JayZ's NML strategy compendium

JayZJayZ Member Posts: 3,426
Hey everyone!

I've been sharing tips and videos on various chat mediums (Line, Slack, Discord, GroupMe) for a while now. I wanted to compile some of the tips I've shared to hopefully help the broader community out (and also because I'm getting tired of retyping the same things, lol).

Most of this advice is tailored towards middle level players trying to figure out what to prioritize or higher level players looking to take their game to the next level. I started the game a REALLY long time ago, so I don't have particularly good advice on how to build your camp because it has been a long time since I've had to do that.

Some of this is already generated, but a lot of it is not. I plan on adding to these posts when I have time. So far, here are the posts I plan on sharing:
1. Links to Challenge and Distance videos
2. General tips for succeeding in the Challenge and Distance
3. How to use survivors and what their ideal traits are
4. Suggested hero guide
5. Badging strategy
6. My favorite team combinations
7. Advanced guide to traits and trait interactions
8. Badge crafting, demystified
9. Helpful pictures and diagrams

Hope this is helpful! Any ideas for future posts are more than welcome. Also, if you have comments or recommendations on my posts, I'd love to hear them so that I can incorporate other advice and perspectives.


  • JayZJayZ Member Posts: 3,426
    edited February 6
    Links to Challenge and Distance videos

    My videos for (almost) every Challenge and every Distance set can be found at the link below.


    When I have time, I will organize the playlists in this forum post as well so you can find things more easily.

    Challenge playlists

    Distance playlists

    Set 1
    - Uploaded December 2019 (NO LOSSES)
    - Uploaded June 2019
    - Uploaded December 2018
    - Uploaded April-June 2018

    Set 2
    - Uploaded January 2020 (NO LOSSES)
    - Uploaded June 2019
    - Uploaded December 2018
    - Uploaded May 2018

    Set 3
    - Uploaded January 2020 (NO LOSSES)
    - Uploaded July 2019
    - Uploaded January 2019
    - Uploaded June 2018

    Set 4
    - Uploaded December 2019 (NO LOSSES)
    - Uploaded June 2019
    - Uploaded January 2019
    - Uploaded August 2018

    Set 5
    - Uploaded December 2019 (NO LOSSES)
    - Uploaded August 2019
    - Uploaded January 2019

    Set 6
    - Uploaded February 2020 (NO LOSSES)
    - Uploaded August 2019
    - Uploaded January 2019
    - Uploaded September 2018
  • JayZJayZ Member Posts: 3,426
    edited March 11
    Badging strategy

    Last updated: March 11, 2020

    In general, my strategy with badges is to (1) enhance the strongest aspects of survivors, and (2) allow my survivors to survive at high levels which means maxing out damage reduction at 80% between your gear, badges, and survivor traits.

    I have three categories of badges:
    1. Defensive badging to create a tank: 3 damage reduction, 3 health
    2. Offensive badging to create a killer: 3 damage, 3 critical damage
    3. Balanced badging for the toughest missions: 3 damage, 2-3 damage reduction, 0-1 health (if you can get 75-80% damage reduction with only 2 DR badges, then slap on a health badge to add some bulk)

    Here is how I badge (and use) my survivors. Keep in mind that I'm an end gamer that regularly plays to RSL42 and finish the Distance every time, which is what motivates my badging strategy.

    Scouts: I use both balanced and offensive badging.
    - Scouts with Strong/Ruthless/Power Strike are great to badge offensively in order to build up massive charged attacks.
    - Scouts with Iron Skin/Retaliate are great to badge in a balanced manner. These Scouts are perfect in combination with Michonne in medium difficulty levels (level 35-39).
    - Survivalist Rick is a stud, and can be badged either way. However, if you are an end-gamer (level 40+ in challenges), he has to be badged offensively to deal maximum damage (200k+ with the right gear and badges).
    - Huntsman Daryl can also go either way. Similar to Rick, he was originally balanced for me but is now full offense. This depends a lot on how far you go in challenges. Up to 40, balanced Daryl will help save you a star or two. After 40, you need more firepower, so you should go full offense.
    - Carol is a great Scout to go full offense because she has extraordinarily high base damage, but she needs her traits to be rerolled to be more useful.
    - Gabriel is the only exception here. His leader trait and base traits make him a great option for defensive badging.
    - Top heroes that I like to badge (in order): Survivalist Rick, Huntsman Daryl, Gabriel, Carol (with rerolled traits)

