreadsheet is part of the fun! Making plans and analyzing each is entertaining and stardew has so many variables that its fun just to tinker with, add in limitations or restrictions and tinker again. This game made me use algebra of all things just to play with it. If they used this to teach that in school it would've been way more enjoyable.
Right?? :grin:
 

BlaDe

Sodbuster
To be clear, in that paragraph, I have not provided any reasoning at all. I have simply listed four different things, and stated whether or not Haboo considers each thing to be allowed within his own personal ruleset. I maintain that the paragraph does accurately describe Haboo's personal ruleset.

The point of referencing Haboo in this section is simply to introduce the concept that different people optimize the game in different ways, using different rule frameworks. So, I don't think that it is the place of the guide to provide a detailed explanation for why Haboo chooses to do the particular things that he does - that's out of scope and not hugely relevant.
I think what caused me to make this post was the use of "cheating". This infers reasoning, and the examples grouped infers inconsistency. Using banned would work better for me.

This essentially boils down to "I can use bugs if I want, but only if they don't dramatically change the route."
That doesn't seem like a very good system to me.
We should note that the words "dramatically change the route" are left undefined, as a nebulous thing that can mean almost anything you want it to.
I think this more boils down to that I disagree the club exploit is a bug. This tech also requires learning and skill, but that is getting off topic.

This essentially boils down to "I can abuse RNG if I want, but only if it is not tedious."
That doesn't seem like a very good system to me.
Tedious was the wrong word, at least by itself. Casino strats make so much money (33m per day) that it makes doing anything else pointless. Combine that with each day will take 4+ hours, and every day you do the exact same tedious thing, leads to the sanity ban.

Different people find different things fun. I think that it would be nice if we could optimize the game within a shared framework, independent of what we personally consider to be fun or not. And our guide presents one such framework.
Fair enough. This thread is perhaps not the best place to have this discussion, as it is derailing from the rest of it...
 

Zamiel

Cowpoke
I think what caused me to make this post was the use of "cheating".
Sure. I've edited the post now so that it says "allowed" and "not allowed" instead of cheating. However, I would still maintain that, in the abstract sense, if one does something that is not allowed, then they would be cheating. That seems tautological.
 
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OldMcKeg

Cowpoke
Sure. I've edited the post now so that it says "allowed" and "not allowed" instead of cheating. However, I would still maintain that, in the abstract sense, if one does something that is not allowed, then they would be cheating. That seems tautological.
I would suggest using "recommended" and "not recommended". "Allowed" and "cheating" don't seem appropriate given, as you observe, a lack of consensus around a shared framework.
 

Dippywallop

Greenhorn
Hi
Really great thorough guide thanks for sharing it, I am going to see how i go doing a run with it... I need to get better at skull cavern so this will be great practice. I can see you've put a lot of work into it. I have a couple of questions, sorry if it's been answered already I have tried to read through the thread so far but couldnt see anywhere obvious.
I see youve not only put a lot of thought into the optimal execution of days but also the parameters or rulesets (for want of a better term) around runs, really encouraging players to challenge themselves within the vanilla game play. I just was wondering why you specify animation cancelling shouldnt be used but then recommend pausing while animations occur (tree falling, trashcan checking, mine level loading) or clicking to skip animations (catching fish) to save in game time by essentially skipping the animation. I am just wondering what the distinction between different animations are and why you havent specifically "banned" (again sorry not sure what better term would be) these techniques as well. Also what would the distinction be between Robin walking past her work station on Tuesday morning which is not allowed but it is allowed to lock yourself in with clint and use his work station after his shop is closed and he is at the furnace. I personally dont have any strong feelings either way but I see that you have put a lot of thought into this guide and all its appendices and was just wondering what your thoughts were. Thanks again for sharing the guide
 

Zamiel

Cowpoke
I just was wondering why you specify animation cancelling shouldnt be used but then recommend pausing while animations occur (tree falling, trashcan checking, mine level loading) or clicking to skip animations (catching fish) to save in game time by essentially skipping the animation.
1) Intention

Animation canceling makes use of a debug feature of the game that was never originally intended for players to use. It was only intended to be used by ConcernedApe himself when he was debugging certain animations. When some reverse engineers discovered that it was in the game, they decided to apply it for use in speedrunning. When ConcernedApe heard that some niche set of players were using animation canceling, he intentionally decided to not patch it out of the game in order to not spoil their fun. (Because having it in the game does not really affect casual players.) But the game was never designed for this and it was certainly never originally intended.

