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Against the Storm – Simple Building Selection for Starting a Fresh Game. A simplified overview for selecting the starting blueprints.
Guide to selecting the Starting Blueprints
New to the game? Starting out can be a daunting task. There are many choices for buildings and production chains but at the start of a new map you are limited to 3 blueprint selections. What’s more, the map’s resources and population will affect what can be built and what should be built. After building several cities, new buildings & embark bonuses unlock to increase the diversity of possible starting points. Never fear–I am here to help. I share my general starting advice accessible for all levels, but mostly new players.
When Do I Select Blueprints?
Year 2. Pick the blueprints near the start of year 2. More details in the timing section.
0) Ignore everything that isn’t relevent
All the production buildings have 3 production recipes–but starting out, I only consider seriously a few things. Wine production is useless, pottery basically doesn’t matter, packs of trade goods are a long way off. So ignore them for now. I want to focus on what will help me immediately get the city off the ground.
1) Building Materials (Planks, Fabric, Bricks)
Every city needs mounds of fabric, bricks and giant mountains of planks! The crude workshop can make all 3 of these crucial resources, but has the worst recipe for doing so. Even a 1 star recipe represents a solid improvement–using fewer resources to make the same amount of finished product. A singular 1-star recipe will help throughput at the crude workshop by reducing the number of items it is responsible for manufacturing. It is never a bad idea to choose a production building that improves a building material recipe, though it is maybe not always the best idea.
Any prospective building with stars in building materials is worth considering–improvements to planks are the most valuable. Planks are widely used for construction and many recipes that ask for wood can substitute planks at a reduced rate. One upgrade in this category is sufficient: if I pick 1-star planks on the first selection but the next round has a 2-star plank recipe, I’ll choose something else.
2) Fuel (Coal)
The hearth must be fed fuel continuously and wood is the least efficient fuel. Coal is easy to make from wood, burns longer, substitutes for wood in some crafting recipes and is useful for certain events. Oil is an interesting alternative, but I am typically biased against it because the inputs (plant fiber, wheat, meat) usually have initially better uses elsewhere (eg fabric, ranching, jerky).
Coal helps conserve wood–super important if production buildings with plank production are shy. But I will happily start with a pair of production buildings for both coal & planks any day.
3) Fertile Soil Usage
Almost all maps host fertile soil–double check your map settings if you aren’t sure. Fertile soil is by far the most common renewable resource in the game, but it only works if you have a building that can use it! Lots has been written about the best one to take, but I’m here to say that any 1 building is much much much better than no building. Passing up the small farm hoping to roll into a plantation might leave one empty-handed.
If my starting glade has fertile soil, I make this a top priority. If the frequency of fertile soil is high, I make this a top priority. Unless fertile soil is less than average or absent, I usually try making one of the three starting buildings a fertile soil user.
The ranch is a very powerful building. It needs a steady supply of plant fiber, wheat or reed to get off the ground. It serves a function similar to cooking–outputting more materials (food/leather) than the initial inputs. It can more effectively handle a shifting workforce than a farm would.
I am somewhat biased to farms over the ranch because raw materials are needed to run the ranch. In most biomes, the trees will suffice. But in the rare cases they do not, it ends up dividing a small supply of fiber between leather for fabric and food. The chickens will produce eggs…but again this is a mixed blessing at the start. I would check the biome trees and survey the starting area for suitable inputs before getting carried away with the ranch. Also, remember to prioritize the production and set the proper inputs.
5) Complex Food (Jerky, Skewers)
Complex food makes for happier residents and food recipes always output more than the raw materials required to make them–stretching the harvest further.
Jerky only requires meat or insects (and fuel), making it the most simple complex food recipe to prepare. Insects seem to be ubiquitous even if meat is not. Skewers are only slightly more difficult, requiring two foodstuffs rather than one. Skewers are great if both requisite foods types are in suitable proportion.
After the top 5 priorities, pretty much everything else is window dressing. It is uncommon that a starting selection will provide no upgrades for building materials, coal, farming, ranching, jerky or skewers.
These are some reasonable alternatives that are a bit more map dependent and would not usually be worth considering but sometimes conditions are different:
- Flour production is worthwhile if there is a reliable source of wheat/roots/mushrooms
- Pack of Provisions is a widely useful recipe to have in a 1-star or 2-star building (unless trade is prohibited)
- Coats are helpful if the population includes beavers+humans or for certain storm events. They are easy to make from fabric but are not worth making to sell.
- Tool production is always desirable but especially easy to pull off in the coral forest. Otherwise the pre-requisite smelting usually makes me pause on this one.
- Camps are worthwhile if there are matching large nodes nearby or several small nodes. Marshland bonuses to camps making them more desirable there.
Recall Rule 0: Ignore everything that is not relevant.
I usually do not spend much time overthinking the initial selection. Some maps lend themselves better to setting up specific production chains & some populations benefit more greatly from certain production chains. At higher prestige levels those differences can matter big time; but this is not the guide for that.
Timing Is Everything
At the start of a new map I’ll survey the glades to see what is in my starting glade and decide which additional glades I’m going to open and when (now/next year/inconceivable future). I’ll look at the first batch of blueprints and see if there is an obvious winner (like 3* planks). But usually there isn’t and I won’t actually pick anything at this time.
Reasons to delay choosing a blueprint:
- I want to see what the surrounding glades contain first. Small glades can be opened immediately after the first set of orders have been issued.
- Some dangerous glade events ask for coal/oil/etc — waiting to see the event’s needs might allow a rushed production chain to complete. Sometimes the trader can help here too.
- Dangerous Glades frequently contain large resource deposits requiring a large camp to harvest
- The year 1 and year 2 cornerstones have the greatest potential to affect a city beings they will be in effect the longest. Picking cornerstones can help clarify building selection by adding incentives/disincentives for certain choices.
- Without a solid mix of labor and abundant materials, it isn’t likely that I’ll have the selected buildings up or running until year 2 anyways.
- Depending on the situation, rerolling the building selection is possible with Amber. Delaying a bad choice until there is amber to reroll it could give provide an edge.
- Only 1 choice left and the best selection is not immediately apparent and/or there is no labor to work at said, uninteresting building
Reasons to not delay:
- The choices do not change by simply putting off the choice: the first selection might be uninteresting but the second selection might contain a vital building I want RIGHT NOW
- Some orders from the Queen require specific buildings–knowing that I definitely have the required building makes selecting the matching order less risky
- Production chains will never singularly sort themselves. (biscuits & pies need flour and flour is nearly useless without biscuits & pies. But one blueprint will have to be picked without the certainty of the next)
- I will get more blueprint rewards throughout the duration of the settlement than I’ll actually “need”. There will be extras, some of the choices will prove to be suboptimal….some might turn out super useful in the long run but just started out useless.