Picking Your Main Character
- Hobo +scavenging, +5 housing space, equipment: Backpack
- College Student +engineering, schools and bars 25% more effective, equipment: Calculator
- Construction Worker +building and half material costs, equipment: Saw
- Gang Member +defense and no happiness loss from death/injury, equipment: Shotgun
- Politician +leadership and one extra survivor, equipment: Top Hat
- Shop Clerk +scavenging and +25% better trades, equipment: Crowbar
- Doctor +engineering and -1 day to injury recovery, equipment: Doctor's Bag
- Retiree +building and +10% happiness bonus, equipment: Hammer
- Police Officer +defense and +1 from all guns, equipment: Pistol
- Priest +leadership, church, more devout survivors, equipment: Megaphone
For starters, a great choice would be a Hobo. As you can see, it immediately gives you a +5 to housing space. Since the game has a random seed map generation feature (I believe so), any given city will be different. It would be a worse scenario if you have no nearby apartments or suburbs to immediately increase your maximum population capacity. In addition, reclaiming buildings at the early game is very time consuming since you only have 1 low level builder at that stage. Later on, you will learn why this is very important.
So why not choose Politician?
Yes, it immediately adds one extra survivor, but it does not add max population capacity. 1 immediate survivor will not equal the 5 immediate housing space especially when you can immediately recruit two survivors in just one mission.
First Things First
At the start of the game you will most likely have 1 builder, 1 scavenger, 1 main character and the others are soldiers. Please, do not immediately embark on missions. Read first the list below.
- Know your surroundings. Your first goal should be to reclaim the nearest farm lands to support your population. Find the shortest route for land reclamation in achieving this goal.
- Your main character's role. Yes, he/she can be a jack-of-all-trades, however the early game suggests that he/she should become strong as soon as possible. You may not see the peril for now, but as time goes you will notice the influx of zombie hordes that will soon surround your fort. In other words, start by leveling up his soldier skill by clearing zombies in the immediate area.
- Check your survivors' equipment. Before you go to your fist mission, check your weapons and items, and give them to whoever needs them the most. If you picked your main character as a Hobo, give your Backpack item to your scavenger since he/she will be needing it most of the time.
- Turn-based or not? I do not prefer going for a turn-based strategy for this game, since clicking the GO icon will always advance the game to one day. Using a turn-based game style will not optimize your survivor missions because they will mostly likely finish in fractions of a day, like finishing a zombie clearing in 1.8 days or finishing a reclamation in 3.5 days or so. I prefer the real-time set to maximum game speed. You can just press the Spacebar to pause the game while give missions to your survivors.
How to define early game?
For me, it doesn't really mean the number of days. It is the stage when your food resource is not yet enough to sustain your survivors, and you don't have the necessary buildings yet for a thriving colony. Therefore, your goal here is very clear... I just told you.
- Soldiers and Main Character. You should start sending them to zombie clearing missions to level up their skill and protect your fort. The very first land you should clear is towards the nearest farm, or towards the nearest group of farms. To maximize zombie clearing, stack them in pairs to increase mission speed. Two low level soldiers can clear a green danger building in one day, a single low level soldier can clear it in two days (See that difference!?). Another thing in maximizing zombie clearing, after you drag-and-dropped your soldier to the spot you want to clear, point your mouse to the Gun icon and you will see how many zombies it has and the danger level of that mission. Always appoint your strongest soldier or stacks of soldier to those with lots of zombies to maximize zombie killing. And please, going on a mission with a yellow or red danger level (I'm not talking about the color of the land or buildings in the Info Overlay) should only be your last resort if it comes to that point, which I doubt will never come if you follow this guide. Unless you want to dispose those survivors.
- Scavengers. His/her first mission is not to scavenge food since you start with a full food resource. Send him/her to scavenge materials instead. Once your food resource dropped to at least 45, you may send them to scavenge food, or better yet, send them to areas which both have food and materials. This saves you a lot of time. Scavenging mission also finishes fast if not done alone. If you badly needed to finish scavenging asap due to some reasons, you may partner your scavenger with your main character. Another tip, you only need a maximum of two scavengers in early game or even at the whole game if you have good survivor management skills. And one last important thing, do not send them to scavenge food or materials if you already are full of those resources. It will just go to waste, please.
- Builders. If you have nothing to reclaim, scout!
- There should be no idle survivors defending your fort even without the danger of a zombie horde in the vicinity. Use them to scout lands and buildings, put them to schools to increase their skills, put them to farms if you need to, put them to rest if they need to, or put them to chop wood to gather materials. However, in the early game, idle survivors are more importantly used to scout, especially those unexplored areas.