Guides:Skill Guide

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Skill Guide for Survivors, A Guide to Picking the Right Skills

This guide was originally created for the MCDU. However, it works well for just about anyone.


Many new players find that effective leveling up is not an easy task. To gain experience with ease you must already possess the very skills you're after.

In order to gain experience quickly, it is important that the first couple of skills that you learn form a unified cluster, providing you with a steady rate of XP gain. Throughout your career, it is important to pick skills that work well together, and address your character's current weaknesses. Look at all the skills and choose what ones work best for you.

Military skills

  • Basic Firearms Training (+25% to hit with all Guns)
    • Pistol Training (+25% to hit with a pistol)
      • Advanced Pistol Training (+10% to hit with a pistol)
    • Shotgun Training (+25% to hit with a Shotgun)
      • Advanced Shotgun Training (+10% to hit with a Shotgun)
  • Hand To Hand Combat (+15% to hit with melee attacks)
    • Knife Combat (+15% to hit with a Kitchen Knife)
    • Axe Proficiency (+15% to hit with an axe)
  • Free Running (Move between buildings without touching the street)

Scientific skills

  • NecroTech Employment (Can operate DNA Extractors, and can identify NecroTech offices from the street)
    • Lab Experience (Can recognize and operate basic-level NecroTech equipment (Revive Zombies))
      • NecroNet Access (Allows map scans, syringe manufacture, and reviving zombies with Brain Rot in a powered Necrotech building)
  • First Aid (+5 HP to all your Heals with a First aid Kit)
    • Surgery (+5 HP to heals with a First aid kit in a powered hospital)
  • Diagnosis (View nearby survivors HP)

Civilian skills

  • Shopping (allows player to choose what store in a mall to loot, can pick from Gun store, Tech Store, Hardware Store, Sports Store, Liquor Store, Bookstore, or Drugstore)
    • Bargain Hunting (+25% chance to find something when searching a mall)
  • Body Building (+10 Max HP)
  • Tagging (Spraycans last longer. EXP bonus for tagging some buildings)
  • Construction (Allows you to barricade buildings.)

Zombie Hunter skills

  • Headshot (+5 AP for a Zombie you kill to stand back up)

There are several clusters of skills that work very nicely together. They are listed below.

Must-Have Skills

Recommended skills:

  • Free Running
  • Construction

These two skills are so important that they are given separate mention here. (They are described fully below under Support Skills). Free Running and Construction skills are recommended for all survivors, and are often learned concurrently with the initial skill cluster.

Gunner

First recommended for Private, Scout, and Cop.


Offense with your guns can allow some quick leveling up. The downside is you often have to spend the night in a Police Department to reload on ammo, and Police Departments are often targets for zombie hordes and sometimes hard to locate and enter.

Recommended skills:

  • Basic Firearms Training
    • Pistol Training
      • Advanced Pistol Training
    • Shotgun Training
      • Advanced Shotgun Training

Also:

  • Free Running
  • Shopping
    • Bargain Hunting

Without Basic Firearms Training, you are inept with weapons and will waste your ammunition. Basic Firearms + Pistol Training is enough to gain XP successfully using your Pistol. Many players continue immediately to Advanced Pistol Training, which yields a very high XP per AP ratio. However, if your inventory is full of shotguns and shells, you might want Basic Shotgun Training before Advanced Pistol Training. Learning Shotgun to a higher level than Pistol is a poor choice XP-wise, because your searches will naturally return many more Pistol bullets than Shotgun shells, and available ammunition is the limiting factor on XP gain. In addition, the inefficient reload time on the Shotgun offsets its greater per-bullet damage.

Since you want to get out of the Police Department and into the Gun Store as quickly as possible (the Gun Store has a much higher success rate), many players make do with 3-4 gun skills until after they learn Free Running + Shopping + Bargain Hunting (the Mall Rat cluster).

Melee Fighter

First recommended for Firefighter and Scout. (Also very economical for Private and Medic.)


Becoming offensive with your melee attacks is extremely easy because so few skills are needed. You can spend the night just about anywhere and don't have to do much searching.

