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. In all different designs one can opt to either predefine each room role or make modular rooms which are easier to expand but also less efficient.

Superstructure base

A superstructure base is a base where everything or almost everything is in one large building rather than smaller separate parts.

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

Pros

  • Saves building materials and space.
  • Easier to control temperature.
  • Easier to defend against raids.
  • More resistant against toxic fallout.

Cons

  • Patches of deep water and soft sand can complicate the design, but not marshy terrain since they can just be covered with bridges.
  • Some areas might need to be unroofed to prevent cabin fever.
  • Some large hallways might be needed to help defend against raiders dropping on top.

Separate structures base

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

It is easier for starting off, but it usually does not scale as well into late game.

Pros

  • Easier to avoid areas with building restrictions.
  • Naturally gets rid of cabin fever.
  • Naturally offer areas in between buildings to fight raiders that drop on top.

Cons

  • Requires more space and building materials overall.
  • Harder to control temperature.
  • Harder to defend against most raids.
  • Vulnerable to toxic fallout.

Mountain base

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

Also very easy to start off, used to be the most popular kind of base but now depending on how bad the Infestations are it can be good or impossible late game.

Pros

  • Saves a lot of building materials.
  • Easier to control temperature.
  • Easier to defend against raids.
  • More resistant against toxic fallout.
  • Free flooring.
  • Immune to sieges and raiders dropping on top.

Cons

  • Infestations inside can be impossible to deal with.
  • Cabin fever can be a real problem.

Base Structures

Different structures suit the different needs of your colony.

Dining room

Dining rooms are rooms with table and chairs for colonists to eat in.

It's usually a good idea to have the main dining room near the food storage so your colonists will actually use the dining room, instead of eating on the floor. It's also a good idea to have a minor dining room near the colonist's bedrooms or they might eat their breakfast on the floor since colonists tend to go to bed with food and eat as soon as they wake up.

In big bases, dining rooms can be partially unroofed to get rid of cabin fever since colonists do not mind eating in hot or cold rooms.

Good dining rooms give good mood modifiers so they should have plenty of art, light, good flooring and high-quality furniture. It does not need to be temperature controlled. Nutrient paste dispensers are very useful on dining rooms to ensure that nobody needs to eat raw food, they are usually placed half in the dining room and half in the freezer.

Dining rooms can be combined with recreation rooms.

Recreation rooms

Example of a common room. The middle is unroofed to get rid of cabin fever and to accommodate a telescope.

The recreation room is a room with sources of joy.

Colonists get bored of using the same joy source repeatedly, so you should have as many joy sources as possible in the recreation room.

In the early game, all you need is a horseshoes pin and a chess table. During mid-game you can add a poker table, a billiards table and a tube television, then upgrade to a flatscreen television. Finally, buy a megascreen television and a telescope from traders.

In big bases, recreation rooms can be partially unroofed to get rid of cabin fever since colonists do not mind playing in hot or cold rooms.

Good recreations rooms give good mood modifiers so they should have plenty of art, light, good flooring and high-quality furniture. It does not need to be temperature controlled.

Common room

Recreation rooms can be combined with dining rooms to form a common room. These tend to be larger and more impressive, and they can serve the roles of both rooms, giving their respective mood modifiers.

Barracks

Barracks is a room with multiple beds.

They are usually a good option early-game when resources are limited, or during late-game to deal with an overflow of people. Overall, it's better to have separate bedrooms since barracks give a lower mood modifier and cause a lot of 'Disturbed sleep' penalties.

Good barracks give good mood modifiers so they should have plenty of art, good flooring and high-quality furniture. It should be temperature controlled for better moods. Dressers are a very good addition to barracks since they increase the comfort of many beds at once.

Colonists like to eat as soon as they wake up, but do not place table and chairs inside the barracks or colonists will use the tables at night and cause 'Disturbed sleep' penalties, instead barracks should be built close to dining rooms.

Bedrooms

Example of bedrooms. You should always have art in bedrooms.

