Firstly, and most importantly, if you're a new player - don't read tips threads like this one! Banished is far more fun if you develop your own strategies and playstyle. By all means, come back to this article when you've had a few attempts, but give it a go first.
- Food merchants will trade most foodstuffs 1:1 if you haven't placed orders - use them to diversify your food supplies to make your citizens happier, e.g. trade away some spare fish for a shipment of pecans.
- If you have an elderly person living alone in a wooden house, keep track of their name. If it pops up that they've died, you can pause the game quickly before anyone moves into the house, and mark it for upgrade to a stone house. This lets you upgrade a wooden house to stone without worrying about making the occupants homeless in the meantime.
- Wooden houses burn (very approximately) 30 firewood a winter, while stone houses burn roughly 15. Using trading values to calculate the value of the saved firewood, a stone house pays off the investment of building it (instead of a wooden house) in ~5 years (in pure resource costs, assuming you're trading the firewood for the building resources - the time to pay off is slightly higher, due to the opportunity cost of using the trader).
- A Trading Post can be great for micromanaging your supply of materials - set your desired levels up to 9999 for (for example) stone and iron tools and your traders will move them from everywhere on the map into the trading post, then set the desired quantity back to zero, and they'll move it all out again - into the nearest stockpile and storage barn. As traders carry 5 times as much as normal labourers, this is an efficient way to move large quantities of material about, e.g. from your outer foresters. You can also mark the nearest stockpile for demolition to cause them to drop off at the second nearest, etc.
- Bridges can sometimes be used to create a coastal road on otherwise unbuildable land.
- As soon as a child becomes a student, he/she is able to move out and start a family, however they appear to be unwilling to do so if the available house is further from the school than their current home (as they can't swap "profession" like a normal adult). This seems to be the case even if it's only further for one of them. If they're trying to move in with a working adult, only the student needs to be moving closer to the school. More research is required on this topic, however.
- Idle traders work as labourers, but despite not having their wheelbarrows they appear to still have their increased carrying capacity, making them more efficient than normal labourers (more tests are needed on this one, and it's presumed to be a bug).
- Fishing Docks are underestimated - a well placed fishing post on a peninsula or steep river bend (with nearby housing and storage barn) can easily produce 500-600 fish per person per year, not much less the 750 per person per year that seems to be roughly the maximum for optimal gatherers and with using less space. It's often well worth relocating your starting location (especially on hard, where you're not very tied to an area) to a place where a very efficient fishing post can be located. Other good fishing locations include small islands in lakes and where small and large rivers meet. This is also covered in the "food production" section later in the post.
- Education is incredibly important. While we don't have hard numbers for most professions, there seems to be a 33%-50% improvement in working speed or resources gathered per action across the board. Woodcutters produce 4 firewood per log instead of 3 with education (massively improving your output of a vital resource and probably the best trade good in the game), tailors produce coats two at a time (twice as fast, but no improvement in resource efficiency) and blacksmiths produce two tools instead of one per action, while consuming the same resources (double speed AND double resource efficiency, although this is presumably a bug and that they should act similar to the tailor). It's worth checking regularly to ensure your blacksmith and perhaps also woodcutters are educated.
- Traders seem to arrive roughly once a year on average, per trading post, but more data is needed for a firm value. They stay at the post for exactly one season (three months), i.e. a trader arriving mid way through early summer will leave mid way through early autumn. It may be possible to force them to stay longer by keeping the trading window open (unverified). It also appears that the trader's type and stock is generated by the game when they dock, not when they appear on the map, allowing savescumming to generate the resources you want, but we do not condone this (however, there appears to be a bug where traders generate with no goods sometimes, in which case this may be an acceptable method of fixing it by regenerating a new trader).
- Be careful placing roads - a road blueprint under a removable object, e.g. a tree, can never be removed until the tree has been cut down. A stone road blueprint appears to be even worse - if you remove the blueprint after the tree has been cut down but before it's built, you will never be able to build anything but road on that square again except for road again. Building and then removing road there doesn't seem to fix this. However, you can build on that square if you put a road blueprint back down, leading to a situation where you can presumably have squares of road INSIDE e.g. pastures. These are both presumably bugs.
- When cycling through all people doing a profession via the professions tab, it cycles through them in age order from oldest to youngest. This can be useful, for example cycling through "labourers" to see when the next child hits adulthood or how old your oldest students are.
- If your food reserves run out, people will constantly carry 8 fish etc back home as they're produced. Even if you should be producing a surplus, this can kill a town, as your workers spend far more time carrying food home than they would if they were simply able to carry 100 food at once, thus wrecking their productivity. We like to call this "the food dance [of death]", and avoiding it is vital. On a hard start especially, it's incredibly important to get food production up and and running a surplus early, to prevent your barns spending much time at no food stored.
- The best place for your first Forester's Lodge? The (nearly) middle of your town! You won't expand in buildings fast for 5-10 years, so most of the area will remain free for trees for a long time, by having a short commute to houses, food and stockpiles it will actually likely be as or more efficient as one on the edge of your town, and your labourers can easily clear out all blocking stone and iron deposits early on without having to walk too far (and frankly, that's where you're likely to be mining stone anyway). My current game is in year 15, and my central forester is still producing more wood a year than the two in dedicated foresting areas. Your mileage may vary.
