The 13 ‘Frostpunk’ Laws of Surviving the Storm

Jeremy Ray
Indie Games Games
Indie Games Games PC Gaming

Frostpunk isn’t the easiest city-builder. Unlike the SimCity games of the world, you’re not free to build to your heart’s content. The fun here comes from optimising heat and resources, and enacting special Frostpunk laws to handle the many challenges the game throws at you.

These laws can take you down some thematically troubling paths, but desperate times call for desperate measures. And the storm that Frostpunk has in store for you at the end of its main scenario, bringing the temperature down as far as -150 degrees Celsius, definitely qualifies as desperate measures.

So we’re here to talk about the different Frostpunk laws, and go through a few tips, to help you weather the weather.

It should be noted that there are usually multiple ways of doing things in Frostpunk. While some players will swear by automatons, others will hate them. Some may say Child Labour is overpowered, and others will say it’s better to wait for Child Shelters. In truth, almost all options have their place, and we’ll try to note that where relevant.

The Best Frostpunk Laws

Some laws are tradeoffs, and some laws are just plain good. Some are even meta. You should be passing these laws pretty much on cooldown, as long as they’re not getting in the way of promises.

You’ll find a lot of the good laws in the Adaptation tree. You’ll obviously need to come up with a solution for dead bodies, whether it’s the Cemetery or Snow Pit.

Some community favourites are:

  • Emergency Shift is a great tool to keep a workplace running for 24 hours. There’s a cost, but there are many situations in which it’s worth using.
  • Child Labour can solve your worker shortage early on, and if you’re careful with workplace conditions, you can avoid them getting sick.
  • Soup is a good fix for the early game, but you’ll need to watch that steady rise of Discontent.
  • Public House can help keep people happy when you’re working them on super-long shifts.
  • Child Shelters can lead to laws that are a great way to boost either your tech buildings or medical facilities.

Once you’re well into either Order or Faith, get your crowd-busting brutes such as the Faith Keepers to keep the Londoners in check.

When choosing laws, keep in mind that whether you opt for Order or Faith, both end with the elimination of the Hope bar. That means all of your Hope-increasing laws become redundant, while Discontent remains a factor.

The Hunter Hut Trick

Even if you’re not using Frostpunk laws to force people to work longer, it’s actually possible to give people two jobs without using laws.

When workers are close to the end of their shift, you can take them off of their job and add them into a Hunter Hut roster. They’re now working their second job — just in time for the hunters to head off for their nighttime hunt. When the hunters come back, you can take them out of that role and back onto their normal job.

It’s a bit of micromanaging, but you’ll get double the value out of these workers without ever diving into the Frostpunk laws menu. Completely up to you whether you use this tip — some might even find it a bit cheap.

As another Frostpunk tip, we’ll point out that it’s tempting to fall into a habit of using a favourite technique, which means you might not try out new things. This is one of those times when other strategies do certainly work (Hothouses are great for food), so the trick isn’t necessary. And we’re pretty sure 11 Bit Studios knows the tip, so it might be fixed soon.

Frostpunk Requires Stockpiling

The Frostpunk tip that seems to be neglected when people start this game is it’s not enough to set up a booming, bustling economy. You’re effectively required to prepare for the weather’s version of a Boss Battle.

The final storm gets so harsh, you’ll have to tell everyone to go home and wait out the cold. The soil in hothouses freezes, hunters can’t hunt, and most workplaces will be too cold to function. The only productive workers will be automatons.

Automatons walk from the Generator to their workplace
Automatons can work through the cold nights

There are two main resources you need to stockpile to ensure survival: coal and food rations. For as long as your Cookhouse is functional, you can turn any raw food into food rations as well.

Before the storm becomes visible, you should start building stockhouses and have a strategy in place of producing more than you consume. If you’re economy is automaton-heavy, you won’t need to stockpile as much coal. But food is a must.

The Law of Gathering Posts

There are many points at which we’ll tell you to not play Frostpunk like an RTS, but this is the exception. Building Gathering Posts close to resources can be great.

Math time? Math time.

15 workers on a coal pile will collect 18 coal per hour. That’s 1.2 coal per worker, per hour. 10 workers at a Gathering Post brings in 24 coal per hour. That’s 2.4 coal per worker, per hour.

Now add the fact that Gathering Posts can cover multiple resource points. There are diminishing returns from this, but the numbers are still higher. You should be optimally arranging these around your starting resources, and later on you can use them to quickly gather from multiple Coal Thumpers.

You just doubled your efficiency and you didn’t even need to use Frostpunk laws. Gathering Posts also have insulation, protecting your workers.

Organise Your City Around Heat

Start by putting your buildings with high insulation on the outside. We usually put the Hunter’s Hut on the outside of our cities. Some people go extreme and put workplaces all the way on the outside. When the crater gets full, they like to have all Houses in the middle. Much like a human or a dwelling, the crater itself looks insulated with a warm core.

Some buildings require no heat at all. They’ll function no matter what and there’s no need to be anywhere near the Generator. If you plan on filling your entire crater, you may as well put them on the outer edge, out of the way. These include:

  • Cemetary/Snow Pit
  • The Beacon
  • Stockhouses
  • Outpost Depot
  • Hunter’s Hut/Hunter’s Hangar

Shelter for your workers, medical posts, hothouses and cookhouses should all take Generator priority.

A heatmap shows which buildings are warm and which are freezing

Steam Hubs Over Generator Range

If you’re pursuing a strategy of upgrading your Generator range, you have to plan carefully so your Steam Hubs don’t overlap much. Otherwise it’s wasted space.

