Defense tactics

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For defensive constructions against threats, see Defense structures .


Getting attacked, whether by tribals, pirates or hordes of angry animals is a common event in the rimworlds. Defense against these attacks is one of the keys to having a successful colony.

This page details different tactics for defense and visualizations of them, applicable to most stages of the game.

Raiders

Behavior

Raiders will attack randomly chosen constructed objects, colonists and colony animals. They will not attack natural rock walls (not the case for sappers), non-hostile wild animals or unpowered turrets. They will also attack prisoners if they are captured from their enemy factions.

They usually set fire to crops in growing zones, power generation or conduits, and other production buildings. They will melee attack furniture, doors and walls. They also use thrown explosives on structures, and some use EMP grenades to stun your turrets.

Raiders will prioritise firing on colonists or turrets that are actively engaging, but will otherwise attack random objects, meaning you can put doors or walls near your defenses to temporarily distract them.

Preparation

Humanlike raiders will sometimes start by standing around in a group where they spawned and will continue this until they see a colonist nearby or they hit a certain preparation time limit, at which point they begin the assault. Because a colonist can set them off early, you can plan out the time you want them to attack.

Equipment

Raiders spawn with randomized equipment depending on their weapon and clothing budget and their raider type.

Apparel

Pirates can range from only wearing a tattered pair of pants to armor vests to full sets of power armor. Mercenary slashers will always come in shield belts and only they do so.
Tribals always come in tribalwear, with some in war masks or war veils.

In cold environments, both will come in wearing parkas or tuques, protecting them from temperatures of around -40 to -50°C, sometimes up to -110°C if they wear wool parkas. They don't usually come in wearing dusters or cowboy hats in hot areas, making them vulnerable to the heat.

They tend to wear leather, cloth or synthread clothes, which don't provide good protection, and less commonly the more protective devilstrand or hyperweave.

While mid-late game pirates usually come with around 30% - 40% sharp protection, with quality apparel you can push yours to have more than 70%, giving you the upper hand.

Weapons

Pirates spawn with whatever weapons their faction is willing to provide them. They can charge at your colonists with mid-class spears and longswords, or basic clubs or shivs, and fire at you with a variety of ranged weapons, too- a broken pistol, a long-ranged sniper rifle, high damage miniguns or even explosive weapons are all part of their arsenal.
Tribals always come equipped with primitive weapons like bows or pila, as well as simpler melee weapons such as the spear and the unique ikwa.

Weapons are assigned at random, meaning that more often than not raiders don't get to use a weapon appropriate for their skills; brawlers can often be seen charging into battle with a gun and a -20 mood penalty, supported by skilled shooters which try to shoot with a melee weapon before giving up and charging in.
However, some classes of raider always come with the same (category of) weapon. For example, mercenary snipers always use sniper rifles, grenadiers wield some form of thrown explosive and scythers always use the charge lance.

If you have your colonists equip suitable weapons according to their skills, you already have a sizeable advantage over the raiders, with gunners capable of properly connecting shots, supported by brawlers that rarely miss and can evade enemy attacks.

Drugs

Pirates or Outlanders may utilize some form of combat-enhancing drug, namely go-juice, yayo and luciferium. They will usually start off addicted to them, and will carry some in their inventory which is dropped upon death. They may also use multiple drugs, disregarding the risk of overdose.

Some drugs can eliminate most of the pain received, making the raider last much longer in battle before getting downed or dying. They may also grant increased movement speed, meaning that raiders can get into position earlier, and brawlers can harass your defenders more easily.

  • Go-juice is an excellent combat drug that makes the raider much more efficient in battle. It eliminates 90% of pain, gives a 30% movement speed buff, and gives an additional 10% consciousness buff for more accuracy. The raider is almost guaranteed to fight until death, or the rarer case of incapacitation through a shattered spine, severe brain damage or removal of both legs. It's almost always more worth it to use body part-destroying weapons such as the Sniper rifle to kill them, as Go-juice does not reduce the actual damage they take.
  • Yayo isn't as good a combat drug as go-juice, but still grants a 15% buff to speed and eliminates half of pain received.
  • Luciferium grants a wide range of buffs to the user, from increased organ function, to slight movement speed and consciousness buffs, to reduced pain. It's more troublesome to capture addicted raiders since you'll need to regularly feed them Luciferium to sustain their lives, which is very expensive and hard to come by -- it's usually more worthwhile to just strip and finish them on the spot.

Battle tactics

You can face off your opponents in a variety of methods. These methods are more aggressive, and focus more on defeating enemies than holding off against them.

Hit and run

Against slow or static targets you can employ a hit-and-run strategy to weaken them. You will need several fast-moving long-ranged colonists, possibly with sniper rifles. Draft them and have them move within range to fire. Once the enemy returns fire, quickly have them exit firing range. Repeat until conditions are no longer safe to conduct this attack, such as enemies entering full aggression and charging.

Effective against siege camps and preparing raiders for they tend to stay put at their location until they are aggravated into attacking.

Kiting

This tactic works effectively in some situations, but it is risky.

It involves the use of fast colonists (with 120-140% or more Moving) running near the enemy to gain their attention. Then, the kiters will proceed to outrun them, while always staying within their attention range. After running far enough, fire a few shots at them before continuing to run. This way, kiters can distract a group of enemies by leading them around the map, while chipping away at their health. A fast, long range weapon is safest (e.g. assault rifle), while a fast moderate-range weapon (e.g. machine pistol) may be used but is more risky. Slow weapons such as sniper rifles are not recommended as the need to stand still puts soldiers in grave danger.

The kiting colonist should be armored to guard against the risks involved, without being slowed down too much. The kiter should always stay near the enemy so as to grab their attention, otherwise the enemy will decide to engage other targets instead.

As long as your colonist safely outruns hostiles, you're fine. However, if the enemy catches up, your colonist will be slowed and on his own.

Flanking

To flank enemies, have some defenders approach enemies from the sides or the back instead of concentrating fire on the front.

Enemy ranged units often stay in the same spot when engaging your colonists, and they tend to have effective cover facing one direction only, making them vulnerable to flanking. Flanking enemy ranged units can distract them and cause them to lose their cover advantage with attacks coming from multiple sides. While this makes you lose the advantage of high-quality cover, it is balanced out by the enemy's loss of cover.

This works best against entrenched ranged enemies attacking you from one side. They should be occupied with attacking frontal targets so you can creep up to them to unload lead on them from another angle. It's even better if you pair with melee to tie them up, buying time for your soldiers to get into position and preventing them from moving into new positions.

Rounding up any survivors fleeing after the attack also becomes easier if you have someone blocking off escapes from behind.

Moving in

While moving in you need to make sure you stay far enough away from enemies. Directly right-clicking on the destination will nearly always result in a path that brings your flankers straight into the enemy, which isn't good.

This can be overcome by shift-clicking to form a path for the pawn to follow, making sure to keep sufficient distance.

Wide arc flank

This tactic is about scattering your fighters in a wide arc facing your enemies. Rather than huddling together behind continuous lines of cover such as lines of rock chunks, each soldier should be hiding on their own behind trees or rock chunks, and be able to shoot straight at the enemy without anyone else in between.

This gives more flexibility in positioning as well as greatly reduced vulnerability against explosives or collateral damage. Engaging your flankers also causes the enemy's fire to be scattered, so focus fire won't take down anyone easily.

Shield distracting is especially effective when paired with this, though shield tanks need to be arranged carefully so as to be able to tank without taking friendly fire.

