In this blog post I will describe strategies for the game Rebuild 2 for the iPad – a cute little pastime that I have spend some hours on lately while traveling between airports. Like software systems, I like to optimize games and every now and again do an off topic post on my blog about it.
The following will contain spoilers, don’t read on if you don’t want them.
Rebuild 2 puts you in charge of community of zombie apocalypse survivors. The game is a turn based strategy: a pretty unique mix of Sim City, Civilisation and even some of the old Fallout games.
The game can be won in several ways (described later). However, no matter which victory you are pursuing, there are some general strategies I have found to work well.
Survivor Recruiting Strategy
Whenever you CAN recruit and have space in the city, recruit! Do it even if you don’t have the food to support the new members of your city. Food can be gathered through scavenging in the beginning of the game and you can use your new recruits for that. Later, when you invent fertilizers, food will become plentiful.
Always scout a bit ahead of your recruiters. Any new recruits can be used as scouts for the first turns after you get them if you are short on squares to act on.
Until you have a lab (or two, if pursuing the cure for zombieism), you want to focus exclusively on the tech line starting with preservation and leading to fertilizers. Those techs will produce food, which is not only needed in the beginning of the game but which will free up people for combat in the late game.
Your second choice will typically be radio, since this gives you new citizens when it is discovered. However, on impossible level, it is a good idea to grab the tower technologies early instead.
Good Squares and Expansion Strategy
In the beginning of the game you want to focus on squares in this priority:
- Farms (especially the big ones)
- Suburbs and Apartments (until you can’t see any more survivors to recruit)
- Hospital (you need only one)
- You will generally start around the middle of the map. Until you have scouted to the edges, expand in a circular manner like this:
Expand in the direction of farms and suburbs when you have the choice.
…Until you have this layout with between 3 and 5 squares in the empty rows at the top:
You can now continue conquering either from the left or right side, or take one horizontal line at a time. Starting from one side and cutting the rest of the map in half again is more efficient on impossible level.
Whenever you move into a square to kill zombies, try to have at least one person without 10 in soldier skill participate in the battle. Battles are free training and can be made zero risk if you have enough people participating. You don’t want to put only veterans into battle – in fact, you should prefer not to. If your citizens are idle and have less than 10 in soldier, just make them kill zombies near your borders (even on squares you don’t plan to reclaim anytime soon) and keep adding people until risk is below 5%. This is better than training citizens in the school. Unless there is a horde coming – it is also better than putting them on guard duty.
It is possible to reclaim a square in one turn. To do this, you need a total of 11 builder skill. As you will often bring in a few citizens with 10 skill in the beginning of the game, use those and someone equipped with a wrench or toolbox to quickly reclaim at the start of the game where you need new squares the most. It’s generally a good idea to cycle building boosting gear among the reclaiming citizens in such a way that you train a new person to have at least one point in builder whenever you reclaim a square as describe above.
Gear and Scavenging
Before you take a square, it is generally a good idea to scavenge it, especially in the first 20 days of the game – the only exception being when you need to increase the capacity of citizens. Scavenging yields food and gear that allow you to quickly upgrade your troops – especially new recruits. In general, scavenge squares that are one square removed from your fence. On squares adjacent to your fence, focus on killing zombies instead.
Leave a few squares left “un-scavenged” until you have found the helicopter pad. During the helicopter repair mission, you will need to scavenge for parts.
When you scavenge, bring at least one person who DON’T have 10 point in scavenging along as this will quickly boost that persons skill.
Occasionally, you will be visited by the trader caravan. If you get the option to trade one of your citizens to the Love Caravan in return for rocket launchers, do so – this will prepare you to beat impossible level.
Training in the school
The school should only be used to train three skills:
Soldier: Train citizens who are not busy in this skill whenever you can get away with it and there are no zombies to kill.
Science: You will need only 3-5 scientists with around 5-6 in skill each. Don’t train any more than that. Relying on gear, if you have it, to quickly create those persons is a better idea. Once your scientists have researched everything, retrain them as soldiers.
Leadership: Probably the most important skill to train, because few opportunities present themselves for doing so while playing. Only preaching, bartending and survivor recruiting trains this skill in the field. Before you have anyone preach or bartend, make sure they have 7 in leadership (this is optimal and gives 1 happy per day). Also, you generally want to have around 4 level 10 leaders to recruit survivors available to you. It is a good idea to give these people soldier skill too, since it will reduce the risk of accidents during recruiting.
The two other skill (building and scavenge) are best learned in the field and you should not have your citizens slacking off in school to learn it.
The game can be won in several ways. Here are the ones I have found:
Total Dominion: Conquer the entire map.
Create a constitution: When you conquer enough squares in the game, the city hall will be revealed to you (if you have not found it already). Add people with leadership skill to the city hall mission and win.
Repair the Helicopter: Activated when you conquer the helipad (typically full of zombies). The repair of the helicopter is influenced by several factors. First of all, you need spare part. Those can be acquired from the caravan, through scavenging and by NOT accepting to build the flamethrower. Second, the electricity technology will advance the mission. Third, you will need people with the build skill to finish the mission.