    Bruiser: Defensive badging all the way.
    - Bruiser damage is so low that it's more important to take hits and stun.
    - In some cases, not killing Z's is better on some maps where you have to open a gate and escape. If you can stun a circle of walkers around your survivors, then newly spawning walkers can't reach you.
    - Top heroes that I like to badge (in order): Eugene, Riot Gear Glenn, Morgan

    Warriors: I use both balanced and offensive badging.
    - End-gamers should reroll traits of heroes like Michonne to be more similar to Scout Rick and go with full-offense badging. Note, you REALLY need the Dragon's Tongue to be successful here because of the increased range and Destructive/Tactical trait.
    - Balanced badging can be very helpful in GW at levels 38-41. There are a lot of choke points and regular spawns, so Warriors (who can attack more targets than Scouts) can be very useful in these situations.
    - Top heroes that I like to badge (in order): Michonne, Jesus

    Assaults: Either balanced or defensive badging is best for Assaults.
    - With the recent boosts to melee survivors, Assaults are best used for their ability to stun.
    - Assaults have a high base health compared to other ranged survivors, so use them to stun and to take hits on high levels when you are playing with all ranged teams.
    - Assault damage is too low to make it worth using Critical Damage badges. Their charged move is also NOT a guaranteed critical attack, so it's even less worth it.
    - For farming and grinding out low levels, balanced badging is nice. At high levels of the challenge, go full defensive.
    - Top heroes that I like to badge (in order): Abe, Rufus, Rosita

    Shooters/Hunters: Offensive badging, with a few exceptions.
    - Shooters and Hunters have a guaranteed critical attack on their charged attacks, so enhance that damage with badges and Ruthless armors.
    - Shooters and Hunters don't have enough health to withstand too many attacks. It's not worth trying to maximize their damage reduction.
    - Sasha is a possible exception. Because Sasha's leader trait is so useful in so many different situations, some people like to give her a balanced badge set. Like Rick/Daryl, I previously used a balanced badge set on Sasha but am finding that the increased damage is more valuable at the 40+ levels where she gets into one-hit struggles regardless of how much DR she has.
    - I also like to give one Shooter and Hunter a balanced badge set for Guild Wars and maps with ranged Freemen. Personally, I prefer Merle and Dwight for this. Both of them already have a great set of traits for PvP (Iron Skin, Retaliate, Bullet Dodge), so I badge them for the purpose of using them against human enemies.
    - Tara is the lone exception. She is a good candidate to go with full defensive badges to be used with Bruisers.
    - Top Hunter heroes that I like to badge (in order): Sasha, Alpha, Dwight
    - Top Shooter heroes that I like to badge (in order): Aaron, Maggie, Tara, Merle
  • JayZJayZ Member Posts: 3,426
    edited March 11
    My favorite team combinations

    Last updated: March 11, 2020.

    This post will highlight some of the teams that I use most frequently. The first hero in each team represents the recommended leader of a team. I know that not everyone has the ability to reroll all of their heroes to have perfect traits, so unless there is a specific hero I have in mind, there are times where I may refer to a general survivor class (like "Scout" or "Bruiser"). These can be heroes or non-heroes, but in many situations, heroes are generally better because they have higher base damage/health and also useful leader traits.

