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Dawn of Man - title

There was a surprise indie hit on Steam a few months back. The prehistoric city-builder / management sim Dawn of Man saw lots of buzz around its release date and sold well beyond the developers' expectations. Did you buy it? Is it on your radar, but you haven't purchased it yet? Have no idea what Dawn of Man is? Well, it's a pretty good indie game that is well worth a look for those into city-builders and management sims. If you liked Banished (and you should have liked Banished if you played it), then I would say you owe it to yourself to give Dawn of Man a look.

I released an early version of this guide (in video form) to my Patreon backers.

Dawn of Man can be a difficult game to figure out, especially as you work your way into the middle sections of the game where the options available to you suddenly explode into a myriad of possibilities. Some of these difficulties can be traced back to the game having a sometimes-lackluster U.I. that makes some of the management more difficult than it needs to be. Other difficulties are simply things that you have to experiment with to figure out.

Well, I've done a bit of experimenting, and am happy to offer some of my observations. I hope these tips will help you to get into Dawn of Man with less of the headaches and growing pains that I experienced, so that you can get to enjoying this surprise indie hit more quickly.

Set resource limits

Before going into the other tips, I want to recommend that you tweak some of the resource limits. You can access resource limits for the relevant resources from any production or storage buildings. You can also access a global menu of all resource limits by clicking the "Manage" button, and then the "Limits" button. This panel can also be opened by the F4 quick key.

Food resources should probably always be set to infinity. If you are harvesting too much food and it's decaying before your people can eat it, then (instead of reducing the food limits) you should reduce the number of people working in food-collecting work areas.

Set your resource limits to stock extra weapons and clothing, and decrease the animal limits.

I suggest that you increase the limits for clothing and weapons to 125% of the population. This ensures that you have enough clothes and weapons to equip any new population that joins your settlement, while still having some spare to trade away. When you reach the neolithic or copper age, you can reduce the limits of skin and leather clothing, since everyone will transition to cotton and wool clothes.

On the other end of the spectrum, I also suggest you decrease the limits of all animals to two. This will prevent your domesticated animal population from exploding out of control and eating all your hay. The slaughtered animals will also provide your population with some extra food. As your farming capacity grows, you can increase the animal limits accordingly.

Adjust the other resource limits as necessary as your population and needs grow.

Minimize the distance to work areas

Work areas are critical to managing larger settlements. In the beginning of the game, with a half-dozen people to manage, it's easy enough to give everyone specific orders and keep track of what they are all doing. When you get over 50 population, however, you're probably going to need work areas. You can place work areas in places of the map to allow your villagers to automatically work those areas to collect resources and bring them back to your storage buildings. Don't forget that you can click 'C' or 'Z' to change the size of the work area to cover more ground, and that you can change the number of workers assigned and the limits of how many resources can be collected!

Keep work areas as close to your settlement as possible to reduce the risk of being mauled in transit.

It's best to try to keep your work areas near your settlement. This reduces the distance your villagers will have to walk. This not only saves time and improves efficiency, but it also reduces the likelihood of a villager being mauled by a bear or wolf on the trek back and forth. As you expand your settlement, you should try to keep sources of renewable resources, such as trees, berries, nuts, etc. close to your settlement. Don't cut these resources down. Try to grow your settlement in other directions so that you can keep a close, handy source of food and wood nearby. I'm not entirely certain, but I believe that leaving forests uncut may also attract more animals, so having a forest in your backyard means more animals will come to you.

Stagger the production of your sledges

Sledges break after a time.

Keeping a large amount of sledges (and other transportation devices) will help your villagers to carry more, reducing the number of lengthy trips that they'll have to take. Build a lot of sledges! Having 1 sledge for every 3 or 5 people in your settlement might seem like overkill, but it isn't.

Sledges (and other transportation devices) have a limited lifespan. They will eventually break after excessive use. As such, I recommend that you stagger the production of sledges. This way, when they start breaking, they won't all break at once, and you'll still have plenty of usable sledges while you wait for replacements to be constructed.

Micro-manage your hunting parties for maximum efficiency

This brings me to me next piece of advice: how to manage your hunting parties. I cannot stress this next point enough:

AVOID USING HUNTING AREAS!

