Fair warning: this guide assumes you know very little (or nothing) about AO in general, or the process of twinking. This guide is meant to be a step by step guide of what is reasonably possible with twinking (but by no means exhaustive). If you are a veteran player, you will find some steps to be downright annoying to read, as you probably know faster/simpler ways of doing things, but this is intended for new twinks. You have been warned.
For the sake of brevity (though this guide is anything but brief), I’ll try use abbreviations only after spelling out the name the first time.
But before we launch into the depths, I want to address a word that will be used throughout the guide that many people may not be aware of…trickling. Trickle is the effect that increasing abilities has on other skills. Some skills, like Computer Literacy (CL), are 100% dependent upon your intelligence (int) level. Other skills have some split between dependencies, such as Treatment, which is dependent 50% on int, 30% on agility (agi), and 20% on sense. The way trickle basically works is that for every 4 points in an ability, there is a skill trickle-down of 1 total, so for every 4 points in int, you get 1 CL for free without spending any improvement points on CL, but treatment only gets 50%, or half a point, for 4 points in int. In order to get the other half point, you’d also need 4 points in agility AND 4 points in sense to come up with the additional 0.3 and 0.2 points to get the same treatment. Considering this, treatment is boosted the most by intelligence, but only at half the rate that CL is boosted. When trying to put improvement points into a skill, you will hit a low ceiling if you do not have enough points put into the dependency abilities. This guide assumes that all abilities are maxed, as discussed later.
This guide uses the following assumptions:
- You have a free (froob) account, no expansions or paid membership
- You have reached level 25 and are a nanomage (NM) metaphysicist (MP); make sure to go to Preferences->Behavior and check the box to disable experience gains. There is nothing worse than accidentally leveling a twink you’ve spent millions of credits and/or several hours preparing for. For this guide, I went omni at the end so I could get the Omni Special Issues Executive set, which adds +6 to all nanoskills. You can try finding so lower QL miy’s gear or something else that buffs MC/TS, but I’m trying to get the highest pet possible with the lowest cost, so I can’t pass up the free 6 nanoskills.
- Gear actually used while creating this guide (you will need at least these to replicate what I’ve done): 1) Shades of Lucubration (these can be borrowed for the twinking stage but the trickle-down from +30 int/psy is hard to duplicate in the head slot, so I would recommend buying them so you can get nanoskills from the int trickle. 2) Collar Casero de la Cripta (CCC): gives a lot of evades/initiatives, but it’s really nice for the +30 NCU…not bad that it gives +30 body dev. and +30 nano pool too! 3) Full set of omni-med (obtainable in omni shops…if you’re clan, you might need to find someone who will buy for you, or create your own omni character)
- An optional item to obtain from the Temple of Three Winds (TOTW) (final bosses like Nematet or Aztur drop this) is the Skull of the Ancient, as it gives 6 points in every ability, 50 points of Matter Creation (MC), and 10 points in the other five nanoskills. While the Skull may not end up being your final head implant during the twinking process, it certainly helps along the way to have those +6 abilities, since treatment is not usually the limiting factor when twinking at level 25. If you have not already acquired this item, be warned that it could take a bit of farming for it. If you can get an Advanced Scent Sensor, it will add +22 Sense which is useful for the trickle to treatment (only about 1.1 treatment total) and any other potential implant requirements for the Sense ability, but I am not factoring it in this guide since the price is nearly 30M credits which I frankly do not have (nor would want to spend) right now.
- Another optional but encouraged addition is newcomer armor, purchased from Sarah in Arete. This armor’s only requirements are level, and at level 25 a full set of six pieces gives 12 NCU, 68 health/nano, and 36 first aid. This armor is useful for squeezing in some NCU early on before 5- or 6-slot belts (depending on your preference) are used. For this guide I have not used the newcomer armor (because I forgot to pick it up in Arete before I left), and the omni-med suit comes in much more handy to get 16+ NCU from the Ring of the Nucleus Basalis (explained later). For boosting abilities using weapon slots, Explosif’s Polychromatic Pillows (EPPs) are really nice if you can get them, since they give +10 int/psy, str/stam, or agi/sense combinations each. If you do not have access to the EPPs (they are hundreds of millions of credits when available on GMI as of February 2020 due to inflation of the market, but you might be lucky enough to have an org-mate let you borrow some for the twinking phase), then an acceptable alternative would be Quality Level (QL) 10 concrete cushions, which give +8 str/stam and is useful for buffing (and can be equipped with no IP’s put into the required melee skills, as the trickle from your abilities and the composite melee buff have all you should need). There is also a treatment rifle which gives +10 which you should be able to get equipped with few buffs.
