Rise of the Tomb Raider:A quick guide.

Edited version: 28-2-2016: cleaned up some text, added more.

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Index

  • Intro
  • Flow of the game
  • Do resources respawn?
  • Can I go back to an area I already visited before to explore more?
  • Are there enough Byzantine coins in the game?
  • Do I need to buy equipment?
  • Do you have any thoughts on the weapons?
  • How about skills?
  • Your thoughts on equipment?
  • Things to watch out for while underway
  • You thoughts on gear?
  • Are optional tombs profitable?
  • Pointers on combat and enemies
  • Hunting
  • Places to stock up
  • Extra fun

 

 

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Intro
Rise of the Tomb raider is the second installment of the reboot of the Lara Croft series. It is a neat game that impresses by visuals and most of all, by Lara Croft herself. When I played Rise of the Tomb Raider I had questions and many of these  were answered on the internet when I went looking for them(and some where not), but often I had to sit through lengthy YouTube movies or walk-troughs before I got the answer I was looking for. Some of these questions were so basic that I was amazed that answers were so hard to find. But perhaps this is just my ineptitude.
So I figured I make a kind of quick guide, say a kind of Q&A in which I answer my own questions and hope that this will help you to answer yours.

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Before I start I need to tell you some things, such as that this post is  aimed at the (experienced) casual player. The casual player is someone who will play through the main story line, with some digressions, can handle a weapon, but isn’t a pro( a pro is someone who can pull off head shots while jumping about) , and  will not aim at a 100% completion of the game, although he or she might.  The casual player isn’t someone who will power build, but might welcome some pointers on what to do and not to do and who will probably play the game on a standard level, in this game called tomb raider.
Also I will tell you that I think this game is well done. It smartly  combines a well told story with with an open world to explore. It makes possible to follow your own way, either by following the main story only or by exploring the world. How well this is done is for instance by the fact that almost all dungeons are optional. Yet each come with a reward. A reward not necessary for the main story line, but something that makes things easier, specifically for exploring the world.
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Perhaps the greatest aspect of this game is Lara herself. The animations are so well done that is feels like a movie. And the game smartly ties her in with a few persons, like Jonah, Ana, Sofia and Jacob, thus making her more convincing.

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Lara and her friend Jonah,

I also would have applaud the makers of the game for listening to the players by elimination all Quick Time Events. Yes, they got rid of these pains: the ones where you have to smash an arbitrary set of buttons.  Well.. almost. Two are still in there. One early into the game and another at the end. I can hear them laughing. And it is forgiven because it is funny.

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Flow of the game
The game changes during progression. So when you return to an area you will notice it has changed. An example is the first play area, the Siberian wilderness, which will change overtime as day turns into night and the otherwise peaceful area gets more dangerous because after a while enemies will make an appearance.

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Do resources respawn?
Yes they do, but this is dependent on the progress of the game. Initially the respawn is very slow and you will feel the lack of resources as make your first few arrows and first few kills. Which is a good thing as it make the tension all the greater the rewards all the bigger. When the game progresses you will find that eventually that you have more than enough resources to do most of the things and when you lack them, you can always get more.

Can I go back to an area I already visited before to explore more?
All areas that are important will remain accessible throughout the game. In fact this is almost required as some places will only become available after you have gotten special gear such as the explosive arrows and some things  you can only  get after you read a monolith, which is dependent on your language skill, or when you find a map or a satchel.  In other words: don’t worry about having skipped something, you can always return later.

Are there enough Byzantine coins in the game?
Byzantine coins are used to buy equipment at the supply shack. There are more than enough coins in the game to buy everything. I ended with 138 coins more than I needed after I had bought everything in the shack. However, these coins have to be found and to find all the coins you have to explore the world far and wide and areas, hence coin stacks, open up only gradually during the game.
I did a second run through the game on the hardest mode survivor, skipping a lot of areas and only picking coins that were withing easy reach. It allowed me to buy the grenade launcher (120 coins) and some the pistol silencer(25). I had about 80 spare after that. So you follow only the main story line, be prepared to have far less. But read on for more advise about equipment.

Do I need to buy equipment?
The answer is no. None of the equipment you can buy at the supply shack is essential for the game although it makes life easier. The more you buy, the easier things get, but only marginally so for each piece of equipment, so don’t expect anything shocking. In fact buying things partly means you to get some things earlier in the game. An example is the shotgun. I ended the game with the full auto shotgun that I found, because I preferred that one above the one I bought. The most important reason was rate of fire and reload time.
Here are my observations:

Laser Sight
A laser sight is pretty superfluous if you are a decent shot as you already get a reticle. There is no sniper sight in the game. People seem to recommend this, I don’t see why.

Pistol silencer
I find the pistol class the weakest in the game, especially on survivor mode, and rarely use one. So why waste money buying a silencer for it? You bow is silent and a much a better weapon. And for speedy damage the silence assault rifle or smg works much better.

