A few weeks back, your humble author posted a rudimentary guide to Cookie Clicker, the browser-based game (now also on Android) which basically invented the whole idle game genre. Well, it’s run in the background for me since then while I’ve tried to do the unthinkable: Actually finish the hanged thing, or at least come as close as I can to what I’ll consider the finish line.
Cookie Clicker : The Late Game
Few players seem to make it this far. My arbitrary chosen goal is to collect all of either every game upgrade or every Heavenly Chips (Prestige) upgrade. You can also consider collecting full achievements, although some of those are a pretty long haul. I’m at 95% for Prestige, 80% for upgrades, and 86% for achievements. So I’m sharing some late-game insights for those of you whom I still see out there in the forum in the early and mid-game.
Collecting every seed of the garden is also a goal in the game. If you go for that, it requires dedicated runs where you just focus on breeding new plants while studying the guide. By late game when you’re generating billions of Prestige levels in a day, the garden becomes a bit of a hassle; you barely have time to get it growing before you want to roll over and buy another Prestige upgrade or try another run. Here’s my current snapshot of what I call “the wild strategy”:
This is where I only plant a few (12-15, spaced in a checker pattern) Baker’s Wheat at the beginning of a run, set the soil to Wood Chips for maximum cross-pollination, and then just let it do its thing while I focus on other matters. You can see, the Wheat naturally cross-breeds into various other early-stage plants, even producing a clover all by itself. This is the greatest cost-efficient plan, reaping you a full range of effects for around 15 minutes CPS (Cookies Per Second) near the start of a run.
Later on I switch the soil to Clay, keeping a healthy mix of plants around for long-term, pumped effects. Currently this shot is generating 3.44% CPS, 30% grandma CPS, 2.5% weight on clicks, and some modest Golden Cookie boosts.
Other runs will call for other strategies, depending on what else you’ll want to do this run. Such as…
Going all-out for Golden Cookies
There is one inescapable fact: At some point you need active play to get anywhere in this game. Golden Cookie combos can get you progress that can only be won with days, even weeks of idle background play. There’s going to be times when your progress hits a bottleneck, and you simply have to score a big Golden Cookie run to kick your total into the next highest order of magnitude to buy the next round of buildings and upgrades.
I detailed some of the differences in strategy between idle and active play last time. However, it is debatable whether going all-out for Golden Cookie maximization is really worth it. This is because enhancing for more frequent and stronger Golden Cookies taxes your resources that could be put into CPS grinding. At the same time, your rewards from Golden Cookies are always tied to your CPS anyway, so there’s diminishing returns. It comes down to a problem of “is it better to have a Golden Cookie every 3/4ths of a second or 4/5ths of a second, at a difference of an extra percentage of CPS?” To wit, here is everything you want set up for maxed out Golden Cookie strategy:
- All the regular upgrades: Lucky day, Serendipity, and Get lucky.
- The Golden Goose Egg upgrade from Easter season. Some players put this in one of their five permanent upgrade Prestige slots.
- All of the Golden Cookie upgrades from Prestige during ascension. Note that three of these (Lucky Digit, Lucky Number, Lucky Payout) require you to stop a run on a dime. This is possible by selling off all buildings when you’re ready to ascend, then buying back a small selection to roll your Legacy meter one digit at a time.
- An arrangement of Garden plants including some selection of Gildmillet, Ordinary Clover, Golden Clover, Shimmerlily, White Chocoroot, Queenbeet, Fool’s Bolete, or Green Rot. It would be insane to keep all those around, so you’d likely head for Clovers and some Gildmillet / Shimmerlily on the side. Realistically, Ordinary Clovers have the longest lifespan and stability anyway.
- Temple Pantheon set to Vomitrax, perhaps also Murdial to max out Click Frenzy. If a Season is active, don’t forget the boost from Selebrak as well.
- Krumblor set to something like Arcane Aura and Epoch Manipulator – after you have him on the two-aura plan, of course.
- Season Switcher set to either Christmas or Business Day with the Prestige upgrades of Starsnow or Startrade in effect.
If you go to all this insane trouble, you’re seeing Golden Cookies at a few fractions of a second more often than you would with, say, just the upgrades (regular and Prestige). Plus taxes on your CPS, like Vomitrax penalizing your buildings by a percentage, or Krumblor not having a slot open for the Radiant Appetite aura. Losing Radiant Appetite automatically makes your Click Frenzy combo earn 50% as much right there.
I’ve tried maxed-out Garden and Pantheon, full auras, season, etc. all-out for Golden Cookies, and it is not worth the pain at all! Just settle for the upgrades, plant a few Clovers, have a season running, and be done with it. Your Golden Cookie runs will benefit much more from the other settings working to boost CPS.
The game builds up the Grandmapocalypse like it’s a much bigger deal than it actually is. The main thing going is that it turns Golden Cookies into Wrath Cookies (you can gamble on those hoping for that ~5% Elder Frenzy if you want to; I don’t find it worth it) and introduces Wrinklers. In practice, you will likely take the Bingo Center upgrades up until One Mind without consequence, then leave the rest until you decide you want to switch to overnight max CPS grind mode.
