• Post author:
  • Post category:PC / Reviews / RTS

This past weekend I picked up a really great city-building strategy game called Banished.  The concept is simple: You are a banished group of exiles who have to settle a new area to survive.  Will you die or start a new thriving civilization that will go on for hundreds of years?  If you’re me, you’ve probably died a dozen times already.

Build bridges across water to access new areas and resources.

Banished looks and sounds simple on the outside.  You simply have to make buildings and keep your people healthy, happy, and their bellies full of food.  There’s so much more to it, though, when you realize each of those mechanics are fully developed and very close to reality.

It’s all about risk and resource management.  Want to plant crops?  In other games it’s only a matter or assigning land to be farmed and workers to tend the crops, but in Banished you have to worry about which crops can survive the temperatures when it gets cold or be harvested in time.  An early winter will ruin your crops.  Working in the snow will lower worker efficiency, cause them to become ill, and then the least of your concerns will be whether or not your pumpkins withered.  Oh, and I should probably mention that if you farm in the same place for too many seasons your soil will be ruined.

Banished Snowstorm
Build a tailor to stock warm clothes to keep villagers alive in the winter months

Every resource requires real thought.  You need firewood to stay warm in the winter.  Firewood comes from wood logs.  Chopping down trees is simple, but once you chop them down they take time to regrow and mature to the point of yielding good wood again.  Distance matters so it’s not like you can just run to another big section of forest.  Reducing your forests will reduce the deer population… and then you might starve.  See the trend?  

There are no skill trees.  If you have the resources you can build it.  Should you?  Heck no.  I learned the hard way that you want to spend several hour ramping up your village slowly.  Focus on getting food up and running, and think several steps ahead.  The first six times my settlement failed miserably because my population outgrew my ability to gather food.  It was sad when Billy the Child starved to death freezing in his house.

Banished job management
Assign literally every worker a profession to maximize efficiency

Plan how your settlement will expand.  Think about where your rivers are located and how to best utilize your population.  Oh, and you can literally assign every single person individually to a job.  Speaking of jobs, there are lots of them.  Everything from gatherers for nuts and berries to tailors, blacksmiths, herdsman, builders, laborers,  traders school teachers, etc. You can manage them all.

The UI is fantastic and simple to use.  Pulling up windows is simple, and moving them wherever you want is a nice touch.  The information you need is all easily available and simple to understand — the tick is knowing that you need it.  I could ramble on and on about all the things you can do and the strategies you should use.  I’ll save that for another time.

I’m blown away by the fact that this entire game was done by one person.  Banished released for PC on Steam,, and the Banished’s official site.  It’s DRM free, can be streamed/youtubed freely, and costs $19.99.  I love when indie devs simply make great games meant to be enjoyed.

If any of you pick up Banished, I would love to swap strategies and ideas in the comments below.

  • Funny, I just picked this up last night and promptly played until 3AM without realizing it.

    Still on my first city. I nearly got wiped out because I didn’t expand, so my populace was 75% 50 years old or older. Turns out older people don’t have children, go figure.

    Food is becoming a problem now, but I didn’t realize the soil would go bad. Time to move those farms…

    One thing I’ve consistently run into is that once you hit about 30 – 35 working adults, Iron Tools don’t cut it anymore. My blacksmith and a mine working at 8/15 capacity wasn’t sufficient to keep people equipped. I had to switch to Steel Tools and probably should have earlier. My populace nearly starved/froze because of a lack of tools.

    My biggest frustration is the merchant, though. They’ll only trade perishables/food for other perishables/food, and if you want seeds or livestock, better hope you have a bunch of firewood handy to sell or you’ll miss them.

    Super fun so far, though! Much more so than I had expected when I first read about it.

  • Wow, this sounds fantastic. I remember hearing about it a while ago but didn’t realize it had released. Definitely plan on purchasing tonight. I already feel badly for my poor villagers, who will no doubt perish under my inept leadership.

  • Yeah, I am loving Banished. Someone on the KGC Forums brought it to my attention back around December, and I’ve been following it ever since. It’s a fantastic little city-building game. It’s always nice when a really good city-builder comes out.

  • I have been interested in this game, it seems to require thought.

    The only thing I might worry about is sometimes when a game is too accurate of a simulation it can feel more like just that than a game.

    By analogy imagine Don’t Starve without any of the humor or ridiculous elements.