Combat Shotgun
Unless you want a shotgun early into the game the combat gun seems mostly pointless at isn’t much of an improvement on the full auto shotgun. Also the basic pump action shotgun, which is story given, is a decent weapon when you upgrade it.

Assault Rifle
This is a slightly improved version on the SMG. Again it is only a slight improvement.

Grenade Launcher
I prefer this one as it allows your rifle to lob grenades. While your bow will be able to do the same eventually, this is in addition too it. You get it earlier in the game and this will help you with a certain threat in the story line. Overal I find grenades in this game under powered. Lobbing one among a group doesn’t what you expected. You need to actually target an enemy and then it will take usually only that one out. Exploding barrels don’t require a grenade.

The refinement tool
This one is needed to unlock 4th level upgrades for all your weapons. While that makes it a worthwhile thing to buy, it is also the most expensive in the game. The upgrades aren’t very spectacular and require a lot of salvaging and hunting to upgrade the things so it has its drawbacks. Probably for someone who just wants to follow the main story this might be too expensive and too much salvaging effort

Combat gear: nothing useful here. It just looks cool.

My views is that the only worthwhile buys in the game are the grenade launcher and the refinement tool unless you are a shotgun buff. If you like shotguns then buy it so you don’t have to wait until you get one later.

Do you have any thoughts on the weapons?

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The game has five weapon types. Bows, pistols,rifles, shotguns and the climbing-axe..
Five weapons are a given as part of the story-line. The climbing-axe you get from the start and is the only weapon of its type. The makehift longbow you get when the game really starts in the Siberian Wilderness and will be replaced by the recurve bow.  The revolver, the assault rifle and the pump-action shotgun you get as part of the storyline. The other weapons you need to find/
This finding is done by finding strong boxes that will give you 1 out of 4 parts of a specific gun. I have seen sites telling you where to get what part, but when I redid the game, I found that this didn’t fit. Either the parts are more or less random or dependent on your difficulty setting. As an example: on tomb-raider level I managed to get the bolt rifle early into the game while in survivor mode I got the required part much later into the game.

Bow
My experience is that the bow is the one that gets the most benefits in the game and gives you the most varied options, from a fast weak shooter to a very powerful slow one. Eventually you can use it to launch fire arrows, explosive arrows and poison cloud arrows and even those can be upgraded.  The disadvantages of the bow are that you need to draw it, that the arrow needs to travel the distance and that is doesn’t have upclose stopping power. This sounds like it’s the worst of the weapons, but it isn’t. In fact it is probably one of the best weapons in the game and I wager you can win most battles with it.

It just depends on how you use it. You find different types of bows during the game.Specifically I found the poison cloud to be the most deadly in the game. When you aim it right and have the cloud upgrade you can take out groups of enemies in one go and they count as stealthy so they give extra points.

My favorite bow is the compound bow, which does a lot of damage per shot, but at a low rate of fire. I like my arrows to score hard when they hit.

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Pistol
Personally I found the pistol type the most useless and I used it mostly as a stopgap until I got a decent rifle. You might consider to equip it with a silencer that can be bought from the supply shack for a small amount to extend its usefulness. As remarked above, why spent money to silence a weapon that you rarely use? After I got a decent rifle I hardly used it, especially after you get a silencer for the rifle.

Rifle
The rifle is a category that holds the SMG, a  weapon that compensates weak damage with a high rate of fire, the Assault Rifle,  more damage, less rate of fire, which you get as part of the story line. I  prefer the Assault Gun to the SMG because it deals out more damage at a lower rate of fire, thus saving you bullets. The bolt action rifle is in a class of it’s own, coupled with the silencer it is an awesome weapon to kill animals and small groups of enemies, but is too slow in full scale battles and if you like single shotting people you might as well use the bow.

Shotgun
Shotguns are awesome because nothing satisfies more than seeing the charge of a fully armored warrior stopped in his tracks by a shotgun blow or two. It is an mightily effective weapon up to about 10 meter(30 feet).  It couples a lot of damage in a short amount of time, but only in close quarters. Hence it is the weapon of choice for any enemy trying to close combat you. It’s main drawback is the lack of enough shells to win every battle with it.

If you don’t want to spend time and resources on upgrading all the weapons then you probably need to concentrate on two, one if which is the bow and the other I would suggest to be either a rifle, which you then probably need to buy the grenade launcher for, or the shotgun, in which case you might consider buying it early on.

My preferred weapon on the hardest level is combining a bow with a shotgun. The bow for distant work and taking out groups of enemies with poison cloud and the shotgun for anyone trying to come close.

Ice-axe
The ice axe is an awesome weapon if you upgrade it and sink points in close combat. Lara can eventually kill even fully armored enemies with just the axe, if you know how to counter and hit at the right time. The disadvantage of the ice axe is that it comes with a finisher animation that might look cool but isn’t really handy when fighting multiple enemies.

How about skills?

