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How the card system works in Back 4 Blood

an enemy turning to face the player in back 4 blood
(Image credit: Turtle Rock)

How does the Back 4 Blood cards system work? You probably expected some gunslinging in Turtle Rock's co-op FPS, but the roguelike card system may be a bit of a surprise. It’s important to understand this feature, though, as it has a big impact on every game. While the game director relies on Corruption cards to make life in the zombie apocalypse as unpleasant as possible, the player relies on Active cards to create life-saving strategies.

If you want to know more about the card system, or if you’re looking for some of the best Back 4 Blood cards so far, I've got you covered.

Back 4 Blood Corruption cards

At the start of your game, the Game Director presents a set of Corruption cards. As you may have guessed, these are meant to make things more difficult for you and your team. First, they can influence the type of Ridden (enemies, formerly humans) you’re up against by giving them more speed or armor, or by spawning extra Special Infected like the Tallboy or Crusher.

Corruption cards may cause certain events. If you’re unlucky, you’ll have to survive rampaging hordes or a power outage during your campaign. They may also present you with a challenge. Although these cards can be very tricky, you do get a reward if you still manage to complete the level.

Back 4 Blood Active cards

Before a game starts, you get to pick a deck and draw one of five Active cards (a process repeated after reaching the safe room). These cards may help you counter Corruption Card effects, so choose wisely. 

To create custom decks (Campaign Mode only), look for the NPC with the cowboy hat in the Fort Hope starting area. He’s sitting in front of one of the tents. Remember that many Campaign cards are still locked if you’re early on. You’ll get more by simply playing the game and earning supply points. 

Before you save your first Active card deck, know that the order of the cards matter. The ones on top are drawn first. Furthermore, the first will be your starter card. You always use this one, so you make sure it’s good and versatile. 

(Image credit: Turtle Rock)

The best Back 4 Blood cards

But which Back 4 Blood cards are the best for your deck? Naturally, they're the ones that fit the character of your choosing. For example, the Battle Lust card (melee kills recover 2 health) is great if you play as Holly, but not so much if you play as Doc. 

Based on the Early Access and beta versions of Back 4 Blood, a few cards stood out for their usefulness. The game breaks them up in four categories (Reflex, Discipline, Brawn, and Fortune), and also splits them into four types (Offense, Defense, Mobility, and Utility). 

Here’s an overview of some of the best Back 4 Blood cards divided by type. Check the brackets to see their category and whether or not you’ll find them in Versus mode. Keep in mind that some card effects may be adjusted for PvP:

Offense

(Image credit: Turtle Rock)

Adrenaline Fueled (Reflex): Increases your Stamina by 100% but decreases your stamina regeneration by 75%. However, you will also regain 10 Stamina (and an additional 10 Stamina over the next 5 seconds) for each kill, so you can work your way around the negative. 

Combat Knife (Discipline): If you use Bash on a Ridden, you will automatically use a knife that counts as a melee weapon. A very useful way to get extra melee kills, and it works great with other melee buffs.

Bomb Squad (Brawn, Versus): Deals 100% extra explosive damage and increases your resistance to explosives by 35%. It’s especially useful to Hoffman, but any player would probably enjoy this one. 

Avenge the Fallen (Discipline): Don’t want to drag down the team? Or do you have a less experienced friend who can use a bit of help? Then try to pick this card: if you or another teammate becomes incapacitated, all allies gain +30% damage, +20% reload speed, and unlimited ammo for ten seconds. 

Defense

back 4 blood defense cards

(Image credit: Turtle Rock)

Antibiotic Ointment (Discipline, Versus): This one is simple, but helpful: it grants 30% more healing efficiency in Campaign, and 45% more healing efficiency plus 5 extra Health in Versus mode. 

Group Therapy (Discipline, Versus): If you use a medical item, every team member heals for 10 HP. This is especially great for Mom, as she always has an additional support slot.

Charitable Soul (Discipline, Versus): A great way to use the team’s support items more efficiently: if you heal a teammate, you will also heal yourself for 100% the amount healed. 

Mobility

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Breakout (Reflex, Versus): You can free yourself from grabs by holding E, which is a true lifesaver. 

Run and Gun (Fortune, Versus): This card enables shooting while sprinting. This is almost always a handy perk to have, and even more so when combined with a stamina boost. 

Cross Trainers (Reflex, Versus): Another one for the ‘always handy’ category. Cross Trainers will increase your stamina and stamina regeneration by 20%, grant you 3% extra movement speed, and give you +5 health. It can be used in Versus mode as well, granting you +40% stamina and 10 health.

Utility

(Image credit: Turtle Rock)

Money Grubbers (Fortune): It’s not really essential, but the entire team gets 5 additional copper (up to a total of 100) every time  it's picked up. It's always good to get some extra cash.

Ammo Scavenger (Discipline): Spawns more ammo and grants you the ability to sense nearby ammo. Given the scarcity of ammo in Back 4 Blood, this Utility card can help you solve the issue. You may not need it if Hoffman’s on the team though.