Recommended skills

  • Hand To Hand Combat
    • Axe Proficiency

Because only two skills and a Fire Axe are needed, a Melee Fighter can become effective very fast. Also, when you use the Fire Axe to attack you need not worry about locating ammo, allowing you to spend more time hacking up zombies and less time searching for stuff.

Melee fighter is a very attractive XP track... once you are able to obtain a Fire Axe. If you didn't start as a Firefighter, you'll potentially need to spend several days digging through a Fire Station (15 AP searching is average, but 50+ AP is not unusual). Since you max out your melee proficiency after only two skills, this track gives you plenty of mid-game versatility in your build -- you could learn Construction, Diagnosis, or Bodybuilding, while the gunner meanwhile is still struggling to get advanced firearms. For this reason, the Firefighter is widely considered the easiest survivor class in Urban Dead.

Healer

First recommended for Doctors and Medics (and Consumers).


A Healer will often spend their time in Hospitals locating First-Aid Kits and then using them on those that need it.

Recommended skills

  • Diagnosis
  • Free Running
  • (First Aid)

Also:

  • Shopping
    • Bargain Hunting

Diagnosis is crucial to gaining XP rapidly as a healer. Without Diagnosis, your XP gain is cut in half or more as you waste time asking who is wounded (or waste time attempting to use FAKs on unwounded players). Free Running is useful with Diagnosis because as you make your way through several safehouses you can instantly locate everyone who needs your healing. First Aid is a liability early on, because it doesn't increase your XP award, but it limits the number of available targets for your healing. (Depending on your starting class, you may be stuck with First Aid.) In the long run, your teammates will thank you for learning First Aid, since it dramatically swings the combat balance in favor of your team.

The find rate for First Aid Kits in a Hospital is about 14%. The find rate for First Aid Kits in a Mall Drug Store is about 33%. Including the 1AP required to use a FAK, this converts your XP gain rate from an abysmal 0.625 XP/AP to an impressive 1.25 XP/AP. (Compare the melee fighter's 1.20 XP/AP, which requires the fighter to get into dangerous combat situations.) Hence Free Running + Shopping + Bargain Hunting is strongly recommended for the healer.

Reviver

First recommended for NecroTech Lab Assistant.


Survivors will always die. It is a Reviver's duty to bring them back to life using the most advanced technology NecroTech has to offer.

Recommended Skills

  • NecroTech Employment
    • Lab Experience
      • NecroNet Access
  • Free Running

Syringes take a long time to find and a long time to use, and they don't give you very much XP. Fortunately, the bright secret hiding in the NecroTech beginner's manual is that DNA Extraction on a recently active zombie gives you 4 XP for 1 AP (assuming you get to the zombie before another scientist).

As a beginner scientist looking for experience, you need to learn NecroTech Employment and you need to locate a DNA Extractor. If you're a NecroTech Labbie, you're ready to go! Otherwise, you might need to spend several days (15 AP on average, 50+ AP is not uncommon) searching for an Extractor in a NecroTech Building.

Next, you'll need to find unscanned zombies to poach. There are several approaches, all of them dangerous: (1) find a very very large horde, (2) find a horde with publicly posted or well-known attack waves and time your scanning for right after the horde has acted, (3) find a little-known part of Malton where there aren't other active scientists, so all of the straggling zombies are fair game. The good news is that scientists often get 30-40 XP per day, and can potentially earn 100-160 XP on a great day. Furthermore, this XP track can carry you all the way through your career.

You'll need Free Running to be able to get into most NecroTech Buildings as they tend to be barricaded beyond street entry. Lab Experience gives you the ability to revive your fallen teammates -- arguably the most important survivor skill in all of Urban Dead. Net Access locates all scanned zombies within 5 squares, which is extremely useful for coordinating assaults (and protecting against them). Also, clever scientists can use scan results to locate remaining unscanned zombies. Net Access also gives guaranteed syringe manufacture, which is a relief when you need reliable production.

Mall Rat

Learn these skills in conjunction with an XP-gaining skill cluster (such as Healer). These complementary skills greatly enhance Healer and Gunner, and make life easier for all survivor classes.