Perfect against preparation raids or in-construction siege camps when you can't use your static cover and they won't directly attack your base upon arrival. However if the enemy has a significant cover advantage (such as sandbags) then this tactic may not work out in your favor.

Surrounding

If you have enough soldiers and suitable cover you can surround them completely to block off their escape. This requires the enemy be significantly occupied up front so you can sneak up behind them.

Spacing out

This tactic involves putting space between each defending member of the colony. Each colonist should ideally stand 1 tile away from another colonist. This negates the chance of enemy bullets hitting somebody else after missing the original target, and also makes explosive weapons hit fewer colonists.

If you have the space, you can arrange colonists to stand 3 tiles away from each other. That way, crowd control weapons such as miniguns or heavy charge blasters can't hit at all, and explosive weapons have greatly reduced effectiveness.

Melee tactics

Melee soldiers are a useful asset in your colonies, if used correctly. They can bring disruption against ranged enemies, or fight off invading brawlers charging into your lines.

Ranged attackers shooting behind cover from a distance could be a pain to deal with for your own ranged forces, while melee attackers can get close enough to deal heavy damage to the ranged defenders.

It's best to equip your melee colonists with Shield belts and good armor to protect against heavy fire from both sides and distract the ranged attackers. Melee attackers without the protection of shields are highly vulnerable to gunfire, even if heavily armored. Before battle, hide your melee attackers so that they remain hidden until all enemy melee attackers are engaged in battle, or put them in line in front of your gunners for quick deployment and damage absorption.

Friendly fire from range is a serious issue in hand-to-hand combat, as you can easily hit your own fighter. A ranged character in any of the adjoining spaces will prevent issues with non-explosive friendly fire.

Melee sortie

This tactic involves using a small element of melee colonists to ambush enemy ranged attackers and take the heat off your own gunners.

Sending groups of melee attackers against enemy shooters can cause great disruption, because being engaged in melee interrupts ranged attacks, prevents further attacks from occurring and lowers movement speed drastically. It can be used to take down annoying long-ranged snipers or small gunner groups, as when forced into melee they can only fight back with makeshift melee attacks with their guns, which are woefully inadequate against a dedicated brawler.

Charging at entrenched ranged attackers also diverts their attention from your own entrenched forces to your charging brawlers.

Melee rush

Melee rushing is the tactic of sending your melee attackers to engage hostiles all at once, rather than focusing on shooting them down or sending small parties to take down troublesome enemies.

Melee rushes can work alone, especially with quality equipment; well-equipped melee rushes can hold off an attack and cause raiders to flee despite being slightly outnumbered. They also attract a great deal of friendly fire from the pirates, as they try to shoot down your brawlers, hitting their allies in the process.

If you aren't afraid of friendly fire, it can be combined with a firing squad from a distance for devastating effects. The brawlers cause chaos within the raiding party while the firing squad lays fire to destroy them while the raiders are trying to cope with your brawlers.

Against all-melee charges, your own melee rush is a good counter strategy, though be prepared to see someone downed or killed in the chaos.

Peeling

If a vulnerable gunner is under attack by melee attackers, you can 'peel' them away using your brawlers. Have them engage the melee attackers, then get the gunner to run away from the enemy. The melee attackers will then focus on your brawlers, allowing your gunner to get to relative safety. This is often required against enemy melee rushes or manhunter packs, as they are prone to getting swarmed before they can take down enough enemies to lessen the threat visibly.

Trained animals automatically peel for their assigned masters, if 'Release animals' is Off. The animals will attack any hostiles coming close rather than straying off to attack distant targets.
Setting 'Release animals' to On right when a colonist in distress near the trainer allows the animals to swarm the attacker, peeling them off.

Peeling is a relatively high-risk activity, as you are trying to put a pawn at risk in return for allowing a pawn at greater risk to escape. Peeling pawns should be expendable or decently armored.

Tanking

This tactic simply requires you put your shielded or heavily-armored colonists before your static gunners to partially soak up gunfire.

As with any tactic involving meat shields, this poses a great risk to colonists' lives. If the colonists' shields are downed and they are not well-armored, you will have to get them to retreat behind cover until their shields come back online, otherwise your colonist will be exposed to ruthless gunfire.

Beware of high damage-per-hit weapons which can instantly down weaker shields.

Shield distraction

Scattering shielded colonists a distance from your lines of cover helps draw a great amount of fire off your gunners. This is even more effective if your frontliners have cover to block off more bullets.

Distracting rockets

Rocket launchers are painful to deal with, due to the huge damage they deal to a massive area. In the mid-late game they are one of the biggest threats from the enemy.
The best way to deal with them is to distract them to fire elsewhere, in order to greatly reduce the amount of damage received.

Raiders with rocket launchers are often seen in the backline preparing their rockets, while their allies lay down fire at the front. They get distracted quite easily, wasting them on animals or lone colonists. This can be exploited simply by charging them with melee units, which will cause them to fire it towards them and away from the rest of your forces. They may fire at point-blank, injuring many of his comrades and themselves. If you're fast, you can even intercept them before they can aim their rocket launcher, forcing them into hand-to-hand combat, eventually overwhelming them and yielding the launcher which can be captured for future use.

This is a high-risk but usually necessary move to take. Some pawns may need to be sacrificed to protect the rest.

You have to make that colonist the only available target for them to consider attacking. If they have a better target with less possible friendly fire, they will also attack them instead. To combat this, have all your other units, including animals, stay completely out of line-of-sight until after the rocket launchers are neutralized.

Shield charge

Have brawlers equipped with shield belts and heavy armor charge directly into the fray, striking down rocketeers as first priority. Their shields will block the blast as well as some gunfire. As soon as all rocketeers have discharged, quickly return to cover.

The use of colonists, even when shielded, is especially risky. Their shields are likely to be broken from the resulting concentrated gunfire even if it did survive the blast, exposing the colonist to ruthless gunfire. They also need to charge deep into the enemy as rocketeers tend to stay in the backline.

Expendable animal charge

Have animals that are both expendable and fast charge the enemy, rocket soldiers included. It's especially good if the animals can survive a rocket blast, as it allows them to continue distracting any further rocket launches or enemy fire.

They do not need to be obedience trained, as you can use animal area zones to force them into areas, however animals have a delay before moving into their assigned zones and may be very far away, so this is less effective when enemies are already charging in.

While this can effectively distract at a lower cost, since animals can't be commanded to attack a specific target, you can't focus on the rocketeers in order to stop them firing.

This can be combined with the above shield charge to take gunfire off your fighters while they approach rocketeers to beat them up.

Rescue

When a colonist is downed or severely injured, drag them out of the fight immediately to be patched up. Don't leave them there otherwise they risk dying from stray bullets or blood loss.

Colonists lying outside cover are riskier to rescue. Choose the right time to pull them out, using your best-protected colonists, and don't let anyone near at other times. If needed, have an active combatant drop them behind your lines, then get them to safety with someone else.

You should have a few rescue members stand near a fight to pull out downed colonists. Non-combatant doctors should be drafted to stand near the medicine storage to allow them to quickly grab medicine for treatment.

Spacing out your forces prevents the downed colonist from receiving further fire until being rescued.

If a colonist cannot reach the hospital in time (~2 hours from death or less), have them immediately lie down at a temporary sleeping spot safely outside the battlefield, then have the doctor closest to the medicine storage go and treat the colonist ASAP. Patch colonists up a little such that they can reach the hospital without bleeding out, then carry them there. You will have a higher infection chance this way, but it's faster than having the doctor carry the colonist into the hospital.

