Given that there are a few pitfalls when trying to get into the game, I thought it might be a good idea to give some basic advice for beginners.
(1) Decide how you want to play the game!
The way I look at it, there are two main ways to experience the game. One is to survive and play through the story, taking as much time as you want. The other way is to play score-attack style and trying to get as many points as possible by completing objectives as quickly as possible on as high of a difficulty as possible. Both are perfectly viable ways to play the game, but they require very different strategies. If you are looking for a challenge: My best game so far was ~70k points within 120 Sols at 250% difficulty.
(2) You can build cables and pipes on the same tile!
This might be super obvious to most people, but is actually a thing I didn’t immediately realize on my first game – and it caused some major headache when I tried to find a good base layout. So don’t make the same mistake – stack them.
(3) Don’t create large cable and pipe networks!
The larger a network becomes, the higher the chance for cable and pipe faults. Creating a ma*sive single network for everything will cause frequent leaks, costing you resources and keeping drones needlessly busy. Don’t use more cables or pipes than necessary. Also, *I think* you can use buildings and domes to separate your networks by connecting on one side and continuing on another access point.
(4) Make sure to bring a Transport Rover!
There are plenty of surface deposits for Iron (and sometimes Polymers) on the map. They are revealed after scanning a sector and can be collected by a Transport Rover. If you use the CREATE TRANSPORTE ROUTE button (or however it is called now), the rover will even automatically go back and forth between the two selected points and gather all surface deposits within range (until there are none left). Given that manpower is in short supply throughout the early game, this is an excellent method to gather iron during the early game.
(5) A Science Rover will be quite useful!
When scanning sectors you will find plenty of anomalies. Analyzing them will give you extra tech options, free research or other random benefits. Try to bring at least one science rover along if you can – it will make the early game a lot easier.
(6) Build enough depots!
Make sure that you have enough depots to store goods, and make sure that they are spread out through your colony to reduce transport distances. If you have multiple drone hubs, you can place a depot in their overlapping range – this will allow your drones to more evenly distribute materials across the colony.
(7) Make sure you have enough drones!
Once you have your basic infrastructure in place and start to expand your colony, you will need additional drone hubs – and more drones at existing ones.Some indicators for a lack of drones are: goods piling up, extractors stopping to work because stone isn’t hauled away, rockets taking a long time to load, unload or refuel and maintenance or repairs taking longer than expected.
(8) You do not have to build dumping sites!
If you do not have any designated dumping sites, your drones will just drop the stones next to the extractors. From what I noticed, this didn’t seem to have any effect on performance. So if you hate the site of piles of waste rock – you don’t have to suffer through that.
(9) Only build things you actually need!
Buildings deteriorate and require maintenance goods, even when they are disabled or not used. So be VERY careful with what you construct during the early days of your colony – an unnecessary battery during the early game might cost you 5+ Polymers by Sol 20. Build in moderation and do not exceed your requirements (too much).Don’t build that Moxxie several Sols before you ferry in first your colonists.
(10) Stirling Generators are awesome!
If you play as a rich sponsor, consider bringing a few Stirling Generators. They are very costly, but a great long-term investment. While closed, they do NOT deteriorate, which means they have no maintenance cost. If you have an energy shortage, you can temporarily open them if necessary. If you are desperately short of maintenance materials, you can also cycle through them before any generator deteriorates to the point where it actually requires maintenance. Later in the game, you will acquire a technology that unlocks a building that removes maintenance cost from anything within range – with that, you can keep your Stirlings open permanently for a ma*sive permanent energy increase.
(11) Scanners stack!
Every scanner provides a ma*sive boost to scan speed for nearby sectors, but on top of that, there are additional stackable effects: Each scanner gives a base +10% scan speed anywhere on the map and it also increases the ahead-of-time warning for disasters. If you are playing on maps with high disaster risk, consider building multiple scanners to get warnings several Sols ahead of time.
(12) Build Clinics!
A clinic reduces the comfort requirement fo childbirth, which is very important in the early game since your domes usually won’t be able to provide all services requested by your colonists. They are especially important if you play a sponsor that have a low amount of applicants (e.g. Europe), but even those with lots of colonists would usually prefer to ferry goods instead of people.
(13) Specialize your domes!
In the early game space within the domes is scarce. Most of the time a dome will only provide enough living space for a farm and one, maybe two production buildings. A good early game layout for Small Domes in my games was: Living Quarters x3, Farm, Clinic, Grocer, Small Park, 1 production building inside + 1 production building/mine outside. If you use a small production building like the Research Lab you can add an extra Grocer and Diner.
(14) Do not use high maintenance service buildings in the early game!
Buildings like the Casino, Art Workshop and Electronics Store will require a lot of advanced materials to maintain. I highly recommend to NOT use them until you have a steady production of these goods.
(15) Make sure to fully staff your production facilities!
Production facilities have high upkeep – make sure you fill them to capacity to get the most out of your inputs. I had some cases where an electronic factory was actually so unproductive that it used more electronics than it produced. If your average sanity is good, feel free to also a*sign a night shift.
(16) Make use of the Heavy Workload option!
By clicking on the little clock icon next to a shift you can set it has a HEAVY WORKLOAD shift. Workers on heavy duty will slowly lose health (restored by the clinic) and sanity (recovered by sleeping), but on the flipside, their productivity will increase significantly. Early on manpower will be your most limiting factor, and this option allows you to get the most out of your workers when you need it the most.
(17) Inhabitants from different domes can work in the same outdoor building!
While people cannot use services of nearby domes, they can work collaboratively in outdoor buildings. So if you build two domes within range of a Mine, that mine can be staffed by colonists from both domes.
(18) Mines can access multiple deposits and deposits can support multiple mines!
You can have 2 Rare Material Extractors for a single Rare Deposit, and you can have 1 Rare Material Extractor that draws from 2 deposits within range.
(19) Do not hire Idiots if you can avoid it!
No, really. If a colonist with the Idiot trait is working in a factory, they have a chance to cause a breakdown, which will require full maintenance by a drone. Needless to say, that can be VERY costly on a lot of buildings. The trait should be filtered out by default, but double check just to be safe.
Here we come to an end for the Tips & Tricks for beginners – Surviving Mars guide. I hope this guide has helped you with your gameplay. If you have something to add to this guide or believe we forgot some information to add, please let us know via comment! We check each comment manually by approving them!
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