Zombie Slayer/Strategy

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Mr. Store Items

Without most familiars or permed skills available, there are very few Mr. Store items that have a direct impact on Zombie Slayer runs in Hardcore. These are some of them:

  • Box of bear arms: A powerful one-handed weapon and off-handed pseudo-shield specifically tailored for Zombie Slayer, and usable in Hardcore. Provides +20% Muscle, +30% Weapon Damage, and +30 HP. Skill-wise, provides one of the following per fight: an auto-hit / auto-crit, a very powerful percentage-of-health attack, a delevel, a self-heal that stuns the same turn (ala scented massage oil), an 10/day instant-kill that swells your Horde, and a 10-turn stat gain buff. When the instant-kill runs out, it is replaced by a simultaneous heal / delevel / attack. The only way to get a Mr. Weapon in Hardcore Zombie Slayer.
  • Reagnimated Gnome: The only "pure" fairy-type familiar available in a Zombie Slayer run. It can also block or delevel enemies, or give bonus adventures.
  • Reanimated Reanimator: Acts as a volleyball by default, can boost item drops, block attacks, increase meat drops, and attack (multiple times) with a combined total of 50 pounds. Also lets you make 3 wandering copies of a monster once a day. Probably the best familiar for this path.

In Normal runs, most of the equipment you would choose to pull still works. The biggest exceptions are shirts (which you cannot wear at all), and the Crown of Thrones, because most of your familiars are dead.

A high-budget Zombie Slayer may wish to use some of these wonderful toys:

Moon Sign

All of the signs are gutted by the zombie plague, but The Degrassi Knoll Bakery and Hardware Store remains intact, making The Mongoose the best sign for Zombie Masters. You have little or no need for the removed Innabox or mushroom plot, and the zero-turn meatcar, detuned radio, frilly skirt (for The Infiltrationist), and meat maid parts outweigh anything other signs might provide.

If you wish to take an un-friendly Degrassi Knoll sign for some reason, the +5 Familiar Weight from The Platypus is probably your best bet. If you must take a Gnomish Gnomads' Camp sign, consider The Blender, as +5 turns/day may exceed the use of +10% Muscle gains over the course of a long run.

Astral Consumables

Astral hot dogs do not contain brains, so that's out of the question. Astral energy drinks seem to be the most desirable option, since there are no unliving familiars that generate spleen items.

  • However, due to the Jan 1, 2018 update that removed astral energy drinks, Astral pilsners remain as the only viable option.

Astral Gear

Speed

  • The astral belt is the ideal choice, and even low-skilled Zombie Masters can use it from turn 1 with Kodiak Moment -- assuming you have the bear arms. Not only does the belt give you more stats, but it also gives you access to better brains earlier in the run (though softcore Zombie Masters may be able to pull enough +ML to compensate).
  • The astral mask comes in a distant second to help out in areas where Smash & Graaagh can't or won't always save you (F'c'le, Airship, etc.)

Convenience

  • The astral shield is available to everyone, and it provides a Muscle boost, HP regen, and a lot of DR, which can be useful early in the run. Can be useful with an Infectious Bite strategy for horde-building, until you find a decent weapon.
  • The astral bludgeon's critical hit multiplier makes it possible to kill hunters when you'd otherwise have no chance, and its +Muscle and +damage are useful for the entire run. Note: unlike the Brimstone Bludgeon, this is two-handed.
  • The astral mace is an excellent one-handed weapon with bonus damage, making early combat much easier. Useful with a "kill them before they can hit me" strategy. Works with a giant clay ashtray shield, if you have a Pen Pal. It can also be given to your Disembodied Hand, if you have one, to free up your hands for other gear. Gives Extra PvP Fights too. However, it must be unlocked (and Zombie Slayer runs don't count toward the unlock).
  • The astral trousers provide several useful abilities, but can't be used during the Mysterious Island Quest (including while you Recover the Sisters' Meat, when the meat bonus would be most useful), or in Barrrney's Barrr or The F'c'le, or when fighting the Knob Goblin King.

