Tick manipulation is a method in which players are able to use the RuneScape clock to their advantage in activities such as combat and skilling.
The RuneScape game engine runs on a unit of time colloquially referred to as "ticks", with each tick lasting 0.6 seconds (this amount of time can vary by hundredths or thousandths of a second due to things like server lag or the number of players on a world, read here). By performing actions quickly enough within a tick, players can interrupt animations to optimise skilling and combat. Due to the click-intensive nature of tick manipulation, many players shy away from using these methods in favour of more conventional methods, but if a player optimises the amount of actions performed between each game tick, it's possible for them to achieve a much higher experience rate per hour or perform actions much quicker than what would normally be expected.
Combat[edit | edit source]
Prayer flicking: Once a prayer is active, it will drain at a constant rate; however, the prayer drain will only begin after a prayer is active for a full game tick. If a player were to deactivate a prayer before it has been active for a full game tick and then immediately reactivate it, they can maintain the benefit of the prayer while not losing any prayer points. This is particularly useful with overhead protection prayers or offensive prayers.
Tick eating: Certain types of damage such as Ranged or Magic attacks are calculated prior to them being applied to a player’s health. So if a player heals before the damage is applied, they can survive attacks which would otherwise kill them. It's difficult for most players to use this effectively in combat; however, more skilled players can use this to do things that would otherwise require Prayer points or levels, such as the Fight Caves. Since an update, tick-eating is no longer possible in PvP situations. Some bosses, such as Tz-Kal Zuk, completely make tick eating impossible and will deal full damage even if it is more than the player's current health.
Food combination: Food and potions can normally be consumed once every 3 ticks. However if a player were to chain these actions together, it's possible to eat a piece of food then drink a potion in the same game tick. Cooked karambwan are one of the more popular 'combo-foods' as there is no tick delay in how fast they can be eaten in combinations with other foods. For example, it's possible to eat an Anglerfish, drink a Saradomin brew, then eat a Karambwan, healing a player by 56 hitpoints in a single game tick. Pizzas also can be eaten instantly alongside other foods, and otherwise have a very limited tick delay for any other action.
Skilling[edit | edit source]
Tick manipulation is used most prominently in skilling to reduce the average number of ticks passed per completion of a desired action. This reduction in the number of ticks required to complete an action is typically accomplished through a mechanic which allows substituting the completion of a carefully chosen action for the completion of the desired action. Making use of this mechanic requires accurate timing but can lead to substantial gains in experience per hour.
The skilling timer[edit | edit source]
The skilling timer is a tick counter that can be modeled as counting down once every tick. Starting actions will increase (or not change) the timer, and when the timer hits 0, the action (if it runs off of the skilling timer) will be completed.
Actions which do interact with the skilling timer and are commonly chosen to delay the skilling timer by three ticks include:
- Using swamp tar and a low levelled herb (guam leaf to harralander) on each other with a pestle and mortar in the inventory — this is recommended unless more inventory space is helpful, as a herb sack can be used to store more grimy herbs in case of mistakes
- Using teak logs or mahogany logs and a knife on each other
- Using kebbit claws and any vambraces on each other
- Eating most food (not recommended in most cases as it consumes the food in question)
- Collecting snow spawned by reindeer hat or snow globe
For the first, second, and third, there can be only one item that would be processed (clean herb, log, vambraces) in the inventory, to prevent a Make-X interface which wastes a tick. For these, the skilling timer is set to three if the timer is not positive. For the fourth, eating most food will only delay the skilling timer by three ticks; note, this has the same effect as setting the timer to three when the skilling timer is zero.
Eating a cooked karambwan will delay the skilling timer by two ticks, but due to them not being stackable and having a cost attached to them, their use is limited. Using celastrus bark on a knife will delay the skilling timer by four ticks. Auto-retaliating while out of combat will delay the skilling timer by an amount related to the weapon attack speed, due to flinching.
