Best long-term build

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Best long-term build

Recent post by Asthepanda2iscool2 mentioned Botany as good "long term" skill. It just happened that few days ago i finally settled with exact "best long term" build of my own - and it does not include Botany. I'll share it here, with reasons for each skill explained.

Please correct me if i'm wrong somewhere, i'll be glad to learn. :)

The build is: Strong + Ranged + Athletics + Metabolism (slow) + Tracking + Myopia.

It might look strange, but it's really the best "long term", as far as i can tell, because of the following:

1. Strong is quite required, because

Spoiler: Highlight to view
long-term effect to carrying capacity it gives - is more than doubling actual "loot to sell" encumbrance limit (details here), and almost doubles "burdened" carrying capacity (from ~36 kg to ~61 kg, after taking into account weight of "equipped and permanently carried items"). This means MUCH longer trips for loot are possible, if player so desire; it means way less cases of "with luck i found a ton of great loot for sell, but have to leave part of it behind because it's too heavy", and it means way less tiredness from carrying greater loads, with everything else being the same.

Furthermore, Strong also is a tool of its own when looting, increasing chances to find loot, which is not much useful at the start for the fact it decreases safety too much "after crowbar", but is quite useful end-game after eye augmentation (which gives night vision, which increases safety much). Should be good for all the low-loot-chance crumbling buildings and ruined towers together with a crowbar, which are plenty many scavenging locations everywhere. This makes the Strong the skill which both increases Philip's ability to carry more loot - and in the same time gives him ability to _find_ more loot.

It also gives +30% morale to the player character, and combined with end-game legendary reputations (Elusive and Unstoppable), this becomes serious deterrent for many weakier creatures, i believe.

Next, it comes with an excellent "create obstacle" combat move, which is one excellent opener for when fight begins with the enemy being melee range, and sometimes when fighting 2+ enemies, too.

+50% to melee attack is one great thing to have for emergency, if overrun and unable to retreat, for sure.

Finally, i suspect that Strong has one "undocumented" feature: it makes ranged attacks with Sling much deadlier on average. My non-strong ranged characters were not scoring "one 3xpebbles throw = one kill", but Strong + Ranged character made 3 such kills out of ~10 fights. If the same increase of "maximum lethality" of projectiles is also the case for the bow, then Strong is definitely most cheap skill in the game in its long-term usefulness, despite the fact it costs more skill points than any other skill! :) Even if not - Sling is actually the least-space-taken ranged weapon, and it remains useful even end-game to fight all the weakier enemies. With ammo aplenty and free everywhere, and with serious damage bonus from end-game Unstoppable, "Strong + Sling" will always remain a viable option.

Plus, one can always disasseble "low durability left" Sling and then craft it back from very same components, returning it back to 100% state - this is certainly quite a glitch, but on other hand, "new" matherials to craft "another" sling are so common that this glitch is mere minor convinience.

2. Ranged is a must have, because

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fights gotta be won, and the safest way to win them - is with ranged weapons. The way combat is implemented, melee is always a "russian roulette" - if the enemy manages to score rare yet deadly max-damage hit to Philip's head, for example, then it's either game over, or at least big trouble. Ranged combat is often the fastest way, too - when enemy is 20+ clicks away, it takes several turns to get close if one is melee range. Without ranged skill, actual effective range for all ranged weapons is halved!

Even better, it gives +5% defense. Permanent and in all combat situations. Once again, this stucks with end-game Elusive and Unstoppable bonuses, this reducing damage taken in any combat.

And, of course, it identifies bullets. Bullets are one of most effective "loot for sell" items, - expensive, taking little space, and relatively common in forest shacks. They have considerable weight when in big numbers, but that's not a worry because of Strong! :)

If to compare cost of bullets found during "average trip for loot" to cost of (identified) pills (with Medic), or to cost of found data files (with Hacking), i feel bullets end up nearly on par, or even slightly more expensive. Longer end-game trips "for loot" may each end up giving few thousands $ from bullets alone. And it's good to have such an "easy extra profit" source even end-game - one has to pay Parkade bills with something, hehe. :)

Thus, for only 4 skill points, we get big-time booster to efficiency of safest method of combat, extra safety from defense bonus, and a source of income. Compare that to any other 4-points skill, and you'll realize why Ranged is indeed a must-have for any "long term" game.

