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, from all stages of the game.

With Alpha 17, raiders have become smarter. You will need better tactics to defend against raider threats.

Raider behavior

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

Raiders will usually set fire to crops in growing zones, power generation or conduits, walls, nutrient paste dispensers, shelves, orbital trade beacons and deep drills. They will melee attack lamps, beds, stools, short tables, long tables, and doors. They also use molotovs and frag grenades on turrets, sandbags, or other targets, and some use EMP grenades to stun your turrets.

Raiders will prioritize firing on colonists or turrets when those colonists or turrets are firing on them, but will otherwise prioritize random objects, meaning you can put doors or walls near your defenses to temporarily distract them.

Raider Preparation

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. It is generally best to set them off early if you're well-prepared, to avoid potentially troublesome scenarios such as having no power when their timer runs out. Conversely, you should not set them off early if your defense is not prepared.

During this time, you can choose to attack them with mortars or hit-and-run. They will attempt to fight back, however, and will be set off if you manage to down or kill them.

Raider Equipment

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


They can range from only wearing a tattered pair of pants to armor vests to full sets of power armor. Mercenary slashers are special in that they are the only raider type to spawn with shield belts and will always do so. Tribals always come in tribalwear, with tuques and parkas only if necessary.

In cold environments, they will come in wearing parkas or tuques, protecting them from temperatures up to -110°C (though it's usually around -40 - -50°C). They don't usually come in wearing dusters or cowboy hats in hot areas, making them vulnerable to the heat.

Their apparel is often damaged to some degree, making them less protective against attacks. They tend to use leather or cloth clothes, which don't provide very good protection, only occasionally using the more protective devilstrand or hyperweave.

While mid-late game pirates can come with 40% or above sharp protection, with quality apparel you can push yours to have more than 60% easily. This gives you the upper hand against the not-so-well protected pirates by allowing you to take more hits in battle.


They 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.
They often come equipped with a variety of ranged weapons too- a broken pistol, a decent slugthrower, a long ranged sniper rifle, an advanced charge rifle, high damage miniguns or even explosive weapons are all part of their arsenal. Tribals however always come equipped with bows or pila.

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 their novice snipers that learnt their skills in FPS shooters (hence barely able to hit at any range) and skilled shooters wielding a melee weapon that they're more inclined to try to fire with than bash with.
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 great advantage over the raiders. You can have gunners actually capable of properly connecting shots, and melee brawlers that rarely ever miss and more likely to dodge enemy attacks.

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. Draft them and have them move within range to fire. Once the enemy returns fire, quickly have them leave the enemy's 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.


This specialized tactic works effectively in some situations, but if you don't use it correctly it's basically a suicide mission.

It involves the use of a fast colonist (depending on the situation, they should have 120-140% or more Moving) running near the enemy to gain their attention. Then, the kiting colonist will proceed to outrun them, while always staying within their attention range. This way, the kiter can distract a group of enemies by leading them around the map. Other colonists can fire on them from a distance.

The kiting colonist should be armored, preferably equipped with shield belts, to guard against the risks involved. The kiter should always stay near the enemy so to grab their attention. If the kiter strays too far away, the enemy will decide to engage other targets instead.

Kiting is extremely high risk. As long as your colonist safely outruns hostiles, you're fine. However, once the enemy catches up, your colonist will be brutally beaten up, shot and cut apart while being unable to escape, unless you are very lucky.


When two of your colonists are being chased, you can conduct a split so that the enemy can only chase and down 1 colonist while the other escapes. If one of your colonists has ranged weapons, then you could split and then conduct a kite.


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 put some distance between them and the attackers.

Trained animals also 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, effectively peeling them away from that colonist.

Peeling is often required against enemy melee rushes or manhunter packs, as the gunners are liable to getting swarmed before they can take down enough enemies to lessen the threat visibly.

Note that 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.


To flank enemies, have defenders approach the attackers 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. Rounding up any survivors fleeing after the attack also becomes easier. However, this also makes you lose the advantage of having high-quality cover such as sandbags on your side.

