A few things I’ve learned about base building in my few hundred hours of play time. If you want a semi-detailed guide on what to look for in a base and what to do when you’ve found one this might be the guide for you. *WARNING* This is an image heavy guide.
This guide is all about the basics of base building and the things you should know when setting up a base. I’ve built many successful bases during my play time and many more failed ones. I’ve learned a thing or two along the way and decided to put together this guide.
As a disclaimer I’m not some amazing base builder that throws together intricate works of art that you look at with awe and spend hours exploring the minute details of. I’m more of a basic type of base builder. I like things that work. I like things that are comfy. I like things that fit. I also don’t like using mods. So if you’re looking for the ultimate guide on base building this one sadly isn’t that. If you want to know what I consider to the the core essentials of a base and a few tips and tricks then read on.
To anyone who has read my other guide which can be found HERE please forgive me for reusing some images and information. I believe everything here deserved it’s own guide.
Tools of the Trade
Every base requires tools. It will be impossible to make or maintain a base without them. Tools are found all over the map from under kitchen sinks, to wooden warehouse crates, to shelves in a garage, to cardboard boxes next to a mobile home. While some tools only spawn in some containers or locations; all the tools needed for base building can be found in garages or warehouses. In this section I’ll explain what tools are used for in relation to base building.
Hammer, Saw, and Nails
These are three things you can’t live without. A hammer is used for not only building objects, but for picking up and placing objects. A saw is used with a hammer for disassembling some objects and is also used for turning logs into planks. They can be found in sheds, garages, crates, shelves, and just about anywhere you would expect to find them. Nails are a finite resource that depending on how you play can be hard to come by. They can be found in the same location that hammers and saws would be and can also be acquired by disassembling wooden objects such as beds and couches. The higher your carpentry level the higher the chance of acquiring all the materials from an object; this also goes for the chance of picking up objects without them breaking.
Wrenches and Pipe Wrenches
Wrenches and Pipe Wrenches are used for picking up and installing or plumbing sinks. I’ll talk more about this in the Clean Water section.
Screwdrivers are used for disassembling electronic items such as T.V.s and Radios. They are also used for picking up some electric appliances such as Stoves.
Shovels, Trowels, and Gardening Tools
These are used for digging furrows which allow you to plant crops. Shovels can also be used for collecting dirt, gravel, and sand so long as you have an empty sack. They can also be used for picking up objects such as fire hydrants and hedges.
Crowbars are used for picking up objects like dumpsters and can also be used for picking up some floor tiles and even windows from houses.
The fabled tool of old. The most elusive tool that can escape the grasps of even some long runs. With it comes great power. The sledgehammer is able to destroy just about any object in the game including walls, staircases, containers, billboards, even your will to play if you can’t find one. These are the ultimate end game tool that opens your base up for many possibilities. If you find one count yourself lucky.
Location Location Location
Not all locations are built equal. Some are more dangerous. Some don’t offer enough space to work with. Some are difficult to secure. Some just flat out suck.
When you’re looking for a base to claim there are a few things you should keep in mind. You need a place you can reasonably secure and defend from zombies. You need a place that either has access to water or enough room to build water storage. You need a place that has enough room for a garden or is close to trapping/fishing locations. You need a place that has the ability to cook food. You need a place for a bed that will be far enough away from the groans of zombies. You need a way of keeping yourself warm in winter. You need a way to provide electricity to your base. In the event of a breech you need a way to escape.
The most ideal place for all of this would be two story buildings with large flat roofs. These include most warehouses and a lot of buildings such as banks, restaurants, or factories. Minimal windows are always a plus when finding a base. Having choke points that are easy to block off is something to look out for. Other notable locations would be two story houses on the edge of towns or single story buildings with flat roofs. These two maps are highly useful tools when scouting for a base.
To tidy all that up we can look at this,
- Security and Defense
- Ability to produce clean water
- Ability to produce food
- Ability to prepare meals
- Ability to sleep safely
- Ability to stay warm
- Ability to provide electricity
- Ability to escape
Securty and Defense
The Security and Defense of a base is the big one. Without it all you’re doing is building yourself a grave to crawl into.
Sledge hammer and Rope
One of the best ways to enjoy the comfort of a base is with the utilization of a sledge hammer and sheet rope. As of right now zombies have no way of climbing a rope; the best they can do is rip it down. If you’re able to get your hands on a sledge hammer you will be able to destroy sets of staircases which removes the only way zombies can get to you. You can then attach sheet rope to windows and fences which provides you and only you a way up.