3. Athletics is another "must have" for more than one reason - namely,

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first, with little points left, we need some skill to get one of lefendary reputations without killing Merga Wraith (which is indeed extremely hard, if at all possible, if having neither one). Athletics can be such a skill, as it allows to gets points towards Elusive using it for fighting the robot in Zom-Zom's, another point for outrunning ATN patrol (this is not mentioned in wiki, but i elaborated in my comment here), yet another point for Elusive can be taken with Athletics for escaping Melonhead horde (wiki says), and i think i managed more than once to evade Skycorp patrol in DMC by using Athletics yet without using Hiding - which should also count towards Elusive progress. Throw "i am an idiot" encounter in DMC bank on top, and we get more than enough to get Elusive.

The usual "easy way" Melee skill comes with mighty +20% defense and +30% morale, and allows for easy getting of "Unstoppable", however, Athletics gives even better end-game benefits, in my opinion. Namely:

Athletics is one skill point cheaper than Melee, plus it gives half of Melee's defense and morable bonuses (+10% defense and +15% morable), plus it allows to sprint away in combat - which is quite special life-safer in some combat situations. But most importantly, Athletics also gives -50% fatique modifier. This thing allows for much longer fights of attrition - if need be, Philip will be able to run/sprint away for dozens turns, shooting now and then as he builds enough distance, without getting tired fast. Indeed, playing non-athletic character end-game is quite painful to me once i got used to endurance Athletics gives. It's just THAT good!

And, of course, we don't exactly "need" Melee for its primary combat bonus, since we have Ranged as our primary combat skill.

This leaves us with just 3 more points (assuming Myopia) to spare. I found that best skill to get with those points is metabolism (slow), because

Spoiler: Highlight to view
long-term effect of it is amazing reduction of amount of food and water one has to use, resulting in WAY less micro-management. In fact, i found that even without night vision, this skill allows to COMPLETELY forget about boiling / testing / disinfecting water - Philip gets enough hydration just from (always safe) scavenged bottled water and extra hydration from regular foods (cooked meat and occasional handful of blue berries). It also allows to go around for almost a week without any food taken whatsoever, without getting below 1st stage of hunger. Which would be extremely rare occasion, since usually you get some dog or deer dropped and thus can can get a medium chunk of meat eaten, and/or find some food from scavenging, and/or visit ATN or DMC for a good meal.

In the same time, healing penalty is indeed small. Small cuts still heal within durability of just one 100% clean rag, and even "severe burns" from trial of fire in Saginaw are healed in about ~3 days of sleep + rest/heal. Furthermore, there is a pill in the game which (for duration of its effect) allows to get normal metabolism despite having this skill - which can be used whenever faster healing is desired.

This is how Metabolism (slow) ends up being better long-term than any other 3-or-lower-skill-points skill: it's always active, it works without any player intervention, it saves you lots of micro-management, and it keeps Philip going with "green" status bars for lots more time, thus preventing negative impacts worse-than-green food/water statuses would bring.

With just one skill point left, the choice is between Tracking and Electrician. Rather obvious choice, in my opinion -

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not only it allows quick and free passage into DMC when 1st arriving there, but much more importantly, tracking remains useful long-term as it allows to see who is wandering any given area at the time, and makes Philip's own tracks to disappear faster. The bonus to hiding Philip's own tracks is big and will remain functioning long-term, too. Two latter features together means WAY less cases of enemies pursuing Philip and waking him up at night to a fight. Much along the line with the general idea "the less clicks per day - the better" of this build. :)

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And the Myopia is one obvious choice for a "long-term" build - Haggerty's clinic eye surgery cost "long term" is certainly insignificant. Personally, i very much enjoy the most basic (1000$) operation very 1st time i reach DMC with a typical character of mine (i usually don't "hurry" to DMC and when i arrive i usually have that much worth of loot).

I hope this post will significantly help in deciding what's good and what's not good when creating "most potent for a very long game" character - which is one thing many players try to do, based on various posts i've read on this forum and elsewhere.

Good luck!