Bedrooms are rooms with only one bed.

Only couples like to share a room, and all sleeping colonists will get disturbed by non-lovers walking about in the same room while they sleep, so once you have the resources you should upgrade to individual bedrooms for each colonist or couple. If you have couples they will need double beds so that they can sleep together. Is recommended to have double beds in every single room because couple are not smart enough to assign themselves to bedrooms with double beds, so if you have some bedrooms with normal beds and some bedrooms with double beds you have to re-assign the couples every time they go out on a caravan.

Good bedrooms give good mood modifiers so they should have plenty of art, good flooring and high quality furniture. It should be temperature controlled for better moods. Dressers and end tables are recommended in bedrooms to increase the comfort of the bed. Royal beds are particularly good to have in bedrooms if you can afford it.

Colonists like to eat as soon as they wake up, but do not place table and chairs inside the bedrooms or colonists will use other colonists tables at night and cause 'Disturbed sleep' penalties, instead bedrooms should be build close to dining rooms.

Storage

Storage is a room with a stockpile. It is not an official room role.

The storage is usually the biggest room in the base. It should be covered by orbital trade beacons so you can sell your stuff to trade ships. The electric crematorium and electric smelter may be placed here or in the workshop.

It does not need to be impressive or temperature controlled and should be built close to the workshop to minimize travel times.

Freezer

Example of a freezer. The colony keeps a large reserve of food for caravans and corpses of important dead colonists are frozen inside for future resurrection.

Freezers are rooms with a stockpile that is kept cold by coolers. It is not a official room role.

This is usually the second biggest room in the base, it is where you put your perishables that would otherwise spoil in the storage like food and corpses. It should be covered by orbital trade beacons so you can sell your food to trade ships.

Butcher spots, butcher tables and crafting spots can be placed inside the freezer to butcher corpses, make kibble and make smokeleaf joints- since the work to make those is so small and the ingredients are in the freezer your colonists might as well do it there. However, for mass production, it's better to have it close but outside the freezer due to the work speed penalty.

Nutrient paste dispensers are usually placed half in the dining room and half in the freezer.

Even though food freezes at 0 °C (32 °F) you should have your freezer at least set at -5 °C (23 °F) since it will lose temperature whenever a colonist comes in. It is common to make airlocks in the entrance of the freezer to reduce that temperature exchange. It is also common to make the freezer with double walls to increase insulation.

To save power it is a good idea to have the coolers set to different temperatures. For example, if two coolers are set to -5 °C (23 °F) then both will always consume power, but if a cooler is set to -5 °C (23 °F) and another is set to -10 °C (14 °F) then the first will only consume power during hotter times when the second is not able to keep the temperature bellow -5 °C (23 °F) alone.

It does not need to be impressive and should be built close to dining rooms and kitchens.

Kitchen

Kitchens are rooms with a stove or butcher table.

The kitchen is where your colonists turn raw food into meals. The room should be clean to avoid food poisoning, so the butcher table should be placed nearby in a different room instead since it creates a lot of filth. Also, zone out colony animals.

Besides stoves, the kitchen should include chairs, light and sterile tiles. You might want to add a little vegetable stockpile inside to save travel time, as plants take awhile to spoil.

Since the kitchen is placed near the freezer, some crafting stations which include plants ingredients may be also placed in there. The brewery, drug lab and biofuel refinery are good choices and if you do place them there you should also add tool cabinets and little stockpiles for hops, psychoid leaves and neutroamine.

It does not need to be impressive, but it is usually a good idea to add a little art since colonists tend to stay there for a long time. It should be temperature controlled for better working speed.

Workshop

The workshop is a room with crafting stations. It is where your colonists turn raw materials into advanced products.

Besides crafting stations, the workshop should include chairs, light and tool cabinets. A lot of different little materials stockpiles may be placed inside to save travel time.

Early game crafting stations include the stonecutter's table, sculptor's table, hand-tailoring bench and fueled smithy. Mid game crafting stations include the machining table, as well as the electric versions of hand-tailoring bench and fueled smithy. Late game crafting stations include the fabrication bench.