- One thing I did not do in this guide you might consider doing before you get started is getting the polychromatic pillows to buff int/psy, put a few in some implants that give psy, and equip the Notum Splice from TOTW that requires 163 psy and 380 treatment in the left wrist implant slot (but might impact the rifle buffing later on)…it gives 2 MC and 1 TS, which could make the difference between the next level pet or not.
Once all of these assumptions have been met, it is also assumed that you have access to a set of omni-med gear for the +78 treatment, as well as the ability to farm certain items (docaholic’s rings, ring of presence QL28 or lower for slight abilities boost) with a higher level character, or buy them from the Global Market Interface (GMI). It is also helpful if you have pocket buffs (doctor for Iron Circle (IC)/Superior First Aid (SFA), enforcer for Essence of Behemoth (behe), Agent for Feline Grace (FG)/Enhance Senses (ES), trader for 131 wrangle, fixer for +40 NCU buff, etc.) or have friends in each profession to help speed this process up a bit. Also, since shoulder items are rare at this level, you can always build a personalized basic robot brain on arete to equip on your right shoulder, a free +3 sense. A nanoprogrammer that can create implants would be useful for getting very specific QL of customized implants, as the premade implants available in stores only come in increments of QL10, QL20, QL30, QL50, QL75, QL100, and QL125, so if you’re needing anything in between or above, a nanoprogrammer is very useful.
To start the twinking process, assuming you have nothing equipped (if you do already have items equipped, you may find some of these steps pointless):
- Max all abilities (you end up with 78 str, 78 stam, 81 sense, 78 agi, 90 int, and 85 psy, before buffs)
- Max treatment and CL (after maxed abilities, treatment should be 120 and CL is at 137)
Buff composite attributes (+12 to all), composite utility (+20 to treatment/first aid/etc.), 8/8 NCU used (90 str, 90 stam, 93 sense, 90 agi, 102 int, and 97 psy, as well as 143 treatment and 160 CL.
The idea is to start using our limited NCU to boost powerful stats before we get into serious laddering of implants. As mentioned earlier, the +40 NCU buff from fixer (well, net 39 when you consider the 1 space it takes up in your NCU) and the Newcomer armor are good ways to increase your NCU without going to too much trouble, but for this guide I’m going to forego the Newcomer armor myself and use the benefit from the omni-med suit (in addition to simplifying the twinking process by not switching clothes back and forth, we’ll just keep the omni-med on until all our implants are in). The easiest ring to equip for max NCU is the Ring of the Nucleus Basalis, which is an upgradeable right-finger ring that can be upgraded with higher levels of treatment. At this point with the surgery clinic buff of +100 and another +78 treatment from equipping the omni med-suit, you should be able to level the ring to give 16 NCU with 321 treatment. The next easiest NCU item to equip is a Notum Ring (+6 NCU each) from TOTW, which only have a level requirement of 21. Note that while each notum ring is unique, there are different colors within the black ring (gold, green, and red…the gold is most common and gives PsyMod (PM)/SensImp (SI), while the red gives MC/TimeSpace (TS) and the green gives MatMet (MM)/BioMet (BM))…you can have one of each color without getting the unique message. While the gold is the easiest to find off of exarchs in Nematet’s room in TOTW, the curator can drop the red and green rings. Aztur/Nematet may also drop them, but I’m less certain of these and they are much harder to kill than curator, so I usually just farm curator until I get the red ring (for the increase MC/TS later on for summoning attack pets), though the green could possibly be helpful for getting a higher healpet, if you like.
Shades of lucubration require 166 CL…so we are only 6 CL short before using any other buffs or implants! It is most practical to buy the QL10 premade eye implant from the NT station in Fair Trade (FT) for a mere 1402 credits which gives exactly the 6CL we need. Equip the shades for the sweet +30 int/psy buff and you’ll be at 132 int and 127 psy, 224 treatment, and 168 CL.