... our lifestyles, mores, institutions, patterns of interaction, values, and expectations are shaped by a cultural heritage that was formed in a time when carrying capacity exceeded the human load. (c) William R. Catton, Jr

Additionally, with reasons behind every skill of the build explained above, i'll also briefly consider every other possible skill, noting why i don't think they are as good long-term choices as the above. Please correct me if i'm missing something, ok? :)

Spoiler: Highlight to view
Medic: diagnostics can be done at Haggerty's, and the cost is negligible long-term; better healing is not much (if at all!) needed when playing Ranged Philip with Elusive and Unstoppable; ability to identify pills is great thing to improve profits from scavenging, but this feature alone does not worth whole 4 skill points; and detailed status bars are nice to see, but do not actually _help_ actively to get Philip's life easier long-term. As for identifying pills for Philip's own use - long-term, this can be done by purchasing identified pills of desired sort(s) from DMC sprawl market, carrying them around, and then "sort of" identifying scavenged pills by stacking them to identified ones: if they stack, then they are the same pills. This won't make it a source of income, but will allow to fully benefit from being able to _use_ any found pills for Philip. Named bottles and the fact pills are colored differently - help with it, too.

Hiding: relying on avoiding combat for long-term play is hurting scavenging efficiency much: one has to go with double movement costs, which reduces actual loot-per-day total, and one has to care about "hiding" bar during looting, which reduces loot amounts even further. And this build's Tracking skill allows to "loose" many (most, i feel) enemies who pursue Philip, so taking Hiding would not even give its full benefits in the sense of "avoiding fights". Next thing Hiding does - visible concealment stat of camps, - is nice little bonus, however experienced player will know which types of camps _always_ have good concealment, so this is not a must. Next thing it does - allows to retreat from combat without being seen, - long-term is not needed, because of similar ability given by Elusive ("Vanish", commonly available). Its use during scavenging reduces loot chance, which is not helping to do the main thing of the game, which is to scavenge things. And its usefulness in terms of getting Elusive a bit earlier than otherwise possible is negligible long-term. All in all, Hiding would be nice feature to have for its humble 2 skill points, but i feel MEtabolism (slow) is way more useful, and there is not enough skill poitns to have both.

Eagle eye - to max long-term build, one gets this one at Haggerty's for "free" in terms of skill points, nothing more to say. :)

Hacking - this is mostly "get more $ from scavenged items" skill. However, it takes LOTS of micro-management to use it to its full potential, in compare to other "for profit" skills - one has to unlock devices, check files, optimize space usage by picking worthy data files and putting them to a data stick, while throwing away the rest. Plus one has to manage charges for devices. And one has to carry a notebook to hack devices in-field - or worse, one has to carry multiple scavenged devices to one's "base" which has a notebook stored in it. All in all, as a source of income, hacking is IMHO worse than both Ranged and Medic. Sure, it gives the chance to get those wildly expensive (multi-thousand $) files, but how often one will find those, long-term? Most rarely. Hacking is then also useful in some encounters, but the longer-term play we talk, the less overall this "can do few encounters better" benegit becomes. Overall, long-term, i think i wouldn't take Hacking even if it would 1 skill point cost instead of Tracking.

Tough has only two useful features for this particular build. 1st, +30% morale is nothing to sneeze at. Second, +50% pain treshold is quite useful in combat, and after some of scavenging incidents. However, the rest of its benefits are not really needed for the long-term build desribed above. Headbutt move is similar in its use to "Create Obstacle" move Strong allows, so not much needed. +33% higher immunity base is not needed long-term because experienced player will never allow Cholera to develop, and will have permanent immunity to Blue Rot after some point of the game. And the rest of Tough effects are about faster healing features, - which only useful when Philip is wounded, but Ranged end-game build gets wounded quite rarely, if at all. And Tough does nothing in terms of higher defense, which in my opinion is its main flaw. Overall, it's surely good skill for Melee-oriented builds, but not good enough to spend 4 skill points for Ranged ones.

Unable to put in the text about the rest of skills, because of 403 error on forum - reported here: http://bluebottlegames.com/main/node/5184 .

... our lifestyles, mores, institutions, patterns of interaction, values, and expectations are shaped by a cultural heritage that was formed in a time when carrying capacity exceeded the human load. (c) William R. Catton, Jr

I like your analysis. I agree with you about strong - and that's exactly why I never take it. ;) It just makes the game a bit too easy for my tastes. I also liked your points about athletic and tracking. They are relatively undervalued skills and I consider them much better than their reputation. Still, I never take athletic either. XD I suppose I just enjoy having a character that is less strong and gets tired more easily, it makes the game more interesting for me. But that is purely a matter of taste.

