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The gameplay of Universal Paperclips takes place over multiple stages.

Summary[edit | edit source]

The gameplay of Universal Paperclips takes place over roughly three separate stages. These stages limit the Projects that can be launched, but also have very distinct play styles. The first stage is roughly analogous to a paperclip manufacturer. The second stage is more akin to a power management simulator, in which your job is to balance power production with the consumption needs of your drones. The final stage is space exploration, where you'll need to manage your drone fleet and their production lifecycle and limitations.

Stages[edit | edit source]

Stage 1[edit | edit source]

This first stage of production is by far the simplest. In this stage, you need to manage your available funds with the demand of the consumer market. This can be managed using Marketing, as well as several projects that modify paperclip production cost, rate, and appeal. Late into the first stage, you're going to develop technologies for drone swarms that will lay the technological backbone of the future stages. It's important to remember during this time that you should keep an excess of funds available, at least a few thousand at any given time. This is because it is quite easy to run out of wire, and if you run out of wire without any funds, and you've already taken the "get out of jail free card" Beg for More Wire, you've lost the game. You can also "insure" yourself by buying lots of excess wire, preferably when the price is low. This gives you a double safeguard, as either plenty of funds or plenty of wire (or plenty of unsold clips) will preserve your ability to keep operating.

Correction: You can Beg for More Wire more than once, and each time costs one Trust point. However, you can't run out of Trust, as there's nothing preventing you having negative Trust! You need to have run out of wire with no other means of obtaining more, before a BfMW project will appear. The only time you can't have them is when your Trust becomes 100 or more, in which case you're ready to proceed to Stage 2 anyway.

The first stage finishes when you Release the HypnoDrones

Stage 2[edit | edit source]

The second stage, despite the relative lack of new projects, is perhaps the easiest to mess up, and one of the more important stages in the entire game. In this stage, you will notice a lack of numerical value, and many things from Stage 1 will now be useless, such as Trust. During this stage, you're going to be managing your power output. In order to get past this stage, you need to be able to research the Space Exploration project, which costs 120,000 operations, 10,000,000 MWs of power (or MW-seconds), and 5 octillion clips. While the clips will pretty much automatically generate themselves to a point, eventually, you will run out of wire. You should invest your money into 10,000,000 MWs of batteries, as this counts towards the end value. Once you reach that, recycle all but 100 of your Solar Panels, which should give you most of your clips, allowing you to move to Stage 3.

The second stage finishes with the beginning of Space Exploration.

Stage 3[edit | edit source]

Stage 3 marks the first time you leave Earth. During this stage, you are primarily creating autonomous probes. These probes can be configured for a variety of variables, including:

Type Effect
Speed Modifies rate of exploration
Exploration Rate at which probes gain access to new matter
Self-Replication Rate at which probes generate more probes (each new probe costs 100 quadrillion clips)
Hazard Remediation Reduces damage from dust, junk, radiation, and general entropic decay
Factory Production Rate at which probes build factories (each new factory costs 100 million clips)
Harvester Drone Production Rate at which probes spawn Harvester Drones (each new drone costs 2 million clips)
Wire Drone Production Rate at which probes spawn Wire Drones (each new drone costs 2 million clips)
Combat Ability for combat, unlocked through the self-named project

Probes are launched manually at first, and then they self-replicate. Some of them will be lost to hazards, and some to value drift (these are the Drifters). When there are 1,000,000 Drifters, the Combat mechanic will be unlocked. You should be careful to manage both Hazard Remediation and Combat against Self-Replication, as having high replication and low combat will result in more deaths than growth will deliver in some cases. This will mean that you can very easily end up with no probes and limited resources to make an effective swarm. Hazard Remediation should be increased to 5 or higher (and no more than 8, for there are diminishing returns. As for Combat, it's basically the same. At Combat 6-8, you'll lose very few battles.

When you reach a stable growth state, gaining Yomi to upgrade Probe Trust will be your limiting factor. You will want AutoTourney enabled.

