Monday, 22 December 2014

Survival 101: Your first 10 minutes

"7 Days to Die" is a survival game and a crafting game. You start out with almost nothing (or with flat out nothing - see server bugs).

Current as of version alpha v10.4

Here is what you should do:
0. Look around you. If there are Zombies, note their location and their direction of movement. Are they aware of you? Should you run away, get the fuck out of dodge, or do you actually have time to do something constructive before you'll need to leg it?

(I always forget to crouch early game, but it's actually a good idea. It may make it a bit harder for the Zombies to notice you, and it certainly helps alert you when you've been noticed.)

Stone Axe
1. Find some Grass. Punch it, usually 4 times. This destroys it and lets you pick up 1 unit of Grass. Move that to your "Crafting Canvas" (Inventory - I think the default is the "I" key, but you can config it before you start the game) and process it into Plant Fibre.

2. Find one Small Stone. Move it to your Crafting Canvas, and process it into Sharpened Stone.

(Notice how crafting takes time? Some servers are configured to Instant Crafting, others to Fast Crafting, but the best mode of play is Normal Crafting Time, which is rather slow, but makes for more strategic play as good decision making then becomes much more important. When you just craft-proces one single item it doesn't really matter, but if you're processing a lot of items, you can close your inventory screen and move around and do other things in the game, while your character continues doing the crafting automatically.)

3. Find a Bush. This is a bit tricky, since there are different kinds of bushes depending on what Biome you find yourself in at game start. Basically any vegetation that you can't pick up, and which isn't Grass or a Tree (or a Cactus), is probably a Bush. Punch it once or sometimes twice, it'll become destroyed, disappear, and drop 1 Stick. Some large bushes requires more punches, but also give you 2 Sticks in total.

4. Combine the Stick, Sharpened Stone and Plant Fibre into a Stone Axe. Congratulations! You're now almost half-way to winning the game. I shit you not! That's how important the Stone Axe is!

You can use it to cut down Trees, dig up Dirt, Sand, Clay and Snow, and to destroy Surface Boulders, even mine Stones and Ores from cliffsides or underground. It's not a particularly good melee weapon, however, which leads me to...

5. Gather 6 more Sticks. Notice how with the Stone Axe, you can now destroy a normal Bush in a single whack? Same with Grass, 1 whack per Grass-covered voxel, but you only need 2 more Grass right away.

6. Use the 6 Sticks to fashion yourself the most basic Club in the game, the Wooden Club. This is a melee weapon, one you use up close and personal (aim for the skull).

7. If you can find 4 Scrap Iron, or if you can find 8 Iron Fragment (by using your Stone Axe on a Surface Boulder) and process them into 4 Scrap Iron, you can combine 4 Stick and 4 Scrap Iron into making the Iron Reinforced Club, which is slightly better.

(You can also process other iron items into Scrap Iron, but be careful about wastage because of the way the game rounds decimals down when you scrap stuff in your Inventory, and save at least a few Empty Cans to boil drinking water in.)

Crossbow (and ammo)
8. You need 8 more Sticks, and 2 more Plant Fibre. Use those to make a Crossbow.

9. To make one Crossbow Bolt, you need 1 Stick, 1 Sharpened Stone and 1 Feather. You find the Feathers in Bird's Nests on the ground. They're in most Biomes, but are easy to see in some Biomes, hard to see in others. It may help to jump up on a Surface Boulder to get a better overview, see if any are in your immediate area (you can also jump up and stand on some bushes, but not all. And on car wrecks and intact cars, although an intact car will slide if you do it - hey, the game is still alpha).You need a lot of Bolts, since ranged combat is safer than melee combat (mainly because of Infection). Go for 20 right away, if not 50. And keep gathering Feathers and Stones (eventually you'll want a full stack of 250 Bolts).

Conga rats! With a Stone Axe and a Crossbow, and a stack of Bolts, you're more than half-way to winning the game (your Club is for conserving Bolts, as well as for emergency melee use).

(Aim for the head (right-click to get the zoom-in precision-aiming effect), or else crouch and snipe Zombies who are unaware of your presence for ×2 damage.)

