Colony Building Guide

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This guide is the ultimate go-to guide to building your base, for all stages of the game.

Base Types

There are different ways to build your base.

Superstructure base

To build a superstructure base, put everything in 1 large building rather than separate it into multiple small parts.

This is a common method to build bases, and is generally the recommended way to do so.

Pros

  • Convenient
  • Saves building materials and some space
  • More resistant against toxic fallout
  • Improved temperature control

Cons

  • Fires can spread all over the base if flammable materials are used
  • Requires a large, continuous area of buildable land, making it not viable for swamp biomes
  • Not flexible

Town-like settlement

Build everything in separated buildings, just like building a small town.

This is great for starting off, as well as building in swamps where the land is not suited for building superstructure bases.

Pros

  • Flexible
  • Does not require large patches of land

Cons

  • Requires more space and building materials overall

Mountain base

For mountainous maps where you have less space to build, you can opt to dig inside the mountains instead.

Pros

  • Good temperature control
  • Easy to defend
  • Immune to mortar strikes

Cons

  • Infestations can happen within base
  • Not flexible

Base Structures

Different structures suit the different needs of your colony.

Dining room

Dining rooms, at its simplest, are simply rooms where you put tables and chairs for colonists to dine in.

A dining room should be built as close as possible near the freezer/ food storage so your colonists will actually use the dining room, instead of eating on the floor of the storage, giving them a -3 mood debuff. This is especially true for larger freezers, in which colonists retrieving food from the far end may simply give up searching for a table and eat on the floor.

For increased mood buffs, decorate your dining room using sculptures, plant pots or quality furniture.

Rec room

You should have a wide variety of joy sources so your colonists don't get bored repeatedly throwing horseshoes at a pin, or wandering around aimlessly. Putting all of them in a room also provides a mood bonus after a colonist uses the facilities inside, depending on the impressiveness of the room.

In early game all you need is to have horseshoes pin somewhere in the colony, and colonists will proceed to use it when they are bored.

Once you reach midgame, you can afford more joy facilities such as chess tables or billiards tables, or Tube televisions, which provide different kinds of joy for additional variety. In addition, you can also obtain additional joy sources from exotic goods traders, such as telescopes or flatscreen and megascreen televisions, which are more joyful than the craftable tube television.

Similarly to the dining room, decorating it can improve the mood bonus from using the room.

Combined common room

Combining a dining room with a rec room is quite a good idea, as the room will have increased impressiveness as the wealth and space of both rooms are combined, and colonists' mood gains are based on the activity they did in the room, rather than the function of the room.

Should you choose to do so, remember to leave enough space for both joy furniture and dining tables. You can choose to toggle the 'Gather spot' on for these tables, or set them to 'Off' and have an additional table for social purposes.

Barracks

You will need somewhere indoors for your colonists to sleep early-game. It should be one of your starting projects.

Build beds for your colonists to sleep in as colonists dislike sleeping on the ground.

Bedrooms

Mid-game bedrooms from Alpha 17. Each is carpeted, has beds, tables with chairs, flower pots for decoration and a vent connected to the corridors.

Colonists don't like to sleep together, and they will frequently get disturbed by their fellows walking about, so once you have the manpower and materials you should upgrade to individual bedrooms for each colonist.

For better comfort and rest effectiveness, make sure the beds are of Normal quality or above, otherwise deconstruct and try again until you get it. If you have lovers or couples you will need a double bed so they can sleep together.

You should also have a table in the bedrooms, as colonists often carry food with them, and without a table, colonists will resort to eating their breakfast on the floor. Also turn off the 'Gather Spot' option otherwise colonists will go off into the bedrooms to chill off on their own, most likely in someone else's bedroom (though nobody seems to care).

As you progress in the game, you should upgrade your bedrooms to allow colonists to live and sleep better.

  • At the beginning, you only need it to be 2x2, just enough to fit a bed and possibly an end table.
  • In early-midgame, bedrooms should ideally be at least be 3x5; this gives you enough space to squeeze in a bed, a table and some other things, without feeling too cramped.
  • In mid-game or later, a 4x6 bedroom allows you to fit in a double bed, a 1x2 table with chairs, an end table and a dresser, with some room for decorations.

Storage

You will obviously need to store your stuff somewhere in your base.

