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Banished tips and tricks + Easy Start Guide
By Akarin
This guide will help you survive the early game and help you understand some of the odd AI behavior, in addition I have included a step by step guide for my methods and included progressive pictures of a city in which i apply all the practices that i teach for you to see so you can understand how i did it.
Introduction to Banished + The Guide
Hello everyone and good day, this is my official Banished guide and in this section i will cover what this guide does and does not cover and what i intend to cover in the future keeping in mind i'll be updating this almost daily until all main info i want to cover is... well covered.

Things This Guide Covers
*Efficient food management system which will let you survive until population is big enough to farm.
*AI mechanics and how they think
*Handling old people and population control.
*Dip into certain buildings with hidden mechanics not mentioned in the games FAQ

Things To Be Added
*Farming! Why don't i have this in now? farming is rather simple and most just need to know how to not die early on.
*Expansion to new areas and when to do it.

Things This Guide WILL NOT Cover
*disasters, when they happen they happen, you will have to adapt, get sick a lot? build a hospital earlier then you usually would.

Starting A New Map
When you start a new map you are going to do two things right away, the first is pause the game so you can look around and plan out your city and where you are going to put your initial Cluster, the seond thing will be to activate the Cog wheel and put any information you like to see in the corners. Personally i like having the general city statistics page and the worker management pages open.

Quick note on pausing
Nothing you do while paused affects the game until you unpause, so you can use this to plan out your entire citys structure by laying down structures, farmland and roads and then using the remove tool to remove the buildings while keeping the roadwork for later reference :D If you do this make sure to wait until your first Forest Cluster is finished or your npcs will build the roads instead of finishing the Cluster :(
Understanding How The AI Thinks
General NPC Behavior
When NPCs are free they will act like laborers and will help with resource movement and clear resources like trees, keep in mind that if an npc like your firewood cutter is free when you give an order to clear and a demand for firewood pops up after he has started helping the npc will continue to clear unless you either increase the firewood buildings priority or cancel the clearing order.

Priority Orders
Master this ability to prioritize buildings you need asap without having to cancel clearing orders, also when you prioritize something and you have no resources if you also have clear orders on that resource set up builders and laborers will automatically target these resources to help build your targetted building.

Your General jack of all trade workers. they transport goods and clear areas if you ask them to do so, and its usually a good idea to keep at least 2 of this group at all times to keep supply moving efficiently early on in the game.
Workers will also prioritize your clear orders over bringing supplys to a new building IF that building is not on their way, if it is on the way they will prep it as normal.

These guys will farm during the summer but act like laborers during the winter; also you should not need farmers until at least 100 population, and when winter hits you can queue a resource clear job for extra resources without having to shift jobs around.

NPCS will by default load all food resources into the nearest building and more often then not that will be a house, whats more the npcs that own the house will not share their resources with their neighbors even though they have a surplus which is why a market is necessary as it forces them to split everything equally.

note: This issue has been mostly fixed in a recent patch; however building markets still allows for efficent transportation of goods + massive storage capacity.

These guys do everything that laborers do in addition to building things, so keep in mind they will refuse to finish a building on occasion if there is an active clear order running.
Just increase the priority of the building or cancel the clear order to get them working on their actual jobs.

Animals And Splitting
Spliting only requires that you have enough livestock to do so and a free pen they can work at.
When buying livestock try to purchase 4-6 of them otherwise they will not breed.

Homeless People
Having people without a home is ok for short periods of time due to how the AI is coded they will enter any building/house to warm up and get food.
The only negative to this is they aren't working on increasing your total population without a house to copulate in :p
Old People And You
If your reading this section you have an old person plague and want to know how to stop it from happening, if this is not the case skip this section.

New Housing And How it Affects Population
You should build new housing whenever a batch of children turn into adults, this will ensure healthy population, 1-3 houses should suffice though i'll admit this part is trial and error because some npcs will only have 1 kid where as others will have 4-6 children in one go, Building new houses routinely is IMPORTANT, most people i see getting super frusterated fail to regularly build new housing.

Little Brat Population
when you first start out try to keep 10 children at all times as this will prevent you from losing a city due to old age, also you can increase the number of children later with more houses but keep in mind children eat a lot and will strain your food supply so make sure you have the food resources ahead of time.

Further more when your city gets bigger so should your minumum number of children! by the time farming comes around a minumum children population should be 14-20.

