Category Archives: Guide

Active Goldmaking in BfA: Gathering

The last two gold-making posts have been about “passive” income in Battle for Azeroth. What follows is what I have specifically been doing since the expansion launch.

Herbalism

End of post.

Not really, but close. While you can sometimes make tens or hundreds of thousands of gold by flipping AH items or getting a BoE epic drop, spotting an Anchor Weed node and looting the equivalent of 1200g on the spot is one of the few means for the everyday player to experience something similar. So, ideally, whatever herbs you are picking, you will want to maximize those Anchor Weed nodes. Usually.

My personal go-to farming route is the Tiragarde Sound/Norwington Estate river area:

WoW_RiverbudRun

Courtesy of WoW-Professions.

There’s a short flightpath that drops you off in Hatherford, and just follow the river in a counter-clockwise manner. If you don’t see any Riverbud within about 100 yards, that means someone is already farming the route ahead of you, and you should either wait in place for respawns, or go somewhere else.

I farmed for about 7.5 minutes and received:

  • Siren’s Pollen x24 (1314g)
  • Riverbud x62 (1319g)
  • Star Moss x12 (155g)
  • Sea Stalk x31 (413g)
  • Total = ~3200g per 7.5 min, or 25,608g/hour

Prices current as of this past Saturday on Sargeras-US. Your own prices may vary. Also, I had 3-stars for every herb but Anchor Weed at the time, so your own yields may vary too.

Another option is the extremely well-known Drustvar Winter’s Kiss loop:

WoW_AnchorRun

Courtesy of WoW-Professions.

I have never had any particular amount of success on this route, precisely because everyone is doing it. While the sheer number of densely-packed Winter’s Kiss makes this area great for “forcing” Anchor Weed spawns (since Anchor Weed has a chance to spawn after a node is tapped), the problem is that Winter’s Kiss itself is practically useless as an herb. On Sargeras-US (as of this past weekend), Riverbud is 22.83g whereas Winter’s Kiss is 15.58g. That might not seem like much, but it’s a difference of 1450g per stack of herbs farmed. Or put another way, you can expect to receive ~35g more per node of Riverbud than Winter’s Kiss.

The unsung hero herb of this expansion is obvious in retrospect, but bears repeating now: Siren’s Pollen. Current pricing on Sargeras put this at 67g per herb, which is almost as much per node as a single Anchor Weed. It was “obvious” that this herb would hold the most value because A) it’s used for Agility/Intellect potions, health pots, and Strength Flasks, B) it cannot spawn Anchor Weed nodes, and C) it’s annoying to gather (growing on trees). Star Moss is also annoying to gather and doesn’t spawn Anchor Weed nodes, but is only really used for Strength potions (and Stamina potions/flasks).

There is not one particularly good route for Siren’s Pollen in any case. The Riverbud route will give you a few nodes, or you can follow the east side of Drustvar like so:

WoW_SirenRun

Courtesy of WoW-Professions.

After farming for 7.5 minutes, I received:

  • Siren’s Pollen x34 (1862g)
  • Winter’s Kiss x19 (225g)
  • Star Moss x7 (91g)
  • Riverbud x11 (234g)
  • Anchor Weed x7 (3315g)
  • Total = ~5727g per 7.5 min, or 45,816g/hour

The yield seems amazing compared to the Riverbud route, but any route will be amazing after hitting two Anchor Weed nodes. If we assume those two nodes would have been Riverbud instead, the actual yield would have been 21,000g/hour. Given the price of Siren’s Pollen, it’s possible that this particular route was already being farmed – there certainly weren’t many nodes until I hit the south – but that’s a risk you take.

Kinnings Lodge route is another option:

WoW_Siren2Run

Courtesy of WoW-Professions.

  • Siren’s Pollen x45 (2464g)
  • Riverbud x3 (64g)
  • Winter’s Kiss x14 (166g)
  • Star Moss x35 (453g)
  • Sea Stalk x49 (653g)
  • Total = 3800g per 9.5 min, or 24,000g/hour

Note that the above took longer than 7.5 minutes to complete the loop. I was also less familiar with it, but you can get the general idea.

Leatherworking

Specifically, farming Blood-Stained Bones. Leather prices are up and down, but Blood-Stained Bones are pretty consistently 35-48g apiece. Many of the hyper-farms have been nerfed already – apparently there were a few 3k HP mobs that could be skinned for full rewards somewhere – but the Quillrat farm in Drustvar continues to spawn endless amounts of walking leather:

WoW_Leather

Small pic courtesy of WoW-Professions.

I turned my Boomkin into a Skinner specifically for this farm. Gather up ~10 mobs, lead them ~10 yards away (important!), DoT them all, then use Treants to survive and nuke the rest down. Any Calcified Bones you get are a total waste, and Alliance can’t really get 3-Stars with bone gathering before level 120 (requires a Horde dungeon), but you can still get a couple dozen Blood-Stained Bones relatively quickly.

Herbalism is higher gold/hour generally, but killing mobs does give you a slight chance to hit a BoE epic or some other drop that can sometimes make up for it. Plus, occasionally Coarse Leather prices creep back up.

Mining

Don’t bother.

Seriously though, it’s a waste. On Sargeras-US, ore is around 28-32g apiece no matter what kind. In fact, you often lose money anytime a Platinum Ore node appears, because Blizzard is a small indie company who can’t spare the resources to make reasonable Professions. Prices are better on smaller servers, but so too are herb prices. Plus, you know, you can herb with Sky Golem and hit nodes within 0.5 seconds.

As mentioned before, sometimes you can hit it big if the Warfront Contribution requires something like Monelite Ore, which saw prices increase to 80g per ore. That is definitely more than most other herbs. The problem is that those prices last for maybe a week, and then collapse back down. It’s a better use of time, IMO, to farm slightly lower-priced herbs with a chance at Anchor Weed, and then just buy the ore you need when you need it.

Fishing

Fishing has rapidly fallen on hard times compared to the beginning of the expansion. Midnight Salmon is still worth 206g apiece, but that is down significantly from where it was at. On Sargeras, there are two fish worth around 40g apiece: Slimy Mackerel and Redtail Loach.

Slimy Mackerel can only be caught off the coast of the Horde island. There are pools for it, but you are likely better off just free-casting into the ocean, where you have a 50/50 shot of Slimy Mackerel and Sand Shifter. Slimy Mackerel will likely maintain its price for a while, as it can be cooked into +Haste food.

Redtail Loach is the inland fish also caught on the Horde island. I’m not particularly convinced it will maintain its price, given the fact that it’s only actually used for creating the raid feast.

Beyond that, the remaining fish sell for 20g or less, and thus not worth it, IMO. In fact, Fishing in general is a pretty poor choice of gold-making activity unless you enjoy it specifically. It might seem exciting getting 40g per fish, or even nabbing a Midnight Salmon, but keep in mind you can get 5-7 herbs per node that sell for just as much.

Active Goldmaking in BfA: Warfront Contributions

The last two gold-making posts have been about “passive” income in Battle for Azeroth. What follows is what I have specifically been doing in an active way since the expansion launch.

Warfront Contributions

Holy shit, guys. If you were not online during the first four hours of the Alliance Warfront Contributions on a high-pop server… then I’m sorry. You can still make some coin, but probably not “selling a 2g item for 250g” level of coin.

Overall, I collected 120,000g in AH sales on Sunday, without expressly stockpiling anything.

WoW_BfAContributions

Hand over fist.

Warfront Contributions are a week-long event in which max-level characters of a specific faction can turn in items for +500 Azerite Power and +75 reputation. There are two default turn-ins of 100g and 100 War Resources. The other nine turn-ins are “random” items from various professions.

This week for Alliance NA, we have:

  • Coastal Mana Potion – 20x
  • Meaty Haunch – 60x
  • Monelite Ore – 60x
  • Coarse Leather – 60x
  • Battle Flag: Phalanx Defense – 1x
  • Straddling Viridium – 15x
  • Incendiary Ammunition – 2x
  • Enchant Ring – Seal of Versatility – 3x
  • War-Scroll of Intellect – 3x
  • Donations: Gold – 100
  • Donations: War Resources – 100x

If you’ll recall, Horde had a similar Contributions list two weeks ago:

  • Steelskin Potion – 2
  • Monel-Hardened Stirrups – 2
  • Enchant Ring – Seal of Versatility – 3
  • Crow’s Nest Scope – 6
  • Great Sea Catfish – 60
  • Straddling Viridium – 15
  • Coarse Leather Barding – 2
  • War-Scroll of Fortitude – 3
  • Tidespray Linen – 60

So, the first thing to note is that the same item can appear week-to-week. This will severely complicate the notion of buying up stockpiles of items for the next turn-in. On the other hand, when certain items fall to levels that may as well be vendor priced, well… sometimes that 1000:1 odds may work in your favor. For example, people were selling the Crafting glove enchants for like 1g apiece. I bought 300 of them. Maybe they will become the turn-in in October, and I can make a killing. Maybe it won’t.

