This guide is meant for beginner to intermediate survivors who may have hit walls in their progress, finding the grind to get decent weapons slow, finding themselves spending nights wishing they could go looting but fearing they aren’t prepared enough to risk it, finding no good loot and no good POIs to get it from.
In this guide I’ll teach you the strategy I’ve used the past dozen or so games I’ve played, which has proven to be extremely effective across single and multiplayer runs (on regular difficulty). I will show you the benefits of living a semi-nomadic lifestyle as well as how to suck everything you can out of shops and the different POIs you find.
I’m by no means an expert and some of this information you can probably find elsewhere. Hopefully this entertains you, and hopefully you can find your own way to utilize the skills here to become a better survivor.
The Buff Businessman: The Basics
I’ve often had friends say in shock “it’s day three: how do you already have a level four gun?” or, in desperation for enough gun parts, come to me, knowing I’ve probably stockpiled 10 of each. It seems like a lot of survivors these days are using outdated tactics that should have been left behind in A17 to prepare themselves for the hoard.
Maybe you’re one of those people, who have often been at the other end of a dogs jaws, a nurses jab, a mines explosion. Maybe you do well for yourself, but only once you’ve gotten to day 30 when you can finally start exploring areas with actual loot. I want to help those of you who are new or semi-new find a new playstyle that will have you crushing tier 3 POIs before the first week is up.
This guide will only be focusing on a specific way to play the game and will assume you have basic knowledge of 7 Days to Die and it’s lingo. It won’t discuss things like how to build a hoard base or how to trick zombie AI the best. If you need any of this information there’s TONS of guides (and videos) out there for it.
Let’s talk about the basics: becoming the best businessman Arizona has seen since the infection.
We’re going to be focusing a lot on using the shop system to cheat this game. If you’re new to this game, you may be thinking: the shops? Those places that sell mostly useless things? And when they sell something actually useful, the price is in the thousands? And when I finally find dukes, I get maybe a hundred at most? And then they have the AUDACITY to get me to do quests for them, quests where I’ll face zombies and dogs and traps and come out battered and bruised only to reward me a pittance of dukes, XP and maybe a level 2 hammer? NO THANK YOU!
When I first joined this game I thought shops were a flawed system that was basically only an emergency supply of food, water or meds. But around A19 I had enough of spending a few days of looting only to get stomped on night 7. So I looked into ways to change this, and found shops are the best way to QUICKLY get to a high status with little effort.
We are going to focus on four things: how to get the most out of shops, how to get the most out of quests, a quick base-outline guide, and synergies/multiplayer.
Trader Joels: Your One-Stop Shop
In 7 Days to Die there are five different traders you will encounter, scattered across the map, and since A20 are often located near cities. Each one has a mild focus on a different aspect of loot (armor, weapons, etc.) but in my experience their differences are largely flavor. They hold a certain amount of normal loot and a bit of more desirable loot in a secret stash, both of which rotate every few days.
You are going to want to rob these guys blind. No, not at gunpoint, but we’ll get to the .44 solution later. I mean you want to get the most out of selling and buying from these guys.
Let’s start chronologically. First day, you spawn in, you do your quest. What is the result of you doing all of your menial tasks like making bows and axes? No, not the skill point boost, though that’s helpful. You get the location of your nearest shop. This shop will, more often then not these days, spawn near a city. One of the best things you can do day one is get to this shop and set up your base (more on that later) nearby.
What should you do with your starting skill points? Some will try to spend it on gun perks to craft a decent pipe weapon. That’s not a horrible idea, but with little ammo and terrible reload speed, maybe you can wait until later. I’d say spend those first 5-6 points on intellect. You can get up to level 3 in the skill, get up to level 2 in the barter perk, and then get your first point spent on daring adventurer.
You want to focus on these skills for your early game. If you do, you are setting a foundation to be able to quickly shred the seventh night. Yes, it will be annoying that later on you will be getting skill points more slowly. But intellect will provide you with all you need the first week and beyond: even on a single player game.
