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Rimworld Survival Guide

Updated on December 19, 2017
sarahspicexo profile image

"2,131 hrs on record last played on 11 Oct" Mostly 15c. (I rarely play other versions, including 18)


Rimworld Alpha 15c Strategy, Survival Tips and Colony Management

If you really love Rimworld, chances are, you already that the latest patches suck! And you play older Rimworld patch 15c or close, if however, you are new, to this game, I strongly suggest playing 15c rather than newer versions: it’s because of major changes implemented after 15c. but I’m not going to discuss it in this hub. These changes practically change the genre of the game, Rimworld becomes more offensive rather than defensive/survival, and that’s not the kind of thing you expect from a game like this: constant travels between colonies, conquering and destroying other colonies… no, thank you.

Ideally, Rimworld is a survival game where you build a colony from the scratch, learn and improve skills, develop and research new technologies, build farms and all kinds of infrastructure to feed the colonists and defend against pirates, wild animals and aliens. Note: We’re not going to discuss any exploits, cheats or loopholes in this hub, only the essentials: how to begin and how to progress, how to expand and defend, how to hunt and how to farm etc.

Before we begin, let me tell you 1 more thing, what this game is NOT about: and that would be “leaving the colony” i.e. finishing the game. You play Rimworld because you enjoy the process of building and expanding, not because you want to end it, naturally, we’ll discuss how to build a ship and get off the planet but only vaguely.

Rimworld Survivors / Colonists

How many survivors should you take? This is a tricky question, so, let me make this easy for you. If you are a beginner, I suggest you take 3+ survivors with you and also customize each one of them to avoid complications. Thing about Rimworld colonists, you can’t actually customize their stats, age, abilities and disabilities, perks and relations, traits etc. The only thing you can do is to randomly select one from the infinite list, just keep clicking “Randomize” until you find a survivor with all the stats you need. Trying to “create” a perfect character never going to work, instead of focusing the stats you want, try focusing on negative stats, pick the ones with less negatives.

  • Traits - Of all the things you need to be worried about, Health and Traits are the two most important ones. Try and avoid survivors with “Pyromaniac” (randomly starts fire when stressed, and does not fight fire), Volatile (easily breaks when stressed) and when it comes to Health, try to avoid survivors with “Pain” +7 or more. Survivors with “Asthma” can also cause a lot of trouble, not to mention the ones with “Artery Blockage” (may die at any time). So, you don’t want that.
  • Skills – When tinkering with skills, keep in mind that if none of your survivors end up having a “Hauling” skill you may find yourself in trouble, same thing with “Hunting” skill. You definitely going to need someone to haul things and to hunt for food (hunting can be avoided unless you play in cold biome). Other than that, it’s the obvious, you are going to need someone to Mine, Cook, Build and you definitely need a Medic. Everything else is basically optional but you may want to take a survivor with “Growing” skill to build and work on a farm.
  • Other - “Back Story” and “Incapable of” is less Important and more of a subject of balancing traits and skills, just keep an eye on those but don’t pay too much attention to it.

Don’t worry too much if your skill and trait balance isn’t good enough, you will eventually get new survivors (the first survivor arrives to your colony in first few days). The problem is, you never know what to expect, what skills they going to have. Speaking of new colonists, there are few ways to expand the colony;

  • Survivor Joins Colony - Sometimes (randomly) survivors join your colony but that’s very rare.
  • Prisoners – Whenever you fight an enemy, there’s always a chance/opportunity to take a prisoner, tend his wounds after the fight and recruit him/her afterwards. Recruiting success depends on your “Social” skill as well as “Warden” skill. When a survivor gets shot and doesn’t die, you “capture” it and take to the prison. Then select the survivor, find an according tab and select “Chat and Recruit”, which gives your warden a chance to recruit a prisoner to join your colony, this may take days, weeks or sometimes even months.
  • Escape Pod – Sometimes you find a wounded survivor (who escaped the crushing ship in pod) and you have an opportunity to recruit this colonist. Keep in mind though, NOT to SELECT “RESCUE”, if you click rescue survivor, you are going to lose the survivor after you heal him/her up. Instead go for “Capture” just like with prisoners. Good thing is, recruiting these guys is going to be much easier than recruiting prisoners of war.
  • In Distress – Rarely and randomly, you will receive a message that a survivor is running from bad guys, you can allow him/her to join the colony or ignore the message however keep in mind that if you allow the survivor to join you, there will be consequences, the “Bad Guys” will go after you and you’ll have to defend yourself.
  • Random Passers – Sometimes you get a message something like this “a traveler named blablabla is passing by.” Select “Jump to Location” option to locate the survivor, then select one of your colonists and press “R” (militia mode), then select “Arrest Survivor” option from the list. Once in a prison you know what to do.
  • Traders – Slave traders often have survivors to sell, however, this will cost you a lot of silver. Try to avoid this unless you are really desperate for more colonists.