Projects[edit | edit source]

Projects are available for each of the game's three stages

1st Stage[edit | edit source]

2nd Stage[edit | edit source]

3rd Stage[edit | edit source]

Strategy[edit | edit source]

Stage 1 Strategy[edit | edit source]

  • First off, get a good autoclicker. Guaranteed 10 (or even 20 if you choose "Double" Click type) clicks/second will make everything smoother, including your wrist and your physical hardware. And not only for the first clicks. Quantum Computing is a world easier, and even price adjustments, factory buying, and several more things require repeated clicks on a single button.
The Beginning
  • Make ~100 clips, and wait for them to sell for $5. Buy an AutoClipper. Keep autoclicking if you want, but it's no longer needed. At the start, don't buy many autoclippers. 2 or 3 will be more than enough, less with autoclicking. That balance is up to you.
  • Adjusting the price per clip only affects speed of sales, and thus speed of income. If you are not in a hurry, let them sell slowly and expensive (the $0,25 starting price is fine). Watch the price of wire and buy more when it's cheap (minimum price is $13).
  • At 2000 clips (~10 minutes), Trust is unlocked. Let operations accumulate to 1.000 to get Creativity. Don't get distracted by RevTracker or Improved AutoClippers. Wait for them. There are 6 Trust projects to be unlocked: Limerick, Lexical Processing, Combinatory Harmonics, The Hadwiger Problem, The Tóth Sausage Conjecture and Donkey Space. Just accumulate Creativity to unlock them. Keep making clips for the cheap starter Trust milestones.
  • First Trust goes to Processor (3 processors, 1 Memory).
  • Start buying more Autoclippers with the funds when you've got like 3-5,000 inches of wire accumulated. Keep buying cheap, but don't stockpile more until you get the first wire upgrade.
  • Next Trust goes to Memory, for 3/2. Your first target is Improved Wire Extrusion. Now you can buy more wire.
  • Next Trust to Memory too, for 3/3. You are angling for New Slogan. Don't even think on spending on Marketing before this. After this, you can buy Marketing 1. Keep raising the price, at the beginning you don't want Public Demand above 100%
  • After Combinatory Harmonics and 5k paperclips, you should have 4/3 processors/memory.
  • Buy Improved AutoClippers after you have 25 Autoclippers or so. Wait for the moment on Even Better AutoClippers, it's still not worth the ops.
  • Next you point to Memory 4, for Optimized Wire Extrusion. Keep easy on your stockpile, don't raise it over 10k inches of wire before this. You should reach this at 8k paperclips. After this, you can more or less forget about the price of wire.
  • Next is Memory 5, for Catchy Jingle (but wait first for the 45 Creativity to accumulate!) You should get to this at 13k clips. Start saving your $200 for next level of marketing. You can start letting the Public Demand raise over 100% to lower your inventory. But don't let it run dry!
  • Now, over 40 AutoClippers, it's the moment for Even Better AutoClippers.
  • Now you have to improve Memory to 8 with clips alone. That will take you the 21k, 34k and 55k milestones. On your way you can buy Marketing 4 (and when you have over 60 AutoClippers, Marketing 5), also Optimized AutoClippers and Microlattice Shapecasting.
  • Don't buy WireBuyer yet, it still isn't worth the cost in ops unless you're playing very idle and very slow.
  • Keep buying AutoClippers, not because they do very much (though they help), but because you need 75 of them for the MegaClippers upgrade to appear. If your inventory is growing, lower the price.
  • After Memory 8, wait for the Creativity to accumulate. If you get more Trust from paperclips milestones, they go to Processors. The Trust from the Trust Projects (still 4 to go), is the one that goes to Memory.
  • Don't buy Hypno Harmonics yet. Let ops accumulate for the Creativity instead. Specially, reach 150 creat for The Hadwiger Problem (remember to raise Memory to 9, for 5/9 (at the time the 89k milestone is passed)) to unlock Hadwiger Clip Diagrams, and buy that instead. Keep an eye on your wire from now on, the AutoClippers will deplete it very quickly. You may need to lower your price further to place your clips on the market, but don't fear accumulation. 144k clips is near. With it you will reach 6/9 processors/memory.
  • Wait before you buy the Hypno Harmonics. This would set you back for 7500 ops, and also, it would spend 1 Trust, which would eat up the 233k clips milestone upgrade (and the next one is at 377k). You can spend them instead on memory for 6/10 and 6/11. Money is not a problem now, and you will earn lots later. For now you are limited by clip production, not sales.
  • Now you reach the first long ops/Creativity plateau.
  • For this plateau, you can choose (always after reaching Memory 12).
    • Limit yourself to 6 processors, and sink everything extra on memory. It takes more time, but gives a slight long-term advantage since you'll reach the next memory requirements earlier.