- If you have enough food stockpiled for several years, you can reduce the number of farmers on each field. We believe (although we still lack hard data for this, so take with a pinch of salt) that the optimal number of farmers for a 15x15 field is 2 in non-harsh climates and 3 in harsh climates. You will lose some harvests to frost, but on average your annual harvest per worker should be higher. It's obviously vital to have food reserves sufficient to survive a couple of bad harvests in a row, however, and if you're willing to micro your workers more it's probably more efficient to have lots and be reassigning to other jobs in the winter or have sufficient labourer tasks for them to do. It also reduces the average food per unit area per year, so if space efficiency is important on your map, more farmers is better. However, for stable, late-game towns, this may be useful.
- Hold shift to build diagonal roads. They take up twice the number of squares and therefore building time (and stone, for stone roads), and buildings cannot be built efficiently on them, but if workers need to travel on a diagonal anyway they provide 41% more efficient routes (square root of two) than going around in a square, if the workers weren't cutting the corner on the previous road.
- Further on the subject of roads, the fact that workers cut corners on dirt roads but not on stone roads implies that speed boost of the two road types is less than and more than 41% respectively. I'd hypothesise that the speed boosts are 25% and 50% respectively, but that'd be a pure guess. At some point we'll have a grand villager race and report the data back. (By testing whether or not villagers will cut the 115 degree corner between a straight and diagonal dirt road it might be possible to narrow down the dirt road speed boost further, however I'm not 100% convinced the villagers are capable of moving at discrete angles as opposed to moving left/right/up/down and the four diagonals. More data required on that).
- Citizens appear to eat roughly 100 food each per year, including children. I've read some suggestions that it could be less, and a few people wondering if some food provide more "food value" per unit than others, but I've seen no evidence for either, so 100 food/yr/citizen is a good ballpark to aim for - try and make sure you're producing significantly more than that.
- You begin with 4 families, so you need 4 or 5 houses before the first winter. Add a gatherer + forester, firewood chopper, storage for wood and stone and a storage barn and you won't die at the start.
- It is generally best to place houses close to where jobs are available to minimise walking distance.
- Gatherers seem like the best food production at the moment, at up to 3k food per season. They produce 4 types of food, which improves variety and helps keep people healthy and also seem to produce the most food per labourer. While they're the best food source in the game, you want some fishing and hunting for variety anyway.
- Because gatherers and herbalists need a forest to work and deer also like to be in a forest and there seems to be no "ancient forest" restriction on herbalists, a forester makes for a great combo with gatherer, herbalist and hunter. Place a few houses and storage nearby. There are only 2 downsides to this: every building needs some land, so decreases the effectiveness of this setup and it is best to keep houses in range of a marketplace.
- There is no concept of "ancient forest", and plants and herbs just grow under mature trees. This means that it is actually more efficient to place herbalists and gatherers close to forester's lodges than in virgin forests, which are sparser. Another way to do this is to build a forester's lodge, disable cutting, get maximum tree density, then replace forester with the other buildings, saving some space.
- Firewood is a surprisingly good trade good, considering the amount that is needed and the output of foresters that you need for gatherers. Selling tools or leather clothes may be tempting, but you need those things and firewood is overall easier to get. Some things like food and alcohol have no value when selling them.
- Once your population goes up, keep a few labourers around. They will replace the losses among specialised workers. Any builders or farmers who aren't working their jobs at the moment, will do the same as labourers: gather resources.
Good weights and storage
- A lot of things in this game seem to be based off an invisible stat: weight. We've done our best to work out the weight capacities of people/storage areas, and the weight values of common items.
- A citizen can carry at most 100 units of weight, a child can carry ~~50~~ 100 as well, and a trader can carry 500.
- A stockpile can store 250 units of weight per square. It can achieve this in ANY configuration of goods - the piles of goods you see are a visual representation, but not exactly how its stored. For example, a 2x2 stockpile can hold a maximum of 40 iron, implying each stack is 10 iron. However, it can happily contain 39 iron and 1 stone, in which case it will (I believe) display 3 stacks of iron and 1 small stack of stone. We spent a long time trying to work out exactly how much goes into each stack before we figured out that what matters is the total weight, and that the stacks are just a rough visual depiction, not an exact measure.
- A barn can hold 6,000 units of weight, and a trading post can hold 20,000. At the moment we don't know the max capacity of markets or houses (assuming they have any, which they may not).
- Most food weighs 1 unit each, however mushrooms weigh 4 units each (the other three gatherer foods weigh 1 each). Fish, venison, beef, mutton, chicken, eggs, berries, onions and roots (and herbs) are all confirmed to weight 1 each.
- Logs weight 11 units each, firewood weighs 4 (so apparently logs get heavier when cut, especially when done by someone who's been to school), iron weighs 25, stone weighs 15 and coal also weighs 15.
- Tools and warm coats weigh 10 units each.