The brewery, drug lab and biofuel refinery may be placed here or in the kitchen.

The electric crematorium and electric smelter may be placed here or in the storage.

It does not need to be impressive, but it is usually a good idea to add a little art since colonists tend to stay there for a long time. It should be temperature controlled for better working speed.

It should be built close to storage.

Hospital

Hospitals are rooms with a medical bed. They are places specialized in treating your colonists-if you do not have one, colonists will be treated in bedrooms. The room should be clean to avoid infection. Zone out colony animals.

In early-game all you need is floors, beds and a light source. During midgame you should replace your floor with sterile tiles and your beds with hospital beds, and add vitals monitors. All these will increase treatment quality.

Store medicine in or near your hospital so your doctors can quickly patch up your colonists.

Good hospitals give good mood modifiers so they should have plenty of art and high-quality furniture. It should be temperature controlled to prevent heatstroke or hypothermia. Since injured colonists will likely spend a lot of time in the hospital it is a good idea to add televisions which they can watch while in bed. If you do not have televisions, other colonists will go to the hospital to cheer them up to provide joy.

It should be built close to the base entrance for quicker rescue.

Laboratory

Laboratory is a room with a simple research bench or a hi-tech research bench.

Research speed is affected by the cleanliness of the room which is why it might be worth making a separate room for it. It should be isolated to avoid other people walking in dirt. Zone out colony animals.

Besides the research bench, the laboratory should include a chair, light and sterile tiles. After you get the hi-tech research bench you can also get a multi-analyzer.

It does not need to be impressive, but it is usually a good idea to add a little art since colonists tend to stay there for a long time. It should be temperature controlled for better working speed.

Prison

An early game prison barracks (top) and a mid-game prison barracks (bottom). Both prisons are clean, pretty and cooled. Prisoners can feed themselves and doctors can treat prisoners with herbal medicine. Wardens can strip their valuable clothes and prisoners will wear cheap tribalwear. The outside is empty with a second wall.
Mid-game prison blocks from B18, with a filled cell and a warden. Each cell has a table, a chair, a bed and some decorations.

Prisons are places where you put your captives of war. Better prisons make it easier to recruit people. Still, they are not consistently used, so one should consider how much effort and resources should be invested in it. During mid-late game, prisoners without immediate use can be kept for free inside cryptosleep caskets instead.

Basic features:

Good mood features:

Convenience features:

Medical features:

Safety features:

  • Isolated from the rest of the base, but not close to the map edges.
  • Isolated from any potential weapons, even wood and beer.
  • Doors connected to an empty walled area, possibly guarded by turrets.

Prisons can have the following rooms:

Prison barracks

Barracks are rooms with multiple prisoner beds.

They are cheaper than cells and allow for features that are unreasonable to have in every single cell. The barracks mood modifier is only 2 less than the cell modifier which is even less the +5 'Spacious interior' modifier so they arguably offer better mood than cells since prisoners do not get 'Disturbed sleep' penalties. However, if a prison break happens all prisoners in the same barracks will break out together.

Prison cells

Cells are rooms with a single prisoner bed.

Cells offer only slightly better mood improvement than barracks and usually are much more limited in what they can have. The major advantage of cells is that if a prison break happens, not all prisoners in nearby cells will join. They also prevent fights.

If you are lacking space for prisoners, a colonist bedroom can be temporarily turned into a cell.

Prison hospital

The prison hospital is a room with medical prisoner beds.

Prisoners often first enter your prison injured, so having a proper prison hospital can help avoid unnecessary deaths and infections. They are like a regular hospital attached to the rest of your prison, however, you do not need to have televisions in it since prisoners are not affected by joy.

Prison freezer

The prison freezer is a room with a stockpile kept cold by coolers inside the prison. It is not an official room role.

