Defence tactics

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This page details different tactics for defense and visualizations of them. Note: with the Alpha 11 update which included enemy Sappers and improved Raider AI, many of these tactics are obsolete and won't work as efficiently as past versions.

Early-Game Tactics

Ghost Town

Give all your villagers melee weapons, and stick them in the building closest to the raider path. When any enemy draws close, pop out on them, swarming the 1-2 biggest or closest threats first.


  • Nullifies range advantages, (especially against grenades) and most of the risk from sitting behind sandbags.
  • Most enemies will bring either low tech melee weapons like clubs, or use guns. Once you get a smithy you can outclass both of these with longswords.
  • No concerns about friendly fire
  • Enemies tend to split up once they reach your settlement allowing you to divide and conquer.
  • No special prep required, just pick any building in the enemies path.


  • Some late game enemies can nullify this simply by overpowering your melee fighters.
  • Some enemies will set your building on fire which might block the entrance, or split your focus. This is exceedingly rare though.
  • Doesnt work well with low population

Tunnel of Doom

One early game tactic is to slow down your enemies by (possibly using mountains to help) creating a narrow strip between your colony and potential areas where raiders could attack from, then placing a wall of sandbags close to the exit of the strip (the end closer to your colony obviously) where you can put turrets and/or colonists to attack the raiders. (You can also place debris in the strip so that they are slowed even more).


  • Fairly cheap
  • Easy to build


  • Sandbags need steel (debris can be used instead of sandbags)


If you prefer prolonged firefights instead of taking your enemies out with cheap tricks, then this is for you. This is an early game strategy because all you need for it is walls. First, build a room in an area where you expect enemies to approach from. This room doesn't have to be box-like -- all you need is a place for your colonists to stand inside while they shoot out. Simply build a structure in any shape and then deconstruct a few walls to make some holes -- these will be firing holes for your shooters, where they can use the walls as cover.

Additionally, build a roof for your bunker so that every cell underneath it will count as 'Dark', with no light from the sun, and it will be protected from bad weather like rain and lightning strikes. So, when a raider attack comes and your shooters head to the bunker, they now enjoy not only the full cover bonus from having thick walls between them and the enemy, but also the fact that they are in darkness, meaning that enemies take yet another accuracy penalty when firing at them. Also, if a firefight is going on in bad weather, the roof will prevent your shooters from suffering the accuracy penalty from that, too. To truly finish the bunker, add non-flammable flooring (Stone blocks) so your colonists don't have to worry so much about fires while inside.


  • Extremely cheap -- all it takes is whatever materials you use for the walls
  • Simple, easy and fun to build -- just make a room and knock out holes for your shooters
  • Makes it very hard for your enemies to hit your colonists since they are behind full cover and in darkness
  • You can easily extend this into a full bunker system just by adding more walls and knocking out more holes


  • Should enemies overrun your bunker(s), they can turn the defenses on you to devastating effect
  • May require Stonecutting research to get walls that are good enough to withstand sustained fire -- wood and steel just don't cut it

Trap Chokepoints

Deadfall traps are available to you from the start of the game even if you start off as a tribe. Though they can be costly to make in large numbers, if you have lots of wood or steel on your map you can start producing them early.

The main point of this defense is that you build a wall around your colony, essentially creating a compound. This can be more or less costly depending on how many hills are around that you can use as natural barriers. You leave an empty tile or two on the wall as exits as needed and then you build a second wall segment 7-11 tiles long just in front of the empty tiles. These segments will have a door at the same spot as the hole behind them. Then, you fill up the space in-between with traps like so:

▣ - Door ◉ - Deadfall trap ▩ - Walls

▲ Outside
  ▩ ▩ ▩ ▩ ▣ ▩ ▩ ▩ ▩ 
◉ ◉ ◉ ◉ ◉   ◉ ◉ ◉ ◉ ◉ 
▩ ▩ ▩ ▩ ▩   ▩ ▩ ▩ ▩ ▩
▼ Inside

Due to how the AI works, your colonists will prefer to move through the door, thereby always avoiding your own traps, whereas any enemies will prefer to go around the wall segment straight towards the open entrance, but that leads them into your line of traps. 5-6 traps, - even if made from wood - are usually enough to kill or severely wound an enemy. If you can afford to make them out of steel or better, you can expect an assaulting enemy force to take heavy losses by the time they make it through your traps.


  • Can often single handedly rout early raiders without your colonists ever being in danger.
  • Traps can be rearmed any number of times, making this method economical in the long run.


  • High resource cost can make it unfeasable on resource poor maps.
  • If the entrances are very far from where the enemies approach from, they might choose to attack your wall instead.

Mid Game Tactics

The Death Room

NOTE: This strategy requires the use of the Blasting Charges mod.

Proposed start time: as soon as possible, usually day 10+

If you use a mined out base you can use mines to make "death rooms" in the entrance and just outside. By having ONLY ONE door exposed to the outside world, raiders will all focus on destroying the door (raiders don't attack rock walls [as of version alpha v11 they will mine to you after spawn prep time]). This high concentration of assailants is perfect for mines.