    I am in a beta for an upcoming futuristic TBS game which has many cool features, but once I became familiar with the base mechanics it started to feel like I was playing an Excel spreadsheet. 

    Any initial thoughts on this matter?

  • @Talarian: I’ve only gone far enough to play around briefly with the trader/merchant mechanics. My people are usually dead or dying by then. You bring up a point I forgot to mention, though, which is that villagers age. You literally have to plan for second, third, fourth, generation villagers. That’s why sometimes I just quit one of my play-throughs: I can see the end in sight and know I won’t live.

    @Gankatron: It stops far short of being an excel spreadsheet. It’s more about requiring you think strategically than thinking statistically.

  • Wow, I may end up trying this now. I was on the fence when I saw it in Steam and I did almost buy it. As far as farming goes I know in real life you have to do crop rotation and with how in depth this game is sounds I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case. If you plant corn one year you’ll want to plant beans the next for example.

  • As a sidenote, soil does not go bad as such. It only requires you to change the type of crop to plant on it. So buy a couple of crops from the trader (firewood is a cheap replenishable trade good) and rotate on infestation.

    @Talarian, my 1 blacksmith (educated though, this is very important as education Hugely improves efficiency) is solo providing my 75 adult village.

  • So far as I have heard crop rotation is not in the game at all. The developer talked about doing it but decided not to as it was too difficult to get working without being completely tedious. That said there are some mechanics that will make you think crop rotation is an issue. Infestations are more likely to recur on fields pastures that have the same product growing there as was there when the infestation happened before. The more common event though is when your villagers fail to plant a crop. I believe that has two possible causes, first is that something was left on the field during the previous harvest and the field won’t be planted so long as there is something on it already. The other possibility is that because farmers run off and work as laborers during the winter months they might be too far away to return and plant their crops at the appropriate time.

    Use a balanced mix of food sources to make sure people get their four food groups.
    Use trading posts to get non-renewable resources like stone, iron, coal and steel tools. Set orders for those resources.
    Firewood is boss for trading, everyone accepts it and with enough foresters it is completely renewable.
    Each trading post has it’s own set of merchants, so more trading posts means more frequent merchants.
    Don’t make huge clusters of buildings unless you have an inordinate amount of marsh mellows to eat.
    Put housing and storage buildings for your production buildings close together to limit commute times.
    I only build stone houses after the first year or two.

  • @Keen: yeah, that villager aging thing really nearly did me in. I had tonnes of food, but my graveyard went from 0 to 30 graves in just a couple years O.o Also, apparently kids seem to not have more kids if they still live with their parents. Not sure if intentional, or just seeing bias where there isn’t any, but accurate and funny if true.

    @Caldazar: I haven’t tried educating my people yet. I really ought to. I have a good 70 people (50 adults). I bet that’d help.

  • @Whorhay I feel like my yields are lower each year. Maybe it’s the infestations like you say. I’ll have to check my event log. Same with Fishing. The more I fish in one spot the lower the yield.

    @Caldazar: How do you choose who does which job? Is there a way to make sure educated workers take certain roles?

  • I haven’t seen an easy way to reassign workers to particular jobs yet. Which is kind of a PITA because even if you take care to make sure you have housing and work places perfectly balanced eventually you end up with villagers living on the opposite side of the village from where they work. The one sure way I’ve seen to do it involves getting to 0 laborers, then making the villager you want to reassign a laborer, and then adding one more worker to the job you want. That will pull the single laborer to that job. Problem is I have 150+ adults and reassigning them all so they are next to their workplaces is a huge chore.

  • @Whorhay:

    If this is meant to be a realistic simulation then I expect it might model people living where they wanted to in a village.

  • At the 5th year, crop yields will go down. Just leave the crop fallow (Workerless) for a year to let the soil recover and it’ll be fine. Easiest way to keep track is place 4 or 5 fields next to each other and rotate which one has no workers every year.

  • @ Keen: As far as I know jobs get auto reassigned to people living nearby once every so often. Sometimes you get people travelling far if the amount of villagers in nearby houses is not enough.

    For example: If the one nearby house is occupied by a single occupant (because spouse died/children moved out), and the job needs 3 people, it’ll assign the 1 nearby living + 2 in other houses(as nearby as possible taking into account other jobs). Once that solo occupant dies, a couple will move in, and those two will work in that place(+1 other), till one of their kids comes of age, at which point 3 will work there and it’ll be optimal.

