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Feedback After Numerous Attempts


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I really wanted to like Timberborn, I thought the concept was a lot of fun, but after 18 hours and numerous attempts I've found it impossible to get a colony up and running for any length of time.

I'm not new to these types of games, I've put a lot of hours into games like Surviving Mars, Frostpunk, the Anno series, Dyson Sphere Program and more. So I've had a fair amount of experience with these types of games. The trouble with Timberborn is, first of all, an inadequate tutorial that doesn't explain much. Beyond that, there were a few major problems.

First of all, wood is limited until you build the Forrester, which requires building the Inventor, as well as a water wheel and a lumber mill. This can take a fair amount of time, particularly when there's really no way to figure out just how much wood you're going to get out of a particular area. But beyond that, I just couldn't get the water wheel to work. The tool tip says it generates 90 HP, but no matter where I placed it it didn't generate anything close to that. The water appeared to have the same flow pretty much everywhere and I tried numerous locations and orientations. And this led to another problem where you get nothing back when you move a building. And at 50 wood moving the water wheel a few times is hugely resource and time-consuming. But no matter what I did the amount of power generated ranged from around 8 to around 35, not enough to even adequately power one mill. And there's no indication in the game as to which spots are better or worse.

So time and time again there was this huge bottleneck trying to produce planks. This is made worse by the fact that you're limited to one beaver working in the mill, there's no way to expand production. And that means a huge delay in getting the Forrester built and getting replanting done, which leads to a huge wood shortage. 

There was also another problem where I had plenty of water pumps and tanks, but past a certain point the water just stopped getting moved from the pumps to the tanks.  This seemed to happen when the settlement got more advanced, around three dozen beavers.  And there didn't seem to be any way to deal with this and it led to a drought fail several times, with most of the colony dying. 

I did look at a few tips videos but that just seemed to lead to more confusion, as different people seemed to have different approaches and didn't seem to be having the sort of problems I was having.  I think that the game could potentially be great but there's an extremely steep learning curve and it seems excessively difficult just getting through the early stages and getting the colony up and running. I'm very disappointed by having spent 18 hours making at least a dozen attempts at this and completely failing, but I hope further updates will improve things.


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Water wheels work as you'd expect them to in real life, that is: they produce more power where the current is strongest. You can place a row of dams downstream - any distance, but on the same height level - to increase the depth of water available for your wheels, thus increasing produced power to 80~150 per, depending on the river's curves and your wheels' positions. This increased depth will double as a reservoir to pump from when the drought hits, and will keep nearby crops and trees watered.

In the "labor" build menu, you will find a hauling post, which employs haulers. They will make sure your production buildings can operate without filling up, and will generally transport resources where they need to be.

I suggest trying out the "easy" mode first, which has less severe droughts and plenty of time to learn and build fancy things. Also, as a Rimworld enjoyer, Timberborn is for sure a bit dry on the tutorial side, but there are relatively few things to know that are not apparent after a bit of experimenting. I recommend checking each thing's information to find out how many carrots you need per beaver (servings per plant, divided by meals per day, divided by time to grow), etc. Your priorities should be:

  1. Having enough water and food in storage to last your beavers a few days - they drink 1 unit a day, and eat 2.5 servings a day, roughly. One pump can thus sustain (hours per day / time to get water) = 16/0.33 = 45 beavers on a 16-hour work shift, so ~ 35 with a bit of room for downtime/stocking up;
  2. Building an inventor's hut;
  3. Building a forester and planting as many trees as possible [enough birch to get logs for a dam and a farm, then maple because it grows the most wood per day by far];
  4. Building a dam to retain water;
  5. Setting up a farm (on land that stays watered/green during a drought, so preferably near your dam).

Beside that, expanding production requires setting up more production building, and it is usually a good idea to increase your population only when you need the workforce. Hope it helps.

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Thank you for your response. that is very helpful. I would just point out that you're talking about water level management by building dams at a very early stage of the game, with few available beavers or other resources. And without any in-game explanation or direction. And at a point where you're trying to beeline the Forester.  And as I mentioned, the game penalizes you heavily for changing anything, it lets you experiment with water wheel placement but at that early stage the loss of 50 wood, and the time involved in rebuilding, can be a problem. In Dyson Sphere Program deleting a building returns the building to your inventory, so there's no penalty for moving something once you've placed it. In Cliff Empire deleted buildings create piles of "rubble" which can be recycled into metal. In Surviving Mars you get half the materials back. In most games you usually get something back, here it's a big hit early on.