Other

  • While Mysticality is useless in Zombie Slayer, the astral statuette (or astral bracer, if the statuette is unavailable) gives extra adventures per day, which may be useful to players who expect their runs to take many days.

Skills

The following is an analysis of all the skills available to a Zombie Master. Some skills will be more desirable after you bank skill points.

Most Effective

Generally speaking, the five most powerful skills in Zombie Slayer (where "power" is a function of turngen and turn savings) are:

  • Neurogourmet: +20-30 adventures per day.
  • Ravenous Pounce: +10-20 adventures per day (or more), and a critically useful combat skill.
  • Howl of the Alpha: Unlimited Banishing (presumably up to 3 monsters at a time), leading to huge manipulation of quests.
  • Smash & Graaagh: Forces items to drop. Trivializes certain quests and makes all most item drops much easier (the exception being The F'c'le).
  • Disquiet Riot: -20% combat rate. Speeds up many quests and leveling by a large factor.

Intrinsic

  • Infectious Bite: Infects monsters and deals passive damage every turn (damage can be improved with certain skills) and can turn them into zombies for your horde. In the first few levels when you can one-shot monsters with the bite alone, you will gain zombies easily. This method becomes less practical later, as tougher monsters require more bites, and trying to infect tougher monsters may result in a huge loss of HP.
  • Recruit Zombie: Spends adventures to add zombies to your horde. Adventures are scarce enough in Zombie Slayer, and there are much more efficient ways to recruit zombies. Do not use.

Hunger of the Zombie

Hunger of the Zombie focuses on adventure gains and defensive skills. Naturally, this skill tree is extremely important since brains don't generate as much turns as normal food, so it's vital for reducing day count. This skill tree also contains some passive skills that will heal you and reduce damage taken overall, and with Doc Galaktik gone, you will need them to keep your HP up.

  • Bite Minion: Restores 10% of your HP, or a minimum of 10 HP. The basic healing skill. With Devour Minions, it will cure pretty much every status effect you'll encounter (including Beaten Up).
  • Lure Minions: Exchange brains for zombies. Once you have Skullcracker, decent and good brains are an excellent and free way to fuel your horde.
  • Undying Greed: +25% Meat drops. Won't really speed up your runs on its own, but helps fuel Summon Minion and Summon Horde.
  • Hunter's Sprint: A massive boost to combat initiative. Makes combat immensely easier, saving tons of HP and hassle, and makes +ML a possibility. Also boosts modern zmobie appearance.
  • Insatiable Hunger: +5 stomach capacity. That's an extra 10-20 adventures per day, depending on decent vs. good brains and Neurogourmet.
  • Devour Minions: Restores 50% HP for 4 minions, and can be used in combat. More cost-effective than Bite Minion for pure healing, and makes combat stasis possible in The Junkyard. Also improves Bite Minion to heal negative effects (read: Beaten Up, Cunctatitis, etc.)
  • Indefatigable: Provides tons of passive HP regen. Before level 10 or so (and with minimal +ML), this should cover almost all of your healing needs.
  • Skullcracker: Doubles brain drops, and critical hits occasionally stuns opponents. This skill will make it possible to fill your 25 or 30 fullness each day; it's difficult to do otherwise, especially on crappy or decent brain turngen. Provides lots of fuel for Lure Minions, and the stunning happens more than you'd think.
  • Neurogourmet: More adventures gained from brains. This will provide you with +(fullness) points per day, and +25 adv/day over 4 or more days provides more turns than almost any other skill will save.
  • Ravenous Pounce: +5 stomach capacity, and an incredibly powerful combat skill. You can one-shot pretty much anything in the game with Ravenous Pounce while sitting at 0/25 or 0/30 fullness. A critical part of the Zombie Master's combat suite.

Anger of the Zombie

Anger of the Zombie focuses on combat effectiveness. Unlike the Avatars of Boris who get all the combat prowess they need from their other skill trees, it may be worth investing some points into this skill tree to make combat easier.