The Consumer class is arguably the hardest way to start as a survivor. You have to get to a mall to use your skill and you need Free Running to get there.

Recommended Skills

  • Free Running
  • Shopping
    • Bargain Hunting

Free Running should probably be one of your earliest skills as a Consumer. Then get to a Mall and start searching. Unfortunately, you also need a reliable way to earn experience. First-Aid Kits are a good way to go -- be sure to learn Diagnosis to make good use of them.

Notice that unlike the gunner, melee fighter, healer, and dna-extractor, the Mall Rat doesn't have a steady source of experience. For that reason it is critical that you poach from a real XP track as early as possible. For example, common techniques are either (1) learn Diagnosis (to use the healer XP track) or (2) learn NecroTech Employment and get a DNA Extractor (to use the scientist XP track). Another option is (3) Basic Firearms + Pistol -- it is an arduous slog, but it eventually synergizes well the Mall Rat's Bargain Hunting skills. Based on experience, Tagging is a very poor choice as an experience point track. Reading books in the library is also almost worthless -- about on par with bare-fisting zombies.

Survivor Support Skills

Support skills that can help any character


  • Free Running

Free Running should be acquired quickly.

Free Running allows access to the best safehouses. A single zombie can break down a very strongly barricaded building and climb inside with plenty of AP left over for Feeding Groans. Sleeping in a very strongly barricaded resource building (such as a Police Department or Hospital) is asking to get killed by zombies. Beginning survivors have no alternative (they must choose between poorly protected buildings and the unprotected street). Free running survivors, by contrast, can dodge away to sleep in an extremely heavily barricaded (EHB) non-resource safehouse.

A survivor with Free Running can quickly and safely move between resource buildings, zombie break-ins, and extremely heavily barricaded (EHB) safehouses. Free running allows you to use your AP efficiently and maximize the time that you spend killing zombies and saving Malton. In the current Malton environment, free running is also an absolute prerequisite to shopping at the mall, unless you time your mall entry perfectly to enter during a massive zombie incursion (not recommended).

Most survivors advocate that you learn Free Running as soon as you can. If you live in a dangerous suburb, you will improve your survivability by taking Free Running as your first or second skill. In any case, even if you move to a safer part of Malton, you are well-advised to learn Free Running before learning any skills outside your primary XP cluster.

  • Construction

No matter what happens, barricades will always have to be made. Construction allows you to keep barricades up during a zombie assault, and to quickly repair a building after zombies break in. You can also find a place that isn't very safe and barricade it to the point where it's safe enough to spend the night in. By raising barricades on weak buildings that you pass through, you help the newbie survivors develop into strong allies and teammates.

Barricades are the most effective weapon against ZEDs and all it takes is one active barricader to stop a horde from breaking in and killing everyone. On a meta-level, barricades are the AP bottleneck that most favors survivors over zombies. Each level of barricading takes only 1 AP to construct (at lower levels) and takes 4-8 AP on average for zombies to tear down. Frequent re-barricading can tip the balance of power in favor of your survivor group, even when feral zombies have you badly outnumbered. The unsung toil of barricaders keeps the zombies at bay.

Because there are others who can raise barricades for you, you do not need this skill as early as Free Running. It is probably best to get Construction after you have developed your primary skill cluster and you have a nice steady flow of XP.

As a barricader, you should investigate the Uniform Barricade Policy, as well as specific barricade policies in your suburb and for the various survivor groups that live near you.

  • Body Building

The extra 10 HP won't save you if your safehouse was overrun with zombies. But that is 10 HP worth of extra AP the zombies have to spend to kill you. The 10 HP will make a difference although you might not see it since everything happens while you are logged out. Zombies looking for the kill bonus often pass over survivors with an intimidatingly large health, so a bodybuilder is usually the last survivor left standing in a breached building. Bodybuilding should wait until after you have learned a viable XP-gaining cluster of skills.

  • Headshot

It doesn't really help you any, but that extra 5 AP for a zombie to stand up may save someone else's life when that zombie is attacking someone with their last AP. Remember you need to be at least level 10 before you can learn this skill.

