RimWorld Guide to Combat | Combat Basics for Beginners & Veterans

Guide Info

Looking to up your RimWorld game and dominate combat? Look no further than this RimWorld guide to combat tactics! Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned veteran, you’ll learn essential strategies to help you defend against raids, defeat enemies far larger than your own forces, and even take down huge, deadly mech raids with ease. Learn how to snipe, kite, and separate raider groups for maximum effectiveness. Discover cover strategies to ensure you always have the upper hand. Learn the weapons, armor, and clothing setups that will give you the edge you need to come out on top in battle. With these basic but often overlooked tactics, you’ll be able to take on any foe and emerge victorious.

Don’t miss out on this must-watch guide to RimWorld combat tactics. Whether you’re looking to survive while you build a pretty village on the lower difficulties or want to conquer Losing is Fun set to 500% difficulty, these tips and tricks will help you achieve your goals. Huge thanks to MortalSmurph on my Discord, as this is a joint guide we’ve made.

[ROUGH TRANSCRIPT from the video is below. This may contain many typos and errors.]


Every Rimworld player should know the basics of Rimworld combat.  We’re going to try and cram as much as we can into 10 minutes but there’s tons more details on every topic.


First, in order to control your colonists in combat, you need to Draft them.  Select one or more colonists.  Press the Crossed Swords “Draft” button, or, by default, the “R” key.  When “Drafted” you have much more precise control of your colonists.  Drafted colonists will have underlined names on the colonist bar.

In general, you should draft and bring everyone to every threat.  For example, if one of your colonists is attacked by a wild animal, or hunted, or a threat appears, then draft everyone and bring everyone together.  Either run that closest colonist away or fight back.  Run everyone else to the threat.


For colonists with a ranged weapon, generally, you simply want to place them in a good position and let them do their own thing.  Target firing is a good thing.  However, there are some potential unintuitive issues with Rimworld controls.

If you select 1 colonist with a ranged weapon, and you right click on a target out of range or out of line of sight, you will get this pop up.  If you select 2 colonists with ranged weapons, and you right click on a target outside of range or line of sight, your colonists will run up to and melee attack that target.  

If you select 1 colonist with a ranged weapon, press their ranged weapon button (B by default), then select a target, they will ONLY attempt to attack that target.  If that target is out of range, they will stand still no matter what.  They will only stand still even when a different enemy is stabbing them.

Target firing is a good thing.  However, keep those potential pitfalls in mind.  In general, it’s just fine to simply tell your ranged colonist to take “cover” and let them shoot as they like.

RANGED Accuracy

Any creature immediately adjacent to most object’s can be considered in “cover”.  A colonist in cover is more difficult to hit with ranged fire. 

Select and Draft 1 colonist with a ranged weapon. Hover the mouse over various targets in range.  A popup will appear to show the chance to hit that target.  Here’s the pop up for a target outside of cover.  Here’s the pop up for a target taking cover using an adjacent wall.  The popup shows the reduced chance to hit.  

Here’s one target that is CLOSE to cover but is receiving NO cover: adjacent only.  You can even select enemies and see their chance to hit your own colonists.  

Different objects provide different amounts of cover.  Walls provide the most cover.  Whenever possible, use a wall for cover.  The angle of cover also matters.  Here’s a colonist using a wall for maximum cover.  Here’s what happens at an angle: chance to hit is significantly higher.  Walls restrict line of sight so walls aren’t always ideal.

Shooting Accuracy is based on many factors.  The shooter’s skill level, their health conditions, whether the target is in cover, or laying down, or is a small size, and even the weather all affect shooting accuracy.  Sometimes a target, like this bunny, will be frustratingly hard to hit.  4%!?! Chance to hit?!


Light does NOT affect shooting accuracy.  However, Light DOES affect the movement speed of humans.  Ensure your defensive areas are lit so your colonists can run more quickly.  Roof over where the enemies will stand so human enemies will move more slowly.  Animals’ and Mechs’ movement speed is not affected by darkness. 


Melee can be incredibly effective in Rimworld but you do need to get your melee fighters into hand-to-hand range.  Simply running at the enemy isn’t always ideal.  You may have more luck letting the enemy run into you.  Consider positioning your colonists around a corner.  Consider having lots of access doors then ambushing enemies on the other side.  