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Lara has no less than 54 skills to choose from. That sounds impressive, doesn’t it?
Actually almost all skills only marginally improve her performance. This is well considered as no skill will suddenly make her superhuman, but a series of successive skills will.  There are many opinions about skills on the internet, but for a normal person most of the skills will not be very useful.
Also, even with a casual attitude you will be able get at least half of all the available skills so don’t worry about it.
Some skill you certainly should  consider to take are:
Avid Learner: gets you extra experience when reading things.
Lightfoot: falling distances are greatly increased: saves the annoyance of reloading.
Arrow Retrieval: get arrows back from you victims.
Naturalist: allows you get more natural resources.
Survivalist: even more important than Naturalist as non natural resources are harder to find.
Thick-Skinned & Heart of Stone & Iron Hide makes you less vulnerable to gunfire, fire, explosions and melee attacks. Some people do not see the point of this, but it helps when you are being swarmed by enemies.
Breath Control & Nerves of Steel: allows you to have a more steady aim with the bow.
Crafting Mastery: allows for larger ammo and resource pouches and increases ammo created.
Death Cloud Arrows: increases the poison cloud effect. A certain way to wipe out large groups of enemies and animals. Also buy the upgrade:
Grenadier: when you buy the grenade launcher, you have to get this one too otherwise you have to find grenades.
Scavenger: this isn’t of much use on normal level, but on survivor level might be.

Dubious skills(in my opinion)
Any skill enhancing close combat such as dodge counter, deadly force and dodge kill.You don’t want the waste points on this unless you are going for close combat or have points to burn. These are pro skills, who can use them effectively because you need to be a pro to pull these dodge counters off in a full scale battle.
Incidendary Bombs & Demolitions Expert. This sounds really cool until you realize that you can create bombs from the start without it and this skill just adds to it to allow you to make bombs from fuel cans and phones and gain extra expertise when you use them to kill people. If you are lucky you might even do it once a battle. Far better is using the phone to toss it someplace which will attract all enemy soldiers and the poison cloud them. This counts as a stealth attack and earns you the same amount of experience without buying the skill and spending precious resources. Even more: the fuel can will explode anyway when you shoot it.
Animal Instincts and Master of the Land: unless you really need to serious help to find wildlife to hunt you really don’t need this one. Mostly you will know where they are, even if you need to die for it once:P
Hollow Points and Dragonfire shells.
Hollow points are a special bullet that can be added to the pistol. I used them a few times, but didn’t find them worth the trouble.

Errata:

Cluster bomb arrows
An upgrade of your explosive arrows that is as underwhelming as the explosive arrows. It looks and sounds impressive and  seems ideal for crowd control but doesn’t seem to do anything at all but to the one you aim the arrow at. Most of the time the addition explosions miss. The poison cloud arrow is much better and even the napalm arrows make your enemies flap about this forgetting to fire at you.
Update: later in the game they do get effective just like the dragonshell shells.

Dragonfire shells Originally I found that these didn’t improve my shotgun as it looked like armored enemies seemed not to stagger when shot by these but did with the normal shells. However on a second play through later in the game, they apparently do. So I revised my review accordingly. It might be that enemies crouching behing their shield don’t stagger at all.

Your thoughts on equipment?

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Equipment can be very helpful and you need to spend resources on. I personally priotorize the satchel and the rucksack as it allows you to carry more resources which you will need for upgrades and creating ammo, bombs and the like.  A small and large oil sack might also be interesting.

Things to watch out for while underway
Danger!
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Whenever Lara is closing with hostiles, her stance changes  to a crouch and the music changes to an alarming drum. You know that enemies are near. Unfortunately for the more experienced player who doesn’t need or want those warning signs. It can’t be switched off.

Glow on the ground usually indicates a survival cache. Get it.

Your thoughts on gear?
During the game you collect a lot of  clothes. Almost all are just for changing Lara’s looks. However tow I deem to be special, which is the Sacra Umbra and the Siberian Ranger. These outfit increases your special ammo types for all weapons dramatically. The poison cloud arrows go from 3 to 7. Fire arrows go from 8 to 17. Grenade arrows go from 5 to 14. And so on.
The Sacra Umbra is a reward for finishing all 9 optional tombs, and this not only awards you all the extra skills that you get from these tombs, but also an extra amount of byzantine coins and the sacra umbra. But then: you need to finish all 9 tombs, talk to the lady below in the geothermal valley and cash it in with here.
I don’t know where I got the Siberian Ranger. When I found out I post it here.

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Gold can buy you equipment

Are optional tombs profitable?

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Optional tombs give special skill: nothing superpower full, but handy at times.

Almost all of the optional tombs give you a skill as reward. None of these skills are earth shattering, but they might change your game play a little bit for the better. Some are easy to solve, others are harder. All optional tombs give you additional byzantine coins when you cash them in with the lady at the geothermal valley. If you cash them all in you get a great outfit: the sacra umbra.