Warehouse

A simple structure with nothing but an expansive stockpile zone to store items in. You can have multiple smaller stockpile zones which are set to allow different items so that colonists can sort them.

Dangerous items

It may be worth it to store items that can explode, such as mortar shell] or chemfuel independently in a walled room away from the exterior of the base. You can partition the room to stop explosions from affecting your entire stock of materials.

Putting it away from the exterior prevents doomsday rocket launchers fired at your base from hitting the items.

Freezer

Freezers are vital to food preservation if you aren't living in a really cold place.

Consider making a dedicated stockpile with a very high priority at the front of your freezer which only allows meals. This way, your meals will always be right at the front of your possibly very large freezer. Also, if you make two more stockpiles at the front of your freezer for meat and veggies, your cook won't have to run as far for ingredients, allowing him to make meals faster (colonists assigned to hauling will move ingredients from the back of the freezer to the front).

Expect your dining room to be pretty crowded during meal times, especially after a party or marriage ceremony, so have enough chairs for at least half your colony. Colonists will also hang out in the dining room if you set them to do so, occupying seats.

To save power, if you are living somewhere with sub-zero temperatures during the day (possibly in winter), put vents that lead outwards and turn off your freezer so you can use the outside cold to chill your meals. Close the vents once temperatures get warmer.

Armory

You can choose to have a dedicated area to store your weapons. If so, put it far away from your prison so that prisoners do not have ready access to dangerous weapons.

Hospital

Hospital with sterile tiles, hospital beds with vital monitors, decorations and megascreen TVs facing the beds.

Dedicated hospitals are more of a mid-game thing when you have enough resources to build the specialized equipment used in them.

Hospitals should have sterile tiles as flooring as they provide a slight cleanliness buff that can increase surgery success chance and reduce wound infection chance.

Hospitals should be built somewhere where colonists can quickly bring their downed comrades to treat them. Keep doors open, or use autodoors so they don't obstruct colonists' access. If you need to you can also build a mini-hospital or clinic elsewhere in the base.

Hospital beds provide a boost to treatment quality and immunity gain speed, meaning that your colonists will gain immunity to diseases faster, hence recovering faster and are less likely to die. You should have these instead of regular beds if available. Colonists resting in a hospital bed also heal faster than they do when on a normal bed.
The vitals monitor brings even better boosts to treatment and immunity gain, so once you've researched them it's recommended that you put them down near your hospital beds.

Store your medicine in your hospital using shelves so your doctors can quickly grab them to patch up colonists before they bleed to death. Sometimes just that little distance can already make a difference between life and death.

Decorating hospitals to make them beautiful can give colonists inside a great mood boost (max +15, plus impressive room stats). This is good, especially considering that some colonists will stay in the hospital for a long time (such as the severely injured, incapacitated or sick).

To provide joy, you may also build or buy televisions to install into your hospitals. Patients lying in hospital beds within the viewing area will watch TV to entertain themselves when they are bored, and you won't need colonists coming to cheer them up as their only joy source.

If you have even more resources you can build a separate room for each colonist. While they don't mind sleeping with others in a hospital, they do get disturbed by them walking around, and dirt can more easily affect cleanliness as well.

Operating theater

You can build a separate room to accommodate colonists who will undergo surgery, to make sure that colonists undergo medical operations in the cleanest of places.

Your operating theater should be forbidden at all cases except when someone is about to have surgery. This prevents colonists from tracking dirt or blood into it, staining it.

Laboratory

You may want to have a room dedicated to research, with hi-tech research benches, multi-analyzers to increase research speed and unlock new research, as well as sterile tiles to keep the room clean, increasing research speed. For even better cleanliness, restrict the lab to your researchers and janitors only, reducing traffic and hence the amount of dirt in the room.

Prison

Mid-late game prison blocks, partially filled. Each cell has a table with a chair, a bed, decorations and a chess table with a chair (for aesthetic purposes). Generosity like this is well-appreciated and rewarded with prisoners joining your colony. Note that the doors open towards the rest of the base (downwards).

Prison barracks

In the early game you can simply convert any existing ruins into a makeshift prison barracks, or build a simple prison hut, which you use to hold all prisoners you capture. Try not to build it too far away from your main structures, otherwise it becomes harder to catch escaping prisoners.

You should include tables and chairs for prisoners to use.