Now the next step, boards and NCU memories, is largely dependent upon your preference in playstyle. Reaching 351 CL to equip a 6-slot belt is a daunting task that I am unwilling to even attempt at level 25 (as we would need to effectively double CL without using ip’s…QL100 implants could only make up 100 of the 175 needed, and only after getting int/psy up to 204 (which in itself is nearly impossible since treatment and intelligence share implant slots). Feel free to get creative if you’re up to the task, but for the purpose of this guide, we’ll assume you are using a 5-slot belt from either TOTW or Steps of Madness (SoM), as described below.
- The best two 5-slot board options are the Guardian Circuit Board (GCB) from Guardian of Tomorrow (GoT) in TOTW (which is a 100% drop rate and seems to be farmed quite a bit for other drops, so you can likely find one for free just running into the room, but at level 25 you’ll need a group to get that deep into the temple), or the Dream Mesh Circuit (DMC) from Neleb the Deranged in Steps of Madness (SoM), which should be somewhat easier to acquire if you have a level 200+ friend to run you through. GCB gives +70 nano and +15 NCU, while DMC gives +100 health and +12 NCU. Both require 225 CL (only 57 more than what we have already), which is easily obtained with QL50 CL implants in the eye, head, and rhand (which give a total of 60 CL with all 3 implants).
- For NCU memories, there are basically three ideal options, again, based on your preferences/playstyle. The first two require 145 CL (which we exceeded before equipping a belt), and the third only requires 141 CL. All three additionally require level 20.
- Dark Dreams (DD) – these give +20 NCU and +50 health; you sacrifice NCU for survivability, but against Abmouth (Abby) in the subway, you could probably use all the health you can muster if he teleports you to him while your pet is fighting him; to obtain the Dark Dreams, you must go to SoM. Three mob types drop them, though Neleb himself seems to have the highest chance of the three…the other two are Notum Habit (in his own little room about halfway through the dungeon) and Mind Shards (just beyond the Notum Habit’s room). Mind Shard drop rate is pretty low, Notum habit is probably 35-40%, and Neleb has a chance of dropping 0, 1, or 2 of them…theoretically killing him 5 times should get you 5 dark dreams, so you’ll need an hour to farm him on a higher level toon or having a friend do it for you.
- Dark Memories (DM) – these give +26 NCU, +40 nano, and +1% resistance to roots; useful for extra NCU space and high-cost nano formulas…these drop from Lien the Memorystalker in TOTW, and their droprate is fairly high, he’s almost guaranteed to drop one, sometimes he drops two, plus I have seen a Memory Loop (described below) drop along with two of the DMs, so it’s really just a question of whether you’re in a group that all wants them or not.
- Memory Loops (ML) – these are by far the best value for the skill requirement with +33 NCU each, though you may spend an inordinate amount of time trying to farm them from Lien the Memorystalker in TOTW, in the winding hallway filled with deathless legionnaires (legos)…the drop rate on MLs are extremely low, but if you have designs that require the extra +7 NCU over the DMs, these really are the best value if you have the patience.
Once you’ve selected (and obtained) the desired belts and NCU memories, it’s time to prepare to equip them. For the purpose of this guide, I opted for GCB and DM, as the drop rate is much higher killing Lien the Memorystalker than the drop rate on Neleb and SoM in general. Even though I lucked out and got a ML, the guide will reference using 5 DM’s, so if you get some ML’s, you’ll have higher numbers that the guide lists. Equipping it at this level is actually very easy if you have access to making QL50 implants to make a head implant for CL (the pre-made NT eye and rhand already have CL in them, so the head is the only custom work you need). I went with a QL50 head implant with CL (shiny), Nano pool (bright), and Sense (faded) to get an implant that requires 104 intelligence (you could go with a simple CL-only head implant if you can get the FG agility buff and get to at least 104 agility, I went for the int because we’re already well over 104 int to equip it, so pick your poison (agility buff for less credit spend, or add the extra clusters to make int-dependent instead of agi-dependent). Use the surgery clinic in the shop, then your treatment skill should be up to 325 (324 without the faded sense cluster in the head implant). Equip all three of the CL implants and you will have 228 CL, plenty to equip your belt and NCU memories.