This leads to only note that matters:

Raw Materials Are King

I have consistently been purchasing any ore priced under 20g. The idea was to collect some spare mats to level up Blacksmithing and/or Engineering on an alt in the future, but it allowed me to capitalize on the fact that Monelite Ore went from 20g to 80g apiece. For those keeping track at home, this meant I made a profit of 12,000g per stack. I did not sell them in stacks though, of course, I sold them in auctions of 60 to match the Warfront quests.

Incidentally, I did not have a stockpile of Straddling Viridium ready to go when the Warfront Contributions went live; my bet was on Insightful Rubellite. But I do have a JC character, so let’s look at the prices of Storm Silver Ore and Platinum Ore…

WoW_BfAStormSilver

Let’s do this thing.

It was barely above 25g, and that’s because I bought out everything below that amount. So, I prospected all that Storm Silver Ore, then cut all the Viridium and sold them in groups of 15, with each individual gem selling for 250g+. The precise numbers might have been needed to be crunched to see how I fared fishing for Viridium – it costs at least 125g every time I pressed that Prospect button – if not for the fact that every other outcome was pure bonus. Well, most of them. Owlseye is 580g and Kracken’s Eye is nearly 2000g. But then, someone decided to pay an absurd amount for even raw Rubellite and Kyanite for some reason, so my averages kept going up.

Do they know something I don’t? Who cares! I have always been a huge advocate for mild success over complete dominance, assuming the former takes a fraction of the effort as the latter. Besides, in a worst-case scenario, I simply prospect some more ore and compete with them on their secret strategy or whatever.

Some other easy wins on the Contribution list were Coarse Leather and Meaty Haunch. If you have a Skinner, they can drop from the same mobs, and hey, Blood-Stained Bone still sells for 35-50g apiece too. That’s practically a triple-threat all by itself. More farming tips will be in Friday’s post.

Strategy Going Forward

As with real life, the key to making bank via Contributions is owning the means of production. In this case, raw materials. Instead of stockpiling Coarse Leather Barding in anticipation of those items making a return, just bank a bunch of Coarse Leather instead. Profession alts are easy to make this time around, and one Leatherworker will let you take those materials and turn them into whatever you need crafted. Or in this week’s case, just sell the material straight-up.

While I recommend primarily raw materials, do keep an eye out to those selling below mat-cost just to recoup leveling costs. I’m note sure if any of those glove enchants will come up as an item turn-in, for example, but they sure as hell cost WAY less than the 5 Gloom Dust that it takes to craft them.

Passive Goldmaking in BfA, part 2

If you want to actively make gold in Battle for Azeroth, go farm some herbs.

If instead you want to kinda kick back and get a couple hundred gold a day for doing not much at all (assuming you played in these expansions), then stick around.

Garrison (Warlords of Draenor)

Oh how the mighty have fallen. Mostly.

Back in the day, your Garrison was printing gold every day with missions worth thousands of hard currency. All of that has been stripped out, to the point where even opening those salvage bags rewards gear that vendors for 5 copper. But here’s the thing: there’s still gold in them there hills. You just have to dig a little deeper.

Mission Table: Medallion of the Legion

If you have a level 3 garrison with full followers, there’s still the possibility of lucking into one of those missions that rewards a Medallion of the Legion. This is a reputation consumable still in high demand because it allows you to get that much closer to unlocking WoD flying. On Sargeras-US, the current price is 8222g but I sold one a month ago for 15,000g. It’s not consistent money, but it’s something worth checking out on occasion.

Garrison Resources

You will naturally accumulate up to 500 Garrison Resources (GR) every ~ 3 days per character. Additionally, if you have high-level followers and Garrison overall, there is the possibility of landing missions that reward up to 1650 GR by themselves.

Why does this matter? If you build even a level 1 Trading Post, you can turn GR into a few trade goods that still sell for a pretty penny. Those include:

  • True Iron Ore (15.26g)
  • Sumptuous Fur (8.82g)
  • Raw Beast Hide (11.94g)
  • Sometimes fish meat

With the best trader (changes daily), you can get 1 good for every 16 GR traded. If that good is worth 8g on average, then each individual GR is worth 50s. This means that the 500 GR you receive every few days is worth 250g, and those big GR missions can net the equivalent of 825g. This is not as lucrative or consistent as a MoP farm, but considering you likely have Garrisons on all your toons already, it’s decent coin for doing nothing other than logging into characters twice a week.

Hexweave Bags

Guess what? Hexweave Bags are still a thing. Somehow.

If you have a Tailoring alt, have them endure a loading screen or two and pump out a Hexweave Bag every 2-3 days. According to this Reddit thread, at peak efficiency the material cost is 116 Sumptuous Fur (1023g), 16 Gorgrond Flytrap (12g), and 10 Sorcerous Earth (98.5g). That’s 1134g in mats for something that still sells for ~1900g or more.

Incidentally, stop buying Hexweave Bags. Sell them, don’t buy them. Deep Sea Bags are also 30-slot bags, and at Rank 1 the material cost is 30 Deep Sea Satin (910g) and 15 Tidespray Linen (296g) and 9g in thread. Deep Sea Bag prices are crashing down currently, and sell for 1250g  less than 1k gold (!!!) on Sargeras-US. That’s barely above Rank 1 material costs, but the bags are great for leveling up Tailoring, and the Rank 3 material cost is ~210g cheaper.

These prices are high because Tidespray Linen is almost 20g per cloth on Sargeras-US. That’s likely because a lot of the hyper-farms in BfA have been nerfed in the past few days, but I expect prices to lower over time naturally. This will drive down the costs for making Deep Sea Bags. Which appear to have zero bearing on the price of Hexweave Bags, but it’s something to keep in mind.

Primal Spirit Vendor

Have a bunch of Primal Spirits laying around? Convert them to gold, vendor-style!

Primal Spirits are BoP crafting materials that you used to earn in WoD content, much like Blood of Sargeras in Legion. Whether you have an unknown stockpile of them on one of your alts, or if you end up running Garrison Missions that have them as rewards, 25 Primal Spirits can be traded for a Savage Blood, which can be traded back to a Trading Post vendor for a bag which always contains ~50g and some change. So, in other words, each Primal Spirit is worth about 2g minimum.

You can technically trade Primal Spirits for other things, including BoP crafting materials like Hexweave Cloth and the like. However, the conversion rate is fairly abysmal for anything but the Savage Blood route. Technically, converting 500 Primal Spirits into one Hexweave Bag is an improvement – whatever Hexweave Bags are selling for vs 1000g – it it is not usually worth the hassle. And besides, who has 500 Primal Spirits hanging around? It’s much more likely to convert any of those “30+ Primal Spirit” Garrison Mission rewards.

Goblin Glider

No engineer? No problem! You can still craft Goblin Gliders with just the engineering hut active in your Garrison. The material costs are:

  • 8 True Iron Ore (122g)
  • 5 Sumptuous Fur (44g)

Since you receive 5 Goblin Gliders per craft, that comes out to be 33g per Glider. And you can currently sell them on the AH for… 30g. Oops.

Still, Goblin Gliders are worth checking out as a revenue stream once the prices of True Iron Ore and/or Sumptuous Fur come down. If we look at the median prices of these mats instead of their current prices, each Glider costs around 28g to make. That’s… still not even close to being worth it.

In any case, that’s that. Definitely not as good as the MoP farm, IMO, but it’s likely that you have a stable of alts with high-level Garrisons already, including a free hearthstone. As always, you could earn a lot more per hour by farming herbs or whatever in BfA zones. These “passive” income streams don’t require any thought however, and can easily fit into your warm-up or cool-down routines while playing.

Passive Goldmaking in BfA, part 1

If you want to actively make gold in Battle for Azeroth, go farm some herbs.

