Come Help a Noob?

Alright dudes. So here’s how it is.

I learned about C:DDA maybe 4-5 years ago while I was in college, thought it was super kickass, played it for like a month and then left college and haven’t really played it since then. I’ve been playing other roguelikes, mostly ToME and DCSS, but also some Dwarf Fortress Adventure which I think is a lot more similar to Cataclysm, but still not quite. I’ve perused the Cataclysm wiki, I’ve watched people play (briefly) on youtube, and I’ve pored over the forums for advice. But maybe I’m just not getting it.

Point being, I’m getting brutally murderalized every time I step foot outside the evac shelter. Let me tell you about some of the more notable runs I had today. (I’m playing trunk/experimental, for the record).

  1. Started a pretty generic survivor using the First Day guide on the wiki. Stepped out of the house and was immediately jumped by a nearby moose. Died less than 50 turns into the game.

  2. Start again, same world, same character build. Spawned in the exact same evac shelter, went out the OTHER side this time, legged it out into the woods, got surrounded by a pack of coyotes, died again.

  3. Alright, ye bastards. Nuked the world, made a new one. This time the evac center spawned almost right smack in the middle of a HUGE town. Got pulped by no less than FIVE(!!) Tough zombies and a spitter on my way to getting the hell out of Dodge.

  4. Made a new character, spawned in the same evac shelter, committed suicide and rebuilt the world.

  5. Clearly this “basic survivor” thing isn’t working out. This time I made an Archer, managed to kill a moose, managed to raid two houses for a net gain of a cooking pot, a gallon jug of vinegar, and a new shirt. On my way to the third house on the outskirts, I was spotted and immediately chased down by a Mi-Go. I noticed that there was a nearby military outpost with turrets taking potshots at the local wildlife, so I tried to lure the Mi-Go up into range of the turrets since I couldn’t outrun it any longer (out of stamina) and definitely can’t kill it. I was shot approximately six times in the right arm and torso with 5.56 NATO rounds and dropped like a damn peasant. The Mi-Go, of course, didn’t take a f***in’ scratch. :roll_eyes:

  6. Archer again. This time I wasted all eight of my fancy starter carbon fiber arrows missing shots on an attacking coyote, finally beat it to death with my bootleg crowbar, and was mulched by a passing zombie dog before I could go recollect the arrows.

Back in the day I could at least be in danger of starving to death before I died. I mean, usually. More often it was dehydration that became a serious problem first. But now, NOW, I can’t take two steps out of my front door without being aggro’d by everything in the local tri-state area. I’ve been doing my best to follow the Noob Guides but they don’t seem to take into account the evac center being surrounded by smoker zombies, or the fact that MOOSE ARE REALLY FREAKING HOSTILE, or the fact that there are nine shriekers patrolling the streets around every possible safe point of entry on my starter town, or the fact that I have to go find food and water in order to not die before I can spend two weeks smashing up all the nearby trees and houses and crafting things. I even tried skipping town entirely on one of my characters and trying to make it living out in the woods until I could hike to the next town, but ended up nearly starving to death and being finally killed by the saltiest giant hornet I’ve ever seen in my life. I was like 30 tiles away from this thing and trying to go in the opposite direction and it just beelined towards me (heh) and started repeatedly stabbing me through the solar plexus with its giant stinger and poisoning the crap out of me.

Oh, yeah, and the only things I’ve had spawn in the basement of the shelter, ever, was a single flashlight, once, and a single tin of Spam another time.

So, yeah. How do you guys usually avoid brutal death on your first couple days?


I’ve spent my first day (real time day) dying every 5-10 minutes. The way I managed to survive is by creating a Bionic Sniper and just shooting my way to the nearest gun store.

And then I cleared out a small town and occupied a house, made a repeating crossbow and hijacked an RV.


Check if wander spawns are turned on in the options (they’re EVIL) and only go to cities at night.

