This guide assumes you have knowledge of:
- Kaycee's Mod (KM) in general
- All unlockable items within KM
- All unlockable cards within KM
- All unlockable starter decks within KM
- All unlockable challenges within KM
Inscryption, and Kaycee's Mod, are BEST experienced blind, and if you haven't unlocked everything here, then this guide may not be for you. Come back when you've gained more experience. Don't worry, I'm real patient.
Welcome - or welcome back if you left to go play a ton of KM before returning. Skull Storm is a rough challenge, certainly not for the faint of heart, and if you're aiming for that delicious, delicious 100%, you've gotta earn it.
I'm riding the high of finally earning the achievement as I write this, and I figured I'd spread the word of how I overcame Leshy's most difficult challenges. (Here's a hint - it rhymes with Gantis Mod.) Figured I'd lend you a hand, too, yeah? I'm also padding out the introduction a bit to give a little more space between the spoiler warning and the spoilers, so uh, sorry about that. You think this is long enough? Yeah, screw it, this is long enough.
PROLOGUE - THE CHALLENGES
Skull Storm is a hidden achievement earned by completing a game of KM with every challenge enabled. This means you must deal with the following, simultaneously...
NO HOOK. You do not start with the Fish Hook item.
SMALLER BACKPACK. Your pack holds 2 items instead of 3.
NO CLOVER. You may not re-roll card choices.
PRICEY PELTS. The Trapper's pelts cost more.
BOSS TOTEMS. Bosses also have totems in play.
TIPPED SCALES. Start all battles with 1 damage on your side of the scales.
ALL TOTEM BATTLES. Every battle is a totem battle.
NO BOSS RARES. Bosses award regular cards instead of rares.
MORE DIFFICULT. More and stronger creatures in all battles.
MORE DIFFICULT. Because screw you.
SINGLE CANDLE. You have 1 life.
ANNOYING STARTERS. Cards in your starter deck also have the Annoying sigil.
SQUIRREL FISH. Your squirrels have the Waterborne sigil.
GRIZZLY BOSSES. Grizzlies appear in the first 3 boss battles.
FINAL BOSS. Leshy is replaced as the final boss. Heave. Ho.
Now, the real heavy hitter in this list should be immediately obvious to anyone who's read the words TOO FAST, TOO SOON. The culprit? Our good friend Eight ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ Mighty Leap Grizzly Bears replacing each boss's second phase, final boss excluded. Your ENTIRE RUN will be spent planning around these. If you neglect to plan around the grizzlies, you will die. Period. If you plan around the grizzlies and get bad luck anyways, you will die. Period.
Also notable is Smaller Backpack, since items are what make or break your grizzly runs, and Single Candle, which means you cannot take a single L throughout your entire run (as well as no Smoke). We've got ways of getting around this. We've got ways of getting around all of these.
ACT I - PREPARING YOUR RUN
Before you actually go into the run, you need to carefully consider - what starter deck do you pick? Not even gonna beat around the bush here, it's Mantis God. Vanilla doesn't have much going for it, the Moose wrecks your positioning in the Three-Blood deck, Ants can't benefit from power flame, Waterborne is Waterborne, two-thirds of Bones is unplayable on topdeck, even the almighty Geck isn't enough to make 0-Cost viable with all challenges, and you'll spend more time planning around Hydra Egg than the grizzlies themselves. Mantis God is easily one of the best rares in the game, and it's DEFINITELY the best rare you get in any starter deck.
Taking two Ringworms may seem like a harsh trade-off, but they're counter-intuitively part of the reason the deck is so good. Ringworms are very good for Flaming (warming by the fire), as if they're eaten, every double Flame for the run is risk-free. This means HUGE buffs for whatever creature you want to Flame - and nine times out of ten, that creature's gonna be Mantis God. You want to get a Ringworm eaten ASAP. The other Ringworm can get thrown away at any Bone Lord Sacrifice stone. It's dead weight once its buddy's been eaten.
And, of course, the star of the show here is without a doubt Mantis God. You want to buff up Mantis God to at BARE MINIMUM 2 power for three-lane OTKOs, but the more the better. Try aiming for at least 7 power if you can help it - that's 3 double Power Flames. Health Flame your Mantis God, too, to help tank hits and avoid untimely deaths by Prickly sigils. You can squeak by with 1 health, but having at least 5 is safe - that's 1 double Health Flame.
