They Are Billions Beginner Strategy Guide: 15 Tips For A Strong Start

They Are Billions isn't easy, but no fun RTS ever is.
They Are Billions isn't easy, but no fun RTS ever is. NUMANTIAN GAMES

They Are Billions is hard. Like, REALLY hard. The early access title combines RTS and zombies for a game that sounds like a genre retread but magically morphs into an addictive, compulsively playable joy. But it is hard (did I mention that?) to get through the first few hours without feeling overwhelmed. Fortunately, I have some They Are Billions tips for you. Unfortunately, I don’t have any advice for the final battle on anything resembling a real difficulty setting. Still, you can learn a lot from my 40+ hours of trial and error and get your colony started right. This is part They Are Billions tips and part beginner’s guide, designed to help you navigate the early game so you don’t lose your whole colony to one rogue zombie or watch your defenses shattered by the first wave.

Your early set ups are vulnerable to even just one single zombie.
Your early set ups are vulnerable to even just one single zombie. Numantian Games

They Are Billions Tips - Early Game Strategies

First off, play on lower difficulty settings. There’s no shame in it. The game is tough and there’s plenty of challenge to be had on maps with fewer zombies and extra turns until you get the hang of it.

One of my favorite things about They Are Billions is the way the game upends the standard RTS playbook of “scout and scout and scout for shit.” If you’ve ever played any Age of Empires or Starcraft , you know what I mean, typically the priority is removing the fog of war from the map by sending some low level unit into the abyss to find resources. Because of ever-present zombie hordes, that's not really an option. You have to be smarter.

For starters, the initial five units (four rangers and one soldier) are your ONLY defense for quite some time. Getting a barracks up and running requires new colonists, extra energy and a stone quarry. This isn’t happening in the first few clicks. So you need to protect your rookie squad. Keep your soldier on a patrol route that covers your colonists’ tents and the tesla coils you need to build to expand your territory (think pylons from Starcraft ).

Meanwhile, squad your rangers and slowly explore the area around you to find choke points in the terrain. If you encounter a horde (you will) let your rangers stand back and kill zombies at a distance. More will amble towards the commotion and you can grind through a crowd safely. Don’t try to exterminate every one, you only want to free up enough space so you can build a wall or gate across a choke point. Water, trees and mountains are all natural barriers so look to extend from them for an easier set up to defend. Once a wall is up, build a wooden tower and station one ranger in it. Ignore your walls and they’ll be swamped before you know it. One ranger killing stuff slowly is usually enough to keep your borders safe early on.

Gathering resources is essential, but exploration is dangerous.
Gathering resources is essential, but exploration is dangerous. Numantian Games

They Are Billions Tips: Resource Management

Once you’ve carved out a little chunk of territory, the next step is squeezing out every precious drop of usefulness. They Are Billions lends itself to density, a clever liability in a game where all it takes is one unnoticed zombie to wreak havoc on a population. It is wise to upgrade buildings often, instead of building more of the lesser ones. If you don’t, you’ll quickly find yourself having to demolish dwellings (which depletes your workforce) to make space for a new Foundry or Mill.

Dwellings provide workers and gold, so upgrade them often by researching at workshops. In the short-term, if a lack of workers prevents you from building something new, you should check your resources. Are any of them at or near their max? If so, pause one of your quarries or sawmills to free up the manpower. Then see if you can upgrade a dwelling or build new ones. Keep dwellings and production buildings, close together. Upgrades like Banks and Warehouses cast an AoE buff to boost production. A well-placed market can cut the food requirements of most of your dwellings too, so invest in one before making the jump from cottages to stone houses.

The backbone of dwellings is food. Fisheries and hunting tents make a good start, but nothing beats a farm. While scouting, put a premium on at least one grassy area. Farms can offer triple the output of a good fishery or tent, and also have the potential for an upgrade. This means more food without sacrificing real estate. You’re also going to need a healthy population to build the army protecting you from the undead.

The best defense is a good defense.
The best defense is a good defense. Numantian Games

They Are Billions Tips: Defense

The biggest challenge for building good defenses is figuring out which of your initial choke points will be the busiest. It should become clear early on which area will see the most regular zombie attacks, but don’t ignore your other borders. The game sends large waves of zombies from random directions, so make sure to have a squad of support troops ready to run to your weaker areas to provide support. Pulling troops from guard towers makes sense early on too, since most attacks only come from one direction. And once a soldier earns a veteran status by working a busy post, rotate him out for a rookie so you can grind up as many troops as possible.

As your colony increases in size, don’t destroy old fortifications. Layers of defense and fallback positions are crucial for managing large hordes. I recommend keeping at least one sniper per tower too, as their extended range can offer substantial interior defense, even if you’ve built beyond their original sightlines. Later in the game, you will be able to build Lucifers (flamethrower guys) and Thanatos (rocket launcher guys), both great crowd control options. Lucifer units cant fire over walls, so must be positioned outside gates. Keep an eye on their health during horde attacks and pull them in before they die. Thanatos units should Hold Position, with targeting set to High Priority. Since they do splash damage, they’ll still clear out weaker zombies around some of the tougher units that emerge later in the game. Your ballista and executor towers should also be set to High Priority targets for this reason.

Beyond these basic tips, the key to success in They Are Billions is to remain vigilant and keep expanding. There is a HUGE difference in size between the standard horde attacks and the final horde. So while you may have a pretty secure colony that’s weathering hordes easily, you are going to need a lot more to beat the game, even on an average difficulty setting. This is a very hard game but, fortunately, it’s also very fun.

Have you managed to survive the final horde in They Are Billions? Have any sweet tips of your own? Let us know in the comments!

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