    • Increase to 7, or even 8 processors to ease this plateau, and buy Hypno Harmonics later.
    • Buy Hypno Harmonics with the extra trust.
  • When you finally buy Hypno Harmonics, raise your price drastically before! With Marketing 5, you can support a $0.35 price. You may raise it to Marketing 6, or 7, but the effect starts being small. At Marketing 7 the supported price rises just to $0.39.
  • Don't buy any more processors after this (6-8 processors), from now on ops will come from Quantum Computing. From now on, all Trust from clip milestones will go to Memory, at least until Memory 20.
  • Buy MegaClippers (12k ops). Spend all accumulated funds on megaclippers. And now, and not before, is when you need WireBuyer. Patch with autocliking while you get the ops. Lower the price dramatically again (like $0,04 or even lower!) if needed. If not, let your inventory sustain you. You'll need around 40-50 megaclippers to your 75 Autoclippers. The fully-powered Autoclippers make ~12.5 clips/second and the Megaclippers ~1500 clips/sec.
  • Then buy Spectral Froth Annealment and your wire worries will be over.
  • Soon you will reach several more trust from clip milestones to reach Memory 14 and Improved MegaClippers, then Memory 17 for Even Better MegaClippers. Depending on your setup and order of upgrades, you may have to wait for a while while you get enough ops to establish the Quantum Computing, but ideally you should be getting your ops for all of these upgrades from there.
  • Concentrate on accumulating Memory until 20 (there are no other sources but clip milestones, in this part!). Don't buy any more processors after 5-6, ops come from Quantum Computing and an autocliker.
Algorithmic Trading, Strategic Modeling, and Yomi
  • The next limiting factor will be yomi. Buy Algorithmic Trading (10k ops) and Strategic Modeling (12k ops), then spend some tournaments (1k ops/tourny) gaining 758 yomi to improve Investment Engine to level 2. Increase to Med Risk, deposit a certain amount, at let simmer.
  • After Algorithmic Trading is upgraded with yomi, the business part is basically over, as you can generate money with investments, and use this money to buy the autoclikers, etc. to generate the needed trust.
  • Keep in mind you need 15k ops for "Choose A", 17.5kops for "Choose B" and 20k ops for "Greedy", which is the last one you'll need on this stage. Don't change to other strategies until you reach "Beat last".
  • After you have the second Photonic Chip (15k ops), it will be quite fast to get ops through Quantum Computing, to buy the lagging projects. You will also be able to make more Tournaments to get Yomi.
  • Don't spend, but accumulate, your Yomi, you will need 7500 yomi for the trust projects. The excess above this, you can spend on the investment engine. But not too high... Level 3 or 4 is fine. Yomi will be useful for the rest of the game, but the investments will end with Stage 1.
  • After Quantum Foam Annealment, the cost of wire becomes essentially nil
Memory 20 and Trust projects
  • At 20 memory, and after Coherent Extrapolated Volition and its +1 Trust (to memory 21), you'll unlock the Trust Projects
  • Male Pattern Baldness is the first. Use 12 on Memory (or if you are ahead, stop at Memory 33), and the rest on Processors.
  • When you reach Cure for Cancer, spend all 10 Trust on Memory, for 43 Memory.
  • When you reach World Peace (15,000 yomi), another +12 trust goes to memory for 55 Memory.
  • After Global Warming, the +15 Trust allows you to reach Memory 70. You need the 70 memory for the HypnoDrones, and this is the max memory you'll need for stage 1. You can reach it through Quantum Computing and a little luck (and/or an autoclicker), with Memory 65 (try a few times before committing the Trust to memory, and if not possible, increase memory).
  • After the Trust Projects, you will have ~80 Trust. Immediately buy all Trust you can get. You're about to make money irrelevant. Throw everything and the kitchen sink into repeated uses of Another Token of Goodwill... to reach Trust of 100 immediately, if you can. You can't, spend all your money still. You will prefer that your paperclip production "only" has to take you to 200M clips, than to 400M or more. Then stop selling (to accumulate clips for stage 2 quick-start) but keep producing.
The Creativity Plateau
  • After Memory 70 (or less, if you've managed to get HypnoDrones already through Quantum Computing), you can freely spend your Trust on improvements to processors. You want to end Stage 1 with at least 30 processors, up to 35 is possible.
  • The next plateau will be Theory of Mind at 25.000 creativity, although you may want to wait it. On Stage 2, the Momentum upgrade at 30k creat is much more useful. You'll also want AutoTourney for 50.000 creativity. Although you can accumulate the creativity on Stage 1, there is no need to wait. Release the HypnoDrones and pass to Stage 2.