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.


If you have enough soldiers and suitable cover you can surround them completely, so they will not be able to escape. Firing from all sides also makes cover ineffective at protecting the raiders, while still allowing you to enjoy the benefit of partial cover if you can find it.

Spaced forces

This tactic involves putting space between each defending member of the colony. Each colonist should ideally stand 1 tile away from another colonist. This reduces 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 will not be able to hit at all, and explosive weapons have greatly reduced anti-infantry effectiveness.


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 that involves putting a colonist as 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.

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.

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.

  1. Only let the soldiers closest to melee attackers fire at them. Manually retarget 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. Despite the ability to have multiple lines of gunners behind each unit of cover, it isn't recommended to do so. Stray bullets, including bullets fired horizontally at melee attackers, will more likely hit someone this way.

Melee sortie

Sending groups of melee attackers against enemy shooters can cause great disruption against them.

Charging at entrenched ranged attackers with melee colonists will divert their attention from your own entrenched forces to your charging brawlers. Melee attacking also shuts down ranged attackers by forcing them into melee combat, where they deal significantly less damage.

It can be used to take down annoying long-ranged snipers or small gunner groups as well.

Your colonists must be shielded and preferably heavily armored, otherwise the sheer firepower from both sides can easily overwhelm them. Friendly fire is a serious issue when deploying brawlers, so if you can you should direct fire away from your brawlers.

Note that this isn't a full-on melee assault; in this case you will still have gunners shooting from behind.

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

It's best to equip your melee colonists with shield belts to protect against heavy fire 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 with either the walls or your ranged, or put them in line with/in front of your gunners for quick deployment and damage absorption.

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 can 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 coping strategy, though be prepared to see someone downed or killed in the chaos.


When a colonist is downed or severely injured behind your cover, you should drag them immediately to the hospital or somewhere outside an active fight, where doctors can patch them up. Don't leave downed colonists in the fight otherwise they risk dying from stray bullets or blood loss.

Colonists lying outside your cover are more 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, drop them off behind your lines, then switch to another colonist or animal to get them to safety.

You should have a few rescue members stand near a fight. They can pull out any colonists when they are downed. If possible, give them better protection, and if they need to venture out into the crossfire, try to have colonists shoot at another direction to avoid friendly fire. Non-combatant doctors should be drafted to stand near the medicine storage to allow them to quickly grab medicine for treatment.

Before a downed colonist is rescued, stand at least 1 tile away from them. This way no stray bullets (save the minigun or explosives) will hit that colonist. For better safety, stand 3 tiles away so nothing else except rocket launchers can connect.

If a colonist cannot reach the hospital in time, have them immediately lie down at a temporary sleeping spot safely outside the battlefield. Have the doctor closest to the medicine storage go and treat the colonist ASAP. You will have a higher infection chance this way, but it's faster than having the doctor carry the colonist into the hospital.


The animals on the map, whether 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. Wild boars are an excellent choice as they can graze, reproduce quickly, move fast and pack a punch for its size. If you like bigger animals, you can also tame elephants or rhinos.

If you want an army of suicide bombers then boomrats are a suitable choice of animal. Boomalopes have a much bigger explosion radius and deal higher melee damage but are much slower and easier to hit, hence being less effective.

Meat shield

The animals surrounding a handler can be used as a convenient meat shield as they take bullets, arrows and other range 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 (such as bears, if you're foolhardy enough to use them as cover).

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, the 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 much 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.
  • 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, as the smaller ones often get killed before they can enter melee range(unless you can enrage multiple at a time, or the enemy is pure melee). 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 'em rip.
If you have a manhunter pack coincide with a raid, then even better.

Remember, if you can down the animal easily with our 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.

Explosives and incendiary weapons

Explosive weapons are a force to be reckoned with, whether by raiders or colonists. With correct use, they can deal heavy damage and disruption to the opposing side. Most armor protect poorly against explosive blunt damage or heat damage, making them decent choice against heavily armored enemies.