Common methods[edit | edit source]
3-tick/1-tick Hunter[edit | edit source]
Hunting chinchompas requires successively completing two actions: picking up and laying a box trap. Picking up a trap takes three ticks and stalls the player, and does not interact with the skilling timer. However, trap laying does use the skilling timer and has a default duration of four ticks. These tick manipulation methods for trap resetting reduce the number of ticks to lay traps.
3-tick trap resetting refers to laying a trap three ticks after picking up another. To do this, do an action which delays the skilling timer by three ticks, such as making herb tar, on the tick after a trap is picked up. (Note, this requires clicking to start the action on the same tick as a trap is picked up.) Then, move to the desired spot and click to lay a trap while fewer than three ticks have passed. This saves one or more ticks, depending on whether movement was required.
1-tick trap resetting refers to laying a trap one tick after picking up another. This is done by picking up a trap in between delaying the skilling timer and completing the action of laying a trap. In more detail, the technique is to move to the desired spot on the same tick as laying a previous trap, pick up the next trap, and then click a trap from inventory (not the ground) as soon as possible. To move on the same tick as laying down a trap, the click to move must happen when the skilling timer is 1.
For the best experience per hour, there are three skilling timer delays which should be used. When starting to reset traps after three ticks of inactivity, delay the skilling timer with celastrus bark. When doing this, be standing on the trap to be picked up and click the bark and trap on the same tick. When resetting multiple traps in immediate succession, the skilling timer is automatically delayed four ticks from laying the previous trap. When starting to reset traps with some but fewer than three ticks of downtime, the skilling timer must be delayed after picking up a trap; for instance, the delay can be done with herb tar, which would save one tick from standard resetting.
3-tick Fishing[edit | edit source]
Barbarian fishing and fly fishing are both normally a 5-tick action. This means that a roll to catch a fish normally happens every five ticks. This can be reduced by separating delaying the skilling timer and starting the fishing action. In particular, when beginning to fish or on the tick of an XP drop, set the skilling timer to three via herb and tar, or other such method. This method is more commonly used while Barbarian fishing or fly fishing, but can be useful for other fishing spots, and provides an increase in experience per hour of roughly 67%.
When fishing for experience through Barbarian fishing and fly fishing, it is recommended to remove the fish from the inventory between catches instead of waiting until the inventory is full. Since cutting a fish caught through Barbarian fishing or cooking a fish otherwise caught does not interact with the skilling timer, the caught fish can be processed (via cutting in the case of Barbarian fishing or cooking on a fire otherwise) without affecting the fishing method. Further, since the skilling timer will be 0 on the tick of an XP drop, eating a non-karambwan food item will delay the skilling timer to three, which is the same effect as when herb tar sets the skilling timer to three. A benefit of cutting/cooking then eating fish (sometimes called cut-eat) is that it provides passive Cooking experience.
2-tick Fishing[edit | edit source]
Flinching while having a 2- or 3-tick weapon equipped and Auto Retaliate on can be used to delay the skilling timer by one every other tick if the player is being attacked every two ticks. This allows for a roll for a fish every two ticks. Commonly, shortbows set to rapid are equipped without ammo. For harpooning tuna and swordfish, a convenient method of doing this is fishing in Piscarilius with two rats attacking two ticks apart. After setting up the rats, the only clicking that must be done is clicking the fishing spot on the ticks that a hitsplat appears on the player character. For other fish such as sharks, an alternate account using a two tick weapon (such as darts) with minimal offensive bonuses on a PVP world can be used.
Although 2-tick harpooning provides the highest Fishing experience rates, it is less efficient overall since 3-tick Barbarian Fishing provides enough Strength and Agility experience. Barbarian fishing cannot be consistently 2-ticked because there the fishing spot must be interacted with for at least two consecutive ticks to provide a roll. However, 2-tick harpooning is the fastest method on average of obtaining the heron, the fishing pet.
2-tick Woodcutting[edit | edit source]
Woodcutting normally produces a 4-tick skilling timer delay, making a roll for a log happen every four ticks while cutting a tree without tick manipulation. However, flinching can be used to schedule a completion once every two ticks, similar to 2-tick Fishing. Teak trees should be cut for the highest experience per hour. This is typically done on Ape Atoll while being attacked by birds, or in Prifddinas while being attacked by rabbits. During 2-tick Woodcutting, some action needs to be done to stop interacting with the tree to make possible auto-retaliating, such as clicking the ground, dropping logs, or fletching on the ticks in between when hit splats appear on the player character.