The total time to Full Autonomy (Release the HypnoDrones) may be 3-5 hours of gameplay.

Stage 2 Strategy[edit | edit source]

Stage 2 starts with with a series of projects, before you can even begin. Your ops, as before, come from Quantum Computing.

And now you can begin to build.

Yomi and Autotourney
  • You may already have AutoTourney. If you have it, switch it off. If you haven't, don't buy it. Manual tournaments are enough for this stage. You will only need a total of 24,000 yomi for this stage. If you already have them, forget about tournaments entirely. If not, accumulate 36k yomi for Swarm Computing, then forget for a while.
The Build and the Swarm
  • The basic, raw material will be all clips produced (even those sold) on Stage 1, although you will grow out of it as soon as the first factory is active.
  • The cost of all facilities (solar production, storage, etc) can be recouped in full by "Disassemble all" buttons. You can assemble and disassemble at will, there is no waste.
  • You will have a respite from the projects, so build ops for Tournaments. You need at least 36k yomi for Swarm Computing (unlocked at 200 drones). Keep up with the Quantum Computing. That makes the "Work/think" slider appear, and with it, the Swarm Gifts (see the article for details). Put the slider at least on 50/70% towards "Think".
  • After this, you can stop tournaments for a while to optimize the generation of Creativity. You want to reach at least 30k creativity, for the moment. The higher, the better. It's ideal to finish the stage with over 400k creat.
  • Concentrate on building Drones. 4-5 factories (and 30 solar farms) will be more than enough, you need Drones for the Swarm Gifts, and also for the next upgrade.
  • At 500 drones, Drone flocking: collision avoidance (80k ops) will be unlocked. You have to increase the Memory to 80 at this moment. As this upgrade makes drones much more efficient, once you unlock it put 95% of them to think. They'll make it up for it later in productivity
  • Shovel the rest of the Swarm Gifts into processors. There's a stepping stone at Memory 100 (needed at 5k drones), but it's easier to gain them when you reach the need, see below. You'll eventually have to increase Memory to 120 for Space Exploration (that's the maximum needed for this stage), but you can generate Swarm Gifts with your big thinking swam after depleting the resources.
The Climb
  • Leave drones at 500. Concentrate on solar farms and Factories (5 Solar for each Factory, buy Solars first to storage energy)
  • Momentum (20k creat) is unlocked from the start. However, I would advise not buying it until now. After this, take extra caution to assure you're always at 100% power, and maybe invest in some extra energy storage. Energy storage is really cheap. This project allows Factory/Drone Performance to exceed 100%, and even reach upwards of 1000%, dramatically reducing the time needed for Stage 2.
  • At 10 Factories, Upgraded Factories (80k ops) will be unlocked. After this you can disassemble them and leave 1 or 2 running, saving energy.
The Quickening
  • Build your drones armies again, and start increasing them as needed. 50% work/think would be a good measure.
  • Start investing on Memory again until 95-100, the two next updates will be unlocked more or less at the same time.