Once you’re at the shop, of course you won’t have enough to start buying. That comes later. You’ll want to start questing, which we will get to in the next chapter. For now, let’s focus on what you can do to make your exports more lucrative and imports cheaper. To do this, you need to stack on bartering bonuses as much as you can and then bulk sell (due to a lot of factors which you’ll see below). When I say bulk sell, I mean keeping all of your valuables in one spot (discussed more in base building) and then selling it all only once every now and then.
Cigars are a great place to start. They give you a +10% bartering bonus. The most common way you will get them is buying them. This seems counter intuitive but it will be a great investment. If you don’t want to buy one, looting’s your next best option. They aren’t common but can often be found among the end loot of a POI. Finally, you can craft them, which can be especially good if you have friends who are going the same route you are, but this is no easy task. You first need to read Urban Combat Volume 2 (who knows if you’ll be finding that), and then get the main ingredient needed for them buy KILLING BEARS. It’s actually not *too* hard to get a bear killed early game, by building a tower and tricking their AI (and having a LOT of arrows or a good melee weapon), but finding them can be tricky, their main spawns being in construction POIs or the Bear Bar.
Next is pumpkin cheesecake. Eating this delicious meal gives you a 5% bartering bonus but ONLY for purchasing. This can be good when a shop keeper has a lot of good or expensive loot you know you are about to bulk buy. It is unlikely you will be able to craft this via Master Chef (see synergies), so discovering the recipe in loot or a shop can be a great find. I would say to save any pumpkins you find just in case.
Here’s a big one: Grandpa’s Awesome Sauce. It’s a potion that gives you a 20% bartering buff for a bit. Like above this is great for bulk buying and selling, but is even HARDER to learn to craft. It’s semi-common to find in a shopkeeper’s secret stash but is fairly expensive, but they can be another great investment for bulk selling.
Finding Magnum Enforcer Volume 4 can be a great and easy permanent +5% bartering increase. Reading this gives you the bonus only when holding a weapon that uses .44 ammo when you speak to the shopkeeper. Finding one isn’t as easy as finding your level 1 pistol in the toilet, and I often forget to hold mine when at a shop thus removing an easy +5% bartering bonus. But if things line up, or maybe if you use a magnum weapon as your main (see synergies), this can be an easy win.
Finally there’s sugar butts candy. Don’t ignore the power of vending machines, especially when going for this nomadic route. Eating it, like some of the foods above, gives you a 10% bartering bonus for a bit. They are much cheaper than other bartering foods and powerful as well. The only issue though is that they are less common: since there is a wide range of candies, they won’t show up in vending machines all the time. My suggestion is to keep a few dukes on you as you loot, because there are often vending machines hidden in POIs you wouldn’t expect to hold them. Not only this, but I would suggest buying some of the other candies which will give you great bonuses: these can be much needed when you are sacrificing a lot of skill points that could go into improving other areas.
Stacking all of these together can give you huge bonuses to what you sell. You may find yourself panicked trying to sell and buy so much given that your bonuses may only last a minute or so. Just remember there is a hotkey for selling, and if you plan what you want to buy beforehand you should be a-okay.
Questing: What is this, Skyrim?
There is a great advantage to doing the quests shopkeepers hand out. And if you are seriously dedicated, constantly doing quests and looting the POIs they are in, you will be at godlike levels in no time.
When you first meet a shopkeeper their quests will be Tier 1. This means the jobs you will be given will be simple (either dig up a chest, grab a satchel or kill some zombies) and located in small POIs with less dangerous foes. This is perfect for you on day one! You want to stay safe from the more dangerous locations while building your arsenal.
Start your first quest on day one if possible and go to it. But, and this can be a bit tedious, don’t start the quest yet. Loot the location first, then start the quest. Starting a quest RESETS all loot and blocks inside, so you can effectively get a place’s rewards twice. I found this out the hard way when I started a quest in a place I had converted into my home, erasing all the loot I had. Please place all your valuables AWAY from the quest POI before you loot it!