Friendly fire management

Friendly fire is a serious issue when facing close-range attackers, especially manhunter packs. If they manage to run past your barrage of gunfire to engage your ranged soldiers, they will receive more injuries from friendly fire in the ensuing chaos than the attackers themselves. You need to be careful when directing your troops so you don't hit your own forces by accident.

Pawns can fire over the shoulders of friendlies up to 1 tile away, meaning that you can have a 3-wide row of soldiers without friendly fire (which is not recommended- see below).

  1. Only let the soldiers closest to melee attackers fire at them. Manually re-target the others to fire at another direction, repositioning them if needed.
  2. Disable 'Fire at will' when the enemies are closing in so they won't switch targets, potentially causing friendly fire.
  3. Have only 1 line of shooters so stray bullets, including bullets fired horizontally at melee attackers, will less likely hit someone.
  4. When the enemy breaks the ranks, reposition your ranged soldiers so they don't hit each other easily.

Firing at cover

While cover works best against attacks coming straight, it's usually better to fire straight at the target instead of from an angle. If you fire straight at it, only 1 unit of cover will be effective, but if you shoot at a diagonal angle, 2 units of cover will be effective, both being capable of blocking shots, in total contributing to a higher cover effectiveness.

However, if you can get to the point where you're almost firing horizontally at the raiders, then cover becomes nearly ineffective at protecting the raider, allowing many more shots to connect. This often requires you get out of your own cover, so it's not recommended unless you can find suitable cover nearby.

For skilled medium-long range shooters it's best to shoot from a great angle to hit them from the sides.
However for not-so-good or short ranged shooters it's better to directly fire at them instead as the extra distance will make it harder to land hits, or cause the raider to exit firing range.

The below shows the difference firing angle makes on the hit chance of a pawn hiding behind cover. All values from Alpha 16.

Point-blank firing

Many guns deal more damage at point-blank than directly using them as melee. This is helpful for gunners armed with ranged weapons, as it makes it a little easier to fight off melee enemies. It also allows firing through shield belts to directly deal damage to the enemy inside.

Gunners need to be manually directed to fire at the enemy since they will automatically engage in melee when an enemy picks a fight with them.

Body blocking

Bodyblocking raiders in a chokepoint with 1 melee soldier and 4 short-ranged soldiers.

You can deny raiders access to locations by physically blocking them with your colonists or animals. This can be used to delay their entry into your base, stop prison breaks or seal off escape routes for enemies.

You will need to use heavily armored soldiers to body block active combatants, as they will take a lot of hits while blocking, and even so they will eventually collapse due to sustained damage.

With a 1-tile wide chokepoint combined with measures to force enemies into melee range, 1 melee soldier can hold off a lot of enemies. This can be bolstered with up to 4 short-ranged gunners laying fire over the melee soldier's shoulder.

Baiting

Faster, more well-protected colonists can be used to lead enemies into traps or ambushes. This is for situations when you have defenses concentrated in one direction, but the enemy comes from another.

Animals

The animals on the map, tamed or not, can be used to your advantage.

Raiders never come using tamed animals so the advantage of animals on your side is solely yours.

Tamed animal release

With your handlers, you can amass a huge army of animals to charge the enemy. Simply find a good combat-capable animal, tame it, and train it to learn Release.

There are many animals that are good for this purpose.

  1. Wild boars are an excellent choice as they can graze, reproduce quickly, move fast and pack a punch.
  2. Squirrels are a surprisingly good choice despite their low DPS and health; they are exceedingly fast and small, making them hard to hit, as well as reproduce fast.
  3. If you like bigger animals, you can also tame elephants or rhinos.
  4. Boomrats are a suitable choice of animal if you want an army of suicide bombers.
    • Boomalopes are less effective as they are much slower and easier to hit, despite a much bigger explosion radius and higher melee DPS.

Tamed animals also cause pirates to fire near their allies in a bid to get them off their allies, potentially causing friendly fire. This is especially true for smaller animals.

Meat shield

The animals surrounding a handler can be used as a convenient meat shield as they take bullets, arrows and other ranged attacks (but not explosives) for their master. Provided they don't stray too far, they won't receive friendly fire as the shooters simply fire over them. All you need is to train Obedience, instead of Release.

You can also position your colonists behind animals if you're desperate for cover. This works with any animal, even non-tamed, but is less effective as the animal will wander around on its own, while trained animals will surround their master. You also risk having the animals go manhunter and turn on your colonists, especially if the animal is prone to aggression.

Strategic zoning

Raiders take their sweet time to exterminate any trace of your tamed animals on the map. This can be exploited to your advantage, as long as you're willing to have a few animals valiantly sacrifice themselves.

  • Distraction: If you let your animals run all over the place, raiders may be tied up trying to wipe out the animals. This can give your colonists time to prepare, such as entering defensive positions or running to your mortars to fire a few rounds, as well as scatter the raiders making them easier to deal with. Raiders wielding rocket launchers also tend to waste them on your animals, leaving your colonists and structures mostly unharmed. However if they see better targets they will come at them instead.
    • If you use grazing animals, this also has the advantage of automatically removing grass near your base, slowing the spread of fires.
  • Aggressive zoning: Zone all your animals in a place where you are expecting an encounter with enemies. A short time later, the animals will move towards the zone and stay there. Enemies will notice the animals and will start attacking, making them fight back and injure or even down the attackers. This method works for any animal, even those that cannot be trained. Remember to undo the zoning otherwise the animals may starve.
    • Animal chokepoint: You can have a chokepoint in your base, combined with a small animal area covering the chokepoint.

Aggravating animals

If you have any easily enraged animals such as timber wolves, cougars, grizzlies, rhinos or others, as well as a very fast colonist (>130% moving; Go-juice, or 2 bionic legs), you can shoot the animals then have the fast colonist lead them right into the raiders. Some of them will stop and engage the animal, causing the animal to switch targets.

It is best that you equip the fast colonist with a shield belt due to the high risk of walking near the enemy- you can even consider it as a suicide mission, given the task at hand.

For this, larger animals are best due to their high health and damage. Smaller animals are faster and hard to hit, making them decent distraction. The chaos ensued means that the pirates will receive a significant portion of damage from friendly fire in addition to the damage from the animal itself.
A thrumbo can be considered a godsend in a raid; just send 1 straight into the raider hordes, and let 'er rip.

Remember, if you can down the animal easily with colonists, so can the raiders. Try to send just 1 small animal and it will die pretty soon, doing little other than being an annoyance.

Artifacts

These one-use items can be useful in turning the tide of a raid, provided you can use them correctly.

Psychic insanity lance

This artifact instantly drives a humanlike or animal berserk, causing them to attack any nearby pawns.

You can use this to cause great disruption within the enemy's ranks as enemies will switch targets to engage the berserk pawn, distracting them. It's best used on a shielded melee target who will then channel their rage onto their nearby ranged allies, forcing them to engage in unarmed combat.

It can also be used to enrage animals from a distance, unleashing them upon the enemy attackers.

While berserk pawns may not deal much damage on their own, the resulting fire directed in panic at the berserker can greatly weaken an incoming attack -- especially if the berserker is wearing a Shield belt to block fire.

Psychic shock lance

This artifact instantly downs a humanlike or animal, with a chance of causing brain damage.

Not as useful as a psychic insanity lance against raids, but can still be used to great effect, by downing an attacker that might cause huge damage such as a rocketeer.

It's also somewhat useful if you want to capture a specific raider with good stats, though you need to get him before the effect wears off, and you risk brain damage which can ruin a previously good potential colonist.