Top 3 Killers of Citys
Number 1
Wooden houses, yup thats right those cheap houses that you built en mass because you didn't want to expend 40 stone per house will cause your death and the reason is as your population keeps on growing you build more and more wood houses which consume 4x the firewood that stone houses use and eventually you hit a tipping point where you cannot produce enough firewood so you cannot expand into more houses while also losing most of your existing population to the icy grip of winter.

Number 2
Stupid Citizens, how do you know you have this problem? if you can get to farming and farm 1-2 generation of crops but your food economy suddenly crashes when your first generation NPCs starts dying off en mass it means your not getting efficient enough workers but luckily for you the fix for this is easy just build a School After your first Cluster but before your second Cluster is established.

Number 3
Forgetting to build houses for a few years in a row, this is the biggest and best way to kill off your city after all if you don't have the Pop to maintain all your buildings whats the point? this is actually fairly easy to let happen and will probably happen to 100% of players to ever play this game so don't feel bad if it happens once, just be sure not to repeat your mistake.
Why forest clusters instead of fishing huts or farming?
Why should i not just build 2-4 fishing huts first you might ask? well mainly due to how little food a 4 man fishing hut provides compared to a single gatherers hut when placed in the proper location, in fact gatherer huts can produce the food of 2 fully staffed fishing huts once it hits stride for food production.

I mostly only build a single fishing hut to give my former builders something to do during the winter once all tasks are finished so they at least produce some of the food that they eat.

Why not farm right away? no reason you can't if you have the seeds just keep in mind you need to start the field the moment you get into game on a piece of land that is naturally clear of any tile blockers and keep it small enough that you only need 2-5 farmers on it because you will still need to build a gatherers hut in a forest in order to maintain your food supply.
Easy Start Forest Cluster Technique
When your game first starts pause it and look around your map to map out your first clusters location and where you wish to expand your city in general, if the closest place to build a Forest Cluster is across a river then Queue a bridge to be built and manually clear nearby resources while your builders set it up, when bridge is finished build Cluster as stated below.

The first cluster should fully operational before starting another, you will earn plenty of food assuming you put your cluster in a forest with plenty of flat land and deer.

Forest Clusters 4 house version
As the name implies you group these buildings as close as you can, you will need a Forester with tree chopping turned off, Hunters, Gatherers, and 4 houses 2 wood and 2 stone, you turn tree chopping off to help the forest support more food. I recommend 2 of these clusters with a fishing hut for diet needs and when ready you can then shift into farming.

Build order: Gatherers Building > Hunters Building > Foresters Building > two Stone Houses
I like to place a small road down right away and set up the buildings on either side of this road, later on you will expand this road to connect to your main city once you lay down the basic road work. The moment your gatherer hut is finished max out the workers and do the same for hunting lodge and at least 1 forester to plant more trees.

Example of a recently established Forest Cluster

Don't forget to clear rocks and iron out of the clusters radius to improve food capacity whenever you can afford to do so, and please do not manually clear trees from a forest cluster radius, take trees from other areas if you need it.

The Market
Without this building your settlers will kill eachother via starvation, you will build this after your first Forest Cluster/housing needs are finished and it does not need to interact with a Forest Cluster so just set it up somewhere inside your main city.

You will only need one early on, and it only needs to interact with your main city, when you start farming, any farming areas will NEED a market to distribute food fast enough to be useful.

Forest Cluster Fully Grown so now what?
When your forest cluster is grown you need to do the following tasks as shown below.
  • Turn tree chopping on, an adult forest can handle this, but a baby one can't.
  • Reduce the total allowable workers for foresters to 2, EX: You have two Clusters, each forester building should have 2 workers each. (you can restore this later when you have the pop to do so)
  • Establish dirt roads from the cluster buildings to your main city to further improve food production, also be sure to set the road up so it doesn't take up too much space, so only one road in/out.
These changes will optimize your work force and give you a steady supply of wood

Fully Grown Forest Cluster Screens
Step By Step Early Game Walkthrough
This section is a work in progress

Welcome To The New World
So you have started a new map and would like to not die horribly right away? well you came to the right place my friend as I will walk you though the early game and how i personally handle it, now onto the nitty gritty of it.

Convienient Ordered List Of Tasks
Before you start following the list keep in mind I am assuming that you are actively harvesting small chunks of resources while establshing your first Forest Cluster, multitasking is important in this game and you should never be waiting on resources because you should have already secured them ahead of time anticipating that you needed them for what you are building.
  • Familiarize yourself with my Forest Cluster section of the guide if you have yet to do so then create a new world

  • Game has been Started, Pause here and look around for ideal cluster locations/open the worker management tab + general city info tab, add 5 builders (adjust workers as needed later on)

  • Place the Foresters, hunters, 1 stone house and a mini road right away and unpause the game

  • When 2 of them finish add the Gatherers, and remaining 3 houses, let these finish.