I only survived by learning how useful npc’s are if you know what i mean :wink:

Maybe try turning down the spawn rate of zombies, I tried .70 for my first few games before putting it back on default.
Try not to fight a whole lot at the beginning, try and scout out the outskirts of the town and getting in and out of a few places that might have some books to level up with. Or just stay around the Evac and try to level up your skills from the materials you can get from inside there. You could make some sort of spear before leaving that way you can kite enemies and hit them from a tile away using F.
Get the NPC to be your “friend” to learn skills from them and/or use them as a meat shield while you run to safety. :smiling_imp:

If you are starting out, making zombies slower with the option “monster speed” can help a lot until you feel you got the guts for the speedy stuff. Take it down to like 0.65 and you’ll have quite a chance to learn the mechanics while not getting stinged to death by a random giant wasp!

Also you can peek around corners with Mayus X, i think it was. that helps a lot!

I learned to play this game watching youtube (thank you, Vormithrax) and by playing. You’re going to die. A lot.

I got better by playing with classic zombies (I don’t recommend this, because it is SO boring and gets old fast) so that I could learn the crafting systems/recipes/vehicles/everything.

What I recommend, if you’re really struggling, is slightly adjusting your world generation. I started surviving for long periods by setting zombie spawns to about 70% and setting enemy durability/speed to about 85%. This gives you a noticeable leg up while also being close enough to regular gameplay that you won’t feel like a hopeless cheater, and that the transition back to normal difficulty won’t be over challenging.

Once you’ve figured out how to survive those first few days (I think people can give you tips but I think you need to figure out your strategy more or less on your own) then you can ramp back up to normal difficulty or above. I realize a lot of this is just echoing what’s already been said, but it’s how I learned and I thought I’d share that.

  1. Moose doesn’t usually attack on sight, so just don’t get close and you’ll be fine.
  2. Mi-gos and zeds sight range is lower than yours, don’t get close and you’ll be fine.
  3. Wildlife can be scared with fire and loud noises. Try to shout multiple times if attacked by moose (or other wildlife). Chances that you’ll scare him are good. Set something on fire to increase your chances.
  4. Don’t rush things. Found some water and food? Ok. Go to a safe place and do something (reinforce your shelter, craft some tools, etc.). Don’t try to grab everything.
  5. Be careful.
  6. Zombies (not all of them) are slower than you. Combine running and walking. Do not run to utter exhaustion. Save that breath for walking! And walk till your stamina recovers.
  7. Use buildings, cars and doors to trap chasing zeds.
  8. Try to go to a subway if you spawned in the middle of the city. Then go to the edge of the city underground. You also can survive in the subway, subway entrence has wending machines for food and water supply.
  9. Be careful.
  10. Be careful as your life depends on this.

@Sanehatter, wander spawns are great. Makes game waaay more better.


Make a knife spear on day 1, smash up a locker, a bench, and tear off a curtain off the window for sheets, get a sharp rock and cut it up. Go out to the forest and forage bushes for food (wild vegetables) and get your survival level to 1.

Once that happens, you can make a knife spear (press f to use reach attacks) and kite enemies through bushes and empty windows (Or just run around them with " ). If you’re careful and patient, you can thin out hordes by killing them one by one, I did it on a “hospital patient” run which had a net total of -75% less health than your regular character, which survived till end game.

Put points into dodge on character creation, level 3 will help you a lot. It’s normally not recommended to spend points on skills, but since it gives a leg-up for new players you might as well do it.

If you really want to go a bit overboard, pick venom mob protege, and tag scorpion kung fu, add 3 dodge, melee and unarmed and you can take care of most enemies.


My guide here if you need any extra help.

Edit: Also, try and find/make a funnel and place empty containers under it so you can collect rainwater.


Don’t be afraid to tweak/ use the whitelist/blacklist monster settings. Moose >any attitude > any distance blacklist. Because nothing decides it suddenly wants to kill you faster than a moose that just decided your too close.

Keep an eye on your mini compus for any creatures in the surrounding area you might not want to mess with (wolves, dog packs, etc and add them to your black list if you frequently forget to check the mini compus

use the “v” key to look ate things/ monsters in your area (tab to toggle between monsters and items) You can get some description and info on the items/monsters this way without having to get up close and personal. This can help you know what is ok to fight, instead of avoiding/going around.

