Cobra (group)/Guide

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COBRRRAAA!!!!!
We are going to do whatever the fuck we want.
HOME JOINING DIPLOMACY GUIDE

So you are about to run a PKer, a human character who slays other survivors.

First things first

  1. You're not gonna toy with the fate of Malton as a PKer. You'll need far more APs to kill someone than for your victim to get revived. Unlike zombies, you don't fuck with the infrastructure inside and outside, you don't call in feral instant reinforcements, and you don't cade-block just by swaying in place.
    Be aware of the fact that it's all for the lulz. Else, become a death-cultist.
  2. You will get killed. A lot. Maybe not as much as if you'd play a zombie, but you will still be always hunted. Apart from the usual zombie plague that is a danger to every harmanbargar, you'll also need to be on the look-out for pissed-off victims, triggerhappy witnesses and goody two shoes pretending to be cops.
    If you mind being dead and hunted, stick with shooting zombies.

Skills

Let's be clear here, PKing isn't really the thing to do as a Lvl 1 medic. You should first rack up some XP as a survivor or as a zombie before you can even hope to kill someone within a single 50AP-cycle.

You are going to absolutely need these before you can go a-PKing:

  • Human Combat Skills - Obvious, huh? Among them, guns are more important than melee.
  • Freerunning - To survive and gather resources at all. It should always be among your very first skills.

You should probably go the extra mile, though, and also pick up these:

  • Shopping and Bargain Hunting - Malls are superior ammo supplies compared to PDs and Fort Armouries, so you want to use them whenever possible.
  • Lurching Gait and Ankle Grab - Like I said, you'll die a lot. Having Ankle Grab will massively soften this problem.
  • Diagnosis - Will help you to identify PKer crack as such and so do something good for your body-count.
  • Bodybuilding - Will make it slightly harder for do-gooders to kill you. Slightly.

Equipment

A closer look on guns

How you spread out your guns and ammo is a question of faith among PKers, and something you have to experiment yourself with.
Personally, I work with 6 pistols + 1 shotgun. I combine that with as much pistol clips as possible and a minimum of extra shotguns and loose shells. Shotguns are treated as throw-away items that I keep when I find them loaded, fire off as soon as possible and then throw away except for a single one (to have an use for the odd singular shotgun shell).
The basic idea here is self-sufficiency - with many pistols and clips, I can PK for several days before I run dry and have to restock.
Another popular configuration are 3 pistols + 3 shotguns.
The idea is that it takes on average 23AP to kill a flak jacked bodybuilder with pistols, so that three pistols do it with a single reload. Meanwhile, some loaded shotguns allow to still get a kill if you have a run of bad luck and get into far lower APs than you expected. Personally I think that that bogs down too much with reload and restocking times, but it makes sure that when you come to kill, you get the kill, so that it works better for some.

Must-Have

Useful

  • Axe - It's the most AP-efficient melee weapon for killing, and its hit percentage is good enough for the odd GKing if you won't commit to a knife. However, it has too little damage output to kill healthy survivors within a single AP cycle on its own.
  • Flak Jacket - Not really a hindrance for dedicated do-gooders, but why make it easy for them to kill you?
  • 1-2 Syringes - The bulk of team-mate revival duty can be left to local survivors most of the time, which also saves APs for Cobra. A couple of syringes can be useful, though. It helps when revive points move particularly slow, or when a team-mate needs to dirtnap in a convenient place for a strike.
  • Stay away from DNA Extractors, though. Rather you should have your team-mates in your contacts list, and revive only them. If you stick with that procedure, an extractor is just dead weight in your inventory.
  • more FAKs - Gives you a break before you have to go to the hospital again. In areas that are particularly hostile towards PKers, you can also use FAKs after a revive to regain full health and to make you thus a harder target.

