Perk selection, how it works, and how it can work for you

Talk about Sarah's upcoming game in the Rebuild series.

Perk selection, how it works, and how it can work for you

Postby Hector Rulz » Sat Sep 05, 2015 4:53 pm

The perks that you are offered after level up aren't completely random. They are determined by your background story and by your current active job. If you know the rules, you can predict which perks your survivor will get. Do you hate it when you pick Bookworm and Crafter for your Engineer, but then you get offered Handyman instead of Genius? Do you wish you could reliably get ultra-rare perks like MacGuyver or Fearless Reclaimer? This guide is for you, then.

I'm going to talk about perks in terms of tiers. Tier-1 perks are available from the first pick onwards, Tier-2 from the second pick on, and Tier-3 can only be gained as your third pick. Which tier any given perk belongs to depends on the individual survivor.

Perks use a priority system. The game generates a list of perks available to your survivor, but only the top three are available for selection. Background perks always get priority over job perks. After that, lower tier perks get priority over higher tier perks. This means that the higher tier perks can get pushed off the list entirely, and perks that are both tier-3 and come from your job are very hard to get.Ties are settled randomly, but once priorities are assigned, they don't change for that character.

If your perk list looks like
A (background-1 perk)
B (job-1 perk)
C (job-1 perk)

and you pick A, your next draft will look like
D (background-2 perk)
B (job-1 perk)
C (job-1 perk)

B and C won't get replaced by some other job-1 perk, and their relative order will stay the same.

The job-based perks and their respective tiers are:

1 - Hand to Hand Training
1 - Melee Training
1 - Firearms Training
3 - Commander

1 - Artist
1 - Redecorator
1 - Tools Expert
3 - Defense Expert
3 - Fearless Reclaim (seems to always get lower priority than Defense Expert)

1 - Hoarder
1 - Good Cook
1 - Green Thumb
2 - Hunter
3 - Scrapper

1 - Crafter
1 - Bookworm
1 - First Aid
2 - MacGuyver

1 - Negotiator
1 - Preacher
1 - Musician
2 - Peacekeeper

Only your active job counts. Skill levels in other jobs has zero impact. If you retrain to a new active job, your perk list will change accordingly. Notice that not all jobs have the same number of perks, and there's no uniform distribution of tiers.

Your background gives you one perk for each tier (there are a few, very valuable, exceptions). Because background perks have priority, these will always float to the top, whether you want them or not. Did you get offered Stinky at tier-1, and kept hoping it would get shuffled out during the next perk draft? Too bad, that's a background perk, it's there to stay.

The secret to optimal perk selection is finding backgrounds with desirable traits and finding ways to eliminate undesirable perks from the pool without actually having to pick them. There are a few ways to remove perks from the pool:

1) If your job offers the same perk as your background, only one copy of that perk gets added to the pool.

2) If an item grants you a perk, that perk is removed from your pool for as long as it is equipped. This can change your list of available perks even after it has been generated.

3) If you already have the perk due to a random event or some other means, the perk won't show up in your pool.

Name Shuffling

It's possible to re-roll your survivor's background, but only if they haven't taken a perk yet (getting perks from random events is fine). If you change your survivor's name, their background will also change. With patience, you can keep altering the name until you get the background that you want. I find it's easiest to just add a letter a to the front of their name, and then swap it out with a b, a c, and so on until I find what I'm looking for. Once you pick a perk, the background becomes locked and you can change their name back to normal.


Soldier 1 (Law Firm Receptionist): Take Bookworm, Fighter, and MacGuyver (all guaranteed). Bookworm and MacGuyver give you more combat power than actual soldier perks! Plus, you can still get the soldier perks from the Riffs!

Soldier 2 (Martial Artist): Bookworm/Fighter/Superhero If you have a copy of Feynman's Lectures, this is a slightly better set up. Train as an engineer, using the Doctor's Bag to cancel First Aid if it gets in your way. This gives you a soldier that is functionally equivalent to the first build, but also has Superhero.

Soldier 3 (Swordsman): Bookworm/Fighter/Loner Loner is stronger than Superhero, but is situational.

Engineer 1 (Oceanographer, Librarian): Bookworm/MacGuyver/Genius Take Bookworm. Equip Doctor's Bag. Take MacGuyver, take Genius.