Psychic animal pulser

This artifact instantly drives all animals, including your tamed ones, into a manhunter state.

In an animal-rich area such as a temperate forest or arid shrubland, nearly any humanlike/ mechanoid raid can quickly get devastated.

Before you even consider using this, you should be very careful; the animals will also turn on your colonists. You will need to keep the animals out, and your colonists in. Make sure you get all your tamed animals out first, restrict your colonists to indoors areas only, and have a stock of food handy. Once the animals fall asleep they will exit their rage.

Outside help

If the storyteller is feeling somewhat merciful, outside help may come to save the day.

Don't count on this however, as these rarely happen on their own, and most of the time you still need to fend off the raiders yourself.

Friendly reinforcements

Occasionally while hostiles are on the map, a friendly military caravan will come to bolster your defenses. The threats may also coincide with friendly trade caravans, visitors or passersby, who will help to engage a common enemy.

Friendly reinforcements aren't strong; they have the strength equivalent to a raid with 150 - 400 points, which pales in comparison to the 2500 or more points seen in mid-late game raids. Still, they can distract for your colonists, while providing a little additional firepower.

Trade caravans are stronger in firepower, with around 550 - 1000 points, enough to hold their own against a smaller raid. This allows you to have decent fire support around half the time, simply by calling in 1 trade caravan every 1 day and 8 hours. While this method costs silver (hence being more expensive), it allows you to trade, as well.

You may also call for additional help at a cost of -25 goodwill. This can be repaired by diplomatic gifts, or rescuing and treating downed friendlies.

Common enemy

If mechanoids, manhunters or another enemy faction show up, raiders may stop to engage them. This causes losses to both groups of enemies, making it easier to pick off the stragglers.

If there are unopened ancient shrines you can open them, which may contain artifacts, mechanoids, confused spacers, all useful against raiders, or none of the above.

Using the psychic animal pulser is essentially invoking this tactic.

Environmental hazards

Very rarely, when unable to put a proper fight, you can count on Mother Nature to play for your side. Invaders will come to you without proper protection against the weather. You will be able to fend off the attack without confrontation.

Choosing to play on an extremely hot or cold map, such as in a sea ice biome near the poles, seals the fate of all raiders foolhardy enough to come.

Humanoid assaults

Sieges

During a siege, raiders go to a location outside your base, receive materials via drop pod and will proceed to build a simple mortar camp. The mortar camp will generally have 2 mortars and sandbags surrounding the mortars facing your base.

When faced with a siege, there are a few strategies you can use.

You can choose to either assault the mortar camp or wait it out and repair the damage as best as you can. The choice mainly depends on the surroundings of the mortar camp and your base's position.

Deep tunneling

If your base is located under a mountain (your base tiles will read Overhead Mountain when you hover your cursor over them), the mortar shells won't be able to hit those tiles at all! This makes deep mining a effective defensive strategy against heavy bombardment. If you don't build your base into a mountain, you should at least consider digging out at least one panic room for your colonists to hide within from the shells.

Do not excessively rely on covering below mountains, as the raiders will continuously siege the colony even if you're in hiding. Eventually you will need to face off against the raiders, unless you're lucky and get friendlies or a common enemy that is strong enough to defeat the raiders.

Camp assault

If you assault their camp, one possibility is sniping either the shells or the mortars, hoping an explosion kills many of the raiders. If you want to leave those intact, you can snipe the raiders themselves. Keep in mind that killing enough of them prompts them to assault your colony directly instead of continuing their siege. Defeating them early enough will result in most of their items remaining intact, which you can take for yourself.

Unlike most defensive situations, this time they will have the advantage of good cover on their side. You will have to find suitable cover, such as rock chunks, which you can fire from.

Sniping mortars under construction, when they have much lower health, is effective at wasting the enemy's resources.

They are vulnerable to flanking if they haven't finished their sandbags or left a side uncovered. However, once all cover is completed, flanking is less of an effective solution.

Early interception

The best time to attack them is when they've just started building their camp. At this time their resources would have arrived.

Attacking them at this time forces them to use rock chunks just like you do, instead of having the superior sandbags on their side. Their mortars won't be ready as well.

Do not attack them too early, otherwise they will flee before they receive their supply drops, which you could've stolen had you attacked later.

Hit-and-run

An effective tactic to lure sieging raiders out is to conduct hit-and-run attacks against them. Taking down someone usually causes them to give up on sieges and directly attack, making them lose their cover advantage.

Sneak attack

If you don't have the strength to attack directly, you can wait for them to sleep at night, then use the opportunity to set your colonists into position for a sneak attack.

Once someone receives an injury, everybody will wake up, so be sure to have everything in place.

  1. Creep very close to them (no more than 3 tiles away), then unload your guns on the exposed raiders. Nearly every bullet will connect, dealing heavy amounts of damage up front.
    • After being woken up, they will scramble towards the closest source of cover, buying you a few seconds to shoot them or retreat.
  2. Give them a brutal wake-up call by sending brawlers in, beating up dangerous enemies like rocketeers first.
  3. Steal their supplies and wait for them to send more. Free food and mortar shells!
  4. Burn the enemy with fire, a task made much easier while they are off-guard. This will eventually force them out to attack after suffering from heavy losses.
    • Lighting the mortars on fire allows them to be destroyed with ease.
    • Draft colonists with molotov cocktails, then surround the camp with fire. They will wake up to realize they are surrounded by a raging sea of fire, and put forward their futile efforts to controlling it, eventually giving up and attacking.

Countering with mortars

If you have your own mortars, you can use them to fire back at the raiders.

High-explosive shells perform average against sieges. They are inaccurate, but can deal heavy damage to tight groups of raiders, ignoring all cover but solid walls in the process. If you're lucky, you can take out some of the raiders, or even the mortars.

Incendiary shells are an effective way of distracting sieges as the raiders will be preoccupied with extinguishing the resultant flames. 2 mortars are usually enough to keep them from doing any activity other than firefighting, unless it is raining or there are no flammables nearby. This deals little damage to them, however, so it's best paired with high-explosive shells.

EMP shells are extremely efficient siege-breakers; they can easily detonate the mortar shells, killing nearby raiders, as well as stun the mortars, preventing them from firing. Sometimes only 1-2 shells are enough to prompt them to attack.

Melee charges

Full melee charge at the edge of the map, with everyone shielded and equipped with melee weapons.

Pirates or Outlanders can come with all-melee charges complete with shield belts. This can prove an extreme threat to colonies, especially as they charge towards the colonists directly with their shield belts blocking large amounts of gunfire or trap damage.
However, they are not well-protected, aside from the shields, as they aren't particularly well-clothed or armored. They are also highly vulnerable when their shields are down.

Ideally you will want to have a few brawlers on your own, preferably with better equipment, such as full armor and quality weapons to fight the incoming charge. Let them hold off the melee rush in the front while the shooters fire at them from behind.

If you happen to not have enough brawlers to handle the charge, attempt to concentrate fire to break individual shields, then kill any unshielded raiders. If they do come close, get your colonists to fire point-blank at them if it deals more damage than unarmed, otherwise assign 2 colonists to beat up each attacker.

Weapons

Sniper rifles are capable of breaking a weaker shield with a single shot. Combined with their long range, this makes them a good supporting weapon to weaken an incoming charge.
When they close in, use high-DPS single-target weapons to break down their shields.

