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The Art Of Survival : A How To Guide



A long time ago in a Solar System that seems far, far away…


There was a time last year, when I decided that I wanted to raise my KpM (Kills per Minute) to find the maximum I could achieve. I was able to hit around 80KpM and consistently maintain an average of around 60KpM (my apologies I never did the math to find the exact average). Using the method I developed, I was easily able to take #1 killer the first and second week of the kill Leader boards in January. Since there is no real reward for being #1 killer and the weekly boards are not archived (I believe DE dropped the ball on this one), I chose not to continue wasting time on maintaining #1. I did however, have fun in the friendly competition with other players when I was doing it.


In order to achieve the maximum KpM, I looked at the various game types as well as mob factions. Based on spawn rates, traversing through maps, times between levels, load times and so on, the obvious game choice to maximize efficiency and get the most kills was Survival. The obvious faction choice, because they don’t camp behind boxes, was Infested. Having once been told “Work smarter, not harder” and in an effort to achieve my personal best, I began deconstructing how air drops and how mobs spawn.


On most maps, I was easily able to solo survivals to 35min (2nd Tower Key), however I rarely stayed beyond this, as damage begins to slowly decrease thus in turn decreasing KpM. (Note: I was after KpM, not trying to achieve the longest time in Survival Mode.) The exception to this was when I would get exceptional spawn rates or my favorite rooms (tiles) and I would stay to 55min (3rd tower key)(see above screenshot of favorite tile).


I have shared this method with a handful of people and they have shared it with others. To the best of my knowledge it never made it to the forums. It has now been many, many months and it has been suggested to me recently by a friend (WrinkleDurf) that I have a responsibility to share my discoveries on the forums with the people. So here goes…




The Art of Survival

By Austerity


 Disclaimer: In order for this method to be successful, all players must agree to follow it. If one person is running off doing their own thing, it will break spawns and spawn times and the method will not work succesfully.


WARNING: Large Image




I know this is an old Screenshot, but unfortunately I have not taken the opportunity to do a long Survival recently. I will attempt to get this updated with a new one, soon. The Screenshot does however help to explain some of the principals I will discuss below.


The Basics

In every Survival mission there are environmental variables you can control and some you cannot. As Tenno, in order to insure the greatest chance of success, we want to control as many variables in our environment as possible. Things such as where mobs spawn, and where Air Capsules drop are controllable. Air Module drops from mobs cannot be controlled, but can be manipulated under certain circumstances.


Air Capsule Drops

In every survival mission there will be three consecutive rooms (tiles) that air (Life Support Capsules) from our dear Lotus drops in. Each of these three main rooms are connected by halls and may have additional halls and rooms connected to them. The Life support Capsules will only drop in the three main rooms.  Here is a simple diagram:


[spawn] – hall – [Room #1] – hall – [Room #2] – hall – [Room #3]






The exit will always be located through a closed door off Room #2. At minute 5 the door unlocks and the Tenno can proceed to exit when needed. Because of this, Room #2 is nearly always the preferred room for defending. It is worthy to note that all rooms may contain a minimum of 2 Life Support Capsule locations and a maximum of 3 locations.


When you are first learning this method it is easiest to use all Life Support Capsule in Room #1prior to the group proceeding to Room #2 (More advanced group tactics will be discussed later). While you are in Room #1 waiting to use Air Capsules, I highly suggest that you use that opportunity to decide who will be “it” (see Tagging Out section). After the Life Support Capsules have been used, STOP killing when you proceed to Room #2 (explination to follow in Mobs Spawn section).


When you get to Room #2, you will need to decide as a group which area you will choose to defend (see Choosing a Defense Location section). As a group you will want to try and conserve air as mobs spawns will be slow initially as they begin gradually catching up with the group. Air quality may drop to uncomfortable levels as low as 3-5% while you are waiting for Life Support Capsules. Do not leave Room #2. If you followed the directions in the Tagging Out sections, you should be able to hold out on Modules drops from enemy spawns.


Once Life Support Capsules have been used up in Room #1 and Room #2 and when Room #3 has reached it’s maximum capacity for Life Support Capsules, than the capsules will begin dropping back in Room #2. As the Capsules drop over time, the amount of capsules that will drop in Room #2 will depend on the number of drop locations. So if Room #2 has two drop locations, there will only appear one capsule. If the Room #2 has three drop locations, than there will appear two capsules. Essentially one capsule location will always remain “open.”


