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A simple guide for new players struggling in the early moments of Flotsam. Still relevant as of 0.3.04. This does not cover experimental content.
Quick Start Guide for Beginners
My first moments in Flotsam were pretty brutal as I tried to figure out what buildings were most important and how I should be spending my time and fuel when searching for resources and drifters. I hope this guide will save you at least a few ruined attempts and make this a game worth keeping. I’ll be updating this guide with better suggestions and screenshots over its lifetime. This guide is accurate as of 0.3.04.
Starting a New Game
Due to the games RNG you may want to restart the game to make progressing as easy as possible. There’s no shame I promise. While you don’t need every type of island in your starting area, there are some things you want to make sure you have available at the beginning:
- At MOST 1 default drifter with negative stats (speed, sleep, food) and NO drifters with a negative water stat. Ideally you want 1 with the Torpedo stat and the other 2 with some reduced consumption trait.
- 1 or more plastic patches closeby. You can live without wood if you can move to it, but you NEED plastic.
- 1 or more Shacks, Long Islands, or Fishing Villages within travelling distance at the start. You can make water easily enough, but food takes longer to get going, so you’ll need to gather some until you can get that online.
You can view your drifter stats by clicking on them:
This was a pretty good starting area I managed to find:
Your first task will be fixing your engine; at the moment there’s no cost except time, so getting that knocked out first is a good idea. Set 2 drifters on gathering some plastic and 1 on building up your first walkways and buildings. ONLY gather plastic in this phase (if you gather a few dozen wood on accident that’s OK), you don’t have the time or resources to build drying racks and dry wood, let alone store it. If there’s a location where you can gather dry wood, do that instead either before you move or after when you’ve gathered enough plastic.
Your first priority is getting storage set up; 100 may sound like a lot, but you will both gather that amount quickly and spend it quickly. Build a platform out as far as you can for 16 plastic (2 lengths) and build 4 small storages for an additional 80 (I built my storage out front of the ship and saved the sides for food and production early game.) Once you have the storage up gather a good amount of plastic, say 60 spare while leaving some room for wood, then move to an area with the islands described in the New Game section (if you already have dry wood gathered, you can skip to the next step without relocating.) Here is my layout for reference:
Once you’ve moved set 2 drifters to gather the nearest dry wood and the other to build another walkway like you did previously. Once you’ve gathered the wood required, go ahead and build 1 woodworking shed, 1 oil refinery, and 1 water distiller. DO NOT BUILD ANY BEDS! They are a waste of wood and drifters will not sleep in a bed unless they are assigned to it.
The benefits of beds at this stage are marginal at best. When the wood shop is finished queue up 3 rope. If you have a seaweed island nearby and enough wood, use the rope and remaining wood to make a seaweed grower. If you can’t then go ahead and make a fish sticks rack. If you can spare the plastic and have enough fuel to move to more, go ahead and build a small drying rack. Finally set your wood shop to auto craft firewood and your distiller to auto craft water.
You now have a somewhat sustainable setup, and as long as you feed your flotsam with wood and fish/seaweed you can continue on as you’d like. The next few steps will cover a few basic optimizations to make sure you’re making the most out of your crew. First open the drifter assignments by clicking the icon in the bottom right or the ‘Y’ key. Set all current and future drifters to priority 2 by clicking the ‘+’ icon next to the ‘allow swimming’ button (which should always be on imo.)
Your drifters right now should have 3 basic roles: gathering, crafting, and kitchen duties. If you have a drifter with a negative trait, go ahead and set them to kitchen duty (priority 3 water and food, 1 else except hauling.) If you have a drifter with the torpedo trait, set them to gather (priority 3 salvaging and fishing.) Your last drifter can be set to priority 3 for building and crafting. This way you always have a gatherer, a firewood maker, and a water/food cook.
At this point you should have visited enough islands for 5 or 10 research points. Go to the research menu in the bottom tab or by pressing the ‘O’ key. Your first priority should be the scrapsmith, followed by the fish kabob. If you are within traveling distance of a location with lots of metal scrap (viaduct or abandoned motor boats) and plastic for oil, you can go for the food truck instead of the fish kabob if research allows (you get 5 points for every location cleared.) Both will allow you to cook nibble fish alone.
For the last leg of this journey travel to a location with some metal scrap, as well as some wood and plastic (if you cannot do this immediately you will need to gather plastic and wood en route to make oil, but your setup should allow this.) Set your gatherer to salvage some metal scrap and have your wood shop make 1 rope, 2 if possible. Once you have gathered 8 wood, 4 plastic, and 4 scrap (or double if you can, including the rope) build a mooring point next to your storage and a second on your 3rd free ship face.
Finally build a salvage boat in your storage port and a fishing boat in your other port (you can set each port to only accept salvage or fishing boats.) You now have a faster and more efficient means of gathering resources and food for your flotsam, as well as a greatly increased gathering range.
What Comes Next?
This is all you need to have a good start to this game, and the rest is entirely up to you. With that being said I do have a few suggestions on how to proceed:
- Build some extra storage. What you have was enough to get you here, but with the room you have on your storage walkway you can easily add storage for 300 more items using regular storage yards.
- Add a single small storage for only firewood and remove firewood everywhere else (storage filters can be set in their inventories.) This will prevent you from burning through your wood while focusing on other matters.
- GET SOME SEAGULLS! Honestly don’t even worry about the stats of your first ones, as seagulls are more efficient at moving items and gathering in small amounts while your drifters focus on crafting and cooking.
- Get 1 food truck and desalinator each. As long as they are sufficiently supplied you will never need another source of food or water.
After 4 or 5 starts I finally managed to get to the “end game” in 6 hours of gameplay. If you would like some direction you can take inspiration from my flotsam below, the San Salvacion, which is crewed by 8 drifters and 4 seagulls:
I hope you found this guide helpful!