If instead you want to kinda kick back and get a couple hundred gold a day for doing not much at all (assuming you played in these expansions), then stick around. I might just blow your mind.

Sunsong Ranch (Mists of Pandaria)

Did you unlock all 16 slots in your MoP farm back in the day? Congrats on your free money.

Easiest/Quickest Sale: Spirit of Harmony (avg 480g/day)

Right now on Sargeras-US, one Spirit of Harmony is selling for around 300g apiece. If you plant Songbell Seeds in all the plots, you will generate 1.6 Spirits of Harmony per day, per character. A bag of Songbell Seeds has 10 “charges” and costs 30g, so your outlay is 75s per node (30g / 40) or about 7.5g per Spirit of Harmony.

Overall, you should be earning the equivalent of 480g without much thought or particular effort.

Medium-level Effort: trade in Spirit of Harmony (avg 707g-793g/day)

Keep in mind that Spirit of Harmony can also be exchanged for various other things, which can potentially be sold for more. The vendors will be in your faction hub in Vale of the Eternal Blossoms, and they sell things like this:

WoW_SpiritVendor

Most of these are not worth it, for the record.

For example, it’s possible that 20 Ghost Iron Ore (or 10 Ghost Iron Bars) will be worth more than a Spirit of Harmony by itself. On Sargeras-US, the price of Ghost Iron Ore is 22.1g apiece, so turning the Spirit of Harmony you just farmed (or bought on the AH) into 20 Ghost Iron Ore will net you 442g with six Motes of Harmony left over. Or looked at another way, each Mote of Harmony is worth 2 Ghost Iron Ore, so you should average 707g (32 * 22.1g) a day, assuming these prices.

To kick it up another notch, check the prices of Ghost Iron Bars. Right now, they are at 49.57g apiece on Sargeras-US, so having a Miner who can smelt bars will turn that haul into an average of 793g (32 / 2 *49.57g) a day.

Maximum Profits: Snakeroot Seed (avg 1016g-1428g/day)

Can we go deeper down the rabbit hole? Yes, we can. Specifically, Snakeroot Seed-deep.

Instead of planting Songbell Seeds, you plant Snakeroot Seeds. Now each node you harvest will result in 1 Trillium Ore (black or white) and 0-2 Ghost Iron Ore. The results are highly random: sometimes you will get 8 Trillium of each color, sometimes you will get 16 of one color. The total amount of Ghost Iron will also be random, but I typically net between 7-17 Ghost Iron Ore.

So, again, Sargeras-US figures:

  • Black Trillium Ore: 91.5g
  • White Trillium Ore: 53.96g
  • Trillium Bar: 359.8g
  • Ghost Iron Ore: 22.1g
  • Ghost Iron Bar: 49.57g

Assuming a worst-case scenario, with the least-profitable outcomes: 1,016g (16 * 53.96g + 7 * 22.1g). If you achieve balance in all things, you can see 1428g (8 * 53.96g + 8 * 91.5g + 12 * 22.1g)

You may note that Trillium Bar is currently selling for well below material price (it takes 2 Trillium Ore of each color to smelt one bar). That’s because Alchemists can transmute 10 Ghost Iron Bars into 1 Trillium Bar all day long, with zero cooldown. That method is also below material cost, but it’s augmented by the fact that Transmute specialists can get Trillium Bar procs.

I’m listing Snakeroot Seeds last despite them being the most profitable because it’s inherently more risky. Spirits of Harmony is something that can be turned into all sorts of other things, as needed. The demand for them is constant, and high. Golden Lotus is selling for 188g apiece, for example, so you can technically turn that 300g Spirit of Harmony into 376g of Golden Lotus pretty quick. Meanwhile, it’s hard to tell who is buying Trillium Ore at these prices.

Bonus Round: Sky Golem (avg 2613g/day)

If you’re curious as to why people still need any of these materials, it’s probably because of Sky Golems. One of the required mats is an Engineering daily (x30) “transmute” which requires 10 Ghost Iron Bars. The other required material is Living Steel x30, which is a daily Alchemy transmute of 6 Trillium Bars (or 3 Trillium Bars and 3 Spirit of Harmony, with no cooldown).

If you bought everything off the AH, that would mean:

  • 300 Ghost Iron Bars (14,871g)
  • 30 Living Steel (55,730.1g)
    • or 180 Trillium Bar (64,764g)

Considering the current price of Sky Golems are hovering around 149k, that is a tasty profit margin. Unfortunately, there is no way to speed up the Engineering transmute cooldown, so the Sky Golem can only be crafted after 30 full days. However, if you want to be a do-it-yourselfer, then a Snakeroot Farm will actually give you all the materials you would need to craft the Sky Golem from scratch. Eventually. I wouldn’t recommend it though, unless you don’t have the starting capital laying around.

…which you can certainly start accumulating by working your farm. Or actively farming BfA mats.

The Quick & Dirty Guide to: State of Decay 2

I’m going to assume you have played through the State of Decay 2 tutorial and have a general idea of basic game mechanics. This Quick & Dirty guide is meant to take that baseline knowledge and advance you to the mid-game without needing to waste energy on trial and error.

General Tips

SoDecay2_Transfer

One of the best tips in the game.

  • Blood Plague is only contracted when the Infection meter fills up all the way. If you cycle your characters regularly, Blood Plague shouldn’t really ever be a concern.
    • Keep an eye on any AI-controlled partners though, as it’s tougher to notice when they take a lot of Infection damage.
  • You can Dodge (“C” on PC) in any direction, and can pass through zombie models.
    • Dodge backwards through zombie behind you, immediately grapple and execute.
    • Dodging forward too early can result in still taking damage.
  • If you park a vehicle in a base parking spot, you can transfer duffel bags in the trunk by pressing “T.”
    • Save duffel bag turn-ins for characters that need the Standing gains.
  • Scoped weapons can zoom in with “Z.”
  • In single-player Offline mode, Exiting to Main Menu will despawn Freaks in the vicinity.
  • Shooting a Bloater in the head will reduce the toxic gas emitted, but the body still acts as a landmine.
  • Juggernauts can almost be meleed to death within the duration of one Smoke Grenade.

Base Selection/Planning

There are several different types of bases available, and the exact configurations of them are different between the different maps. Don’t stress too much about picking the perfect base the first time, as you receive a 100% refund of all resources when moving bases. The Facilities themselves will need to be rebuilt, but they are built faster for the first day, post-move.

That said, there are some things to keep in mind:

  • A Workshop, Infirmary, and Garden/Hydroponics are pretty much required in every base.
  • Each survivor eats 1 Food/day, and generally you’ll need 2 Medicine/day to heal.
  • Bases often come with “built-in” Facilities that cannot otherwise be replaced. Make sure you can take advantage of them, else they are wasted slots.
  • Dismantling a Facility results in a 100% refund of resources.
  • There is no reason to keep certain Large-slot Facilities around once you craft their specific items.
    • For example, get rid of Auto Shop after you craft Vehicle Upgrade kits.
    • No reason to keep Forge around once you crafted several melee weapons.
  • The Staging Area Facility can get extremely lucrative as you upgrade other Facilities – the one in my base “generates” +5 Materials per day by itself.
SoDecay2_Staging

Pictured: Staging Area pulling its weight.

It is possible to optimize the configuration of your base and Outposts to essentially achieve perfect homeostasis eventually. Don’t spend too much of your time worried about that, however, as it will require looting specific mods and recruiting survivors with good skills. What you should focus on is getting to a point where you can last several days without critically running out of specific resources – having a -2/day deficit of a resource is nothing if you already have 20 of that resource.

Outposts

Don’t worry too much about picking the “perfect one.” There are no special outposts – the list of possible benefits are standardized:

  • +1 Food/Fuel/Building Materials/Medicine/Ammo
  • +2 Beds
  • Base-wide Water (costs 1 Fuel/Day)
  • Base-wide Electricity (costs 1 Fuel/Day)
  • Morale Bonus
  • Morale Bonus + Espresso
  • Artillery Strike

In other words, there are no Outposts that give +2 Ammo, or +4 Beds, ect.

Ideally, you will want to have Outposts evenly distributed around the map, rather than bunched up in one part of town. That way, there will be an Outpost nearby at all times, so you can offload non-Duffel Bag loot and/or swap out a tired/injured character.

SoDecay2_Map

I should really move one of those Outposts into the circled areas.