You can also shut off the Grandmapocalypse with Elder Pledges and Elder Covenant, but at this point you’re usually better off just starting a new Ascension. Do it once for the achievement and then don’t bother.
Once you have the Season Switcher and full Prestige Season upgrades, you’ll be firing off Seasons every run. Typically you might do:
- Valentine’s Day, click the six hearts, switch.
- Christmas, fire off the Santa upgrades which are so cheap you can get them in seconds, switch.
- Activate Halloween only if you’re going for Wrinklers this run.
- Otherwise settle on either Christmas and hunt Reindeer, or Easter and hunt Egg upgrades.
- There is no reason to activate Business Day that anyone can tell; Christmas provides the same 5% Golden Cookie bonus.
You’ll also want Selebrak active in the Pantheon if you’re using Seasons. All seasons provide a mild boost to Golden Cookie frequency and Selebrak boosts seasonal effects, but it’s nothing to get too excited over.
If you have the Keepsakes Prestige upgrade, you have a one-fifth chance to carry over some special seasonal upgrades to your next run. That’s great, but even better is to slot a few into your five Permanent Upgrade slots. Here’s a few worth mentioning:
- Golden Goose Egg (Easter): Widely agreed to be worth it, as it’s the only Golden Cookie modifier that’s tricky to get every run.
- Santa’s Milk and Cookies (Christmas): Late game, Milk becomes a treasure. It’s easy to get the Santa upgrades every game of course, but having this all the time is a huge boost anyway, just like Octillion Fingers.
- Santa’s Dominion (Christmas): Again, easy to get from Santa every run, but this is the only feature in the game allowing a simultaneous discount to buildings and upgrades along with a 20% CPS bonus thrown in, so useful from the run start.
- Omelette (Easter): Worthwhile only if you play Easter absolutely every run, just to collect all the Eggs that much faster.
Century Egg (Easter): NOT WORTH IT if you’re in the very late game, as you’ll be ascending on a daily basis or so. The bonus is like 0.5% per day.
Chocolate Egg (Easter): DO NOT SLOT this! Doing so will make it trigger at the start of your run and yield nothing. You want to fire this off just before you ascend at the end of a run, right after selling off all your buildings. It works just like Conjure Baked Goods / Reindeer / Lucky Cookie : It pays you a percentage of your bank. The only way to get this reliably is to fire off Easter season every run, or hope it carries over from Keepsakes. If you do get it from Keepsakes, be sure to move it to the Vault (from the Inspired Checklist Prestige upgrade), so you don’t accidentally fire it off before you mean to.
Max CPS Grind Strategy
This is for idle play or leaving it run overnight. The checklist:
- Grandmapocalypse – On, with full Wrinkler upgrades working. Maybe have some Wrinklegill working in the Garden too.
- Shimmering Veil: On
- Golden Switch: On
- Sugar Frenzy: On, if you have the Sugar Lumps to burn
- Krumblor: Radiant Appetite and Breath of Milk
- Garden: Your choice of CPS boosters, but what’s more important late game is those Whiskerblooms boosting your Milk. The Garden, if you have full plant seed access, is practically a whole game to itself.
- Pantheon: Mokalsium in the diamond slot, a debatable Jeremy or Holobre between ruby and jade slots. You might be farming Sugar Lumps too and be on the Rigidel plan keeping your buildings in multiples of ten.
- Grimoire: Since you’re killing Golden Cookies several ways, Force the Hand of Fate is worthless here. The sequence I find useful is Diminish Ineptitude (terminate the sequence if it backfires), Conjure Baked Goods, wait the four or so minutes until the mana meter refills enough, then Conjure Baked Goods with Diminish Ineptitude still active. This is going to yield some 30% of your bank. Not too exciting, but the mana was there going to waste anyway.
Iron Finger Strategy
There is a setup which I have earmarked as worth experimenting with sometime. This is simply the clinking enhancement family of effects. To experiment to see how much you can get out of clicking (without the Golden Cookie effects), your checklist is:
- All the Finger upgrades
- The Prestige upgrade Heavenly Gloves (+10%)
- Santa’s Helpers upgrade (Christmas) (+10%)
- Cookie Egg upgrade (Easter) (+10%)
- Krumblor’s Dragon Cursor and Reality Bending auras (+5.5%) – maybe going with something else instead of Reality Bending would be more profitable though
- A Garden setup including some mix of Thumbcorn (+2%) and Glovemorel (+4%)
Theoretically, a Garden filled with Glovemorel will yield +144% clicking, however it will also tax your CPS by 36%, which factors into how much you make per click through the Fingers upgrades anyway. A Garden filled with Thumbcorn gives a penalty-free 72% per click.
The full effect doesn’t look to be worth it much, since CPS enhancements do more to enhance click value anyway.
As we mention before, Cookie Clicker is a game with an infinite play condition, so it’s up to you to decide your goal and stop there. Those of you slightly underwhelmed by all this (no really, we’re the crazy ones, it’s fine) might decide that their goal is “there, I tried it once, happy now.” For the rest of us… it’s not just a game, it’s a science!