Other Survivor Skills

You might learn these skills for completeness


  • Tagging

You won't get a noticeable number of XP from this skill. In fact, it will probably take months for you to regain the 100 XP that you spent. However, the fact that it makes your spray cans last longer is a valuable benefit, especially if you are the propagandist for your team.

  • Surgery

Since most hospitals are kept at very strong in accordance with Uniform Barricade Policy, breaches are fairly common, and running generators inside hospitals have a limited lifespan. Some groups publicize a hospital as a designated first aid platform, so that surgery occasionally takes place. This is another altruistic skill -- it doesn't benefit you directly, but your teammates will thank you. Unfortunately quite a few surgeries have to take place in order to justify the cost of the generator and fuel (particularly with rising fuel costs these days).

  • Knife Combat

The knife is dominated in melee combat by the fire axe. However, for that very reason, some role-players finish off their victims using the knife as a signature attack. Not a necessary skill outside of role-playing -- and even for the role-players, punching someone to death is "even cooler."

Zombie Skills for Survivors

There are a few zombie skills that are useful even for survivors.


  • Lurching Gait (Spend 1 AP to move rather than 2)
    • Ankle Grab (Spend 9 less AP to stand up again after being killed)

This pair of skills is extremely useful for getting to a revive point that is not very close. These are a nice AP saver every time that you die.

Even in survivor groups that suffer from extreme zombie spy paranoia, these skills in isolation are not seen as zombie-sympathy.

  • Death Rattle

You'll need to learn Memories of Life first. Death Rattle is more for fun than anything else. Wait until you have learned everything else you need. Typical examples of Death Rattle among career survivors:

Ah am na zgaarah zambah, ah am harman. Ah na harm harmanz bra!nz.
Mrh? Mrh? Mrh? Mrh? Mrh? Mrh? Mrh? Mrh? Mrh? Zhangz!
  • Scent Death

Its usefulness is hard to tell. With scent death you can often locate a revive point. But not always. There are better places to locate them. However, this is a crossover skill that allows you to tell of a body is being revived even as a survivor. Some survivors use this to tell just how safe a revive point is. If every last dead body smells funny, its a better place to get a revive then one that only has 2 or 3 out of 20 bodies that are being revived.

The Second Skill Cluster

The first cluster of skills is easy. You usually get one that goes with the skill you started with. If you are a military or scientist class, many of the skills in your cluster are also in your favored area, costing half as many XP to learn. Your second cluster takes a little thinking. Below are some suggestions and advice -- although often there are many reasonable choices.

The Gunner's Second Skill Cluster

The Gunner can get much needed ammo with ease in a Mall if they combine their skills with that of a Mall Rat. By learning Free Running, Shopping, and Bargain Hunting, the Gunner will dramatically increase their efficacy and XP gain.

Advanced Gunner Skills

  • Basic Firearms Training
    • Pistol Training
      • Advanced Pistol Training
    • Shotgun Training
      • Advanced Shotgun Training
  • Shopping
    • Bargain Hunting
  • Free Running
  • Construction

You'll notice Construction was thrown in there as well. It's a good idea to get Construction at this point, since it helps your allies and can extricate you from dangerous situations.

The Melee Fighter's Second Skill Cluster

The Firefighter will first become a Melee Fighter at level 2. You can pick anything to add to what you have but I'd suggest support skills first.

Advanced Melee Fighter Skills

  • Hand To Hand Combat
    • Axe Proficiency
  • Free Running
  • Construction
  • Body Building

After these core skills, the melee fighter track is very versatile. Since you are mixing it up in the streets, bodybuilding is a particularly popular skill.

The Healer's Second Skill Cluster

The Medic can become a Combat Ready Medic without much trouble.

Combat Ready Medic Skills

  • First Aid
  • Diagnosis
  • Free Running
  • Hand To Hand Combat
    • Axe Proficiency
  • Construction

With just two military levels the Medic is now armed with a Fire Axe and knows how to use it when he has to. He doesn't have to worry about looking for ammo because healing is what he does best. Construction is recommended after you get the rest of the listed skills. Shopping and Bargain Hunting will greatly speed up your rate of First-Aid Kit acquisition.