Optional

  • Spraycans - Mark bounty-hunters and other PKer haters on RPs as DNR. Annoy/Scare local survivors by claiming buildings in the name of Cobra. Spray recruitment messages.
  • The tinyurl for our group page is tiny.cc/cobrakills or tinyurl.com/cobrakills - alternatively, wiki.urbandead.com/index.php/Cobra is short enough to fit into the 50 character limit and works better with those who mistrust TinyURLs, but leaves far less room for frills
  • Fuel and/or Gennies - Bounty-Hunters and a few other hard targets tend to hide in dark buildings. If you want to pump them full with bullets (and who doesn't?), then a fuel and probably also a genny are needed to negate the attack penalty.
  • 1 or 2 handheld radios - These are most useful in areas where local groups actively use radios. However, many don't. Except in forts and malls (where radio transceivers are easily found and many clueless trenchies yell into them), harmans see little use in them. When you are in these places, tune them to the local frequency to hear of break-ins (PKer crack!), PKer and GKer reports and sightings (it might be about you, which is both good for your longevity and for your ego) as well as pathetic trenchie bragging.
  • Comedy Weapons - I'm talking here about sports equipment, pumpkins, tinsel, toolboxes and similar weapons that perform poorly efficiency-wise, but are great for generating an unusual death message or for RPing. The usual way to use them is to weaken the victim to the last couple of HP with an efficient weapon, and then to deal the death-blow with the comedy weapon - bystanders only get to see the weapon with which the death-blow was dealt, so it makes no difference to them what else has hit the target in between. While you are at it, do not neglect actions via question marks to use zombie attacks as a survivor. More than one target has fallen to the deadly kiss of Cobra's lovely Sally A Summers (weapon=bite).

The actual killing

Killing faster with URL actions

You know the common way of choosing a target with the drop-down menu, choosing a weapon with the drop-down menu, clicking Attack, waiting for the page to reload, getting your mouse down to Attack again and keeping that up the 23 times it takes to finally kill your target.
Sure, it works, but it's tedious, isn't it?
Take a look on Actions via "question marks" instead, particularly on attacking, target codes and attack codes. You just generate an attack URL, put it into your URL bar and then deal a new blow just by hitting the F5 key to refresh your page.
For instance, you want to kill Bub (target=11) with a pistol (weapon=pistol). You just take the basic syntax of
http://www.urbandead.com/map.cgi?target=y&weapon=z
and turn it into this:
http://www.urbandead.com/map.cgi?target=11&weapon=pistol
If you are really smart, you don't even manually generate the URL, but use a Greasemonkey script to automatically generate it (such as Urban Dead Attack Links).
As a side bonus, you'll also cut down on the risk of healers or bounty-hunters interferring with you. Especially in croweded places as malls that's always a plus.

First thing is, you have to have enough APs to get to your target, kill it, and run back into safety. We'll get back to hiding later and focus on the actual killing first.

Take first a look at damage per action. Take the HP of your target, divide it by the damage your weapon does, and divide that again with your hit chance.

Say that your target has Bodybuilding (60HP) and wears a flak jacket, while you have plenty of pistols (normally 5 damage, but 4 against flak jacks) and maximum pistol skills (65%).
If you want to know the AP you'd have to spend on average, it would be:

60HP : 4 damage = 15 HP/damage
15 HP/damage : 0,65 hit chance = 23.08 AP

On average, you'd need 23AP to kill your target. But that's just the stochastical average - in practice, you'll want some spare APs to run back into safety. And even stochastically, about half of your kills will take more APs, and there's little that is more embarassing than to run out of APs in front of an almost dead target. So always have more APs then you calculate to need to kill your target.

Keep those 23AP very well in mind, it's a number that will come up all the time:
Pistols are the bread and butter of PKing, and most targets will have flak jackets and Body Building.
Shotguns take up too much encumbrance to be used exclusively. All other weapons take too long to kill a healthy target on their own (but can be used on weakened targets to save ammo or to generate unusual death messages, such as kills by tennis rackets or toolboxes).