Engineer 2 (Any background with Genius, but Oceanographer, Librarian, and Robotics Worker are easiest): Crafter/Bookworm/Genius Get Crafter/Bookworm/Genius. This is a better engineer if you don't care about MacGuyver (or if you have Feynman's Lectures). Equip a Doctor's Bag if First Aid gets in the way.

Engineer 3 ("Ivy League") Bookworm/Genius/Superhero You lose Crafter, but gain an extra +1 to all skills. If you have the Feynman Lectures, this build is not only a good engineer, but is strictly superior to Soldier 2 as well.___

Scavenger ("review shows"): Hoarder/Resourceful/Scrapper Equip Note's Guitar to get rid of Musician, get Firearms Training from the Riffs, and equip a Hunting Rifle to get rid of Hunter. This will let you get Hoarder/Resourceful/Scrapper. If you start with a former Luddite (easily obtained by conquering the Luddites and then name-shuffling the survivors), you can also add Green Thumb to the mix.

Builder 1 (Painter, Radio DJ): Tools Expert/Artist/Fearless Reclaimer The painter version is easy and requires no special set up. The radio DJ requires Note's Guitar, Devout, and Ex Last Judgment. If you don't like Devout, you can still just barely make the radio DJ work if she is Kathleen (Kathleen gets Artist for free). There is no good way to get Handyman and Fearless Reclaim on the same person

Builder 2 (Sewer Worker, "knits shaws", Haberdasher): Tools Expert/Handyman/Defense Expert If you don't like Fearless Reclaimer (it's seriously over-powered), this might be a more interesting build. It works even better if you use Kathleen from the Gustav quest. She starts with Artist, which guarantees that Tools Expert will be available during your first pick. Plus you get to keep Artist. Name shuffling works with Kathleen, and you can even get multiple Kathleens, if you want.

Builder 3 (Sewer Worker, must be Kathleen, must have gotten Stinky from a random event): Tools Expert/Handyman/Fearless Reclaimer This is the holy trinity of builder perks, but the event that grants Stinky is rare, the target is totally random, and half the time it gives you Camper instead. You also need a ninja sword to cancel out the third background perk. Just use the debug console if you're going to go this far.

Leader (anything with Born Leader): Negotiator/whatever/Born Leader There aren't a whole lot of good leader perks, and the high tier leader perk, Peacekeeper, is not very good. I'd probably take Preacher as the remaining pick. If want Born Leader + Peacekeeper, the singer can do it if you also have Note's Guitar. Friend of Gustav sounds like it would be good for a leader, but I've checked, and it has zero impact on Gustav's respect or prices. I think that the only benefit is that it gives you a rare combat option to have Gustav help you out.

I'll put up the background list on the next post
Last edited by Hector Rulz on Sun Sep 06, 2015 8:48 am, edited 2 times in total.
Hector Rulz
Posts: 17
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2014 6:14 pm

