Guides:Short simple guide to staying alive

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This advice is for the starting player, the new survivor who just wants some simple rules to live by. There are many long, detailed, and well-written guides, with lots of thought and explanation behind the advice, and some deep strategies and double-thinking. There are also other guides that discuss how to operate within a group, each specializing in one support role, or as part of a larger community, or how to recognize and combat zombie group-tactics. Read those later, once you're experienced the game a little and bashed a few "zeds" (zombies) and can appreciate what they're talking about.

This Guide is simple, nothing fancy - it will let you hit the ground running and keep running long enough to understand the game. Creating another character is easy, so you can later go outside these lines with a second character without any problem whenever you want*.

(* but the game is smart enough to penalize you if you try to use them together anywhere near each other!)

Once you are experienced as a player, there are more subtle and important tricks to learn. But for now, here's how to stay alive for your first week or so.

Welcome to Urban Dead

Just a few comments. Any survivor can die and rise again as a zombie, and then get revived as a survivor again (and we'll talk about this at the end of this guide, here). This can happen infinite times - there is no real "death", it's just very inconvenient.

You don't lose anything except time when you get zombified - you keep all equipment and experience and skills, altho' you can't use (most of) your Survivor skills as a Zed. You can play as a zombie and live life on the other side for a while, but if you are committed to being a "survivor" it's often a hassle to get returned to your living, breathing, nervous human status where you belong.


Start as a Firefighter.

If you didn't, don't panic, read on - or start again (you can have more than 1 character). It's not that it's the only "good" start, it's just that it gains experience the fastest to start with. And experience means more skills, and your character won't stay alive until they have a few key skills under their belt.

Firefighters start with an axe, and a 15% bonus to use that axe on top of the standard 10% starting skill that everyone has, giving them a respectable 25% chance to hit with every swing. And an axe never runs out of ammo. Every day, you can get about 10 hits on a zombie, and in 2-4 days have 100 experience to get your first survivor-critical skill.

(Why not something else?

Cops and military start with only enough ammo to maybe kill 1 injured zombie - and then they spend days looking for more ammo, ~IF~ they can get into a Police Department to find it (see Your 1st Skill: Free Running and about barricades, next.) Other classes start with some single skill that is certainly nice, but you need more than 1 skill to survive - and those other classes won't gain any new skills very soon.)

With Fireman, you can quickly get the several basic skills that will serve the rest of your survivor career, no matter what direction you want to go after those.


Don't worry about long-term - if you play for a while, your survivor will get all the survivor skills there are (and quite possibly many zombie skills as well). There are no limitations from picking one class over another, or starting with one skill and not others.

The skills below assume you started as a Firefighter.

(If you didn't start as a Firefighter, then go to a Fire Department and "Search the Area" until you find a Fire Axe. Use that at 10% (no ammo required!) to get 100 experience and get Hand to Hand Combat - that skill is your first goal. This will get you the same 10+15% = 25% as Firefighters have. Then you're good to go from here on.)

Your 1st Skill, Staying Alive

First new skill, get Free Running.

(All skills are only 100 experience for a Fireman, not too far off.)

So, why Free Running?

Every building can be barricaded, as protection against zombies. Stronger barricades (aka "'cades") provide better protection, and slow down the zombies from breaking in and eating your brains. 'Cades have different strengths - if 'caded more than "Very Strong ++", you can't get in.

The only way in is to find a nearby(?) building that you can enter, and then use Free Running to cross into the heavily 'caded building. (It's described as hopping from rooftop to rooftop, or something like that.)

(The Scout class starts with Free Running, but they can't gain experience to save their life - a week later they're still hiding and cowering and trying to use a fire axe at 10%. Very slow. 10% chance to hit with an axe (which you first have to find) is maybe only 6-15 experience/day, painfully slow when you're looking at 100 as your goal.)

2nd skill: More Experience

Your next (2nd) skill: Hand to Hand Combat.

If you started as a Fireman (or are playing catch-up), your Axe is your friend - it's what's killing zombies, and getting you your early experience*. By adding another 15% to axe (to 40% total), you can now kill a healthy zombie all by yourself with less than 50 Action Points** - and that's 60 experience points/day.