Prison cells

Like colonists, prisoners will also suffer from the mood penalties associated with being kept together in a prison barracks. In addition, prison breaks are also more serious should they happen, for every prisoner locked up in the same room will simultaneously break out, while prisoners in different cells may choose not to join. Thus, you should keep them separated.

Each cell should have a table with a chair, a bed, and a light source. This is the bare minimum you need for a prisoner to be decently kept. Decorating the cell and making them bigger also increase mood bonuses for easier recruitment. They can't use any joy items put in the cell, nor do they have a joy need, so don't bother with joy items unless you want to make the cell more impressive.

Prisons should have doors facing towards your base, so escaping prisoners will go towards your base instead of away, giving your wardens more time to deal with the break.

Holding cell

A larger cell with more beds. It should be only be used when your prison cells are overflowing. Put your less important prisoners inside them while assigning your more valuable prisoners into the cells.

Multipurpose rooms

These are more of an early to early-midgame thing that you can use before you get dedicated structures erected, such as hospitals or bigger prisons. Yet, these can still prove useful sometimes, like when your freezers or warehouses overflow, or you need somewhere to house an influx of injured or sick colonists.

This is rather simple; just make an empty room, along with suitable temperature control. You can add beds if you intend on someone living in it (be it colonists or prisoners), which you can uninstall and tuck away in a corner when unused

Backup

There are many types of ways you can set up buildings on your map to possibly save your colonists' lives in dire situations:

  • Shelters: Building small rooms with an emergency food and wood supply can save your colonists from enraged animals. Thick enough walls (at least 4 layers) can stop raiders from killing your colonists hiding inside.
  • Nutrient paste dispensers: When food is running low or you forecast that it will, a paste dispenser can significantly slow down food consumption by efficiently converting raw foods into nutrient paste.

Production

You will also need various buildings to produce or manufacture the stuff that your colonists need.

Crops

Sun lamp illuminating crops grown in hydroponics basins. With this configuration you can fit 24 basins under 1 sun lamp for a total of 96 plants grown.

See also: Food production

Crop fields

Crop fields are rather simple; just set up a growing zone, designate the desired plant type and growers will automatically go and grow the plants.

You need to check carefully the soil fertility before marking out your areas.

  • Gravel looks quite similar to dirt at first glance, but has a greatly reduced fertility meaning plants will grow slower.
  • Rich soil, on the other hand, is visibly darker and has improved fertility, making it suitable for long growing time plants such as devilstrand.

You will need to keep animals out, whether or not they are tamed. Exclude these areas out of the allowed areas of animals, and build walls to keep out wild animals.

Greenhouses

Enclosed areas that grow crops with the aid of temperature control, sun lamps and possibly hydroponics basins. They allow you to continue growing crops regardless of soil or weather conditions.

Mining

In early-midgame you just need to select mineral outcrops and designate them, and miners will proceed to dig out the minerals.

Later on, you can choose to continue mining through several means.

Strip mining

If you have more mountains or rocks which you can mine, you can strip mine them by mining out long tunnels with 2 tiles between each other. This allows you to cover everything in the mines.

Covering up your mine to prevent infestations is a good idea, using cheap materials such as wood it is possible to completely seal up the mines at a low cost. Alternatively, set up defenses at the mine entrance and just farm the insects.

Deep drills

After research you will unlock the deep drill and the ground-penetrating scanner for use.

It is not recommended to start deep drilling without an active scanner as you cannot see the locations of mineral locations this way and deep drills cannot be relocated.

Some deposits will be directly underneath your base. You can deconstruct or relocate buildings to give access to your drills. Be careful when you mine in colonists' bedrooms as they can easily disturb sleep.

Animals

Animals are an extremely useful asset to the colony if you can handle them (both in-game and performance-wise). They provide a variety of products, from raw food materials (meat, eggs or milk) for producing quality foods, to wool, which is an excellent insulator against both heat and cold. Moreover, they can be used in combat, as haulers, or as pack animals in a caravan.

Barn

Barns are necessary only if you're keeping some animals in places where temperatures can exceed their comfort, as animals don't mind sleeping in the open. In this case, a temperature-controlled barn is necessary to keep the animals comfy.

Building animal sleeping boxes or animal beds can help animals rest faster, though this doesn't really do much and is not cost efficient.