Re: Perk selection, how it works, and how it can work for yo

Postby Hector Rulz » Sat Sep 05, 2015 6:16 pm

Code: Select all
Tier 1           Tier 2           Tier 3           Description           Comments
_________        Artist           Defense Expert   Painter               Easiest way to get Fearless Reclaimer
_________        Fighter          Superhero        Dojo                  Blank + early Fighter
_________        Fighter          Loner            Swordsman             Blank + early Fighter
_________        Genius           Driver           Robotics Worker       Blank + early Genius
_________        Handyman         Brave            Haberdasher           Blank + early Handyman
_________        Genius           Superhero        "Ivy League"          Blank + early Genius
Animal Lover     Coward           Intense Focus    Stable Hand   
Animal Lover     Fast Recovery    Resourceful      Lizard Lover   
Animal Lover     Team Player      _______          Dog Person   
Bookwork         Fighter          MacGuyver        Law Firm Receptionist        Can make a very powerful fighter with this
Bookworm         Scholar          Genius           Librarian              Bookworm + Genius is good
Bookworm         Skeptic          Genius           Oceanographer             Bookworm + Genius is good
Brave            Artist           Fighter          War Photographer   
Camper           Half Rations     Resourceful      Beggar   
Camper           Light Sleeper    Genius           Stargazer   
Camper           Loner            Tough            Ranger   
Crafter          Friend of Gust   Hunter           "what kills do I have?"   
Crafter          Handyman         Redecorator      "knit shaws"        Early Handyman
Devout           Ninja            Fighter          Monk   
Devout           Pacifist         Peacekeeper      "serve the lord"         Female only
Easygoing        _________        Handyman         "Water Slide"    
Eccentric        Fighter          Intense Focus    Knight          Early Fighter
Fast Recovery    Ninja            Eccentric        Miner   
Fast Recovery    Brave            First Aid        Firefighter   
First Aid        Driver           Friendly         Health Care Worker           First Aid  can be itemed out
First Aid        Fast Recovery    Resourceful      Nurse   
First Aid        Coward           Former Riff      Janitor   
Former Riff      Redecorator      Handyman         Electrician   
Friend of Gustav Ninja            Intense Focus    "bet with Gustav"   
Friend of Gustav Musician         Friendly         Prostitute   
Good Cook        Light Sleeper    Ex Last Judge    Brewer   
Green Thumb      Camper           Stinky           "sold plants"   
Green Thumb      Good Cook        Resourceful      "bit of an accent"   
Half Rations     Eccentric        Friend of Gustav Hypochondriac   
Light Sleeper    Half Rations     Fighter          Security Guard   
Loner            Brave            Superhero        Newspaper Worker   
Loner            Hoarder          Light Sleeper    Lighthouse Worker   
Loner            Artist           Handyman         "cramped quarters"   
Melee            Fast Recovery    Driver           Union Road Worker   
Musician         Eccentric        Born Leader      Lead Singer                        Early Born Leader
Musician         Devout           Ex Last Judge    Radio DJ                   Musician can be itemed out and Devout is easy to get
Musician         Negotiator       Fighter          Dancer   
Musician         Resourceful      Firearms Training "review shows"                        Can get Scrapper + Resourceful with some work
Pacifist         Ninja            Green Thumb      "Greenery"   
Pacifist         Artist           Cultist          Yoga   
Scholar          Stinky           Intense Focus    Entomologist
Skeptic          Born Leader      Driver           Skeptic               early Born Leader   
Stinky           Handyman         Ninja            Sewer Worker                            Early Handyman + Ninja can be itemed out
Tough            Redecorator      Fighter          Building Inspector   
Tough            Hoarder          Fighter          Sailor
Hector Rulz
Posts: 17
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2014 6:14 pm

Re: Perk selection, how it works, and how it can work for yo

Postby SushiSquid » Sun Sep 06, 2015 7:20 am

Great stuff. Really useful to know.

If I understand correctly, Note's Guitar and Feynman's Lectures are both only possible to acquire with the deluxe edition, and you can only ever get just one by starting as Rock Star or Programmer, right?
Posts: 24
Joined: Thu Apr 30, 2015 4:59 pm

Re: Perk selection, how it works, and how it can work for yo

Postby Hector Rulz » Sun Sep 06, 2015 8:24 am

SushiSquid wrote:Great stuff. Really useful to know.

If I understand correctly, Note's Guitar and Feynman's Lectures are both only possible to acquire with the deluxe edition, and you can only ever get just one by starting as Rock Star or Programmer, right?

As far as I know, the only legit way of getting them is by selecting one of the Deluxe jobs for your main. If you are playing quickplay, you can get as many deluxe items as you want by swapping out your main between missions. For campaign mode, you'd have to resort to the debug console.
Hector Rulz
Posts: 17
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2014 6:14 pm

Re: Perk selection, how it works, and how it can work for yo

Postby Sarumaru » Sun Sep 06, 2015 2:09 pm

Edit: It seem that survivors with the “this place isn’t bad... needs more greenery” background will have macguyver as 2nd perk if current job is engineer and the 3rd perk can be scrapper if current job is scavenger and equipped with a hunting rifle and pitchfork. 1st perk does not seem to matter which you give.
Posts: 34
Joined: Sat Jun 13, 2015 1:52 pm

Re: Perk selection, how it works, and how it can work for yo

Postby s3k » Fri Dec 16, 2016 9:33 am

Thanks for this.
I'll build on it as soon as I find my notes on "a day of exploring career choices" again.
This is the only game I'm playing between Skyrim and BF1,
so it must be good.
Best of all - I don't even play any other games in top-down perspective.
Posts: 5
Joined: Thu Dec 15, 2016 4:51 am

Re: Perk selection, how it works, and how it can work for yo

Postby PuzzleMage » Thu Nov 09, 2017 8:10 pm

Law Firm Receptionist - I managed to get bookworm, macguyver, and scrapper on this one. Defense of 30.
Posts: 151
Joined: Sun Jun 01, 2014 7:42 pm

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