    Scout Daryl -- Scout Rick -- Bruiser
    - Best situations to use this team: Almost every situation. Daryl's Prowl will allow you to get a lot of extra attacks in. Both Daryl and Rick are great at killing regular and special walkers. If you run into trouble, a Bruiser can help stun walkers and take some hits.
    - Additional notes: Gear setup depends on the situation, but I recommend: Daryl's Hunting Knife for Daryl, Tactical Spear for Rick, and Morgan's Staff for your Bruiser (preferably Morgan/Eugene/Glenn).
    - Example: The Box 41.1, Suburbia 40.1

    Scout Daryl -- Scout Rick -- Scout
    - Best situations to use this team: Similar to the above, but better in situations where there is more space to maneuver where you can run and avoid walkers.
    - Additional notes: Gear setup depends on whether there are spawns or not, but I recommend a combination of Daryl's Hunting Knife, Tactical Spear, and Swift Strike Spear.
    - Example: Something Useful 44.2, Shine A Light 40.2

    Eugene/Glenn/Morgan -- Bruiser -- Bruiser
    - Best situations to use this team: Maps where you have to open gates, open crates, or run to the exit.
    - Additional notes: Glenn is a great leader in situations where you start off surrounded by a lot of walkers. Eugene's leader trait allows for extra survivability. Morgan is a good leader at lower levels, but when one-shot critical hits from walkers bring you into struggle, then Morgan's trait isn't really worth it. Tactical Staff can be a game-changer here.
    - Example: Quarry Gate 46.2, Woodbury 46.1

    Scout Rick -- Bruiser -- Bruiser
    - Best situations to use this team: Maps where you are overwhelmed by large numbers of walkers, but you have some time to get yourself into position and clear out some walkers.
    - Additional notes: Rick as a leader can help pass charges between him and your Bruiser heroes (preferably Morgan/Eugene/Glenn). Swift Strike Spear can be useful for more quickly killing and charging up your survivors.
    - Example: S.W.A.T. 40.2, Parking Lot 40.1

    Bruiser Glenn -- Scout Rick -- Bruiser
    - Best situations to use this team: Similar to the above, except Glenn's leader trait can help provide a valuable boost on maps where you might be surrounded and overwhelmed at the beginning.
    - Additional notes: Nothing else to note.
    - Example: Room Service 43.2, Dumpsite 38.1

    Sasha -- Assault -- Assault
    - Best situations to use this team: Maps with no threat counter where you have a large number of regular walkers and potentially some special walkers. Use your Assaults to stun walkers and pass charges off.
    - Additional notes: Sasha is usually best off with a rifle that has wide bore, lucky, and incendiary. Critical Aim can help provide additional stun opportunities. Abe and Rufus (with rerolled traits) are ideal Assaults to pair with Sasha. Lucky, Revenge, and Retaliate on your Assaults will maximize their chances of charging. Damage Reduction and Dodge will help your Assaults survive longer.
    - Example: Through The Wire 48.1, The Archives 48.2
  • JayZJayZ Member Posts: 3,426
    edited April 22
    How to use melee survivors: ideal traits, badges, recommended gear


    Last updated: March 23, 2020

    I am primarily viewing this from the perspective of high-level Distance and Challenge play (NOT Outpost or Guild Wars), so more PvZ than PvP combat.


    Purpose: Used to stun walkers and absorb damage. Bruisers should be built to maximize their ability to take or dodge hits. These are must-have survivors for anyone who wants to push their limits. Bruisers should prioritize:
    (1) A weapon with Razor and wide arc
    (2) Maximum Damage Reduction at 80%
    (3) An armor with Hazard Suit
    (4) As much Dodge and Health as possible

    Survivor traits
    - Must-have traits: Punish, Retaliate, Iron Skin, Dodge, Lucky
    - Nice-to-have traits: Defensive Stance
    - Useless traits: Power Strike, Strong, Vigilant, Ruthless, Follow Through, Bullet Dodge

    What weapons traits are helpful?
    - Razor (must-have): Absolutely imperative for stunning high level walkers
    - Lucky (high priority): Can be very helpful by boosting leader traits, dodge, stun resistance, etc.
    - Tactical (high priority): Very useful because it adds DR and allows for extra movement - can be very helpful in maps where you have to get to an exit or open crates
    - Concussion (high priority): Can stun walkers for an extra turn
    - Interrupt (useful in some situations): Can be useful against walkers that cannot be stunned (fatties, goo, spike) but absolutely NEEDS to be paired with Razor. Interrupt ONLY works when it is not a body shot, so against high level walkers, you will need Razor to give you a chance to not be a body shot