An important thing to note is that explosives are not blocked by cover, but are stopped by walls. This means your colonists covering behind sandbags will be hurt by the explosion, but not those hiding behind a wall.


Mortar attacks on sieges and raids are effective if given the opportunity for the mortars to aim and fire. Each shell has great destructive potential if they connect, but they take a long time to reload and aim, and have poor accuracy.

They also allow you to effectively utilize your colonists who are poor at combat, as mortar accuracy is unaffected by colonist skill, however colonists incapable of violence will outright refuse to man a mortar.

Always to remember to manually unassign colonists from mortars; if you don't, they will continue standing there until they eventually collapse from exhaustion, starvation, or have a mental break.

An important point to remember is that while your colonists are better at dealing with single or spread-out enemies, mortars are designed for heavily grouped enemies. If you diffuse your enemies, the mortars will not be able to hit the enemies easily.

If you are short on manpower, you can automatically assign a colonist to fire 1 shot from each mortar. However mortars will not cool down unless there is someone manning it.

Explosive mortars

The most straightforward way of bombarding enemies, this simply involves building regular explosive mortars. Each mortar shell deals great amounts of explosive damage.


  • Aim around 4-8 mortars at each group of enemies.
  • Manually aim ahead against moving targets.
  • Use only against large groups of enemies.


  • Most shield belts can absorb 1 hit from the mortar.
    • Against enemies, use the EMP mortar (see below).
  • Spread your fighters apart, or keep moving.
  • Stay inside the 30-tile blind spot when safe to approach.
Incendiary mortars

Incendiary mortars deal low damage, penetrate shields and set areas on fire. The fire can cause disruption among the enemy ranks, as they frantically run trying to put out flames.

Be careful with incendiary mortars as the fires can spread across wide areas causing extensive collateral damage.


  • Use on static targets, or aim ahead of moving ones.
  • Set entrenched or shielded enemies on fire to make them vulnerable.
  • Constantly disrupt siege camps with its incendiary blasts.
  • Pair with brawlers for additional flame damage as they stop enemies from extinguishing them.


  • Immediately draft nearby colonists to put out their burning comrades.
  • Firefoam poppers can rapidly extinguish fires and fireproof a region.
EMP mortars

EMP mortars are a highly situational weapon. It doesn't deal any physical damage, but stun mechanoids, down shields and detonate mortar shells. They have a massive blast radius that can easily catch a sizable group of threats at once.


  • Instantly down the shields of a large melee charge.
  • Stunlock mechanoids, leaving them unable to fight back.
  • Detonate hostile mortar shells and disable mortars for a quick solution to a siege.


  • N/A (since enemies don't use EMP mortars)

Thrown explosives

Commonly encountered in raids, thrown explosives are cheap and effective, yet short-ranged.


  • Deprive them of any nearby cover to expose them.
  • Constantly move to avoid thrown weapons and throw enemies off-aim.
  • Shoot them down with snipers before they get in range.
Frag grenades

These deal heavy damage in a small radius a short time after landing.


  • Deal heavy damage to entrenched raiders.
  • Pair with distractions to allow grenadiers to close in to the enemy ranks.


  • Evacuate colonists to avoid the damage. Keep watch on all times so you can catch them in time.
Molotov cocktails

A makeshift incendiary that explodes instantly on impact.


  • Use it as a quick and easy source of fire that can light up anywhere you wish.
  • Smoke out entrenched or shielded raiders if given distraction.


  • Immediately draft nearby colonists to put out their burning comrades as well as any burning structures nearby.
  • Estimate where the molotov will land and evacuate colonists accordingly.
EMP grenades

EMP grenades do no physical damage but has a variety of useful purposes. They have a fuse.


  • Aim ahead of enemy melee charges to take down shields.
  • Alternate between groups of mechanoids to constantly lock them down.
  • Disable enemy turrets while they are distracted.