As for the Doctor, they might do better sticking to scientific skills for now. Adding revive capability to the mix is very powerful.

Scientist Skills

  • First Aid
  • Diagnosis
  • Free Running
  • NecroTech Employment
    • Lab Experience
      • NecroNet Access
  • Construction

Now you can really start helping the people without seeing much action. Fighting is not your thing yet. Run from a zombie attack until you get some of those expensive Military skills. If you feel the need to fight, then melee might be your thing. Next, mix in a few support skills here and there. Construction is the best way the doctor can fight a zombie break-in. If your safehouse is under attack, your job is simple: heal those under 10 HP twice, raise the barricades, heal everyone you can, free run out of there when your AP gets low. At that point you should find other crowded safehouses and inform them of the attack on your old safehouse.

Shopping and Bargain Hunting should also be considered by a dedicated healer, since these skills will greatly speed up your rate of First-Aid Kit acquisition.

The Reviver's Second Skill Cluster

There is little asked of a reviver and that allows whatever skills you want for your second skill cluster. Support might be nice but melee fighting for defence could help too. Becoming a healer/reviver is another option.

Advanced Reviver Skills

  • NecroTech Employment
    • Lab Experience
      • NecroNet Access
  • Free Running
  • Construction
  • Body Building

and either

  • Diagnosis
  • First Aid

OR

  • Hand To Hand Combat
    • Axe Proficiency

With Construction you can keep your safehouse safe. Body Building will help protect those around you on your revive team by forcing any zombies attacking you to waste their AP finishing off your additional 10 HP.

The Mall Rat's Second Skill Cluster

The Mall Rat can really become whatever they want -- but mainly because (unlike other character classes) the Consumer starts out with nothing at all to help them gain experience. I recommend that you choose and focus on one XP-gaining skill cluster: firearms, melee combat, healing, or dna-extraction.

The healer and gunner tracks synergize with the mall rat, because these tracks rely upon searches for first-aid kits and ammunition respectively. Healer is quickest, because you can find First-Aid Kits without much trouble and you only need Diagnosis to get started. Becoming a gunner is a straightforward if slow process: start with Basic Firearms Training to allow you to use the firearms you find in the mall gun store. Melee fighter and reviver are also viable XP-gaining strategies for a Mall Rat, if only because they require only two and one skill to execute respectively (Hand-to-Hand & Firearms; NecroTech Employment).


dcvortex's Jumpstart Skill Set

The goal of the first few skills is to earn XP more quickly to learn more skills.

Best Starting Classes

  • Fireman (Axe Proficiency) - Simply find a VS building, spend a day or two killing zombies, and you've leveled up.
  • Private (Basic Firearms Training) - Find a VS building, use your starting equipment to earn about 18XP. Spend a day or two searching for pistol clips in a Police Department, another day using them, and you've leveled up.

Free Running

The most important skill for survival. It gives you access to important/highly-barricaded buildings. But it's advisable to get this as a second skill since this skill doesn't help you earn XP.

(Having construction will not save your building if it's under attack. Being in a building with lots of people who can barricade will.)

Best Skills for leveling up

  • Diagnosis WITHOUT First Aid - Don't have to guess who needs to be healed (at the cost of 1 AP) and you can earn more XP off a single person. Generally, FAKS are easier to find than injured people.
  • Basic Firearms Training -> Advanced Pistol Training - Kill zeds quicker and more efficiently.
  • Axe Proficiency + Hand-to-Hand Combat - Most efficient way of killing until you get Bargain Hunting, Advanced Pistol Training, and Advanced Shotgun training.

(The probability of finding a pistol/shotgun in a gun store is 5.7% and 5.7%. The probability of finding a clip/shell is 11% and 11%. That means the probability of finding nothing is 0.943*0.943*0.89*0.89 = 70% and therefore the probability of finding something in the gun store is 30%. Assume that you start with a pistol and a shotgun and every time you find something, it contains either a clip or a shell. With the shotgun being the least efficient weapon, it takes about 5AP to find, load, and fire a shell to do 10*65% = 6.5 Damage. That comes to 1.3 Damage/AP. Using similar reasoning, the pistol has an efficiency of 1.95 Damage/AP. The Fire Axe has an efficiency of 1.2 Damage/AP. Therefore, pistols are the most efficient weapons in the long run. If the zombie wears a flak jacket, the numbers are 1.04, 1.56, and (still) 1.2 and the pistol still comes out on top!)

