This is a build that I have found to be effective throughout the Recruit & Veteran playthroughs, and will test out on Nightmare.
I think what sets this game apart from other 4-Player Coop’s is the deck system, in that it really lets you specialize. I also think that it is fairly balanced with a cap at 15 cards and a progressive build system.
In addition, I want to point out that there are going to be trade-off’s to each aspect of a build.
For example, the Mean Drunk card, with its +75% Melee Damage and Increased Cleave, adds a lot of power; however, you’re going to use at least 2 or 3 other cards to counter the loss of sprint. Very few teams are gunna be cool with walking the whole level, and in some areas, you just need to get through as fast as possible.
That said, this is just a baseline/what works for me. There are weaknesses and strengths to every character, build, and playstyle, and I suggest testing/altering this build to best fit you.
Quick Melee Weapons Note
The melee options are: Hatchet, Machete, Axe, and Bat. Think of it as a scale between clearing hordes and killing mutations (particularly Tall Boys).
Machete > Bat > Hatchet > Axe
On one end, you have quick Common clearing, and on the other, you can basically 3 shot a Tall Boy.
Due to this, I like to find a Hatchet or Axe. Trade-off there is that you have to swing more accurately, and will generally only be getting 1 or 2 Common kills per swing; however, Tall Boy’s are no longer a problem.
With that said, I’d take a blue Hatchet over a purple Machete, personally.
Finally, I’d recommend finding a shotgun to use as your primary weapon.
1) Holly is my preferred character choice. The starting weapons of a bat and shotgun synergize well with the build, and the more damage resistance the better.
2) Evangelo is a close second choice. The Breakout ability spares getting the card or relying on teammates/tazers quite so much. Stamina Regen is nice, but will be a non-issue down the line.
3) Admittedly, I haven’t played a lot of games as Jim, but have heard good things. If you were altering this build more towards Damage, Jim would be a strong candidate.
4) Walker is a fairly basic choice, but with melee, weakpoint hits are very easy. The increased damage and extra health for the team are always nice.
5) Lastly, there’s Karlee. I would recommend her more for solo runs, as she’ll be able to see sleepers and carry an extra tazer. For Quick Play, you’ll have teammates and there are more beneficial choices, in my opinion.
This is my preferred active card & first pick.
The goal of this build is to maintain health and occupy hordes/mutations. Give your damage & support teammates more time to do their jobs, and in order to do this, remaining healthy is critical.
With Spiky Bits, you get a decent Melee Damage boost/Damage Resistance out of 1 Card pick.
This is especially helpful early, and this combination allows you to cover your bases.
Cards 3 & 4
With a melee build, you won’t need to aim down sights, and the cards where you lose that ability are very strong. I recommend getting them early, and getting them fairly close together. This will add to your Damage Resistance and make you all-around more proficient in melee.
The order you grab these depends on your preferences/needs.
This card I would say is largely open to reordering/replacing due to your preference. I really like it here, as Trauma is something that takes its toll over time.
You never know when the next Medicine Cabinet will be, or how you’ll be looking copper-wise at that time.
Within the goal of the build, you’re trying to out-heal horde damage, which works for a time, until Trauma begins to stack. Later in the build, we will be getting temp health perks, which I’ve heard gets taken instead of adding Trauma, but am uncertain if this is accurate.
Regardless, if you are remaining healthy, you wont have much room to earn temp health, and the 5 points that you do have will quickly get drained/turn to Trauma if you get grabbed.
Cards 6 & 7
Adrenaline Fueled is an excellent perk.
Without it, an issue you’ll have is running out of steam mid-horde. Depending on your total stamina, you may have to swing a little more accurately/less often, but every time you kill a zombie, you’ll have the stamina to get another.
This, on top of Berserker, allows you to pretty much swing endlessly if you had a horde funneling into a doorway, for example.
With Berserker, the more you kill, the faster you kill, and with Adrenaline Fueled, the more you kill, the more stamina you’ll have to continue.
Cards 8 & 9
These 2 build upon what we have gotten so far.
Now, instead of just healing with each melee kill, you heal + temp heal. Each time you have temp health, you double your Padded Suit Damage Resistance.
If you were playing as Holly with a melee weapon, and had just gotten a kill/gotten temp health, you now have: 10% + 10% + 15% + 15% Damage Resistance.
In other words, for that situation (happens very often), you are now at 50% Damage Resistance with healing & temp healing.
Cards 10 & 11
These 2 Cards add to the benefits of our previous section.
Not sure on these numbers, just given as an example, so please bear with me:
- If you are mostly dealing with Common, and they do 3 damage as a base hit, they now do 1.5 damage (I would assume rounded to 2) per hit.
- With the Scar Tissue Card, you would now be halving your damage received from all Common (again).
Within the goal of the build, we are trying to out-heal horde damage
- , and Scar Tissue helps us greatly in doing this.
In addition, Vanguard serves to make Face Your Fears stronger, and apply its benefit to the rest of your team.
Cards 12 & 13
Finally, we’re getting to some damage.
To be clear, that isn’t the point of this build, and with an Axe or Hatchet, you won’t be missing the damage boost too much. That said, by this point we are now incredibly tanky, and can heal what we lose, so some damage helps to balance us out.
These would be other strong reorder candidates depending on what you are looking for out of a melee build.
Melee Damage & Health are always helpful, and losing ADS speed doesn’t matter if you can’t ADS.
Cards 14 & 15
By this point in the build, you are on the last levels of an Act.
I suggest these 2 cards to add to the Damage Resistance and offset the loss of Stamina Efficiency. That plus a little Health and Move Speed are nice.
Again, these are a strong candidate for reorder depending on what your preferences/needs are.
I tend to go this route, because we’d already be specialized as a healing, melee tank, and these just make us more effective.
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