Defensive Combat Tactics

Defending your colony from outside aggressors is one of the most essential elements of surviving in the long term.

Video showing a tutorial of defensive combat. Specifics are described below.


  • The defensive fire position (DFP), occupied by a fire team, is the core building block of entrenched position defense.
    • A defensive fire position is a designated area that can be manned by a military unit.
    • DFPs can be positioned to exploit terrain or structures to give your defenders a tactical advantage. Effective positioning and training can help you overcome a numerically superior adversary.
    • Stockpiles containing ammunition, food, and water can be located inside or near DFPs, reducing supply limitations in combat.
  • Secure area orders can also be used in defense. By deploying units to unexpected areas, they can bolster nearby forces or halt an enemy breakthrough.
  • The colony’s general alarm is used to transfer non-combatants to safe areas and to cause military personnel to man their designated posts.
  • Tamed creatures can be trained to patrol areas for defense. While generally ineffective against armed combatants, they can help in dealing with lesser opponents. Even when fighting capable adversaries, they can at least provide a momentary distraction, as it takes an instant and a bullet to dispatch even the weakest creature.

Establishing and Using Defensive Fire Positions

Defensive fire positions are area designations that are manned by military units in times of attack. You create them just like you would any other area designation and then assign a military unit to occupy the position in times of need.

To assign a military unit to occupy a DFP, click the button for showing detailed combat controls:


The combat button on the main interface.

Then select the button that looks like a fort to assign a unit to a DPF.


Icon for the DFP assignment tool.

With this button selected, view the DFP’s Z level, and click on a location within the DFP.


The DFP assignment interface.

The fire team selection interface will then appear. Choose the team you want to occupy the DFP from the list, click OK, and the assignment will be made. Now, whenever the colony’s general alarm (described below) is sounded, the chosen DFP will man its post. As a general rule, disciplined troops won’t leave this post during battle, allowing you to control positioning of your units.

Tutorial Information and Recommendations

If you watch the tutorial video at the top of this article, it demonstrates a sound strategy for employing DFPs. Effective strategies shown include:

  • Create ammunition stockpiles near your DFPs. This way, if a fire team starts running low on ammo, it doesn’t have to leave its post to get more. This is essential for sustaining your personnel in lengthy engagements, and is doubly so if you’re employing weapons with a high rate of fire, like machine guns.
  • Exploit terrain and structures to maximize your positions’ effectiveness. Building walls is a fantastic way to help make a colony defensible. It will force your enemy into chokepoints that they’ll have to fight through, and if you position your fire teams well, they can bring concentrated fire on enemies trying to secure these points.
  • Make sure your fire teams are actually trained. Simply creating a fire team, assigning it to a position, and throwing it into battle will usually yield poor results. Scratch units like this are unreliable.

Sounding the General Alarm


Location of the general alarm menu option.

When an attack on your colony begins, it sometimes becomes necessary to disrupt your colonists’ current activities and get them into shelters. For example, if you know that a barbarian raid is imminent, you probably don’t want loggers wandering around in the woods or farmers stumbling around your defensive positions, trying to plant seeds. Ideally, non-combatants will take shelter in some safe location, far from any combat, while your military personnel do their jobs.

To sound the general alarm, simply click the menu option shown in the screenshot above. It’s found under the combat controls menu at the top of the main interface.

This will cause non-combatants to proceed to safe areas. A particular person will consider its own room to be a safe area. Socialization areas are also considered safe, so NPCs near them will usually opt to take shelter there.

The general alarm will also cause your troops to man their defensive fire positions. If a soldier is part of a unit that’s not assigned to a DFP, then he’ll proceed to a safe area. It’s often useful to have a fire team or two that’s not assigned to a DFP, as they’ll guard non-combatants by virtue of occupying the same safe area.

Posted in Combat, Game Design