Once the drop locations that can be filled in Room #2 are filled, the Life Support Capsules begin to stack off map. At this point they will never drop in Room #1. Meaning if you are able to obtain enough Life Support Modules from mobs, you could possibly end up with an invisible stack of 6-7 unseen Life Support Capsules. Now when you use a Life Support Capsule, the invisible stack is reduced by one and you gain an instant replacement in Room #2 at the location that was previously “open.”


I have personally found that in using this method, most often one is forced to leave a Survival not due to lack of Oxygen, but due to Mobs becoming too tough to kill.


Mobs Spawns

Mobs will continue to spawn one room away from where they were killed, unless a Tenno occupies that space. If a Tenno occupies a mobs spawn point than the mob will (usually, not always) spawn in the next furthest room. So for example, if the team is in Room #2, but a single Tenno is standing in the hall to Room #3, then the mobs will not spawn in the hall, but will instead spawn in Room #3. In essence what this does is push the spawns further from the group. The further away the spawns, the greater the travel time to get to the group. The greater the travel time translates into a slower kill rate. The slower the kill rate the fewer the air modules from mobs, and the fewer the air modules the shorter the stay or worse, dead Tenno.


This is why, when heading from Room #1 to Room #2 we want to stop killing. All mobs that are killed will generally spawn one room away from Tenno and usually in this case it is in the halls off Room #1. This means further travel times for those mobs to find the Tenno in Room #2. If you stop killing, the mobs will give chase and Tenno can then kill them in Room #2 causing them to respawn just outside the room.


Again, we want to force the mobs to spawn as close as possible to where we want to defeat them. By forcing the mobs to spawn close, Tenno can eliminate them quicker and force quicker re-spawns. Quicker re-spawns generally means a faster kill rate and a faster kill rate means more air (IMPORTANT: see Tagging out). The easiest way to make sure mobs spawn on the map close to Tenno is by making sure doors are closed and everyone is in the same room.




Notice that the area I chose to occupy and defend was in the center of the room away from the three entrances to the room.


Tagging Out

The following theory is based on observable actions of Tenno within the environment and the reactions of the environment to the Tenno. It has been play tested in a group of two, however I do not hold any physical proof beyond that.


As in a child’s game of tag, where one person is “it.” When in a team enters a Survival mode game, a similar occurrence happens. One of the members of the Tenno team will be invisibly tagged and all their kills will offer up a greater number of Life Support Modules from eliminated enemies than the other Tenno in the party. Because of this it is incredibly important when first starting to kill, to find out who among the party is tagged “it.”

Example: We have a party of four people, a Frost, a Trinity, a Nekros, and a Rhino. They all join a T2 Survival. After loading in they begin confronting mobs as they move to Room #1.


“Not it” says Rhino

“Not it” says Frost

“it! nekros” says Nekros


Now the entire team knows that the Nekros is tagged and will need to do the majority of the killing to get the maximum amount of Life Support Modules. Nekros decides, because he only has a MK-1 Braton and wants to spam Desecrate, to tag out.


“tagging out” says Nekros.


He then proceeds to allow mobs to incapacitate him (place him in a bleed out stage). Once he is incapacitated the invisible tag will switch to one of the remaining players still on their feet.


Choosing a Defense Location

Tactically it is easier to defend against attackers on one Front, than it is to defend against attackers on Multiple Fronts. Because of this, when choosing a defense location in Survival, it is best to choose a location that forces mobs to funnel towards the group through a singular location. As an example see the Screenshot at the start of this post. All mobs, with the exception of the rare Leaper who jumps over the rail, are funneling towards Frost through one location. This means Frost neither has to defend behind nor on the sides, so all focus can be directed forward towards the one location where Frost’s enemies are funneling towards him.


This not only makes killing mobs faster and more efficient than running aimlessly about the map, but it also increases the rate the mobs spawn. Additionally it makes looting incredibly easy and with a Carrier Sentinel and Ammo Mutation all Frost needs to do is walk to the start of the ramp and near instantly he refills both Life Support and ammo.



Use all Life Support Capsules in Room #1. When the last Capsule is used, STOP KILLING mobs, and proceed as a group to Room #2. When you reach room #2, STAY PUT and especially STAY AWAY from DOORS. This may entail patiently waiting for 3-5min for mobs to catch up and find you. Kill whatever does enter the room through the doors, but ABSOLUTELY under NO CIRCUMSTANCES leave the room or enter the halls. Initially, mobs will trickle in and your air may drop to uncomfortable levels (3-5%). It is usually at around 10-15% life support that every Noob freaks out and runs to Room #3 to pop a Life Support Capsule. This is possibly the worst thing anyone can do for the team when using this method. As once a Air Capsule is used in Room #3, the order in which the capsules drop changes and you will no longer be able to solely stay in Room #2. Only use the Life Support Capsules that drop in Room #2. Leave when your team no longer has the capacity to kill enemies.


