What is 'Scorched Earth'?
Back in World War 2, the Russians had a strategy called 'Scorched Earth' that they used against the German army that was advancing through the Russian countryside. Retreating forces would consume and/or pick up everything useful that they could carry, and then burn/destroy everything they left behind. The enemy that pursued them found the are stripped of food, water, resources of any kind. This meant the advancing army had to bring their own supplies with them as they traveled...greatly slowing and eventually halting their offensive.
How Does It Work?
Every time I enter a hex, I look at what's there for resources, and then decide what to do with each item, by category. If an item is valuable to me, but not something I can use right now, I stash it in the best campsite I can find in that hex - or I destroy it. Scorched Earth means nothing left behind for looters, no trail of goodies to follow, no weapons for the enemy to pick up.
- Human meat (of any type), poisonous mushrooms, posionous berries (all white ones, some red ones), and any food carried by a Blue Frog Cultist (which may be infected) is destroyed immediately. This prevents 'accidental consumption' by a clumsy mouse click. Once the dangerous items are gone, I sort the remaining edibles into two groups - things that spoil and things that don't.
- Foods that don't spoil (ketchup packets, saltine crackers, Gelli bears, cans of soup, Blinkies snack cakes) go into my luggage.
- Foods that can spoil get sorted by type, and then by condition. I unstack all piles of berries and mushrooms, so I can see the condition of every unit in the pile. This is very important!
- Cooked meat - I eat these on the spot, starting with the lowest condition ones, because they satisfy hunger as well as thirst, and they spoil the fastest. Always happy to find this stuff.
- Blue Berries - great food item to carry, because they spoil very slowly and they satisfy thirst as well as hunger. I make stacks of 5, with the highest condition one on the bottom, then next highest, etc. The whole stack spoils at the same rate, so you can always tell at a glance if its time to eat one before it goes to waste. I always try to carry at least one stack.
- Red Berries - same as Blue Berries, but a little harder to find in quantity (about half the time they are poisonous), and they don't stack with Blue Berries.
- Mushrooms - next best food item to carry, they spoil very slowly, but they don't help your thirst bar as much as berries. I usually carry a stack of these or Red Berries, if I can.
- Cured meat - I only eat these if I'm low on food, and I have plenty of water (cured meat decreases hunger but increases thirst). I can carry these in my luggage, if I don't have Berries/Mushrooms/non-spoiling food.
- Raw meat - I either cook this and eat it, or I destroy it immediately. I may not have the time or resources (a fire etc) to cook it, and it attracts animals.
- Any food that is left over (after eating to fill my hunger bar and loading my luggage) is destroyed before I leave the hex. Don't leave food laying around to feed the enemy or attract critters.
- I test it to make sure its safe/sterile, and immediately destroy any unsafe water. This prevents 'accidental consumption' by a clumsy mouse click. Once I have removed all of the dangerous water, I refill all of my empty water containers, then I drink until my Thirst meter is full. Any left over safe water is transferred to a campsite (for future use), or destroyed before I leave that hex. Water is safe to leave in a campsite, because most enemy won't have a means to carry it off, and water doesn't spoil like food does.
Carrying Containers (boxes, bags, backpacks, etc)
- If its better than what I have, or it will nest with what I have, I take it. If not, I put it in a campsite if I can, or destroy it. Containers themselves are not a bad thing to leave in a campsite, as they don't help the enemy much.
Shelter (sleeping bags, tarps, etc)
- These are very valuable, and I go to great lengths to carry these if I can. I only need one sleeping bag, but tarps make great Makeshift Sacks and Tarp Shelters. I try to stash these items in a campsite if I can't carry them, even if I have to carry them a hex or two over to a better campsite.
Weapons (guns, bows, spears, cleavers, etc)
- If it's better than what I have (usually a Broad Spear and Melee skill), then I'll upgrade. If it's extremely valuable (good condition rifle/pistol) I'll try to carry it to sell later, if I can afford the weight/space. Otherwise I break them down via crafting (to salvage straps, sights, etc) and then destroy the weapon. Never leave weapons for the enemy to pick up.
Ammo (bullets, arrows, batteries, etc)
- If I can spare the weight/space, I will carry these as trade goods to sell later, otherwise I destroy them. Never leave ammo for the enemy to use against you later.
- Boots, Shoes, Cargo Pants, Cargo Shorts, Hoodie, 3 Dog Moon Shirt are all useful to me, so I see if I can upgrade my own clothing to something in better condition. Anything I can't use (including random T-shirts, blue jeans, sandals, etc) gets broken down into rags and string, or destroyed. String is very useful, I try to carry at least two full stacks of 20 at all times.
Bottles (water, corn-a-cola, whiskey, pill bottles)
- If it's full, I empty it out and check the contents. Whiskey is extremely valuable for my first aid kit. Corn-a-cola is useless, I never drink it. Water gets tested and then either consumed or destroyed. Pills get identified or destroyed. Empty plastic bottles can hold fluids, a stack of 5 berries, or certain other things like twigs. Empty pill bottles can carry pebbles or Glass Shards. Both types make good noise traps. Whiskey bottles can be used to make fresh (100%) Glass Shards and start fires (with sunlight). They are heavy though, so I only carry one or two, usually (one in my first aid kit, filled with whiskey).
- Crowbars, pliers, binoculars, lighters and such are all extremely valuable. Add a strap to some of them (crafted from string) and you can carry them around your neck and over your shoulder. I always grab every lighter I find. If I need any of these, I take them. If I don't need them, I destroy them. Never leave tools for the enemy to craft/repair weapons.
Raw Materials (pebbles, sticks, small parts, rags, scraps of paper, etc)
- I top off my supply of these items as needed, then destroy them. One exception is large limbs, where I will check to see if my Broad Spear needs replacing first. If so, I break it down and build a new one, then destroy the old spear. Remember to read all recipes and newspapers before destroying, as they contain information you may need/want later.
Corpses (human bodies, dead animals, etc)
- If I need fur/hide or meat, I'll break down an animal corpse in the crafting screen. Otherwise, I destroy all corpses I discover. A rotting carcass attracts animals/dogmen, dead guard patrols anger their buddies, and Blue Frog Cultists are infected. Dispose of the evidence, and move on. Never leave a trail of bodies for the enemy to follow.
The enemies in the game (animals, looters, dogmen, etc) will try to fiind/follow you by your tracks, and by the junk/bodies you leave on the battlefield. Stand anywhere in the game and look at the hexes around you that you can see. Do any of them have boxes showing? That means there is something laying there on the ground. It could be a single pebble, or it could be a dead DMC Guard with full combat gear, weapons and food/water. The bad guys, just like you, want that stuff - so they will investigate any hex they see that has stuff laying around.
- Eliminating everything you aren't carrying (or stashing in a hidden camp) means less chance you will be hassled by nosy (or desperate) looters/scavengers.
- Destroying food and water that you don't need means the enemy will go hungry and thirsty, getting weaker and eventually dying...or they will move on to someplace that has food/water.
- Destroying weapons, ammo, and clothing means the enemy will be poorly armed, poorly equipped, and miserable. All good things when they want to fight you.