Chemfuel farming

Boomalopes are unique in the fact that they can produce chemfuel. This can be used to power generators, used as transport pod fuel or made into mortar shells.

Due to their explosive nature, they won't be attacked by predators, so you can let them roam freely without much danger. Keeping them confined is dangerous as the death of one boomalope can injure others, and if you don't intervene the other boomalopes will die, exploding and causing a chain reaction.

Workshop

Workshops are places where you put all your crafting stations and benches, probably including your cooking stoves as well. You should put them near your warehouse so your colonists can spend less time hauling the needed resources to the workshop for crafting. Also remember to put chairs of any sort at the interaction spot so your colonists won't have to keep standing while crafting.

The tool cabinet is handy for increasing productivity of your craftsmen, but you will need to allocate the positions of these carefully so as not to block colonists or future plans.

Putting all the crafting stations inside the warehouse isn't recommended despite the convenience, as colonists do not enjoy the sight of random objects laying around. This lowers their beauty opinion of their surroundings, in turn giving mood penalties. You should however put crafting materials near the workshop for quicker retrieval.

It is an excellent idea to put decorations such as sculptures inside the workshop, as a beautiful environment gives up to +15 mood, improving colonists' productivity and even allowing for the occasional mental inspiration.

Kitchen

You should build your kitchen near your cold storage and your dining room, just as you build the workshop near your warehouse.

Kitchens should only have cooking stoves, and sterile tiles for flooring to reduce the chance of food poisoning. The butcher table is best put elsewhere due to the heavy cleanliness debuff.

Shelves or small stockpiles can really improve cooking efficiency when placed right next to your stoves. Set one to accept berries and vegetables only, and the other to accept meals only the as these do not spoil in a matter of days, unlike meat which should always be in the freezer. Hauling colonists will do the transport work for your cooks instead.

Power

Solar power

Solar generators provide power only during the day. It provides 1700W, quite a decent figure, but still not to be fully relied on.

Wind power

Wind turbines provide unstable power throughout the day. It can provide up to 3000W, but it usually gives less than that.

It requires plenty of open space for maximum efficiency, and any obstacles can easily reduce efficiency. To prevent trees from growing and obstructing the turbines, put down floors, grow crops underneath the turbines or fill in the gaps with solar generators.

Fueled generation

You can get the wood-fired generator which runs on wood, or the chemfuel powered generator which runs on chemfuel, constantly providing 1000W of power. It is a good idea to have some of these as a backup power source.

Chemfuel is significantly more efficient than wood, so once you research the refinery it's a better idea to refine wood into chemfuel before usage as fuel.

Boomalope setup

Boomalopes generate enough chemfuel to run 2 generators.

2 boomalopes give enough fuel to continuously power 5 generators for a total of 5000W. This is not taking into account any energy costs from growing food for use by the boomalopes.

Infinite chemreactor setup

Infinite chemreactors generate enough chemfuel to run a generator, which in turn generates more than enough power to run the chemreactor.

8 infinite chemreactors can generate enough fuel to power 15 generators, for a total surplus power of 12600W.

Geothermal power

Geothermal generators constantly gives 3600W of power after being built on a steam geyser without requiring fuel. It is an important source of power from mid-game onward, as it is constant and high-powered.

Research is required to unlock it, and the generator itself is quite costly so it's best left to midgame. However, once researched and built you can have a constant power supply, and with 5 generators on the map you can sustain a basic mid-sized colony.

Make sure your geothermal generators and their connecting conduits are well-protected as they often have to be placed far from base. Walling the generators helps protect them against raiders, but walling the conduits isn't recommended due to the cost and its hindrance on colonist field work.

It is possible to rush the research for geothermal power, though you should be careful not to neglect other more important research projects.

Power storage

You will need batteries to store power if you're using unstable power supplies such as wind or solar power. Batteries need to be kept under a roof to prevent short-circuits, and they should be protected from external threats, too. Connect them to the grid via switches, so you can shut off unneeded batteries to reduce the impact of short circuits.

Leave a 1-tile gap between adjacent groups of batteries so power does not flow between them and you can independently control connectivity.

Power network

It's not a good idea to have just 1 conduit spanning the entirety of your base- while it saves materials, short circuits or other events can cripple your power supply.

Instead, build an extensive network so the grid continues to function even if there is a break somewhere in the network.

