They Are Billions Survival Guide

6 months ago by Ian Dransfield

Conquering this zombie RTS takes time, patience, and oh yes: lots of walls.

You’re not going to outlast the walkers in They Are Billions by re-teaching them their humanity, so no Day of the Dead/Bub situations. You’re not going to get out of this by simply waiting around for the infected to die, so no 28 Days Later/’oh wait they’re not really zombies’ moment.

See, in They Are Billions you have to adopt the ‘stay around way past your welcome’ route of beating a zombie apocalypse, so it’s the Walking Dead/’why hasn’t it been cancelled yet?’ approach. Glad we could clear that up.

You enter this world with very little, and from it you have to build, thrive, and survive. But it’s hard. It will take multiple attempts just to understand what the hell is going on. Your new best friends will be named Trial and Error. You might even turn to a guide online to help you through the tough nights and... more nights. And if that’s the case, you’ve come to the right place – here are some tips for how to last that little bit longer in the They Are Billions.

Try again, take it easy

Seriously, you will fail quite a lot at They Are Billions when you’re first getting into it. But every time you fail, there’s a reason – and with every reason is a way to not let it happen next time. Also, while it might not be the way of the edgelords on the internets, there is another way you can train yourself up to become a person in charge of a post-apocalyptic community that isn’t dead: play it on easy.

Sure, that’s just made plenty of you shudder in disgust, and none of us want to admit we still keep the training wheels on from time to time. But They Are Billions is the kind of game that rewards you when you know what you’re doing, and to learn what you’re doing, you’re going to need to get things to take it a little bit easier on you. Don’t be ashamed, it’s all a part of the joy of learning.

All walls must (not) fall

Build walls. Build wooden walls at first, and when you unlock them, build stone walls. Find where you’re comfortable with your township currently expanding to, and build a wall there. Then, when that wall’s done, build another wall right next to it. Yes, double-walls. Anybody who’s played They Are Billions and seen the havoc that can be wreaked upon an unsuspecting society rebuilder is simultaneously nodding their head and shuddering. Build. Walls.

Stay patient

The pace of They Are Billions can take you aback – from sedate, almost plodding nothingness to instant onset terror as... well, billions of undead decide to set up a rotting flashmob outside your walls (remember to build walls). And who’s going to tell them flashmobs have’t been a thing for a decade now? Not you. No, you’re going to use the power of the space bar to pause the action, have a breather, and figure out how to proceed.

You’re looking at a situation like, say, FTL Faster Than Light here, wherein a pause does stop everything, but you can still move about, check up on things and issue orders. Don’t just hit the space bar when you’re panicked, either – get in the habit of stop-starting They Are Billions from your very first game. Trust us, it helps manage the huge bouts of panic.

Making use of combat units

There are a few different combat units available to you in They Are Billions, but by far the most practical of the bunch is the rangers. They’re your scout units, so are quick on their feet, but in numbers are very useful at picking off zombies one by one, or in small groups. Use your rangers to look for free resources on the map, natural choke points, and zombie masses. Just... try not to trigger a horde, or your ranger troupe will be undead before they hit the ground.

Snipers are great for defence on towers, though their weapons are very loud and so can attract more zombies, while more expensive/special units like Thanatos and titans are delightful luxuries to have and can definitely swing more than a few battles in your favour. Just remember they are luxuries. And while they’re not great for mobility or really anything much, don’t overlook basic soldiers when it comes to having a static unit of half a dozen troops defending a weak point. Their guns do make a difference.

More walls still must (not) fall

In case you weren’t paying attention before, here’s a friendly reminder that you should be building double-thick walls to set up a man-made perimeter for your village. You should also think about introducing a layer system – think how medieval castles had an inner and outer wall to improve defence and slow down attackers. Sure, it means some of your structures will be located in what is essentially the First To Die zone, but hey – nobody said you had to be nice while you were trying to save what’s left of humanity.

Nature’s defense

Natural choke points pop up all over the map in the They Are Billions, thanks to the simple fact zombies can’t pass through trees, over mountains, or swim. As such, any land between, say, a forest and a mountain, is what we call a natural choke point. If zombies come from that direction, they can only come through that part of the map.

While your plans and defences on choke points will change as your town grows, it’s a solid tactic to set up a good mix of manned towers, defence towers and – of course – walls in these areas. The more you can funnel the undead, the more control over the situation you have. And if you’re in control while playing They Are Billions, well... actually, you’ll never be in control. Sorry. But taking advantage of nature’s bounty might make you feel like you are, and that’s almost as good.

Human resources, also wood and stuff

What would an RTS be without the need to gather things in order to be able to make things that can then power other things? Nothing, that’s what. In They Are Billions you need gold, wood, stone, iron, food, oil (later in the game), power, and people. Aside from oil, there is no way you’re going to get through the early stages without paying attention, and making sure you have enough of, all of the resources in play.

Start by building cottages for more workers, then look at setting up a food supply with a hunter’s cabin or a fishing hut (placed by the woods or next to water, respectively). Any stone, iron or gold seams in the area need a quarry, and mills (later power stations) need to come into play to power everything. As new tech is unlocked, you’ll need to integrate it well – a good plan is to leave a gap big enough to build a market in the centre of your town, so when it’s unlocked you can slap it right in and reap the money/food-saving rewards it reaps.

It sounds like a lot to keep track of – and it is – but it’s also straightforward, if not actually easy to juggle, and after a few playthroughs you’ll definitely have the hang of it. Hence the earlier recommendation to play and play and play again. Oh, and don’t forget to build Tesla Towers to expand your territory. It can be easy to miss that, at least initially.

A few more walls must (also (not)) fall

It might sound like a hilarious joke now to bring up walls for a third time, but really it can’t be stressed enough just how important they are to your chances of survival in They Are Billions. Build walls, double them up, operate in a concentric circle layer system, and stock up on towers and other such defences across the length and breadth of your boundaries. Every defence tower should overlap its attack zone with another, there should be no gaps, and if there’s not a wall there, you should probably build a wall. Build walls.

Build an empire – carefully

It’s tempting to just curl up into a ball and wait to die in They Are Billions, especially if your personality skews a certain way. But if you do that, you will lose – because while you’re trying to play the defence card, you’re also absolutely required to expand and claim land as your own. The problem comes in the fact that, when you expand, you risk triggering a few zombies rushing you – or an entire horde descending.

As such, you should always be cautious – if not outright afraid – when expanding. Keep rangers at hand to push back against any minor incursions, and be ready to abandon your expansion plans and fall back to a defensive position should you trigger something you really didn’t want to trigger. If you’ve been building your staggered borders of walls as you go, then the fallback option should be easy enough. Don’t give up, be smart and careful about it, and make this post-apocalyptic, unliveable wasteland an empire to be proud of. Or at least one to be slightly less scared of.