(* There are many ways to gain experience, but for now, for this short guide, this is the simple way. Later, once you have the basics, there are other options - read more guides and more wiki, and decide for yourself where to go later.)
(** (10% base + 15% hand-to-hand + 15% axe =) 40% each swing x 3 damage/hit = 1.2 damage/swing on average. So 42 swings = 50+ damage, enough to kill most zombies. There are other modifiers - see Combat, below.)

(If you didn't start as a Fireman, find an axe (in a lit Fire Department), then get Hand-to-Hand, then Free Running, then Axe Proficiency for 40% with that axe.)

3rd skill: Protect yourself

Your next (3rd) skill: Construction.

Construction is what survivors use to build barricades, or rebuild them when they are torn down. It's what turns an open building into a safe(r) building. It's what stops, discourages or at least slows the zombies from just walking in and eating your brains.

(It also repairs radios and generators and ruined buildings ~if~ you've found a toolbox - but that's outside a "simple guide".)


You have the basics - read some of the other Guides about skills and tactics to figure out what you want next.

Next is 100% up to you, and is beyond the aim of this guide. None of these are more critical than other (or the above!) skills, as now you're moving into "optional but recommended" skills. If some other path is calling your name, feel free to answer that call.

Possible suggestions:
(in alphabetical order...)
  • Body Building - 60 hit points instead of only 50 can be bigger than it sounds.
  • Diagnosis - Tells you who needs 1st Aid (see below), which is another good source of XP ~if~ you have a First Aid Kit to spare.
  • First Aid - Heals you up more, and others too - but hard to tell who needs it (other than yourself) without the above Diagnosis skill.


When you're starting out, don't waste time to "search the area" - you have your fire axe (or get one!), you can't break it or lose it, so you don't "need" anything else. Right now, you're just trying to get your first 4 skills to stay alive.

If you find yourself there, you could search a Hospital and get a First Aid Kit (aka FAK), or even two while you're there, for emergencies, for yourself (at this early stage). Some zombie bites can infect you, and that makes you lose 1 Hit Point/Action - you don't want to die while looking for help. This will let you heal yourself if you have to, but usually you can get to a Hospital and sleep there - characters who have specialized as doctors tend to lurk in/around hospitals to heal you up, that's what they do, they live for it and do it better than you can.

Simple Rules to Live By

Rule #1: Plan ahead

50 Action Points - that's how many "actions" you get, at most. Everything you do takes "1 Action Point" - move, attack, search, speak - 1 AP each. You get 1 new AP every 1/2 hour, 2/hour, so only 48/day.

So if you don't plan well, if you run out and are not safe - you sit there for a half hour, then get only 1 action - and then another single action in another half hour, etc. This is how survivors become zombies.

50 Action Points is the max you can have, and it's good to wait until you have that max, or nearly so - if you only have 30 or so, you can't do as much outside before spending X number of points to find safety again.

Home Safehouse

Below the map in small print is a little button to select a "safehouse". This location isn't any safer for you (not yet), but you always know where it is.

When you start a new character, it says "You have no safehouse set." When you find a good Very Strong place to hide (or to use as an Entry Point, once you have Free Running), just hit that button and you will always know where that is. (Pro tip: save the points to get back there, if that's the plan.)

You can change this any time - never a bad plan if you want to make sure you can find that Very Strong Barricaded building you just passed.

Rule #2: Hide

You always want to sleep/hide inside at the end of your turn! Never run out of points on the streets! This means finding a building that is barricaded at Very Strong or less - you cannot enter a stronger barricade from the street! (You can enter it once you are inside an adjacent building once you have Free Running (your 1st recommended additional skill!) - but you have to get inside that building first - and that means Very Strong 'cades or less!)

So - if you are inside, find a VS building to leave from, and remember where it is. (You can jump from a stonger 'cade, but it might hurt you slightly - 5 hit points.) If you are outside or moving long distance, save ~15 Action Points to find a VS building, get inside, and then move to a Extremely Heavy barricaded building to sleep. Better to stop with 10 AP remaining and have those tomorrow morning than to run out and be a zombie tomorrow morning.

