Within RimWorld’s impressively deep mechanics, there are practically infinite possibilities for how you can ensure your colony’s prosperity for years to come. As they say, though, Fail to prepare, prepare to fail; a huge part of your success is contingent on your base design, and the specific layout you choose will make the world of difference.
It’s not all about sturdy brick walls and high-piled sandbags, either. While a strongly fortified settlement is very important, a well-designed base in RimWorld is about more than making an impenetrable fortress.
Your base may exist in a pretty simplistic 2D game engine, but it still has the potential to be as artistic as it is functional – and your Pawns will always thank you for that.
With so many options, though, it can get pretty bewildering. Having winged it on several of my early playthroughs, I quickly decided I needed to plan things properly from the start. If you’re here, perhaps you’ve come to the same realization (or maybe you’re a pro looking for some new ideas).
Regardless of your needs, there will be something for you below. In this article, I’ll be taking you through the main base designs and their best variations, and we’ll also take a look at some particular standouts from the community.
Bottom Line Up Front
If you’re in a rush, here are the key takeaways from the article:
- Your best chance of success will be to place your base in an optimal location with a balanced climate, plenty of food, and access to materials, water, and power. The Temperate Forest biome is considered the most forgiving option.
- The essential rooms to have in your base are a kitchen, freezer room, bedrooms, farms, a workshop and research center, a recreation room, and a stockpile room. From there, you can start to reassess the direction you want to take and start working on more advanced rooms (like hospitals and prisons).
- The main three layout types are Super Structures (a single, all-encompassing fortress), Mountain Bases (bases hewn out of the interior of a natural rock structure), and City/Town Layouts (those made to resemble a real town or city with closer attention paid to the natural shape of the terrain).
- The most interesting bases mix combinations of the above layouts to play to the strengths of a specific strategy, but regardless of your choice, a prosperous colony requires solid fortification and the fulfilled personal needs of your people.
What Makes a Good Base in RimWorld?
Note: If you’re familiar with all that goes into making a good base, feel free to skip to the Seven RimWorld Base Layouts.
If you’re brand new to RimWorld – or you have the basics down but want some help – it’s important to understand the essential elements of a well-functioning base before going in; this knowledge will help you understand why the designs ahead are good choices and will allow you to modify these layouts with ease.
Our RimWorld Getting Started Guide gives you the rundown of how to start and exactly what to do, so use the following as a cheat sheet of core concepts of base layout and design and refer to that article for the specifics of gameplay.
We’ll also take a look at what I consider the key, general considerations when planning and building your base, which are relevant no matter which design you decide to go with.
While many rooms and built-up spaces are optional, there are a few spaces you’ll definitely want to prioritize early.
Kitchens and Freezers
You should build yourself a kitchen area and a freezer to store perishable food as quickly as possible. A working stove, a couple of shelves, and a fridge constitute a basic kitchen, and it’s wise to build your farm close by so your Pawns don’t have to do a lot of traveling back and forth.
The kitchen and freezer areas should also be placed away from where Pawns regularly walk to ensure they’re kept as clean as possible.
For crop farms, all you need is a large, clear space to segment into a space to grow crops. Crucially, ensure you separate your fields into grids with walkways between them two tiles wide; if there’s a fire, this stops it from spreading and destroying absolutely everything. You can plan animal pens the same way later on.
All you technically need here is a bed, but if you make it a decent size and add some ornaments like the odd plant and statue, the inhabitants will be happier. At the start of the game, I tend to just place beds where I can and build proper bedrooms when I have the resources. Once I start to build bedrooms, I usually go with a 5 x 5 size.
Workshops and Research Centres
These buildings are where you learn to advance your technologies (Research Centres) and craft your essential items (Workshops). Workshops require Workbenches (and Toolboxes if you have enough of them), while for Research Centres you need Research benches. 12 x 12 is a good size for both rooms so you can fit plenty of equipment.
As your base gets bigger, you’ll need space to store all your equipment. I like to start with an 11 x 11 room to dump stuff into, and from there, you can refine it with shelving and weapon racks (this Storage Crates mod is also a great choice for storing large amounts of items).