Here's why you want to buff up Mantis God as much as you can. A 7 power Mantis God wins any combat you topdeck it in, as long as you can attack one lane. This is HUGE, because the longer battles go on, the more you have to deal with. Because you get the privilege of going first every game, playing Mantis God turn 1 can win every game if you keep topdecking it.
Got that memorized? Good, because it's the core of what makes Skull Storm beatable from my experience. If there's one takeaway you're going to get from this, it's buff the HELL out of Mantis God.
ACT II SCENE I - TRADING
When you kick things off, you need to consider how much value the cards you're adding to your deck have. The cards you initially grab from the Trader can make or break your run, so choose carefully. Remember that you're trying to keep your deck small to consistently topdeck Mantis God. Here are some of my favorites to take:
Cockroach. Easy first choice, every time. Throw Unkillable onto Mantis God and you've already got a huge leg up.
Cuckoo. Also a fantastic card thanks to its ability to clog up Leshy's lanes with Broken Eggs. Fecundity or Unkillable make this a monster in terms of preventing cards from entering.
Warren. If you topdeck Warren, you get to play a 2 Blood card on turn one. Pretty sure throwing Unkillable on it means you get infinite sacrifices and blockers, as long as you can keep destroying it.
Magpie. Not a great early game pick, given the 2 Blood cost, but insanely handy when your deck starts bloating from all the cards Leshy forces down your throat. Throwing Hoarder onto a 1 Blood means an instant Mantis God if you topdeck it, and the more chances to pull Mantis God, the better.
Here are some cards that can be useful in the right situation:
Dire Wolf. Dire Wolf is INSANELY risky to pick, as a cost of 3 Blood means that you're screwed if you topdeck it. However, Double Strike can be deadly if Inscrybed onto Mantis God... or you could use Dire Wolf as a backup killer if you don't get Unkillable for Mantis God. Weigh this choice carefully. Topdecking this can kill you.
Bell Tentacle. Bell Tentacle is a 4/3 for 2 Blood if you place it in the very leftmost column. Worth the blood cost imo.
Mantis. Mantis is... fine. It's better than some things you can end up with, like Raccoon. It's not gonna win you many games - that's what Mantis God is for - but it can deal some chip damage when you're waiting for Mantis God. Also has the potential to synergize with an Insect Totem, especially if you get Insect head Hoarder body. Don't count on it, but it's decent enough to have in your deck.
Corpse Maggots. Inscrybe on Dire Wolf and let a mealworm die. Instant 3 Blood double attacker. Can be useful on other cards too, but that's the main one. Do NOT put Corpse Eater on Mantis God, this can accidentally place it somewhere you don't want it.
Here are some cards to avoid like the plague:
Most cards with a cost of 2+ Blood or 4+ Bones. Generally, they can't be played the turn you topdeck them, and you want to be winning fights on the first turn if possible. Some higher-cost cards can be worth picking due to their sigils (like Cockroach or Magpie), but otherwise, 2 Blood cards are risky and 3 Blood can be a death sentence if and when you topdeck them.
Most cards that can mess with your positioning. Being able to position your Mantis God just right is near-required to get past Boss Grizzlies, and having a Wild Bull or a Moose move them out of position is an easy way to die.
Finally, if you get a real ♥♥♥♥ set of cards - I'm talking absolute hot garbage here - don't just end your run early and reload for better cards. Leshy will punish you by replacing one of your pelts with a mediocre card at best. At least walk up to the first battle and lose on purpose.
ACT II SCENE II - ITEMS AND YOU
From the moment you start your run, you need to be planning on beating those Grizzlies. From my experience, the most consistent way to do this is with the use of items and a 7+ power Mantis God.
You start each run with a Squirrel in a Bottle and a set of Pliers. You want to use these ASAP, because they will NOT help you against the wall of bears. Rolling for new items is the name of the game here, and you gotta play it to get anywhere. There are a couple ways to go about this...
Magickal Bleach + Harpy's Leg Fan. Requires the least amount of skill to execute but the most amount of luck to set up, as you need to get two particular items instead of one. Use Magickal Bleach to remove Mighty Leap from the Grizzlies, make sure Mantis God is on the board, then use Harpy's Leg Fan to grant flight and attack for direct damage.
Skinning Knife. ...or Scissors. Destroy a Grizzly, and you can attack that lane with a Mantis God to win before the next Grizzly comes in. If you get the 7 teeth, you can buy a Skinning Knife at any Trapper post.