Economy in Rimworld

The most important question is how to make money in Rimworld? If you play a good guy and follow the rules, don’t do pirate stuff etc. then go for “Statues” – it takes stone cutting and art. Stone is the cheapest resource in the game, any kind of stone is good, actually, you can make statues out of wood too but, it’s not going earn you much. Stone or Steel is the best resource for making Statues and they sell really good. Making statues takes time, the bigger statue you are crafting, the more time it going to take.

Now, let’s assume you are not worried about morality at all and you go all out, doing forbidden stuff, doing whatever you like. In this case, forget about statues, build defenses and arm your colonists, then wait for passing travelers with hauler “Muffalos” and attack them, loot them and sell stuff you don’t need.

Note: there will be consequences for attacking everyone left and right, the colonies they belong to, will eventually come to avenge fallen brothers.


Landing and Base Planning

Once you land, don’t do anything! Look around first and try to find a best spot to build a colony at. Experienced players consider 2 factors when building colony in Rimworld:

  • Must be well protected by a mountain from at least 2 sides.
  • There must be a geothermal energy source nearby, to supply you with enough energy in mid / end game.

It is highly recommended to build a base (most part) inside the mountain, rather than outside, but building inside the mountain also has downsides, such as infestation (but I’d rather avoid spoilers). I’ll just say this; good lighting mostly solves the issue with infestations.


None of the other factors are important, but regardless of your play style, these two are really important. Especially the N1. This kind of formation will allow you to save energy on defensive turrets, since you don’t have to build them all around you.

Assignments and Restrictions

Even if you don’t have exclusive workers for specific tasks, you’re still better off with pre-assigned tasks and restrictions. This is how you proceed, click the “Work” tab and see the working priorities for all your colonists. Click the “Manual Priorities” and assign your colonists to specific work. Let’ say colonist 1 does Repair (4), Hauling (1), Building (3), Cleaning (2), this means the colonist will do Hauling first, if the there is no job, then Cleaning comes next etc. The system works from Left to Right, which means if you have several tasks assigned (1) the colonists will FIRST DO priority one job from left to right.


Regardless of colonist skills, you should always set first 5 working assignments (Firefight, Patient, Doctor Bedrest, Flick) as Priority N1 (except for Doctor, you should only assign a doctor if the colonists have good skills). This means, regardless of current situation, the colonists will put out the fire first, then if hurt they will and lie down on a hospital bed and wait for treatments, then STAY in bed until healed and the last, finally, if YOU have ordered to turn off/on a certain device, the colonists will do it. This may sound complicated and the truth is, Rimworld is not an easy to learn game, not to worry though, after few trials and errors you’ll get a grasp on the situation.

When it comes to restrictions; while the specifics are optional and subjective, it is still wise to assign the working hours, sleeping hours and having fun hours. If, however, you have a “night owl” survivor in your colony, then it becomes rather mandatory to specify the working hours and sleeping hours for the specific colonist. (night owl colonist gets mood bonus when active at night and negative mood if active daytime).

Building and Infrastructure

Which buildings and structures to construct first? Depends what resources you have but let’s assume you are playing a hard mode and everything you do matters, every second is important, every piece of wood and steel. also the biome factor - Hard mode would assume you are playing on an extremely cold biome. In which case, the priority number one is to build a shelter and priority number two to build beds for all colonists, you know, so that you don’t freeze to death. However, your initial shelter shouldn’t be large, in fact it must be as small as possible to save resources. Most likely you are going abandon the initial shelter and build a main base inside the mountain, so the shelter becomes useless, you can either deconstruct it later or use it as a prison.

When building first structures, assign the “Stockpile” and “Dumping Stockpile” zones. The stockpile zone is where you keep your stuff, including resources, cloth and weapon, food etc. “Dumping Stockpile” zone is where you keep unwanted stuff like stone blocks. Important thing to know about Stockpile zone is that you need a roof for it, you don’ have to build walls, just roof – simply put 4 building blocks in each corner, so that you can build a roof on top. The thing is, most of resources and items will lose durability and spoil over time unless you keep them under the roof.

And lastly, let me tell you about coolers. Build a storage for food as soon as possible even if you play in cold biome where the food spoilage is not as persistent as in warm biomes and here is why: Building coolers will not only save your food from spoiling but also keep your colonists warm. Players usually place coolers so that cold air goes inside the storage and the hot goes outside the building. This is not the way to do it. Build coolers between the food storage and the living room of your colony, this way, the hot air goes inside the room = double win. You save materials on heaters and save energy, while cooling the food storage.

Build Research Tables (“Simple Research Bench” and “hi-tech research bench” and as soon as possible and assign a colonist to research. Prioritize:

  • Auto-doors
  • Microelectronics Basics
  • Geothermal Power
  • Turrets
  • Hydroponics

There’s plenty of more important research projects, but the list above is of a critical importance. You must be wondering what’s so important about Auto-Doors, the truth is, it’s not critically important in the beginning, however, more regular doors you build, more job you’ll have to do deconstructing them and building auto doors in mid or late game. Project N2 is there to unlock essential stuff. N3 is the power source you are going to need to power up turrets. N4 unlocks turrets and N5 allows you to build hydroponic pods anywhere you want.

