Curious about something in the game? Type in its name! -->  

Survival Guide - Dust Settles: Civilian Population

Table of Contents:

I. Purpose
II. Starting Values
III. Population Costs
IV. Increasing Population
   A. Recruiting
   B. Aid
   C. Random Survivors
V. Losing Population
   A. Casting Out
   B. Food Deficits
   C. Attacks
   D. Radiation, Injury, and Waste Overflow
   E. Communications Deficits
VI. Types of Assignments


Your population is your most important resource throughout the game. Without people you cannot do anything at all. You will need people to build, people to staff, people to explore, people to recruit, and people to do everything else that you can do in this game. The people in your camp are very valuable resources that you will have to use wisely.

Back to Top

Starting Values:

Your starting population will differ according to what class you choose. Nerds will only start with two people, you and a friend. Scouts will start with three people. Goofballs will start with four people. Populars, living up to their class, will start with five people. These different starting values are balanced by other factors, such as excess shelter space to start with and fewer mouths to feed for lower starting pop, so you won't want to base your class decision solely on starting population. Check out all of the different advantages and disadvantages before you choose to make sure you are making an informed decision.

Back to Top

Population Costs:

There are costs associated with your population that you should be aware of. When you begin, your population will start with rations of 1 meal per day. This means that each person in your camp will consume 1 unit of food each day. You can increase the number of meals that your people get through the Peoples page and enjoy the associate morale increase, but make sure that you can afford to feed your people that many food units per day. If you do not feed your people then they will eventually leave see below for more details.

Your people will also have a disposables cost. It will cost you 1 disposable for every 4 people. This can be decreased by researching Recycling

Salary Demand Warning

Later on in the game, your people will begin to want more than just food for their daily work. You will have to start paying all members of your military and all members of your population that have an assignement on the day the pay requirement hits. This means that your explorers and recruiters will require payment as well. You won't have to worry about this until about turn 1000 though. At around turn 800 you will see the message above letting you know that your people will require payment soon. Just before turn 1000, you will get a sort of final warning message so that you won't miss your first payment (and then have 14 days of poor morale). On turn 1000, the message will be replaced with a message telling you how many people want to be paid and how much. You will use the drop-down box under this message to set their salary. You will receive other warnings just before turns 2000 and 3000 reminding you that your people will be wanting a pay increase soon. You can decrease the amount you have to pay as salary by researching Marketing. It will never drop to zero, though.

Salary Selection Options

Back to Top

Increasing Population:

Throughout the game one of the most important things you will do with your population is increase it. You will do this through multiple means, each of which is explained more fully below.

Back to Top


This is the standard way to increase your population. From the very beginning of the game, you can send out at least one member of your camp and come back with at least one survivor. The more people you can send out at a time the more luck you will have bringing back survivors. Recruiting is random, though, so you will see different results each time, even if you send out the same number of recruiters. You can increase the success of your recruiting missions by using busses and by researching tracking and vehicle transport.

Back to Top


Though any aid caravan that sets out will be subject to attack by camps in an enemy alliance as well as by random mercenaries, your camp's population can be increased by sending population from camp to camp. The amount of population that can be sent from one camp to another is also limited. The primary purpose of aiding a camp with population is to help a new alliance member or a recently attacked alliance member build up. You cannot aid a camp with population if they are not allied with you for at least 24 hours.

Back to Top

Random Survivors:

Occasionally when you get your end-turn report, you will get a message telling you that a random group of survivors passed near your camp. Whenever a group like this passes your camp, some of them may stay as long as you have a few shelter spaces available. Depending upon how many extra spaces you have, you could end up with only a few staying or the entire group. These people will be found in groups of anywhere from 20 to a little over 100, so some of the large groups may be a little hard to take in or plan for in the beginning, but having extra shelter around is never a bad idea.

Back to Top

Losing Population:

Just as in real life, you will have times that you could or will lose people. People could become ill, get lost, leave, or just become too overwhelming. There are a few ways that you can lose people as explained below.

Back to Top

Casting Out:

Sometimes you can get completely overwhelmed by your population and just need to send some away. You can cast out as many as 20 people at a time using the Peoples page if you need to relieve a bit of the strain. You should think carefully before you send these people away, since it might take awhile to get them back.