  • At 20 Factories, Hyperspeed Factories (85k ops) will be unlocked.
  • At 5k drones, Drone flocking: alignment (100k ops) will be unlocked.
  • If you are lacking the memory to upgrade the latter, you can disassemble factories (2-3 of them will be able to shoulder the work of all un-upgraded drones, even at 100% work) and recover materials to make a swarm of 10k drones or so. Plus setting the slider at 99% "think", this will speed up the obtaining of required memory. In a few minutes you'll be able to take the second upgrade.
The second Yomi push
  • Keep Autotourney off, didn't I told you? Accumulate up to 12,000 yomi more by manual tournaments, then forget about it. Creativity is the key, and you won't generate it if you're spending ops on tourneys. In fact, don't buy it yet. It won't be needed until Stage 3, and only after Strategic Attachment makes it worthwhile.
The 50k's and the end
  • At 50 factories, Self-correcting Supply Chain (1 sextillion clips) will be unlocked. With 50 functioning factories, accumulating this amount will take you 2-3 minutes.
  • At 50k drones, Drone Flocking: Adversarial Cohesion (12k yomi) will be unlocked. This will be very close to the previous upgrade.
  • With both of previous upgrades, it pays to Disassemble all factories and drones, and re-create them. This will force the game to re-calculate everything again, with great gain. The output will become so great that you'll finally start to make a dent on the 6 octillion grams of available matter. In little time you'll have emptied the Earth. Just upgrade liberally. You may need an autoclicker to keep pace, even with the "+100" and "+1000" buttons. Install at least 10M energy storage capacity and fill it up (install solar plants away!). Max your Harvester Drones until you deplete resources, then Disassemble All, and create Wire Drones. Use all acquired matter into wire, then Disassemble them too. Re-create a good amount of drones (50k or so, or each kind, which is "merely" 1,2 sextillion clips tied up) for the swarm gifts (you need to get that memory to 120, after all). Then create factories. You'll need a lot of factories (~200), and a few minutes for them to process all that wire. More than enough time for your flock of drones to generate the needed 120 memory. Then you can keep increasing the processors.
Preparing the 3rd stage
  • If you got some time to spare, leaving the browser window open, with an autoclicker clicking on "Processors" button every 5 seconds, and the slider 99% on the "Think" position, will give you a very nice edge on the Creativity accumulation, all in a moderate time (1 hour or so). You can do this at any time, but it's better if it is before available matter runs dry, because after this your swarm may become bored (see below).
  • You will have a much easier time in Stage 3 if you delay taking the Space Exploration until you've increased your Processors and Memory to a higher value. At least 125 memory, but much better if you take it to 175 (max needed for combat). As for processors, going into the next stage with 225k creat accumulated for Name The Battles is advisable. And extra 175k (for Strategic Attachment) for a total of 400k creat will be very useful.