On Fossil Island, it is possible to cut teaks every two ticks without setting up any NPCs or being on a PVP world. This can be useful if banking logs. To perform this method, click to move on a tick when the skilling timer is 2 (e.g. on the tick after an XP drop), then click on the tree on the next tick. The movement on the tick before the skilling timer hits zero causes there to be two rolls instead of one: this makes there be two rolls every four ticks, which is almost equivalent to one roll every two ticks in terms of experience per hour. The equivalence is not exact because sometimes the tree falls after the first roll, causing the second roll to always fail. Conveniently, the method requires half as many clicks as the 2-tick Woodcutting method while being attacked. The skilling timer delay here happens automatically from "continuing" Woodcutting.
1.5-tick Woodcutting[edit | edit source]
Similar to the second 2-tick Woodcutting method, it is possible to receive at most two Woodcutting rolls every three ticks while woodcutting at a tree grown with Farming, effectively giving a roll every 1.5 ticks. To perform this method, click to produce a 3-tick skilling timer delay (such as via herb and tar) on the same tick as clicking to move to a spot adjacent to a tree. Then, on the next tick, click the tree.
The ideal location for this method is Fossil Island, as there are three hardwood tree patches close to each other where teak trees can be planted. Due to the rapid rate of cutting logs, the trees deplete quickly, so moving between them is recommended. When powercutting and dropping the logs, stamina potions are recommended for the method; however, ironmen may find it more beneficial to teleport to their house with a full inventory and send their butler to the sawmill in order to save planks for Construction training, and recharge their run energy while there.
3-tick Mining[edit | edit source]
Whether it be mining the same rock continuously such as in the Motherlode Mine, or mining a rock adjacent to the player character, mining is usually a 3-tick action when using a rune pickaxe or higher. However, it is still beneficial to tick manipulate with an action that gives a 3-tick delay while mining: it can remove tick waste from movement, and rocks have the same mechanics as player-planted trees do, in that they provide two rolls for resources if moving up to them. Unlike with player-planted sources, it is not possible to gather two resources (with some exceptions, such as rune essence mine); instead, the second roll can only be successful if the first roll fails, effectively increasing the chance of a successful yield. The level of pickaxe correlates with the amount of ticks to mine a rock, for example an adamant pickaxe mines a rock every four ticks: therefore 3-ticking may also be used to mine at the speed of rune pickaxe with bronze to adamant.
A practical use for 3-tick Mining is at the Bandit Camp Quarry, due to the presence of sandstone and granite which can be mined for quick experience. Mining granite through tick manipulation is the fastest Mining experience in the game, while doing it without tick manipulation is on par with other methods that also have other benefits such as yielding profit. An important detail to note during 3-tick Mining is that starting the 3-tick action (such as creating herb tar) must happen on the same tick as moving to the next rock. Should the action start before moving, wait three ticks for the skilling timer to hit zero. When powermining, it is recommended to attempt dropping the mined ore on the ground between mines. This is done by starting the 3-tick action and clicking to move to the next rock, then both quickly dropping the ore and clicking the rock again on the same tick. This requires accurate clicking and some practice to perform consistently, but it is more efficient than dropping a full inventory.
Unlike iron or rocks in the quarry, gem rocks have a one tick stall after successfully mining a gem. This means movement between gem rocks happens at a four (or seven, ten, etc.) tick interval, rather than three. Wearing a charged amulet of glory is crucial while mining gem rocks to increase the probability of successfully receiving a gem.
1-tick Cooking[edit | edit source]
When a player attempts to cook a raw karambwan, they are able to open a new skilling dialogue and click it (or hold the corresponding key) on the same tick that a karambwan is cooked. This allows for a player to cook an entire inventory in as little as 16.8 seconds and achieve experience rates of up to 800k–900k per hour.