Barricading windows and doors is probably one of the first things you will do and while it seems like it makes a building safe it’s pretty deceiving. I consider them more of a house alarm. It lets you know a zombie is trying to get in and gives you time to kill them before they are able to break in. I mostly use barricades when I first set my sights on a base since it’s a simple way to add some protection while I’m working. In most cases there is no reason not to throw up this extra layer of defense. There is also the more advanced form of barricaded which involves metal working. These provide even more defense than planks at the cost of more material and training.
There are two types of walls you can build. Wooden Walls that require planks, nails, and a hammer. Then Log Walls that only require logs and ripped sheets. Walling off sections of a base to prevent foot traffic from zombies is a tactic I use in every base I build. Walls can also be used in conjunction with a sledge hammer. If a building is more window than wall and you don’t feel comfortable with just planks over the windows you can remove the window with a sledge hammer and build a wall in it’s place.
These indestructible fences of goodness are all over the map. They often enclose houses or buildings and come in a few different forms. The metal ones you can see through and the wooden ones you can not. If you want more of a compound feel compared to a typical base keep a look out for these.
I was hesitant to call this an exploit, but when it comes down to it I believe it is. Right now there is a way to build a barrier that zombies can’t destroy or get through. If you place or build any normal item that you can’t normally walk through (table, crate, desk) and then build a fence in front of it zombies won’t be able to climb over it or break it. The only exception being if the zombie is already crawling then it can attack the fence. This is one of the best ways to secure an area. It’s on the same level of security as the sledge hammer and rope tactic and can be used in place of a sledge hammer for securing staircases. While it might be an oversite or glitch I don’t think people would blame you for using it.
When it comes to every day life in zomboid water is a key resource. Without it you start to deteriorate pretty darn fast. On normal game settings water will shut off within 30 days. When the water does shut off you will no longer have an infinite supply of clean water. The only clean water that will be left is the finite supply in toilets, sinks, tubs, and showers. So how do we acquire clean water for our base?
Lakes, ponds, and rivers
This is the most tiresome and tedious way to acquire clean water, but it’s worth mentioning. Having a base by a body of water allows for you to have easy access to water. Simple right? The problem comes from water being tainted. If you’re using bodies of water as you’re main source of water you will be forced to boil the water before you drink it. This isn’t a bad option it just isn’t ideal for a good base. With that said though it does work and having a body of water close to your base is always a good thing.
*currently you can drink straight from a tainted water source such as a river or puddle without dying. You only die from tainted water if you drink it from a container. Here is a video explaining it.
Rain Collection Barrels & Water Rooms
Rain Collection Barrels are in my opinion the best way to acquire clean water and the ability to make a dedicated room for water is key to making a good base. By themselves Water Barrels collect tainted rain water. You can fill up jugs and other containers with them which allows you to use the water for cooking or watering your crops and the like. The big deal with these nifty little constructions is the ability to produce clean water with them. If you place them one floor above a sink you can use a wrench to “plumb” the two together making a water filter of sorts. The sink now uses the water that is in the Water Barrel purifying it on the way down. This is why I always look for a base that has a flat roof. The more barrels you build and the more sinks you have the better.
Just like water the ability to produce food is necessary for a base. There are a few ways to go about this. Farming, Fishing, Trapping, and Forging.
Farming is the best way to get a consistent supply of food for any base. So long as you have some dirt, some seeds, and a supply of water you can start a crop anywhere. Once you start ranking your Farming skill up you will be able to see more information about your crops. You’re going to want to plant the crops outside of the foot traffic of zombies so the most ideal spot is on the roof or in an enclosed area. Items you should look out for when looting are packets of seeds, gardening spray cans, and watering cans.
Setting up a base next to a body of water is not only good for the access to water, but also for fishing. Fish provide an excellent source of nourishment and I highly recommend a base within a half days walk to water for this reason alone.
Trapping can be done just about anywhere, but having a base next to or near Deep Woods is ideal. Catching rabbits is an alternative to fishing and can provide enough protein to live off of. If you choose not to be next to a body of water then I highly encourage you to be next to some Deep Woods.
With the recent change to foraging I have not had much experience with it. I would rather give no information than bad information. I’ll update when I do more research.
The ability to prepare meals is a simple one and a necessary one. From having a can opener for opening cans. To a bowl for making salad. To a stove for cooking stir-fry. It’s all useful. You don’t need a fancy kitchen that Gordon Ramsay has dreams about. You just need a heat source and preferably a place to store all your utensils. When it comes to what you can cook on you have a fair bit of options.
