If you are jumping into this game expecting to use all of your best Age of Empires and Dawn of War tactical knowledge, think again. This game will wipe the floor with your puny settlements with one single enemy. The first few games I played, my settlements were wiped out by a single infected. Having sunk many hours into the game since, I have put together this beginners guide that will help you get over the initial difficulty level shock.
A round of survival in They are Billions can be lost in the first few minutes of gameplay. If you do not follow the correct procedure to protect your settlement, a single zombie will walk in and infect your entire settlement in a matter of seconds. This guide will explain everything you need to know.
You can pause time
This game is unique in that you can pause the game but still control and interact with things. Remember how annoying it was in Age of Empires when the AI was able to manage a dozen buildings at once but you, as a human, could only interact with one thing at a time? Well, now you can pause time. You can trigger the production of units, construct buildings, upgrade defenses and even command units to move around the map. Nothing will happen until you unpause, but this lets you queue up vital commands without having to waste in game time that could open you up for attack.
You can do this as often as you want with no penalty. Make sure you use it constantly. The only time you should be doing anything without time being paused is if you are waiting for units to travel from A-B, waiting for a building to be finished or waiting for resources to build up. Any other kind of management should be done while the game is in pause mode.
Here are some things you should always make sure to do while the game is paused. If you are unsure about what to do, pause the game. Even if you are waiting for a building to be ready, pause the game. Never waste valuable in game time trying to decide what you need to do next. Pause the game to make this decision as it helps you maximise your time.
- Upgrade buildings in one go.
- Identify expansion locations
- Move troops
- Check for new buildings
- Trigger research
- Prepare for an attack
Units have a patrol command
Do not rely on your units field of vision to handle all zombies. Make them patrol from point A to B. When you issue this command, the unit will run back and forth between the locations, increasing their field of view. In the early days of the game, this allows you to defend larger areas of the map from stray zombies that might walk toward your camp.
Use rangers to scout the area
This isn’t a new strategy for RTS fans. The rangers are the fastest runners, send them out there to scout the area and find all of the choke points on the map, infected villages, zombie infestations and any resources on the map. Get rid of the fog of war as quick as you can so that you know which area is the safest way to expand.
Remember to pause the game. Do not leave rangers standing idle while you wait for another one to become idle. Pause the game and ensure that your rangers are all scouting as fast as possible. You need to do this quickly. The sooner you discover the lay of the land, the sooner you can start building your settlement and figure out where the threats are. It will also help you figure out whether the map you have is worth playing on.
Quit and start again if you get a bad map
This will come as part of your exploration with the rangers. Once you clear the fog of war on the map, you will know what the map looks like and where the zombies are. Think of it like Solitaire. The maps are random, just like a deck of cards. Sometimes you get a bad hand and can’t win. If you get a bad map, there is no point in trying to win, quit and start again before you waste your time trying to win in a map that is no good. Here are the things you should look out for in a good map.
- A forest that you can get 10-12 wood from
- A pile of stone that you can get 4-5 from
- Choke points that make it easy to defend your command center with
- A village of doom is not too close to you.
- A good source for food – some nearby grassy areas to put farms, forests for hunters or some water to fish.
You do not need a map that fits all of these, but they are criteria that help decide how good a map is. Finding a perfect one that fulfils all of the ideal requirements could take you a long time and won’t benefit you that much.
The maps are randomly generated
This isn’t like your normal RTS with fixed levels. They are randomly generated which means it is possible to get a really good level and a really bad level, all depending on your luck. This is why It is ok to quit out and try again. Blame it on the level seeding!
Do not let gold hit maximum
Once your gold hits the maximum that your settlement can store, any additional gold earned is gone. There are always new things to research, houses to build and troops to buy. Always make sure you are spending your gold as fast as you earn it. It is no good to you at maximum. Obviously, some things are worth saving up for and in those cases, you have to but generally speaking, spend the gold as soon as you can. You can never have too many units to defend your base.
Forget about planning the perfect settlement
We all love a nice organized settlement, particularly those of us who have spent time with the command and conquer series. Forget about it in this game for two reasons.
First is because you are under pressure for time. You do not have the luxury of setting aside some space for future expansion. You need every single bit of space you can get. Expansions are time consuming and put you at risk of getting infested. Use every bit of space available before expanding. This means forgetting about creating a lovely organized city.
Second is because the world generation does its best to ensure you do not get nice flat areas of land to plan a city. You get bumpy terrain with lots of obstacles to get in the way and disrupt you from ever building orderly grids and layouts.