Also, you're being asked to make a judgement about optimal water flow based on nothing but visual examination. It's very difficult to say the water is moving a little faster in one spot as opposed to any other just by looking at it. And my inclination at first was to place the wheel close to where I'd planned to build production, but I found that it seems to be the other way around, you have to figure out the best spot for the wheel, somehow, without trial and error, and then plan production based on that. 

So there is a learning curve there, and my experience was that when you make mistakes in this game you really have little choice except to restart. The more mistakes and uncertainty, the more restarts. For some players this can become tedious after a while, I have no doubt the game is huge fun when you get your colony developed to a more advanced stage, but getting there requires a fair amount of patience and at this point I think it's a little daunting for a lot of players.



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Tried this again and building a dam early on did improve the water wheel power generation and drought-proofed the colony. It just would have been helpful if some of this could have been explained, it's a lot of trial of error.

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Yes, the tutorial is sorely lacking, indeed, and that makes early game more difficult than it should be. Unfortunately, tutorials are among those things that can not reasonably be polished until late developement, since core mechanics are still subject to change.

By the way, I was mistaken about water consumption: beavers drink twice per day, so I suggest one pump for 20 beavers on a 16-hour day at a minimum. Increases in productivity through spiritual fulfilment, as well as contemplating decorations and monuments, will increase the number of beavers each pump can support.

There are various topics on these forums with suggestions as to which concepts or features could make their way into the game. I imagine replying to the topics, and "liking" their opening posts, should make them more visible. Such as: Refund resources on cancel/deconstruct.

Glad you are managing, and happy wood chopping.

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The variable water wheel was added in the December update, before that it was a fixed amount (basically if the current was enough to push the wheel at all, it generated the same amount of power). They most likely did not change the tutorial regarding this difference.

They also added a feature on the measuring stick to show the current speed, though this requires science to unlock.

I have seen them respond to a post that they plan on adding resource recapture on demolishing a structure, but no estimate as to when this would be added in.


Getting a dam in place is the most important first item in my opinion (speaking as someone who likes to play on hard). Beavers can also cross on top, opening up the other side with more trees and berries without needing to unlock stairs (on the provided maps, at least).



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7 hours ago, Brakji said:

measuring stick

lol, I am imagining a beaver holding a stick in the water to gauge the depth 🙂


If there is a location where to post a short beginner guide (if not already implemented), I would be more than happy to provide some helpful advice to assist new players with the fundamental skills and knowledge of how to begin and what to focus on in the early game. I began right into hard mode which took many early-game fails before understanding many of the game designs and features - and I am still learning. I am also sure Amaterasu, Chandarin (think i spelt it right) and many other more experienced players than myself, are always happy to provide assistance.

I will start a post in the suggestions/feedback section for the devs regarding this - would be nice to have a specific area to post play guides, tips and tricks for new players starting off, for the more experienced players or even other peoples design layouts for improved work speed/productivity/aesthetics.

Edited by Mad Dokta
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Oh nice!
That link with all those guides is amazing, the link should have it's own forum space as it would be very useful to assist new players that join the forum to help provide all the much needed guidance of the game mechanics and early-game direction. I have saved that link for myself too!

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I am sorry but the BEAUTY of this game is working it all out. This game is a huge BEAUTIFUL puzzle box, that I have spent 216 hours delightedly addicted to solving. AND I have a lot to discover still.

Everything about the game is wonderfuly detailed and WORKS! I have played an awful lot of these games, and this is my favourite ever. I'm OLD. Up there with SIMCITY, although obviously for much smaller populations.

Keep playing! Discover! The sense of achievement is AMAZING!

THANK YOU, so much, Mechanistry!

(Here's one I just finished - Thousand Islands map dressed up)


Edited by zzzzYeti
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If it helps at all, this is the view in the opposite direction. This district extends to the full limit in every direction, so cannot get it all in any one screenshot. Two paths extend from each side of district center in a straight line to the limit.

Thousand Islands is a huge puzzle of space management. I cannot figure out where to use a dam or levy to do more than increase flow through waterwheels, but I'm starting again with the Iron Born, and trying harder. I LOVE the challenge. It's true. I'm addicted.

The District 1 Center is hidden directly behind the Tribute to Ingenuity. I always use 2 districts total, and play till I have 1000 beavers and about 13 well-being.

Have FUN!



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