This guide is for all players who either need guidance as a beginner or those who want to learn some tips and tricks to further advance your colony! I have completed all achievements, mysteries, and sponsors, and all information in this guide will be from what I learned in-game. The guide is for general assistance for all mysteries/sponsors.
Before even placing your rocket, pause the game and visualize how you are going to build your colony, find suitable spots for your power accumulators, landing pads, MOXIE’s, storage, etc. Make sure you have a large plot for your domes and any larger domes you might build in the future. It’s important to categorize locations for your buildings so your colony runs smoothly.
Beginning a new map, I recommend starting with the holy trinity – Transport, Explorer, and Commander. Some sponsors only provide one or two of these vehicles. Purchasing the remaining vehicles via supply pod is great for both short-term and long-term strategies. All sponsors have different starting funds, so use further purchases wisely.
Start with the basics, I begin any map with a few large solar panels, a sensor, one concrete extractor, a power accumulator, and a drone hub. Begin using transports to gather metal, explorers to gain new technologies, breakthroughs, and research, and your commander to build/clear areas. Build up your resources, then when you have enough for a dome and all necessary buildings to keep it running, do so, as your drones are building, your transport and concrete extractor will continue to gather resources. Now you are off to a good start.
As you begin choosing research, realize there are many starting options that have a little impact early on or are a waste of research until you begin increasing your research output. Very important research to start ASAP include both the Explorer AI [Robotics] and Earth-Mars Initiative [Social]. Both of these increase your research by 100 for a total of 200 more per Sol which will allow for faster research.
Next, I recommend Soil Adaptation [Biotech] and Low-G High-Rise [Engineering]. Soil Adaptation will nearly guarantee your colonists won’t starve, compared to Hydroponic Farms or Fungal Farms which are not as effective. Low-G High-Rise is my personal go-to so that you can have a larger number of colonists early on before needing another dome. From there, I recommend avoiding anything that either requires an upgrade, as you won’t have the resources, or buildings that are not essential early on such as the Subsurface Heating (unless in an area with high cold waves).
Resource Management and Distribution
Early on, managing your resources is vital. All buildings require different resources to maintain, some of which you are very limited on. An example of resource management is to limit your concrete extractor to one early on, as they require machine parts to maintain, which you have yet to produce. Power Accumulators require one Polymer per maintenance as well, and while you can find Polymer on Mars surface, it is better to build what you need and nothing more. When hovering over your resources, you can view their production, consumption, maintenance, current upgrade constructions, and other info like its last export. Personally, this info can sometimes be misleading, as you might have a decline in resource inventory when your info suggests you are producing more than consuming. As you continue through the game, make sure you have a steady increase in resources in case of any disasters, unexpected events, or mysteries.
An incredibly important part of early colonization is to determine where you will gain future resources. Look for suitable deposits for metal, rare metals, and concrete. Metals are easy to gain and there are many small deposits that your transport can pick up. However, Metal and Rare Metal Extractors require colonists to operate. Be mindful that sooner or later you will need to build a dome next to these deposits to continue collecting resources.
To effectively disrupt resources, make sure you have at least one universal Deport in range of your Drone Hubs which overlap to allow a connection between hubs. Drone Hubs and Shuttle Hubs will guarantee that resources are distributed accordingly. Universal Depots can hold 30 units of each resource. You can change the desired amount from 0-30, or decline a specific resource that might not be needed in the area.
Water and Food
Bother Water and Food are difficult resources throughout the game. Moisture Evaporators are buildings that produce water and can be upgraded to increase production. They require 2 metals per maintenance and consume 5 electricity. Your only other option is to build a Water Extractor over a Water Deposit. I recommend placing a Water Extractor early on if you can, as they produce more water, require fewer resources to build/maintain, and will give you a steady stream of water early on. Be mindful to check your water deposit levels, as sooner or later will be empty, and you will need to build Moisture Evaporators. The only downside of Water Extractors early on is that they require Machine Parts for maintenance, so only build one if you have yet to produce Machine Parts.