Also, do not neglect ammo while you count APs. Obviously you'll need 23 or more pistol rounds at hand to kill someone in one session, or 4 fully loaded pistols (4 pistols à 6 rounds = 24 bullets total). If you had just one pistol, you'd need to reload at least 3 times, adding even more APs on top of the 23 for the shooting itself.

Hiding

You might get away with sticking out in the open while you are new. However, sooner or later your activity will draw in a crowd of "fans". And there will always be some do-gooders who recognize your Cobra tags and kill you for them alone. The earlier you learn to always hide for sleeping, the better.

Dark Buildings

Hiding in a nutshell

Hiding isn't rocket science - a lot of it depends on the area you are in, knowing who operates in it, and then making a good guess at how they might act and prioritize buildings.
Near a mall in a green suburb, there will be plenty of bounty hunters coming in and out, so nearby dark buildings might be the least safe hiding spot. Dark buildings that are away both from the mall and from freelanes might be better, and bummer buildings might even be best as BHers are less likely to peak into them.
In contested orange zones, ruins are often the best place to hide for PKers - survivors, zombies and bounty hunters alike will ignore them.
When in doubt, a dark building is always a good choice, as the darkness penalty is a guaranteed thing. Even if bounty hunters find and kill you there, they will have wasted a massive amounts of APs for searching gennies and fuel - APs they can't use for anything else.

The classic hiding spot is a dark building, such as a Bank, Cinema or Club. (Technically, there are also Fort Armouries, but they tend to be continuously lit, and also filled with triggerhappy trenchies.) Darkness cuts down hit chances by 50%, which saves you from 90% of all potential retribution kills, particular those by unorganized and clueless loners.

The downside of dark buildings is that bounty hunters know very well that dark buildings are the PKer's fave. So they'll scour them for PKers first, and they'll also carry generators and fuel to negate the darkness penalty. Depending on how common BHers are in the area that you operate in, this is either as good as a non-issue, or it is something that turns dark buildings into death traps.

If you decide to sleep in a dark building that you haven't scouted before, it's a good idea to have 10-15 spare APs. It might be lit, and in that case it might be a good idea to destroy the genny.

Bummer Buildings

Bummer buildings are shorthand for non-TRPs such as schools, motels, churches or junkyards that don't provide resources, at least not in meaningful quanitities.

They receive relatively little traffic from survivors, so you are less likely to get unpleasant visitors. As a bonus, the scarceness of harmanbargarz also makes them less attractive for zombies. Just make sure that your hide-out is neither on a freelane between TRPs, on the shortest way between dark buildings, nor an entry point (particularly near RPs where most survivors need to go outside and back in).

The advantage in comparison to dark buildings is that they are less obvious targets for bounty-hunters to look for PKers. The obvious downside is that when they find you, they don't need a genny or fuel to effectively shoot you. It will also make it immensely easier for lone wolves to cap you.

For that reason, bummer buildings are more an emergency bolthole for areas that are really teeming with bounty hunters, or where local survivor groups put a lot of effort into keeping dark buildings lit.

Ruins

Obvious downside of ruins is that they can't be barricaded, leaving everyone inside at the mercy of the zeds.

But look at it this way: That lack of protection also keeps survivors away, especially those butthurt trenchies who prefer to collect their 27th shotgun inside an Insanely Heavily Barricaded mall. Lack of survivors also means that zombies are less likely to visit you, especially if there are intact buildings around and feeding groans coming from them. In a contested suburb, a ruin is often the safer sleeping place than the NT with 12 zeds assaulting it next door.

Ruins also cut down on bounty hunter interference:

  • With intact buildings, they can just freerun from house to house for 1AP per pop and no ill effect.
  • With ruins, they need 1AP to move to the square, risk damage from falling, and then another AP to look inside. They need to double the APs to scout the same number of buildings, and also risk taking damage (which can significantly add up with many ruins).

Can you guess which approach those lazy, cowardly, pro-survivor, Lone Ranger types prefer?

It's up to you if you go with dark or with non-dark ruins.