Note: save the ship research for last, since building a ship = finishing the game.

Farm is the extremely important for long term survival. Again, we are assuming the toughest environment and weather, meaning you cannot actually run a farm outside, because it’s too cold and the plants will inevitably die. This means you need to 1st unlock and research Hydroponics and then build hydroponics pods somewhere warm (inside the building), supply your pods with Sunlight (Sun Lamp) and assign a colonist to “Grow”. Best vegetables would be potatoes and a rice. Build a heater in your hydroponics farm to keep the plants warm.


Strictly speaking hunting is only NECESSARY in the beginning when food shortage is imminent and you simply do not have enough time to build a farm and grow plants (it’s possible to go without hunting but it’s going to take some serious macro and micro management of resources). It’s not recommended so assign someone for hunting and give him/her a hunting rifle. Prioritize animals with most meat, such as “muffalo”. I can give you 2 very useful hunting tips: 1. Make sure you hunt from longest distance, when hunting from short distance, chances of animal revenge are much higher. 2. If you see a big pack of animals, go to the manual mode and shoot each animal several times to wound them. They will most likely bleed out in few hours or next day, saving you a lot of time, at which point your only job will be to haul animals to the assigned food storage.

Other than that, do not hunt in the dark, the hit chances are very low from distance, also whenever beavers appear on the map, kill them as soon as possible, these guys eat trees really fast and you’ll find yourself on a map with no trees really fast unless you address the issue asap.

Defenses and Combat

Defense in Rimworld is pretty straight forward, you build turrets, traps and power them. However, when it comes to colonists, the positioning is very important: you can’t always relay on trees or stone blocks for cover, it’s best to build actual, proper cover structures (sandbags), build sandbag walls and stand behind them when shooting enemies. One more tip, if you build a roof on top of sandbags, your defensive spot becomes darker and enemies have trouble hitting you.

Mele combat is a totally different story. The first thing you need to know is to avoid melee combat as long as possible. Because the chances of taking damage are way too high regardless of your melee skills, your defensive gear etc. engage melee combat only when necessary.

And one last thing, when under “Siege”, do not try to counter it with bombing. Instead, rush to the spot where the invaders are and take them out before they build the bombarding structures.


Cooking is an essential skill in Rimworld, have a dedicated colonist to be cooking whenever the ingredients are available. Even if you are not experiencing shortage of meat / veggies, cook “simple meal” anyway, until you have TOO MANY ingredients. Then you can start cooking “fine meal” and “lavish meal” fine and lavish meal boost your mood.

Don’t bother with “Pemmican”, do not produce it, do not buy it. Speaking of buying food, whenever you have a chance to buy some from travelers and traders, be sure to buy INGREDIENTS rather than cooked food. Buying meat and veggies is more profitable, besides your chef needs to cook more to improve the skill.

Power Management

Plenty of power sources in Rimworld, some more usable in certain areas at certain times and some absolutely useless at some areas at certain times:

  1. Wind Power
  2. Solar Power
  3. Fossil Fuel Power
  4. Geothermal Power
  5. Nuclear Power

Wind and Solar power are accessible to players from the beginning (just like the field generator), both provide decent amount of power, assuming you understand the working conditions.

  • Solar cells only produce power during the day, naturally the generated power can be stored in “batteries” for later use but be mindful, any electric surge will drain your power completely.
  • Wind Turbines are better source for energy but also not without flaws. First of all, each turbine requires significant amount of space. And the space needs to be absolutely clear of everything, even grass. In fact, you are better off building a concrete floor under each turbine. Also, wind isn’t always there so you don’t get constant flow of power 24/7, on the bright side, it is functional nighttime as well as daytime.
  • Fueled Generator – steady stream of power is guaranteed; however, these generators don’t provide as much power as other sources. Also, they need to be built under the roof to avoid power surges. Unlike previous 2 power sources Fueled Generator requires fuel to produce power, in this case it’s wood.
  • Geothermal Power – it is slightly expensive to build and also requires chain of researches, however the result is well worth it, Geothermal Power produces a lot more power than any other source in the game, also other than steady stream of power, it produces heat too. The negative part is, you need to find a steam geyser and build a Geothermal generator on top of it, basically you can’t build it anywhere you want.
  • Nuclear Power – in other words it’s a ship’s power core that can also be used to power other things; You build ship’s power generator without building an actual ship. Though it takes end-game researches to unlock it. This power source produces less power than any other source, however, environmental factors are not important, it can be built anywhere and you don’t need any kind of fuel for it.

Note: important thing to remember, ALWAYS BUILD BATTERIES UNDER THE ROOF. Otherwise the first drop of rain is going to blow it to pieces.

That covers pretty all the essential stuff you need to know about Rimworld. However, If you guys have additional questions about pretty much anything about the game, ask away, I promise to address all your questions as soon as possible, thanks for reading, good luck.


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