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Simulation Strategy Video Games

Surviving on your own in Banished, part one: Villagers

This is my quick guide to helping your little exiled villagers survive in Banished (official site here), a city-builder by Shining Rock Software – a one man team who built the single-player engine himself. I already wrote a little about it last week in a post called Banished: City-building with a focus on survival which has a couple of snippets the developer had written about the game and a bit of excited ranting about how much I like the game myself. Now I’m going to actually talk a bit about how to play the game, and I’m calling it a quick guide because I’m not going to start throwing actual consumption or production numbers at you at any point – this game can easily be played on normal difficulty without figuring out this information. Instead, what I aim for this guide to do, is to help you think in such a way that you can manage whatever comes up by simple observation and a little bit of logic. So if you’d like a bit of help to play the game and have fun, but don’t want to get too serious about it, this is the guide for you. Like I said, these are more what you’d call “guidelines” than actual rules.

New game settings

Banished: New Game Settings

Step one will always be to set up the game. Here are the settings that I’ll be using for this guide plus anything of note I might have to say about them.

  • Map Seed: This is the specific map you’ll play on. I’ve included the Map Seeds with some relevant information about them for the three maps I’ll be using in this guide below. If you ever want to replay a certain map you’ve found on your own, simply go to the options menu in the game, click on “Map” and copy down the Map Seed. You can then type it in here.
    • 252166314: nearby lake, pecan orchard, pepper and cabbage crops.
    • 248666055: nearby lake, plum orchard, cabbage and potato crops.
    • 462888632: no nearby lake, cherry orchard, bean and pepper crops.

    There are images of each of these three starting locations below.

  • Terrain Type: I’ll be using a Valleys map, but it shouldn’t have an impact on how the game works.
  • Terrain Size: I usually play on the largest map possible for any game, so I’ll be playing a Large map, but like the Terrain Type, this won’t make much of a difference.
  • Climate: Fair is a good place to start for your first few games. Save the more challenging ones for when you feel more comfortable with the game.
  • Disasters: I’ll be writing this assuming this is set to On. If you don’t like the idea of random tornadoes and whatnot, or just want an easier experience, you can turn it off.
  • Starting Conditions: The default is Medium and that’s what I’m writing this guide specifically for. The details of the different conditions are provided below the drop-down menu.

Banished: Villagers

Banished: Villagers Banished: Villagers

Your villagers first few years

Banished: Toolbar

Take a look around at what you see, preferably with the game paused so that you don’t have to worry about losing time. The default key for pausing the game is the spacebar, but that can be changed in the Options menu, or you can use the Simulation Speed panel that appears when you click on the clock at the bottom right of the screen. While the game is paused, take a mental note of what’s around you – any lakes, mountains, forests, etc. Knowing what’s there and available to you will help you designate areas for your general population, storage, and production buildings.

You start the game in spring and your first mission will be to ensure that every villager is assigned to a house. Assign four or five villagers as builders for now, leave the rest as labourers, and drag a rectangle of “Clear Resources” around your starting area. I would recommend building at least five, but preferably six houses to accommodate everyone and allow for some growth. While you’re doing this, you need to start worrying about the next winter, and you should start queuing up a variety of food production buildings. In the examples below, you can see I’ve prioritised the construction of the production buildings over the houses, however.

Fish are awesome

If your map seed happens to land your villagers near a lake and you build a Fishing Dock on it, your start has just become a whole lot easier. Fish are a very good source of food – their coverage area is small but your villagers can easily gather at least 1,000 fish per season by the lakeside, and you can fish all throughout the winter. Compare them to Gatherers Huts or Hunting Cabin, for example, which all cover quite a large area, have the potential to gather the same amount of food per season, but require their area to be somewhat free of interference, and you can see why there is value to these Fishing Huts.

Banished: Fishing Banished: Fishing

Crops and orchards

Now you’re going to be tempted to plop down an orchard and two crop fields. There are pros and cons to farming, so read this whole thing before you dedicate yourself and your land to fields. As farming is a seasonal job, you might want to reassign your farmers elsewhere once the crops are harvested in autumn until the end of winter. If your farms are the same as mine, previewed below, you’ll probably be gathering somewhere around 1,300 of each food type per harvest in the future. Also remember that since variety in foods is better for the health of your villagers, make sure to have one of each type you have available, which could be any of the following:

  • Apple
  • Cabbage
  • Cherry
  • Chestnut
  • Corn
  • Peach
  • Pear
  • Pecan
  • Pepper
  • Plum
  • Potato
  • Pumpkin
  • Walnut
  • Wheat

One of the good things about farms is that they take barely any effort to construct and if they’re built early on, you can get a decent harvest in before your first winter. However, you can always choose to build a Gatherers Huts and a Hunting Cabin first instead and save the farms for a bit later, which isn’t actually a bad idea – the farms only generate food once per year, making them a much less efficient means of feeding your villagers initially than fishing or hunting, for example. Either option will safely get you through on normal difficulty, so the decision to build one or the other first will mostly depend on how much room you have or personal preference.