Back to Top

Food Deficits:

Keeping enough food to feed your population is very important. If you are unable to produce enough or find enough food for your population, then they will eat what is in your storage. Once you have no food left in storage, you population will stick around for 3 days. After 3 days with no food, any people not being fed will leave. If the number of people going without food is high enough, you will lose only a portion, but this loss will continue until you are able to feed the population you have.

Back to Top


Just as you can attack someone else to kill their population, your camp can be attacked. Depending on how your defenses compare to their attack, you could lose population. You will lose population in any battle that results in the death of your military, but you could also end up losing civilians. The best thing to do is keep a well trained, highly competent army for your first line of defense. Support that with a strong wall, plenty of militia and defensive structures, and the appropriate research, and you should be fine. To guard against special forces you should keep an adequate supply of light posts, armed militia, and staffed guard towers.

Back to Top

Radiation, Injury, and Waste Overflow:

The main thing that has put you and your people in their current position was a nuclear war. This means that there is a great deal of rubble and radiation around with very little medical care. This leads to deaths of your population. Fortunately as you research Medical Technology and build Medical Facilities you can decrease these deaths to zero. In the early days of the game, you will also need to keep an eye on the levels of radioactive dust floating around. If the levels of Sr-90 reach high enough, even medical tech will not be enough to offset the loss of life caused by this radiation. Usually later in the game, camps have enough dusters to keep the levels down to a very low level or even 0.

One other major problem you will run into is waste buildup. You will have to keep an adequate supply of landfills and incinerators around to handle the waste your people and buildings produce. If your waste buildup reaches 100% (overflow) you will automatically drop to terrible morale and begin losing people with every turn. You will stop losing people as soon as you are able to build enough landfills or incinerators to take care of the excess and what you are still producing.

Back to Top

Communications Deficits:

You will be able to send people out exploring and recruiting safely for a while at first using old maps, compasses, and short-range walkie-talkies. After your camp has reached about 5,000 land units, though, these things just won't be enough to keep your explorers and recruiters on track. You will then have to build a communications facility and communications relays to keep your people in touch with the home base. If you do not keep an adequate communications coverage, you will begin to lose a few people when you send them out and will suffer reductions on your returns proportional to you lack of coverage. You can help keep adequate coverage by building the extra comm relays that you are allowed and by researching Communications to increase each of the buildings' range.

Back to Top

Types of Assignments:

Your population will be assigned many tasks as you grow. The types of assignments they can be placed on are explained below.

Available Population:
These are the members of your population that for whatever reason do not currently have an assignment. They may end up being set as any of the other assignment types or just saved as a buffer for deaths or unexpected staffing needs.

Explorer Explorers:
Set manually to search the surrounding area for disposables, food, building supplies, land, or any of the above. Can be sent for 1-5 days (turns), depending on Time Management.

Recruiter Recruiters:
Set manually to search the surrounding area for survivors. You have a chance of finding and keeping survivors based upon the values of people sent, morale, and available shelter. Can be sent for 1-5 days (turns), depending on Time Management.

Worker Workers:
Set manually and removed manually. You must assign workers for construction. You can only assign as many workers as are not already assigned to other positions.

Staff Staff:
Set and removed when you activate buildings. Most buildings require staff to maintain them. The construct page will show you how many of these you have working.

Messenger Messengers:
Set manually and removed manually. You must assign messengers for trading through the Neutral Exchange Camp. You can only assign as many messengers as you have free people. The number of messengers directly affects number of available trades.

Militia Militia:
Basic civilians assigned to act as a last line of defense if your army is defeated in battle. These are people who have been given a bare bones basic training in how to use a short range weapon to defend the camp if needed. These units also staff your guard posts to watch for covert attacks. Your militia will use any excess short ranged weapons possible.

Back to Top
 Game Overview +/-
 Getting Started +/-
 Units and Resources +/-
 The Main Game Screen +/-
 Camp Activities+/-
 Research +/-
 Economy +/-
 Attacking a Camp +/-
 Alliances +/-
 Focus Paths +/-
 Camp Information +/-
 In-Game Communications +/-
 Extras +/-

Newbie Guide!
Downloadable PDF Version