Fighting a moose at \ health is much less scary, but Fighting the wasp that got it there, and is now chasing the Fleeing! moose might not be. If knowledge is half the battle then a look around with “v” or “;” is half of surviving.

I’m N00b like you, so I get it.

First, let me say: running into Moose and Mi-gos right outside your EVAC shelter is just sheer bad luck, and statistically unlikely. Of course, this game is all about statistically improbable things killing when the apocalypse would be bad enough.

Second, starting out at an LMOE (Last Man On Earth Shelter) is much easier than a basic EVAC shelter.

Third, watching @Vormithrax 's quick tips and tutorial playthrough helped me extend my average character lifespan from less than a day to nearly two weeks. I’m sure there are other tutorial series out there that are just as good (links, anyone?) but this is the one that I watched first:

Quick Tips:
Playthrough Tutorial:

@Litppunk, what does the blacklist do?

Finally, my best advice n00b to n00b, is to worry less about the best way to make a survivable character and remember that you’re playing an open-source roguelike. You’re supposed to die. Laugh at the ludicrousness of your deaths. That is supposed to be the fun bit. Make the characters you want to make, and then see how long they last.

Blacklisting a creature makes it so that when ‘Safe-mode’ is on your game will pause and prevent you from moving further until you " ’ " ignore this creature OR " ~ " white-list it, essentially giving you a warning of when a blacklisted (dangerous) creature is nearby, so you can look at it/ avoid it before it knows your there. White-listing a creature will make it so that you will never be warned about it, even if it has the ultimate hate boner for you. (so your game won’t pause for every black rat and mini slime you run into) Adjusting those settings in the safe-mode manager is a good way to keep you from running into nasty critters while your distracted by trying to get to ‘that one spot’ or while running away from the last danger etc…

1.- Moose are evil, and after spotting one at the horizon your best bet is to flee. Still, the fact that it caught you off-guard tells me you weren’t doing something very important:

Peek out of curtains before going out. You do this by 'e’xamining the windows.

2.- Yeah… you probably should have nuked that one instead of redoing it. But if you really wanted to, your best bet wouldn’t have been to leave immediately, but to peek out of the curtains, ascertain where the moose is before going out.
Packs of coyotes, dogs, or wolves are another thing to avoid, tho they’re easier to kill or scare off than moose and are less likely to go after you. The moment you spotted them, it was time for a detour rather than going for them.

3.- Evac that trapped? Don’t make noise, hide in the basement, wait for night, then flee.

5.- I don’t know why the Mi-Go spotted you before you could flee. You’re probably not using ‘V’ to keep an eye out for foes.
Apart from that, your luring was a bad idea, because you were in front of the thing, so you got targetted first. Mix running and walking, use terrain like bushes to slow it down as you make your way outside town, kite it, better if you have a spear.

6.- Watch the aim steadiness when firing, particularly fast, tinny things or skeletons. Spears are your friends.
Also, bootleg lockpicks are a safter, lighter bet to carry around than crowbars at that stage, better to use that volume on a spear or at least a knife.

Starving is relatively hard, you can collect herbs and butcher corpses of whatever animals you kill for food, and that would give you the Survival needed to collect and craft better things. Thirst can be harder to manage when roughing it without preparation.

I’ve only played the game for about 10 hours, and whatched a few youtube videos before that (Quill18 and a bit of Vormithrax).

I basically recreated a game with Quill18’s settings and then did a bit of safe scumming in the beginning by backing up my save folder and restoring it to try some different paths until I found a way to get out of the school and survive at least the first day.

I died 4 times, now I’m on my 5th attempt, into the second day, but still bashing things with a pipe and mostly trying to not freeze and not starve. I checked a bar and a dojo and a regular house, and now made my way to a mansion in the hope of getting some better loot.

Don’t be afraid to run away, or sleep off damage if needbe. Evac shelters are generally a little easier for newer players, because it gives you a more secluded location to retreat to when you need to rest. Cities and special locations can be dangerous if not aproached cautiously.