  • Distracting Minion: Uses 1 zombie for an unblockable regular attack. Very effective when compared to normal attacks (especially because you can Fumble), but requires lots of Meat or brains to make it sustainable. Good for bosses and especially hunters.
  • Plague Claws: Delevels opponents and increases the infection damage from Infectious Bite. Helps Infectious Bite swell your horde, if you're trying to do that, and the deleveling can help you kill harder monsters with normal attacks.
  • Flesh Mob: Deals greater damage for 3 zombies, but doesn't always hit. Not a terribly useful skill when compared to Ravenous Pounce or normal attacks with Hunger-tree skills and/or Vigor Mortis.
  • Elemental Obliviousness: Gives passive elemental resistances. Mostly a convenience skill, but saves farming stench resistance for Guano Junction and can help save turns at The Mist-Shrouded Peak if you have +combat and can scrounge up a few more levels of cold resistance.
  • Vigor Mortis: A passive 30% boost to Muscle. Makes many fights much easier, and helps against the Naughty Sorceress. Generally lets you do things sooner than you would have without it.
  • Virulence: Boosts critical hit chance and critical hits improve infections. Critical hits synergize with Skullcracker, and with an astral bludgeon you're looking at a 34% critical hit rate.
  • Bilious Burst: Uses 5 zombies to deal elemental damage. Very expensive for the effect. Helps with ancient protector spirits, but you can generally make do without.
  • Unyielding Flesh: Passively boosts DA and DR. Makes Infectious Bite a little more feasible, and generally reduces healing costs.
  • Corpse Pile: Uses 3 zombies to stun monsters and deal damage. You can always use stunners, especially when flyering or fighting tough bosses.
  • Howl of the Alpha: Banishes monsters, or deals heavy damage to unbanishable monsters. Just like Banishing Shout, this provides a way to manipulate the Adventure Queue without Transcendent Olfaction, and saves tons of turns on many quests. Very powerful.

Master of the Zombie

Master of the Zombie is a utility-oriented skill tree. It provides skills that provide useful buffs, and saves turns where Hunger generates them.

  • Summon Minion: Summons a zombie for 100 meat. You don't use Meat for much in this path, so this skill and Lure Minions will be your primary sources of zombies. Later, you'll use Summon Horde for zombies and this skill for +combat.
  • Zombie Chow: Sacrifices a zombie for 10 turns of +5 familiar weight. Effectively +~10% items or 0.5 - 1 stats per fight. A good skill to keep on all the time once you have it, since it's relatively cheap.
  • Smash & Graaagh: Sacrifice 2 zombies to steal an item in a fashion similar to Rave Steal -- NOT Pickpocket!. This skill forces (i.e. a 100% chance!) any one of the current monster's non-conditional items to drop. Trivializes the Filthworms and Stomach of Steel quests, and makes any situation where you're collecting non-conditional items immensely less painful. Very powerful.
  • Scavenge: Sacrifice 2 zombies for 10 turns of +20% items. +Item is useful in any path; this skill's usefulness is self-explanatory.
  • Meat Shields: Your zombies will block incoming attacks for the rest of the current combat. A very useful skill for levels 11, 12, and 13 for those without access to Ravenous Pounce or similar combat skills. The block rate is very, very high, though you lose a zombie for every block. Very good for the Naughty Sorceress and final boss.
  • Summon Horde: Summon 11-14 zombies for 1000 Meat. More cost-efficient than Summon Minion, and makes Summon Minion provide +20% combat; this singlehandedly makes The Lighthouse much less painful, and has several other uses as well.
  • His Master's Voice: Passively boosts familiar weight by 5. Another +10% item or 0.5 - 1 stats per fight.
  • Ag-grave-ation: Sacrifice 3 zombies for 10 turns of +30 ML. Once you can handle the ML, this skill (and the astral belt) are the best ways to increase the utility of combat adventures.
  • Disquiet Riot: Sacrifice 5 zombies for 10 turns of -20% combats. Arguably saves more turns than any other Zombie Master skill, especially with how much it speeds up Gallery leveling. Very powerful.
  • Zombie Maestro: Passively lowers all skill costs by 1 zombie (min. 1) and provides a combat skill. You won't use the combat skill if you have Ravenous Pounce, but the -1 zombie cost makes Pounce itself immensely more sustainable. Worth getting, especially if you'll have it early in a run where horde fuel is scarce.