  • Evacuate shielded colonists.
  • Do not rely on turrets to take down the enemy.


Longer-ranged than thrown explosives, but otherwise acts like them.

Incendiary launcher

A medium-distance incendiary weapon that functions much like the molotov cocktails.


  • Quickly and easily expose entrenched or shielded enemies from a relatively safe distance.


  • Immediately draft nearby colonists to put out their burning comrades as well as any burning structures nearby.
  • Shoot them with medium-long ranged weapons.

Rocket launchers

The most dangerous of them all due to their long range and high damage explosive attacks that can easily down, maim or kill several pawns at once.


Raiders with rocket launchers get distracted quite easily, wasting their rocket launcher on animals or lone colonists. This can be exploited simply by doing a melee rush against them, while equipped with shield belts. They may fire it off at your rushers, whose shields will block the blast. This can happen even at point-blank, with the rocketeers injuring many of his comrades and themselves even if you fail to down the enemy.
Often the melee soldiers will reach them before they can aim their rocket launcher, forcing them into hand-to-hand combat and eventually causing them to be overwhelmed, dropping their rocket launcher which can be captured for future use.

This is somewhat risky as your colonist's shields is likely to be broken from the resulting concentrated gunfire even if it did survive the blast; afterwards, your colonist may be injured, downed or even killed. Still better than having many colonists die from a rocket launcher though.

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 your ranged attackers stay out of line-of-sight, coming out only when the rocket launchers are expended or dropped.

Alternatively, you can use one of your more expendable battle animals to charge the attackers; this has the same effect except your animals will most likely die from the rockets.

Doomsday rocket launcher

Fires a large incendiary cluster-burst that injures a large group of targets while setting them on fire, and can penetrate walls with its incendiary bursts.


  • Aim at a large group of enemies to injure them, then finish them off with other weapons.


  • Distract them such that they fire far away from any structures.
  • Space out defensive forces to reduce the number of them caught in the explosion.
Triple rocket launcher

Fires a 3-round salvo of high-damage rockets with a small blast radius.


  • Aim at tough enemies or priority targets that need to be eliminated.


  • Distract them with expendable pawns such as animals.
  • Space out defensive forces to reduce the number of them caught in the explosion.
  • Block the rockets with durable walls.


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. Choose a tough animal with high damage output that can tear enemies apart, or a small and fast animal which can close the distance through gunfire to distract the enemy.

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.

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.

Body blocking

You can deny raiders access to locations by physically blocking them with your colonists or animals. This can be used to seal off raiders' escapes if you have a chokepoint, delaying their entry to some locations of your base, or stopping prison breaks, especially when doors are broken down.

If you are attempting to body block active combatants, you will need to use heavily armored soldiers as they will take a lot of hits while blocking.

Humanoid assaults


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 (incendiary or regular varieties) and sandbags surrounding the mortars facing your base.

When faced with a siege, there are a few coping 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 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. Killing them early enough will result in most of their items remain 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.

One method of assault is to snipe the mortars under construction. During this time, they have much lower health, and destroying them causes the enemy's resources to be wasted.

Early interception

The best time to attack them is when they've just started building up their camp. At this time their resources would have arrived, and they will be busy loading them up into the blueprints to build their rudimentary base.

Attacking them at this time means that they will be forced to use rock chunks just like you do, instead of having the superior sandbags on their side. They also don't have any mortars set up yet that can fire on you.

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.

Sneak attack

If you don't have the strength to attack directly, you can wait for them to sleep, 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, taking them down with ease.
    • After being woken up, they will scramble towards the closest source of cover, buying you a few more seconds of time to shoot them or to retreat.
  2. Steal their supplies and wait for them to send more. Free food and mortar shells.
  3. 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 their futile efforts to controlling it.

Countering with mortars

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

Regular mortars are somewhat average against sieges, given the heavy damage and inaccuracy. If you're lucky, you can take out some of the raiders, or even the mortars.