Conversely, it is less clear whether or not the other mechanics you listed are intended. One could make the argument that if you pause the game when a tree is falling, the tree should be suspended mid-air and nothing else should happen. However, this is not the way that ConcernedApe designed the Stardew Valley engine to operate. The game world still actually runs when you pause - only the progression of the day's time is halted. Since this is how he programmed the engine, you can make a pretty good argument that the tree falling in the way that it does is exactly the way ConcernedApe intended it to be.

2) Strength

Animation canceling is much more powerful than tree falling, trashcan checking, and mine level loading. Building on what I mentioned in the previous passage, the balance of the early game was not designed around the ability for the player to swing tools three times as fast as they normally would otherwise. This alters the game in a big way that is an order of magnitude more impactful than the other techniques that you listed. As stated in the guide itself:

"Some mods add additional content into the game, which changes the calculus of what the optimal thing to do on each day is. We do not use any of these mods and prefer to min-max the vanilla game."

In the same that content mods change the strategy of the vanilla game in a significant way, animation-canceling also changes the strategy of the vanilla game in a significant way, and we prefer to min-max the vanilla game.

Also what would the distinction be between Robin walking past her work station on Tuesday morning which is not allowed but it is allowed to lock yourself in with clint and use his work station after his shop is closed and he is at the furnace.
Just like with animation cancelling, the distinction here also has to do with ConcernedApe's intention. It is clearly not intended that you should be able to purchase things from Robin during her day off - that doesn't make any sense, and is just a bug and/or oversight in the game's engine.

Conversely, I think that purchasing from Clint from 4 PM to 5 PM does make sense, as he is standing at his counter and not doing anything else of interest. For example, even though his store closes at 4 PM, if you were chatting with him from 3:30 PM to 4:30 PM, it makes sense that he would allow you to purchase something at 4:30 PM before you exited his shop.

I think that being able to purchase things from Clint between 5:00 PM to 7:10 PM is probably not intended, as how could he hand you things while he is swinging his anvil and not even standing at the counter? So you are quite right that this should be outlawed in the same way that buying from Robin is outlawed. I've added the following passage to the guide:

"(Even when Clint moves away from the counter and goes to the anvil, you are still able to interact with the counter. However, this is considered a bug, so if you want to avoid cheating, you would have to purchase what you need from Clint before he actually moves away from the counter.)"
 

One More Day

Sodbuster
I know this is going back a bit, but I somehow missed this whole thread and have only just read through it. One point I think I can add to that doesn't appear to have been addressed

I have to say it's tricky to ignore those ghosts... It's certainly less of a problem if you do the mine runs later in spring after upgrading the pickaxe. If you just have the steel sword they are a real pain. (I don't have unlimited healing - how do you have that? Is there something I'm missing?)
If you're absolutely adamant that you have to kill ghosts, put didnt get lucky enough to find a better weapong than that useless steel smallsword from floor 20, then your best bet is to take the floor 40 slingshot with you and load it with iron ore. Ghosts will die with about 4 or 5 shots, and you can do it from a long distance
 

OldMcKeg

Cowpoke
The Master slingshot is indeed very good! I actually use it in the skull cavern (loaded with gold ore) before I get the galaxy sword. It chunks those serpents.

Zamiel, I want to say first of all that I think your guide is really good and a great resource. In trying some runs and doing some testing, though, I think there are a few things that could really improve it. Most notably, I think you're getting to skull cavern too late: I've found that with some slight changes to your strategy, day 15 is quite consistent, and day 16 is the absolute latest first skull cavern run. I've summarized the changes here:

1. Plant Tulips. Don't let Pierre fool you -- Tulips do not sell for 30g, but 112g. Silver tulips sell for 150g, and gold for ~200g. This is because regular tulips restore as much energy as a gold chub, silver tulips as much as an iridium chub, and gold tulips nearly as much as a salad. By planting some tulips, you can sell all your iridium chubs, which easily gets the vault done a day or two earlier. You also get farming xp, which is way better than the nothing you got for all that time you wasted running to gus to buy his crappy salads. At noon!