This is for storing stocks of food and herbal medicine to prevent spoilage, should you decide to include them. If you have a Nutrient paste dispenser you can place part of it and all the hoppers inside.

Barn

Example of taming barn. Even Megaspiders may be tamed if they show up as an animal herd but you will need to beat them down and bring them in to have time to tame them and do it safely.

The barn is a walled area with animal sleeping spots, animal sleeping boxs or animal beds.

Barns help ensure that hauling animals will go back to your base at night for safety and that fragile animals will be isolated from predators. They are also used to ensure that animals products will drop near your base for quicker hauling.

They should include stockpiles of hay or kibble for the animals, if they are placed outside they should be in a shelf to avoid deteriorating. Since animals go back to their boxes or bed for healing it might be a good idea to store medicine near your barn for quicker patching up, again if placed outside they should be in a shelf.

Sometimes, it is good to have a second small separated barn to bring in wild animals that you want to tame. Wild animals might go away or die for many different reasons, but if you keep them in an isolated room with food they will stay there forever. A good example is an animal herd passing through the area. You will not have time to tame them, but you can beat them down and bring them to your base and have all the time you need to tame them. Also prevents them from causing damage if the taming fails.

It does not need to be impressive, indeed it is better to not put down floors to avoid animal filth. It does not need to be indoors but you might want to at least partially roof it in case a toxic fallout happens. It does not need to be temperature controlled unless if your animals cannot handle the local temperature.

It should be built close to freezer or stockpile.

Armory

Armory is a room with a stockpile for weapons and armor. It is not an official room role.

Often your colonists need to change their guns and gear to better fight different kinds of raids. Having an armory helps to keep your gun and gear stock under control and puts them in a more accessible position for your colonists to grab them quickly.

It does not need to be impressive. It does not need to be temperature controlled.

It should be built close to your defenses for quicker reaction to raids, and should also be far away from the prison.

Tomb

The tomb is a room with a sarcophagus.

Not the most important of the rooms, but colonists do go visit filled sarcophagi for joy so you might want to give a nicer room for them to do that.

It does not need to be impressive or temperature controlled and can be built anywhere.

Production

You will need fields, buildings and animals to provide the raw materials that your colony needs.

Crop fields

See also: Food production

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.

Crop fields are growing zones, designated to the desired plant type.

Depending on the soil fertility different plants might generate the best productivity, for example:

Potatoes and berries grows better in poor soil.

Rice and corn grows better in rich soil.

Crop fields need to be protected from raiders or they will burn them down, which can be hard on harsh biomes where the fertile soil might be far away from your base. They also need to be protected from animals, both wild and domestic. Crop fields are vulnerable to blight.

Ideally, they should be made near your freezer.

Greenhouses

Greenhouses are a protected version of crop fields. They are growing zones or hydroponics basins in a temperature controlled environment. Since they are indoors, they also require sun lamps.

They are much more expensive than fields but they allow crops to grow all year in very cold environments. They are vulnerable to solar flares.

Mines

If you are mining the stones in the outside layer of a mountain then you got nothing to worry about.

However, if you decide to mine deep inside a mountain, then you need to build a proper mine as you mine out the stones to avoid rocks collapsing on top of your colonists. Wood is usually a good cheap material to use to make mines.

Another thing to worry about when making mines is infestations. You can build doors inside your mine to create choke points where you can fight the insects and help your colonists running away. Alternatively, you can fill up the whole mountain with wood so infestations can not happen at all.

Drilling rooms

Deep drills are placed far away from your base and similar to mines that they can also cause infestations. So you might want to enclose the area with walls and doors to create choke points where you can fight the insects and prevent predators from attacking your isolated colonist.

Animals

Animals have a variety of uses, therefore herding some of them in your barn can be very helpful. Of course all animals can be used for different reasons, but it is worth mentioning some of them because they are either particularly useful or versatile:

Chicken, Cow, Chinchilla, Alpaca and Boomalope are really profitable.

Pig, Wild boar, Elephant and Megasloth are the only ones that can graze and haul.