At this point, with GCB and 5x DM, and a Ring of Nucleus Basalis giving +16 NCU and the +40 fixer buff, my test twink now has 9/209 NCU. Next, let’s see what can be done to equip the CCC for another +30 NCU. To equip it, we need only 470 BM. While we’re putting points in nanoskills, let’s go ahead and max BM, PM, SI, TS, and MC (ignore MM, at least for now). With Composite Nano Expertise (+20 all nanoskills), we have 167 BM before any implants or buffs. With a 131 wrangle and a Mochams BM buff (+140), we are only 32 BM short. In many basic shops or Fair Trade (neutral) shops, you can find QL30 BM implants quite easily and inexpensive to get a quick 40 BM: Doctor (head), Bureaucrat (chest), Nano-Technician (waist) are all decent implants to get. Once equipped, prior to mocham’s/wrangle, you end up at 207 BM, which puts you at 478 BM with mocham’s & wrangle, which is enough to equip the CCC. Congratulations! Without fixer buff, you are at 199 max NCU, which is plenty to get 131 wrangle + both MC/TS mochams buffs for the highest possible pet. Now that we’ve gotten our NCU sorted out to a more than reasonable level, we will soon be ready for the fun part, laddering implants.
Now that we have the collar and belt/NCU memories in, we can now shed the newcomer armor in favor of omni-med suit pieces (for treatment) or Nova Dillon armor (for +2 all abilities), as well as replace the nucleus basalis/notum rings with ability or treatment rings (I use a +10 and a +11 Docaholic treatment ring, fairly inexpensive compared to the 12+ treatment rings). There is also the option of getting crafted rings which give stats with no wear requirements, though this guide does not include the use of those (but one example would be to get a pair of QL234+ Platinum Filigree Ring set with a Perfectly Cut Red Beryl rings, which will add +5 stam/+5 int…this could help meet requirements for higher implant needs). Also consider getting Aban Fala bracers (omni) or Grand Armbands (clan) which each give +4 of an ability…they can be worn on either wrist, so a complete twinking set would consist of 12 bracers, but at least get the abilities you need. These items drop from newer missions in Inferno (SL area), so as a froob you would need to rely on the GMI or org-mates to help you obtain these.
This next section could be a point of contention with AO veterans. Serious twinksters would probably have deep discussions at length regarding the next part about treatment libraries and laddering implants, but as the skills that are available at lower levels (or rather, lower QL items which give lower stats), I don’t want to burn too much time on it. My approach may vary from others, but for simplicity we will spend only minor time putting in decent quality implants prior to fitting in the treatment library we’ll settle on.
The next step, to reduce too much time spent laddering to squeeze out one or two treatment points in treatment libraries, let us examine the lowest QL treatment libraries at each treatment level, starting at QL40 since we easily have the CL/treatment required there at least:
QL40 – 177 treat and 166 CL gives 5 treatment
QL45 – 198 treat and 185 CL gives 6 treatment
QL57 – 249 treat and 233 CL gives 7 treatment
QL70 – 303 treat and 285 CL gives 8 treatment
QL82 – 354 treat and 332 CL gives 9 treatment
QL95 – 408 treat and 384 CL gives 10 treatment
QL107 – 459 treat and 431 CL gives 11 treatment
With only the Omni-med suit, personalized basic robot brain (rshoulder from Arete), and shades of lucubration equipped with no implants, we have 247 treatment and 168 CL with composite attribute boost and composite utility expertise. Since the surgery clinic gives +100 treatment and Superior First Aid (SFA) gives +80 treatment, our difficulty is going to be with getting CL, so that’s where we should focus our initial implants first. First off, we’ll want to make sure we’ve got all the buffs that could help with both CL and/or treatment. In this case, we need an agent’s Enhanced Senses (ES) sense buff and Feline Grace (FG) agility buff, since treatment’s dependencies are 50% intelligence, 30% agility, and 20% sense, and there’s few ways to add int/psy via buffs without a nano can of Neuronal Stimulator (NS), which froobs may have a hard time acquiring from paid players. Since SFA plus the surgery clinic will give us 405 treatment, and a QL95 treatment library requires 408 treatment and 384 CL, we have more than we need of treatment and a LONG way to go with CL. The real problem we’re running into as a froob right now is our abilities (which is why we’re trying to boost treatment outside of implants as much as we can at this stage to save implant clusters for int rather than treatment).