Familiars

Before ascending into a Zombie Slayer run, consider the functions that your familiars can provide:

  • Item drops: Only provided by the Reagnimated Gnome and the Reanimated Reanimator (collecting legs), and the latter only if you keep him as your active familiar most of the time. Having one of these is extremely helpful for improving item drops.
  • Stat gains: The Hovering Skull can provide early-game Volleyball stats, and the Hovering Sombrero may take over later. Or you could use the Reanimator the entire time.
  • HP restoration: After combat from the Ghuol Whelp (50% of the time) or during combat from the NPZR (rarely).
  • Combat: The NPZR is helpful, and the Hovering Skull and Reagnimated Gnome will help while performing their primary functions. The Gnome, NPZR, and Mini-Skulldozer can block attacks, a very useful function when you're not killing things in one hit.
  • Copying: The Reanimated Reanimator can copy monsters, producing three wandering copies which appear over time.
  • Meat drops: The only familiar which can do this in Zombie Slayer is the Reanimator, if you order it to collect skulls. Doing so will interfere with its leg (+item) collection, so this is not a recommended strategy for typical runs.
  • Turn generation: The Reagnimated Gnome with the gnomish housemaid's kgnee occasionally generates adventures after combat.

Currently, no familiars are available in Zombie Slayer which provide banishing, free runaways, yellow ray disintegration, combat frequency modifiers or free fights.

List of available familiars

Image Familiar Type Full Effect Availability Notes
Frankengnome.gif Reagnimated Gnome Items Increases item drops
Blocks, attacks, delevels, or gives +adv via equipment
Mr. Store
  • IotM for the first few weeks of the path.
  • The only pure item-drop familiar available in Zombie Slayer.
Reanimator.gif Reanimated Reanimator Stats + Special Depends on setup Mr. Store
  • Copies monsters.
  • Can be built up to fit a role of your choice. Legs (+item) are recommended.
Babyzrex.gif Baby Z-Rex Stats + Combat Increases stat gains
Attacks enemies (Spooky Damage)
Twitch Similar to Hovering Skull, but Spooky-aligned.
Talkskull.gif Hovering Skull Stats Increases stat gains
Attacks enemies
Common Available in The Defiled Nook in-run.
Familiar18.gif Hovering Sombrero Stats Increases stat gains Common Created from items found South of the Border.
Ggg.gif Gluttonous Green Ghost Stats Increases stat gains
If given food, restores MP and attacks enemies
Mr. Store There is no MP in this path.
Ghobo.gif Spirit Hobo Stats Increases stat gains
If given booze, restores MP and attacks enemies
Mr. Store There is no MP in this path.
Familiar24.gif Jill-O-Lantern Stats Increases stat gains
Attacks enemies
Mr. Store Prohibitively expensive for most players.
Npzr.gif Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot Combat Restores HP/MP
Delevels enemies
Gives Meat in combat
Attacks enemies
Requires rare item There is no MP in this path.
Animskel.gif Misshapen Animal Skeleton Combat Attacks enemies (Spooky Damage)
Delevels enemies
Common While "common", still takes lots of effort to make.
Minidozer.gif Mini-Skulldozer Combat Attacks enemies (Spooky Damage)
Blocks enemies' attacks
Uncommon Acquired indirectly from A Bone Garden‎.
Familiar19.gif Ghost Pickle on a Stick Combat Attacks enemies
Delevels enemies
Uncommon Same as Misshapen Animal Skeleton, but does less damage.
Familiar7.gif Spooky Pirate Skeleton Combat Attacks enemies (Spooky Damage)
Delevels enemies
Common Similar to Misshapen Animal Skeleton, but less effective.
Familiar14.gif Ghuol Whelp Combat Restores HP/MP after combat Common There is no MP in this path.
Orb.gif Scary Death Orb Combat Attacks enemies (Spooky Damage)
Attacks you
Common Only useful for masochistic 100% familiar runs.
Dishand.gif Disembodied Hand Special Provides buffs via equipped weapon
Attacks enemies
Mr. Store Can equip any 1-handed weapon (except chef-staves and accordions) regardless of whether the weapon's stat requirements are met.
Blackbird1.gif Reassembled Blackbird
& Reconstituted Crow
Special Nothing Common Required for the level 11 quest.