If the raiders are spread out and one raider attacks the door, have one colonist (preferably the best repairer) stand on the inside and repair the door until enough raiders have gathered to make it worth activating the blasting charges.

WARNING! The colonist should not repair the door to full health because he or she might go outside to do a task, opening the door and dooming the colonist. To avoid this situation, draft the colonist before the door is completely repaired.

It is possible to stack this defensive structure (more than 4 in a row will noticeably increase travel time for colonists) to implement Defense In Depth security.

▣ - Door
◉ - Blasting charges
◎ - Optional Blasting charges
▢ - Explosion radius
▩ - Rock walls
▲ Outside
▩ ▩ ▩ ▩ ▩ ▣ ▩ ▩ ▩ ▩ ▩
▩ ▩ ▢ ▢ ▢ ▢ ▢ ▢ ▢ ▩ ▩
▩ ▢ ▢ ▢ ▢ ▢ ▢ ▢ ▢ ▢ ▩
▩ ▢ ▢ ▢ ▢ ▢ ▢ ▢ ▢ ▢ ▩ 
▩ ▢ ▢ ▢ ◉ ◎ ◉ ▢ ▢ ▢ ▩ ◀ The Death Room
▩ ▢ ▢ ▢ ▢ ▢ ▢ ▢ ▢ ▢ ▩
▩ ▢ ▢ ▢ ▢ ▢ ▢ ▢ ▢ ▢ ▩
▩ ▩ ▢ ▢ ▢ ▢ ▢ ▢ ▢ ▩ ▩
▩ ▩ ▩ ▩ ▩ ▣ ▩ ▩ ▩ ▩ ▩
▼ Inside


  • Extremely efficient and effective deathtrap


  • Potential for friendly fire or colonist injury
  • High Steel cost

Late Game Tactics

Death's Cathedral

Proposed start time: day 100+

Make a huge room (be careful, as the roof will collapse without support beams) with stone walls that cover the entrance to your base.
The length of this room should be 45 tiles (use the plan tool under the Orders menu to measure the distance) because a M-24 sniper rifle can shoot that far.
The width of this room should be equal to the amount of colonists that you plan to have, with a maximum of 45.

Make the "inside wall" (towards your base entrance) a huge Fire Wall and in the center of the opposite wall make a hole where the enemies can enter.
Haul away all Debris, cut all Saguaro cacti, and remove anything considered Cover inside this room (cutting/burning away the Poverty grass is optional).

  • Optional: make a Dumping zone around the outer wall, configure it to receive Debris, and designate enough debris to fill it. This will slow the approach of raiders.
  • Optional: build either expensive Sandbags or free Debris as a second line in front of the Fire wall with a 1 tile gap between them so the colonists can hide behind cover in front of the Fire Wall.
  • Optional: if the Blasting charges mod is activated you can line the outer wall and the front of the Fire Wall with blasting charges in such a way that the charges don't damage the walls or each other, but anyone just in front of the walls will be injured or killed.


  • Fun
  • Can use weapons with a longer range than turrets
  • Very low cost to maintain


  • Very high initial cost
  • Colonists can still be injured
  • Requires most (or all) of your colonists to interrupt what they are doing
  • Requires most (or all) of your colonists to use long range weapons such as the M-24 sniper rifle

Other Tactics and Designs

The "Fire Wall"

An effective cover design is to alternate 2 walls and 1 sand bag, by doing this you have 3 colonists shooting out of the same hole, 2 behind full cover and one behind low cover. This method can be expanded as long as there is room on the map.

▢ - Sandbags | ▩ - Wall | ◉ - Colonist behind full Cover | ◎ - Colonist behind half Cover

▲ Outside
▩ ▢ ▩ ▩ ▢ ▩
◉ ◎ ◉ ◉ ◎ ◉
▼ Inside


  • Gives excellent cover
  • Allows defenders to attack a wide range of targets while remaining behind cover
  • Prevents colonists from ganging up on enemies


  • The design narrows the attack area, so the attackers must come straight at the defenders

The "Melee Defense "

This defense uses only melee weapons to defend against endless number of enemies with just 3 colonists. The walls fill funnel in the enemies in so that they would start attacking the door, they will be slowed down by the Rock chunks, when they are attacking the door the colonists on either side of the door will be able to melee attack the enemies through the corner of the door and the wall without them fighting back,and with the third colonist in front of the door repairing it you can keep this up until all of your enemies are dead or retreating, death claws or great swords are recommended but any melee weapon will do, the walls and door should be made out of granite to ensure maximum durability

▩ - Wall | ◉ - Colonist | ◎ - Rock chunk | ▢ - Door |

      ▲ Outside
      ▼ Inside


  • Colonists will not get hurt
  • Only requires 3 colonist


  • It is unsure if the one way melee attack is a bug exploit or if it is intended by the developers

See also