(Once upon a time, Police Stations and Hospitals were all kept at Very Strong for ammo/1st Aid access to all survivors. And every suburb had a "barricade map" on the wiki that was more or less reliable. Zombie spies and other tactics have changed that. Today, Fire Departments are often VS, but that's not guaranteed either.)

So - before spending almost all your Actions killing that zombie or traveling across the map, make sure you know where you're sleeping!

Expect to have problems finding VS buildings! Rule #1: Plan ahead!

Rule #3: Don't be obvious

Police Stations, Hospitals, NecroTech buildings - these are obvious targets for zombies, especially for groups of them, because "good stuff" can be found there, so lazy players hang out there - and zombies know that. Auto Repair shops and Fire Departments can also be targets. Malls and Forts are strong (and rich in items), but can be targets for big hordes of zombies. Any large group of survivors may seem safe, but it also offers a tasty banquet for a horde.

And (with the possible, short-term exception of First Aid Kits), you aren't looking for "stuff" yet, anyway.

Use Free Running to go somewhere nearby, somewhere non-descript - more than a couple blocks away is safer than right next door to an obvious target. Even once you start looking for ammo or other items, it's a good idea to search, then Free Run next door, then come back and search more if you have to.

Rule #4: Don't be a hero

Not yet.

Until you have more skills and understand the game (and zombies, and zombie players) better, if you see trouble, leave. Run. Run with great fear. Go somewhere else, and with your last 15 Action Points find somewhere new to hide.

By "trouble" I mean a group of a half-dozen or more zombies, or indications of lone zombies on every block who can combine to take down any building. Or if you go to sleep in a building that's Very Strong Barricaded and wake up to find that it's now only a Lightly Barricaded building. Or if a Zombie is standing next to you. Any of these are hints that the neighborhood is going downhill.

(Look at the suburb map, too - red is dangerous, green not so much.)

Rule #5: Use this Wiki

This Wiki has a detailed map of every suburb, with (irregular) updates on zombie activity. If you are lost, or looking for the nearest Hospital, or the nearest whatever, find the wiki map and you're set. If you see a term you don't understand, or don't understand how something works, or just want to know where to find something, the wiki will help you.

It's part of Rule #1, planning ahead.

Rules misc.

  • If you find a dead body in a barricaded building, dump it outside. Dead bodies usually rise as zombies (although they may be revivifying survivors).
  • If (before you have Construction, or if you failed to "plan ahead") you can only close the doors to your building, then do that. Some experienced zombies can re-open doors, but not all.
  • If you have been outside, and you find a group of survivors, and you have information to share (about zombies, esp groups), then spend the 1 Action Point to "Speak" - tell them how many, and where. You have 250 characters to talk/type - give as much info as briefly as possible. (If you've seen a horde, not a bad idea to detour through a Police Department, Hospital or Mall - always seem to be survivor groups there.)
  • Once you have the time to Search (after your 1st few skills), always carry at least one First Aid Kit, for yourself, for emergencies. Best place to find these is in Hospitals, even better if they're lit (yellow label). (If you want, always carry two (or more!), one for you and one for that desperate survivor you find. Healing another player (not yourself) is worth 5 experience points.)
  • Be aware that there are Zombie spies and Survivor Predators (aka PK'ers, Player-Killers). Some play as Survivors (with Free Running) but talk via chatrooms/etc with zombie groups. Some just look for targets for their zed buddies, some actually destroy barricades and generators, and/or kill other survivors. Some do other things that are unexpected for a "survivor", but are allowed by game mechanics. Some are just insane. You may never meet one, but it can be frustrating - but that's life, and it's possible in this game - accept it, even if you don't have to like it. You can kill them just like they can kill you. Just a heads up.
  • You can click on the name of a survivor (or a zombie that's interacted with you) and then add them to your "Contacts" list. You can then "color" them differently. This is good to keep track of good guys/bad guys/whatever, especially when they are zombies - you recognize players in your contact list when they are zeds, but if they are not in your list all zombies are generic.
  • There is (or can be) more to the game than just killing a zed every turn. Consider joining a Group (found in graffiti, on this Wiki or clicking on others names in-game.) Not for everyone, but some.

Rule Last: RL Time...