Going for a Steam Hub strategy is more efficient and easier to plan. When you upgrade your Generator power, the Steam Hubs are affected as well. Range and power upgrades both double coal usage. This compounds as well, making range upgrades a scary prospect.

Middle-Click to Rotate Buildings

Here’s one you won’t find in the Frostpunk tutorial.

A lot of buildings aren’t perfect squares, so you might be able to fit them “thin side in.” This can be great while making sure a building is covered by a Steam Hub, too. Just whack that sucker in sideways, and add an extra technique to Tetris your town.

You’ll experience this at the very beginning of each scenario too, as your inner ring around the Generator won’t cleanly fit your starting buildings. Getting an extra structure in to prevent sickness from snowballing could have a big effect.

The overmap in Frostpunk with areas to explore
Rush to scouts. It's worth it.

Outposts and Scouts

If you’re playing Frostpunk like a normal city-builder or RTS, you might neglect two of the more unique aspects: scouts and outposts. These can be fantastic earners for a cheap price. Two scout squads with improved sleds is enough to explore the entire map, unless you get unlucky and one of them dies to a bad event. You’ll even have enough time to regularly send them back to deliver resources, boosting your economy before they’re off again.

In the last scenario, you won’t have to worry about scouts dying, and you’ll need more scouts to cover the whole map, so plan accordingly.

An outpost at the Coal Mine, for example, will send you 800 coal per day until the storm comes. Compare that to the Coal Mine, which can provide up to 240 coal per work day and costs nearly as much to make.

In the main scenario, an outpost at Tesla City is also the only way you can get a steady supply of Steam Cores. Necessary if you want a city full of automatons, or if you want to raise your population beyond 400 or so and keep them fed.

Scouts will also travel quicker to locations they’ve already been to. Abuse this and have them head to places they already know before venturing further to explore.

Go for scouts early, and get those extra resources and the population to use them. Then, decide which outposts you want to base your economy around.

The Generator heats a circle around it

Overcharging the Generator

The Generator is designed to not be overcharged long enough to complete quests. If the Cold Homes event pops up, there’s no way you’re just going to be able to overcharge for the full two days.

That said, there’s no reason to leave it idle. It’s a free resource. Even if you’re just increasing homes from a “liveable” temperature to “comfortable,” it reduces chance of sickness.

Just make sure you keep an eye on the incoming weather, and always have a full overcharge meter when a two-tier drop in temperature is coming.

A warning event requires a sacrifice to keep the Generator working
Be careful, after a few warnings Frostpunk will just let your Generator explode

Wall Drills

Keeping with the theme of trying out new things that wouldn’t normally be in an RTS, Wall Drills can actually be the most efficient method of harvesting wood.

It seems counterintuitive. Surely, the trees out in the open are easiest to get to? But numerically, you’ll get more from breaking into the ice around you and peeling out the frozen trunks you find there. Go figure.

Mind you, the upgrade path for Wall Drills isn’t as robust as the efficiency upgrades for Sawmills. Wall Drills are still better, but this varies by scenario — if your scenario only has one site available for a Wall Drill, it might be better to choose the Sawmill path.

Redesign Your Houses

If you can, reseaching the House Redesign tech greatly decreases the cost of mass upgrading to Houses. It’s very, very, worth it.

This does of course involve researching the next tier on the tech tree. But the benefits outweigh the cost so drastically, we found ourselves always going up an extra tier, even if we have to save for it. It reduces the cost of Houses from 25 wood and 15 steel, to a negligible 15 wood and 5 steel.

That basically guarantees everyone will be in Houses before the storm comes.

An event demands more sickbeds or a new law
The UI can sometimes make it hard to see relevant info

Calculate Your Promises

When the event UI comes up, it’s hard to see underlying UI elements like how many people are hungry, or what the temperature will be like tomorrow. Make sure you’re not promising anything without all of the info you need.

You can close the event by clicking outside of it. Have a look at all the relevant factors. If you’re being asked to heat homes, you’ll want to know if it’ll be 20 degrees colder within that timeframe. If there are riots over food, have a look at your economy and see if you can meet demand after a day.

If you’ve got your brute squad researched, sometimes the best option is just to disperse the crowd. These events have a timer, so you might even be able to enact a law, research a tech, or build the relevant building before they expire.

Laws Can Hinder Food Consumption

Got people who won’t eat? There are more than a few screenshots floating around the internet of the hungry/starving icons displaying while there are clearly enough food rations to go ’round.

This is actually not a bug. Frostpunk simulates each person’s life, right down to their work hours, their sleeping location, and their routine walk up to the Cookhouse to get fed. If that citizen is somehow kept from going to the Cookhouse, they’re going to starve.

You can click on those hungry/starving icons to check that they’re not being overworked or otherwise kept from going to get their food. It’ll give you information on everyone who is hungry or starving, and you can then click on each citizen to see if they’re in a facility with an emergency 24-hour shift, or something similar.

Another possible solution is the Frostpunk law Field Kitchen, which keeps workers fed close to their workplaces.

There are quests that require you to keep people fed, and it can be incredibly annoying to fail the quest because someone seemingly refused to eat. This is a quick, easy fix.

We hope that gives you a few good tricks and tips to use when choosing Frostpunk laws and attempting to survive the storm. Once you’ve mastered the main scenario, be sure to check out the achievements. They’re a lot more interesting and challenging than in most games.

Jeremy Ray
Managing Editor at FANDOM. Decade-long games critic and esports aficionado. Started in competitive Counter-Strike, then moved into broadcast, online, print and interpretative pantomime. You merely adopted the lag. I was born in it.
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