Wiseclock. Using the Wiseclock rotates all cards on the board one space clockwise. This means that, if your leftmost lane is empty, using the Wiseclock empties Leshy's leftmost lane instead. Play a Mantis God to win before the next Grizzly comes in. You also get a free Grizzly out of it for the fight, but you should be winning second phases in one turn anyways. Otherwise, you're usually boned.
If you get an item that isn't one of these, you want to cycle it out ASAP. Use it in any combat - even if you don't need it - and use Pack Rat or a backpack event to restock. Unkillable Pack Rat works wonders for item farming if you can set it up right. When you get any of the above items, HANG THE HELL ON TO IT. You don't know if you're gonna be lucky enough to get another one before the boss.
ACT III - KING CRIMSON
Okay, look. This part is going to seem a little cheesy to most, and if you don't want to partake in it, that's fine. What we're gonna do is a little something called "erasing your mistakes". Leshy gets to cheat so much for Skull Storm, I say it's only fair we even things out a little.
Inscryption periodically saves at certain events, completing an Event and losing a creature to a Flame being the big two we're worrying about. Your RNG from these saves is SET IN STONE. You can reload a thousand times, and every roll is gonna turn out the same way.
What does this mean? It means we can, by pressing Escape and using Return To Menu, effectively erase our mistakes and craft the perfect run. This can take the fun out of it for some people, but for me, it turns Inscryption into a puzzle game. When you restart the same fight, you're always going to topdeck the same cards, so you can't keep trying to topdeck Mantis God - but you CAN figure out the precise combination of plays and draws that will bring you victory through trial and error. Personally, I LOVE doing this, as it really makes you think beyond "I hope my next pull is Mantis God" - you start to think along the lines of "I know I pull Mantis next draw, do I use it for chip damage or does playing it actively hurt me?" and "Turn 1 Cuckoo is gonna drop a Raven Egg, can I afford to wait to Turn 2 to play or must I take care of it?"
Our main situations we apply the reset button are as follows:
Losing a battle, or making a mistake that would render a battle unwinnable.
With only one candle, there are no Ls that you can take. Try to get through a battle using as few items as possible, but if there's truly no other way, it's better to gamble on if you'll get an item back than to have a certain loss.
Successful double flame.
When there are still survivors around the campfire, you ALWAYS want to double Flame your Ringworm. If it passes and gets that +2 Power or +4 Health, reload and apply that bonus to Mantis God. If it fails, the Ringworm is eaten and all other Flames are free. THE GAME SAVES WHEN A CREATURE IS EATEN, so you can't put Mantis God on the Flame and reload if it fails. Your Mantis God is gone. Deal.
ACT IV - KEEP IT CONSISTENT
Now, the last bit of advice I have for you is to try to make your deck as slim as possible. Bloating up with unnecessary cards only serves to lower your chances of topdecking Mantis God. Unfortunately, you're forced to take a lot of cards no matter what, so here's my thoughts on all that.
Avoid taking cards where possible. If you can fail a Cave Trial, awesome. If you can merge some cards with the Mycologists, do it. If you don't need items or a Pack Rat, avoid backpacks. If you visit the Trapper, take your one free pelt and leave. Yes, rares are cool, but they're more cards you don't need bloating your deck.
If you must take cards, don't gamble. Try to see the cards you're picking. Avoid the "random card from a tribe" and "random card of a cost" events as much as you can. Picking from three certain cards is good. Trapper means you get to pick from eight down the line, which is better, AND you can pick up a Skinning Knife.
Destroy unnecessary cards. The Execution and Sacrifice events are great for this. Execute your extra Annoying Ringworm or that useless Wild Bull that's hanging around. At Sacrifice events, really consider your options. Putting Magpie's Hoarder onto a 1 Blood card can mean an instant Mantis God. Putting Unkillable on Mantis God is an insanely effective strategy. Don't just use this as a way to get rid of cards, really think about how much you're getting out of the new creature.
SLIME WIZARD IS YOUR BFF. Duping your Mantis God means you have a higher chance to topdeck it. Don't combine these at the Mycologists, ever.
ACT V - THE HARDEST PART
The hardest part of Skull Storm is actually playing it.
There's no real advice I can give beyond what I've said above. It will take many runs (and likely many hours) to pull off a Skull Storm, due to needing good RNG with starter cards, Flames, Items, and not hitting an unwinnable battle because your deck sucked a little too much.
All I can offer is the best of luck, may your decks be small and your Mantis Gods be topdecked.
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