- Both clothing and tools have no weight when equipped.
- Wool apparently weighs 10 units, but I haven't confirmed that. I have no weight values for other types of coats/tools (do different types have different weights?), leather, herbs or alcohol.
- If anyone wants to confirm these weights or add new ones, the easiest way to do it is see how many it takes to fill up a trading post (20,000 weight units), a barn (6,000 weight units) or a 2x2 stockpile (1,000 weight units), and then divide the weight capacity by the number of objects. You can also do it with a partially filled post/barn/yard, by also multiplying by the percentage full, but bear in mind that the game rounds numbers so you'll need more than 2-3% full and will likely have to round back sensibly.
A few common myths debunked
- "Crop rotation is useful" - this feature never made it into the final game. . However, having a good mixture of crops is useful, as apparently pestilence can jump between neighbouring fields if both fields have the same crop.
- "You need to worry about overhunting/fish stocks depleting over time/soil degradation from farming" - these features apparently never made it into the final game. However, overlapping hunting cabins/fishing docks will reduce average catch per citizen.
- "The deer on the map are what you hunt" - the deer appear to be purely cosmetic, and hunters seem to get venison/leather regardless of whether there are deer in their operational area or not. As far as I know, it's not currently known what affects hunters' productivity, e.g. whether or not they need a forested area, whether having a mountain/river in their zone reduces their productivity, whether or not the forest density/age has any effect. However, I can confirm that they work well in an old/dense forest, so partner well with gatherers and herbalists. This also means that the common advice to build hunters lodges "near choke points" is probably bad advice, as not only will it not help, but choke points are formed by mountains which are impassable and thus may well be reducing the output of the lodge.
- "Workers with steel tools are more efficient than ones with iron tools" - steel tools last twice as long, but give no known additional improvement to any task over iron tools. (Technically the workers needing to get new tools less often boosts their efficiency, but this effect is marginal).
- "Herbalists need forests that have been there since the game started" - thoroughly debunked on a thread on reddit. Tl;dr - any fully mature trees work, but for best results use a forester set to "plant" only to thicken the forest. The forester can be turned off later, but should be turned back on every 5-10 years to replenish trees that have naturally fallen over time.
Food production stats
- I've seen a lot of posts arguing about whether fishing/gathering/etc is the "best" source of food, so I wanted to do a "brief" analysis of it, using actual numbers. These numbers don't reflect the boosts/penalties for tools/education, and the numbers are guestimates based on numbers I've seen ingame rather than a result of testing, so use with a pinch of salt.
- Optimal gatherer's hut in max density forest, no cutting, 4 staff: ~3000 food/yr, = ~750 food per person per year. Radius = 30 squares, = ~2800 squares used up, ~1.1 food per square per year. BUT, can combine with herbalists and hunters for more benefit.
- Optimal hunter's camp in max density forest, no cutting, 4 staff: ~1200 food/yr, = ~400 food per person per year. Radius = 34 squares, = ~3600 squares used up, ~0.3 food per square per year. BUT, can combined with herbalists and gatherers for more benefit, and get 30-40 leather per year.
- Hunter/gatherer/herbalist together in max density forest, no cutting, 4 staff each for food: ~4200 food/yr, = ~500 food per person per year, ~1.2 food per square per year, +leather and herbs, 8 citizens + 1-2 (herbalists). NB, not a linear addition of the food per square per year because the hunter's camp radius is larger than the gatherer's.
- Fishing post, optimal location, 4 staff: ~2400 food/yr, ~600 food per person per year, footprint of only 8 squares (ignoring the water tiles and the road, as you're going to want a road anyway), ~300 food per square per year.
- Fishing post, good location, 4 staff: ~1800 food/yr, ~450 food per person per year, footprint of only 8 squares (ignoring the water tiles and the road, as you're going to want a road anyway), ~225 food per square per year.
- 15x15 field, 4 staff (seems to be considered the normal amount): ~1200 food/yr, = ~300 food per person per year, 225 squares used, ~5.3 food per square per year.
- 20x20 pasture, 2 staff: ~1000 food/yr, = ~500 food per person per year, 400 squares used, ~1.25 food per square per year. (But, also get leather). Note - pastures seem to be VERY variable in their food production from year to year, especially for cattle, as breeding seems to be a random event and you only slaughter a cow every time one is born.
- I don't have their data to hand, but as I understand it orchards are less efficient, so only useful for food diversity or their secondary uses, i.e. booze or wool.
- As you can see, gatherers appear to be the most efficient in terms of food gathered per person at around a maximum of 750 food per person per year, although if we consider that farmers only work on their farms half the year, they get a respectible ~600 food per person per year worked, which is useful if you want to factor in the value of having them available for labour the other half the year. It's also immediately clear that if space is your primary concern (small/mountains map, anyone?) then fishing is by far the best food source, distantly followed by farming and then cattle/sheep/chicken.
- It's also worth noting that, unless you already have an area set up for a gatherer and/or a herbalist, hunter's cabins are strictly worse than cattle pastures, in both output per person and per unit area, so it's not worth building them later in the game except when partnered with gatherers/herbalists.