General Tips/Tricks

Quests

Level 4

There are many possible ways to get stench resistance for the Junction in hardcore.

  • Spend the points for Elemental Obliviousness. Unfortunately that isn't a good idea unless you start with a lot of zombie skill points.
  • If you get your first semi-rare at the Sleazy Back Alley during turns 70-80 you can try to get a bum cheek from a Rushing bum. The upside is that you get some epic booze, but the downside is that you are in a very low level zone.
  • Try to get a Pine-Fresh air freshener from a pine bat. You don't get the chance of epic booze, but the monsters give slightly better stats than in the Sleazy Back Alley
  • Wait until level 5 and use a harem veil. This is awesome if you can reach level 5 without spending turns leveling. If you have to level up, the downside is obvious.
  • Wait until level 9 and hope for Whoompa Fur Pants or Polysniff Perfume.
  • Wait until level 11 and use a can of black paint.
  • Fax a screambat after receiving the quest, bypassing the Junction altogether. Unfortunately many people consider this a waste of a fax. (Since you could fax a 1000 ML butt and kill it with bear hug for enough stats to get from level 1 to 4 it seems easy to wait for level 5 and the harem veil.)

None of that really matters much in softcore since two of the commonly used IOTMs offer elemental resistance: the Greatest American Pants (super structure buff), and the Loathing Legion pizza stone.

Level 5

Avatar of Boris players will want to remember that the Knob cake route is a possibility here.

Level 6

Smash & Graaagh makes collecting bus passes and imp air a snap.

Level 7

Don't forget to grab the talkative skull if you are so inclined.

Level 8

You won't have Unaccompanied Miner, so mining will take actual turns (in addition to turns spent getting the outfit). In softcore, you can skip this by pulling ores. In hardcore, you can skip it by using 3 clovers to get the ores. This also bypasses the need for the mining outfit. A variant of this strategy is to use a single clover for 1 of each ore, then zap the undesired ones into the ones that you're looking for.

If you wish to bypass The eXtreme Slope, you'll need the ninja snowman assassin items and 5 levels of cold resistance. In softcore, the Super Structure buff from the Greatest American Pants will grant enough resistance. In hardcore, you could get 2 levels from Elemental Obliviousness, 2 from a can of black paint, and 1 from Oil of Parrrlay (if The F'c'le gives you one) or a titanium assault umbrella (Airship).

For low-skill hardcore runs, you'll almost certainly have to go up the slope instead.

Level 9

Avatar of Boris players will want to remember that faxing can be used to bypass part or all of this quest. Revamped!

With low +item availablity, you may want to clover for clues on A-boo Peak. Without Elemental Obliviousness you may have trouble surviving the full gauntlet of elemental damage when redeeming them, so delay as long as possible and remember your Muscle-class HP bonus.

Use Brother Flying Burrito's Blessing for the +item test in Twin Peak. You'll still need another +20% which can come from Scavenge if you have the skill points; otherwise, +10% from Baron von Ratsworth's monocle and +15% from Knob Goblin eyedrops. Stench resistance could be an issue since Elemental Obliviousness is in the tree you're most likely not to touch. Pray for pec oil or Oil of Parrrlay and postpone until can of black paint? Initiative for the end of Twin Peak is no problem (Hunter's Sprint). Smash & Graaagh can grab rusty hedge trimmers to speed things along.

Boosting +ML for Oil Peak is simple if you brought the astral belt. Otherwise, you may have Ag-grave-ation in high-skill runs. Softcore players can of course pull ML boosters.

Level 10

Run +item in the Airship, and use Smash & Graaagh (if possible) against the Princess (until you get a titanium assault umbrella), Healer (until amulet) and Burly Sidekick (until mohawk wig). Once the Airship is complete, if you missed some of these, they're probably not worth backfarming.

If you have the bear arms, hug the ISOREs for 20 horde apiece.