Pointers on combat and enemies
Lara will only encounter mundane enemies such as humans and animals. Early in the game humans are unarmored, as the game progresses people get to be more armored which prevents especially the bow from instant killing enemies with head shots as they start wearing helmets.  Later on you run in full armored enemies which makes it more work to kill them, but then you also get better arrows to compensate.
All enemies, except one type, can be instantly killed with poison cloud arrows, so stock up on that. The only exception is a guy who wears a fully armored suit that has it’s own oxygen supply apparently. He also comes equipped with a flamethrower. And is impervious to arrows and bullets. Just so you know.

Combat
Enemies almost all come in groups running from 3 to  6 individuals. In special cases it might be even more. Some battles feed more enemies into it as you kill them to keep the pressure on.
Enemies tactics follow a certain pattern. There are three types. There are the close combatants who will close with you.  They might even shoot at you  but their purpose is to kill you up close and personal. The second type is the one who hangs in the back and fires at you. Usually the first and the second are mixed.
The third type resembles type 2, but he doesn’t hang back but instead tries to flank you.
This is no sitting behind cover and taking out enemies game. From the start the enemy will throw grenades and molotov cocktails at you, flank you and send in close assaulter. It is also not much of a stealth game in my opinion as a lot of encounters shove you right in. Perhaps an expert at sneaking can do it stealthy, I found it isn’t easy or actually virtually impossible at times.

Hunting
You hunt animals for their skin to upgrade your  equipment and your weapons or just to gain experience or complete missions and challenges. Dear, razorbacks and the like will run away the moment they spot you and are often hard to find once they do.
Wolves, bears and tigers will attack you the moment you fire at them and non of them can be taken out with one shot(except for wolves later in the game). They close with you very fast and especially wolves are dangerous as they come in packs.
Wolves do not attack you directly but flank you.
A bear barrels into you and swipes at you with its paws. I wonder if anyone has every been able to kill it using the ice-axe.

Places to hunt
The Siberian Wilderness will have 1 to 3 dear often when you return. If you return too fast there might be non.  The bear in the cave will re-spawn after a time and is probably the easiest bear to kill in the game, which doesn’t say a lot as  even this one is extremely dangerous. The seem to be highly resistant to bullets as I tried to kill one with an assault gun and it took a lot of bullets. Thus poison cloud it and fire arrows at it.
Lucky you can get bear hides just by finding survival caches.There are also bunnies.. if you like to kill them.
The Soviet Installation has two places where wolves hang out. Both to either side of the saw mill in the middle. There is a kind of plain next to it with dear remains scattered about where often three wolves linger. You can poison cloud them from the saw mill. And climb up if you miss and they attack you. If you kill one wolf they also might bolt for a cave.
The other group of wolves are always two and they are in front of a cave across a bridge from the saw mill. When you shoot one, the other one runs away. If you approach they might attack you or run. Poison cloud might be an option.
Geothermal valley has a few places that might be profitable. One is near the sea where razorbacks abide. They come in groups of three or even four. The won’t attack you if you shoot at them, which I found interesting as I thought that a razorback might charge you. There is a tiger in one edge of the map. When it is there it is up in a tree and you can shoot at it from the house near the river.. but it will come at you as even shooting with a gun won’t kill it. If you retreat into the house it will run away.

Places to stock up
Some places re spawn resources at times. For ammunition I either visit the gulag once it is open. Usually there is a group of soldiers surrounded by ammo caches.  The soldiers themselves give you addition resource to improve your equipment with. Another place is the Siberian Wilderness which is also a good hunting place. The Siberian Wilderness has usually 4 soldiers later in the game which re spawn most of the time.
I tried the remnant bazaar at times, but I found it yielded nothing as often as it did.

Extra fun

One of the charming aspects of the game is that it isn’t just about shooting stuff, but one of the fun part is the collection of items. Each ‘relic’  or document gives you some extra experience points, I just collected them because I found the stories behind them nice.
So I bore you with some fun examples in another post.

 

 

 

More to follow…

 

 

 

 

Vital tips for playing “This war of mine” and surviving till the war ends.

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Contents
Introduction
Part one: Starting tips
Part two: mild spoilers
Part three: spoilers
Part four: big spoilers(cheating?)

 

Introduction

(1-12-2014 :Important update in the mildy spoiler section!)