If you can afford to, having one empty Outpost slot can take your looting game to the next level. As your inventory fills up, claim whatever building you are in as an Outpost and then offload your gear. Then, through the Base screen go ahead and abandon the Outpost. You get 100% of your Influence back when you abandon an Outpost, so you lose nothing by doing this, other than the opportunity cost of not getting +1 whatever.

Survivor Management

The key thing to understand is that not all survivors are worth keeping around. You should absolutely recruit every single person you can, but only because it’s easier to check their Skills/Traits that way. There is no penalty, Morale or otherwise, for Exiling a member, so be sure to do so when necessary (and after stripping them of all gear). You can have a maximum of 10 survivors at your base – nine would be better, if only because you lose the ability to recruit anyone once you have 10.

SoDecay2_Couch

Pictured: someone who won’t long survive the zombie apocalypse.

There are generally three things you want to look for in a survivor.

First, do they have any negative Traits? If they have something like “Lacks Boundaries” (-5 Morale to everyone), then think rather long and hard as to whether they have any other redeeming value.

Second, do they have any Skills without 7 (blank) stars? If so, it means that that particular Skill cannot be upgraded to a specialized version. For example, I had (emphasis on had) a survivor with the Used Car Salesman Trait, which meant that their Mechanics skill was permanently limited to three stars. That still counts enough to build an level 3 Workshop, but not enough to specialize in Automechanics and unlock the Auto Shop. Since the specialized skills can actually grant really good bonuses, there really isn’t a reason to keep any of these limited survivors around.

SoDecay2_Skills

Drop these useless survivors like they’re hot.

The only exceptions, on a case-by-case basis, would be those with 1-star skills. Sometimes those provide unique bonuses that can make it worth it.

The final consideration for survivors is their 5th skill slot. If that area is blank, then great! A blank slot will allow you to teach the survivor any particular skill you have a book for, giving you the opportunity to plug any skill gaps in your base. If not blank, make sure it’s actually a skill you need.

As a bonus note, new survivors start out with the Recruit rank. After earning enough Influence, they become Citizens, which then tells you what bonuses they provide should they achieve the Hero rank. Some of these bonuses are so-so, like +3 Morale. Others are straight-up bonkers, like Tough Negotiator granting +30% Influence gain. Which, by the way, affects how much Influence you get by selling things – Bulk Plague Cure goes from 500 Influence to 650. So, if a particular survivor is borderline, it’s worth sending them out long enough to hit Citizen level, and check their Hero bonus.

Recruiting survivors

If you’re looking for more people, there are basically two ways to get them. First is helping survivors out in the world, e.g. answering all those inane radio messages every 5 minutes.

The second method is recruiting directly from Enclaves. Talk with each member of an Enclave, and look at their stats by choosing “Learn more about Survivor.” Their specific Traits will be hidden, but their Skill list will not. If you find one you like, keep in mind that recruiting them will effectively disband the Enclave. There will always be more Enclaves popping up, but you’ll need to help them out again and the bonuses they provide aren’t always the same.

Skills

As your survivors level up, they will have the opportunity to specialize their Skills. At a minimum, you always get two choices. One key note about Skills is the fact that they have a “hidden” bonus effect once you max them out. Sometimes that is enough to make or break your decision.

There aren’t many Wikis out there at the moment, but here’s the best I could find.

Some specific notes:

Cardio–>Powerhouse is incredibly strong. While it grants the ability to Drop Kick right away, once you hit 7 stars you unlock the ability to Grapple from the front. This move not only interrupts zombie attack animations, it essentially allows you to chain kill entire mobs of zombies, given how you get a few invincibility frames performing the move.

Fighting –> Endurance grants you the Slam move right away, which will vastly increase your survivability. Basically, the Slam move interrupts zombie attack animations, and leaves them on the ground behind you for an easy execution.

Shooting –> Gunslinger is unique in that “Aim Snap” basically allows you to instantly and perfectly track the head of zombies (at the cost of Stamina). Note: it is currently broken as of patch 2.0.

Wits –> Stealth is better than it sounds, and certainly better than Scouting. Stealth allows you to sprint while crouched, and silently open stuck doors.

Gaining Influence

For the most part, gaining Influence is a slow, incremental process. You get some for completing quests, but most of your gains will be from killing zombies:

  • Kill X zombies = +5
  • Kill Screamer = +5
  • Kill Bloater = +10
  • Kill Feral = +20
  • Kill Juggernaut = +50

I’m not 100% sure of those values, as I have a +30% bonus to Influence gain from a survivor, so I’m working backwards.

Beyond that, you can get Influence from selling things. The absolute best gain comes from crafting and selling Bulk Plague Cure, which defaults to +500 Influence (or +650 with bonuses) from spending 20 Plague Samples and 8 Meds. This means each Plague Sample laying around is worth about 25 Influence by itself, considering Meds can be produced by a Garden. So, yeah, pick them up.

Somewhat surprisingly, traders actually care about those random notes you can occasionally loot. If you bothered holding onto them, they will sell for 10-15 Influence apiece. Backpacks are also nice items to sell, especially as you cycle through survivors and slowly upgrade them to 8-slot ones.

Taking Out Plague Hearts

e.g. beating the game.

While scary at first, Plague Hearts are almost comically easy to destroy. You will essentially handle them the same way you (eventually) handle all zombie groups.

  1. Get a visual on the target, preferably from outside the building.
  2. Toss a roll of Firecrackers near the target.
  3. Toss 3-6 Fuel Canisters/Molatovs at target.
  4. ???
  5. Profit.

This isn’t the only way to take them out. You can get fancy by crafting some C4, sneaking in to plant it, then blowing it up. Regular grenades technically work, but not as well as fire. If you happen across a 50-caliber rifle, several shots (recently nerfed to 6) from that will kill it too. Entire clips of gunfire will work in a pinch as well, but there’s no such thing as a Plague Heart “pinch” – just leave and come back with molatovs, because the Plague Heart isn’t going anywhere.

SoDecay2_DroneOption

Missed the Plague Heart though, because it was in the back.

One of my favorites though? Drone Strike. Get a survivor with Computers –> Programming. Spend 25 Parts and wait ~20 minutes for drones to come online. Spend 75 Influence to get the targeting smoke. Toss the smoke near the outside wall closest to the Plague Heart, then run away. Instant death, +150 Influence. The blast ignores walls and is fairly large, although not quiet large enough to hit a Plague Heart at the back of a house if the smoke is on the front porch. The smoke doesn’t register indoors, by the way, so don’t toss it too close to the eaves either.

Drone strikes are a great way to clear hostile Enclaves too, without needing to put yourself at risk.

Quick & Dirty Guide: No Man’s Sky

Right from the start, let me say that No Man’s Sky is often intentionally vague in order to engender a sense of wonder and discovery. In that respect, the following Quick & Dirty guide might constitute spoilers because I will be explaining some of the game systems as they exist in version 1.38. If you feel like that might take away from your enjoyment of the game, by all means, stop reading.

NMS_Backdrop.jpg

For everyone else, let’s roll.

Basic Gameplay

1. Land on planet
2. Collect resources
3. ???
4. Profit.

Seriously though, in the beginning, do not worry too much about anything in particular. A large part of this game comes down to Inventory Management, and you are never given enough space to collect all the things. If something seems like a super-rare thing, trust me, it’s not. You will find a planet with tons of it later on.

What you will want to keep an eye on though, at all stages of the game, are the following:

  • Plutonium: It costs 50 to lift your Starship off the ground.
  • Zinc: Basic way to recharge your environmental protections, once crafted.
  • Thamium9: Primarily for recharging Life Support, but used in Farms later on.

You will always want to keep a stack of those elements handy at all times, at every stage of the game. Once you get a decent Unit (e.g. cash) stream, all of them can be acquired quickly and in bulk by visiting a Trading Post on a planet in any economically successful system. We’re talking buying 1500+ at a time for like 40k Units. Much faster than farming, especially with Thamium9.

Quick Movement

Walking, and even Sprinting, seems really slow and never gets much better.

The better way to get around is to Melee+Jetpack. Basically, start walking in a particular direction and press the Melee button (Q on PC) and your Jetpack (Space on PC) at the same time. If done correctly, you will surge forward a few steps, and meanwhile that faster momentum will carry over onto your Jetpack. For best results, start Sprinting (Shift on PC) before the Melee hit and you’ll be able to traverse wide swaths of the world, as long as your Jetpack lasts.