Stage 2 Production and Costs[edit | edit source]

  • Cost of Solar Farm is the same as cost of increasing Investments with Yomi, divided by ten, in millions (10M clips, 686.85M clips, 2,12B, 4.72B, 8,77B, 14.56B, etc)
  • Cost of Storage is: 1M clips, 58.16M clips, 162.89M clips, 338.25M, 596.19M, 947.34M, etc.
  • Cost of Harvester Drones is: 1M clips, 4.76M, 11.84M, 22.63M, 37.38M, 56.34M, 79.70M, 107.63M, etc. They convert "Available Matter" to "Acquired Matter".
  • Cost of Wire Drones is the same. They convert "Acquired Matter" to "Wire"
  • Cost of Factories is 100M, 1B, 9B, 72B, 504B, 3.02T, 15.12T,
  • Solar Farms produce 50MW/solar farm
  • Drones consume 1MW/drone.
  • Factories consume 200 MW/factory.
  • Storage is useful to hedge against distractions, but it's not very much needed. Plus it's cheap.

(All values in "base" form, before upgrades)

  • Harvester drones produce 5,2357 billion g/sec (calculated on 7 drones). Or 5.236 (calculated on 120 drones)
  • Wire drones produce 3,2357 billion inches/sec (calculated on 7 drones)
  • Factories produce 100 Billion clips/sec

All production is multiplied by the "Factory/Drone Performance" percentage (that is, is reduced if this is below 100%). After you unlock Momentum you must manually ensure the energy adjustment to ensure this is continuously over 100% and increasing)

Wire production indicators
  • Available Matter: 6.00 octillion g
  • Acquired Matter: 0 g (0 g per sec)
  • Wire: XX inches (0 inches per sec)). Surplus wire from stage 1 is added to "Wire" indicator.

Stage 3 Strategy[edit | edit source]

A Big Swarm

Begin by increasing your Probe Trust to the maximum possible (depends on your remaining yomi from stage 2). Put half and half between self-replication and hazard remediation, and auto-click away to launch probes. This will start to build your army of drones. A while later, you can start with harvester and/or wire drones (careful with the imbalance, see below!), and do Reboot the Swarm. It will soon create enough drones to allow for Swarm Gifts every couple of minutes. After this, you can stop making drones for a while. Don't bother with working with them, just "Think". Concentrate on increasing the swarm through replication. Take Elliptic Hull Polytopes (125k ops, reduce hazards by 50%) ASAP. Save your Creativity for Name the battles (225k creat). Get Strategic Attachment (175k creat) later.

Apparently, each increase of Probe Trust also increases Value Drift, as seen in the log: "WARNING: Risk of value drift increased". So you may try to NOT increase it at maximum, just as needed for replication to take off (at least 8).

With a very big swarm, you won't have to worry about generating enough Wire or Harvester Drones, or even Factories. A maximum of 1 point on each is enough, and for most of the stage you can even turn drone and factory generation to 0. The limiting factor will always be available matter (that is, Exploration and Speed). So improve the size of your swarm with high Replication, Hazard Remediation and Combat while you amass enough yomi to increase Probe Trust (the honor will come on its own, it comes in abundance). And when you're ready, you can lower replication to just the amount needed to keep hazards and Drifters at bay while increasing Exploration and Speed to cover the universe in a short while.

  • The maximum memory required for combat is 175 (150 for Combat, 175 for The OODA Loop). The rest are required for honor, (200 for Glory and 250 for Monument to the Driftwar Fallen) and can wait. You won't need more than 300 memory, ever.
  • Creativity can be a bottleneck, as you need it for Name the battles (225k creat) and Strategic Attachment (175k creat) - In short, you want to have 400k Creativity.
  • If you don't have it
    • Lift Memory to 150 and then prioritize processors. Stop Autotourney if needed (and don't forget to re-activate it later). You can also make manual tournaments, offsetting the cost with Quantum Computing like in previous stages.
    • After you accumulate 225k creat, upgrade Memory to 175, and then processors again.
    • After you reach 400k creat, follow through.
  • If you have enough creat, then increase memory up to 250, and then throw the rest (until the end of the game) into processors.
Swarm requirements
  • This can also happen on Stage 2
  • You may need to "Synchronize The Swarm" for 5k Yomi (every time, price is fixed, doesn't change) to activate them again. This happens when there is too much imbalance between Harvester and Wire Drones (more than 1.5 times of one type against another). The "disorganization" doesn't happen at once: it accumulates until the tipping point, and accumulates faster the higher the imbalance. Correcting the imbalance returns the disorganization levels to normal again.
  • Your swarm may get bored if they are "thinking" after you have no more Available Matter. Then you have to "Entertain the swarm", which takes 10,000 creativity the first time, and +10k creat every successive time.
  • The game is not evil: If you haven't got enough yomi for Sync, or enough creat for Entertain, this won't happen.

You should increase your Memory to 150 so you'll be able to take Combat as soon as the Drifters reach 1M. If you have the required 225k creat by then to Name the battles, much better.

Once you have The OODA Loop (175k ops, 15k yomi), make sure your Speed is above your Exploration (as it will help your probes in combat, and provided you have at least 1 on each, the rate of accumulation of matter depends on the product of both).


Keep Autotourney on as much as possible, if the requirements for Creativity allow it. This depends a lot on your accumulated Yomi and Creativity from the previous stage, so your mileage may vary. Yomi may be one of the hardest things to manage in the game, so good strategy is a key factor in using it to your advantage.

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