Advanced Tactics

The sooner everyone can get to Room #2 the faster you can control the mobs spawns and get them to your desired defensive position. This means it is most efficient to have the entire group move to Room #2 as quickly as possible at the start of the game. You will however need to send one party member to go back to Room #1 to use the Life Support Capsules that drop there. It is very important that whomever accepts this responsibility also kill as few as mobs as possible once they leave Room #2. Basically run back to Room #1 ignoring mobs, use all capsules, and run back to Room #2.  Remember the further you kill mobs from your defensive position the longer it will take them to find the team again. I recommend waiting till Life Support reaches around 40% unless, Room #1 had 3 capsule locations, than waiting till around 15% lifesupport will be ideal. The Runner needs to be able to use all capsules in Room #1 in one trip.


There are certain Warframe skills that I personally feel are incredibly sloppy and counterproductive to the team when using this method. Firstly Molecular Prime, because it goes through walls, slows mob progress (fast nova excused from this), and ultimately the mobs may die outside the room Tenno are defending thus pushing spawns further from group. If a mob dies in the hall while heading to Room #2 than it will respawn not in the hall, but one room away from the hall it was killed in. Also, Molecular Prime will spread loot throughout the room. This does not mean Nova is ineffective; in fact Antimatter drop is very effective for this method. Another Warframe skill to avoid if possible is Nyx’s Chaos. This may have a similar effect as Molecular Prime, pushing mob spawns away from Tenno and Room #2. Like Molecular Prime it also scatters loot and  slows the killing process. Other skills to avoid include Tornado and Tentacle Swarm which can also be very destructive to this method.


There are certain Warframe skills that I personally feel are incredibly useful and productive to the team when using this method. For example, when defending a single Front, Vortex can be used to block the front and entirely halt mob progress towards the group. Snow Globe is of course a very useful skill for Tower Survivals, blocking heavy fire and keeping Tenno on their feet.


If you are planning on staying a long time, it is a good idea to have an “Escape Pod.” Valkyr using Hysteria can make it to the exit so everyone receives their rewards, even when other Tenno cannot due to insanely high mob levels.


I’m sure I have other tips and tricks, but my brain is fried after writing this wall of text. I will try and update this as I think of other things that may be useful.


Whew. I hope some of my fellow Tenno find this information helpful.  Have fun and Enjoy!


EDIT: As requested by a Fellow Tenno, here is a rather long (16:19 min) video of an example of the strategy above. My apologies for the poor quality, I just threw it together on my Lunch break.






Video Related Explinations (please read before or as you watch)

Due to time constraints today, I am unable to add a more thorough video guide full of descriptive texts, dialogue, etc. I did a quick recording and edit to seem the video together and cut out load time. In many aspects it’s a rather poor example, I didn’t equip for a Survival mission and was just using stuff I had on from yesterday when I was helping a friend farm for Delta to make a Hek Triangulator. I spent a fair amount of time goofing off in mission as well.


Firstly, I started by showing the the Eternal’s build I am currently using, so that when I am blocking shots while firing Ignis or avoiding knockdowns, viewers will understand how. While it has been suggest by some in the community that the Eternal’s build is a melee only build, having been using it, I clearly know better. For weapon switching I use mouse wheel up for guns and mouse wheel down for fast swtich to melee. Makes cycling far less clumsy than using “F” key in my opinion.


After starting the alarm, you will notice I pass mobs to get to first room, I then begin checking halls for the door to find Room #2. Being Colorblind I can’t always distinguish the colors around doors so often I have to actually walk up to them to see if they will open. The second door I check leads me to Room #2, where I find the Exit door and mark it. Mark is merely for the video viewers. I already know this is a horrible room for defending as there isn’t really a funnel area. I head back to Room #1. This room is also a rather horrible room for defending as the best location I found was in a corner where you have two defensive fronts. I globed and screenshot for posting later. I mess around while killing time waiting for Life Support to decrease so I can pop capsule and head to Room #2.