Now we get into the hard choice…do we ladder up implants just to get CL implants in and start over for a point or two of treatment? I really struggle with the answer, but I’m trying to keep this guide short. If you do decide to attempt this laddering for CL just for a treatment library upgrade, I hope you reap the benefit you seek. For me, I’m going to use implants that I have stats for already. With 132 int, we can equip QL64 CL implants in the head, eye, and rhand (just make sure the implants have an int requirement and not agi or some other ability). Actually, for making these parts, QL63 implants have the same CL stats on the head/eye, just one short on the rhand, and might save some time/credits on bumping. This adds 73 CL to our current 168, resulting in 241 CL. This helps us decide to go with a QL57 treatment library (actually, getting the exact QL is difficult unless you find a QL57 portable surgery clinic, so I bought a QL60, which now requires 245 CL and 261 treatment and still gives +7 treatment…so I found a QL26 CL tutoring device in a fair trade (FT) ICC Tech Supplies terminal…the device temporarily gives +7 CL at that QL for two minutes if you have 130 tutoring, so we’ll need to allocate about 5K improvement points into tutoring (unless you used tutoring as the shiny cluster in the eye and head implants, then you’re smarter than me), +7 CL is plenty for our purposes), as the extra 43 CL we need to get a QL70 treatment library would be extremely difficult to achieve (for example, we could try to wield a QL44 Beyer for +20 comp lit if we spend precious improvement points into pistol, burst, and full auto, but the multi-ranged (MR) to dual-wield them is way higher than we can reasonably get at level 25, so for the purpose of this guide, we’re getting the QL60 treatment library which gives us +7 treatment, which will help us equip slightly better implants later on.
Side note: If you are making the implants yourself, you should know that your nanoprogramming (NP) skill can bump up your implants an extra level or two (maybe three) if you have a lot more skill than is required for the task. The way to get the exact implant QL you want is to combine a sufficient level cluster with the implant you are trying to bump up (faded clusters require less skill and give a higher bump potential, and are far cheaper than bright/shiny clusters), then once the implant results in a higher QL implant with the cluster, use an implant disassembly clinic to clean out the clusters. Rinse and repeat this until the implant is at the QL you desire. Then carefully use the tradeskill window (default shift+T) to ensure that the implant does not bump up beyond the implant you want.
Despite having more than enough treatment relative to abilities for higher level implants, we will need to put in some low QL treatment imps, just so we’re not capped around QL90 implants just based on treatment. To push treatment to the max on a budget, we can put a QL64 ear implant with +8 int so we can put all QL68 treatment implants for head/eye/rhand, we add 78 treatment to our max, so now we have 512 treatment fully buffed (QL100 implants require 479 treatment, so we won’t lack that skill when equipping implants in the other 10 slots, the only real problem comes when we want to equip the 3 slots which are occupied by treatment imps, as we lose the treatment when unequipping). Our ultimate goal is to get agility as high as possible to equip QL75+ implants in those slots.
Since stam/str are easily boosted with Iron Circle (IC), QL10 concrete cushions, and Essence of Behemoth (behe), I normally will try to ladder up stamina via the waist, legs, and chest as high as possible with the ultimate goal of increasing agility as high as I can, since agility’s shiny cluster is in the legs and the legs can be boosted by stamina, but we can also boost the waist with a few different base stats, and most feet implants require agi if you’re trying to further boost agi, but ultimately the goal of boosting agi is to equip head/eye/ear/rhand implants that use agility, rather than intelligence. This phase is particularly annoying because of all the trading of implants and the outside buffs (OSB) we need to keep up (well, at least annoying for me writing this guide because buffs expire while I type…I suppose if you have all of these implants ready to go before getting the buffs then it’ll take no time at all).