Defeat the Last Judgment Gang: This ending will automatically start and can be advanced by conquering the subway. To win the game like this, you will need a pile of citizens with high solider skill.
Runaway to the Cabin: Stash enough loot away in your uncle’s cabin and retreat there. To win like this, you first have to accept looking for the cabin. After this, hide away all loot when given the opportunity. Also, you will need to have conquered a bank and use that to stash away stolen food. When you get caught by another citizen, you will have to get that citizen killed the first time. Just send them into a zombie infested square alone. The second time you are caught, you should have enough food to bribe the person.
Cure Zombieism: Initiated after you acquire your first lab. In order to win like this, you have to let the doctor move into your lab. You will need to conquer or build another lab to continue researching tech after this. The mission is advanced by giving the doctor an assistant, and researching the zombie antidote. Once the doctor has an accident in the lab, investigate and continue his research.
Cult of the chosen One: Warning: Winning the game with this option will destroy your city (and the world) and kill off all your citizens. Because of this, it is generally a good idea to first conquer the full map. This mission is initiated by allowing the zombie book to be published and the Cult of the One to preach in one of your churches. Once the cult is active in the city, you have to be careful as you will have to time the “celebration” event carefully. Once the celebration starts, you will lose your people at an alarming rate. The celebration cannot be stopped once initiated. In order to avoid the celebrations starting, you have to do two things 1) Don’t give the preacher any food (they will continue to ask) 2) Don’t own more than 4 churches (you may have to convert some of to apartments). Once you give food or have four churches, the game will start the final part of the cult ending. You will have one final chance to stop the cult by letting the protesters plot against the priest. But if you kill the protesters who are trying to stop the church – there is no going back and you will simply have to wait until all your citizens turn into zombies.
It is possible to win in all ways in a single game – as long as the Cult of the Chosen is executed last.
Strategy for Impossible Level
Impossible level is not as hard as it sounds. But there are a few strategies that will help you win it easier.
First of all, start the game with five top trained people imported from a previous game. They should have 10 in all skills (use the school if needed). Preferable, you should also have these people equipped with rocket launchers and toolboxes. With this configuration, you can un-equip the gear you import and quickly ramp up newly recruited citizens as good soldiers or reclaim squares in one round (using a newly recruited citizen with a toolbox and one of your imported, level 10 builders). This gives you an important head start. Your five imported characters will be doing all the recruiting, building, reclaiming, science and scavenging during most of the game. All new recruits should either scout or kill zombies. Only bring new recruits with your imported characters to reduce mission risk to 0%.
On impossible level you start with very little food. Because of this, you will typically need to reclaim farms fast. Use your rocket launcher equipped recruits and your imported characters to do this. However, don’t skip the recruiting of new citizens, scavenge if you have to buy time. Don’t assign citizens to farm fields – scavenge and expand instead while you wait for a farm to be reclaimed.
In the first 20 days or so, you will have a very hard time reducing risk of zombie damage below 15%. To counter this, conquer a hospital early as this will cure injuries quicker.
On impossible level, there are fewer survivors in unclaimed squares and you need to account for this. As you acquire new citizens, scout out the map aggressively to find police stations and malls close to your fence. Until you have researched bunkers, you will need these other defensive bonuses to avoid keeping your citizens at home watching the base. Extensive defense slow expansion speed too much. Aim to only keep your people on guard duty when the zombie horde is right next to your fence.
In general, keep attacking squares next to your fence to boost the soldier skills of your recruits and keep the zombie population down. A strong offence is better than a defense. You will need to rely on soldiers until you can research the machine gun towers or bunkers. New recruits should see battle fast and get to level 10 in soldier as soon as possible. Rotate the rocket launchers around when a citizen using it gets to skill level 6. If you do not have enough soldiers to attack a square with low risk (<5%) – use the school to train the citizens in soldier.
Another concern on impossible level is low happiness in the start of the game. You can counteract this by allowing the Cult of the Chosen One to use one of your churches as this gives a nice happiness benefit. Just don’t let them start the celebration (see above). Late game, you can use the Love Caravan and assign your imported level 10 leaders as bartenders to quickly boost happiness output.
Your first priority, once your citizens are no longer starving, is to acquire the machine gun tower. Build a few next to your fence and use the “instant kill zombies” to methodically clear out squares for reclaiming. This should allow you to reclaim nearly one square per tower, per day. Once you reach the end of the range for the tower gun, build a new tower in the reclaimed territory and repeat. Every tower you build will also boost your defense rating. This frees up your citizens to help reclaim squares (boosting builder skill), generate happiness, scout and recruit and train their soldier skill by attacking squares that the towers cant reach.
If you simply keep surviving and gradually advancing like this with machine gun towers, you will eventually be able to fully conquer the map and/or create a constitution. If you find two labs early in the game, you may even be able to get the cure zombieism ending by letting the doctor use one of the labs. I would only recommended letting the doctor use your lab if you KNOW you can conquer another lab fast or spare a square to build one. Unless you feel you are very far ahead, I would also caution against doing the escape to the cabin ending as it takes away resources you need early. It can also be hard to find enough citizens to kill the judgment gang or repair the helicopter – at least until you own the entire map or have machine gun towers.