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Surviving Mars: Guide to Comfort

There will be challenges to overcome. Execute your strategy and improve your colony’s chances of survival while unlocking the mysteries of this alien world. Are you ready? Mars is waiting for you.


High and Low Stats

  • A stat is high if it is 70 or higher
  • A stat is low if it is 29 or lower

These are game constants and are used to determine what color a stat displays as and whether bonuses or penalties are applied. For example Whiner trait causes sanity penalties at low comfort, that means comfort less than 30.

Other Surviving Mars Guides:

Breakthroughs, Events and Traits
For the most part I’m not going to be mentioning the effects from Breakthroughs and Events, for they are many and often aren’t encountered in any given game. Also I won’t mention all colonist traits, but I try to mention the more important for gameplay ones.


Comfort Bonuses
A colonist can gain comfort from the following sources:

  • Visiting a service building regardless of reason (daily interest, daily meal, medical care, etc), comfort is only awarded if the colonist’s comfort is less than the Service Comfort rating of the building. The bonus is normally +10 but can be higher if the building has a high Service Comfort relative to the colonist’s comfort.
  • Resting at home. Typically this is +4 to +6 depending on service comfort and is only applied if the residence service comfort is higher than the colonist’s comfort.
  • Traits like Vegan, Party Animal can award comfort boosts, these bonuses don’t have any kind of service comfort condition.

Comfort Penalties
A colonist can lose comfort for the following reasons:

  • -10 for failing to fulfill a daily interest. This penalty is not applied if the colonist sought out a service for a reason other than the daily interest, for example if a colonist wants medical care but no infirmary is available, they do not suffer a comfort penalty.
  • -20 for homelessness.
  • -3 for eating an unprepared meal.
  • Some traits apply comfort penalties, like Loner applies -4 comfort every sol if the colonist is in a dome with over 30 colonists.

No comfort penalties
There are some things which don’t apply comfort penalties even though you might expect them to:

  • No food. Even though a colonist gets a -3 penalty for eating an unprepared meal, there is no comfort penalty for no meal being available at all.
  • Missing life support: as with food, there is no comfort penalty for power, water or oxygen being missing.
  • Very poor service. A colonist can never get a comfort penalty for a low Service Comfort, even if a colonist has 100 comfort and sleeps in an Apartment with a Service Comfort of 30, they don’t suffer a comfort penalty for the poor service. They just get no bonus.
See also:  Surviving Mars: Guide to Health and Morale

The effects of high and low comfort:

  • High comfort awards a +5 morale bonus which is also a +5 work performance bonus.
  • Low comfort afflicts a -10 morale bonus which is also a -10 work performance bonus.

Colonists never deliberately seek out to raise their comfort, even being in low comfort doesn’t motivate them. They only raise comfort by randomly seeking an interest or as a side effect of seeking food or medical care.

When an Earthborn colonist reaches 0 comfort they become Earthsick which renders them unable to work and they will board the next rocket that lands nearby. If they reach high comfort (70+) the Earthsick status is removed. Martianborns don’t seem to suffer any special ill effect from being on 0 comfort beyond the -10 morale penalty.

Comfort in practise

Many players mistakenly believe the way to manage comfort is to check what services colonists are complaining about in the dome comfort overview and provide them. Don’t do this. Colonists don’t know what is good for them, they complain about things that aren’t important like Gambling and fail to complain about things that are important like quality food. It’s almost realistic.

The most important service is Food
Food service is provided by Diners and Grocers. It is very useful to provide this service for two reasons: Firstly, it avoids the -3 comfort penalty for eating an unprepared meal. Secondly and perhaps more importantly, everyone has to eat, so everyone visits a Grocer or Diner once per sol, this visit will award them (at least) 10 comfort if their comfort is low. In general you should build a Grocer and Diner per 50 colonists.

Since the average Grocer has a service comfort of 50, and Diner 60, as long as colonists can eat a daily meal their comfort will hover around 50 to 60, even if they consistently fail to fulfill their daily interest and get a -10 comfort penalty, they’ll get the +10 comfort back from eating a meal. Since the low comfort threshold is 30 providing meals almost entirely prevents low comfort.

This colonist is pretty annoyed at the lack of luxury and shopping, but the meals sure are good!

Unfortunately the dome overview doesn’t tell you if colonists are eating unprepared meals, you need to personally inspect the comfort of individual colonists (you can use the colony overview to find colonists with low comfort).

Given the choice between Diners and Grocers it’s usually best to provide both, so colonists can fulfill Shopping, Dining and Social. Shopping and Social are both very popular and are economically provided by Grocers and Diners.