How Do I Upgrade X?

Personal Inventory: Drop Pods can be found on every planet, and are specifically searchable by building a Signal Booster. Enter the Pod and purchase the additional slot. Each Drop Pod is only usable once.

Keep in mind that there are three different player inventories. The General Inventory can contain both items and tech upgrades. The Technology Inventory can contain only tech upgrades. The Mass Inventory can only contain items, but at Starship-level stack sizes, e.g. 500 elements, or 5 items per slot. While the General Inventory is cheaper to expand at first, if you place too many tech upgrades in there, you are simply limiting your ability to store goods later on. Luckily, you can scrap tech upgrades and rebuild them when you unlock additional Technology Inventory slots.

Starships: You do not upgrade Starships – you buy new ones or fix ones you find.

To buy a Starship, you need to go up to one that has landed somewhere, like at a Space Station or Trading Post, talk to the owner, and then choose Buy Starship. At that point, you can see how many inventory slots it has, what techs might already be installed, and so on. If it looks good, and you have the cash to cover the difference in price between your current ride and the new one, it’s yours. The sale is not final until you take off though, so you have some leeway in attempting to move over inventory that might not have fit, or that you forgot to move in the first place.

Note: you do not get a cash refund for buying a lower-priced ship, so don’t bother.

NMS_Crashed

Quite the upgrade.

The alternative method is to find a crashed Starship on a planet and then claim it. This method can allow you to significantly leap-frog any sort of Starship progression, insofar as you can find and claim a 48-slot Starship way before you would ever have enough Units to purchase one outright. The catch is that crashed Starships have broken inventory slots that can only be repaired via increasingly higher numbers of Units; the first slot might cost 33k to fix, but ten slots later the cost will exceed 1.5 million. The result ends up about the same, e.g. it costs X amount to fix everything, but this nevertheless allows you to “upgrade” your ship as money allows rather than needing a bulk purchase.

Finding crashed ships in the first place can be tricky though, as the “traditional” method involves discovering Communication Towers, solving a logic puzzle, and hoping it leads to a crashed ship. Alternatively… just fly around a planet and spam the 1 key, which is basically “target nearest ship.” While you will sometimes tag NPC ships flying around, especially near Trading Posts, this method otherwise allows you to comb a rather huge portion of the planet’s surface while flying around. If something pops up on your radar, fly down and take a peek.

Multi-Tool: Similar to Starships, you only ever find new ones.

NMS_Multi

Just from talking to a guy.

While you can get new Multi-Tools from Monolith or creature interactions, the more common method is simply finding them out in the world in display cases. Curiously, these display cases still require you to “purchase” the new Multi-Tool, even when it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

How Do I Unlock Y?

AtlasPass v1: Follow the story and it will unlock for you.

AtlasPass v2/v3: Same as above, but you’ll need some achievements.

Farms: It’s the last in a series of quest-chains related to base-building.

Exocraft: It’s one of the first in a series of quest-chains related to base-building.

NMS_Exocraft

Blueprints: there are basically three methods. First, randomly as interaction rewards, from talking to people or Monoliths or crashed ships. Second, as rewards for certain Missions. Lastly, bought from Tech traders by using Nanoclusters – each Star Base has a slightly different list that focuses on Starships, Multi-Tools, or Exosuits.

Technically, there is a fourth method, which is via questing. Unlocking specific farming crops requires completing quests from the Farming Specialist in your base, for example. There are also some specific blueprints tied to the Atlas questline and achievements therein, just like with the AtlasPass v1.

What’s the Best Way to Get Units?

Sell things. That’s… basically it.

In the very early game, pretty much your first cash-crop, so to speak, is going to be mining and selling Emeril. You can sell pretty much anything, but Emeril goes for 200-300 Units apiece, is easy to find on many planets (mineral around sinkholes), and isn’t used for pretty much anything else. You can do the same thing with Gold later on, but Gold is used in a few recipes and is usually found on more hostile planets.

Also in the early game, go ahead and sell any weird items you might pick up. Neutrino Controllers, Gek Charms, whatever. While they have functions later in the game – from recipes to increasing Faction reputation – you will find plenty in your travels, and it’s not worth the precious inventory space when you’re slumming around with less than 20 slots.

Later on, you have more options and a few more considerations. Keep in mind though, that whenever you sell something on the market, you will get a worse price the next time you leave the screen. So when selling, do so in bulk.

Missions: these are the Radiant-style random quests you can pick up from the Mission NPC on every Star Base. Each time you successfully complete a Mission, you get faction reputation and the stated reward. If the reward is a Blueprint you already own, you’ll get ~88k Units instead. The other items you receive are a bit esoteric and usually vendor trash, but sometimes can be worth a surprising amount of Units.

NMS_Selling

Almost doubled my Units right there.

No matter what method you end up doing, I recommend filling your Log with Missions at each Star Base you encounter. Many of them can overlap, such that you can fulfill several at once from the same activity (e.g. killing Sentinels, etc), and you can turn in successful Missions at any Mission NPC. Plus, as you move up the reputation ranks, the standard Mission starts awarding 250k Units by itself and the items can be worth several million.

Farming: This is pretty much the ultimate source of Units in the game. The idea is build a base, plant some crops, harvest said crops, and then turn the material into more expensive things that you then sell. Example:

  • 100 Frost Crystal + 200 Solarium = Heat Capacitor.
  • 100 Cactus Flesh + 200 Star Bulb = Poly Fiber
  • Heat Capacitor + Poly Fiber = Circuit Board
  • Sell Circuit Board for 1 million+ Units apiece.

If you’re looking for a more in-depth guide, see this Reddit thread. Circuit Boards aren’t the priciest item you can create, or the easiest for that matter, but that’s the basic idea.

Trading: If you have a lot of starting capital, a LOT of free inventory space, an Economy Scanner, and plenty of Warp Cells, you can make some money buying vendor trash from one system at a discount and selling to another at a profit.

Next time you’re at a Trade terminal, look at what items are for sale. At the top of the list are likely some random items with a little green Unit symbol and the text that they are -X% cheaper than the market average. These items have tool tips which then tell you which systems need them more, e.g. will sell for over the market average price. So, buy as many as your Starship will hold, fly over to the target system, and sell them all. Then at this new system, buy the next set of goods, and sell at the next system. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Scanning: this is more of a side-hustle than anything else, but Units are Units. Basically, each time you touch down on a new planet, go ahead and scan as many plants and animals as possible.

With zero upgrades, you only get about 200ish Units for each discovery. With two Scanning upgrades though, suddenly each new plant will give you 20k and animals will sometimes break 100k apiece. I have as yet to find the third upgrade for either Scanner, but I’m looking forward to the boost in income from doing something I was going to do anyway.

Miscellaneous Tips

Gathering Kelp: While you can grow or purchase pretty much anything you might need for crafting purposes, the exception are Kelp Pods. For these, you need gather them manually, and they only exist on planets with water.

The best way I have found to gather them is using a Nomad, aka hoverbike:

NMS_Kelp

As pictured, drive over the water on the Nomad and use it’s mining laser to collect the Kelp. This method is significantly faster than trying to use the Roamer to drive along the bottom, and much better than the default method of actually swimming around.

Advanced Ark Guide

A lot of the fun of survival games is learning from your early pain and suffering, figuring out how everything works, then coming back and steamrolling those same challenges. If you are just looking for some early-game direction, I recommend reading the Spoiler-Free Beginner’s Guide. It gives you a leg up, but not the whole body.

The rest of this guide? The whole damn body. Read at your own risk of adventure.

 

General Base Considerations

First things first: build two beds. You can stick two practically on top of each other, while still fitting in a 1×1 Thatch hut. Beds have a ~5 minute respawn cooldown, but it’s per bed, so having two will effectively remove the cooldown. This is a good idea whether you’re at an outpost or your main base.

Second… go ahead and double or triple up on everything, wherever you are. A stack of 200 Metal Ore takes over 30 minutes to smelt in one Refining Forge. Split that stack across two Forges, and now it only takes 15 minutes. Chances are good if you managed to collect a whole stack of Metal Ore, the extra 125 Stone and 65 Hide for Forge materials are not going to be a limiting factor here.

Ark_Campfires

Resources are cheap, time is not.

Similarly, if you’ve unlocked the Preserving Bin and have a dino capable of harvesting a bunch of meat, go ahead and throw down 3-4 Campfires at a time and light them all up. Stacks of Cooked Meat are always going to be useful, either as general walking-around food or Cooking Pot materials, and the collected Charcoal will useful for Gunpowder.