Explosive weapons are useful at breaking their shields, though the shields block the entire explosion so a single explosion won't hurt them much.
Incendiary weapons penetrate the shield and set the raider on fire, distracting them. While their shields block gunfire, the distraction makes it easier for it to be broken, and makes there be fewer enemies engaging your colonists at a time.

EMP weapons can be used to devastating effect by downing their shields, leaving them to the mercy of your colonists' gunfire or mortar barrages. A lucky hit with an EMP shell can take out most of the shields in a melee raid.

The Firefoam popper is a surprisingly effective option in this situation. In addition to spreading a wide field of foam over the ground that slows down anyone walking over it, the popper will deplete shields, stripping melee attackers of their crucial protection.

Sappers

Sappers will mine and blast their way through any obstacles, such as natural or constructed walls, though avoiding high-health ore veins. They will also try to circumvent your defenses to attack from another direction. In an open base, sappers can usually be treated as a normal bunch of raiders. However, they are a great threat to killbox-dependent, mountain or walled bases, or any form of defense that doesn't rely on colonists.

Their grenadiers and miners deal heavy damage to structures; even the toughest plasteel walls will not stop them for long. They will also persistently try to tunnel into your base, continuing even if their digger is killed or the raiding party is under attack.

Strategy

Do not rely on perimeter walls or natural rock walls to hold them off due to their immense damage against structures.

With enough manpower, you can choose to intercept them while they're tunneling into your base. They tend not to use cover when doing so, so you can catch them by surprise. Concentrated fire is devastating in a tunnel, and you can quickly dispatch any diggers, provided you get the jump on them.

If you're in a mountain base you can draft a few melee pawns to wait at the entrance, as well as a few ranged pawns facing the entrance to fire down the tunnel. When they do break in you will already have prepared to face the raiders and can pour a stream of lead right into their face or cut them into pieces.

You can 'funnel' sappers by using turrets placed inside your base; sappers will avoid these, and will go to an area without the turrets. Keep in mind that you will have to kill them by drafting colonists instead of relying on your turrets.

If you have the time and resources, try placing an IED trap right behind the rock wall that a sapper is trying to tunnel through, to catch them by surprise with an explosive blast. This is especially effective if it's placed right on the other side of a loose rock chunk (easily found in tunnels), which will slow down any enemies stepping over it enough that they won't be able to retreat in time.

Aftermath

Remember to cover up any tunnels or gaps in your defenses as they open up an opportunity for raiders to come straight into your base. You may fortify it and turn it into a booby-trapped chokepoint to catch unsuspecting raiders seeking direct entry.

Drop pod attacks

Sometimes pirates or mechanoids will come in drop pods. If they land at the edges, they can be treated as a normal raid party, unless you have expanded to the edges, in which they will land inside your base.
To defend against this, have a second line of defenses inside your base so you can deny the drop-podders easy entry into your base.

The main danger comes in landing right in the center of your base. Capable enemies not using alternative strategies such as sieges or sappers have a 10% chance of doing so.

Once they choose to land there, things will get ugly. By landing in the middle, they bypass most of your conventional defenses, and you can't use your cover advantage against them. They will also break through constructed roofs on their way down, landing right inside rooms and buildings. This can put not only your colonists, but your stockpiles in grave danger, as well, especially if they land near your volatile mortar shells or chemfuel stores, or batteries.

Fortunately for you, they have a short delay (520 ticks (8.67 secs) to be exact) before they open and all hell breaks loose. They also come in smaller numbers than regular raids.

Enemies in drop pods cannot land in tiles beneath an Overhead mountain, so tunneling deep underground can make safe rooms.

Strategy

Once you see them land, you should immediately draft any nearby armed colonists to the site, whether they are your designated soldiers or not. Let them hold off the attackers for a while before your soldiers arrive to help. You have less than 9 seconds before they open, not enough for a soldier to get halfway across the map to help.
Any non-combatants should immediately be evacuated. They may still stay close to help in rescue efforts, pulling out any downed colonists. Make sure it's safe to rescue them- as in rescuers not walking through the crossfire and back again to get a colonist to the hospital. You may need to forbid doors to prevent them from walking through the firefight into a hospital.

Like other raids, humanoid raiders will attempt to flee after receiving heavy losses; however, if they land inside enclosed areas of your base, they will be trapped, allowing your colonists to down and capture them at leisure. You simply need any blunt weapons or even bare fists; in their panic, they won't try to fight back until you're well into beating them up.

Cover

You should use your furniture or wall corners as cover and fire from behind them. You can also have 2 colonists hiding behind each doorway; they enjoy full cover while firing into the room. Hold the doors open, otherwise they can't fire. Be careful as pirates will also utilise the furniture as cover as well; to combat this, attack from multiple sides or use melee fighters.

It's not practical to build sandbags inside your rooms as they reduce the Beauty of the room. Drop pod attacks are much rarer than normal raids and the enclosed space can make cover less effective. If you have larger bases, you can leave some sandbags outside for these situations, but take care not to let the enemy use them.

You can also use any shielded or heavily armored colonists as meat shields to soak some damage. Send them right in front of your regular ranged units to block damage, while the ranged units fire over their shoulders.

Fire management

As most furniture is flammable, you will need to extinguish any fires if you want to prevent damage. One option is to reinstall and trigger a firefoam popper right inside, which also fireproofs the room, preventing any further fires.

If you prioritize the defeat of the raiders over the loss of your property, and the walls of the room are fireproof, you can simply let fires burn, or even start some more, while you evacuate the room and close the doors, cooking the raiders alive. Watch out for fire and heat spreading to nearby rooms.
Not effective against mechanoids as they aren't affected by temperature and cannot be set on fire.

Equipment

High-DPS or melee weapons work best to deal with drop pod attacks.
Mid-range weapons are also good for clearing out larger rooms.

Long-ranged weapons are less effective due to the confined nature of indoor spaces giving them less space to work effectively, and their lower damage output compared to other weapons.

Explosive, incendiary or area denial weapons are excellent at room-clearing, but are not recommended except in dire situations due to the heavy collateral damage when using them indoors.

Tribal raids

Tribal raiders arriving in large numbers.

Tribal raiders come with relatively poor equipment, instead relying on sheer numbers for power. Their neolithic weapons can dish out heavy damage despite their low technology level. They are also adept at combat, with many being acquainted to some combat skill or another.

Different strategies may be required, compared to pirate or outlander raids, as they have

Tribal fighters

They can take more of a beating compared to other poorly armored enemies as some of the clothing items they wear gives them increased endurance against pain, but when compared with other decently armored enemies they are easier to kill individually as their clothing doesn't provide much protection overall.

Their archers or hunters can fire their bows from a somewhat long distance, sometimes forcing you out of cover to fire your shorter ranged weapons at them.
Warriors or berserkers don't use shields (unlike their pirate counterpart, the mercenary slasher), making them vulnerable to gunfire.

You should watch out for the pila wielded by heavy archers, as well as berserkers.

  • Despite the short range and slow fire rate, pila are incredibly deadly if they land, capable of killing or incapacitating unprotected colonists with a lucky shot to the heart, spine or limbs.
  • Berserkers carry excellent melee weapons that dish out incredible amounts of damage once they get close.

Weapons

You will need sufficient mid-long range firepower to take down tribal archers from a distance, for getting close to them in order to fire your guns is pretty much suicide. Long-ranged weapons beyond 32 tiles can effectively hit archers at maximum range, matching or outranging them.

Close-mid ranged weapons with high stopping power are good for taking down tribespeople that come too close to your defenders.

Crowd control is an important aspect in defeating tribal raids.

