Frostpunk: Refugees

This is the last scenario in the base game, and I’ve taken a solid swipe at it now.  What’s left is the Endless mode, where there are no win conditions, only failures.  Given that the scenarios are always against a clock, and primed full of crises, you’re never really in a balanced mode.  Sure, you may have all your coal needs covered, but odds are you’re low on food, or steel.  Given enough time though, getting balance across everything is absolutely achievable.  Maybe I’ll give it a shot later on.


The idea of this scenario is that you’re given a tight build space, few resource to start, and LOTS of people showing up to the door every 2 days.  These people often show up sick too, and with poor housing, you’re going to be rolling in sick people.  And the children, good golly the children that show up.

Combined, for practical purposes you need to pass the Child Worker (kids can work safe jobs) and Overcrowding (double medical capacity) laws.   That raises some interesting design choices in this game I’ll get to later.

This particular scenario best exemplifies the needs of the people, how long you can ignore them, and what you can do manage discontent.  You can go a couple days without food.  You can’t go a night without housing someone or they will get ill.  Ill people can stay at home.  Places with people should never be lower than chilly.  Even though the game says you’re in a bad state, it’s often just a warning rather than a failure.

The “trick” to this particular scenario is all about getting through the first two nights without a ton of sick people.  Everyone needs a place to live, you need a medical spot, and you need to have gathering huts to build it all.

There are 10 sets of basic refugees (and some at various explored outposts), then some lords show up in the final quarter.  If you’ve got the first 10 groups under control, the lords are easy enough to manage.  Faith/Order keepers are needed to break up any conflicts – and they are generally required for other bits anyhow, so you’ll have them.

The last few decision points should be taken at the management level, rather than the personal one.  You’re presented with moral choices, and the decisions here have some minor ripple effects.

Overall it took me 6 tries to get through the first 2 nights, and the rest fell into place without too many hiccups.  The scenario is a good step up from the Ark in complexity, but there’s a lack of decisions at the start that have long term impacts.

Scenario Comparison

In terms of difficulty, it would go Ark, Main, Refugees, passing a kidney stone, Winterhome.  Since you need to get to day 20 in the main campaign to unlock any of the others, you’ll have a relatively solid foundation.

In terms of complexity, it would go Ark, Refugees, Main, Winterhome.  The last 2 demands a fair chunk more planning to get through, and curious decisions points that have longer term ripple effects.  Winterhome in particular has 3 specific choices that mostly eliminate the ability to get the best outcome.  You don’t know that until the end, which makes victory bittersweet.

Overall Tips

There are a couple starting guides out there, but they all generally sum up to:

  • Gathering huts >>> picking from piles
  • Understand the day/night cycle.  People work during the day, and do not work at night.  They don’t sleep, they just don’t work.  If you plan to upgrade buildings, best to do it at night with plenty of free labour and no impact to production.
  • 1 hunting hut per 50 citizens
  • Coal Thumpers are amazing (and don’t cost cores)
  • Wall drills are better than Sawmills (takes 3 cores to max out one wall drill)
  • For most of the game, people are nearly twice as good as automatons in terms of productivity per hour.  Automatons don’t need heat, and work 24/7.  Having them work nights and people during the day is a very effective strategy.
  • Priority research is the beacon, above everything else.  Heaters are next, then get some resource production going.
  • Get an expedition team going ASAP.  The resource gains at the start make a huge difference, and it’s the only way to get more cores.  Ideally you can run 2 teams, with a speed boost.  You also move faster to known locations, so use them as midpoints for longer runs.
  • Outposts for cores only.  The rest you can make on your own.  One exception to this in a specific scenario.
  • Pass laws at every cooldown.  Of great value are Extended Shifts (for workshops) and Soup (25% more food).  Radical treatment + prosthetics gets people working again.
  • Faith laws help manage Hope/Discontent, while Order best manages productivity.  Productivity is an issue in the early part of the game, when you can’t pass the laws anyhow.
  • Hunting huts, beacons, and storage do not require any heat to operate.  This fact saves an insane amount of building space for houses.
  •  Only research things you need, when you need them.  Bunkhouses shouldn’t be researched until you’ve unlocked the ability for houses.

Frostpunk is a solid game.

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