Incendiary mortars are an effective way of distracting sieges as the raiders will be preoccupied with extinguishing the resultant flames. This way, 2 mortars are enough to keep them from doing any activity other than firefighting, unless it is raining or there are no flammables nearby.

EMP mortars 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 often poorly equipped, aside from the shields; they aren't particularly well-clothed or armored, and their weapons are often of low quality. 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.


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 mortar can take out most of the shields in a melee raid.


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. Thus, do not rely on perimeter walls to hold them off. They will also persistently try to tunnel into your base, continuing even if their digger is killed or the raiding party is under attack.

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

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.

Remember to cover up any tunnels they dig, as they open up another entrance for raiders to come straight into your base. Or you can fortify it and turn it into a booby-trapped chokepoint to catch unsuspecting raiders seeking direct entry.

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.

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 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. Trying to bombard them with mortars or use other explosive weapons also causes great collateral damage to your structures, assuming they didn't land within the mortar blind spot.

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 comes in smaller numbers than regular raids.

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-fighting colonists should immediately be evacuated to a nearby area. 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 right through the crossfire and back again to get a colonist to the hospital.

Like other raids, raiders will attempt to flee; however, if they land inside enclosed areas of your base they will be trapped allowing your colonists to beat them up 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.


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 utilize 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.

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.

Not effective against mechanoids as they aren't affected by temperature and cannot be set on fire. Incendiary weapons need to score direct hits on them to deal damage.


CQB weaponry such as heavy SMGs, pump shotguns, chain shotguns or melee weapons work best to deal with drop pod attacks.
Mid-range high-DPS weapons like the charge rifle or the LMG 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 crowd control weapons are not recommended due to the heavy collateral damage when using them indoors, though if you don't care about that, they make excellent room-clearing weapons.

Tribal raids

Tribal raiders arriving in large numbers, with so many that their name labels are visually blocking some of the raiders themselves.

Tribal raiders come in large numbers, but with relatively poor equipment; as such, it may require different strategies compared to pirate or outlander raids.

Overall, they can deal heavy damage to your colonists; despite not carrying guns or advanced melee weapons, their neolithic weapons can still dish out heavy damage, especially when combined with their sheer numbers. Tribals also tend to be better at combat, with most tribals being acquainted to some combat skill or another.
However, as tribalwear is awful at protection (depending on the material it may even be none) and they do not wear any form of armor, they are easier to kill individually than other raiders.

Their archers are dangerous; their bows can be fired from a somewhat long distance, their pila can easily kill or incapacitate a colonist, and they always come in a large volley. As with most defensive strategies, cover is essential when fighting them.
Warriors are less of a threat as they don't use shields (unlike their pirate counterpart, the mercenary slasher), making them vulnerable to your gunfire.

Removing rock chunks helps in dealing with tribal raiders hiding behind them, making them much easier to hit.


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. Use sniper rifles, bolt-action rifles or assault rifles, as these are the only weapons that can effectively hit archers at maximum range. Tribal archers can fire arrows at up to 32 tiles away, which only these weapons can reach.

Their melee units are best taken down with close-mid ranged weapons that have high stopping power. Charge rifles and chain shotguns work wonders at this range, as well as the pump shotgun, heavy SMG and the LMG. Save your long-ranged weapons for taking out archers.

Crowd control is an important aspect in defeating tribal raids. The Minigun is an extremely effective weapon to use as it can easily mow down groups of archers hiding behind cover. Aim at a spot right behind them, or someone standing in the middle, and the minigun will proceed to fire a barrage of bullets at them, with many of them connecting.

Explosive weapons are also useful in crowd control, when used correctly.

  • Rocket launchers are single-use, but 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 hit archers hiding behind cover, taking out a few of them, though you have to risk a colonist or two in order to even get close enough to throw them.
  • Incendiary weapons are good at getting pesky archers out of cover for your colonists to hit.


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 are only come in 2 types, Scythers and Centipedes. They have much differing stats and weapons, meaning different tactics may be used.

