This guide is intended to be a quick introduction to Aven Colony that will help you understand the systems underlying the game and survive the first hour.
- Your goal is to create a self-sufficient colony on the surface of Aven Prime that can sustain a large population and withstand what the planet can throw at it.
- Aven Colony is a city builder, and your goals aren't wiping out aliens or purging rebel scum (well, most of the time). The planet plays a major role in the gameplay, most importantly by the way the passage of time is handled.
- The game is divided into sols, which are an Aven Prime "year". Every sol has 167 hours divided into four seasons, which last a set amount of hours and impact productivity:
- Spring, Summer, and Fall last 37 hours each and give 100% farm productivity. Winter lasts 56 hours and gives 0% productivity on farms. Solar panel and greenhouse productivity is halved.
- While technically the game continuously recalculates all resource income and outcome, thinking of the game in turns (where one hour represents a turn) helps make sense of the figures provided, usually provided in the form of
- The one major difference from most city building games is that all structures can be passed through. Colonists will enter buildings to get to their destination. However, don't rely on that: Passing through building annoys them and incurs a major commute penalty. As such, tunnels should be used where possible to allow colonists to easily get around without them getting mad.
- Colonists aren't dumb. They will naturally try to find the most optimal job for themselves and switch to whatever's needed most by the colony. While you can micromanage them at every level, it's not strictly necessary to achieve success.
- With that in mind, you first need to take stock of your colony and the area. Check your landing zone, then pause and look around.
- Time controls are as follows
- Pause (1 on the numbers row), 1x (2), 2x (3), 4x (4), and 8x speed (5).
- What you're looking for are: Arable land that doubles as a water-rich area (use the Overlay button in the lower left to switch them on and off), iron and copper deposits, and geothermal vents. These dictate your colony's layout. With this data, create a rough outline of the colony, deciding where to plant farms, storage depots, and so on and so forth.
- You first need to provide for the colonists' basic needs. On most maps, this is accomplished by building farms (they can later be replaced by greenhouses) and water pumps (or atmospheric condensers) to bring the food and water intake to positive values. However, if you have no farmable land nearby, you will have to build a trade hub and rely on importation, while the condensers will have to pick up the slack and provide water.
- As the game says, water is only pumped to a specific level, either 16 or 22 units per colonist to avoid clogging up storage, so don't worry if the indicators at the bottom show 0 for water, that's good.
- Continue by building tunnels to reach the iron or copper deposit. Plop down a mine on it and a nanite processor where you need.
- At this point you have secured a flow of food and water (so that your colonists not die) and income to build with. Your next step should be building an immigration center to allow for new colonists to arrive.
- Your focus for the duration of your administration. Colonists require adequate housing, food, water, and employment at a minimum. Attending to all their morale requirements guarantees a speedy development for your colony.
- The most important thing to remember is that morale makes or breaks a colony. Keeping your colonists happy maximizes production. Note that morale is subject to diminishing returns: There's no practical difference between 60% and 90% aggregate morale, beyond having a greater margin of error in case things go sideways (such as when Aven decides to expel gas right into your collective colonial face).
- Once you have a flow of colonists arriving through the immigration center (usually six to nine per trip), you need to look after your colony's needs. It's better to be cautious than bold - if you have to beg forgiveness, chances are you've expanded too far and ran out of nanites for building, usually while colonists stage a protest or a plague spreads throughout the colony. In particular, remember about lightning towers to protect yourself in wintertime.
- In general, focus on the needs in the order of immediate impact:
- Food is always a concern. If you have farms, remember that the ground freezes in winter, which means that for 56 hours you will have no food income from them. Ensure you have a decent stock (about 20 units per head is the bare minimum) before winter hits.
- Air quality needs to be looked after at all times. If it's anywhere below 90%, it starts to negatively affect morale. The effect stacks over time and once it gets low enough, it starts to affect health as well. There are two schools of thought when it comes to air quality:
- Proactive, where you place an air purifier for each major pollutant (every building pollutes, with generators and mines the largest contributors; a filter per zorium or geothermal generator is a good rule of thumb).
- Reactive, where you monitor air quality levels and respond to situations when they start becoming problematic, placing filters and intakes when the quality deteriorates.