When I get to Room #2, In an attempt to show what I have explained previously, I start by trying out one location in the “empty doorway.” Having already worked out mob spawns and such, I’m about 95% positive mobs will never spawn through that door. The bad: there is a line of sight issue with this area causing mobs to immediately camp upon entering from the far hall. This is especially bad as I want mobs to rush me. If you find a location is not working, move. I move to a secondary location. This location allows me to avoid line of sight meaning mobs will come look for me, however it does give mobs the advantage as they have cover and can easily shoot down on you from behind it.(At around 6:50min there is a fun spot when reflex guard activates as an Ancient tries to slap me and he kills himself from the reflection damage. :D lol)


You’ll notice that I never proceed to Room #3, there is a brief moment when it is necessary for me to jump into the hall to Room #3 to grab the air that’s on the ground, but following my own guidelines I try and keep from killing anything and head right back into Room #2. Unfortunately I was getting neither the mob spawns I wanted nor the air drops I needed for a long stay, but in truth not every Tower will be the Ideal perfect run. Sometimes you are going to need to problem solve in the mission for instance Mobs were hanging at the door of Room #1.


While in Room #2 you will notice I am forced to wait out the Life Support Capsule drop and as explained above you will see my air drop to “uncomfortable” levels (near 0%). Partly this is due to the fact that Room #3 has three Life Support Capsule locations. I can know this fact even without entering Room #3, because it takes three capsule drops before Life Support begins showing up in my room on the fourth drop. Due to low mob count and low module drops I wasn’t exactly able to get a stack of Capsules going off map, but I was able to wait it out long enough to show how when one air capsule is used, the next spawns in immediately in the same room. You will also be able to see how the locations of Capsules alternate between the two drop locations in the room.


Other things of note: When in room #1 I set off trap which starts lasers. Ideally you want to destroy these lasers as they will kill mobs that spawn in when you are not present in a room. This means annoying air drops scattered around the map.


Thanks for watching. I will try and get together a more shining example of gameplay as time permits (Hopefully this weekend).



Edited by Austerity
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nice guide, but i think not many here play with people where they can make rules or restrictions. No one ever listens to you.

Usually when i play survivals i play like a madman in the beginning, go berserk and kill as much as possible. Then around 50 minute mark live from towers only. Since early on drop rate of oxygen is same as on higher levels. But early on you can clear entire rooms in miliseconds.

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nice guide, but i think not many here play with people where they can make rules or restrictions. No one ever listens to you.

Usually when i play survivals i play like a madman in the beginning, go berserk and kill as much as possible. Then around 50 minute mark live from towers only. Since early on drop rate of oxygen is same as on higher levels. But early on you can clear entire rooms in miliseconds.


You have a very good point, and I'm sure this guide will not be for everyone. Hopefully though with Tower 4 Survivals out, it will help people reach the rewards they need.

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One of the members of the Tenno team will be invisibly tagged and all their kills will offer up a greater number of Life Support Modules from eliminated enemies than the other Tenno in the party. 


This is the first time I've seen this posted, or even hinted at. It would explain some inconsistencies, but seems like a really convoluted mechanic to be implemented. I'm a little skeptical that this is a thing.


Other than that, the guide is extremely helpful. Unfortunately the people who most need to read it, likely wont, and those of us who will read it, already know it :S

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Hey Darzk, Your the guy that wanted to put shield's on the Eternal's build. I posted an update just a bit ago if you get the opportunity please go read it. Might enlighten you a bit oh the build. the Eternal's build (update week 2)


This is the first time I've seen this posted, or even hinted at. It would explain some inconsistencies, but seems like a really convoluted mechanic to be implemented. I'm a little skeptical that this is a thing.


Thanks for stopping by and reading through the guide. I understand the skepticism. And I'm hoping people will test it out for themselves. I imagine the game mechanic works something like when we used to get tagged by stalker, but never received any kind of notice in regards to it. As mentioned, it is merely a theory based on observation and has really only been tested in a group of two. Theories can be wrong and I will happily edit the guide and give credit to anyone that finds different.


Edit: I decided a slightly better explanation was in order. By explaining how i came to the conclusion in regards to a player being tagged "it". Back in December, I was duo in a Tower Survival. I was killing a large quantity of mobs and getting very little air modules. Around 25 minutes in my partner was knocked down. After reviving him, I began killing again, only now I noticed something different. I was getting the bulk of the air modules from mobs. "very interesting" I thought to myself. Subsequently I went and play tested my theory in multiple games with a team of two. Every time the result was the same which led me to my conclusion there must be some kind of invisible tag.

Edited by Austerity
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I seem to have the same sort of results with regards to the tagging thing. We were doing a T1 Survival last night, and I was the only person on the team getting O2 capsules for some reason. I need to a lot more testing with a group of 4 players, but a confirmation froma  dev would be fantastic.

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Very good read. I did not know about the tag system. Will definitely want to confirm that personally.