One last thing to mention concerning orchards and crops is that if the weather turns cold earlier than expected or if they aren’t harvested by the time it gets really cold in winter, your food can be lost. Not only that, orchards and crops are capable of getting infestations which will make you want to harvest them the second you notice it so that all your food isn’t lost, and it is recommended that you change the type of orchard or crop planted on that field afterwards to reduce the likelihood of the same infestation reoccurring.

Banished: Farming Banished: Farming

Best not to forget pastures

Pastures, by the way, are somewhat similar to farms, and although you probably don’t have any livestock to put in one at the moment, I’ll briefly explain how they work. When you plan on acquiring some livestock, make sure you have a pasture ready for them before you make the trade (trading will be discussed later). The size of the pasture you create determines how many animals it can hold and, in the event that your animals breed and their number then exceeds the maximum that the pasture can hold, the excess animals will be slaughtered for food. Aside from meat, you can obtain eggs from chickens, wool from sheep, and leather from slaughtered cows. Lastly, animals can develop sicknesses much like farms can become infested and changing the type of animal in the pasture will help reduce the chance of the sickness coming back. In order to protect your animals when a sickness does occur, you should move the animals to another pasture to save those still remaining.

Banished: Herding Banished: Herding

Winter is coming (seriously)

So build a Woodcutter. What? Why are you building a Woodcutter before your Forester? Isn’t that crazy? Actually, it isn’t. Unless you’re intending to keep your town in the middle of the forest, you’ll probably be clearing the resources around it (except where you’re planning on putting your Gatherer, Hunter, Herbalist, and Forester in the future, I hope). Usually the immediate area around where you start will provide enough resources to allow you to build everything before the Quarry and Mine, including the Forester itself. Meanwhile, you’ll need firewood as soon as possible – villagers use a lot of firewood in winter. Overall, the Woodcutter is very important, and although you can scrape by through winter without the firewood, it’s a good idea to not take any chances and it will be good practice to take into the hard starting condition.

Banished: Woodcutter Banished: Woodcutter

Meat and leather

The Hunting Cabin is an essential building because, aside from venison, it produces leather which is then used by the tailor to make clothing to keep your villagers warm in winter. Of course, you could always trade for sheep and use wool instead, but unless you’re playing on easy and got lucky, you won’t have access to them for a while. Meanwhile, the Hunting Cabin will generate a decent amount of food, so there isn’t really a downside to building one even though there isn’t much of a choice here. Remember that wild animals generally don’t like the presence of too many people, so building it away from the centre of your village will result in more food. I like to put it with my Herbalist and Gatherers Hut in the forest because even though the game says the animals like open areas, I’ve seen them wandering through the forests more often than not.

Banished: Gatherers Hut, Hunters Lodge, and Herbalist Banished: Gatherers Hut, Hunters Lodge, and Herbalist

Herbs for healing

Herbs are usually found at the base of old trees in old forests, meaning that you will want to designate an area as a forest that you won’t interfere with for your Herbalist. Herbs can be quite useful as a villager whose diet is lacking in variety and is having their health suffer as a result can visit a Storage Barn or Herbalist to receive herbs which will make them somewhat healthier. They can also be administered as medicine when the situation calls for it, but the solution for villagers who are actually labelled as sick is simply for them to go a Hospital.

Gatherers Huts are rather effective, mostly because they give you four different types of foods – berries, roots, mushrooms, and onions. Because of this, you can easily supplement a plain diet of fish with these to help ensure your villagers stay healthy and there is less likely to be an outbreak of any illnesses such as yellow fever and influenza. They’re also quite efficient as each Gatherers Hut will collect a total of 1,200 food or so per season. For example, the two maps I’ve used here each have a total of 1,214 and 1,254 food produced in the previous season.

Keep in mind that due to the nature of the work, Gatherers Huts will produce more food if they are surrounded by a forest which can provide that food. This makes it a good idea to put your Gatherers Hut with your Herbalist to make full use of your protected forest.

Banished: Gatherers Hut, Hunters Lodge, and Herbalist Banished: Gatherers Hut, Hunters Lodge, and Herbalist

Water crossings

Building Bridges is the only way your villagers can cross bodies of water and they get more expensive the longer the bridge has to be. Roads, on the other hand, simply increase the speed at which villagers walk, whilst Tunnels can create short-cuts which reduce the amount of time villagers have to spend travelling. This may not sound too important, but remember that villagers have to return to a source of food in order to eat and that they will only stay outside for a short amount of time in winter, due to the cold.