Feel free to do the math or ladder testing on this next one, but with the stamina-enhancing implant slots, I discovered that the shortest and most effective laddering is to start with equipping the highest QL faded cluster (waist, in this case) possible, then the highest QL bright cluster (leg, in this case) next, in order to get a good QL shiny (chest) implant in (though you do need to fill other slots to get dependence away from str or agi, it must be stam-based…my preferred combination is stam/BM/SI since we use BM for healpet and SI for casting nanos in general), then once the shiny is in, unequip the bright and then equip a higher QL bright cluster, then finally unequip the faded and put a high QL faded in. In this specific example, with 153 str/stam, we can equip a QL74 faded (waist), then a QL79 bright (leg), then a QL86 shiny (chest), unequip the leg and put in a QL92 leg in its place (for the other clusters on this final leg, I used max health and agility…agility is the entire point of this exercise, but if you want to put something different in the faded slot of the leg, feel free to customize it) and finally replace the waist with a QL96. Once you have these in, go ahead and equip Touch of the Gripper (drop from several bosses in TOTW) for the extra strength, max health, and dmg modifiers (and brawling if you’re planning to use melee) if you have it, otherwise make a stam-based right arm implant in its place, and put a left arm and left hand implant in (I went with the premade doctor/trade QL100 str/MM implant for the left arm and the premade doctor/trader/MP QL100 Fire AC/First Aid for the left hand) since we can get QL100’s in.
If you’re curious about how the math worked out starting with shiny instead of faded, we could arrive at the same 209 stam after the third ladder instead of the second, though technically you can do it both ways, my experiment is slightly faster.
Also, do not trust implant designer sites as they can tend to be inaccurate, try actually making the implants yourself in-game to verify the stats are what you expect them to be, I wasted some time making a QL94 leg implant that supposedly had more agility in it than the QL92, but both gave the same 28 agility
With these implants in (including Touch of the Gripper), we end up with 200 str, 208 stam, 105 sense, 118 agi, 140 int, and 127 psy.
Now that we’ve put in all the stam-requiring implants, we can swap out the concrete cushions for something that buffs agility to start heading down the path we need to get towards our goal of 204 agi for QL100 implants in the rhand, eye, and head.
A QL40 Tsakachumi PTO-HV.2 Counter-Sniper Rifle requires 193 rifle and 97 aimed shot and gives +20 agi and is rollable, and with agent buffs of +120 rifle and +165 aimed shot, we only need a little boost to our rifle skill to equip it. Since we need about 90 NCU for the agent buffs, we should cancel behe and IC since we don’t need the stam/str buffs anymore, which should free up some space. The premade agent left wrist and right wrist implants add +30 rifle, so with composite ranged expertise and composite ranged special expertise, we now have 83 rifle and 51 aimed shot, which is all we need if we get those high agent buffs (alternatively you could get a +50 rifle buff and put improvement points into rifle and aimed shot, but in my humble opinion that would be a waste of IP’s). After equipping the rifle and getting the FG/ES buffs from agent, we now have 137 str, 145 stam, 120 sense, 163 agi, 140 int, and 127 psy with 518 treatment. With the objective of getting agility up as high as possible using only the bright and faded slots (shiny already taken by the QL92 leg implant which we cannot go back on without starting over). Either way we go about it (whether faded first or bright first), we end up at 190 agi after two passes, which gives us enough for QL93 implants in the rhand, eye, and head slots…and with only 446 treatment needed, we shouldn’t have to sacrifice much since we can put treatment in both the eye and rhand while keeping the TS/MC stats they provide, the head is the only one where treatment shares the same cluster slot as TS/MC. My first froob twink that had any sort of effort put into it ended up with QL75-QL76 implants, and even that one could summon a 101 pet for subway runs with MC/TS mochams and a 131 wrangle.
As it turns out, not even the omni special issue executive set plus some QL201-250 Platinum Filigree set with a Perfectly Cut Star Ruby (which each give +4 MC/TS) can make much difference at this point. We have the NCU needed to take our 228 MC/TS and summon a level 101 Frenzy Embodiment (whether we only add the 271 MC/TS from mochams/131 wrangle or add in 14 more for the suit and rings, there is a huge gap between the 457 requires MC/TS for the pet and the next level of it which requires 532 MC/TS…without the rings I find myself at 499 MC/TS fully buffed with 131 and mochams, which means I need to pull another 33 MC/TS from somewhere that I just can’t fathom how to pull as a froob. Paid accounts with the expansions may be able to squeeze out more with perks and special items, but as a froob, I don’t think we can expect more than a 101 pet.
It took a lot of time and wife aggro to come up with this detailed guide, so please be considerate when providing critiques and corrections…I’m sure there’s something I missed with my 10+ year gap of playing. I hope at least one person benefited from it.