The first step to survive is choosing the right map. These are more or less important points for the beginner.
- Normal size, though you won't need the whole island, I personally prefer it.
- Plains for easier building and less terraforming, hills and mountains don't give that much benefits.
- Choose a map that sets your village into a mostly brown area, this means it's in the plains, a green (hills) area close to it is practical, but not needed. Avoid peninsulas. If you are at a straight coast with mostly flatlands around, that's a pretty good starting point, as you are allowed to expand in any direction.
- Mild climate... obviously.
- Disasters on or off... doesn't matter that much as fires are easily extinguished and tornados hardly ever hit your town.
Food and Firewood
As you will soon enough realise, food is the second most important resource in the game, right after your villagers.
How to feed them?
Potatoes!!! You may not notice it at first, but you are outfitted with an immense amount of bread and fish, this is important as it will help you at first, but you will easily get distracted from the fact, that you are actually running out of food.
Fishermen, hunters and gatherers are no solution to get a surplus of food (as far as I've seen), as they simply do not produce enough in the beginning. And don't even try to get bread, it won't happen.
So the first step after building a SINGLE house for the homeless villager is to get a field, no terraforming, no nothing, get a f****** field! Got it? Good. The field should allow 4 farmers to work on it, you can see this when building it. So you have 4 farmers immediately working at the field planting potatoes and 2 spare villagers.
What with the two spare villagers?
Use them! Gathering resources around the village is nice and needed, but important is getting a lumberjack for firewood, as freezing to death is the second most hazardous thing in this game. Do NOT assign a lumberjack, keep building. I usually build a fisherman's hut, and a forester, as well as a second field of the same size. Usually winter arrives at this time.
Winter is coming
No problem, the first winter you will have enough bread, fish and around 1000 potatoes to get through. After the harvest you need to reassign the farmers, once you know how stuff works you might try secondary harvests, but for startes, just wait until everything is harvested and reassign the farmers. To what you ask? Well, you built a fisherman's hut, a forester and a lumberjack, didn't you? You won't even need additional firewood for the first winter but just assign one of them to make sure and also set a limit to firewood production to not chop up you entire stack of wood, overall you won't have a problem heating your houses as long as you think about wood replenishment and assigning a lumberjack, later two or more...
Generally in wintertimes, you will do all the stuff you can't do in summertimes as nearly all your villagers are at the fields. Your villagers can be sent to go fishing (important, as it reduces the amount of potatoes eaten), mining resources, foresting... and building. If you already have a second field, you can start thinking about building a second small house. Just one. Next chapter is why.
Villagers, Children and Housing
The thing, that will murder your village the first few times you try this game, if you are not knowing it, are the children... 'cause the ain't workin'.
So a noob might think: "I'll just build a dozen houses, so I have lots of people and can send them getting all the food and stuff I need".
Nope. This is not how it works, if you are having as many children (and teenagers, doesn't matter) as you have adults, you are in deep ♥♥♥♥. The children need food as well, so they will eat all you have and you will just sit there, wondering how it is possible that people are starving, while you have every single villager assigned to get food... this is not a bug, this is intentional.
So how to prevent this?
Expand SLOWLY, no, not the way you are thinking, even SLOWER. A general rule of thumb is: 1 house=1field (with 4 farmers, at least 3 if it's close to the barn), so for 2 houses you need 2 fields with 4 farmers, but you just start with 6 villagers, so you have to wait for 2 children to grow up, before building a second house. If you are going 10x speed and still have nothing to do for some time, that's normal. I've uploaded a picture of an entire village after 10 years... 50 people working, that's about 1 additional house per year, not more (especially in the beginning).
About the villagers overall
As mentioned previously, they are the most important resource, they will need reassigning VERY often. Every villager gathers resources if he hasn't got to do anything else, but no one will plant potatoes if you don't assign them after winter.
Other More or Less Important Buildings
Once you have three or four houses (or even earlier) you will probably also have explored the other buildings. The question is now: what to build and operate?
The hunter is your primary source of meat and leather, as it comes pretty cheap, you might just build one right next to the forester, as they both require an empty forested space around (it shouldn't be needed to say that building other buildings inside the radius of the forester is not recommended). Assigning villagers as hunters is pretty much the same as fishermen... do it in wintertimes and when you are having spare settlers, you can always reassign them.
After some years you might get the notification that the stock of tools is low... an easy solution is a carpenter, using stone and wood to craft primitive, yet effective tools, you don't need a villager constantly assigned to the carpenter.