Cut down 1 Tree
10. Notice that even just for the above crafting stuff, you need 35 Sticks for the absolute minimum basics. That's a lot of Bushes. We can't be having that! Find one Tree, the larger the better. Trees seem to always require the same amount of effort to cut down, the same number of chops, but the thicker Trees drop more Trunks when felled, so they're the most efficient ones to go for.

11. Cut down one Tree. Just one, for starters. Process some of the Trunks into Wood Planks. Process some of those Wood Planks into Sticks. There you go! The Seed dropped by the Tree can usually be discarded. Later in the game you'll want to farm trees (because a farmed tree will always grow to maximum size, over a few days, and drop 7 Trunks when you cut it down) but you'll gather a lot of Tree Seeds later. Don't waste precious inventory space on any for now.

Bedroll (and Clothes)
12. You need 6 Cloth Fragments. You can find those as loot occasionally, such as in the various Trash Bags that litter the ground most places (you can also find a few Feathers that way), or on defeated Zombie corpses, but usually you're better off gathering Cotton. Those are the white flowers you see, in some Biomes. You can gather 12 of those, and process them into 6 Cloth Fragments. Also, in most homes and in some ruins, you can destroy the curtains and get Cloth Fragments that way. Also you can destroy tents, and although I haven't tried it awnings on buildings might also be a source of Cloth Fragments.

13. Use the 6 Cloth Fragments to make a Bedroll. Plonk it down. This is now your respawn point, meaning if you die, you can choose to respawn close to your Storage Chest (see further down) instead of randomly 2-3 km from it. Very useful! If you pick it up and plonk it down again, or if you craft another Bedroll and plonk it down, then that becomes you new respawn point.

14. Oh, by the way, you're stark raving nekkid! If some of the other players are inclined towards roleplaying, they might bother you about that, but much more importantly, clothing gives some amount of protection against damage.

15. You need a lot of Cloth Fragments to make Cotton clothes. 2 for Gloves, 3 for Footwear and 4 for a Hat, 12 for Trouser, and 8 for Jacket.  29 total, meaning 58 Cotton you need to gather (if you can't find a Tent to violate), and you probably can't be arsed to gather all of that right away. That's fine. Do it slowly, over time, gather a little Cotton now and then, craft necessary cloth items when you find the time. You can also make Trousers - only Trousers - out of Plant Fibres, but it looks as if they're inferior in terms of armour effect, compared to Cloth Pants..

(Later on you'll become able to make Leather Armour, even Iron Armour, but when you start the game, your character doesn't know how. Also, I just read a forum post by the Deranged Talpid saying that soon, it'll become possible to process clothes into Scraps of Cloth, which will come in handy since you're likely to find several identical pieces, as loot, that you won't need.)

Currently, climate and comfort isn't simulated in the game. That may be added later, but for now shelter really means only two things: Making it harder for the Zombies to notice you (mainly blocking their line-of-sight) and making it harder for the Zombies to reach you after they've noticed you (mainly to do with Doors and Walls and the like).

16. Use 8 Wood Plank to make a WoodFrame. Plonk it downsomewhere.

(Be careful you don't plonk it down on top of a Grass-filled voxel, as that will cause a dude named Newton to pull on it, causing it to fall down and become destroyed. That's no biggie with Wood, which is easy to gather in large amounts, but if that happens with a Rebar Frame, made out of iron, you'll cry manly tears (and yes, they will be manly, regardless of whether you're male, female or a sexless space alien - because playing "7 Days to Die" will harden you the fuck up). No, always make sure that the green outline indicates that the WoodFrame is placed in the Grass-filled voxel and not above it.)

17. That's not enough, though. Zombies can still see through the WoodFrame (I'm 98% sure), same as you can, and it's somwhat easy for them to destroy. Make sure you have a few more Wood Planks in your inventory, or in your tool belt. Select your Stone Axe, and right-click on the WoodFrame. You'll start upgrading it. 4 "hits" and it's become a solid block of wood (tier 1) and you pay a couple of Wood Planks for that. 4 more "hits" costing you another couple of Wood Planks and you've just sturdified it (tier 2), making it even harder for the Zombies to destroy. You can upgrade one tier further (to tier 3), but then you must have Scrap Iron in your inventory. And at this stage, you'll want to save that for when you become able to build a Forge, so you can make tools, mainly a Pick Axe.

