Surviving Mars: Strategy & Tips

Surviving Mars: Strategy & Tips

Surviving Mars is a fantastic real-time strategy and resource management video game. It's a modern Sim City except your mission is to colonize and terraform Mars! Difficulty can be customized for each scenario and a random mystery drives the storyline. It's got full controller support which is hard to come by in a RTS game—which I love because I can enjoy it from the comfort of my couch.

For many scenarios this game can be brutally difficult, which is why I've compiled a short list of strategies and tips that I have learned from hundreds of hours of game-play.

Surviving Mars game-play

Base Location

Carefully select your starting location. Purchase at least a few Orbital Probes in your starting resources and scan for a good starting location for your colony. You ideally want a base relatively close to both a Water Deposit and a Rare Minerals Deposit. Selecting the Hydro Engineer commander reveals a Water Deposit immediately, which can be an extremely useful early boost.

While selecting locations you'll see different levels of resources and disasters. Obviously more resources and less disasters will make for an easier game, but keep in mind that selecting a location in a zone with heavy meteorite activity can actually be useful. Meteorites scatter Metal and Polymer on the map that you can harvest, which is incredibly helpful, and meteorites often trigger an Anomaly which can be scanned for Research points.

Don't Rush Your First Colonizers

Your first significant landmark will be completing the "Founder Stage," where you need to keep your initial group of colonists alive on Mars for 10 Sols (or a birth in the colony will end the stage early). Your early game will be significantly easier if you have established a solid drone operation on Mars before you start importing humans. Here are some tips:

  • Stockpile Concrete
  • Stockpile Metal
  • Stockpile Fuel
  • Stockpile some Polymer, Electronics, and Machine Parts by importing them from Earth
  • Create a reliable water source, ideally with backup Water Tanks

Queue Up Research

Queue up Research immediately, most Sponsors grant some research every Sol. Anytime spent without active research is wasted time.


Build a Sensor Tower immediately and queue up scanning surrounding areas. Import an RC Explorer from Earth if you don't have one already and start scanning any Anomalies for to speed up your research.

Buildings To Avoid Early Game

Try to avoid dependency on buildings which require maintenance with Polymer, Electronics, and Machine Parts. These resources cannot be created on Mars until you have a colony, and even then your initial colonists will need to focused on Food production instead of Polymer, Electronics, and Machine Parts production.

Avoid things like:

  • Wind Turbines. Wind Turbines require Machine Parts to repair, which are expensive and rare in the early game. Instead use Solar Panels exclusively early on. Your Water, Fuel, and Concrete production operation can initially run during daylight only.
  • Power Accumulators. Similarly, these take Polymer to repair, while raw Polymer can be found on Mars, unlike Electronics and Machine Parts, you are going to need Polymer for more important buildings such as Domes and Apartments.


Here are some things to prioritize before importing colonists:

  • Have a Rare Metals Refinery built in proximity to your initial Dome, ready for workers as soon as your initial colonists arrive. Exporting Rare Metals back to Earth is the fastest way to pay for essential Building Prefabs such as Stirling Generators and Moisture Vaporizers.
  • Have more Food stockpiled than you think you need. One of your first priorities will be to grow Food, but lack of water, cold snaps, or colony morale can make initial Food production difficult. Having extra food will avoid starvation.
  • Build an Open Air Gym, it takes a lot of space but it costs zero maintenance and grants a nice comfort and services boost.
  • Build 3 Hydroponic Farms to get ahead on Food. When you import more colonists your nicely balanced Food to population ratio will go out of whack immediately. Focus your initial workers on the Hydroponic Farms and the Rare Metals Refinery to get a head start.
Surviving Mars mountain ridge
Colony in the Surviving Mars video game

These are my tips for conquering Mars. Hopefully they help you kick ass at Surviving Mars. If you have more tips or any comments on the above, drop a comment.