Dromedary, Muffalo, Elephant and Megasloth are really versatile.

One should notice that combat animals are much better at defending caravans than defending your base.

Power

Your colony needs power, so should provide generators and should guard those so riders do not destroy them. Therefore, it is usually a good idea to place them inside your base walls. Your options for power generation are:

Solar power

Solar generators provide power only during the day. It provides 1700W during peak hours near the equatorial line, but less near the poles. They are particularly good to power up sun lamps since those only consume power during the day. They should be used together with batteries so you may still have power during the night. They are vulnerable to eclipses.

Wind power

Wind turbines provide unstable power throughout the day. It can provide up to 3000W, but it usually gives less than that. They should be used together with batteries to make up for the instability.

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, you may put down floors. Another more productive use of the space is to 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. Both provide a constant 1000W of power, so it is a good idea to have some of these as a backup power source, or even as your main source in biomes that are loaded with trees. Since they are stable they do not require batteries.

Chemfuel is significantly more efficient than wood, so once you research the biofuel refinery it is better to refine wood into chemfuel before using it as fuel.

Boomalope setup

Boomalopes generate enough chemfuel to run 2 generators. It is very easy to run an entire base on that setup since they easily generate more energy than you spend to grow food for them.

Infinite chemreactor setup

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

It is overall an amazing setup but infinite chemreactors are hard to come by, so you should not expect to run your whole base on that.

Geothermal power

Geothermal generators constantly gives 3600W of power after being built on a steam geyser.

While overall amazing it has one big issue, you can not choose where the steam geysers will be, so if you do not have one inside your base you either gotta move your base closer to them or leave them exposed.

The good news is that if you wall off your Geothermal generator completely with double walls the raiders will ignore it 99% of the time. They will, however, sometimes randomly attack your walls, but it is extremely unlikely that they will destroy both walls and reach the generator. The bad news is that it means that you gotta make a hole on the wall every time the generator breaks down to fix it and then build it up again.

Another problem is, that the raiders will likely destroy the conduits connecting the generator to your base, so even though they do not need batteries you should build some because it is likely that the generator gonna be disconnected during every raid.

It is important to notice that they generate heat, so they should be unroofed if you wall them off otherwise they will catch on fire.

Watermill generator

Example of watermills setup. It runs a big base without batteries.

The watermill generator constantly provides 1100W of power but has to be placed next to rivers. So you must include the river inside your base design. However, that is usually quite simple since rivers tend to cross the whole map edge to edge. It does mean you will have to wall off a larger area, but it is well worth it since the watermill is quite reliable and lots of them can be placed on the same river.

It is quite easy to run a base just on watermills but of course, rivers are not available in every map. Since they are stable they do not require batteries.

Vanometric power cell

A vanometric power cell constantly provides 1000W of power and can be placed anywhere. Like the infinite chemreactor, they are hard to come by, so you should not expect to run your whole base on that.

They are particularly good for starting off new bases, or sometimes powering isolated objects such as deep drills.

Power storage

Batteries store surplus power. They're recommended for power sources that aren't constant, such as wind or solar power. They allow for power storage during times of excess to be used during times of demand. For instance, this makes them useful to store spare power generated during the night from fueled generators in order to supply sunlamps during the day.

Batteries need to be placed under a roof to prevent short-circuits during rain and should be placed indoors to protect them from external threats. Connect them to the grid via switches and shut off part of them after they are filled to reduce the impact of short circuits and have back up batteries in case of emergency.

Power network

It is not a good idea to have just one power network for the entirety of your base. While it makes things easier to control, short circuits can cripple your whole power supply. Instead, you may split your power network into smaller networks so when a short circuit happen it will not affect all your base and power reserves.

Also, you should not have your base covered with a single power conduct. Build networks with redundant pathways so that the grid will continue to function even if there is a break somewhere in the network. Geothermal generators, in particular, tend to be connected to your base by a single conduit, add more than one conduit so it does not break easily during raids or forest fires.