“This war of mine” is a game that was released on 14 th of November 2014. It is a survival game which gives control over a group of civilians trapped in a derelict house in the war-torn city of Pogoren. It is up to you see to it that they survive the war. There are similarities with games like Dead State and State of Decay in that these two also allow you to run a group of survivors in apocalyptic settings, but the feel is different. The first two mentioned games have a very important fighting component in them and in the end your heroes eventually become very good fighters and able to deal with most of the threats, including those from the military. Not so in This war of Mine. The game is no doubt inspired by the situation of Grozny during the Chechen wars and has a very realistic feel. Everything that happens in this game probably has happened and will happen in future wars. You are vulnerable civilian and it is wise to avoid combat, not only because of the lack of (good) weapons, but also because the enemies -thugs, rebels, looters and soldiers- are usually better armed and have the numbers on their side. But avoiding combat is also important because any injury vitally impacts the survivability of the group as whole. In this game there is no instant healing and even slight wounds can cause a character’s health to deteriorate to the point that he or she gets so sick that the whole group suffers and even lose moral.
This post give some is not a review, I will make one in due time, but made to give a few vital tips to get people started. In vital I mean that the game would otherwise be a very frustrating experience. There is no manual at the time of this writing, although there are two wikis being worked upon. Thus basic knowledge is lacking and this game needs this basic knowledge.
The post give below tips which will range from minor, but essential tips, up to tips that some might consider spoilers and cheats. I marked each section,  so if you don’t want to read more than you need to get started then just read the parts you like. I will mark them as best as I can.
Note that there are also two wikis that you can consult:
http://this-war-of-mine.wikia.com/wiki/This_War_of_Mine_Wiki
http://thiswarofmine.gamepedia.com/This_War_of_Mine_Wiki

 

 

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Part one: Starting tips
Scavenge the house
(This part has changed after an update of the game after the first of December 2014)

When scavenging the house, try to scavenge what you need. This is a bit of a trick and requires you to consult the creation manuals. Therefore it is of vital importance to take a look at the creation guides that you can find in the wikis(See links above).

Don’t sit around but have your companions clear the house, even if it means using hands to remove dirt. Get the stuff together to make the things you need.

Make a bed or even better: make two beds
Beds are vitally important in the game. Beds will allow your companions to sleep during the day so you can have them guard or scavenge during the night. There are four states of tiredness: normal, tired, very tired and exhausted. Each state takes about 4 to 5 hours to change to a better state, so during the day you can get a character from very tired to normal provided you put the character to bed at once in the morning. I think this does not work for the night. It seems only to improve the condition one step.Beds are also good for curing and recovering from wounds. Companions that are slightly sick or slightly wounded have a good chance to recover when put into a bed. Worse health have a good chance of improving when you combine medicines and bandages with a bed.

Make a crowbar
The house provides enough materials to make a metal workshop and that allows you to make a crowbar. You need it to open the doors and cupboards in the house.

Make a radio
When you can spare the electrical parts make a radio. A radio gives vital information(it really does!) and even might raise moral.

Priority number one: food(and water)
Food(and water) are vital to the game. There are three ways to get them. You can scavenge for them, you can trade for them and you can make them yourself. Basically you want to do the latter, but until you can make them yourself you have to survive on what your scavenge. Trading is the last option to do as food is hugely expensive and should only be traded for as a last resort.It follows from above that your main strategy must be to make your own food and water. Since how to go about it is possibly a spoiler it will be listed lower down the list. You companions will get hungrier during the game and you need to have them eat. You can get away with skipping a day, which is very important at the start of the game.

Look at your character’s abilities and desires
Most characters have a special ability which could be very important. I like the combination of Bruno and Katia. Bruno is a good cook which allows him to create food and moonshine with reduced ingredients and Katia has good bargaining skills, which allows her to sell things against better prices. By using them both you can actually make a reasonable profit. Another character with a very good ability is Marin, who is a handyman and he is able to create things for the house for less. Especially when you have to make very expensive upgrades this can be a lifesaver as some components are very hard to get a hold of, such as electrical parts.Also, almost all characters have a desire, such as smoking or drinking coffee. Be aware of that so you might provide them when you have some to spare.

Avoid combat
It gets you killed.

Do good deeds
Don’t hesitate to help out other people, you raise moral and sometimes they give you something in return.

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Don’t steal
Well, maybe you like to, but stealing generally doesn’t sit well with your fellow companions, lowers moral and might make enemies.

Talk to them
When companions get depressed they are in need of a talk and therefore a chat bubble will appear above their head. Have one character of yours talk to them by selecting him or her and then pressing the other’s chat bubble. Note that this might take the better part of the day. One character has a ability that helps with this.

Be frugal with rare items
Some items are rare in the game and yet vital, such as parts and electrical parts. Especially electrical parts are very hard to get, so never sell them. Normal parts usually can be traded for. Books are also rare and you shouldn’t use them all for fuel. Books can raise moral with characters that like reading.

Put people on guard during the night if you can
One is okay. Two is better. Give them weapons. Knives seems to be enough. Guns are only effective when you have ammo.

During the night make a careful study of the locations you can visit.
When it says dangerous.. it is!

Priority number two: safety
This might be a personal choice, but I generally concentrate on boarding up and getting a reinforced door and making weapons. There might be other viable strategies.

