First of all, you will notice that it is possible to choose which faction is going to support you during your game. For an easy start, keep the “International Mars Mission” as a sponsor. This allows you to start a “Very easy” game, quite convenient to get to understand Surviving Mars’s basic concepts.
Thanks to this, you will start with an important budget, two hundred candidates for colonisation (you get only one hundred in easy mode) and above all the impossibility for your colonists to feel “Earthsick”, a status that will lead them to travel back to Earth by the first rocket.
You can also choose a commander profile. Three choices prove very interesting to start off:
– Rocket Scientist
The first one optimizes your drones until Sol 100 so that they become faster and their hubs are autonomous, which means they will not need electricity or any maintenance. This is a really powerful bonus for you to expand without limits and very easily.
The second one allows you to produce 25% more fuel, quite useful when it comes to send back your rockets to Earth more quickly. Also, thanks to the “Arcology”, a quite big housing capacity is at your disposal almost immediately, a housing capacity which does not require a “traditional” building site since it is built in the centre of the dome. Thus, you get additional space for production and service buildings.
Finally, the Rocket Scientist gifts you with an additional rocket from the very beginning of the game. Furthermore, the “Shuttle hub” technology is unlocked straight away. It is the same thing as a “Drone hub”, but for air transport… without limits regarding distance. This is extremely useful in order to expand your colony without having to create a whole network of drone hubs and transport routes.
Who turned off the light ?
Under no circumstance should you pick the “Easy start” option that is available in the start menu of the game. The reason is plain: the spot that you will get will not be optimal. By choosing by yourself, you can glean a few more resource bars while removing some of in the “Threats” category. Plus, if you pick the sponsor, the commander profile and the initial rocket’s contents for yourself, you will get a better understanding of what you are getting yourself into and you will know the settings of your game.
Once the choice of your colony location is made, do not make the rocket land immediately. Unless you removed them, you brought probes with you on Mars. So, click on a few squares around the one that is already revealed. Who knows? You might find a better start location. If you notice squares with a good enough buildable area, feel free to probe them.
To begin your colonization, you will need to be able to provide water and oxygen for your colonists but you will have to start with electricity. So, build large solar panels and one or three “Power accumulators” in order to stock energy.
Indeed, your solar panels will be turned off at night (no wonder without sunlight). Your colony’s energy will then depend entirely on these power accumulators. Important fact: they only deliver 20 units of electric current each. As a general rule, consider that each of those will be able to power up to four buildings at night.
What is more, avoid any source of extra dust nearby in order to prevent more maintenance than is necessary. It includes extractors and rocket landing sites!
You should avoid windmills until you are sure you are able to produce enough machine parts, or else you might quickly find yourself short of resources and therefore unable to maintain them. This would potentially lead to an electricity shortage and eventually death.
Step by step dome-ination
When the time to build your first dome comes, you could be tempted to fill it immediately with a whole lot of services. Be sure to resist that impulse. Indeed, your colonists would work for those services and would only satisfy their secondary needs. So first, only build a housing solution and bring your colonists to Mars. When they have settled, click the dome. You will quickly be able to check their level of comfort and how it is influenced. Pick the line that gathers most of the displeased and build something to counter that problem (the needs fulfilled are indicated in the description of each service building).
Once your first dome on Mars is well in place and correctly supplied, concentrate on your independence from Earth. If you do not have some already, order electronic factory, polymer factory and machine parts factories.
Do not forget to research “Soil adaptation” so as to create a farm that will yield food in correct amounts. Click on the production buildings you are the most interested in then click on the three-parts arrow to give them high priority. Your colonists will work in them in priority and it will guaranty an optimal production capacity.
At the start of a game, we advise you to do this for your rare metals extractors – deposits are shown with a “$”. Then call a rocket from Earth and make it land close to one such deposit. Click on it and select the two arrows making a circle. This will automate the travel route for this rocket and ensure you get a more frequent income than your faction’s subsidies through the trading of rare metals.
Stock all you can
Do not neglect storage space. Create several of them so that you can split your resources correctly and optimise the supplying by your drones. Also, think about creating dump sites not too far from your extractors and keep in mind that you will finally discover a technology allowing you to extract concrete directly from the rocks piled there.
If you want to expand your colony using a network of drone hubs, be sure to place universal depots nearby for each of them so that when you need to convey resources (without a RC Transport or a shuttle), your drones will do that by themselves.
Please bear in mind that it is unwise to create immense pipelines between two colony sites. You will be better off with several semi-independent hubs because you will avoid global shortfall and, above all, you will need to repair leaks and if you do not have access to a drone hub and metal on location, a big issue might be the next step. By the way, keep in mind that leaks do not prevent the resource from being conveyed, whether it be through cables or pipelines they simply lead to an extra consumption.
Source (French): https://www.warlegend.net/guide-surviving-mars-guide-du-debutant/