Food is just as essential as Water in Surviving Mars. Colonists cannot survive without one or the other. I highly recommend building a Farm in your dome, setting all crops to soybeans, and increasing the priority of the farm. Farms produce more food than Hydroponic or Fungal farms but require more water and space. Soybeans will increase your Soil Quality after every yield, which increases how much food you get. Lastly, I always increase the priority of farms when beginning to ensure that the most food can be produced.
Colonists have many needs to keep themselves happy and productive on Mars. The 4 important factors of Colonists are Health, Sanity, Comfort, and Moral. Each of these needs to be within specific levels for colonists to overall enjoys their stay on Mars. having low levels can lead to suicides, reduced efficiency, and earth-sick colonists. Earth sick colonists will no longer work and will attempt to leave mars when an available shuttle is taking off. Make sure that Colonists have access to an infirmary, food, and activities/comfort buildings such as gardens, bars, diners, air gyms, etc. Throughout the game, you will be given choices that can determine the morale of your entire colony or specific groups, make sure to choose your options wisely.
Placing your first Dome, it is important to make sure that colonists are happy with their new home. Being unprepared when receiving your first colonists can lead to them becoming earth sick very quickly, and wanting to leave. Essential beginning buildings inside the dome include a Farm to produce food, an infirmary, a grocer/diner, living quarters or Apartment, and at least one garden. This will give your colonists enough to get through your Founder stage. The infirmary helps with sanity and health, Food so they do not starve, and the rest of the buildings to keep an acceptable comfort level. From there, I like to build a research lab to increase research once I receive the second shuttle of colonists. Once your dome is stable and full, you can begin a second dome, I like to connect domes via a passageway so that it is easier for colonists to share resources/jobs/living quarters.
Outside of the dome, make sure you have enough electricity/water/Oxygen to meet your requirements as you grow your dome.
Terra-forming can be tricky in Surviving Mars, and there are definitely some things you want to know before you start. Firstly, make sure that you are in a stable situation with resources, you do not need to wait until you have wondered, but understand you will be using lots of resources throughout the process. Secondly, I recommend researching all-important research/breakthroughs first before beginning Terra-forming Research so that your colony has all its needs and is not struggling…make sure your colony is happy and fruitful before trying to turn Mars green.
As you begin research in the Terra-forming section, you will unlock new buildings and special projects. Through this process, you must build up Mar’s Atmosphere, Temperature, Water, and Vegetation.
- Atmosphere: This can be achieved through Carbonate Processors which convert waste rock to C02, and special projects. I recommend building 2-3 Carbonate Processors and a couple of Magnetic Field Processors which improve the magnetic field of the planet, reducing the loss of the atmosphere. Special projects can also improve the Atmosphere at a steady pace and are reoccurring.
- Temperature: This can be achieved using GHG Factory and Core Heat Converter. Both these buildings can be unlocked in the Terra-forming research section, and increase the temperature slowly. I recommend 4 GHG Factories, I did not use any Core Heat Converters as I wanted to reserve water, and the process was efficient enough. If you have an abundance of Water I recommend 1-2. Special projects can also improve the Atmosphere at a steady pace and are reoccurring.
- Water: Water can be tricky to achieve, Moisture Evaporates increase the Water levels, Lakes help as well, but Special Projects helped the most. I recommend building extra Moisture evaporators and a couple of Huge Lakes.
- Vegetation: This factor is the most tricky, and annoying. Use Forestation Plants grow vegetation in your area, I used less than a dozen. Here comes the annoying part, Forestation Plants will only increase Vegetation up to 40%. From there, you need to rely on Special Projects only which increases the percentage by 5%. This will take a long time to accomplish if you wish to achieve 100%
Once you reach 95% Atmosphere and 50% Temperature, you can build a Capitol City. I believe you need similar numbers in Water and Vegetation to open domes.