A lone zombie (usually) can't take down a barricade and kill someone - but a group can, and some zed groups coordinate their attacks. Action points show up +1/half-hour, so in 24 hrs you almost get your max, 50. If you only have time to log in once a day, that's great. But ~if~ you have 30 seconds to log in other times, that's never a bad plan. If the 'cades are holding, if nothing has changed, log out again and come back when you can.

BUT... if the 'cades are weaker than they were when you arrived, if you've been attacked, if there are zombies standing in the building you're in... run. Don't have to run far, but anywhere is safer than a building that's clearly been targeted. Don't stop to attack or worry about anyone else (see Rule #4 above). Or, if you are feeling generous and have ample Action Points, you could reinforce the 'cades if they haven't fallen completely. But then shout a warning* and just leave, run and save any AP's and come back when you have a full allotment.

(* Something like "Barricades were down to Light! I rebuilt them, but I'm gone! Hide somewhere else!" - so other survivors (and newbies who haven't read this guide!) know what's up.)


A screenshot showing dark buildings with 2 lit buildings nearby. The wise survivors are hiding/sleeping in a dark, low-target building, a bank.
Couple quick notes:

If a building is "dark", you have less of a chance to hit. So does a zombie. Sleeping in a dark building is a good idea. Fighting in one is not. Searching in one is less productive than in a lit building. ("Light" requires generators and fuel - that's intermediate stuff, don't worry about it for now.) Dark buildings have labels that are white (from outside) or grey (from the inside) on the map, lighted buildings have yellow labels (see image, right) - easy.

Don't count on being lucky in combat - plan ahead, plan on missing when you need to hit. Don't be greedy, don't play it close. Run away, get full Action Points, come back later.

Guns are great for killing lots of zeds (zombies), but they require ammo, and when that runs out guns are useless until you go and search and find more ammo. Most gunfighters spend days ammo'ing up, then have one day of fun - and then start over. And they need 5(!) guns skills to get up to 40% with both pistols and shotguns. That's why we only use our trusty axe to start with.

And one "advanced" trick - if you hurt a zombie, you get 1 experience for each damage you do. If you kill a zed (zombie), you get the damage + 10 xp. If you find yourself in an area where each block has different zombie groups, try attacking each group once until you find a wounded zed. Easier to kill a zed with 40 hit points than one with 50 (by many swings!), and the few Actions to run around and find that wounded zombie are often worth it.

Lastly, know that there's more than one level of strategy to Urban Dead - and "killing zombies" is only the simplest. Killing zeds is important to get your core experience and early skills, but if you want to help the survivor cause you'll have to use a deeper strategy. Lots of guides out there that cover that part of the game, ~if~ you are interested and after you're done with this one. But for now, getting there in one piece is goal...

Halp! I be zobmified!

Ooops - well, no biggie - we've all been there - really. It happens to everyone sooner or later. <shrugs>

So, now you have 2 choices - play as a zombie until, by chance, someone revives you (not immediately likely, but it will happen eventually), or find a Resurrection Point (aka Revive Point, or "RP") and wait to be revived there.

Resurrection Points are organized and recognized blocks where zombies go to become "alive" again. Other players use other skills (necrotech) to do this. Many Revive Points are labeled (via tagging), but not all. The best way to find one is via this Wiki - type in the name of the suburb you are in, into the "search" box (left hand margin), and hit "Go". Then scroll to the bottom, for the suburb map - find the blocks that have "RP" on them - and go there, and wait, and hope for the best. (Make sure you're standing up - killing zombies in RP's is frowned upon, but it happens, and a "dead body" never get revived!)

(If nothing happens in a few days, or if the "crowd" has more than a few in it, try another Res' Point - zombie destruction or danger levels can cause doctors to flee an area and ignore a distant/dangerous RP.)

(Either of these options will also be influenced by what you've typed in your "Description", under "Settings" (link bottom left in-game). If you want to be revived asap, state that in your Zombie description - if not, then say that!)

So - that's my advice - that, and read this wiki, a lot! There are lots of advanced tricks, and other things to consider, and different approaches and opinions, but this may be close to the simplest and fastest to get a new survivor character to where they are "real".

Good luck!

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