Third, take a moment to reflect on your base layout and location. How far are you from water? Are there strategic resources nearby? Is this area defensible? There is nothing particularly stopping you from recreating a primary base elsewhere… other than the logistics of either moving all your old stuff and/or tamed dinos. Better to get it right the first time though.

As far as layout goes, there are some obvious-in-retrospect ways of arranging things. For example, you are going to want most of your crafting stations and containers within reaching distance of each other without moving – this will allow you to move hundreds of pounds of resources between containers, e.g. double your max carrying capacity. Likewise, you will want there to be room for you to do the same thing when removing items from tamed dinos to your containers.

This was my base setup originally:

Ark_BadLayout

Not like this.

While everything was within reach, I actually had to hop over my Smithy to get out of the circle, and I was constantly running out of room for stuff. After watching some Youtube videos of other setups though, I realized that yeah, you can arrange your Large Storage Containers like this instead:

Ark_BetterLayout

Doubles as a good OCD test.

Four times the storage and more room to move around. I removed the Refining Forge entirely, because my main base is nowhere near natural Metal deposits, and it’s much more efficient smelting on-site, and either bringing back the Metal Ingots or finished products.

Base Locations

Speaking of that, where should you be building a base? The answer is: wherever you want.

But, really, here are some other considerations:

Ark_Map

Consideration 1: Metal Nodes

The above map displays Metal Nodes around The Island map, along with the Obelisks. No matter what you plan on doing in Ark, you will need Metal eventually, for weapons, ammo, structures, tools, or even just saddles. It’s not impossible to build your main base over near, say, the Red Obelisk, but you will be performing some serious long-distance trucking to get those ingots.

Another consideration? Check where beacons come down. That’s right, there are specific, set locations where beacons spawn on the regular. Most of them will be filled with garbage, especially if you build up in the southern areas of the Island. But, hey, free is free. If it’s all the same to you, I’d suggest going over to that next ridge where they spawn before setting down roots.

Finally, consider where some more esoteric resources might be available. Giant Beaver Dams, for example, are great sources of Cementing Paste and Wood. While the specific spawn locations are not fixed, there are some rough guides. Giant Bee Hives can spawn pretty much anywhere, and can technically be moved, but if you manage to find one near a potential base location, that area should be considered prime real estate. Oh, and if you’ll be needing Sap, maybe choose something closer to the Redwood Forest area.

 

Countering Dinos

When you are just starting out, just about everything is scary and can kill you. Once you figure out “the trick” for specific tiers of dinos though, they start becoming speed bumps instead of brick walls. Less scary, but can still kill you if you’re sloppy.

Here are the tiers:

Slingshot: This tier encompasses any dino encounter that can be defeated by simply backpedaling at normal speed. This includes any passive creature like the Dodo, but also more dangerous ones (once provoked) like the Trike and Turtle (Carbonemys), provided they could catch you. Which they shouldn’t be able to.

Spear: The simple spear provides enough knockback to keep the target at bay until death. Quintessential example being the Dilo (Dilophosaurus), aka the spitting one. Insects and most fish belong to this group too. Troodan, notably, do not, since they can leap back at you.

Bola: Too fast or large to be affected by the spear’s knockback, but small enough to be rooted by a Bola. Most common contender in this tier is the Raptor. While the Bola can trivialize encounters with these dinos, keep in mind that it takes a few seconds to wind up the throw, and most of these dinos are especially dangerous if they get the jump on you on the ground.

Platform: Encompassing the rest of Ark’s carnivores unaffected by the Bola, you will likely need to be on a platform (e.g. cliff face, rock, structure) in order to safely take it out. Alternatively, sometimes a platform can be substituted with a Wooden Spike Wall instead. This works well with creatures like the otherwise deadly Therizinosaur, who will happily attack the 3500 HP wall while you re-feather its head with arrows.

All of the above assumes you are trying to take down a dino unassisted, using common weapons around the level of the beast you are encountering. Facing down a Carno on foot with nothing but a Crossbow is scary. Doing so while wielding a Pump-Action Shotgun and 400+ HP with armor? Much less so. Hell, add two Trikes to your bodyguard detail and you can take out a large chunk of the food chain using just a Spear yourself.

Taming Dinos and Utility

It always bear repeating: Ark is a dinosaur taming game. What balance exists in the game is dependent upon it; a lone survivor isn’t one for long. Here is some early-game progression:

  • Unlock the Slingshot at level 5. Go tame a few Dilos.
  • Unlock the Wooden Club at level 8 and Bola at level 9. Tame some Raptors.
  • Farm Hides for a while, using your Bow (level 10) and/or dino buddies.
  • Unlock the Trike Saddle at level 16, craft it, and go tame a Triceratops.
  • Unlock Mortar and Pestle (level 6) if you haven’t already, and use the Trike to collect hundreds of nacroberries in less than a minute so you can turn them into Narcotics.
  • Tame another Trike, and leave both parked in your base for protection.
  • Unlock Tranquilizer Arrows at level 21. Enjoy your ability to tame damn near anything.

Along with their normal characteristics, many dinos have “secret” talents that elevate their value far beyond normal. For the most part, you will need to have a saddle created for the dino in order to take advantage of their skills, but sometimes you do not. Here is a non-exhaustive list, based on the level at which you can craft a saddle for them:

  • (Lvl 6) Phiomia: Force-feeding Stimberries will create Medium Feces on demand.
  • (Lvl 16) Trike: Excellent tank/base defense, gathers 100s of berries at a time.
  • (Lvl 18) Raptor: Best early-game mount, and protector while exploring.
  • (Lvl 20) Equus: e.g. wild horse, has reduced Stone weight and is fast. Saddle acts as Mortar & Pestle.
  • (Lvl 30) Iguanodon: Infinite Sprint on four legs, high jumping on two. Can turn plant into seeds.
  • (Lvl 31) Mammoth: Wood gathering machine, and makes Wood weigh 75% less.
  • (Lvl 34) Doedicurus: Stone gathering machine, and makes Stone weigh 75% less.
  • (Lvl 36) Ankylo: Metal gathering machine, and makes Metal weigh 75% less.
  • (Lvl 37) Sabertooth: Efficient at gathering Hides, Chitin, and Keratin. Decent speed.
  • (Lvl 38) Pteranodon: First flying mount. Pretty speedy too. Can grab tiny dinos.
  • (Lvl 40) Beelzebufo: e.g. giant toad, huge jumps, turns insects into Cementing Paste, fast in water.
  • (Lvl 43) Pelagornis: Flyer that can land on water. Harvests fish easily. Fishing Pole from saddle.
  • (Lvl 61) Castoroides: e.g. giant beaver, Wood gathering machine, gathering Wood automatically while Wandering. Wood, Stone, Thatch, and Fiber weigh 50% less. Fast swimmer. Saddle is mobile Smithy.
  • (Lvl 62) Argentavis: Fantastic flyer with lots of Stamina and Carry Weight. Can pick up most medium-sized dinos, including Raptors, Titanboas, etc. Best everyday flying mount.
  • (Lvl 69) Therizinosaur: Insanely versatile, bordering on OP. High health, high DPS. Left-click harvests Meat and Wood incredibly fast. Right-click harvests 100s of Fiber from bushes. C attack harvests Hide and Chitin from corpses, Berries from bushes. Each level-up also allows greater specialization in harvesting types (Delicate vs Power) via Interact Menu.

As you might expect, higher levels give you access to better options. Do note however, that your ability to actually find and/or tame these dinos are not assured at the level you could. For example, while you unlock the saddle at level 34, the Doedicurus curls up into a defensive ball after losing health, which makes knocking them out difficult without having Tranq Darts (unlocked at level 62). One of the few ways around that is to use a Beelzebufo’s attack, which adds Torpor while dealing little damage. But even then, the Beelzebufo saddle is only unlocked six levels after the other one.

Then there is the matter of finding these dinos. The Mammoth and Equus are relatively low level tames, but they are not commonly found in the South, which is where you might be spawning as a newer player. So, if you want to be taming creatures when you unlock their saddle, you might have to, ahem, hoof it yourself and find them.

Cooking Like a Pro

There are two types of recipes: Standard and Custom. It’s a good idea to utilize both.

Standard Recipes

All recipes below require there to be water in the cookpot, in form of a filled waterskin.