...and now maybe you can continue adding the rest of the skills like you wanted? :) It's possible that the forums simply wouldn't allow a third post by the same person. This is somewhat of a placeholder website unfortunately (came after the website problems a few months back, and the new site isn't finished yet), so sometimes it may behave a bit strangely.


NEO Scavenger: FAQ
10 Ways (not) to Die - A beginner's guide

Meanwhile, one important clarification: everything in my text is indeed for the "best" long-term player character. And when i say "best", i put simple meaning into this word: namely the common "most powerful / useful / beneficial" skills there can be.

That said, i definitely agree with you that sometimes for many players (and even most or all of the time for some fewer players), - "best" build is not the most _interesting_ build to play. This is truly "YMMV" thing, and indeed it changes between players and even between different play times by very same player. So this here topic is quite traditional min-maxing, but whether it's the approach to go with, or to avoid - is something everyone has to decide for themselves.

I dare think that presented information will help to decide in either case, though. ;)

P.S. I am seriously considering playing "least possible defense stat" character to getting both legendary reputations, some (remote future) day, myself. :D
 

Edit / update: with Daniel's help, error 403 is defeated! Pasting here (with some minor clean-ups):

Not-so-good long-term skills, continuation:

Spoiler: Highlight to view
Trapping - also not good enough for long-term character. Perhaps the only long-term useful feature it gives - is extra safety in some (few?) types of scavenge locations, but even that is doubtful after night vision is obtained (there is no benefit if one can max safety bar without using the skill). The rest is clearly not for long-term play: ability to make fire is a problem only very early, before getting lighter or two, which are rather common items; ability to cure meat - not much needed, as food sources late-game are readily available anyway, and especially not needed for Metabolism (slow) character, plus cured meat dehydrate (while cooked hydrate, and well); ability to get more meat and fur out of corpses are both not needed late-game, as one can easily get more than enough as it is; "Lure i-n-t-o trap" is a weak version of the trap ability given by Elusive, and C-r-e-a-t-e Obstacle (Strong's ability) makes it even less useful addition, too; and "Alertness" bar in camp screens is not a must, since it is known to experienced player that 4 traps will max out camp's Alertness in all cases. Overall, i feel Trapping is the least useful 4-points skill for long-term play.

Botany. This one is highly praised as excellent long-term skill by many. However, i doubt it. To me, killing some dog once in two in-game days and cooking its meet is much easier thing to do than to spend many moves scavenging for mushrooms and berries. I feel the "meaty way" takes less clicks, less inventory space (to carry food for future consumption - medium chunk of meat occupy as much space as 10 berries, but gives MUCH more nutrition), and consumes less moves per day, on average. Furthermore, for any build enjoying Metabolism (slow) benefit, usefullness of Botany is almost halved further: while Metabolism (slow) is "only" -25% food consumption rate and -50% water consumption rate "on paper", in practice it gives more than that because player rather regularly visits location like DMC and ATN, where he can hydrate and eat for free (or for a few $) quickly and easily. Other long-term benefit of Botany, which is ability to craft Tannin Tea, is useful for a while, but becomes completely useless after a while: to disinfect wounds, Whiskey is much better (lighter and occupies less inventory space for anything more than just 2 uses); to boost immune system - rarely needed, and can be found in ATN market, so no need to craft it; and as a source of easy profit - it's indeed good for a while, but _after_ a while it gets too boring a process to enjoy! :) So, overall, i really fail to see Botany as a good long-term skill even if it'd be just 2 skill points worth. But it's 4 skill points, so - never! If not for Trapping, this one would get the crown of "least useful 4-points skill long-term", in my opinion... :)

Lockpicking. 3 skill points cost. Small source of extra income for crafting lockpicks out of abundant mechanical parts - insignificant long-term. Ability to break locks - could mean something, late-game, for non-strong character, since using crowbar to break locks without using this skill "consumes" crowbar for that specific loot attempt, - but we here have Strong, which then goes in to increase loot chances, if needed, "after" breaking the lock. And that's it! Well, it has a use in one encounter, too, but that's too minor thing to worth 3 skill points, is it. Definitely the least useful long-term skill among 3-pointers. It is sure great early game, though - _short_-term. Well, not all skills should be long-term, so nothing wrong with it.