(Better building tools means you can upgrade more quickly. It costs the same amount of resources, but it's faster. A Repair Tool, fairly easy to find, means only 3 "hits" per upgrade step, thus you're 33% faster. A Claw Hammer, a rather rarer find, means just 2 "hits" per upgrade step, with the Nailgun being faster still. Also note that if you abort mid-upgrading process, resources are not lost.)

18. If you can, make yourself a tiny hut to shelter in (8 Wood Planks, arranged in a different Crafting Canvas pattern from the WoodFrame, makes for a Door - which you can also upgrade with first more Wood Planks, to tier 2, then Scrap Iron to tier 3).

I tend to like one with a 5×5 outer "footprint", meaning the inside space is 3 voxels by 3 voxels, and inside 2 voxels tall, with a front door, and a ladder up to the roof, made of tier 1 Wood blocks (but the door itself upgraded to tier 2, and with a Hatch up on the roof - they're cheap to amke). A smaller hut will suffice, especially for the first 1-2 nights, but it's very nice to be able to get up onto the roof after sunrise, and look around, to see if any Zombies are around. Maybe do some sniping from up there before hopping down (when your legs are uninjured, you can fall down at least 4 voxels without serious risk - you may lose a few Health for 4, but you won't get a Sprain).

(Note that Zombies have a huge ×3 damage multiplier against wooden voxels. You might well be able to handle the first 7th night Feral Horde in a wooden fortress (but I give no guarantees), but you really do want to get your ass inside a non-wooden shell pretty soon, either a Cobblestone shell or a Concrete shell, if you don't do like my friend John sometimes does and dig deep underground, into the rock, to hide that way. But it's not established that that's a viable strategy on coop servers after the 10.3 changes to how server time works.)

19. If you loot religiously, you'll quickly find your inventory stuffed nearly full. As a noob, you don't know what to keep and what to discard. I'm no longer a noob, but I still have the packrat instinct. I want to keep everything that can be potentially useful.

On PVP servers, you should be more careful (other players will steal your stuff), but when playing SP, or on a coop MP server, you can just build and plonk down Storage Chests for your stuff. I like to place them on Roads, so they're easy to find again. Ideally on a solid Asphalt "bridge" crossing a Biome border, or better still on some kind of crossroads. But really, any Road surface so they're nicely visible. Oh, and the recipe? 6 Wood Planks. Plonk down. Transfer your less-urgently-needed-shit to the inside of the chest. And memorize the location. Or write down the coords. That's one benefit of a crossroads Chest. It's usually somewhat easier to remember where you put them.

(If you're carrying something that smells, such as Raw Venison or Raw Pork, it'll attract Zombies, but only as long as you carry it. If you put it in a Chest, the smell effect ceases. Later in the game, I don't worry, I just confidently carry my Meat home to put into the food Chests, ,but early game, you don't want to attract too much attention.)

What to discard
20. Red Flowers. Flashlights (useless things!). I find Hunting Rifles to be very unimpressive as weapons go (keep the 762mm ammo, though!), but that may change if the devs give them a buff. With the new Wellness system in place, Sham Sandwich, Dog Food and Cat Food is not worth keeping around. Discard the Sham Sandwiches first. You don't need much Grass or Plant Fibre, but perhaps a couple to make some Torches (I like having a Torch burning in my shelter hut, even on the first night. Sitting in total darkness, listening to hungry zeke outside, is rather scary. To make a Torch you need 1 Tallow, which you get by cooking 1 Animal Fat in a Cooking Pot).

(Also discard Rotting Meat, and Bone. You have no use for that. Currently, Hunting Knives are also pretty useless. Their only use is combat, and even a semi-decent Club is AFAIK a much better weapon. In later versions of the game, they may be made useful, e.g. to get more Meat and Hide from animals, or even to get any Meat and Hide at all, but not as of 10.4)

For later
21. You want to find a Short Iron Pipe. It'll come in very handy one you or another player finds the "Forge Ahead" Skill Book. If you haven't found one, and you need it, find any toilet and smash it. There's you Pipe. Likewise, you want to dig out a few voxels of Clay (2-3 should suffice for the very early game) to make Lumps of Clay for Molds, and at least half a dozen voxels of Sand, preferably more, but you don't need that until you become able to make a Forge. If you find a Beaker, hold on to it at all costs. It's the most valuable loot find in the entire game (Nurse Zombies used to have a chance of dropping them, but this seems to have been nerfed recently), used to make Anti-Biotics and a few other things.