  • Enduro Stew (+melee, +healing): Mejo (10), Carrot (5), Potato (5), Stimulant (2), Cooked Meat (9)
  • Focal Chili (+crafting, +movement): Mejo (10), Yellow/Blue/Red (20), Lemon (5), Cooked Meat (9)
  • Lazarus Chowder (+underwater): Mejo (10), Corn (5), Potato (5), Narcotic (2), Cooked Meat (9)
  • Calien Soup (+hot area): Mejo (10), Yellow/Red (20), Lemon (5), Stimulant (2)
  • Fria Curry (+cold area): Mejo (10), Blue (20), Corn (5), Carrot (5), Narcotic (2)
  • Medical Brew (+40 HP): Red (20), Narcotic (2)
  • Sweet Vegetable Cake (special): Fiber (25), Corn (2), Carrot (2), Potato (2), Stimulant (4), Sap (4), Giant Bee Honey (2)

As you might expect, the feasibility of having a ready stock of most of these items is dependent on having a robust Greenhouse situation and/or playing on a server with Crop Growth cranked up. Medical Brew is the exception, needing only some Narcotics and 20 Tintoberries, both of which can be harvested enmass by a Trike or other herbivore. The catch is the 2 hour spoilage timer, although it lasts longer when refrigerated.

Custom Recipes

While custom recipes might sound both cool and complicated, it is really neither. The steps are:

  1. Craft a blank Note.
  2. Place Note and ingredients in Cooking Pot.
  3. Click Make Recipe
  4. Ensure Recipe note is in Cooking Pot with ingredients, then start fire.

The final output is an item with a percentage of the effects of the individual ingredients. What percentage that ends up being is based on your Crafting Speed stat at Step 3 only. A full optimization would require a level-capped player to consume a Mindwipe Tonic, place all of their upgrades in Crafting Speed, consume a Focal Chili, and then pen some recipes before using another Mindwipe Tonic to get their stats back. Thereafter, whoever uses that recipe will get the full benefits no matter their Crafting Speed. Because that makes sense.

For the rest of us, the “hidden” benefits of custom recipes (with the help of Focal Chili) still makes things worthwhile. For example, a custom recipe for 20 Raw Meat creates an item that grants 43 Food and 32 HP. That may seem pitiful considering a single piece of Cooked Meat restores 20 Food and 8 HP. The upside is that the custom recipe doesn’t need to be cooked, weighs 0.3 pounds, and lasts for 48 hours in your inventory, rather than 20 minutes.

So, really, custom recipes are mainly about saving space and avoiding spoilage. Did your Mammoth get bogged down with hundreds of pounds of berries when it was harvesting lumber? A 10 lb stack of Tintoberries can get refined down to a 1.1 lb paste that grants you 53 Food and 15 HP.

Bonus tip: Stimberries and Stimulants are great for giving a Stamina boost at the expense of thirst. Cut out the downside by creating a custom food (as opposed to drink) recipe of, say, 50 Stimberries. That’ll give you 27 Food, 8 HP, and ~89 Stamina back without the thirst. Just note that these gains are capped at basically 1/second, but it should still aid in your sprint out of danger.

Harvesting Specialty Resources

Beyond the basic building resources like Stone and Wood, there exists a lot of specialty resources to craft more advanced items. Gathering these special resources is sometimes a pain, depending on the method. Here are some of the best.

Cementing Paste

The default method of creating Cementing Paste is x4 Chitin/Kreatin + x8 Stone. This is incredibly inefficient though, as it would require 200 Chitin/400 Stone for an Assault Rifle, or even 2400 Chitin/4800 Stone for a Wooden Tree Platform.

The best and easiest source are wild Beaver Dams. These are built by Castoroides, and are located on land or in the water. While accessing the inventory of a Beaver Dam will cause all nearby Castoroides to go hostile, each one usually contains 150+ Cementing Paste. Since items do not respawn inside containers, it’s best to loot (and drop) the rest, so that the Beaver Dam collapses and another one can spawn later.

Ark_BeaverDam

Basically, any water feature not the ocean or swamp.

The second best source is from the Beelzebufo mount. Using Right-Click against insects will result in 5-15 Cementing Paste apiece, along with some Chitin. The biggest challenge is finding a stable enough insect population. The good news is that the mount is adept at navigating the same areas where Beaver Dams spawn, so one can double-dip in farming.

Third, there is a “passive” form of collection: from tamed Achatina, e.g. giant snail. These creatures will slowly accumulate both Achatina Paste (same properties as Cementing Paste) and Organic Polymer up to 100 apiece in their inventories. The catch is that Achatinas only eat Sweet Vegetable Cake, which requires both Sap and Giant Bee Honey, which are themselves specialty resources.

(Organic) Polymer

The default method of Polymer production is x2 Cementing Paste + x2 Obsidian. This isn’t too terrible by itself, although it requires the construction of a Fabricator, which uses Gasoline as its fuel. Organic Polymer can be substituted for Polymer in all situations, and the Ghillie Suit actually requires Organic Polymer specifically in its construction.

Note: You will want a Wooden Club or Metal Sword for harvesting Organic Polymer. A tamed Pelagornis will also work effectively. Hatchets or Picks will give you none.

The best and easiest farming target are Kairuku, aka penguins. Each iceberg in the NW corner of the Island has a dozen or so, and they react basically like the Dodo when attacked or threatened. Tragically, the babies have the most Organic Polymer, so club them first.

Ark_Duck

They are basically… ahem, sitting ducks.

If you are far from the North, the alternative source will be from Hesperornis, aka duck-like birds. You can typically find them swimming around shorelines and rivers hunting for fish. While they have zero offensive capabilities, note that that they frequently exist in otherwise dangerous areas. Keep an eye out for Sarcos, Spinos, and other river terrors.

Considering that Organic Polymer spoils extremely quickly (~30 minutes) and is unaffected by most preservation techniques, be sure and have the other materials/blueprints ready to go for when you collect this resource. The last thing you want to happen is collecting a bunch and then scrambling to find the other materials.

Obsidian

Black rocks on mountains. Go mine them.

Oil

There are several different sources of Oil in Ark, with different levels of ease of acquirement.

The first would be the Oil Rocks up in the NW corner of the Island, and scattered about in other snowy regions. While the environment is hostile, mining them is almost as easy as clubbing seals for Organic Polymer. The tricky part is actually traveling all the way up there, so be sure to stock up via boat or wagon train once you’ve made the effort.

Second would be the Oil nodes located in many places in the ocean. These are usually closer to home, but often require long dives in hostile waters. Cook some Lazarus Chowder and bring a dino that can breathe underwater. Underwater caves are another source, but chances are that you won’t be needing this guide if you are advanced enough to be plumbing those depths.

Third, is from killing/harvesting Trilobites and Leeches. You actually get a respectable amount of Oil from each kill, but the trouble is actually finding a suitable amount of targets. In that regard, be sure and stop what you are doing and kill them if you happen to spot any, no matter what else you might have been doing.

Finally, there is a quasi-passive source: Dung Beatles. These animals have to be tamed and brought out of the caves they inhabit, then be fed a constant source of Feces (tame a Phiomia) before it is turned into Fertilizer and a bit of Oil. While it ain’t nothing, Medium Animal Feces is turned into x2 Fertilizer and x4 Oil after 15 minutes. This might be enough Oil to keep the lights on (via Gasoline), but not for those endgame Industrial stations that need 400+ to craft.

Sap/Giant Bee Honey

These are combined because the only real reason you might need either is for Sweet Vegetable Cake, so they go hand-in-hand.

For Sap, there is no reasonable way to avoid crafting at least one Tree Sap Tap. Then you have to specifically place them high up in a Redwood Tree. Being able to collect the Sap will require either a Wooden Tree Platform (600 Cementing Paste!) or constructing your own janky scaffolding out of Wooden Pole and ladders. Once that’s done, visit it periodically to collect your 20 Sap.

Giant Bee Honey can be harvested from Giant Bee Hives, tamed or wild. The taming process to set up your own Hives in convenient locations is quite difficult, and requires a lot of prep work – Bug Repellent, Ghillie Suit, hand-feeding Rare Flowers to the Queen Bee, etc. If you don’t need a constant source of Sweet Vegetable Cake, it might be better to just note the locations of wild hives and swipe their honey when needed; a Ghillie Suit and fast escape mount are recommended.