Pitfalls

Since these character classes are poor at earning XP, start as a Fireman or Private and level up a few times. Then it'll become easier to become whatever class you want to be. Trust me, being a level 1 NT Lab Assistant sucks. It took me over a week and 2 deaths to learn free running (another week to learn Diagnosis).

  • Medic - Not enough XP per injured person (because of First Aid Skill)
  • Scout - Hard to earn XP (learn Free Running as a second skill)
  • Cop - Firearms skills are more expensive than as a Private and the Flak jacket doesn't affect zombie attacks.
  • Consumer - Can't even get into a Mall to use Shopping Skill. And if you can, you'll probably die shortly thereafter by a horde of zeds. Very difficult to earn first 100XP for Free Running.
  • Scientist Class - Both NT Lab Assistants and Doctors will have a hard time earning their first 150XP for free running. Lab assistants will have trouble finding unscanned zombies and attract a lot of attention from zeds with Scent Trail (and Brain Rot which prevents you from a successful scan). Also, being in an area with a high concentration of zombies when you don't have Free Running is a death sentence. Doctors will have trouble finding enough injured survivors to level up.

Summary

Your character advances in Urban Dead by gaining experience. Ideally, you'd like to gain as much as 50xp per day, enabling you to complete your survivor training within a few months.

There are currently four reasonable methods to gain experience as a survivor:

  • firearms combat (65% chance of 5/10 xp, with ammo that must be searched)
  • melee combat (40% chance of 3 xp with Fire Axe)
  • healing (5 xp per First-Aid Kit, which must be searched), and
  • dna-extraction (4 xp per fresh zombie)

Each skill cluster (gunner, melee fighter, healer, reviver) reflects a synergistic collection of skills that maximizes your effectiveness at that particular task.

This guide is designed to provide a step-by-step skill list that a complete beginner can follow with minimum effort, while at the same time providing enough explanatory detail to assist more experienced players.

CREDITS

If you added something to the guide or modified it in any way please include what you changed as well as your signature.


Created Original Guide The Scout was the hardest to place. Eventually I just placed it under two clusters. Pick one and go with that. --Teksura 09:06, 10 March 2006 (GMT)

Expansion:

I overhauled all of the sections, adding about two paragraphs of explanation under each skill and skill cluster. (For example, I added a few Death Rattle phrases). I included search probabilities to emphasize the importance of mall shopping and to give a heads-up to cross-classers seeking Fire Axe and DNA-Extractor. I added the remaining undescribed survivor skills (e.g. Tagging). Usually I preserved as much of the original text as possible and tried to preserve the original intention even when removing text (e.g. redundant text).

The one major change I made that I think deserves separate mention was to demote the Mall Rat "class." Shopping-BargainHunting-FreeRunning doesn't give an XP-track and as such I think that it is a poor way for a newbie to start out a character in Urban Dead. In my opinion, a skill selection guide for new players must emphasize XP gain above all other considerations, because without it the new player will flail uselessly for weeks. A consumer who learns (1) Diagnosis then (2) Free Running then (3) Bargain Hunting will do fine, as will a consumer who learns NecroTech Employment to poach DNA Scanning and then abandons the Reviver track -- for example, progressing as (1) NecroTech Employment, (2) Free Running, (3) Basic Firearms, (4) Pistol, (5) Bargain Hunting can be quite comfortable (although scanning as an XP-track imho requires a bit more chutzpah and luck than healing, especially for a new player who doesn't know the territory).

--Tycho44 03:46, 15 April 2006 (BST)


Added a Jumpstart Skill Section:

Unfortunately, the advice I give is somewhat antithetical to the previous advice. But I feel that once you get the first 5 skill levels, it doesn't really matter what skill cluster you choose. You'll be in a position to acquire ALL survivor skills in no time.

--Dcvortex 11:22, 18 April 2006 (BST)

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