Electrician. Widely considered by many as least useful skill of the game overall, this one is. Indeed, ability to identify military-grade batteries (for night vision goggles) is obsolete after augmenting Philip's eyes with built-in night vision in Haggerty's. Fixing the panel in Cryo Facility "exam room" camp in fact reduces (and much!) the room's concealment stat, which is easily visible when having Hiding. So long-term, it's even harmful - one can always make some fire for light, and/or have a lit torch in hand. It has minor use for encounters, but nothing really special. And the last thing about is afaik - is ability to craft Gauss rifle, but only if Mechanic is also present. Which is not the case for the build above. Thus, Tracking seems to be WAY better 1-pointer choice than Electrician, to me.

Mechanic. Better 3-pointer than Lockpicking for its ability to craft better vehicles, but that's pretty much all about it. Late-game, it's minor benefit, because with looting efficiency of the build given above, finding more than enough ready vehicles while scavenging - is certain. Early-game travois is often helpful, but it ain't long-term solution at all. Gauss rifle with Electrician thing is certainly late-game thing, but afaik, ammo for Gauss rifle is the thing which makes whol Gauss affair nothing more than a fancy flavour, and i don't have the luxury of spending 4 skill points for a flavour. Having a good sleeping bag in Exam Room makes HVAC fix not needed at all, too.

And now flaws, too:

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Fragile. This is a flaw giving 4 more skill points. And there are indeed skill or two which are quite useful long-term if added to skills chosen above, for this build. However, i don't take this one, for one simple reason: it makes _wounds_ more severe. This means, whenever fighting some enemy who managed to score big-time hit on you, fragile would often make such a hit fatal - while not having Fragile prevents that. I prefer to go safe route and avoid that. However, for an experienced player, this can indeed be an option. Extra careful play _usually_ allows to avoid being hit at all, especially with end-game bonuses of Elusive and Unstoppable. So if one would want some more skills badly, taking Fragile would allow to get them. Except getting Tough, of course, since it's mutually exclusive with Fragile. Still, possible options include adding "Fragile + MEchanic + Electrician" for the ability to get the Gauss if wanted badly, or something like "Fragile + Hacking + Hiding" to play "higher risk and higher reward" long-term scavenger. :)

Metabolism (fast) - can't be taken as long as (awesome) Metabolism (slow) is taken, but even if it could be - i see it as harmful indeed: lots more micro-management for food and water to consume is one thing certainly not desired long-term.

Feeble - can't take with Strong, and is very bad thing to have on its own: total carrying capacity is reduced (default is 100 kg) to 55 kg, and "no movement penalty" capacity becomes 13.75 kg instead of default 25 kg. 13.75 kg is barely enough to carry minimum "expected" late-game permanent equipment... With no capacity left for any loot to sell, if one wants maximum mobility. Probably the worst flaw there can be, for a scavenger!

Insomniac - some players enjoy it, for it allows for easier waking up if attacked in sleep. But we here have tracking, and together with Elusive bonuses, that means WAY less enemies able to track Philip to his resting places, especially if Philip hides tracks in the tile next to his night camp and in camp itself - only two moves for that is not too costly to do. So its negative effect is then much more important - and that would be difficulties to get "well rested" bar full. Even with Athletics, i feel this is significant problem. Being well-rested means full mobility and full potency in combat, and both are very nice things to have. If it'd be some 2+ points flaw, i'd consider taking it, but for just 1 skill point - i feel it's not worth it.

Enervated - worth extra 2 skill points, but can't be taken with "Athletics". And my build needs athletics, as mentioned above. Even if it wouldn't be so, i still wouldn't take Enervated if i do "best long-term" build: it makes one VERY limited in terms of length of fights, in terms of number of fights per day, in terms of amount of turns without rest one can do, since it gives fatique modifier +100%. On top of that, it reduces defense by 10%, and morale by 15%. So, if Feeble is not most harmful flaw there is, then Enervated surely would be the 1st contender. So it definitely has no place in the "best for long term" build. However, if anyone seeks to make a build which would be most _difficult_ to play - then this flaw is certainly one to take. :)

... our lifestyles, mores, institutions, patterns of interaction, values, and expectations are shaped by a cultural heritage that was formed in a time when carrying capacity exceeded the human load. (c) William R. Catton, Jr