Dark ruins provide darkness penalties like any other dark building. Furthermore, they are particularly uninteresting to survivors: They'd need a genny and fuel to repair it, they don't know repair costs before they illuminate the place, and repair costs of dark ruins can be epic due to the difficulty of repairing them.
Obvious downside is that they stick out to bounty hunters like any other dark building. In red suburbs where intact buildings have become sparse, ferals also tend to sniff through the dark ruins a lot - and thanks to the wonders of Tangling Grasp and Feeding Drag, they have little trouble to cut through the darkness penalties.

Non-dark ruins provide no darkness penalty, which makes them more inconspicuous to bounty hunters.
Downside is not just that there's no darkness to save you, but that they are relatively easily to repair. It could easily happen that someone sneaks in and repairs the building, literally right under your ass. That turns your bolt-hole during your sleep into a bummer building, with all positive and negative consequences.

In every case, stay away from TRP ruins, especially in suburbs with an organized zombie presence. Some zombies (particularly organized, non-nomadic ones) like to squat in them to hinder reclamation efforts. Especially NTs are prone to this.

TRPs

Don't. TRPs tend to be massively crowded with survivors and to receive many visitors looking for consumables.

Especially stay away from malls, police departments, factories and auto repairs - that's where bounty hunters go to restock ammo, generators and fuel.

Hospitals and NTs are also particularly bad because bounty hunters have to occassionally shop for FAKs and syringes, though not as often as for the above.

Exotic Boltholes

This is a catch-all category for PKer boltholes that are highly situational. You won't very often have an opportunity where they are feasible or even possible, but when you do, they can do a lot to throw off bounty hunters, especially those mentally sluggish punch-clock hero types who just follow the daily "go to dark building near mall - install genny - fuel it - shoot - restock - sleep in other dark building" routine.

In green suburbs with little to no zombie activity, it's often very possible to just sleep outside and survive the night. As long as you stay away from RPs and entry points near RPs, it's very possible that you don't run into any survivors at all. Bounty Hunters also rarely bother to patrol outside squares.

If that suburb has fast working RPs, then the next logical step is to dirtnap as a revivifying body. Jump out of a window, rise, shamble to the next fast running RP and await your poke as you sleep. As a zombie, bounty hunters can't claim your bounty to increase their e-peen, so they usually leave you alone. As long as you dirtnap, you are also invulnerable to any attacks and have the guarantee to be alive to kick ass next time you log in.
Dirtnaps can also be used in teamwork, particularly in preparation of timed strikes to ensure that enough PKers are alive to make them a success. Everyone restocks. Then all but some revivers window-dive. Then the zombiefied PKers shamble to an entry point (preferably a ruin, and even more preferably a dark ruin or one teeming with zombie squatters one way or the other - that cuts down on the risk that the entry point gets overcaded). Then the revivers poke their zombiefied pals, so that they are revivifying bodies and thus guaranteed alive and able to enter the building by strike-time.

The most situational bolthole is the use of islands. Islands are buildings that aren't connected to any other, so that they can't be entered by freerunning. The only way inside is by entering them - and if they are caded above VSB, that's impossible.
Just move in, cade it to HB+0, and no one else can get inside without tearing down the cades first, something that bounty hunters rarely do due to the high AP costs. Of course, with HB+0 it takes just a successful swipe by a random feral to render your island fortress useless. So you might want to get higher - which in turns makes it harder for you to get inside later, as you need to spend more APs to tear down the cades and rebuild the cades afterwards.
Unless you can bring in large numbers and an insane level of coordination, islands are best used as a one-shot bolt-hole of opportunity. If you pass one and see that it is enterable, it might be a good idea to sneak in, overcade and sleep there overnight. Then just leave it, kill and just sleep somewhere else, without bothering to deal with the cades.