Scavenge thoughtfully
You can only send one person to scavenge and he or she got a limited backpack. When you scavenge note that one slot of your backpack can contain a certain amount of things. To optimize your scavenging try and fill these slots as best as possible. In other words, don’t just grab the first things: collect them in groups of two(wood, books, etc), of four(materials, parts, electrical parts, etc) or ten (water, sugar, etc). Also make note of what you might need to make the next thing you plan to build and plan accordingly.

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Part two: mild spoilers

The trader
The trader comes every three days. He usually starts at day three but sometimes he starts at day two. Sometimes he might skip a day further into the game, but usually he sticks to this three day visit routine. You can use this pattern to get ready for a trade.

Raiders
It is my experience that the first day there will be never a raid on your house. Thus you can put everyone to sleep.

Hospital
There is a hospital in the game that will be available at some point. You can have your wounded and sick characters treated at the hospital for free. In general that will fix the character. It cost you a night of scavenging though.

Some items created have to be picked up
Some items that you create such as a meal, moonshine, alcohol, raw food and vegetables are left on the upgrades that you use to make them. They need to be picked up. One advantage: they can’t be stolen by raids as long as you don’t collect them.

Make or get a hatchet
Part of the furniture in your house can be turned into wood and fuel provided you have a hatchet. You can get a lot of fuel and wood that way.(Warning: pick these items up before the night, otherwise they are lost!)

Trade locations
There are some locations on the map where you can trade. Some of these places have lower prices for certain products, others sell things that are hard to get. More on this in the spoiler section.

When creating a stove.. try to go for the improved stove
It saves on resources in the long run.

Don’t waste resources on a shovel
At the start of the game every resource counts because you have to concentrate on making upgrades that provide food. A shovel is handy, but not vital, not even in locations where you need to clear debris. Clearing debris without a shovel cost around two hours, not one location has more than two debris blocking the way. Maybe when you got a working food system you can make a shovel.

Keep a cupboard in your house
(Important: this feature has been blocked since the 1st of December 2014. You no longer can stash your stuff in a cupboard in the house.)

I am not sure if this is a cheat or a spoiler, but it is so very important for the game. To avoid being robbed of your things during a raid you can maintain one cupboard in the house. As long as you don’t empty the cupboard you can put everything in there before the night begins and it won’t get stolen during a raid. I use one of the metal ones in the corner of the house as the wooden can be cut up for wood.

 

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Part three: spoilers

Warfare
During the course of the game fighting in the city will intensify and thus make some areas unavailable for a while. Usually these are not the two first area’s you start out with. Note that both the start of this period and the end will be announced on the radio.

Winter
Unless you start out in the winter you will be inflicted with winter during the game. This means two things. One: the rain water collector will no longer function and you have to make water by collecting snow and melting it on the stove. Two: you need a heater and fuel to keep warm. It is an extra burden. The start of this period and the end will be announced on the radio.

End of the war
The end of the war will be announced on the radio.

Crime wave
Sometimes a wave of crime will burden the city. It basically means an increased amount of raids during the night. Boarding up, weapons, a reinforced door and guards help, but you never get to the point that you are completely free of raids.  The start of this period and the end will be announced on the radio.

Food and water
There is one foremost priority in the game: make a self perpetuating food cycle. To do this you need to make two animal traps, at least two rain collectors and a vegetable garden. The vegetable garden is hugely expensive to make as it requires you to make a herbal garden first, then upgrade that to a vegetable garden. The vegetable garden will allow you to create four vegetables every three days, the trap creates two meat every one or two days. However you need to reinvest a vegetable into the garden to create the next four vegetable and the traps requires one meat to work again. Note that the garden also requires ten water. On average if you set this up right and cook right you can feed four persons.

Trading
Prices are set against what the trader, who visits you every three days, is asking.
The garage. Materials and shovels are dirt cheap, Katia general can fill all the slots with material bought here. Sometimes you can buy a hatchet here. Wood, parts and such are also cheaper. Weapon parts are okay. Special note: don’t use the saw-blade to open the door above the garage as it seems to trigger a bug that makes the garage owner hostile later on in to the game(to Roman foremost I think) and eventually everyone in other locations too.
The church. The church might be a hostile location depending on the scenario. If it is not, then a priest resides here and you can trade with him. Materials are cheap. The rest are standard prices.
The hotel. The hotel might be a residence for some armed thugs. They are willing to trade. Watch out where you click though as the trade icon is usually close to some of their private things. Materials, parts and wood are cheap.
Military outpost. Nothing is especially cheap here as far as I can tell. You can get weapon parts in abundance, weapons templates and weapons, so that might be the reason to buy here. Personally I avoid the place as the soldiers turn hostile at the drop of a hat.
Central square. Could be considered a place to trade because you can get almost everything. Only no cheap deals, as far as I know.
The brothel. Another place to trade. No cheap deals, nothing special. Probably only useful when in dire need.


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Part four: big spoilers(cheating?)