And when I say loot, I mean LOOT it. One part of doing this nomadic route right is tearing everything in your path apart. Harvest couches for leather, pictures for wood, shutters for plastic, curtains for cloth, fireplaces for coal, and on and on. You don’t have to go WRENCHING every fridge in the place: just quick stops to break soft furniture can have you stockpiled on important materials quickly. Don’t leave anything behind if you can help it! You’ll find yourself burdened with stacks upon stacks of materials: want to make space? SELL SOME! A stack of leather or plastic can give you thousands.
Now, this can be easier said than done. On day one your carrying capacity is low, so you will likely need to take breaks to leave the POI (don’t go too far if you’re in a quest or it will deactivate) and put your things in a chest. But your patience will reward you, as you’ll find yourself someday needing that thing you thought you’d drop or leave behind.
Here’s where things start evolving: once you do ten tier one quests for a shopkeeper, they will do three things that are very beneficial to you: one, they will give you a special reward. This is hard coded to include a bike, which, I suggest you take. Spending points in Grease Monkey is effectively useless this route: why waste precious XP in order to have to grind for the materials to make a forge, workbench and then bike when you can just get one for free by day 3? Not only this, but you will soon be able to buy motorcycles easily with the money you’re making.
The second thing they will do is give you the option to do a ‘special quest’ which will have you go to the nearest OTHER shopkeeper. This is an amazing opportunity to find a new city to loot and have another shopkeeper to go to. Creating a network of shopkeepers can be amazing, as with every restock cycle you will have even more of a pool to buy from. And with your new bike, a few kilometers is nothing now!
And the third thing is that they will start giving you tier two quests. These will be slightly harder in slightly bigger and more dangerous locations. If you’ve been getting decently lucky the past few quests, you will have been finding decent weapons, armor and the like, and should be ready for this jump. If not, you should have enough money to buy them! And with your new bike, even if a mission takes you far away, it shouldn’t be too long to reach it.
And with each ten quests you do, it will do the same: a new special reward, a new shopkeeper to find, and a new tier to work with. Keep this up and you’ll start getting tier fours, probably a bit around the second hoard night. These are perfect POIs. They are smaller than the intimidating factories and skyscrapers of tier five POIs, but still with amazing loot (that, once again, you get to loot TWICE). Finding these POIs can take some luck if looting normally, but when questing, these locations will be marked on your map. It’s practically cheating! Once you get to a certain level you may even skip looting the entire base, just getting the end loot quickly and getting your quest done fast.
Once you start getting to tier five quests, you’ve reached a godlike height and will probably start having stacks of dukes and be the MVP of your team if you’re in multiplayer. I’d suggest sticking to four for your usual questing, as it’s a good ratio of reward and relative safety, but doing a tier five now and then will be exciting and lucrative.
And this is the basics of questing. Make sure you keep increasing your Daring Adventurer skill perk: it’s fairly easy to max out and will allow you to get better and MORE rewards. This, pared with the selling and buying you’re doing, will get you some great gear in no time.
Bases: Roam from Home
If you are doing this route, most of your time is going to be spent questing (even at night: if you follow the tips above then getting the gear needed for this scary task shouldn’t take long). But you may want to spend your first day getting a decent base together to help you out.
The qualities of a good home base are:
– Being as close as possible to a shop, where you will spend a lot of time
– Being a pregenerated house, so you don’t have to spend much on fortifications
– Having enough space for a couple of crates where you will pour your materials
And that’s it! Now, a lot of players aren’t huge fans of organization. That’s fine, but at the very least separate your basic materials from the things you are waiting to bulk sell for ease of access.
You can repeat this for each shop/city you find if you’d like, to have a close stash and secure place to hide by every store and town you may be questing in.