In many raids where they come/ drop in at the edges, the Scythers will outrun the Centipedes by a great margin, giving plenty of time to deal with them before the centipedes.

Unlike humanlike raiders, they do not flee, meaning that all of them have to be taken out to neutralize the threat.

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 it at close range, or even with melee.


Scythers are capable of long-range sniping attacks, and are extremely deadly with melee. However, they never use cover or actively engage in melee.

If fighting it from a distance, cover along with long-ranged weapons such as sniper rifles or bolt-action rifles are vital. Since scythers aren't particularly good shooters (97% accuracy, corresponding 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 it may 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.

Scythers are vulnerable to deadfall traps, with only a few hits required to kill them.

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


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 burns down your base if not careful. They are incredibly durable, sporting thick armor and high health, and can take many hits before they can be downed.

Centipedes wielding the Minigun and Heavy Charge Baster can be cheesed simply by spreading out your colonists widely enough, with 3-tile gaps between each colonist. The centipede will attempt to target your colonists, but be unable to hit due to the forced miss radii.
The Inferno cannon is not as destructive towards your fighters, but is annoying to deal with. Keep watch on your colonists at all times, and remember to send them back into cover when needed. As a precaution, build your base out of non-flammable materials to prevent large-scale fires erupting all over your colony. Spacing apart colonists can limit the number of colonists hit at once making it easier to manage.

There isn't much choice 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 easier to hit with ranged.
Engaging it in melee is not recommended due to its armor, high health and heavy damage. A centipede deals enough damage per hit to blow off an unprotected hand or foot, and if it has a minigun or heavy charge blaster it can eviscerate your colonist at point-blank before you can get the victim to escape.

Its slow speed and relatively poor blunt armor makes it an excellent target for explosive mortars. Often you can pull off a few blows before it even reaches firing range, severely weakening it.

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 you damage the ship or try to build right next to it, you have plenty of 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 (wild or not), 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.


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. The minigun can also be used to quickly demolish the ship part with its unparalleled DPS. Aim at the ship part and it will hit a lot of the mechanoids near it as well.

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. Like the minigun, they do heavy damage to the ship part.

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.

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.

Constructing around the ship part

If you plan on shooting them, build sandbags around the ship part to block bullets.

You should build EMP mortars to stun the mechanoids, making them helpless hunks of metal. As they tend to spawn very tightly packed, the EMP mortar blasts are extremely effective against them, being able to stun a large number at once. As the ship part also blocks EMP pulses, build multiple mortars to fire a volley, in order to hit all the mechanoids at once.

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

Luring to base

If you want to use existing defenses, you should have a kiting colonist shoot the ship once with long-ranged weaponry, then instantly make a break for it back to your base. You can usually treat it as a normal mechanoid raid against your base, especially if the ship part is far enough away.

After the mechanoids are dealt with, simply draft a few leisurely fighters to use the ship as target practice. No more mechanoids will spawn afterwards.

Manhunter packs

Animals in a manhunter pack can arrive in massive numbers, or include a few large but deadly animals.

They are not sophisticated in their attacks; they come in a tight pack, will not actively attack structures without being provoked, and are only capable of using melee (though some can explode upon death for destructive results).

While some animals can be outrun, they can still cause great disruption in outdoor activities as your colonists constantly run and cower to avoid the incoming horde.


In Alpha 17 any animal can be part of a manhunter pack. Each kind has its own statistics, and can be roughly grouped as follows:

  • Small: Small-sized animals that don't pack a punch on their own. However, they tend to come in massive numbers and their small size makes it harder to hit. Some of them also run faster than regular humans.
  • Medium: Medium-sized animals. They do moderate damage, and some can run fairly fast.
  • Medium and fast: Medium-sized animals that can run fast enough to easily outpace humans. Some deal heavy damage for their size.
  • Predatory: Medium to large-sized animals that specialize in hunting prey. They run fast, and pack a punch. Very dangerous.
  • Large and scary: Large-sized animals that have high melee DPS up close. Most of them are slow so they can be outran and kited.
  • Explosive: Animals that explode on death such as boomalopes or boomrats.