On a related note, since it was not mentioned, I find Loki to be one of the most useful frame in survivals. It is ideal for many of the situations described above, including activating Life Support behind enemy lines (without killing anything), and escaping to extraction behind tons of enemies even when Life Support runs out. While lacking a killing ult, Radial Disarm can be very useful if keeping damage to the team under control, and also good for funneling enemies (since they will generally rush towards the team when out of ranged weapons, allowing then to be killed in a smaller area).

Thanks for the extremely helpful post.

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My group was totally annihilated by Vor when practicing this, haha! Still a great guide though!

lol.. it is worth mentioning again to the general readers that this guide is for survival missions where the bottleneck is lack of life support.

When the bottleneck is to prevent getting killed by mobs of high level enemies led by a boss-class entity I think different strategies are required (in fact, most of which will be "opposite" to what is recommended in the guide)

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Thanks for this....it was much needed.   I admit, I've posted most of what you've said in some of my post over the past year, I never wrote a guide or outright put all the specifics out there though...just felt most wouldn't bother reading it.   So again thanks for doing this...it will only help those who want help or those that we refer to this post.   This would be worthy of a sticky in any game forum.

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Thank you everyone that has taken the time to read through the wall of text to understand the methods in the guide. I'm happy to hear people are trying it out, and wish everyone the best of success.


thats pretty good. i am hitting around ~90KpM.




That's awesome. I haven't tried checking my KpM since around Janurary. Seeing your total makes me want to go grind. Were you on a specific tileset? Infested? I actually wish the old RAID games were still available. Since after grabbing the artifact the mobs would alarm and the number of spawns seemed like it tripled in an endless flow. I imagine these would have been great fun for raising your KpM to phenomenal levels.


My group was totally annihilated by Vor when practicing this, haha! Still a great guide though!



Thanks for trying it out. Sorry to hear about your team wipe. I found it usually takes 3-4 runs before people really get the hang of it, but afterwards its basically a no brainer. I'm including a few further notes below that may help. I believe you are incredibly brave, trying out a new method in the hardest of the Towers. And that Vor is great fun, regardless the outcome. Just wish those T4 keys weren't stuffed 20min into the most slow and boring mission type. 


lol.. it is worth mentioning again to the general readers that this guide is for survival missions where the bottleneck is lack of life support.

When the bottleneck is to prevent getting killed by mobs of high level enemies led by a boss-class entity I think different strategies are required (in fact, most of which will be "opposite" to what is recommended in the guide)


Thanks for trying to clarify smithf, however I believe you are mistaken. While the guide was written before Tickle me Vor entered Survival, a well grouped and informed team should not have too much trouble with him. I expect there are multiple quick guides out there already to defeating him. Hint: tickle his stomach, makes him implode with laughter. As soon as people learn to deal with him, he will turn into less of a Stop Sign and become more of a speed bump for survival missions. To understand how to deal with high level mobs, see below. 




The method was designed not only to combat Life Support, but also to handle high level mobs. I intentionally left the guide a bit vague in this area, leaving up tactics once in Room #2 to the team (this was probably a poor decision and I will edit and update the guide accordingly) For myself when solo, I found that I could just sit in one location without moving and defend, rather than run around the room looking for stuff to kill (this may not be the most exciting for a team of four). Now if you add to this a team of four in a single spot focusing fire power in a single direction, than four players should be able to easily surpass any times I was achieving as the firepower from four will greatly out DpS (Damage per Second) a solo player in many instances (of course this will be based on equipment). Think four players in an area the size of Frost's Globe. For some groups of four I imagine it is more fun to run around the room killing than to stay put in a single location, however it might be a good idea for that team to decide a defense "Rally" point upon entering Room #2, so when things begin to get tough, everyone in the group understands there is a singular point for regrouping and defending. For example: think of the way people group when a G3, Harvester (Zanuka), or Stalker encounter happens.


I'm happy to share what has worked for me. When I get to Room #2, I try and find the easiest dependable location that meets the criteria in the guide (away from doors, single front defense) and then I stay put. I don't wander around the room killing. Some rooms are perfect for this, while others are not so much. As the adage goes "When given lemons, make lemonade" so even with the worse rooms I tried to find what i considered the best locations. I think what might be easiest, is to get on Frost, take a few Void trips to drop Globes, and get screenshots of the locations that I found easiest to defend. Some locations will vary depending on locked doors and such. I will Edit these onto the end of the guide as soon as possible to help people. 


I'd also like to encourage others to continue to post what worked for them or what didn't, share areas your team found useful for defense, screenshots of your epic adventures, or even better, things you experienced that might help improve the method for others.


Again, my humble thanks to the community.




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