If you select a melee fighter and right click an enemy to attack, your fighters will NOT be able to pass through allies who are in combat.  If you right click on the ground, your fighters CAN pass through allies that are in combat.

When you place one of your colonists in melee range of an enemy that enemy will only use their melee attacks.  “Melee locking” can be incredibly effective against enemies like Lancers.  

A ranged weapon fighter cannot fire their ranged weapon at enemies in melee.  However, they can fire their ranged weapon at OTHER targets while an enemy is inside their melee range.


The Spike Trap is a great way to defeat enemies without risking your colonists.  An easy way to use them is to place them diagonally off the corners of buildings.  Clear away any trees or chunks near the trap.  Now, you can run around your building and lure enemies into the traps.

A Two-wide Spike Trap tunnel allows your colonists to walk around traps.  You can use fences to guide enemies toward traps, or floors to lure enemies into traps, or both.  


Every hallway can be an effective defensive position.  Standing in the doorways and firing down the hallway allows you to have maximum cover and the enemies no cover.  The doors themselves don’t provide anything, but do allow you to use the adjacent wall as cover.  Also, you can step back off the door, allow the door to close, and the door effectively becomes a wall.  

We can add doors to our spike trap hallway to allow optional firing down the hallway.  Fences provide only a very small amount of cover and wooden fences are quickly destroyed.  If we don’t want to trade with enemies in the hallway, simply step inside and let the enemies hit the spike traps.

Around Corner

Standing around a corner allows you to concentrate a huge amount of fire on the one enemy who enters.  Be careful that enemies also have great shots on you from close range.  They also can use cover in the doorway.  Be ready to step forward with a colonist to “melee lock” the enemy.

You can improve this strategy by laying out simple walls for your colonists to have maximum cover.  Here’s an example with cover walls just to the side.  Here’s an example with cover walls head on.  In both examples, you probably want to be ready to step forward for melee locking when needed.  


The Melee Block is an incredible tactic against all melee enemies like animals, insects, scythers, or all melee humans.  Choose a doorway or 1 square opening as the location where you want one single enemy to stand.  Enemy goes here.  Place up to 3 “melee blockers” adjacent to this one square.  Behind these melee blockers, you can place ranged attackers up to 4 deep.  This example has 12 ranged fighters behind 3 melee blockers.  Friendly fire isn’t possible at this range and I have an entire separate guide on Friendly fire.

A melee blocking setup like this means ONLY enemies in the 1 square opening can attack at a time and it is incredibly effective against all melee foes.

AMBUSH Tactics

Improvised ambush tactics can also be very effective.  When possible, melee lock an enemy alone and then blast from short range.  You can use doors to ambush such an enemy then use a door to escape before reinforcements arrive.  Ambushes like this allow you to take on terrifying foes even with poor weapons.

If you remove all pathable targets enemies will attack random walls and doors. Let’s close this held open door.  Now enemies will spread out and allow for easier ambushing.  

Ambush tactics work best with a two-thick stone wall.  The stone wall has higher hitpoints and isn’t flammable.  The two thick wall means that when enemies break the first wall, they still don’t have a path into the base.


The Condsened explanation of the essentials of a killbox is creating a defensive line of alternating walls and barricades or sandbags.  Stand your colonists behind the walls when possible.  Try to keep it to 1 or 2 rows but 3 can work.  

Restrict the entrance to the killbox like so.  A bend prevents enemies from firing from far away.  Barricades, sandbags, fences, columns, etc. can prevent the enemy from pathing and stopping at these squares intentionally, but they can take damage and stop here or bump into each other and stop here.  Alternating Barricades or Fences can be used for slowing enemies.  Columns can be used to allow the enemy to move at full speed while still preventing direct pathing.

The killbox works most effectively when you have enough firepower to immediately kill the first enemy who enters.  Early in the game, you may not have enough firepower to do that.  That means in the early game you may want to use something other than a killbox.

Let’s try the same raid again using our hallway and “around the corner setup”.  Even bad shooters with bad weapons are rather effective at very short range.  This setup is much more effective in the early game.  The downside is that the people in the front tend to get stabbed quite a few times.