- In both cases, upgrading existing infrastructure or assigning more workers to it by altering employment priorities helps.
- Health requires a hospital to be set up. Hospitals are a major investment and unless you see major morale penalties from a lack of healthcare or plague spores infiltrate your colony, you can safely mark it as a low priority establishment.
- Crime, consumption, and entertainment start becoming a concern once your colony starts growing beyond the base concerns. Take care of these in this order, as crime significantly drives morale down. Notably, except for consumption and entertainment, you need to look after your colonists from their way to work to back home, with eg. enhancer dispensary facilities present near workplaces and homes to maintain a consistent effect.
- Optimizing your colony requires managing employment levels. Prioritization is essential: Every structure has a little brown briefcase in its information panel. When clicked, it allows you to assign a priority to the building. By default, all buildings have normal priority. By switching it to high or maximum priority you order colonists to bring it to full efficiency, while low priority reduces the number of employees, freeing up labor resources. Use prioritization judiciously to place workers in positions where you need most.
- If you find you can't figure out what makes your colonists sad, open the colony population roster (click the happiness indicator to open the morale display, then select the colonists tab), sort by morale, then find the unhappiest colonist and fix whatever's bothering them: Place a housing unit near the workplace if it's a commute, increase air quality if the smell is bothering him, or ensure they have all the enhancers they need.
- Slow down! Don't run at 4x or 8x speed unless you absolutely certain it's safe to do so.
- Don't overbuild! Once your colony is large and stable, you can often build as you please, but when a colony is starting out, it's very easy to ruin it by building things that are too expensive or unnecessary. Wait until your colony can afford to build and support all the buildings you want to create.
- Watch the bottom bar. Keep an eye out for indicators that are flashing red. Don't worry too much about the rate of change on the right side of the indicators - worry about the ones that have red icons and especially those that are flashing red.
- Watch your workers. Remember that if buildings have workers, their efficiency depends on the number of workers. If a building isn't doing its job fast enough, it may need more workers.
- Make sure you have enough immigrants. It's very easy to forget that your starting colony only has enough workers for a handful of buildings, and forget to build an Immigration Center to get more. It's very easy to find yourself with a colony where every building has only 1 worker and nothing is getting done. If you find that your colony isn't operating optimally at the early stages, you either have too few colonists or too many buildings for the number of colonists you have. Look at getting more colonists via Immigration Centers and/or recycling buildings you don't need until you can get more colonists.
- BUT, make sure you don't have TOO MANY immigrants. Immigration is necessary, but it can also kill your colony. New immigrants place demands on jobs and housing and food and water and more. If you have multiple Immigration Centers, or if you don't build out your colony to support all your new immigrants, then consider scaling back the number of workers at your Immigration Centers, recycling any Immigration Centers you don't need, or implementing the Immigration Ban social policy until you can get the situation under control. A cheap solution is to place the center so that it's connected by a single tunnel to your colony and scrapping said tunnel whenever you get too many colonists.
- Focus on infrastructure first, then morale. Until you get to 100 colonists, don't worry too much about morale. After that, it will become a bigger problem. If you find that your people are starting to grow unhappy, click on them to find out what they're complaining about, either by clicking on them in the world, switching to surveillance camera mode & clicking them there, or by going to the Colonist List and clicking on the ones whose happiness is lowest (note that you can sort the columns, so sort by morale!)
- You're not building a utopia. It's very important to keep your colonists' morale above 50% so you keep them working efficiently, keep winning referendums, and have a margin of error if the colony starts having problems. At the same time, if your colonists are at 60% happiness, there's not too much to be gained from increasing their happiness to 70%, 80%, or 90% unless you can truly afford it.
- Pro tip:
Shoot the Cyberdemon to kill itKeep an eye on the aggregate morale panel, especially "% Jobs Filled," "% Employed," and % Housing Filled." Those are incredibly useful for helping you scale up your colony. As you scale up, try to keep "% Jobs Filled" and "% Housing Filled" between 70% and 90%. "% Employed" should always be over 80%, but that's much easier to do. That will help ensure that you keep your colony in balance as you grow.