They Are Billions, the new zombie survival steampunk RTS that’s turning into a Twitch streaming sensation, is still in Steam Early Access — but if you’re digging into this tough top-down strategy game for the first time, it helps to get a few pointers. The apocalypse can’t survive itself, and it’s up to your management skills to topple the endless undead that hunger for the human flesh hidden behind your walls.
For this beginner’s guide, we’re going to provide 7 useful tips for beginners that will help you get started on your journey. Consider the following tips as general guidelines to keep in mind, but there are many, many strategies that will work for you. If you’re really struggling, it might also be a good idea to lower the difficulty and get familiar with the game in a lower-stakes environment, then you can increase the intensity when you’re ready for new challenges.
#1: Don’t Wall Yourself In — Expand!
Walls are incredibly useful, and you’ll need plenty of walls (and towers) to survive for long in They Are Billions, but early on you might be tempted to surround your settlement with walls. Don’t do it! Explore, expand, and look for better choke points you can use. The maps are surprisingly contained, and if it looks like you’re in an open field, you may just be in a large pocket of land.
A soldier and a few rangers should be able to defend your early colony well. Even when you create defenses, remember that soldiers are your most important resource, and there’s no reason to rush into expensive towers or technologies. You don’t want to waste resources building towers in the center of your colony that won’t ever see action later in the game after you’ve expanded.
The amount of room in your colony is critical. The more room you have, the more houses you can build, then farms, then quarries and mills. You’ll need all the resources (and workers) you can get to survive.
#2: Rangers For Exploring, Snipers For Clearing
Early in the game, you’ll want to use Rangers to explore and Soldiers for defending. Rangers kill zombies silently, while Soldiers make noise — keep Soldiers near your base for defense, and send out Rangers to track down new chokepoints, resources, or Villages of Doom. The villages (VODs) are incredibly dangerous locations that spawn swarms of zombies. Finding these locations is critical.
When you’re up and running, it’s best to ditch the Soldiers and use Snipers exclusively. Snipers have long range, move slow, but kill with precision. Move them carefully so they’re not overwhelmed, and they can handily clear hordes and special infected. They’re the best fighters in the game, and you can coast on Snipers for most of the session — it isn’t until the final raid that you’ll want to upgrade.
#3: Manage Your Resources
There are two important buildings you’ll want to use to make the most out of your resources — the warehouse and the market. Build the warehouse so it collects resources from nearby resource generating buildings — things like farms, quarries and mills. All the resources will be sent to the warehouse, so you can keep plenty on hand.
Then there’s the market. Build markets near houses — the more houses a market encompasses, the better. A market will sell excess resources, generating gold that you’ll need for the best end-game towers and units.
#4: Veterans Are Everything
Snipers are great, but what makes them unstoppable is veterancy. The more kills a unit scores, the better that unit will become. Upgrading your Snipers and making sure they don’t die is critical to victory. You’ll want to kite (run away) from incoming zombies, and use Snipers at fallback points to defend against unexpected enemies. Keeping your troops alive outside the wall is so important.
Seriously, Snipers becoming veterans is so important. It might be the most important aspect of the game right now. When Snipers upgrade, they shoot faster, meaning they’ll kill hordes faster and can handle greater groups of enemies. Rangers are pretty good veterans too.
#5: Don’t Upgrade Until You Have To
This is a basic tip, but it goes hand-in-hand with resource management. There’s no reason to upgrade houses, mills, or other structures until you’ve run out of room. Yes, upgraded buildings provide double the benefits, but the upkeep and general cost skyrockets. It’s much more worthwhile to just build more of these buildings.
Same goes for unlocking valuable Thanatos units of Executor towers. Units like Titans are cool, but they’re only useful when the end-game horde appears. Wait until about Day 80.
#6: Clear Villages of Doom Early
As stated earlier, Villages of Doom are a huge problem for early colonies. A slow trickle of zombies will march on your colony, generated from these villages. When you approach, hordes and special infected will pour out, so only go in when you’ve got a good group of Snipers to handle the infected. Clearing these villages out and destroying the structures won’t just lower the overall volume of zombies attacking your base, it will also give you less to contend with when the final raid hits.
#7: Prepare For The Final Raid
After a set amount of time, a massive horde of undead will attack your colony from all sides. At this point, you’ll need to be prepared. Executor Towers and other defensive structures will help, but a two unit combo is enough to handle almost any attack.
NOTE: The final raid will hit on Day 92. Start building Executor Towers and other end-game units around Day 80 so you’ll be ready.
Snipers and Thanatos troopers are enough to defeat any raid. Snipers can slaughter special infected behind walls, while Thanatos’ explosive blasts can destroy hordes with ease. Build strong stone walls at the final chokepoint — it helps to build two double-layered walls — and bunker down with Snipers and Thanatos to survive almost anything.
Naturally, the game is going to change before the full release, but for now these strategies are designed to help new players get a handle on the game. Don’t take all of these tips too literally! Instead, learn to survive, then create your own strategies for a healthy colony.