Killing with style

Bonus Tips

Just a few random tips that didn't fit anywhere else.
  • When you grab a revive, always smooch off the locals first. That's 10AP that are spent by the local survivor population rather than by Cobra, and we like it that way.
    Occassionally, you might run into a situation where revives are running slow, such as in badly maintained suburbs, in suburbs with well-organized survivor groups that hate PKers, or in rare cases where you have become too notorious with the locals. In that case, it's sensible to ask on the group's forums.
    Also, do not forget the use of dirtnapping as a hiding technique, particularly when doing timed strikes or being faced with many PKer haters. As long as you are a body, no harm can be done to you.
  • For restocking purposes, once you have Shopping and Bargain Hunting, malls will always beat PDs. PDs are only recommended if there's nothing else in the area, if you still need a flak jack (malls don't provide them), or if you want flare guns for some perverse purpose (malls don't have them either).
  • A good way to increase your body count is to go for PKer crack - wounded survivors who take relatively few APs to kill. They are most commonly found in places that provide FAKs, so that many people hang around and wait for healers to get to them (hospitals, malls and churches - in that order). Entry points close to RPs are also good, as freshly revived survivors have only 25-30HP. Many will just move to the next EP, step inside and wait.
  • Timed strikes require a different inventory than everyday PKing. Everyday PKing requires longevity, while timed strikes are a one-shot affair where an as high body count as possible is asked for (especially if there's a witness for the RG and you look for a hi-score). Pick up as many shotguns as you can and keep pistols to a minimum. That way, you can easily make 2 or 3 kills in one session, although you will be madly busy restocking before and afterwards.
  • Whenever you have a bounty of zero, remember that the RG doesn't care about it whether you are pro-PKer, pro-zombie, pro-survivor or pro-banana - the only thing that matters is that you have zero bounty. So when someone kills you, you have the opportunity to mark a pro-survivor as a PKer. Just take a screenshot of the kill, drag the perp to the RG and see how he gains a bounty himself.

There are two types of PKers in UD: Those who do it with panache, and those who nobody remembers. You want to be remembered, don't you?

Target Selection

Many PKers have their priorities in looking for targets. Some of the most common (in no particular order) are:

  • bounty hunters (DSS2 Target Highlighter along with our bounty hunter list do the trick)
  • zergers (as with BHers, but with Resensitized's Zerg Liste)
  • text rapers (as BHers, but with the RG's Ignore List)
  • snitches who report religiously to the RG (particularly if you are keen on a high bounty)
  • trenchies (particularly those with katanas or machine guns in their profiles)
  • people with numbers in their name
  • stupid/offensive names in general
  • people with annoying habits (like revive point killing)
  • easily trolled butthurt survivors (such as members of groups that hate PKers with a passion)

Taunts

Do not kill in silence! You are not a zombie who wastes 90% of his APs on the cades and then tries to clear the building - you get to pick your individual target. You should still have plenty of spare APs, so spending 1AP to say anything goes a long to establishing yourself as a killer with style.

Something specific to the situation and/or target is best. Of course, not all of us are critically acclaimed stand-up comedians, popular speakers or slam poets, but coming up with anything unique and specific is always better than some canned taunt you've used 137 times.

If you really can't up with anything, a canned taunt is still better than nothing at all. "COBRRRAAA!", "Hail Cobra!" and "Hail Cobra! May death come swiftly to her enemies!" are our classics, as they at least advertise and provide exposure for our group.
The latter can also be easily altered to aim at the current target. For example, I once ran into a creepy dude and blasted him away with "Hail Cobra! May death come swiftly to all pervs!"

If you have your eyes on a specific target, you should jot down your taunt in advance so that you can simply C&P it later. Little is more embarassing than to attack your target, think 2 minutes about a taunt and then refresh the page to be dead or have the target escaped. Also jot down the attack URL(s) for your target in advance while you are at it, you can C&P them as well and thus save time.

Comedy Weapons

You don't have to use them all of the time, and some never use them at all. However, they can sometimes add a personal touch to a PKing, or just go well with the situation and/or taunt. One of my favourite PKings was done with a fuel can in an unlit mall where they had broadcasted for hours that they need fuel - it are PKings like that which put you on the local KOS lists and make you remembered.

Cobra: Field Manual
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