If you come across a cliffside with exposed Iron Ore voxels (dark brown, and with a distinctive look - after some time you'll usually gain some ability to tell them apart from Coal on one side and Leat/Pot on the other, although the game graphics sometimes fucks with us), you might want to mine out one or two of them with your Stone Axe.

Each unit of Iron Or equals 2 Iron Ingots. You'll want - badly - 2 Iron Ingots for your first Cooking Pot and pretty soon you'll want 4 more to make a Pick Axe. Sadly, each Iron Ore voxel requires 9 swings with a Pick Axe on normal game settings, and many more with the weaker Stone Axe. Maybe 20 or 28, or more (note to self: Go and actually test it in-game, then report back).

22. Drinkable water used to be a total bitch to get, because you were dependent on randomly generated loot finds, either a Cooking Pot found as loot in a house or ruin, or else the Short Iron Pipe so you could make a Forge of your own (this was before Forge-making became "Skill Book-gated") and so early game you'd often worry about dying of thirst. Not so any more. Now all you need is some Empty Cans (easy to find as trash - or you can produce one if you eat an item of canned food) and a Stick (see above) and 8 Small Stone.

Use the Small Stones to make a Camp Fire. Plonk it down. Insert the Stick into the cooking implement slot. Go to some water and fill one or preferably 4-5 Empty Cans (even a toilet will do - if you intend to go Hulk! Smash! on the sanitary facilities, fill your Empty Cans before doing that!) or a few more than that for your friends in coop MP.. Put the no-longer-empty Cans into the Camp Fire, add some fuel, and remember to press the "Cook" button (I sometimes forget this part). There you go: drinkable water.

(The Stick method can also be used to cook - after a fashion - the Meat you get from Stags, Pigs and Bunnies, but not to cook Eggs. Also I think the Cooking Pot method may be superior in terms of food stats. Either way you'll want one, soon'ish, so you can make Goldenrod Tea and so you can make Boiled Eggs.)

Appropriate Tool
23. 7D2D uses a very clever game mechanic, known as Appropriate Tool. What this means is that if you're trying to destroy a voxel, e.g. for gathering purposes (perhaps a sweet, sweet Iron Ore voxel that you'd like to gather into your grubby lil post-apocalyptic survivor's hands?), and you don't use the exactly right kind of tool, you'll do only 1/5 of the damage that the tool's mouse-over tool tip says it does. A -80% damage reduction is huge! Do not use a Fire Axe to mine Stone or Ores, nor a Pick Axe to cut down a tree or destroy a wooden door.

You'd think this was common game design and game player sense, but so many computer games are simulation-adverse and so don't punish the player for using the completely wrong kind of tool even in absurd cases. So I'm mentioning it.

Dig with the Shovel (Dirt, Snow, Clay, Sand), use the Fire Axe on anything wooden, and the Pick Axe on anything stone or metallic. The Stone Axe is an early game tool, later you won't need it at all.

The game seems to give clues, as to whether to use the Pick Axe or Fire Axe, on unusual items. It seems as if you ought to use the Fire Axe on items that produce a "woody" sound when hit, and the Pick Axe on items that produce a "ringy" stone-like or metallic sound when hit. But I'm not actually sure about that.

Link to sequel Survival 102: Your next 20 minutes

If you know of any good Survival Tutorial videos, on Youtube or elsewhere, please let me know. An if you do a video based on my step-by-step instructions above, especially one with a good voice over, please let me know so I can link prominently to it!

Peter Knutsen


  1. I think your blog is pretty interesting, I started playing 7D2S yesterday and this is really useful! Thank you very much!

    1. Thanks for the praise, Lucas, and welcome to the world of 7D2D!
      Based on forum posts from the talpid, it'll be some time before the next version, and it'll be 11.0, not 10.5, so dig yourself in, in whatever kind of game you're playing, a solo game or a server game, and have fun, because it'll probably be a couple of weeks before we're forced to start over. I think the game currently is in a good place, but of course alpha 11.0 will contain a lot of neat stuff.


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