Cooking with Flame
Campfires, Charcoal BBQs, Antique Ovens, and Propane BBQs don’t require electricity. The first three allow a wide range of fuel to keep it going including sheets, clothing, wood, and paper. The latter can only use Propane for fuel and as a perk has a self ignition built in. A note about Antique Ovens: these are in my experience your best bet when it comes for overall practicality. They offer a quality heat source for yourself along with the option to cook on it. You can also use it inside your base without the threat of it starting a fire or smoking you out. There are specific locations on the map they are guaranteed to spawn at and can also be found in crates inside warehouses, sheds, and storage units.
Cooking with Power
Ovens come in a wide range of designs, but all work the same. They are hassle free. They require electricity to operate (some more than others in my experience). They don’t require fuel in terms of wood or propane. They have a temperature setting for the food. They have an alarm to let you know when food is done. However they do not provide heat for you body like a campfire or antique oven. They are a good option for a base if you don’t mind the extra power consumption and don’t need the heat provided by an antique oven.
Getting a good night sleep is key to survival. Without a good sleep your days will be a short one. There are three types of beds (bad/average/good) each effecting the quality of your sleep. Find a good quality bed and place it somewhere safe and warm. I can not stress enough how important a good sleep is.
If you’ve made it to winter, congrats first off, and second off you probably have noticed it’s gotten cold. While winter may not be the end all be all you might be expecting it can still put a damper on your day. There are a few ways to stay warm during winter and it’s something your base should be ready for.
Proper clothing is the best way to stave off the cold. During your first few months you should be gathering up all the clothes you think you will need and putting them away for a rainy (snowy) day.
Having a heat source to keep you warm is something every base needs. There might be times you catch a chill and the only way to heat back up is to sit in front of a heat source. There might also be a very cold night and in order to get some good sleep you need a good fire. There are two sources of heat you can use to warm your body. One is a campfire that can only be used outside. The other is an antique oven that can be used outside or inside. Bother require the same fuel type such as wood, clothes, and paper.
I will start off by saying having electricity is not mandatory. Living without it however isn’t much fun at all and having a base without it isn’t much of a base at all. Power shuts off within 30 days on normal settings. When it does, as you might have guessed, every electronic device plugged into the grid will be shut off. If you have a radio tuned into the emergency broadcast it will warn you of this event.
A generator will be your one and only source of electricity once the power goes out. These are found in garages, sheds, and tool sheds. You need to read a magazine called “How to use Generators” in order to use one. Generators require fuel which can be collected from gas stations and cars with the help of Gas Cans. They also require scrap electronics for when they start to break down. All of this might seem like a lot of work and it can be at the start, but if you find a base relatively close to a gas station it shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Always keep an eye out for gas cans too since the more you have means the less amount of trips you need to take to the gas station.
Generators make noise which attracts zombies. A trick would be to place the generator on a platform out from your base a little ways. That way when zombies come towards the sound they will bunch up under it instead of breaking their way in to get it.
Having working freezers is a godsend for long term comfort and is the primary reason for a generator. Being able to freeze your food means less work producing said food. The Popsicle Fridge is the one you need to keep an eye out for. It has the most storage out of any freezer in game.
Non-Essentials are just that. These are things you don’t need, but can help make a base something proper.
If you’re doing a lot of organizing and you start getting blue. If you’re recovering from an injury or sickness and don’t want to fight off zombies with a broken leg. If it’s pouring rain with heavy fog rolling in and you don’t want to be ambushed (or have your PC crash). If any of that is happening then having entertainment readily at hand might help. Having a bookcase full of books or a TV ready to play some tapes can help fill some time and heal some wounds.
It’s good to have a work station set up for training your traits in the off time. Having dedicated storage for tailoring and metalwork can help streamline the process of ranking them up.
Even if you’re not a loot goblin like me adequate storage space will be needed and room to properly organize it will come in handy. Having your loot scattered all over the place isn’t fun for anyone.
Knowing when to run
Every base has a weakness whether it be zombies or your own stupidity. Having a way to get out is one of those things that keeps you alive. You should try to have escape routs set up that you can get to in the event of a break-in or fire. You will also need a means of escape. Having a vehicle loaded up with canned goods and weapons will provide you with enough hope to maybe one day come back and claim what you built.
As always I would like to thank people for making it this far. I hope this guide was readable and not too boring. I’ll try to add more sections as more ideas come to me, but for now this is the first draft. If you have any comments or questions feel free to use the comment section. If you’re interested in setting up a reliably safe and relatively easy base using the tactics listed here please check out this guide.
Dec 23 @ 1:58pm
Added more information on heat sources for cooking and heating.
Added information about tainted water.
Dec 24 @ 2:21pm
Added a Tools of the Trade section. In my infinite wisdom I neglected to mention the tools you will be needing.