You’re playing your first game of Rimworld, your colonists have just crash landed… now what? The tutorial and built in learning helper give you some suggestions, but most of it is up to you. There’s just so much to do, where do you start? It can be a little overwhelming for a beginner.
In this guide I’ll outline the process I normally go through with a new colony. I’m not going to claim that it’s the best approach, but it works for me – although it sometimes needs to be modified according to the biome, the personalities of the pawns and the whims of the storyteller. (I’m assuming you’re not in an extreme biome such as tundra or desert).
Colony First Steps
Start by pausing the game as soon as your pawns (colonists) emerge. There are a couple of things you want to do immediately.
• 1: Allow Resources
Look around your pawns for anything with a little red ‘x’, that means it’s forbidden and your pawns won’t touch it. Allow (unforbid) everything by clicking on it and using the button at the bottom of the screen or the ‘F’ key. Remember to include rock chunks & wood.
• 1a: (optional) If you like micromanaging pawns, go into ‘Work’ and turn on ‘Manual Priorities’. You might also want to look at ‘Schedule’.
• 2: Barracks
Plan a barracks for your pawns to sleep and shelter in overnight. Look around to see if there’s a nearby stone wall you can incorporate, if not then build anywhere. Once you’ve played a few times, you’ll also want to think about choosing a location that’s easily defensible with access to resources, but I wouldn’t worry about that for your first game. Use the Architect->Structure->Door/Wall commands to mark out a large room plus a bed (Architect->Furniture->Beds) for each colonist. I like to build an extra bed & mark it for medical use (click on the bed). I also add a couple of torches & maybe a potted plant to cheer things up. If you’re in a very hot or cold region, you might need an indoor fire or passive cooler.
• 3: Gear Up
At this point I unpause the game and let the pawns start to do their thing at the slowest game speed. Order your best shooters to pick up the guns & best armour. Have your remaining pawn take the knife. You might need to mark a couple of trees to be chopped down in order to get enough wood to build the barracks.
• 4: Storage
Wait until the barracks is almost complete, then plan out a storage room – stuff left out in the open will deteriorate. Put your storage area near the barracks and add several doors in the walls since it’ll be used a lot. Designate as stockpile (Architect->Zone->Stockpile Zone). For this first store room I allow everything except Stone Blocks, Chunks and humanlike corpses. Animal & mechanoid corpses are fine, but I turn off “allow rotten”. If your pawns run out of wood, designate a few more trees to be chopped down.
Once you’ve done this, find an area away from your main base, somewhere your pawns aren’t likely to go normally, and define a Dumping Stockpile Zone. Turn off ‘Allow Fresh’ and ‘Chunks’ here. This will now be a dumping area for all rotten corpses. VERY IMPORTANT: Go into Architext->Zone->Clear Home Area and remove the dump from Home.
At this point, I also like to designate a storage area for Blocks, Wood and Stone Chunks. This doesn’t need to walls, I normally just allocate an area of ground next to the main stockpile room.
• 5: Quality of Life
You’ll probably be near the end of the first day by now. While your pawns are sleeping, choose an area near the barracks and build a table with a few chairs around it (Architect->Furniture). You might also want to put a fire nearby if you’re in a cold zone. Also set a Horseshoes Pin (Architect->Recreation) somewhere nearby. You’d be surprised how much difference such a simple thing can make to your pawns’ mood.
• 6: Gather Basics
Once your storeroom is complete, look around on the map for any useful plant material you can forage: Healroot and Berry bushes are the most common. If there’s anything ready to harvest, mark it for your colonists to pick (H for Harvest). There probably won’t be much at this stage, but it’s a good habit to get into doing this every couple of days during the growing season. Try to find a couple of harmless animals such as hares or turkeys and mark them for your hunters (O for Hunt. No, I don’t know why.). You might find some corpses of animals killed by other creatures or natural events, if so then (if they’re not rotten) mark them as Allowed (F). If you notice any Ship Chunks, mark them for deconstruction.
• 7: Electricity.
The raw food you collect will go off if not refrigerated. You can’t afford that, so you need to refrigerate that storeroom. Passive coolers aren’t powerful enough, so you need electricity. Build a small room and add two Wood-fired Generators (Architect->Power). Later on you’ll use more efficient means of power generation along with batteries etc, but this’ll get you started. Don’t add the generators until after the room for them is complete – having generators outdoors in the rain is a bad idea!
• 8: Cooling
Once the generators are finished, run some power conduits from the generators to the storage room. Run conduits along walls where possible as colonists find them unsightly. Then build at least one Cooler (Architect->Temperature) in the wall of the storage room, connected to conduits – larger rooms and hotter biomes will require multiple coolers. I like to build at least two in case one fails. Align the cooler so that the blue square is inside the room and the red one outside. Click on the finished Cooler to set a desired temperature. Food will last indefinitely if frozen, I like to set the target temperature to minus five as people will be coming in and out and letting warm air in.
Of course you don’t need to freeze non-food items. Later on I build another storage room for non-food items and restrict the freezer to food. But you don’t need to do that yet.
Depending on the biome your colony is in, you might also want to chill/heat the barracks.
• 9: Plants
Running out of food is, at least for me, the biggest threat to the colony in its first year. You need to grow as much as possible during the growing season to get you through the winter. Look around near your buildings for some fertile ground (fertility is shown at the bottom left of the map). Pick an area and build walls around it – otherwise wild animals will eat your crops. By default, Rimworld puts roofs on all your buildings. So you need to go into Architect->Zone and Remove Roof Area for your growing area. Now lay down growing areas for several different crops. I also like to have a couple of beds of hops and/or smokeleaf. Make sure enough of your pawns have plant handling at a high enough job priority to get the sowing done.
• 10: Workstations
Now it’s time to get your pawns working. They might think they’ve been working already, but they’ve hardly started! Create another room, large enough to hold 4 workbenches. In here place a stove (either electric or wood fired) and a butchering table. Set up Bills on these to ‘Cook simple meal’ and ‘Butcher animal’. Add a torch or electric light to the room and heating/cooling if required. Bingo! Harvested crops will be taken the storage room, then from there to the stove to be turned into meals and taken back to the storage room. Animals killed by your hunters will be butchered and the meat and hides taken to the storeroom, the meat being used in meals. Later on you can add other workstations in this room.
If you run out of steel, look around the map. In the early game you should be able to find some steel lying around. Later on you’ll need to do mining and, eventually, smelting.
So that’s my standard approach to starting a Rimworld colony base. I’m not claiming it’s the best plan, but at least it’s a plan! The steps above aren’t fixed in stone. You may need to adapt to Colonist needs, skills and character traits as well as local circumstances and events.
There’s still plenty more to do – tailoring, defences, research, mining, batteries for your power system, individual bedrooms for your pawns, a recreation area etc etc. But at least now you have the essentials set up.
After this… the whole of the Rimworld is yours for the taking!