    Ideal weapons
    - Tactical Staff (Silver Tactical, Gold Concussion and Razor)
    - Lucky Staff (Silver Lucky, Gold Concussion and Razor)
    - Festive Lucille (Silver Tactical, Gold Concussion and Razor)

    What armor traits are helpful?
    - Hazard Suit (must-have): This trait can't be found anywhere else, so it is a must-have - the chance to reduce attacks to a body shot is super important to be able to take extra hits
    - Dodge (high priority): At lower levels, this trait allows you to completely dodge hits. At higher levels, this trait can reduce a critical hit to a regular hit. When paired with Hazard Suit, Hazard Suit can turn a critical hit into a body shot, and then Dodge can allow you to completely dodge an attack
    - Health (medium priority): Good to have, but not as valuable as the two traits above
    - Stun Resistance (useful in some situations): Self-explanatory - keep this around for fatties and goo walkers
    - Iron Skin (useful in some situations): This is a must-have if it helps you get to 80% DR, but if you already have 80% DR, you don't need it

    Ideal armors
    - Health armor (Silver Health, Gold Hazard Suit and Dodge)
    - Stun resistance armor (Silver Stun Resistance, Gold Hazard Suit and Dodge)


    Warriors (balanced): weaken large groups of zombies, perform crowd control, and take some hits. Generally preferable to use Scouts and Bruisers, but can be useful with the right class bonus.
    - Must-have traits: Iron Skin, Lucky, Strong, Dodge
    - Nice-to-have traits: Retaliate, Ruthless, Power Strike, Follow Through
    - Useless traits: Vigilant, Defensive Stance, Bullet Dodge

    Warriors (crit damage): kill large groups of zombies with wider arc than Scouts. Generally inferior to Scouts in almost all situations, but can be useful with the right class bonus.
    - Must-have traits: Strong, Power Strike, Ruthless
    - Nice-to-have traits: Lucky, Follow Through, Vigilant
    - Useless traits: Dodge, Retaliate, Iron Skin, Defensive Stance, Bullet Dodge


    Scouts (threat reduction): be able to take a few hits and primarily focus on killing normal walkers to reduce threats. I treat Huntsman Daryl as this type of Scout.
    - Must-have traits: Iron Skin, Lucky, Strong, Dodge
    - Nice-to-have traits: Retaliate, Ruthless, Power Strike, Follow Through
    - Useless traits: Vigilant, Defensive Stance, Bullet Dodge

    Scouts (crit damage): fuck up all anything that moves with massive amounts of crit damage (glass cannons). Pair with Bruisers which can better absorb damage.
    - Must-have traits: Strong, Power Strike, Ruthless
    - Nice-to-have traits: Lucky, Follow Through, Vigilant
    - Useless traits: Dodge, Retaliate, Iron Skin, Defensive Stance, Bullet Dodge
  • JayZJayZ Member Posts: 3,426
    edited May 20
    Helpful pictures and diagrams

    Last updated: March 11, 2020

    Guild War VPs by level

    Guild War VPs by sector

    Stars earned with round passes

    Season missions chart

    Hero traits at each level

    Regular traits at each level

    Difference between the base damage and health of heroes relative to normal survivors at the same level

    Walker health

    Walker damage

    Damage reduction from Iron Skin + Defensive Stance

  • vshield50vshield50 Member Posts: 2,157
    You have an excellent YouTube channel to help out with strategy and such :) Awesome what you are doing here.

    Just a suggestion but what about a section to describe how to maximize Leader Traits for heros? Basically which leader trait is best in situations and how to pair them with other survivors (yes the possibilities are endless but could be helpful)?