2. Trout soup is amazing. On day 2, Trout soup is barely more expensive than eating regular herring for the same energy, and the increase in fishing level more than pays for the cost in the form of higher-quality fish and more perfect catches. Buying some at the end of day 2 for day 3 is similarly great -- if the fishing increase nets you just one more catfish, totally worth it. And often it will. I also think you should recommend practicing day 2 fishing a couple of times (since you're against resetting) because the perfect catches help a ton, and fishing on day 2 is a lot different than fishing at any other point in the game. I find it generally works better than a training rod, provided you practice.

3. In the summer part of your guide, you advise not selling starfruit. I think this is a mistake. If selling starfruit means you can plant *more* starfruit, selling it is fantastic. Consider two runs, one where you buy 300, then 600, then 1100 starfruit, all funded from skull cavern (I'm assuming you get better, and earn more, over time). Then at the end of summer you'll have 2000 starfruit to turn into wine. That's pretty good! But suppose instead you *sell* your first 300 and use the proceeds to buy more starfruit seeds (let's say a starfruit is worth 2 seeds, which of course is less than it is worth). Then your second planting would be 1200 (300+600) starfruit. You could then sell 1000 of those starfruit to get 3100 starfruit planted. You would end up at end of summer in this case with 3300 starfruit to keg. That's a lot more starfruit!

4. I think there should be more advice about how to effectively run skull cavern, especially as that's most of the post-first-half-of-spring run. I found myself learning a lot as I went, often, I think, in error. For example, should you buy coal from clint (yes?), how aggressively should you bomb (very?) and so on. I've particularly found the master slingshot to be great, as I note above, as well as snapping a screen of levels when I first fade in to check for ladders or holes. I'm not 100% that explosive ammo is better than bombs, because of the explosion radius differences. I certainly think it's better sometimes, but I feel like more discussion of this -- along with when to use mega bombs -- might be worthwhile. Also I'm not sure if you were aware but it's possible to distinguish iridium crabs from nodes on sight. If you'll look at this link you'll see that the crab is slightly higher than the node. Also you mentioned above that fighting bats isn't worth it, losing 100g per swing. What if it's multiple bats and/or serpents at once? I also think some advice about barrels in the cavern might be worthwhile. Barrels can drop lucky rings, which are obviously a very big deal. Busting them for this alone is probably worth, but the regular loot can also be quite good.

5. I think there might be a better strategy for early spring. What I've found is really good is to buy copper and iron from clint on day 4, smith copper bars in front of his place, upgrade the pickaxe, then upgrade it again on day 6. On day 8 I grab the pickaxe and, from the 8th to the 11th (inclusive) mine or fish until I upgrade the pickaxe again on the 12th. If possible I try to fit in a copper axe upgrade on the 10th if I've got spare cash. I like this strategy a lot because a) you don't need to buy gold ore, which can be very expensive b) you're a lot more flexible about when you need to mine in case you get rain or weird luck and c) the late gold axe upgrade makes it easier to pay for the gold upgrade with either crops planted on day 6 or earlier or with level 10 fishing. Upgrading on day 6 (or, rarely, 5) in your plan means that you really don't start the mines in earnest until day 12 (rarely, 11), which means that if you have the money to get to finish the vault on the 14th (very doable if tulips let you sell your chubs), you probably won't be able to hit the bottom of the mines in time to go to skull cavern on the 15th. On the other hand, by doing the bulk of the mining on days 8 through 11, you can pretty easily hit bottom on the 14th. Naturally if you manage to fish up 20+ gold ore, you still upgrade to gold prior.

6. I'm not as sure about this one, but I think there is some value to planting and watering more crops in spring. While, yes, fishing is a better return on energy, crops can be very competitive in terms of returns on time. The critical thing here is watering efficiently. I hold down the direction key while also holding down the left mouse button and moving my mouse to where I want to water next, and I use this watering route. It's fast. At the end of each blue arrow you're out of or nearly out of water, but conveniently you're also next to the pond. It waters 149 crops in four hours, but 160 is possible. For 160, this would be, for a six day crop, about 24 hours of watering, or 11k to 15k from mountain lake fishing (depending on what hours you're fishing, and how good you are at perfect catches). 160 potatoes brings in between 8k and 10k of profit depending on likely farming level, which is already not a big loss. But a single rainy day improves things a lot, and two rainy days are huge; this extra rain upside is I think the main argument for it. Tulips, of course, do even better. On a purely monetary basis it isn't a great trade, but it also generates a lot of farming xp, which helps for getting to quality sprinklers faster. You'll almost certainly have farming 5 by the 12th with this, which makes the ride to farming 6 a lot less expensive in basic sprinkler terms. Still I'm not sure how good it actually is. This works well with my pickaxe upgrade schedule because you can, by replanting parsnips from mixed seeds and your initial 15, hit farming 2 on day 9, and thereby craft basic sprinklers on day 10, right when you're getting the necessary iron and copper ore from the mines.