How long does the war last?
The war last around forty days, give and take. Pay attention to the radio,

Restarting the day
When the night passes a day will start and generate certain events like a raid. Some raids can cause serious wounds to your companions. You might want to restart the day by exiting the game session and then press continue. A new random series of events will be created.

 

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Game flow
The game starts with a few areas and then more areas open up gradually. The first lootable area will always be either one of these: abandoned cottage, shelled cottage or ruined flats. They will never be together on the map. There is no danger. Take a crowbar with you when it is a cottage. The ruined flats require sawblades, which you don’t have at the start of the game, nor can make that easily so might have to return later. The next area might be the decrepit squat of shelled school. If the shelled school appears next to the decrepit squat it will be filled with armed thugs. The supermarket will usually open up soon too.
You will get a winter somewhere in the third week and this last perhaps one or two weeks.
During that time fighting will make areas unavailable thus you must be ready before that happens. You need to set up a food cycle, stack a lot of water and fuel. The water you make by using a rain collector, and that requires five hours for four parts of water. Since it is almost undoable to do it twice a day, you need at least two, three is better. You also need a lot of materials to make water filters.
If you have Katia and Bruno you might want to make one or two moonshine stills. Bruno makes moonshine with less ingredients and Katia sells it against better prices.

Getting on the good side of people
During the game some people will come by and ask for help or resources. Also some places ask for specific donations. Here is what I found.
Hospital:Bringing medicines, bandages and such to the hospital raises moral, especially for the one that brings it. This is a one time bonus, I think. Curiously enough, this did not affect Emilia.
Decrepit Squat:Bringing raw food to the squatter in the decepit squat gets you a moonshine and a valuable and raises moral. You also help the guy to survive.
Garage: Bringing bandages or moonshine to the garage owner raises moral. He also gives you a lot for them.
Sniper Junction: Take a crowbar with you as there will be a guy wounded by the sniper and he asks you to help him. You need the crowbar to open a door. He gives you a few valuables(I got 2 or 3). Keep track of the time though as he is wounded and he takes a long time to get home and give you the valuables.
The supermarket: depending on the scenario you might run into the soldier that is about to rape a girl. I have had a hard time killing him, until I got boris using a crowbar on him, which wasted the scumbag in three blows without a wound to boris. So bring a crowbar with you. You need one even if the soldier isn’t there as there are some locked cupboards with valuables.

Setting up the food cycle(an example)
During night scavenge for materials mostly, but keep your food supply in mind(water and food) also pick up valuables for selling to the trader. Do not forget you need wood.
Day one
Make a metal workshop, make a crowbar, make a bed. If katia and bruno: make a moonshine still. Loot the cottage. Maybe get some raw food and vegetables. You need them for day three. If enough time left and resources.: make moonshine. Make a second bed.

Day two
You might make a stove for day three. If enough materials make an improved stove or upgrade the workshop to an improved workshop. Make moonshine with Bruno, if possible: two moonshine. If  the trader arrives on this day: trade for parts if possible. Materials next. Fuel is a also a good option. Usually you get raided the second night, so prepare.

Day three
Make an improved stove if you did not do so the day before.. Make food for at least two of your companions. Make moonshine. If the trader arrives: trade for parts or materials or fuel. Depending on parts either make a rainwater collector. If enough parts: make trap for small animals.

Day four
If you have enough parts try to make either another rainwater collector or make another trap(requires 10). Priority is on the traps.

Day five and onward

Collect materials, wood, parts and electrical parts for making a vegetable garden. This requires 120 materials, 60 wood, 10 parts, 13 electrical parts(advanced workshop > herbal garden > thermal lamp > vegetable garden.) Don’t forget the radio. You also need fertilizer and 10 water.

Is the game random?
Yes and no. The groups that you can select are randomly offered, but they seem to be taken from a pool of set combinations. They range from two to four. Both two and four are rare. For instance: A two group is Anton and Cveta. I never got another two group. There is a group which consists of Katia, Bruno and Pavle. There is group that consists of Marin, Boris and Emilia. A group made up out of Pavle, Marko and Bruno. A winter group made out of Marin, Katia and Arica. Another group is Cveta, Anton, Pavle and Zlata. You never get an all women group for instance, nor is there a group that combines Marin and Bruno. Or Marko and Boris.
From keeping track of resources I noticed that crucial resources that you can scavenge are a given. Materials, wood, parts and electrical parts all seem fixed. There are items that have a slight variance, like sometimes you find moonshine instead of valuables. Food might vary in amount but often less raw food might mean more vegetables and vice versa.
The maps seem fixed up to a point and tied in with the groups. Some locations will not appear in the game together such as sniper junction and central square.
The game seems to offer new companions every two weeks. It seems that the max is seven according to the wiki,  although I have my doubts as it seems to me that the game stops offering newcomers when you have four in your house.. But then I might be wrong.