You don’t have to spend much time on this base as you will want to make a separate hoard night base. You will likely have enough to make yourself enough cobblestone frames by night five, and can take a day or two to build the design of your choice.
I recommend making this base at the midpoint of all your shops (it doesn’t have to be exact, just enough for you to be able to get to each shop in your network quickly). This is because at some point you may get enough materials to make your hoard night bunker your main base, and will want a place where you can do your shop runs efficiently, being equidistant from each one. This isn’t important though, as with random gen you will likely have your network spaced far apart and will have to settle for doing sparse shop runs.
This isn’t a base building guide: I only want to give useful additions to living this nomadic, questing lifestyle. If you want to spend your time making a grand home, this lifestyle actually can help that as well! You will likely have enough money to buy all the materials you need after a bit.
If you want more tips on how to make a sturdy hoard night base/bunker, read elsewhere, there are plenty of guides for it.
Synergies: What is this, Binding of Isaac?
One of the last things to talk about to really refine this strategy is synergies. I mean, going full intelligence is powerful, but you are much better off incorporating another skill tree as well to keep your character balanced and to compliment your playstyle.
One of the easiest choices for me is to put points in strength. With all your looting, you’ll want to become a powerhouse in order to knock out all those nasty zeds trying to stop you from getting good items. This route will give you bonuses for sledgehammers, clubs and bats, which are not only very easy to find early game but can have you one-shotting lower level zombies easily. The stamina trade-off sucks, but with some levels of Tyrannosaurus and knowledge in how to kite, this is a no-brainer bonus. Plus, getting proficient in shotguns is just plain fun! The true apocalypse survivor blasts with a boom stick. It also lets you mine faster and get more resources from it, great for carving out bunkers and selling the raw materials.
But that’s not even the main attraction. Going strength route allows you to become a master chef, which will let you craft those aforementioned state boosters (like pumpkin pie)! That way you will have a steady supply of things that let you buy out a shop’s inventory with ease. If you are on multiplayer, some of your teammates may take these roles instead, and so it may be better to have a ‘designated chef’.
The other way to go is Agility. This is because it makes you proficient in handguns, and thus .44 guns like the Magnum, which as mentioned, can allow you to get a +5% barter bonus when held and with the right book. Not only this, but the many perks centered on speed and quick takedowns means you will be able to go through quests even faster, and get loot like a machine. This is useful for single and multiplayer.
Perception shouldn’t be overlooked. With a focus on getting better loot and more from scrap (which you will be doing a LOT), it can make finding that level 5 gun a lot easier. If you are your groups designated looter, this can be the tree that has your team on full gear by night 30. Plus, it’s always fun to be the sniper of the team!
I can’t say that fortitude has much in the way of synergy with this strategy, but who knows? If you’re someone who loves the fact that you can run for longer, use machine guns to take out hoards better, and survive some serious blows with grace, then go for it!
Of course, you can always decide to go full intelligence. Like I’ve said before, I advise avoiding grease monkey as getting vehicles through the shop system is a lot easier. Being proficient in robotics can be godlike, as you will have powerful turrets to fend of hoard nights, and even a drone follower to act as additional storage and safety. Plus, being the team medic will make you even more valuable.
I’ve had singleplayer games where I’ve used these above strategies to get every single gun in a level 5 or 6, full heavy armor, an amazing bunker and thousands upon thousands of dukes… by the sixth week. Honestly, it becomes so powerful that after a while it gets BORING. #nerfshops, I guess?
But seriously, for those of you who play casually and are just looking to get better, this can really up your game and be a fun way to master the many POIs 7 has to offer. If you play on harder difficulties, I cannot say how well these ideas will hold up, but I imagine that with more caution and a steeper ramp, you can use everything here just the same.
And of course, whenever A21 comes out, all of this will probably be outdated and wrong and useless, but hey, at least we’ll have a new update! Am I right? Am I… jesus, this game’s going to be in alpha forev-
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