Final Thoughts

Ark is a fascinating sandbox experience, even when just played in Single-Player. No matter how powerful you end up feeling, the game world is ready to remind you to take it seriously or suffer the sometimes absurd consequences. While even a low-level Argentavis mount can effectively (albeit slowly) murder the meanest Alpha predators with impunity, all it takes is one Microraptor sailing out of trees to knock you off your mount into a pool of Megapiranha before you realize how dangerous the world still is.

Hopefully the above guide is enough to give you the edge necessary to survive out there. Or at least live that much longer.

Spoiler-Free Beginner Ark Guide

There is no tutorial or hand-holding in Ark. The game is unfair, the world hostile, and the dinosaurs are without remorse. While that is part of the appeal of the game for some people, it can also serve as a barrier to others who might otherwise enjoy the experience. That’s the purpose of this guide: provide enough hand-holding to get you out of the nest safely, and into free-fall.

Whether you flap your wings afterwards, is up to you.

Spawning

When you first start Ark, you will have to choose a general starting area to spawn into the world, but the specific location will be random within that area. As the game text mentions, some areas are easier than others. While you cannot do much about the randomness at the beginning, one of the first things you will want to accomplish is removing the randomness by building a bed, and NOT a Sleeping Bag. Beds have infinite respawns, sleeping bags have one respawn.

Note: You can build more than one bed. In fact, I highly recommend you build at least two, even in your first starter base. There is a respawn cooldown of 5 minutes, but that’s per bed. This will allow you a 2nd chance at collecting your stuff if the first naked run doesn’t work out.

Basic Gathering

At the beginning, think Minecraft: punch trees for Wood and Thatch, collect rocks from the ground, then craft a Stone Pick. Use that to collect some more material to craft a Stone Hatchet. Between the two, the Hatchet will collect more building material (Wood, Stone, Hide) from an object, whereas the Pick will collect “special” material better (Flint, Metal, Meat). For the majority of the game, the Hatchet is where it’s at.

By the way, save every piece of Flint, Charcoal, and Spoiled Meat you find/create. You’ll be using those quite a bit for mid-game stuff.

Death

Dying in Ark is practically an everyday experience in the beginning, especially before you get to taming a lot of dinos. When you die, everything that you were carrying will drop to the ground into a backpack, which will despawn in 15 minutes. Additionally, your backpack will (usually) have a beam of green light shooting out of it, to assist in recovering your gear.

There are some key things to note here, given the above. The biggest is the fact that whatever killed you will still be hanging around your corpse. Dinos will wander around randomly, but they frequently do not roam large distances, and certainly not within a tidy 15-minute timeframe. So, you will need to make a decision about whether or not it’s worth trying to grab your stuff. That decision will also be informed about whether or not you can grab your stuff naked, which is your immediate condition having just respawned.

Here is a good breakdown off “the rules” then:

  1. Only carry what you are willing to lose.
  2. Die in a convenient location.
  3. Don’t be greedy.

The first rule is just a basic philosophy that you will need to embrace in Ark. Do you really need to be running around in your best armor and weapons all the time? Are you sure that carrying two rafts in your inventory is a good idea when exploring a cave? Unlike a lot of games, the basic armor and weapons of Ark are still viable for a large portion of encounters you’ll face. Once you have tons of resources and duplicates, sure, go out there in your Sunday best. But only do that if you’re not afraid of losing what you got.

A convenient location to die would be one in which is farther from whatever killed you to begin with, but easy to access for your replacement. Sometimes this means throwing yourself from a cliff, sometimes this means not throwing yourself from a cliff. Similarly, forcing that Carno to chase you into the water means there will be a buffer to snag your stuff back. Then again, there could be a swarm of sharks in the area too. Try your best, but also acknowledge that sometimes you will need to cut your losses and move on.

Finally, being greedy means hitting up one last node despite having already collected more than you need. Every moment away from home is a risk, and nothing in your inventory is really yours until it makes it back into container. Besides, you’ll likely have more than one death due to something dumb like Compys who ate your ankles because you gathered 20 more pounds of Metal Ore and became too encumbered to run away.

Inventory Interaction

By default, E is the button to interact with just about everything: containers, campfires, dino inventories, etc. This will get annoying over time though, because pressing E around a campfire will light/smother the flames rather than giving you access to the Cooked Meat you wanted. Get in the habit of pressing F to access inventories instead. Pressing F will directly access the inventory of your target, up to and including a dino you might be riding.

Taming

This might seem silly to mention, but this is a dinosaur taming game. When I first started playing, I didn’t tame anything until level 21 when I unlocked Tranquilizer Arrows. This was a mistake. You can and should be taming dinos as soon as you have your basics covered, e.g. hut with some storage and a bed.

Here are the steps to taming:

  1. Render a dino unconscious.
  2. Feed it food it likes.
  3. ???
  4. Profit

Some dinos are tamed “passively,” which means skipping step 1). For the vast majority though, you need to knock them out. You accomplish that by dealing Torpor damage. The early game options available for inducing Torpor are: Slingshot, Wooden Club, and Tranq Arrows. While it will be quite a challenge to knock out fast-moving predators like Raptors with something like a Slingshot, there are a lot of dinos that are fairly slow and can be kited around. In the early game, for example, Dilos make excellent guard dogs. And if you manage to make it on top of a rock or cliff that the dino can’t reach, you can typically knock out just about anything.

Once unconscious, go up to the dino and access it’s inventory by pressing E or F. Transfer food from your inventory to theirs, either by left-clicking for individual items, or by pressing T to transfer the entire stack. While there is special “kibble” that can be used to speed up the process, you can stick with raw meat for carnivores and berries for the herbivores. Special note for the latter though, do NOT give them Stimberriers – eating those can make the dino wake up faster.

Depending on the server settings, taming dinos can take a long time. To keep them unconscious, you’re going to need to keep their Torpor meter up. Beating them with a Wooden Club can do this, but any damage taken will reduce Taming Effectiveness, which in turn makes the dino gain fewer bonus levels. Typically, you’ll want to use either Narcoberries or Narcotics. Place either one into the dino’s inventory, hover over the icon and press E. This will “force-feed” the dino the item. The Torpor gain will not be immediate, but rather gradual. Depending on the dino, you may need to force-feed them quite a few.

Note: many older videos/guides used the term “Remote Use Item,” which doesn’t exist in the game anymore. Pressing E on an item in the dino’s inventory does the same thing.

Controlling Dinos

Once you have tamed a dino, there are several means by which you can control them. If you have a saddle available, you can directly mount them and ride around. Some dinos are more useful than others as actual means of transportation though. Raptors are extremely fast, for instance, whereas Trikes are extremely slow. That said, saddles give you access to a given dino’s special talents, which sometimes more than makes up for its other deficiencies. For example, that same slow Trike can harvest 100s of berries at a time from nearby bushes, but only if you are riding it with a saddle.

Dinos are still extremely useful even without a saddle. If they are on Follow Mode and Attack MY Target, they will, well, follow you around and help kill your foes. This can and will save your life many a time if you happen to stumble into a bad situation you were not prepared for. If you are trying to tame additional dino pals though, be sure to switch your current bodyguards to Passive.

Surviving the Early Game

As mentioned previously, Ark is unfair. But it is unfair in fairly consistent ways. There will be times when there really is nothing you can do to avoid death. Other times? You can survive. Here are some quick tips for the common causes of death in the early game.

Dilos – Counter: Spears. The biggest gimmick with Dilos is their spit attack. It’s sometimes difficult to juke, so I like to jump right before they spit, which usually causes it to sail over my head. Beyond that, a simple Wooden Spear has greater reach than their melee attack, and will knock them back far enough to strike again with relative impunity.

Raptor – Counter: Bolas. Raptors are too fast to outrun, and spears aren’t near strong enough to keep them at bay. But a single Bola will automatically root them for ~30 seconds. Once rooted, shoot them in the face, or maybe beat them unconscious with a Wooden Bat if you have one handy.

Carnos – Counter: Turtles. Truly one of the more annoyingly unfair dinos in the early game, Carnos have a HUGE aggro radius and will relentlessly chase you down with what seems like infinite Stamina. One trick though, is that if you can kite them into the path of a turtle (i.e. Carbonemys), the Carno will injure itself and start attacking the turtle instead. Take that opportunity to book it or try and take it down.

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Hopefully the above is enough get you started in your Ark experience.