Seriously, hunting areas suck. Work areas work great in general, but the hunting areas are probably the most inefficient things in the entire game. The core problem is that sending a single hunter out to hunt almost anything is a bad idea. Many animals will run away and can outrun a person. Sometimes you'll get lucky, but it's a real crap shoot.

Workers go to hunting areas one-at-a-time, resulting in lots of prey escaping.

The hunters that go automatically to a hunting area almost always wander out one-at-a-time and then either fail to catch the animal altogether, don't have enough inventory space to carry all the meat and skins back, or get themselves killed by an errant bear or wolf during the long trek back to camp. By the middle of the game, animals also seem to have learned to stay away from humans, so they spawn further and further away from my camp and seem to become more skittish. I've also seen hunters die while they're out hunting because they chase prey for so long, that they don't have time to get back to camp before starving to death or dying of dehydration.

You can make up for these deficiencies of A.I. by micro-managing your hunting parties. It's tedious, but it will save you a lot of trouble later down the road.

You can hold the 'H' key while clicking-and-dragging over your settlement to only select people who have hunting weapons (spears, slings, bows, etc.). Use this to select a group of people to send out on a hunting expedition. I recommend sending out hunting parties of no less than 3 villagers. If you have the manpower to spare, I suggest sending groups as large as 6 or 7 hunters so that you can hunt and kill multiple large prey animals. Have them all meetup at a waypoint, and then send them all towards the prey as a single group.

Hold the 'H' key when dragging over a group of people to select only those with weapons.

As you approach your prey, pause the game and cancel the hunt task (if you had assigned it). Then select each of your hunters one or two at a time and try to manually position them in order to surround the animal (or animals) that you are trying to hunt. Creating a triangle around the prey should be sufficient to block off its escape routes. Once all 3 hunters are in position, drag to select them all, and double-click on the target to order the group to hunt it.

If the animal runs from the first hunter, then it should hopefully run right into the waiting spear or bow or another hunter! With multiple hunters throwing spears or shooting arrows, you should have no trouble taking down the animal before it runs past and escapes. Ideally, you want to kill the animal before any of your hunters has to chase it down, as running will quickly drain your people's stamina.

You should micro-manage your hunters to hunt in groups and surround the prey.

If you can pin the animal against a rock outcropping, lake, or river, then even better. If the animal has to swim to get away, then you should be easily able to kill it before it swims out of range of your throwing spears and arrows. Whatever you do, do NOT approach the prey from across a river! Your hunters will have to swim, which will prevent them from attacking while the prey runs away.

Do not attack from across a river.

When hunting animals that fight back (orange or red in "primal vision"), surrounding them is less important. The animal will likely repeatedly attack the first hunter who attacks it, rather than running away. If you have more than 3 hunters with the best weapons available, they should easily take down most prey before the animal can kill any of the hunters. For stronger animals (like mammoths), you should probably have 5 or 6 hunters.

In fact, once you have the manpower and weapons available, you should focus on hunting dangerous prey whenever possible. Adult aurochs, bears, and mammoths will all stand their ground and fight back (in my experience), and provide a lot of meat, skins, and bone resources. Once you have the capability to go after such large game without unduly risking the lives of your hunters, don't even bother trying to chase down the more nimble and skittish deer and pigs anymore.

Be opportunistic

Occassionally, you might notice a group of animals wandering through you settlement, or crossing through a route that is heavily trafficed by your people. If this happens, by all means, select a group of people and go ahead and kill the animals. This will provide easy food and skins.

If you happen to see an animal swimming across a lake or river, that is also a perfect opportunity to kill it. If you have one or more people armed with weapons at the shore where the animal is swimming to, then you can quickly select them and order them to hunt the animal. Swimming animals do not turn around, and you should be able to kill it by the time it makes it to shore.

Ambush swimming animals as they approach the shore.

Do not rush the game

It might be tempting to research new knowledge whenever you have enough points to do so. Generally, in the early stages of the game, this is a good idea, as each new technology will unlock something valuable. However, as you get into the neolithic era and beyond, it might be wise to pace yourself.

The game kind of explodes with content in the neolithic and bronze age, and it can be difficult to keep up with all the new stuff you've unlocked: farming, animal domestication, fortifications, mining, and so forth. If you try to do all of this stuff at once, as soon as it's available, you'll likely overload your workers and get yourself caught in a downward spiral of excessive workloads.