You should never second guess the importance of your pawn’s happiness, and having a spacious Rec Room with plenty of art and entertainment should be a priority once you’ve established your base. Make it relatively large, and as you acquire the funds, fill it with entertainment like Billiard tables and TVs and install plenty of seating.
As you progress, you’re also going to want to include a Hospital and Prison, and perhaps a Kill Box to lure raiders and other enemies into a designated area to be taken down.
You can also check the example layouts in the next section for ways to structure exterior walls—structures you’ll want to prioritize to protect your base once you have the means. Again, check out the Getting Started article for more info there.
Consider the Terrain Before You Build
Before you actually lay down the foundations of your new base, it’s very important to consider what natural defenses may be available to you. You’re going to get attacked by raiders who want to topple your settlement plenty of times in the future, so if you can, build your base to enclose natural rock faces and mountains to act as natural reinforcement.
You should also take care not to build your base right next to the edge of the map, as that gives any invading enemies who are crossing the border immediate access.
Finally, zoom out before you build anything and press the flower icon at the bottom right of your screen to toggle the Fertility Overlay screen. The greenest areas represent the most fertile areas of land. Build your base next to or close to these areas to ensure easy access when you start growing food.
Don’t Forget to Use the Planning Tool
The planning tool is located in the Architect Orders menu, and you use it to outline where you’re going to place structures before actually committing to them—essential for tackling some of the more complex designs we’ll look at later on, and just an all-round good bet to ensure you’re always thinking ahead.
I also highly recommend installing the More Planning mod. This add-on package adds some much-needed descriptive colors to your sketches and a cutting and pasting feature.
Group Related Rooms Together
Keeping related rooms together is a good way to ensure efficient travel for your workers. It also enables you to survey the workings of your base modularly without too much clutter so that you can easily recognize what’s going well and what could use some work. It’s a good idea to keep your barracks, kill boxes, hospitals, and prisons together in the same area.
Similarly, the closer kitchens, freezers, and dining rooms are, the more efficient meal times are going to be. Keeping these rooms nearby also means you can prevent dirt from being trampled into the kitchen from outside.
Bedrooms should be grouped together, and this way you can connect a heating system with vents that pass through each adjoining wall for energy efficiency (here’s a great video about heating).
Seven RimWorld Base Layouts
Most of the following base layout types are designs I’ve had success with myself, and they also represent those you’ll find most commonly used and adapted by other players. The first three are the well-established classic layouts most fans will have experience with, and the four after that use various aspects of the main three for a unique spin.
The Super Structure
- Pros: It has excellent exterior protection and is simple to manage.
- Cons: It can be difficult to defend if raids do breach, and problematic if you want to add or modify rooms.
Starting off with a classic, the Super Structure layout is a base design most experienced players will have used at some point or another, even if they don’t know the colloquial name it goes by. It’s a simple premise: rather than having separate buildings spread across a designated walled-in area, everything is under one roof.
The biggest benefit of the Super Structure base is that it is very easy to manage. Everything is immediately to hand, so at a glance, you can keep an eye on your entire population, assured that no one is vulnerable to the harsh outdoors. I love the way you can zoom out and see each facet of your well-oiled little society functioning like clockwork as one unit.
It’s also very efficient on energy and naturally resistant to the perils of the outdoors. You can use vents to balance your ambient temperature between each adjoining wall, and with indoor structures being immune to radioactive fallout, your denizens can rest assured that they’re safe in their fortified bubble.
Of course, you’ll still have to be careful to fortify the outside properly. It may prove difficult for things to go wrong in the first place, but if enemy forces do penetrate the walls, your people will be sitting ducks depending on the size of your base.
- Pros: It has good temperature control, abundant exterior protection, and is generally easier to defend.
- Cons: Infestation problems and cabin fever are inevitable.
Now, I mentioned using mountains as a natural defense for the walls of your base, but how about creating a base inside that mountain? This will be a lot of hard work for your Pawns with a tonne of digging involved, but it can most certainly prove fruitful in the end.
As you can imagine, the interior of a mountain can provide fantastic 360-degree fortification that’s as impenetrable as lead.