    So basically, you can not assign who does which job as the game auto reassigns it and you can not influence who lives where, but the game does optimize travel time for villagers (without relocating them).

    Oddly enough, my blacksmith and firewood people always were educated. I never let my education level dip below 50% though. Just build a school, and let population stall for a bit while it catches up.

  • @McJigg: I haven’t even gotten to the point where I can farm for 5 years. I realized I was going someting majorly wrong because my settlement kept starving and freezing to death. Turns out I was ignoring how human civilization started in RL: hunters and gatherers. I restarted and spread out a little bit — hub and spoke system — and have gatherer huts with lots of gatherers. Im 100% set on food now.

    @Caldazar: I’ve started to optimize my building strategy to make a lot more logistical sense. I find that when designed with some thought, people do indeed tend to live very close to their work. A little trick I found though if your housing is completely buggered — you can unassign all workers to laborers then just start re-allocating them. They sort themselves out. Still doesn’t sort out my educated workers being assigned priority jobs, but oh well.

    @Wufiavelli: Oh yes, absolutely. Youtube is cracking down on accounts, prohibiting monetization without express written permission from developers/publishers, and causing a LOT of people to leave Youtube. Same with places like Twitch — there are games that do not allow you to stream.

  • Gamers really need to get up an arms in about our ownership rights both legally and market wise.

  • @ Keen, they also sort themselves out automatically if you wait a bit.

    Personally I build the school as my 13th building (2 gatherers, a hunter, 2 foresters, a woodcutter, a blacksmith and 5 houses), which leaves only the children from the start as uneducated.

  • The school is very important, but at the same time delays when a child turns into a worker (they become a student for a time). Uneducated miners with iron tools actually use more resources than they produce, fyi.

    Livestock is a very long-term investment. A cattle pen for instance won’t produce anything until it is full of cattle, which can take years depending on the size and how many cattle you purchase, but once it is full and you start butchering the extras, its a massive source of food and leather. Same for sheep and wool, chickens for eggs.

    Nomads are uneducated. I’ve had more than one village crushed due to accepting them in and creating a production imbalance.

    The game really is fantastic, especially because it doesn’t get easier the bigger your town gets, which is the case in most city sims. The hardest achievement is 900 people. That seems unreal to me right now (village of just under 200).

  • The food requirement goes up tremendously, and one misstep tanks everything since storing surplus is not easy when your village consumes 35k food a year (also a bit under 200 pop here)

    I’m a bit disappointed with the livestock to be honest. Both maxsize chicken and cattle/sheep farms only produce around 1k food a year on average, The 20*20 cattle farm takes years to setup and only provides the same as a hunters cabin (albeit half the worker usage)
    I do like the sheep, since they do produce a lot of wool, which can double as a trader resource.

  • I did the hard start, so I couldn’t farm until about 30 years in when I finally traded for my first seeds.

    I found it’s not until you have 100 adults that you can consistently keep someone in every profession. Then again, I MASSIVELY overproduce food over all else. For 120 population I stockpiled 20,000 food. After accepting some nomads, that started to dip down and reached 8,000 before I turned it around and over produced again.

    Food is EVERYTHING. A balanced diet will also improve health so produce as many kinds of food as you can, and try to keep most of your houses living in range of a market.

  • someone at work pointed me towards this game.
    First game was going well, got up to about 50 population and stable,and then i realised that despite Shavian what I thought was plenty of houses, due to there being 3 adults in most the houses none of them were breeding… bunch of prudes, by the time I noticed a lack of children and thought to check, it was too late and the majority of my population was past childbearing age

    Rolled a second game and went all out, placed new houses 5 at a time each time the old ones had two adults each (or roughly when each ‘batch’ of children turned into students) and my population flew up, got to 80 pop by year 6 or so (I play at 10x speed), everything was going great, food was not an issue and although tools were becoming scarce I had two iron mines building ready to fix that with the next batch of adults, was about to set up trade’s (had started trading early in the last game but felt no need to at this moment)

    and then


    Every building but maybe two houses and a distant hunting/forester patch got wiped out and my population dropped to 20 or so

    I think I am gonna play with disasters off.. lol, losing everything to one random event was a bit much

  • Keen have you played CitiesXL 2012 ? or latest simcity ? how to think this compares to that ?