Optimal Weapons

Guns with high damage output such as the LMG, heavy SMG, pump shotgun and charge rifle are good at taking down packs at close to medium range.
Assault rifles and bolt-action rifles work to provide decent long-distance firepower when paired with other high damage weapons.

The sniper rifle works well against larger animals, but is a risky pick against small animals which are hard to hit, as a missed shot is punishing due to its long reload.

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 easily rip large animals to shreds, often with just a single barrage of bullets. Aim for an animal in the middle of the pack, and many 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.

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

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 manually aim ahead of the manhunters, you can still achieve great effectiveness.
  • Grenades are too short-ranged to be safe to use against raging animals.


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

If you have good shooters that are fast (moving >140%; 2 bionic legs, or 1 bionic leg + go-juice, or whatever mods you're using), you can easily kite the faster animals.
The larger animals are usually much slower and any colonist that has normal Moving will do fine against them.
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 animals assigned, set the animals to Release, 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.

Bleeding them out

Another strategy is to draft a colonist, place it in a door to shoot a maddened animal until it starts to bleed, then move the colonist back to safety and wait until the animal dies from blood loss. 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.

If you hit their legs they will be crippled making it easier to outrun.

This method is slow and requires time before blood loss kills the animals. It's best that you use it to kill large animals, or soften them before moving in to finish them. The lowered consciousness from blood loss can help reduce damage taken by making the animal miss its blows more often.

Turret Distraction

While turrets aren't good at fighting manhunter packs, they can distract them for your colonists, giving your colonists more time to shoot them while they are occupied by the turret.

They also explode when destroyed, potentially taking out a sizable group of animals. They won't run away from exploding turrets; only when the turret is destroyed will they switch to another target.

However, given the price of turrets, this method isn't worth it except in desperate conditions, or you happen to forget to turn off your turrets.

Waiting it out

Alternatively, 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.

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 or walk away far enough to haul the dead one(s), or get a fast colonist to try and haul the dead ones away.


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 and exclusively use melee. This gives them some protection against close range attacks, but leaves them vulnerable to ranged attacks. None of them run faster than a colonist so they can be outran or kited.

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.


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 building.

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, so you shouldn't trickle your defensive forces in; rather, you should send them all at once to overpower the insects.

Using fire

Fire is an effective way to clear infestations during early-mid stage. 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.

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 valuable buildings or your 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 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.

An army of explosive animals (boomalopes or boomrats) is also effective at clearing out infestations. Have them march straight into the hive by zoning them, 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 work well 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 to early-midgame, it's generally recommended that you pack up and run. If not, however, you will have to deal with them slowly.

Explosives are recommended as chances rise with their clustered net.


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.


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 burnable 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, and fill it with flammables. Once an infestation spawns the insects will trigger the trap, lighting the flammables 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.

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.


You should bodyblock the prisoners with armored wardens carrying a blunt weapon as the frontline combatant. 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 risk of beating them to death.
2 unarmed wardens can tackle a full-health unarmed prisoner without either 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.


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 cutting out an important part.


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.


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.


Sending just one or two colonists in any caravan is poorly 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 a combat-capable escort member which can carry some items and can 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.

Ambush site

The ambush site is very 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.

Both the pirates and you should be hiding behind rock chunks for cover. If you can, you should space out your defenders to reduce the amount of collateral damage the pirates deal.

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


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


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.
  • Sniper rifles don't work well as the small space restricts the rifle's long-range capability.
  • Miniguns are extremely 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 used to disrupt enemies behind cover. You should have at least 1 melee fighter in each escort.


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.


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

Most of the time you should see a few of your colonists are downed. If you were facing up against incendiary weapons you may also see fires starting to spread.

Immediately put down medical sleeping spots a short distance away from the battlefield, 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.