These sorts of bases are naturally well equipped to defend against attacks given that there’s no chance of any enemy breaking through any other way than through your main entrance (which also makes the entrance area a perfect position to set up a robust kill box).
Given that you’re building into a natural structure, your base is vulnerable to attacks from infestations, however, but this can be a worthwhile trade-off for cutting yourself off from the evils of the outside.
Of course, you’ll also have to put in some extra work to keep your denizens happy as they don’t get out much, but if you want to stay safe, the Mountain layout is a great choice overall.
The Classic Town/City
- Pros: It has a propensity for high citizen satisfaction and is easy to modify.
- Cons: It doesn’t provide any natural fortification unless you work it into the surrounding terrain.
With this layout, everything gets its own separate building, each split up by a network of carefully segmented pathways.
It keeps Pawns happy as they have to continually go outside to get from building to building, but the main benefit is the adaptability.
Unlike the Super Structure design, which requires a domino effect of changes if you want to move a room, with this layout you can simply build something new in an empty space and connect a path. There doesn’t have to be an intense degree of uniformity to everything.
The downside is that fortification can get pretty expensive. Being able to freely expand anywhere means you’re going to need some long, thick walls to keep out enemies and keep up the illusion of an outdoor utopia. Placing the foundations between naturally fortifying rock faces will help keep the cost down.
- Pros: It has an impressive aesthetic with good insulation and is ideal for efficient growing rooms.
- Cons: It can be difficult to design due to the game’s engine.
Given RimWorld’s characteristically square and rectangular art style, you might wonder how a circular base could ever really work.
In reality, they work just like your regular rectangular bases, and it’s mostly a stylistic choice. That said, circular base designs do have the advantage of offering more insulation. Double walls offer maximum insulation, and the diagonal walls you’ll inevitably utilize with circular designs also contribute to this added insulation; due to their shape, these types of diagonal double walls take up less space.
These sorts of layouts are also a good choice for growing rooms. Sun lamps are required for growing crops indoors, and because they have an odd-numbered light radius of 13 tiles, circular rooms are an optimal choice.
Circular bases can be a little difficult to create as the process is more disorientating: you’ll have to keep zooming out to check you’ve marked the pattern right, similar to how you would have to do in something like Minecraft.
Nevertheless, they’re a rewarding challenge that looks great and has a lot of possibilities.
The 11 x 11 Layout
- Pros: It’s simple to build and easy to manage.
- Cons: It’s naturally restrictive if you’re going for a specific style.
The 11 x 11 layout is as simple as it sounds: every room you make must be 11 x 11 (even small rooms like bedrooms are laid out in 11 x 11 quadrants).
I first came across this design a few months ago when its workings came to light thanks to The World of Killadrix on YouTube, and considering how simple yet effective it is, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen anyone talk about it before.
The main benefits of this layout are organization and adaptability. This grid seems to be somewhat of a golden number for space efficiency when placing furniture and equipment; if you find yourself in need of larger rooms, you can just knock one of the internal walls down to make one large space that’s a bigger size but with the same properties.
Doors can also always be centered symmetrically due to the walls having an uneven number of tiles, and machines placed in the center of an 11 x 11 grid will usually have an area of effect that reaches the very edges.
The Layered Base
- Pros: It offers the opportunity for strategic defense and always looks great.
- Cons: It can be expensive to implement due to the number of walls that need to be constructed.
As you can imagine, the biggest advantage of a layered base is defense. You can put your most important buildings towards the center and rig the exterior with defenses. This works as a sort of Tower Defense strategy, where even if large groups of enemies break through your initial defenses, you’ve always got plenty of time to prepare for further protection.
You can even structure each layer to be interspersed with an exterior corridor, meaning that if you structure your bedroom dormitories towards the center ring (where they’re also safest!), your Pawns will invariably get plenty of outdoor exposure to keep their satisfaction high.
So far as great examples go, I haven’t quite seen anything like The Onion by Reddit user u/Leeeigh. If you’re interested in doing something similar yourself, be sure to check out this time-lapse!
The Peninsular Base
- Pros: It’s naturally protected against raids.