Running +item in the basement of the Castle can help you pick up some pec oil, Squat-Thrust Magazines, and open sauce, which one of the better nightcaps available in hardcore, along with Ye Olde Meade (from the ground floor) and crystal skeleton vodka. You'll want even more giant booze if you aren't getting free booze from the Camp Scout Backpack, but they're probably not worth delaying completion of the zones for.

If you get Cunctatitis on the ground floor of the Castle, remember that Bite Minion will cure it once you also have Devour Minions.

Level 11

When killing ancient protector spirits, Bilious Burst is the obvious choice, but is deep into the final tree. Other good sources of elemental damage for Hardcore include Lapdog, the grungy bandana, various Hatter buffs, the stylish swimsuit, the double-ice cap, the imp unity ring, the hot plate, and possibly your Misshapen Animal Skeleton. If that fails, you can level up and get a war outfit.

If you have a right bear arm, Kodiak Moment deals substantial elemental damage, but can only be used once per combat. If you have Florist flowers, you can plant Skunk Cabbage, Deadly Cinnamon, or Celery Stalker.

Level 12

Fighting for the frats, as usual, is the speediest route. Hardcore Zombie Masters should not try to complete the nuns. No, not even with an inhaler; it's not worth the turns without a Leprechaun. In softcore, your mileage may vary.

Smash & Graaagh trivializes the filthworm quest. Meat Shields can help with flyering -- remember that you can build up several turns of it by casting it multiple times in a fight. (Corpse Pile would also work, when you've got the points for that.) Using Plague Claws without Infectious Bite will delevel opponents, which should help against the gremlins. (The Reagnimated Gnome with the gnomish athlete's foot also delevels, as does the Bear-ly Legal skill.) And of course, Summon Horde gives you the ability to increase combat rate (by casting Summon Minion, not Summon Horde) for Sonofa Beach.

Lair

You don't need the Wand of Nagamar to beat the Sorceress's third form, so you can skip the letter hunting. However, you will need all the keys. Since you can't eat key lime pies, for softcore this means you will either need to do the Daily Dungeon or The GameInformPowerDailyPro Dungeon, or get the zap wand. (For 2-day softcore, you must either get the zap wand, or do a combination of the Daily Dungeon and GameInform dungeons, as you won't have time to do 3 Daily Dungeon trips.)

For the digital key, you can fax a ghost (repeatedly in hardcore, or copying it in softcore). The ghost can't hurt you, so it's a "safe" early game fax in hardcore. Softcore players may also choose to pull a Crackpot Mystic jar or 8-bit magazine and banish all but the morbid skull or ghost (once they have Howl of the Alpha). An odor extractor may also be used to speed up the hunt for Bloopers if you have to fall back on that zone.

For the star key, you can open the Hole in the Sky and adventure for the stars and lines manually. In softcore, you can also fax a skinflute and copy it several times.

Tower monsters may be killed if you have Howl of the Alpha and a bunch of horde. Softcore players may also be able to tower-kill the same way they do in non-challenge paths, using Meat Shields as the primary blocking source, and with Rain-Doh combat items, a navel ring and/or the Reagnimated Gnome with its lung as secondary sources. Untested!

Devour Minions doesn't work in the fight against your shadow, so bring combat-usable healing items like gauze garters or red pixel potions. Meat Shields does work here, but is not required.

For the 2 Familiar fights, you MUST have at least 10 zombies in your Horde, or else you will lose the fight.

Meat Shields makes the Naughty Sorceress fight significantly easier. It goes away after form 1 (unless you have cast it more than once so it has more than one turn in effect), but it remains in place at the end of form 2, so you get it "for free" on form 3.

Ascension Strategy
Rankings: HC Skills - HC Familiars - HC IotMs
General: Class selection - Familiar usage - Semi-rares - Clovers
Paths: BHY - Fist - AoB - BI - ZS - AoJ - BIG! - KOLHS - CA2 - AoSP - SS - HR - Picky - Ed - Random - AoWoL - Source - NA - GN - LtA - L.A.R. - PF - G-Lover - DD
IotMs: Tomes - Faxing - Copying - YR - Garden - Correspondent - Workshed - Tea party - Florist