  • Ensure tree planting is enabled and chopping is off, staff all buildings to full capacity except the foresters which will only have 2 people on it until you get more people, decrease builders to 2

  • Now set up 1 stone house and one wood house in your main city, again you should only put down one and let it finish then place the other one.

  • Lay down a market in a location that covers your entire city, also place a firewood chopper (see building section of guide for important details on this building)
Congrats, you should now have something that looks like this.

This particular setup should let you idle for 1-2 years, and when your ready to expand just establish your second Forest Cluster, in the screen shot above I have built a bridge to where my second Forest Cluster will be but I have yet to actually build it.

Why don't I have you just lay down all the buildings for the forest cluster at the same time? The AI just cannot handle that many buildings at once and still be 100% efficient, they need to be micro managed, besides you need those 5 laborers actively clearing resources for your upcoming buildings.

Why do you use a mix of stone and wood houses? Energy Efficiency, this will prevent you from needing 6 firewood choppers later on as you would have if all the houses were made of wood.

When should i build a Fishing Hut and why do i need one? Fish will help balance your civ's diet which helps prevent diseases and its up to you when you place it, for example i will occasionally place it after my initial setup where as other times I will wait until the second Forest Cluster is set up.
The Trading Post And Other Structures/Buildings
I love the trading post, in fact i dare say its the best building in this game which is why it gets a section that only covers this majestic building!

Personal Slush Fund
This is the main reason i love this building, the NPCs can't touch anything inside and the player can manually deposit resources inside which allows you to build up extra supplys that don't show up as usuable which is great for those well crap I need 80 stone for that building now or my entire city is dead scenario.

So in short if you have excess resources put them in this building, you never know when it will save your hide from your own blunder.

These guys bring you things you cannot get by default even on easy mode, they also come once a year on average but they do not stay for long so keep your Trading Post stocked in case they have that one item you "need" otherwise they might drive away while your trying to gather the resources :p

Other Buildings And Structures

Industrial Park And Why Grouping Improves Production Rates
Placing a production building in a random location is a good way to bring your citys production to a crawl, these buildings need Close access to produced resources, and Nearby residential housing so your employees are always a step away from being 100% efficent, so how do you achieve this?

You start by building a market then surrounding it by a road, and on this road you will build your Smithy, Firewood Chopper, Supply Pile, and Tailor which will allow for a production "square" for your city. I will be updating with pictures later once i set up a fully operational Industrial park myself.

Firewood building
Where you place this building matters the longer your worker has to travel the more time it takes to supply your new city with Firewood so as a general rule of thumb place it next to a supply pile, heck move the one it gives you by default if placing a firewood cutter there isn't feasable.

Houses Wood or Stone?
If your starting on easy or normal difficulty build Stone Houses when possible, they are just more cost efficient in the long run and will keep you from wasting extra workers to constantly chop and refine firewood.

Wooden houses are fine for the hardest difficulty when you first start out, just don't build more then 3 and switch to stone housing as soon as you can.

Other guides recommend not bothing with one until late game because they "delay" a childs entry into the work force by 3-4 years, you know what i say to that? its complete crap and your shooting yourself in the foot if you do this I mean think about it whats worse dealing with an initial pop delay when you only have 10 kids or dealing with it when you have 40+?

The disaster this could cause your food supply in the late game is shocking and the longer you play the more likely disasters are to occur so your screwing yourself over twice, just build it early staff it and forget about it, don't think about canceling it for cheap labor just let them finish.
Cooperative Guides
This guy covers the stuff that I do not, so if your curious about some of the more raw mechanics hit his guide up.
Picture Progression of the Demo City I'm Using For Guide
Baby Cluster being born :D

City beginning to take shape with the Industrial zone established.

Industrial Section first stage finished

Picture of the second Forest Cluster being born

Clusters + Fishing areas near peak efficiency

Rough outline of the soon to be thriving farming community :)

Farming area set up, will expand if i need it, also some townhall info for the curious :D
Progress pictures of new settlement 2/11/17
Lately i have noticed a complaint that the forest cluster method does not work and while amusing to see in the comments it is just not true so here are some updated screens of a forest cluster game started on 2/11/17

First image below depicts a newly started forest cluster placed in an area that was only 1/4th forest in order to show that forest clusters do produce enough food for a population to eat and survive into year 2 with plenty of surplus food at 1600 as seen in top left corner.