  • The Minigun is extremely effective as it can easily mow down the densely packed groups of tribal invaders.
  • Rocket launchers are devastating on crowds. A single hit can easily kill or cripple the unprotected tribals.
  • Explosive mortars, while inaccurate, can easily destroy a sizable group of tribals at once if they hit.
  • Grenades can take out archers hiding behind cover, though you have to risk a colonist or two in order to get close enough to throw them.
  • Incendiary weapons are good at getting pesky archers out of cover for your colonists to hit

Pacification

If you don't want tribes to send their warriors in the hundreds, you should capture, heal and release all incapacitated tribals (though if you see any good potential colonists you should keep them). Later on, when the relations warm a little, you can give them silver to pacify them, and even turn them to your side.

Mechanoids

Mechanoids only come in 2 types, Scythers and Centipedes. They have much differing stats and weapons, meaning different tactics may be used. Both types are armored to some degree.

In many raids where they come/drop in at the edges, the Scythers will outrun the Centipedes by a great margin, giving some time to deal with them before the centipedes. However, they can and will support one another effectively, if given the chance for them to come together.

Unlike humanlike raiders, they do not flee, meaning that all of them have to be taken out to neutralize the threat. They never use cover, and only use melee reactively against enemies right next to them.

They are highly vulnerable to EMP damage, which can stun them, rending them completely unable to fight back. This can open a window of opportunity where you safely engage at close range, or even with melee. Don't excessively use them as they can cause a mechanoid to adapt against them, making them less useful.

Scythers

Scythers are capable of long-range sniping attacks, and are extremely deadly with melee. You should take care of them while the bulkier centipedes slowly inch towards your base.

If fighting from a distance, cover along with high-damage, long-ranged weapons such as sniper rifles or bolt-action rifles are vital. Since scythers aren't particularly good shooters (equivalent to a level 10 shooter), you can outperform them at range with higher-skilled snipers, especially when using the sniper rifle, which deals a higher damage per shot, outranges the charge lance and is slightly more accurate.

Despite its high melee damage, sometimes melee fighting them may actually be better, as long as you have good armor and weapons. If you don't have very good long range firepower, it's better to try and get them into close quarters ranged combat due to their limited durability and because their superior long range firepower will be redundant at this point. A one-on-one melee brawl with a scyther can usually be won by a well-equipped colonist.

Be prepared to lose a limb or two when fighting them for they are capable of dealing high damage blows.

Centipedes

Centipedes, on the other hand, specialize in crowd control and area denial; the Minigun and Heavy charge blaster can annihilate groups of colonists, while the Inferno cannon sets your colonists ablaze and will burn down your base if you're not careful. They are incredibly durable, sporting thick armor and high health, and can take many hits before being downed.

Centipedes wielding the minigun and heavy charge blaster can be cheesed simply by spreading out your colonists widely enough, with 3-tile gaps between each colonist. The centipede will be unable to hit at all due to the forced miss radii.
The Inferno cannon is not as damaging, but is more annoying to deal with. Keep watch on your colonists at all times, and remember to send them back into cover when needed. Spacing apart colonists can limit the number of colonists hit at once, making it easier to manage.

There aren't many good choices when dealing with a centipede except to shoot it with your guns, despite their high resistance against sharp damage. One good thing is that its large size makes it much easier to hit with ranged attacks.

Engaging it in melee may also be viable despite its armor and high health. A centipede hits quite hard, but not hard enough to be a serious problem, as they usually only inflict bruises and break ribs.
Melee swarms are possible with little risk of long-term injuries, provided pawns can safely close the distance. Shield belts, drawing their fire from a different direction, or simply using walls and terrain to block projectiles are all good ways to move in. Centipedes with the minigun or heavy charge blaster must be simultaneously engaged in melee to make sure none of them can use their weapons, otherwise they can eviscerate your colonist at point-blank before you can get the victim to escape.
Micromanagement should make sure that weaker fighters are targeted first, so that better ones can fight for longer before passing out from bruise pain.

Its slow speed and relatively poor blunt armor makes it an excellent target for high-explosive mortar attacks. Often you can pull off a few blows before it even reaches firing range, severely weakening it. Supporting with EMP shells is recommended.

Crashed ships

Sometimes a crashed ship part will land on the map. They can have harmful effects such as reducing colonists' mood, killing any nearby plants or occasionally driving nearby animals mad. You cannot deconstruct the part, so you will need to shoot/ hit it until it is destroyed. When you damage the part, mechanoids will swarm out to 'defend' the ship.

As the mechanoids don't come out until triggered, you have some time to prepare. However, you don't have infinite time, either- poison ships can spread toxic material across the map, killing all plants in reach, causing serious losses to pastures or crops, and psychic ships are able to project powerful psychic waves, driving animals mad and sending colonists' mood plummeting.

Behavior

Mechanoids come out immediately when the part is damaged, or something is built right next to the ship part. Afterwards, they will guard the ship part, engaging any hostiles that come close. They will return to the part if targets stray too far away from the ship.
Once the ship part reaches 50% health, they will instead abandon the ship part and charge at your base directly.

Due to this behavior it is a better idea to engage them on the spot rather than luring them to base. Even if you manage to get them to charge, scythers can quickly catch up with your retreating colonists and attack.

Weapons

High-DPS weapons are optimal at destroying both the ship part and its defending mechanoids. Range does not matter that much as you can simply build sandbags close to the ship for effective cover.

Due to the mechanoids spawning very close together after spawning, the minigun is extremely effective. It can quickly demolish both the ship part and the mechanoids with its unparalleled DPS, simply by aiming at the ship part.

Explosive weapons are useful, but keep in mind that the ship part will block the explosion, so a single explosion cannot wipe out all the mechanoids at once. They do extra damage to the ship part.

As mechanoids tend to spawn very tightly packed, EMP mortar blasts are extremely effective against them, being able to stun a large number at once. As the ship part blocks EMP pulses, build multiple mortars in order to hit all the mechanoids at once in a single volley.

Incendiary weapons are a poor choice for any situation involving mechanoids or crashed ships, given that both are non-flammable and only take minimal burn damage.

The orbital power beam targeter is the ultimate weapon against crashed ships. All you need to do is to aim the beam directly on the ship, and the beam will melt both the ship and its surrounding mechanoids.

Zoning animals

When dealing with a crashed psychic ship part that has been there for some time, do not let any of your tamed animals near it, for the ship part can drive them into manhunter mode. This is additionally harmful as they are capable of opening doors to attack your colonists.

Constructions

If you plan on shooting them, build sandbags or walls around the ship part as cover.

Building right next to the ship will instantly trigger the mechanoids. However, building them 1 tile away does not trigger them. This allows you to use IED traps to weaken a mechanoid swarm. Don't build too many or you will vaporize the mechanoid corpses, which can be deconstructed for resources at a Machining table.

Quick demolition

Rapidly destroying the ship part may be of interest to you, as the ship part blocks shots for the mechanoids. Destroying it allows your colonists to shoot at them more effectively, especially if you haven't completely surrounded the ship part.

Manhunters

Animals may randomly turn mad and become hostile due to various reasons.

When mad, they will actively attack humanlikes or mechanoids, and will not attack other structures unless provoked (such as seeing someone walk through a door). They are not sophisticated in their attacks and are only capable of actively using melee. Some can explode upon death for devastating results.