Emergency power

Some events will cause you to lose power if you are unprepared. Some colonies rely on wind or solar power to power everything, and eventually every colony with electricity will suffer from a fault conduit explosion, also show as 'Zzzt...' Both cases will cause you to lose power, whether it's not enough wind or sun, or an explosion. Raider attacking and destroying power conduits connected to power generators can sever power from the colony, reducing the power available.

  • Backup batteries: Always have spare power stores, such as multiple battery systems with switches. Only connect extra when they are about to run out, or are charging.
  • Backup generators: Have some fueled generators that you bring online only if there's not enough power in the colony. This can allow your backup batteries to discharge slower, or even recharge. If they are turned off they will not consume fuel.

Vanometric power cell

A vanometric power cell constantly provides 500W of power regardless of any condition, and can be placed anywhere. Obtaining it can be quite hard due to its rarity, even in the mid-late game, and by then its power generation is measly compared to the total power consumed. That doesn't make it less useful, however.

Defenses

Unless you're playing on Peaceful difficulty, you will eventually encounter major threats, so you will need to prepare defenses for that.

The greatest advantage on your side is cover. While enemies are hiding behind rock chunks, you have sandbags and walls on your side, giving you a significant upper hand. You can even clear the rock chunks to force enemies behind trees which are less optimal a cover choice, widening the advantage.

You can also choose to build turrets if you have unlocked them. They are essential if you don't have enough colonists to defend against raids, most typically the start of the Rich Explorer scenario.

Temperature control

Room should have its temperature regulated by some method or another, so as to keep a comfortable temperature for colonists to live in, and protect them from extreme temperature conditions such as heat waves, cold snaps or simply the outdoors ambient temperature.

Large rooms such as your dining room or rec room should have their own heaters and coolers. If they are interconnected you may want to open doors for faster colonist access and temperature exchange. If you choose to do so, remember to close doors if a fire breaks out in the room.

Smaller rooms such as your bedrooms should be thermally connected to a larger central space through vents. Your heaters and coolers should be all placed outside the bedrooms. This reduces the number of heaters and coolers you need to build while keeping your bedrooms at a comfy temperature at the same time.

Keep in mind that you will also need to be prepared in case of a freak temperature event such as heat waves or cold snaps. Without enough temperature devices rooms can get uncomfortably cold or hot, and in severe cases begin to cause hypothermia or heatstroke.

Protected coolers

Coolers are very fragile, and a single explosion or dedicated effort from melee attackers can easily break them down. Protecting the coolers helps fortify your base against enemy raids by eliminating the weak points in your walls.

This is done by walling the coolers off while giving it unroofed space right in front of the cooler to vent away heat.

Cooler column

Have the hot end facing an at least 2x2 unroofed area where the heat vents out into the open.

Best used for freezers to keep cool as most cases don't call for that many coolers (8 can surround a 2x2 unroofed space). For other situations you can simply put a few walls in front of the freezer to block explosions without blocking the exhaust vent.

Temporary temperature control

If your regular heaters or coolers aren't doing the trick, or you're a tribe without the ability to harness electricity yet, you can use campfires or passive coolers to cool down your base. Both have the same effect as their powered variants, except they are rather limited in their available temperature range- campfires can't heat above 30°C while passive coolers can't cool below 15°C.

These are best used to keep colonists comfortable during heat waves or cold snaps. If you always encounter uncomfortable temperatures during summer or winter then it's time to upgrade your heaters or cooler system.

Miscellaneous

Dirt floors

Until you have enough manpower to spare for cleaning jobs, instead of building any floors, use the terrain as the floors. Dirt trailed on constructed floors makes for a much worse beauty penalty than using dirt floors, so this can actually make your rooms look better.

However for places like hospitals it's better to use sterile tiles and manually clean them instead.

Flooring outside

To reduce the amount of dirt inside your colony buildings, put any kind of flooring covering places where colonists frequently go. This reduces the amount of dirt formed as well as causes dirt to be left outside where it does not look as bad. This should obviously be done only if you have enough janitors, otherwise it's better to just not build any floors (see above).

Moisture pumps

Moisture pumps clear out moisture from the ground around them, making dry land suitable for construction and agriculture.

It is excellent in swamp biomes for clearing out shallow water and marshy soil in order to build structures.