7. I really think you should revise day 1. Getting forageables, eating them, and chopping down tons of trees, breaking 25 rocks, planting and watering your parsnips, green bean and some mixed seeds (at least 10 is pretty common for me) seems far, far better than wasting time talking to villagers. (Sap and fiber sell for a lot and will almost certainly eclipse the measly 100g -- plus, I *always* need more wood, and chopping on day 1 is a lot better than chopping on subsequent days when the opportunity cost is higher) Also, completing the introductions quest gives villagers 100 friendship points, but you're almost certainly going to decay a lot of this away.

8. I'm not sure, but I think it might be worthwhile to prioritize axe and hoe upgrades more. I found that the gold axe and hoe make clearing the farm *much* faster, and saving days means getting more days for skull cavern. The gold upgrades are 20k for both -- that's far less than a skull cavern dive will earn, and the speed of the tools might easily cut enough time off your farm-clearing to yield an extra skull cavern run. I think it might even be possible that the iridium axe upgrade is worth it (it's twice as fast as the gold!) but I'm not sure and haven't tested it.

9. You mention delaying the iridium pickaxe upgrade until summer because of fishing opportunity costs. I'm not sure of this. Skull cavern runs go a LOT faster with the iridium pickaxe. I'm not sure what the % efficiency gain is, but I could easily see, over 6 or 8 runs, it being high enough to make the iridium pickaxe worth it, even if it does delay you. Summer 4 seems much too late. Have you looked into this question at all?

10. I think you ought to include a section on when you need to get barns, coops and animals in order to complete the community center early. Truffles, in particular, require summer pigs in order to reliably have in time for mid fall. Also I know you don't like looking at seeds or the predictor but looking at a seed *in order* to have a nautilus shell available in time seems like a reasonable compromise. Getting the community center 12 or more days earlier is another full starfruit harvest on ginger island. That harvest is probably enough to completely wipe out any other differences in execution or RNG that might distinguish a run.

Anyway those are my findings. I hope they are helpful! I know I'm suggesting a lot of changes, but I really appreciate that you made this guide, that you linked to other guides in it, and put so much work and effort into it. It's a really big undertaking and you did a good job.
 
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One More Day

Sodbuster
1. Plant Tulips. Don't let Pierre fool you -- Tulips do not sell for 30g, but 112g. Silver tulips sell for 150g, and gold for ~200g. This is because regular tulips restore as much energy as a gold chub, silver tulips as much as an iridium chub, and gold tulips nearly as much as a salad
In theory yes, but tulips are terrible in practice.

With the possibility of five different colours and three different qualities, your inventory will be be horribly overloaded with lots of short stacks of food, whereas a single stack of just 20 iridium chubs is 1,300E and almost 600HP. With tulips, you're forced to choose between either taking less food into the mines, which means you lose time fighting because you can't afford to tank as many hits from monsters, or filling your pack with a load of tulips, leaving less space for loot, and consequently negating your so-called money saving benefit.

Claiming that the Farming skill progression is an advantage is a complete red herring, as there is no usable benefit given they are only 7XP each; you'd need to plant almost 500 of them to get to Farming 6, as quality sprinklers are the only craft that's going to matter at this stage.

Other disadvantages of tulips are
  • the upfront cost on day 1, which will inevitably delay your fishing progression on day 2,
  • cannot be acquired before day 7
  • the higher energy burden to acquire them, 12E for the tulip compared to less than 8E for the chub
 

imnvs

Farmer
Okay, in Year 1 there is something to be said for planting like 5 of every flower available over the course of that year... have at least 1 of each for shipping, and have 1 of each required for the cooking recipes that require flowers...

...but that's not typically the major concern here. The "Complete Shipment" quest can be handled year 2 quite easily after you've built up the infrastructure as quickly as possible in year 1.
 

