A Frostpunk diary of certain doom, part 4: fighting back


The ongoing tale of a desperate first run in survival/management sim Frostpunk.

Mission: coal. Participants: everyone, basically. I need engineers researching a Coal Thumper in the workshop, so my frostbitten waifs can extract the life-giving ore from otherwise unbreakable deposits which remain. I need workers pulled away from wood and steel collection to build and then staff that Coal Thumper. I need everyone who’s off sick from our last near-death experience to bloody well stop being sick so they can work. And I need everyone, everyone, to survive in -40 conditions for a full day, so that our last coal isn’t depleted before we can fix this.

One by one, I deactivate my town’s three Steam Hubs, thus robbing its periphery of warmth and almost immediately over-populating my infirmaries once again. The heater in the children’s shelter is turned off too. It feels so desperately cruel: the beatings will continue until morale improves, and all that. But it is necessary.


There is only one hour’s supply of coal left by the time the Thumper goes up. I enforce another night shift to get it up and running asap, but what I didn’t know before I built a Thumper is that I need one set of people to crew it, but then a second set of people to move the coal it farms over to the settlement’s centre. Piles of the black stuff amass next to the Thumper, but all my freezing people ignore it. Jeez, guys, what’s more important, holding out for official paperwork or, y’know, not dying horribly?

For a few terrible hours, I’m faced with a situation where there’s coal, coal everywhere, but not a block to burn. The generator sputters and dies, and there’s a howl of protest as a group of tent-dwelling workers I’d recently promised to keep warm realise I’ve failed them. Again.

It’s the Scouts who save me, once again. They slump back to town with a few small sacks of the invaluable ore – enough to get us through the night, but no more. Grudgingly, I am then forced to disband this ragged group of five absolute heroes, as I need every spare pair of hands to shovel coal from the Thumper and over to the Generator.

The genny flits between on and off like a lightbulb during a storm, as the 25-man Thumper/collection effort races to keep up with the town’s heat demands. Then, suddenly, we break clear of the coal debt. Autonomy is restored once again.

But we also have legions of sick people once again. More worryingly, absolutely everyone is engaged in an essential task now. I don’t know how I’m going to research new technology or deal with an inevitable shortfall in food, wood or steel. In a moment of sick deja vu, I realise what I need to do – find more people to join my tortured ranks. The last time I did this, it spelled catastrophe. But catastrophe is what awaits us without fresh blood for the snow god.

Carefully, carefully, I pull five people away from other tasks. One from coal here, one from wood here, one from the cookshop… It’s agony, knowingly upsetting our delicate balance as it is, and will almost certainly mean more gruelling 24-hour shifts.


I build a fighting pit and then a pub to help keep spirits, if not high, then at least not at absolute bedrock, but most importantly I form a new band of scouts.

Off they go, in search of people to save, and people to save us. On this outing to the ice-locked wilderness, they find no life, alas.

But they do find a bloody big robot.


To be continued


  1. Bomarty says:

    -40 is nothing! Just wait, it gets cold before the storm ;)

    • ChosenChaos says:

      If he survives until the end of the storm, he’s going to find himself looking back with fond longing at the times when the temperature was only -40…

      • Cinek says:

        Well, during that super-freeze I basically burned through my population to sustain at least someone. It worked, but heck… I was certain I’m going to loose.

        That freeze period is a very weird, left me with oddly mixed feelings. On one hand: I won. On the other hand: Everyone but few were dead and there are no long-term sources of resources needed to ensure months, yet alone: years for the rest of populations… so what now… all those sacrifices we’ve made were for nothing.

        Curtain dropped, I’m a winner, but my people will die anyway.

        • ChosenChaos says:

          I had most of my population survive the Great Storm, but I could have done better if I’d had more Workshops so that I wasn’t upgrading my housing during the storm, if I’d had more Infirmaries (I actually had leftover Steam Cores that, like an idiot, I never got around to using), or if I’d placed my buildings better.

          Lessons learned, I guess.

  2. Peralph says:

    I’m rooting for you!

    Maybe even cheering.

    Don’t die!
    Don’t die!
    Rah! Rah! Rah!
    *shakes pompoms*

    Seriously, I’m enjoying this series very much.

  3. DeadCanDance says:

    The end brings cold near the absolute zero. Just you wait. Haha… ha ha… ha.

    • Carra says:

      I think I only hit about -150. Absolute minimum would be another 123 degrees colder. So that ain’t that cold :)

  4. Carra says:

    Pro-tip: don’t research or build coal thumpers, go for coal mines instead.

    The thumpers need people to operate it and more people to gather the coald. The mines just need 10 people that do everything.

    • grrrz says:

      you will end up needing both anyway. Coal mines are more efficient but you can only build a few. also coal mines and their upgrades requires those extra precious steam cores (and they are often pretty far from the generator so need dedicated steamhubs or an automaton). You also have the option to build outposts, which are really worthwhile (there’s even one for steam cores, which is probably the key to a fully upgraded and automated city).