Sounds like I’ve been a lot luckier than some people. Watching Aavak play prepared me somewhat as he played very cautiously at the start. I’m still on my second character, but in the same first world. The evac shelter i spawned in was close to a school, my first character managed to collect a bunch of items and brought them to a partially demolished cabin in the woods where i set up my base of operations. Unfortunately my first char picked up an infection that I didn’t treat quickly enough (nor did i understand what was happening at the time). My second character was very similar to the first and spawned in the same evac shelter. I made beeline for the cabin in the woods where i found the body of my first character (which i butchered - gotta train that survival!). I’ve been running the second character almost through a first full year (28 day seasons) - I repaired the cabin, built a charcoal kiln and forge, a welding rig, a generator (of sorts), a fermenting vat and still. Also found an onboard chemistry lab in a “mobile meth lab”. i’m into the 6th day of winter now and working on collecting vehicles to build my very own death-mobile. :grin:

My recommendations:

  1. Play with NPCs. From what I’ve seen you start with an NPC companion and you might be able to persuade him to help you.
  2. Expect to die. Not encouraging. But It’s the apocalypse. Shit happens lol
  3. Start with a better character. Beginning is the hardest part. Playing as a police sniper or anyone with a gun will give you an equipment edge starting out.
  4. Learn what to invest in and build on day 1. If you start with a knife, invest in slashing or piercing skill, otherwise stick with blunt weapon skill as blunt weapons are easiest to make starting out. Learn what skills you can typically train using items from the evac shelter and typically non-hostile zones. It’s pretty easy to safely get a rock for example, and a forest is probably going to be nearby.
  5. I recently started a post on here I think advice for new players. Take a look at that. Many people have given very helpful suggestions. Words of advice to new players?
  6. Might also be a smart idea to carry a rag to use in case you start bleeding.

Looks like a cozy little cabin. I should probably go back to using a small home. I’ve been stuck on the “bigger is better” mentality and often I end up using corridors or other things as my workshops.

Start as a bionic monster. Get Krav Maga. Keep on beating your head against the difficulty until you can kill Mi-Gos with your bare hands. Everything will come with it.

  1. Start with a better character. Beginning is the hardest part. Playing as a police sniper or anyone with a gun will give you an equipment edge starting out.

This is bad advice.
Guns are loud and require ammo, the class that come with them also don’t give you magazines for those guns that use them, so reloading those is slow as hell. Shooting will attract zombies, and the character won’t have the ammo nor the skill to deal with more than a handful of zombies.

Those classes, therefore, cost you a bunch of points for things that are a bad idea to use that early in the game unless it’s an emergency and you really know what you’re doing.

Learn what to invest in and build on day 1. If you start with a knife, invest in slashing or piercing skill, otherwise stick with blunt weapon skill as blunt weapons are easiest to make starting out. Learn what skills you can typically train using items from the evac shelter and typically non-hostile zones. It’s pretty easy to safely get a rock for example, and a forest is probably going to be nearby.

This is bad advice.
Most knifes are terrible weapons, therefore, investing in the slashing or piercing skill on chargen just to use the knife is a waste. Piercing if you’re planning to make a spear super early? Ok, that’s better. Bashing? Eeh… so so.

Melee combat, on the other hand, will work with all melee weapons and reduce your misses and fumbles.

Investing chargen points on skills you can easily learn from easily-obtainable items is also a bad advice. Why put points in bashing or throwing when a few minutes and a rock will get you that, and you could have used them to get better stats, better traits, or to jumpstart a skill that is not easy to train at the start like mechanics?

Might also be a smart idea to carry a rag to use in case you start bleeding.

Not bad advice, but not good one either. You can turn nearly any clothing item into rags if you have something that cuts in very little time, and there’s clothing galore to loot, and if that fails, you can just take off your socks or something and butcher them.

Start as a bionic monster. Get Krav Maga. Keep on beating your head against the difficulty until you can kill Mi-Gos with your bare hands. Everything will come with it.

Krav is a pretty good fighting style, but a mediocre one for bare-handed. You want Krav because it boost your stabbing, which boosts most of your reach weapons.

If you want bare handed, you want something else. I’ve got a few posts in other threads breaking down the styles available and just what they offer, but the short of it, for an unarmed killing machine, you want Boxing, Tiger or Dragon, or Quian if you know what you’re doing.