OldMcKeg

Cowpoke
In theory yes, but tulips are terrible in practice.

With the possibility of five different colours and three different qualities, your inventory will be be horribly overloaded with lots of short stacks of food, whereas a single stack of just 20 iridium chubs is 1,300E and almost 600HP. With tulips, you're forced to choose between either taking less food into the mines, which means you lose time fighting because you can't afford to tank as many hits from monsters, or filling your pack with a load of tulips, leaving less space for loot, and consequently negating your so-called money saving benefit.

Claiming that the Farming skill progression is an advantage is a complete red herring, as there is no usable benefit given they are only 7XP each; you'd need to plant almost 500 of them to get to Farming 6, as quality sprinklers are the only craft that's going to matter at this stage.

Other disadvantages of tulips are
  • the upfront cost on day 1, which will inevitably delay your fishing progression on day 2,
  • cannot be acquired before day 7
  • the higher energy burden to acquire them, 12E for the tulip compared to less than 8E for the chub
I don't plant tulips day 1. I plant them day 4 and 6, and later. You're absolutely right not to spend that critical fishing money. Again the big feature of the tulip is that you can sell your chubs in order to go to skull cavern earlier; not to provide energy from days 1 to 10. During the day 1 to 10 period I generally find that parsnips and mushrooms from the cave are more than sufficient to efficiently cover energy needs.

Regarding the large numbers of varieties, yes, that is an issue! The way I solve it is to bring 1 each of several varieties to skull cavern, plus one extra big stack, usually of some regular tulips. As I progress down the cavern, I'll eat the one-offs, freeing up inventory space for treasure. You're right that this still causes inconvenience, but the benefit of getting to skull cavern just one day earlier is, in my experience, completely worth it.

As to the farming xp being paltry, yes! It's very small. But salads give zero farming xp, which is even less.

I would encourage you to try a tulip strategy focused on having the tulips available around day 10+ before dismissing it. I've found it to be a dramatic improvement.
 
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One More Day

Sodbuster
The way I solve it is to bring 1 each of several varieties to skull cavern, plus one extra big stack, usually of some regular tulips.
How many tulips do you plant, that you get an "extra big stack"? I mean, I'm guessing I'd want about 50 or so regular tulips to survive a day in skull cavern, if supplemented by some one off higher quality tulips, and to take that as a single stack, you're looking at planting well over 250 of them. That just seems crazy to me. If you don't get absurdly lucky with rain, that's more than 4 hours watering per day, plus planting time, about 30 hours total. If you did all that instead of going fishing instead, you're looking at something like 15,000g in lost opportunity cost, which is 100 iridium chubs anyway. Or something like 70 salads. I mean, if you hoed and watered last thing at night, to avoid missing out on largemouth bass, you'd cut that opportunity cost somewhat, but even so, sorry, I can't just make this add up. So, what have I missed?
 

OldMcKeg

Cowpoke
I've definitely never needed 50 regular tulips to survive a day in skull cavern, so that's probably a big part of it. For the early runs it's usually something like a stack of ~15 regular tulips, a big stack of common mushrooms, plus six or seven silver or gold tulips. The mushrooms are generally for safety -- in practice I usually don't get through the regular tulip stack. In the very early runs I'll bring the chocolate cakes as well. I do plant a lot of tulips, but not during the early days -- most of the tulips are watered by basic and quality sprinklers in the second half of spring. In the early days I'll mostly plant potatoes and kale in order to get to quality sprinklers a lot faster, and to get money for upgrades and such.

I'm not sure the exact tulip planting numbers -- maybe like forty before skull cavern? -- but I can tell you that most of the planting is done after skull cavern is opened, and watered with sprinklers or chance rain, rather than by hand.

Think about how long it takes you to eat your way through your stock of iridium chubs. Like, how many do you have when you start the skull cavern runs versus when you end? And how many days is that? Then consider that a regular tulip has 77% the health/energy of an iridium chub, and a silver is 96%. A gold is 124%. But whereas with the chubs you have a giant pile that you slowly eat through over many days, you can grow tulips, via basic and quality sprinklers, to replenish your supply as you work through it. That big pile of chubs, and later that big pile of emeralds, just sits in your inventory doing nothing for you. The tulips, on the other hand, are utilizing your soil and sprinkler infrastructure, which you need to make anyway to hit farming 6.
 
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