Animals

Any animal can be part of a manhunter pack. Each kind has its own statistics, and can be roughly grouped as follows:

  1. In terms of size:
    • Small: Small-sized animals. They tend to come in massive numbers and their small size makes them hard to hit.
    • Medium: Medium-sized animals. They do moderate damage, and some can run fairly fast.
    • Large: Large-sized animals that have high melee DPS up close but don't come in great numbers.
  2. In terms of speed:
    • Slow: Animals that run slower than an average colonist.
    • Fast: Animals that are faster than most colonists. Obviously the more dangerous of the two.
  3. Others:

Distribution

Mad animals can strike your colony in several ways.

  1. Singular mad animals may randomly arise.
  2. Manhunters packs can arrive in massive numbers, or have a few large and deadly animals. They come in a tight pack.
  3. Psychic waves drive all animals of a single species insane, directing them at your colonists. They are usually scattered at first, then proceed to converge on your colonists.
  4. In an unfortunate hunting incident, animals being hunted will turn on you, and may even bring their allies along.

Weapons

High DPS weapons are good at taking down packs at close to medium range.
Long-ranged weapons work to provide long-distance firepower when paired with other high damage weapons, but are inadequate on their own.

The sniper rifle works well against larger animals, but is poor against hard-to-hit small animals, as a missed shot is punishing due to its long reload, and its high damage is grossly overkill.

Longswords are a must-have to fight off animals at melee range, which often happens with fast animals.

Crowd control

The Minigun is an excellent weapon against manhunter packs of any size. At a distance, it can destroy the tightly packed groups of incoming animals, while at point-blank, it can rip large animals to shreds, often with just a single barrage of bullets. Aim for an animal in the middle of the pack, and the bullets will hit others around it as well.
Chain shotguns are also a good choice at defeating manhunter packs at close to point-blank range, though its short range makes it risky to use against faster enemies.

Explosives are excellent at clearing out manhunter packs, when used carefully. They can hit a lot of animals at once, and don't miss easily, especially against small animals which can evade bullets.

  • Rocket launchers are an effective yet easy-to-use one-use solution. Be careful when using them near your base or colonists though, and disengage if animals come dangerously close to allies.
  • Mortars aren't very useful as animals generally run faster than the mortars can hit, but if you have a kiting colonist or trained animals distracting them and you aim ahead, you can still achieve great results.
  • Grenades are good for groups, but are too short-ranged to be safe to use against raging animals.

Frontline tanking

Most of the time it's essential to have a few brawlers at the frontline to tank for your gunners- you're dealing with a full melee charge here.

If you're facing explosive animals then scatter them so they won't all explode right above a single poor colonist.

Kiting

Being unsophisticated in their tactics, they can be lured easily.

If you have good shooters that are fast (moving >140%), you can easily kite the faster animals.
The larger animals are usually slower and any colonist that has normal Moving will do fine against them, though it's still better with a faster-than-average colonist.
This is best combined with a long-range firing squad and turrets laying fire from a distance while they are chasing the colonist. Be sure that the animals do not lose track of your kiters otherwise they will switch targets and go for somebody else.

Animals vs. Animals

One good way to fight off mad animals is with... more animals! Just draft anyone with Release-capable animals assigned, and set them out. Your colonists can watch safely from a distance, or take a potshot or two while watching the animals tear each other apart. Just remember to have someone mop up the bloodstains, haul the corpses of the fallen as well as finish off any survivors.

Hit-and-run

A slower strategy is to draft a colonist, place it in a door to shoot a maddened animal, move the colonist back to safety and wait until the animal gives up and wanders off, then repeat. Be careful since this will draw the attention of surrounding maddened animals making them attack the door where the colonist came from, so be ready to repair it immediately.

This method takes longer to kill the animals than a full assault. It's best that you use it if you don't have enough firepower to take on them directly.

Alternatively, shoot them until they are bleeding severely, then just wait until they are severely weakened or die from blood loss and then finish them off if needed. You can use this on larger animals to soften them before moving in for the kill.

Turret distraction

Turrets can distract manhunters for your colonists, giving your colonists more time to shoot them while occupied by the turret. If the turrets are in front of the colonists, animals will go for the turrets first, before heading for your colonists.

They also pack a punch at close range, and may explode when destroyed, taking out a sizeable group of animals. They won't run away from exploding turrets; only when the turret is destroyed will they switch to another target.

Given the price of turrets, this method may be worth it during mid-late game.

Waiting it out

If you have a perimeter wall or a superstructure base with decent food stocks, you can simply wait it out inside while they relentlessly swarm outside the walls. Some of them will exit manhunter mode once they fall asleep, and will act normally afterwards.

Remember not to let anyone outside unless your intent is to kill the animals.

They will actively attack doors if a colonist hides behind them; as a precaution, build it out of a sturdier material such as plasteel so they don't get destroyed during a manhunter attack. They will give up after a while if the doors are not destroyed. Alternatively, simply have a builder build a wall behind the door, totally preventing manhunters from entering even if they break the door.

Scavenging dead animals

Manhunter packs are a good source of meat for your colony, especially if you're low on food. If there are still maddened animals, wait until the other animals from the pack go to sleep, walk away far enough, or get a fast colonist to try and haul the dead ones away.

Infestations

Infestations will spawn under Overhead Mountains within 30 tiles of a colony structure. They can be a serious hazard in mountain bases due to the lack of free space to run away from with too many obstacles on the path, but not so much threat in open area (flat) maps. Insectoids are lightly armored, exclusively use melee and are slower than colonists. This gives them some protection against close range attacks, but leaves them vulnerable to ranged attacks and kiting tactics.

Infestation within mountain rooms bugs.png

If you don't destroy them fast enough, they can reproduce, giving rise to even more hives and insects. This is especially true if you happen to have forgotten about a hive, which given time can build itself into a giant mega-hive.

Behavior

Insects have a hive mindset; they will remain tending to their hive cluster, until they see an intruder, in which case they begin to engage all at once. They may also attack random furniture and structures in your colony.

Fighting infestations

The enclosed nature of mountain bases give colonists little distance to shoot from; thus, you may want some melee fighters to pair up with any ranged colonists.

Individual fighters will quickly get overwhelmed by the insects especially against large megaspiders, so you shouldn't trickle your defensive forces in; rather, send them all at once to overpower the insects.

Using fire

Fire is an effective way to clear early-mid stage infestations. If they spawn in an enclosed area with a door and plenty of flammables, all you need to do is to toss a molotov or shoot an incendiary launcher bolt into the room. The room will quickly catch fire, causing the temperature to rise fast, roasting the insects in it along with the hives.

You can provide extra fuel for the flame by building a lot of cheap woosen furniture, such as stools, then deconstructing them and forbidding the wood. This is more efficient than having colonists haul entire stacks of wood.

If there aren't flammables, you can still keep shooting the hives. They can catch fire, along with the fuel puddles created on the ground.

As any items inside the room are likely to catch fire and be destroyed, this tactic is not recommended in a place with many valuables such as warehouses. Also be careful with the heat spreading to nearby rooms. Insects trapped in uncomfortable temperatures will quickly attempt to dig out to escape. If they don't fall unconscious fast enough they may survive to break out and attack.

Explosives

Explosives are useful against large infestations. The Triple rocket launcher can raze infestations instantly. A single use Doomsday rocket launcher will deal massive damage over a large area. Frag grenades are unlimited and work well if you have the courage to send someone to close range. One blast can get several insects.
Explosive animals (boomalopes or boomrats) are also effective at clearing out infestations. Have them march straight into the hive by zoning them there. When the insects attack, the animals will be injured and explode, setting the insects and hives on fire.

Mortars are useless against the hives themselves as they can't hit anything below an overhead mountain. However they are an option when fighting the insects in open space, with the explosions capable of severely injuring the insects, taking out the smaller ones in 1-2 hits.