Using weapons like Bolt Action Rifles and Sniper rifles allow you to kite or snipe the enemies.  Simply stay out of their range and damage them without repercussions.  Kiting is another great option against especially dangerous foes like Centipedes.


Weapon selection in Rimworld is very complicated and highly depends on your defensive setups, colonists, and the quality of weapon options available.

All around, quickly available, relatively cheaply: Heavy SMG.

Late Game:

Short rang: Chain Shotgun.

Mid-range in the late game: Charge Rifles.  Miniguns

Slightly more range, slightly less damage: Assault Rifles

For Kiting or Sniping: Bolt Actions or Sniper Rifles.

For Melee weapons: For weapons you can craft: Uranium Mace.  The Plasteel Longsword is also a fine choice but the uranium mace has advantages of being blunt damage, requiring less research, and not using the more-in-demand plasteel.


The standard Rimworld clothing layout is a Duster made out of the best material you can find, a buttondown shirt and flak vest, either flak pants or regular pants, and the best helmet you can make.  At times in the late game you might consider changing to power armor, especially for melee fighters.


Breachers and sappers get complicated.  We’ll get to that in Advanced Combat techniques.  Thanks for hanging out.  That’s the best Rimworld combat tactics overview that I can cram into 10 minutes.  Hopefully I can get into more details on each and everyone one of those tactics.  


All of these tactics, and others, by keeping the key concept of “Divide and Conquer” in mind.  As one colonel summarizes Sun Tzu: “compel the enemy to disperse his army, and then to concentrate superior force against each fraction in turn”.  Modern textbooks would call these concepts “Force concentration”.

Here’s a lab type scenario.  We’ve got 12 Colonists to the enemies 10.  The enemy is divided into 5 and 5.  We could divide our forces and do two winning fights of 6v5.  Instead, take our 12 Colonists TOGETHER and fight 5, then fight the other 5.  The difference is massive.  Even stronger would be fighting 12verse1 10 separate times.  Here’s 5 verse 1 10 different times when the enemy doesn’t focus fire.  We have defeated an enemy double our size with “Divide and Conquer”.

“Divide and Conquer”, Sun Tzu, Military Textbook “Force Concentration”, and sterilized lab scenarios CAN be applied to the actual game of Rimworld. Standing around a corner is taking your entire force and fighting the one enemy who walks through the door.  All the other enemies aren’t fighting.  Similarly, a killbox limits how many enemies enter at a time.  A killbox focuses the fire of all your colonists against the few enemies who enter.  The rest aren’t fighting.  Even melee blocking uses this concept.  In this example, one warg is fighting.  The rest are literally barking dogs.  It’s 12 verse 1, repeated 20 times.

Keep this concept in mind when choosing your tactic.  By having multiple defensive setups you can choose the tactic that maximizes your many colonists against few enemies.  For example, this Spike Trap Hallway has many enemies inside.  I can step back, close the door, and cause the enemy to split up walls and doors.  Now, I can ambush enemies that are alone.  I also could reopen the doors and fire at the one single enemy who shows up alone.


Sappers and breach raids are a challenge that cannot easily be guided into your defenses.  There’s no simple, easy to execute, always going to work solution.  Hopefully I’ll get a longer guide on how to defend them, but in 30 seconds you should keep the “Divide and Conquor” concept in mind.  In this example I am intentionally letting pirates burrow through my wall.  Then, I can fight the small number of pirates that enter at a time while the rest stand uselessly outside.  Instead of fighting about 10 verse 30, now I’m fighting 10 verse 3 repeatedly.

But, Sappers and Breachers are probably the time to break out your emergency defensive measures like calling in allies, psychic shock lances, and from the royalty DLC psychic spells and Low Shield packs.

Developer(s) Ludeon Studios
Publisher(s) Ludeon Studios
Designer(s) Tynan Sylvester[1]
Tynan Sylvester
Piotr Walczak
Ben Rog-Wilhem
Rho Watson
Ricardo Tomé
Composer(s) Alistair Lindsay[2]
Engine Unity
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux
Release October 17, 2018
Genre(s) Construction and management simulation
Mode(s) Single-player

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