Defenses

Example of a killbox. Centipedes with inferno cannon triggering a firefoam popper.

Unless you are playing on peaceful difficulty, you will eventually encounter major threats, so you will need to prepare your defenses for that.

All defensive buildings can be seen on defense structures. Here, we show only the basic.

Killbox

The most basic defense set up is the killbox. It is a walled area full of traps and turrets where you fight your enemy making sure they do not out-range you, do not have cover, while your colonists have plenty of cover. It only works if it is the only entrance to your base and your whole base is protected by double walls.

The turrets should be all connected to your power grid by power switches. They should be disconnected if a manhunter pack shows up, it is better to let them kill themselves in your traps and finish them using your main door as a choke point.

Centipedes with inferno cannons are one of the major counters of killboxes, since the fire makes your colonists lose control and run out of cover. Having some firefoam poppers inside your box helps a lot with extinguishing fires and preventing future fires. EMP grenades also do wonders on them if you can get close enough to throw it.

Another counter of killboxes are raiders with triple rocket launcher and doomsday rocket launcher, if they manage to shoot inside your box the damage can be massive. One safety measure is to keep some psychic shock lance or psychic insanity lance near and use them if you see that they will not die fast enough.

Some enemies do not run into your box, but can be lured into it. That includes raiders from sieges and mechanoids protecting ships. Some colonists with snipers can easily poke them until they aggro and bring them to the box.

Killboxes do not protect against sappers and raiders dropping on top of you. For those, you will need another strategy.

Temperature control

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

Larger rooms such as your kitchen and workshop should have their own heaters and coolers. If they are interconnected you may want to open doors for faster colonist access and temperature exchange.

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 unusual temperature events, such as heat waves or cold snaps. Which, in severe cases, will cause heatstroke or hypothermia. Heat waves will also spoil your food and corpses.

Wall coolers (top) and inside coolers (bottom). The wall coolers create a weak spot for raiders to break into your base.

Protected coolers

Coolers are very fragile, and raiders will see them as a weak point in your wall and will focus to destroy them. Protecting the coolers helps fortify your base against enemy raids by avoiding weak points. This is done by walling the coolers off while giving it unroofed space in front of the hot end to vent away heat. That unroofed area can be placed within an existing structure, such as inside the freezer. For maximum spatial efficiency the strips of unroofed area should be one tile wide, surrounded by coolers.

If your colony is in a cold biome, consider venting the heat from the coolers into your living spaces instead.

Temporary temperature control

If your regular heaters or coolers are not enough or there is a temporary power outage or you are a tribe without the ability to harness electricity yet, you can use campfires or passive coolers to heat or cool down your base respectively. Both have the same effect as their electric variants, except that they need to be refueled and are limited in their available temperature range: campfires can not heat above 30°C while passive coolers can not cool below 15°C. Also, their temperature effect is full and cannot be controlled. Depending on what gear your colonists are wearing, it is possible for them in a room heated with campfires to complain about it being too hot.

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 is time to get more heaters or coolers.

Miscellaneous

Before a beach (left) and later a crop field (right). Extreme desert with coast, turned a patch of swallow ocean water into a huge crop field using moisture pumps.

Do not rush flooring

Until you have enough manpower to spare for cleaning jobs, instead of building any floors, you can use the terrain as floors. Terrain does not generate animal and human filth and filth 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 is always 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 and animals frequently walk. This reduces the amount of dirt brought inside your base.

This should obviously be done only if you have enough janitors.

Moisture pumps

Moisture pumps clear out moisture from the ground around them, creating dry land suitable for construction and agriculture. They are excellent in swamp biomes for clearing out shallow water, marshy soil and mud in order to build structures. Their effect is permanent, so they can safely be deconstructed once the land you want to use is dry. Note that shallow water will be converted to stony soil, which only has 70% fertility. Still, this can be the only way to farm in the ground in biomes like Extreme Desert and Ice Sheet. Can not be used for farming in Sea Ice since it creates ice ground.