User:Gottoni/User guide/Extreme Desert

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This guide details how to survive in one of the most hostile environments in Rimworld - an extreme desert. We focus on the Lost Tribe start because it is the hardest one to thrive in hostile environments since you got more people to feed and less technology to help you.


Extreme deserts are the most arid option of hot maps. They have the least amount of animal and plants. In fact, you should not expect to find anything more than three iguanas and a single cactus in your start. You should also not expect to see more than one new iguana per week and not a single plant ever growing in the wild.

In addition to that, they do not have any soil available, if you wanna grow something you will be doing it in stony patches around hills and mountains.

They are not necessary hot though, their average varies from 30 °C (86 °F) to 10 °C (50 °F) and growing periods varies from all year to half year days due to the temperature. You should expect to only have problems with heatstroke during summer and during heat waves.

Landing site[edit]

Example of good landing site.

In all maps you should choose carefully your landing site to increase your resources available. Landing in the wrong spot does not just make your start harder, but also makes your mid-late game frustrating, as it severely limits you from using the whole caravan and quest system. You want to build a colony in an area with some of the following characteristics:

  • Near to a friendly faction base (faster trading)
  • Near to a road (faster moving around)
  • Not surrounded by mountains (faster moving around)
  • With a river (enable watermills)
  • With coast (to turn into large growing areas later)
  • With caves (early food source)

While you should not be surrounded by mountains, the landing site itself can be mountainous.

Of all those characteristics, the most important is to not be surrounded by mountains. In any map that erases your chances of doing quests. The rest is just bonuses.

Base area[edit]

Once you choose your landing site you should also choose your base area. It is important to notice that this area does not need to be final, it is just the area where you are more likely to survive the early game.

You want to find an area with the characteristics: more growing areas and more easily defendable.

More growing areas means more stony patches and more easily defendable area is an area with few entrances where you gonna lay down your traps.

Since you do not have trees, you can not build a big base yet. You can then either take a ruin, make a cave or make a small steel base. Ruins might look like good starting locations but are often on undesirable areas. It is easier to make a cave in a good location, since choke points are always surrounded by hills and mountains. But if you happen to get a ruin in the right place, then go for it. If you can not find a hill or a ruin in a good area then just make a small steel base.

Area between the two hills make a good choke point.

First agenda[edit]

  • Get some easily accessible steel and use it to build your stuff, so you do not have to use wood.
  • Make your starter base. Give people a place to sleep, eat and play.
  • Hunt those iguanas before they leave the map.
  • Kill or sell your starting animals.
  • Only use wood to make campfires and passive coolers, for cooking and cooling down respectively. Make sure your wood is forbidden so they do not refuel them unnecessarily.
  • Plant rice. You can not survive long enough to wait grow anything else yet.
  • Plant strawberries, if you do not have much growing area then plant potatoes.
  • Make your research bench and start researching stone cutting so you can start using stone instead of steel.
  • Trade whatever you can for food.


Surviving until your first rice harvest is hard. Your pemmican plus your hunting plus your starting animals is not enough. If you have caves in your map, you can go insect hunting or steal their insect jelly.

Go visit your nearby friendly base to trade whatever you can for food. For that, you gotta get something you can trade:

One smart way to reduce your food consumption is to put some colonists inside the ancient cryptosleep caskets until your first harvest.

Opening the ancient structure is dangerous! Bring them one by one and use your animals as meat shield.

You can also send some people to raid the some base outside the extreme desert, try to not raid your closest friendly neighbor. Hunt the animals and harvest the plants around the base and run back to your base. You can make peace with them later.

Another more undesirable option is to sell some colonists. They are usually worth a lot, but do not expect to see them again.

Likewise, another even worse option is to kill some colonists, but they are not worth many meals.

After the first rice harvest life will be easier.

First rice harvest is a glorious moment.

Second agenda[edit]


Hopefully, now you grow strawberries, so you will not need to worry about wood. If you decided to stick with potatoes, you gonna have to make some extra visits to your nearby friendly base and buy wood for cooking because your cactus plantation gonna take a while to kick in.

Summer is coming, focus on getting cloth to give your colonists dusters and cowboy hats. After that you can replace their tribalwears for button-down shirts and pants.

You can also make some smokeleaf joints to help with the moods.

Always keep a stock of wood with you because if a heat wave happens you will need those passive coolers.

If you want, now you can accept more people in your colony.

Now the usual threats start, time to make some deadfall traps to defend your base. Since you do not have wood and probably not enough steel, you should make stone deadfall traps.

First defenses with stone.

Third agenda[edit]

  • Research eletricity.
  • Research battery.
  • Research air conditioning.


Your colony is looking better, you have food, wood, clothing, drugs and defenses. You should focus on making a freezer for all that food you got.

Since the worse is gone, you can now move to a proper area, a more central location where you can build that huge colony you always dreamed of.

Moving out.

If your map has coast you should focus on moisture pumps, with them you can create larger crops fields so you do not need to stick to stony patches around mountains. They also remove the patches of soft sand preventing you from building.

Before a beach (left) and later a crop field (right).