- Cons: It’s difficult to find the ideal location without mods.
The Peninsular layout is really a mix of a lot of the other types of designs I’ve covered already but is distinguished by its foundations. While not all too common, you’ll sometimes come across pieces of land that protrude into the surrounding ocean areas on a peninsula, which, similarly to mountain bases, provides almost 360 degrees of natural fortification.
These sorts of bases have become a community favorite, though admittedly, many examples make heavy use of mods like the Terraform RimWorld mod to physically manipulate the map to have these advantages.
Nevertheless, it’s still possible for these areas to form naturally. If you’re looking to increase your chances of generating this sort of area with a noninvasive mod, check out Map Reroll, which enables you to keep regenerating the map once you’ve selected your biome until you find something that you like.
3 Brilliant Designs I Found Online
Before I sign off, I wanted to leave you with 3 of the best designs I came across online. These draw from the preceding seven layouts to various degrees to create truly spectacular bases.
The Eternal City | u/GrumpyOlAsian
Here’s a map that takes the classic city design and runs with it. With perfect symmetry and a stunning centralized courtyard design, this map connects its separate buildings with a network of intricately planned walkways with ornate, fantasy-style living quarters.
The creator mentioned that they took inspiration from Oblivion’s Imperial City and other specific areas of that game, and in the lore that they’ve imagined for the place, The Eternal City functions as a major trading area connected to many other smaller settlements.
Sea Ice Base | u/Supersees
This arctic outpost is a real feat of engineering. I’ve seen plenty of brilliant pieces of architecture during my time with the game, but never have I spotted anything like u/Supersees’ gear design.
Each cog is cleverly segmented into the essential rooms required for a fully functioning society, while the whole thing is carved up by lab-like walkways for the inhabitants to travel easily between areas.
This base is really an evolution of the Super Structure design, capitalizing on a central, all-encompassing structure yet modified to be detached into multiple segments.
Sedes Aquaphorus | u/maxmds
For all that I love futuristic or fantasy layouts like those above, I can’t deny the beauty of organic designs like Sedes Aquaphorus. u/maxmds made this one, and I was particularly impressed by its apparent functional excellence.
The body of water that borders it provides impenetrable protection, of course, but I love how the designer has managed to artistically meld their base to the geometry, adjoining the two sections by narrow bridges (which will also create strong bottlenecks should a raid manage to break through).
Town/city layouts like these—where a satisfying criss-cross of Pawns going about their day can be observed—make for a level of authenticity that can’t be replicated by many other designs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: I Want to Try One of the Cooler-looking Biomes I’ve Seen when Exploring the World Map, but I’m Still a Beginner. Should I?
Answer: You’ll have a tougher time than you would in the temperate forest, but don’t be afraid to try out whatever biome you want. Even if you fail, the beauty of RimWorld is that you learn several new things with every new playthrough.
An extreme desert biome is far more difficult than a regular desert, so make sure you’re aware of the challenges ahead. Check out this great Wiki article on the topic for more information.
Question: If You Could Pick One Base Layout Design to Stick to for the Rest of Your Life, what Would it Be?
Answer: If I could only pick one, I’d have to pick something that leans harder on functionality than form. Out of the gridded patterns, I’d have to go with the 11 x 11 grids. There’s nothing quite like its simplistic genius, and with it being scalable to every size, it’s the obvious go-to.
Question: I’d Like to Try Some of the Mods You Mentioned but am Worried I Might Mess up My Files. Should I Be?
Answer: Gone are the days when you ran the risk of truly messing up your game files by doing something wrong when installing mods. For the majority of RimWorld mods, all you need to do is click a button to install them via the seamlessly integrated Steam Work Shop.
Our other article, Best RimWorld Mods Worth Trying to Get You Back into the Game, has a quick tutorial on the topic, so fear not!
I hope this article has given you some solid inspiration for your own RimWorld bases. If you’re after more RimWorld tips and tricks, be sure to check out our catalog of other articles, such as the Ancient Danger Guide or our Advanced Components Guide.
Also, be sure to check out r/RimWorldPorn on Reddit to keep up to date with the community’s latest designs.
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