Cheap and very welcome when needed... if you were not spending attention and ran out of fuel for your houses, your villagers might get sick and you will need some herbs to cure them. Herbs only grow in summertimes. You can assign the villager working there to other professions if you have a couple hundred herbs gathered and assign someone once you need more.
Claymine, Stonemine and Oremine
It might surprise you, but getting a claymine early is a pretty good idea and the next point will tell you why. Stone- and oremines are also very useful once these resources get out of reach, but not necessary before some years have passed. You can assign farmers to them once the harvest is save in the barn.
This is the reason you might want a claymine around the sixth year, so you can get enough clay for a healer. This building is pretty expensive and mostly useless, but as soon as one of your villagers gets rabies, you will be very happy to have one and assign a villager to it. If nobody is ill, you don't need a healer, but immediately get one once anybody gets sick (unless it's curable just with herbs of course). If someone gets infected with rabies, possess him, walk him away from the village and let him starve/freeze to death... unless you want everybody to get infected.
Your villagers don't have a NEED for clothes, but will welcome them and stop freezing so fast if you provide them with those. You need flax to make clothes, which grows fast, so it's a good plant for a secondary harvest, just saying. Treat the tailor like the carpenter.
Cheap and practical when built close to fields, as tjhe farmers need them to water their plants... also useful once lightning strikes.
Cheap and why not? Give your villagers a proper cremation and prevent nasty plague. Not needed in early years.
Cheap. No other particularly useful trait, as villagers are better of working as farmers in the current game build.
If you have enough villagers to get another field (4 farmers), you have enough food for another house. Or if you want a less numerical rule of thumb: if you are not fearing you may run out of food before the next harvest, you might also consider building more space.
Do not build houses if you are having about ten children/teenagers, at least not in the early years. You will starve. Everything should be built around the idea of farming, if a field only gets only narrowly harvested in a given year, get the next house you build very close to it and maybe even a barn close to it.
You may consider building a second lumberjack, just to make sure you can get enough firewood if needed by assigning... I don't know... 6 villagers to chopping wood.
A second forester, maybe another hunter is also an idea... consider building them on a hill, so you don't have to terraform the ground around it because you won't build there.
Always build dirt roads to your buildings, pave the main roads once you got a couple hundred spare stones, for example after you got a quarry. It will speed up production.
Priorities and Tips
So you've got all this options for your villagers, but what's really important?
- Farmers. Always assign as many villagers as possible to this profession, even if this means all your villagers are farmers. As said previously, only when there's no snow.
- Lumberjack. Notice the singular. It's practical to have one villager assigned as lumberjack, even in summertime to get some firewood into the stock and more of them in wintertime to prevent running out of it.
- Fishermen and hunters. Those reduce your potato consumption, do not expect getting thousands of fish, but you will need less potatoes.
- Foresters. Wood is the resource you need for nearly everything and can be converted into anything, so get a flourishing wood, even if it's just in wintertimes.
- Builders. Obviously more important than the remaining professions.
- Gradually expand your resource mining and gathering around your village, don't go just in one direction.
- While can just sweep over areas in search of stone, hay and ore, target singular, large trees for wood in order to get more. Hills have the largest trees in the beginning but those will randomly fall and then there's no more reason to be close to them.
- Terraform slowly using to up/down tool, not the flattening tool, you will find out yourself why. There's a slope tool to access created terraces, you don't need to make everything completely flat.
- To prevent rabies and get some meat and leather, it's always a good idea to possess a villager and mass-murder all animals in and around the village, also blow the horn (1) to speed up things. You don't need to pick up stuff, others will do this.
- If you possess someone, you can perform all jobs, no need to find a builder for building or a hunter for killing animals.
- There's no use for walls thus far (I still built some in the shown village, just to try to keep out animals, doesn't work that well).
- Build new barns and storages once you leave the proximity of your starting position (at the border of the land you have already made farming/building ground and the wilderness), especially when needing to go further away from the village to get resources.
- Always keep an eye on the children count. They can devour thousands of potatoes if you have too much of them.
- There's no point in harvesting a half full field for immediate food (unless it's the second harvest), as you will have even less food next year.
- Orchards produce a lot of food... after a couple of years (so don't get them in the beginning).
- You don't need to have EVERY building running all the time. But you can usually build buildings (except for houses) in advance, so when you need them they are there. Once rabies hits home, it's too late to get a claymine, but clay is not needed for that many things in the beginning (in short: plan stuff).