Building too much too fast can create a down-ward spiral of over-worked villagers.

Additionally, progressing through the eras changes the game. Animals such as the wholly mammoth and wholly rhino will go extinct during the bronze age. These animals are very big game that provide a lot of food and skins. Losing access to them by teching too fast will force you to have to hunt more, smaller game.

More importantly, the frequency and destructiveness of raider attacks will increase as you progress the game. There will be more on this later.

Do not domesticate too many animals too soon

Additionally, you don't want to rush to get a bunch of domesticated animals right away.

You'll unlock dog domestication very early in the game. The dogs are low maintenance. You don't really have to do anything extra to maintain them. The low maintenance of the dogs can lull you into a false sense of food security with the larger stock and pack animals.

Animals eat a lot of hay.

Stock and pack animals consume a lot of food! After you research Thatching, you'll need that hay for almost everything that you build. Make sure you have plenty of excess hay before you capture and domesticate any animals! You should have a pretty robust farming infrastructure with lots of stockpiled food and hay before you attempt to start capturing goats, sheep, pigs, cows, donkeys, or horses.

If you have at least 1 male and 1 female of a species, then they will also periodically reproduce. I recommend only keeping 1 female animal at first. You can keep multiple males, but slaughter any other female animals so that they don't reproduce out of control and eat all of your crops.

Rotate your crops

Speaking of crops, you should take advantage of the fact that you know more than your neolithic farmers do. Even though they shouldn't be learning how to rotate their crops for thousands of years, doesn't mean that you should do so. Do not plant a crop adjacent to another field of the same crop. Planting the same crop in adjacent fields increases the risk that a blight may spread to an adjacent field.

Ideally, you should also try to alternate your fields between crops that grow in different seasons. The cereal crops (like barley and emmer) are planted in the spring, grow in the summer, and are harvested in the fall. The bean or pod crops (like peas and lentils) are planted in the winter, grow in the spring, and are harvested in the summer.

Blights can spread to adjacent crop fields.

If you plant a cereal crop in one field, then a pod crop in the field adjacent, the plants will be growing and harvested in different seasons. They will thus be much less likely to spread a blight to each other. In fact, I'm not even sure if cereal crops can spread blight to a pod crop (or vice-versa). I've yet to see it happen in-game.

That being said, this tip is still useful because having crops that are planted and harvested in different seasons reduces the seasonal strain on your workers. You can spread that work out over multiple seasons, instead of having to stop everything else in order to make everyone work the fields in spring and fall.

Defend yourself!

Raiders will become more and more prolific as you advance through the eras. Make sure you have adequate defenses. Don't advance to a new era unless you have most (if not all) of your population equipped with the best weapons available in the current era.

Once you unlock fortifications (in the neolithic era), you should fortify your settlement ASAP. Watchtowers may seem like the way to go, but you should really focus on surrounding your town with palisades and building defense platforms along the inside.

Watchtowers are very weak by themselves. Defend your village with walls, defense platforms, and a well-armed populace.

Watchtowers are kind of crap. I've seen as few as 2 or 3 raiders take down a watchtower without the watchtower killing any of the raiders. Watchtowers are still worth having, but you'll have to cluster them in order to make them worthwhile. Build 2 or 3 with overlapping ranges near your gates or other chokepoints.

Your best defense against raiders is an armed populace. Use the horn to call everyone back to the village, lock the gates, and then let your villagers barrage the raiders with arrows and spears from the defense platforms behind the walls. You should be fine.

Wait for a sale

This last one should be pretty much self-explanatory. Periodically, a trader will show up with various goods that you can barter for. These traders each have a "commission" that determines how much of a mark-up their goods cost. The higher the commission, the more they will demand in barter for their goods.

Try to avoid bartering with the high commission traders unless you are desperate for the resources they are offering. Especially avoid buying very expensive items like a new technology or an animal. Instead, try waiting for the low or average-commission trader to come by. They may not have the same items, but you'll still get a better deal.

Avoid buying expensive items from traders with a high commission.

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Welcome to Mega Bears Fan's blog, and thanks for visiting! This blog is mostly dedicated to game reviews, strategies, and analysis of my favorite games. I also talk about my other interests, like football, science and technology, movies, and so on. Feel free to read more about the blog.

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