Late-stage infestations

If you've accidentally left a hive or two behind or totally ignored an infestation, after a few seasons you will have a giant hive community sprawling. This is extremely hard to treat, especially if you're low on colonists.

If you're still on early-midgame, it's generally recommended that you pack up and run. If not, however, you will have to deal with them slowly. You need to lure the insects out, then defeat them to buy time for others to enter and destroy the hives. Kiting is a possibility due to their slower speeds, provided they continue to chase down your colonists.

Explosives are recommended as they deal immense damage to the closely packed hives and insects. This is especially so with the doomsday rocket launcher, which can set entire infestations on fire, destroying the hives and severely weakening the insects.

Prevention

If you only have a few tiles of Overhead Mountain then it's best that you fill it up with walls to prevent any infestations from happening. If you are in a mountain base, then you will need to do more than that.

Baiting

You can mine out rooms a distance away from your colony to somehow control insects to nest there, instead of letting them spawn right in the middle of your base. Place some cheap flammable furniture inside to confuse the insects into thinking it's a prospective nesting spot, as well as to light on fire for a quick solution to an infestation problem.

A well-lit base discourages insects from nesting, though it can still happen. If you bait insects to spawn elsewhere the chance of an infestation spawning inside is greatly reduced.

If you want the insect trap to automatically kill insects, put an IED incendiary trap inside the room, next to the flammables. Once an infestation spawns the insects will trigger the trap, lighting the room on fire and broiling the insects.

Alternatively, fill it with a few deadfall traps to weaken them before they strike your base, giving you the advantage. It also preserves the hives, which can be either good or bad.

Deep freezing

An interesting way to completely prevent infestations is to simply set your base temperature to below -17°C with coolers, and have everyone in the colony wear parkas.

This means that the 'Slept in the cold' debuff will be prevalent in the colony, however, so you will need something to offset the mood.

Prison breaks

If you have prisoners (or potential colonists or hats) on hand, always expect them to break out any time. This is more so if you have many of them, each one ready to incite a riot whenever the guards aren't looking.

Escaping prisoners can open any colony door, and will snatch weapons whenever they see one.

Strategy

You should bodyblock the prisoners with armored wardens carrying blunt weapons. They will fight and down the prisoners while blocking their exit, buying time for reinforcements.

Against already injured yet unarmed prisoners, draft a brawler and beat them up with bare fists. Send 1 brawler per prisoner to minimize the risk of beating them to death.
2 unarmed wardens can tackle a full-health unarmed prisoner without either warden being downed in most cases.

Ranged wardens should attack when the prisoners are blocked by melee wardens so they can attack from a distance without much danger, and their weapons won't land in the enemy hands so easily. Don't fire too much at them as you risk permanent damage as well as accidentally killing the prisoner.

Weapons

You goal here isn't to kill the prisoners, it's to down them so you can recapture them.

  • Blunt melee weapons such as the mace is a good choice for wardens to down escapees. The wounds don't bleed, nor will they be infected, giving them higher survival chances overall.
  • At a distance, use moderate DPS weapons that won't deal too much damage to the prisoners, or to your people when the prisoners pick them up.
  • Don't use high damage per hit weapons such as sniper rifles or longswords, as you risk instantly killing them or destroying an important part.

Turrets

Turrets can be used as a form of distraction and supplementary firepower against prison breaks. Station them outside the prison doors, and they will fire on the escapees. They deliver good stopping power at short ranges, and leave no viable weapons that can be picked up. Prisoners also tend to stop to fight the turrets, giving wardens time to reach them.

1-2 is enough for most prisons. Don't put too many otherwise the turrets may kill the prisoners before you can intervene.

Ambushes

Defensive battles don't always happen at base. Sometimes it may happen far away from it, striking one of your caravans, perhaps loaded with plenty of silver. Or maybe they creep to your traders and demand ransom, which you don't feel like paying. You always need to be prepared for ambushes when you send out caravans.

Escort

Sending just one or two colonists in any caravan is usually not advised except in very short-distance and light trips as they will not be able to fend off an ambush. In this case it's best that you have combat-capable escort members which can carry some items and fight.

If you have lots of attack animals, you can also send just 1 colonist skilled in handling, and a lot of animals. They can swarm any incoming attackers, and you can leave colonists back at base for work. Grazing animals work best, as their ability to obtain food from their surroundings offsets their usually slower speed.

On the other hand, if you are not carrying much besides a lone colonist, leaving him to go alone may be helpful as lone colonists are hard to detect, reducing the likelihood of ambushes.

Ambush site

The ambush site is small, restricting the space where you can conduct your battle. This renders many tactics obsolete, such as long-ranged sniping or kiting. You will often have to face off the enemy in a direct gunfight or brawl.

Besides this, you can't escape the fight until it's over, leaving colonists with no choice but to fight back.

Cover and positioning

Excellent defensive position against ambushes. Colonists behind walls will enjoy up to 75% full cover, while pirates will only receive 25% at most. Two brawlers are ready to execute a melee sortie, while another is ready to peel for the gunners. Combined with good equipment, this allows the fight to be won with few injuries even when outnumbered.

You should be hiding behind walls for cover if possible, as they can provide up to 75% cover, way more than the 50% given by rock chunks. If not, then hide behind rock chunks. Space out your defenders to reduce the amount of collateral damage the pirates deal.

If you have time, go somewhere where there is cover for you, but not the enemy. This gives you a significant upper hand in defensive battles.

Melee sorties or rushes work well if you have brawlers for they can traverse the short distances.

Items

You will need to bring some items so you can be prepared for a surprise attack.

Weapons

You usually don't have weapons to switch in a caravan unless you're bringing more than you need with you, so choosing the right weapons for your escort party is important.

  • High-DPS weapons are optimal for dealing with ambushes.
  • Long-ranged weapons are good for taking down targets at medium-long range, especially those fleeing the battle.
  • Miniguns are good against tightly-packed raiders hiding behind cover in an ambush. However, their heavy weight and movement speed reduction means you may want to reconsider bringing one.
  • Melee weapons can help fight off enemy brawlers, or disrupt enemies behind cover. You should have at least 1 melee fighter in each escort.

Medicine

You should have some medicine handy so your colonists can patch themselves up after the battle. Bring a doctor along with you as well, or two, just in case one of them goes down.

Herbal medicine will do for most cases, but if you want to improve treatment quality to reduce infection chances you can use regular medicine.

Aftermath

Rudimentary prison cell for capturing prisoners on-the-go. It's crude, but will have to do.

Sometimes a few of your colonists may be downed. If you were facing up against incendiary weapons you may also see fires starting to spread.

Immediately put down medical sleeping spots a distance away from the battlefield, preferably somewhere non-flammable such as rock floors, if there is fire. Afterwards, direct your doctors to treat the wounded.

If there is a downed enemy that you want to capture, you will have to quickly build a small hut using whatever materials are at hand. A 3x4 hut with a 1x2 interior along with a door but without the corners requires 50 materials (usually wood) to build. It takes around 1-3 in-game hours so take that into account before trying to capture a prisoner who will bleed to death shortly. Remember to take into account as well the great slowing effect downed prisoners have on caravan speed.

If there are resources around you can harvest them to make your supplies last longer.

After everything is settled; prisoners captured, colonists treated, manually reform the caravan, and choose which items you will bring with you, leaving the rest behind. If you have downed or dead colonists or pack animals you will need to manually pick up their dropped items through the reform menu.