Banished: Roads and Bridges Banished: Roads and Bridges

Essential tools and clothes

The Blacksmith should be built at this point as your villagers will start to wear out their tools soon. Worn out tools will result in them doing their work much more slowly and productivity will suffer as a result. You should have more than enough iron to get it up and running for now and the building would benefit from being near both a Stock Pile, as that’s where it will pick up the iron, and a Storage Barn, as that’s where the finished tools will be delivered by a labourer.

As I briefly mentioned earlier, the Tailor will make clothes that keep your villagers warm in winter. However, this is a rather vague statement and doesn’t signify the importance of clothing. Clothing is important because it will allow your villagers to stay outside for longer in winter as they will be able to stay warmer for longer. Additionally, having clothes generally makes them a little bit happier overall.

Up until this point, you would have had enough spare clothes to keep you well supplied for a while, but as your population starts growing and your villagers old clothes will start to wear out after a couple of years, you’ll need to start making more for them with the help of the Hunting Cabin and the Tailor.

Banished: Blacksmith and Tailor Banished: Blacksmith and Tailor

You might notice that my Event Viewer is starting to go crazy with lines of red text. This is because I’m actually producing too much at this point resulting in my storage buildings being at maximum capacity.

A renewable source of wood

The Forester designates an area, in which the building is at the centre, where your assigned foresters will plant saplings and cut down trees. The saplings will take many years to grow into trees, but it’s a good method of having a steady flow of logs coming into your storage without clear cutting and waiting for saplings to slowly plant themselves. It won’t be very effective at first, but over time you’ll notice that a decent amount of logs will start being produced.

Banished: Forester Banished: Forester

People will eventually get sick

Hospitals are great – they reduce the spread of a disease, reduce the length of the disease afflicting a villager, and reduce the chance of a villager dying from their disease. The problem with not having a Hospital means that sick villagers will wander around on their own to get food and other supplies for their homes, enabling them to bump into other villagers and spread the disease. A Hospital prevents this from happening because the villagers will come here instead of staying at home, and they will be properly cared for. The care provided by a Physician is the reason that the length of the disease and the likelihood of it becoming fatal is reduced. Moral of the story? Build a Hospital.

Banished: Hospital Banished: Hospital

Extra stone, coal, and iron

Eventually, you will run out of loose stone on your map, or the nearest stone will be too far away for your villagers to gather without starving to death on the way back, and you will have to start building Quarries. These produce stone at a slower rate than picking it up off the ground and there’s a much bigger health and safety risk for your villagers, but once you’ve run out of loose stone, the only other option to obtain stone is through trade. Also, the hole dug into the ground by a quarry by the time it runs out of resources cannot be filled in, so make sure you build your Quarry in a place where you don’t intend on building anything else in the future.

Like the Quarry, the Mine is a source of materials which is slower than collecting it from the landscape, but once the loose ore on the ground has been collected, the only other way to obtain it aside from mining is trading. The land a Mine has been built on similarly cannot be used for building structures upon once it’s been depleted and the health and safety risk for your villagers is pretty high here. The only difference is what can be produced by the Mine and where it can be placed. Mines must be built partially on a hill and they can produce either iron or coal, meaning that in order to have a steady supply of both, you’ll need two mines.

Banished: Quarry and Mine Banished: Quarry and Mine

Also, when I was playing the 252166314 game to get screenshots for the examples, one of my miners managed to get crushed by a rock within the first season of work (as can be seen by the presence of two yellow lines in the Event Viewer). This was the first time I’ve had an accidental death from a mine within its first year of operation and I really wasn’t prepared for it, which leads me to the next structure…

Nothing is certain but death and taxes

Except that there is no currency in this game and thereby, no taxes. There is death, however, and it’s a very sad event for your villagers. Try to have a Graveyard built by year 7, or even year 6, so that your villagers have a place to keep their dead which makes deaths have less of an impact upon overall happiness. You’re not likely to have had an accidental death by this point (unless you’re unlucky like I was), but your older villagers could start dying of old age. In most of my games, natural deaths have started occurring in year 8, but sometimes they were a little bit earlier. Either way, since this structure doesn’t require a worker at all and actually increases happiness in nearby homes (creepy, right?), it doesn’t really hurt to just have one.

Banished: Graveyard Banished: Graveyard

That’s all for part one, but part two won’t be far behind – I’ll be posting it up tomorrow once I go over it again for silly errors and whatnot. In part two, we’ll have a look at growing your population, increasing your worker’s efficiency, simplifying resource consumption, and keeping the people happy. Also, I’ll go through the various views of the Trading Post and Town Hall and explain how each of them work. Until then, that’s all from me for now.

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