It is acceptable to only use Grocers, the only real advantage of this is forcing colonists with Social interest to attend Open Air Gyms while pleasing shoppers (Dining is uncommon interest). You can use Heavy Workload to boost the service comfort to about 60 which is good for breeding.

See also:  Surviving Mars: Basic Survival

Diners are generally superior as food providers as they provide 2 extra capacity and 10 higher service comfort. If all you care about is maintaining average comfort you can run Diners at 1 worker per shift getting 2 extra capacity over a Grocer and about the same Service Comfort. Alternatively you can run full shifts plus Heavy Workload, this boosts the Service Comfort to about 70 which can easily put colonists into High Comfort, for that tasty +5 performance boost plus increased breeding potential.

The other most important service is Rest
Rest is provided by a home and like Food every colonist wants it every sol. The main thing is to avoid the -20 Comfort Penalty for homelessness, that comfort penalty is so large that only a few things like The Hanging Gardens can provide enough comfort to keep homeless colonists out of low comfort.

The daily comfort boost is also useful in combination with the daily meal. Say a colonist is a Gamer and a Loner (like absolutely nobody I know) living in a well populated dome. In a day they can lose 10 comfort for failing to game, and 4 comfort for overcrowding. But they gain 10 comfort from eating a meal, and 6 comfort from resting, and thus remain at around 50 comfort.

For the most part you don’t have to be worried about the Service Comfort of residences. It is undesirable if they are only 30, as that makes it easier for colonists to get into low comfort, but 40 is fine (i.e. Apartment with Vista). And it’s nice if you can get them up to 60-70 to help get colonists into high comfort. Between 40 and 60 is all much the same.

It’s useful to provide cheap services
Cheap services are those with a low cost to construct and low or no ongoing cost. It is worth noting that cheap services have low service comforts, and as such they rarely ever award a comfort bonus unless your colonists have very poor comfort (which might be the case if a Colonist has multiple comfort-harming traits).

For the most part the reason you provide these services is to avoid the -10 comfort penalty for the service being missing. Since you aren’t using them for the comfort bonus, it’s just fine to put them in a passage connected dome, the passage penalty matters not in the slightest when there is no bonus anyway.

Decorations: Cheap to build, free to maintain but take up a lot of space. Provide the very popular Relaxation interest which is otherwise hard to provide early in the game, along with the less popular Exercise and Playing. It’s not a bad idea to fill any unused slices with decorations, you can always remove them later when you need the space. Also putting them in a passage-connected dome can be a good idea.

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Open Air Gym: A combination Comfort and Health building, it provides the popular Social interest, though in practise Socialites will prefer Diners and if you want them to exercise you should turn off Diners! It also of course provides the not very popular Exercise interest. The Open Air Gym takes up a lot of space but it’s free to maintain. Best put in a passage-connected dome.

Playground: A combination comfort, sanity and character-building service, the Playground is only used by children, but it’s amazing for them, with a massive service comfort of 80 and basically maxing out their comfort and sanity. It is highly recommended to provide enough Playgrounds for your children as everything it provides is incredibly useful, including awarding random useful traits like Sexy and Party Animal, and nearly entirely eliminating undesirable traits like Idiot. Putting playgrounds in a passage connected dome is fine.

It’s mostly pointless to provide expensive services
Expensive services are those which are expensive to build, maintain and employ the workforce for. Often they also have low capacity per tile and per worker.

Previously I noted that you can get high comfort simply by running Diners with Heavy Workload, Diners have excellent capacity per tile and appeal to everyone, while only consuming food. This being the case, and due to the somewhat marginal benefits of high comfort, it’s not really worthwhile investing in expensive services unless you very specifically want to increase breeding rate even beyond that of the ~70 comfort provided by Diners and cheap services.

If you do want high comfort it’s most efficiently provided by The Hanging Gardens spire, or in Space Race the Church-specific Temple spire or China-specific Tai-Chi Garden. Medical buildings with Rejuvenation Treatment are also extremely effective at boosting comfort through the roof and like food services everyone needs medical care, especially if you’re a ruthless slave-driver.


Provide a Diner, Grocer and Infirmary per 50 population. This keeps people in middle to high comfort, keeps them healthy and is cheap.

Use Heavy Workload and Nightshift liberally to increase building performance and productivity but be aware you need to keep a close eye on medical capacity if you are stacking these abusive work practises, and turn these practises off during Dust Storms and Cold Waves.

When life support is missing, colonists suffer sanity damage immediately but won’t suffer it again until the next sol, on the other hand health damage requires around 24 hours of uninterrupted absence of life support. Use this knowledge for evil.

Open Air Gyms can stave off death by starvation indefinitely for colonists who like Exercise and Social and not much else. This is not typically useful but is hilarious.

Written by Blake Walsh

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