The road going off screen leads to a single fishing hut with one house to maintain the family / act as poor mans storage.

A close up shot of the new forest cluster and for this one i built the foresters lodge first followed by the gatherers hut, one wood house then hunting lodge last.

Magic screen pin proof that for the same or less amount of workers the hunting cabin and gatherers hut each outproduce fishing by a quite a lot to the point where you are actively wasting manpower by having many fishing huts. This is why i advocate the cluster method into traditional farming options.

This here is just an overview of my entire place as a managed to find an angle that would let me include all buildings in a single screen capture :P

I ran out of storage room here from all the food so i was forced to build a market, i also built a tool producer since i was low on those. Quick note on the tool guys is you only really need 20 tool in stock early so i just manually assign when needed but otherwise have him gathering resources n stuff.

Also of note i decided to add a small 7x7 field of peppers and an 8x8 field of cherry trees, both sizes are the maximum food that can be produced by a single person.
Change Log
  • 2/19/2014: Posted guide
  • 2/20/2014: Cleaned up the AI section and removed some errors related to how AI operate.
  • 2/21/2014: Improved the forest cluster food production rates and clarified lumber harvesting rules for said forest clusters.
  • 2/21/2014: Did some formatting clean up more work to do in regards to this though.
  • 2/22/20/14 Added a new walkthough section, reworked my Forest Cluster system to be more efficient, cover details on a new building.
  • 2/24/14: Added a progression section showing off the city that helped me test stuff.
  • 6/20/14: Covered info regarding the 1.2 update ruining long distance AI, been a while since RL has kept me busy.
  • 6/26/14: Started work on some general formatting pertaining to run on sentances; also i updated info on housing behaviors.
  • 2/11/2017: cleaned up and removed outdated info, added 2 new sections covering questions i have been getting as of late.
  • 5/14/2017: Added another screen shot update of my town for starting transition from pure forestry into some farming for food.
People Who Helped Improve This Guide
  • ptmadman12
  • Matheus Kirel -Pointed out some outdated info from the recent patch ty bro,
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zburmeister Mar 26 @ 9:06am 
I do however agree with you on the schools. I have three currently and my city is thriving.
zburmeister Mar 26 @ 9:04am 
Gatherers are not as good as fishermen. The reason why fish doesn't normally produce as much is because most people put them in clusters. Any shore building (eg. Traders, Bridges, other Fishing docks) lower the production rate of fishermen. This is why in most examples gatherers produce more than fisherman. Otherwise fishermen produce way more than gatherers.
Mikkor Dec 28, 2019 @ 5:48am 
Top 3 killers of "citys"
The number one should easily be starvation, since once it kicks in you can loose half your population in a year and there's not much you can do about it once it starts. Always overproduce food and trade for more food that you keep at the trader station for emergencies.
Mikkor Dec 28, 2019 @ 5:44am 
Aside from poor sentence structuring and grammar, this has some useful info in it.
genomecop Feb 11, 2019 @ 3:33am 
You can buy one animal from a trader and it will 'multiply' in its pen. No need to buy four or five.
stifledyawn Jan 23, 2019 @ 1:02pm 
I don't think I'm quite understanding how the forest cluster system works, I built the three production buildings but when it comes to housing they all just refused to do anything and everybody died by winter
Yoyó May 1, 2018 @ 6:21am 
7x8 is the maximum ideal size for crops, with 1 uneducated farmer, 11x11 or 12x10 for 1 educated farmer. For orchards 15x4 or 9x7 (orientation matters!) gives the best food per plot used, and food per orchard ratios, for 1 farmer. 8x8 orchard is just wasteful, 7x7 has the same amount of trees, with 15 less spaces used.
Justryan16 Mar 9, 2018 @ 12:20am 
You are taking this quite realisticly, and I commend you on that, but you may have too many children, (Or students) and so you must wait for them to grow up, then the Population goes BOOM.
Be warned, Try not to expand too quickly, or your food may collapse
skipoff Jan 20, 2018 @ 10:43pm 
5 stars of happiness... thought a church might be needed to have people get married to have babies. Not only was that theory wrong, a short time after building the church i lost two stars of happiness. Thought a church created happiness. Starting to think i should try another game.
skipoff Jan 20, 2018 @ 10:35pm 
added more house and still no children. What am i doing wrong? How do you coninvce these people to make babies? Even tried a tavern to get them drunk and have sex. didnt work.