Doing other things
I tried various other things like making a herbal garden for making medicines or selling off alcohol.. Considering the amount of resources you need the investment hardly pays off. Just making a pair of bandages requires that you to make a moonshine still, a distillery and an improved herbal workshop. Then you have to go through a long production cycle of: making moonshine, making alcohol and then using that with materials to create a handful of bandages. Considering the scarceness of materials this hardly is worth the effort as you can for instance get healed at the hospital for free.
In addition some items require certain ingredients that you can’t make or buy. Medecins for instance require medicinal ingredients. You can find a few at the supermarket and perhaps buy some at the central square perhaps, if that is available.

 

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Some locations. What to expect and what to bring.
Supermarket.
Bring a crowbar. If there are looters you have to make a run for the resources. Another option is to leave the location at once as that stops them from looting and they will not appear the next time you visit. Another option might be that the soldier is there, that is about to rape the girl. If you feel heroic you might go for him with the crowbar. Attack him from the rear when he is still talking to the girl. The supermarket has a mixture of items, food, ingredients and such. The assault rifle you get from the soldier after killing him is a pretty worthless trading item for some reason.

Construction Site
Bring a crowbar. If there are sounds of shots being fired at regular intervals there are armed people at the top. Avoid them for they shoot you on sight. Only scavenge the lower part of the building. Next time you return the place will be deserted. Sometimes you start out without any shot being fired, in that case there might be soldiers up on top and you might get caught in a struggle between looters and soldiers. You find mostly materials and wood. But if you can get to the top you can get canned food and better loot.

Sniper Junction
Bring a crowbar and a sawblade. A sniper shoots at you when you expose yourself. Move from cover to cover. Wait for his shot, then move. The first time he hits you, you get slightly wounded, the second time you get wounded. I assume you get a deep wound next and then next you are killed. Lot of materials, wood and other stuff.

Shelled School
The danger free version offers only squatters who leave you be if you leave them be. Lot of materials and wood. Parts and some electrical parts. Water and medicines. There is an area behind a grate that requires a sawblade. This could give you randomly broken rifles, guns and helmets. If you are lucky. Note that you have to clear dirt once to get over the top. There is also a dangerous one that has armed men. I ran when they started to threaten me so I can’t tell much about this version.
Decrepit Squat
Bring a crowbar, a saw blade and raw food. The raw food is for the squatter who gives you valuables in return. The crowbar is for the cupboard in the back and the saw-blade for the grate at the top. Lots of materials, woods, sugar, water and some (electrical) parts and some weapon parts.

Ruined Flats
Deserted. Bring two sawblades for two apartments. Materials, food, wood, weapon parts.

Garage
Bring bandages for trading. You might bring a saw-blade for opening the grate on top, but this might trigger a bug(?) that makes him hostile later on. At least that is my explanation. Since I avoid doing that I have never had any problem with the garage guy becoming hostile.

Shelled Cottage or Abandoned cottage
Bring crowbar for both and expect to dig dirt either once or twice. Deserted places, so there is no danger. Materials, wood, sugar, food, water, some (electrical) parts and some weapon parts.

Hospital
Bring a bandage to donate or trade. Some food and materials can be found here, including a vegetable. Pick up everything you scavenge because it seems to get lost the next time you return except for the part at find at the start of the map.

Church
Crowbar, a saw blade and maybe a shovel. When there are no armed men in the back you can trade with the priest. You will know when there are armed thugs because  when you need to get into the church using scaffolding there is no priest, but armed gunman in the last part of the map.. You can scavenge for materials, wood and such when the priest is here. When the thugs are here you can scavenge the church for things and find some broken rifle, or gun or helmet or vest. Stay away from the house at the back.

Hotel
Two versions. One has armed men willing to trade. Don’t steal their stuff and you are fine. You can loot the rest of the building. Other version has a harmless lunatic in which chase you might bring a crowbar as you either have to dig through two heaps of dirt or open a door with the crowbar and then dig through one heap. You need to open a few cupboards with the crowbar. Lots of materials and wood. Even some weapons parts and I found a shotgun with ammo here.

Brothel
Bring a saw-blade. You can loot the entry areas which gives you some vital parts and electrical parts. You can also trade here. The sawblade can open a grate at the top of the brothel so you can loot some more. However this is a dangerous place as the trader warns you not to get beyond a certain point, expect to be attacked when they find you did.

Military Outpost
Not much to loot before you run into the soldiers. You can trade here. The soldiers are a dangerous lot and will start shooting after perhaps one warning.
There are more locations, mostly listed as lived in, either by armed people who are unwilling to trade or harmless people equally unwilling to trade.There is a warehouse that is listed as very dangerous. It requires a crowbar to enter. Since there was no real need to explore it, I never returned there with a crowbar, but I got the feeling they shoot you on sight.

 

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That was about it. Maybe I add some more information and pictures later.
There are two wikis being worked upon and some guides that help you with things. I would suggest to go there if you want to know more.

Changelog:
Changed 1-12-2014(Update of post after change in the game. Also cleaned some of the text and added a index).