    Just a suggestion. Love what you are doing here ;)
  • JayZJayZ Member Posts: 3,426
    Thanks for the suggestion @vshield50! I will add that to my growing to-do list. You're one of the best in the game, so please jump in if you have tips of your own :)
  • JayZJayZ Member Posts: 3,426
    That's awesome @vshield50! I'm signing off soon for the night to watch some basketball games, but will incorporate those tips.
  • ATLAS-ZATLAS-Z Member Posts: 3,577
    @zbot @Fluxxx sticky that post please? :smiley:

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  • AchillesVAchillesV Member Posts: 199
    ATLAS-Z said:

    @zbot @Fluxxx sticky that post please? :smiley:

    Tsk tsk very sneaky.
  • imnfictionimnfiction Member Posts: 206

    Awesome, thanks for your effort.
    Can you also explain why the critical aim is must have for hunters?
    My F2P challenge videos are here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAl_96Zig2NXqvGM_2Mf5Aw
    imnfiction#8607 on Discord.
  • Danski_46Danski_46 Member Posts: 945
    Thanks for this @JayZ, I put a link to it in my guild line chat 🙂
  • SmokeandMirrorsSmokeandMirrors Member Posts: 358
    @JayZ EXCELLENT post and thank you to everyone who is contributing. This will be my go to for players asking advice. Just excellent. Thank you!
  • JayZJayZ Member Posts: 3,426
    Thank you all for your support! Really glad this is helpful. I want to do a lot more, so please bear with me while I finish fleshing out the content. I'll reply and let you know when major sections are done, but I don't want to spam the frontpage for minor revisions.

    @imnfiction Critical Aim works better with Hunters than Shooters because they can hit multiple targets. Critical Aim gives Hunters stopping power, i.e., the ability to stun a walker so that they stop coming towards you. With a leader like Sasha who can quickly charge up herself and other Hunters, Critical Aim can give you just enough of a break to finish a mission, get out of harms way, recharge your survivors, etc. Check out the last 20 seconds of this video:

  • JayZJayZ Member Posts: 3,426
    Made a lot of updates to my general tips post. Tried to include some videos to demonstrate. Hope it helps!
  • rogueDSrogueDS Member Posts: 523
    @JayZ amazing I must say. Dang hats off. Maybe I'll stop doing just MM only. Info is awesome.
  • ReeconnReeconn Member Posts: 454
    Great work @JayZ i have bookmarked this for future references
  • NovellNovell Member Posts: 60
    Awesome work. Thank you for that. <3

    Why is the spear the weapon of your choice? The muscet makes more damage as far as i know.
  • JohnbertJohnbert Member Posts: 192
    Novell said:

    Awesome work. Thank you for that. <3

    Why is the spear the weapon of your choice? The muscet makes more damage as far as i know.</p>

    Musket does indeed more damage but you can only attack one walker at time (except charged attack) while with the spear you can kill up to 3 (6 if swift kicks in) walkers in one turn. Both weapons are great and I wouldn't say one is better than the other, they are just different.
  • dalmerdalmer Member Posts: 70
    > @JayZ said:
    >Check out the last 20 seconds of this video:

    You were extremely lucky! The chance was only 0.64% for such outcome.
  • BttlOpenerBttlOpener Member Posts: 937
    @JayZ good stuff. Are you doing an updated version of @OneLessTitan 's wordpress (https://twdnomansland.wordpress.com/)? It would be fantastic to have this updated information on a web page outside the forums. Good luck on your efforts.
  • JayZJayZ Member Posts: 3,426
    @Novell few reasons. First, as @Johnbert stated, musket can only attack one. Second, I like Tactical on Spear. Third, musket charged attack causes threat. And fourth, musket charged attack is a lot weaker than Spear!

    @BttlOpener unfortunately, I have no plans of going that big. It’s much easier to share tips than to keep an entire fact-based Wikipedia up-to-date. Sorry...
  • vshield50vshield50 Member Posts: 2,157
    @JayZ bumping your thread with an added caveat. My guild appreciates your post and we are sharing your info with them. And I was not even the one who posted it in our chat.

    I dig what you are doing and support it 100%
  • JayZJayZ Member Posts: 3,426
    Awesome @vshield50 - this is meant to be shared to all! Glad your guild likes it :)
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