Captain of Industry: Sustainable Start Guide

This is a guide intended to get newer players up and running quickly. I’ll cover just enough to cover the critical parts of your colony so you don’t immediately death spiral once you run out of your starting resources. Intended to be executable on standard difficulty. Developed during Early Access build.


First things first

This guide is written assuming the default island is selected and the difficulty options are set to “Captain”. You should be able to achieve what’s set out in this guide on easier difficulites, but I planned things out based on both the consumption rates and starting resources of the first island on captain difficulty, so harder difficulties and custom settings that increase maintenance and fuel consumption and/or reduce starting amounts of these might run into issues.

Once the game loads in and you clear the tutorial window, I recommend pausing the game to get the lay of the land and to set out you first construction orders.

The first thing to do is to check out the abandoned communication station and make sure you click the button to recycle it. This lets your trucks start picking up the resources from here. Initially this is your source of scrap iron, which you’ll need to smelt.
Smelting Setup
To process the scrap iron from the communication centre you will need 1 blast furnace and 2 metal casters. You can set these out any way you like but I’ve shown a good layout here which has a few benefits. First it’s reasonably compact, with short travel distance for the molten metal (don’t worry, it doesn’t solidify in transit). Secondly, the outputs for the cast metal are right next to each other. Finally, the blast furnace’s other outputs (for slag and exhaust) are easily and allows the design to be flipped if you want to expand on either side. From now on I’ll refer to this basic setup as a smelter.
Because the furnace creates exhaust, it needs to be connected to a smoke stack. You can share the same smoke stack among multiple machines and we’re going to do that with a coal maker on this one as we don’t yet have access to coal mining technology.

On the topic of research, let’s lay down 4 research labs and queue up our first techs. Here’s the research order this guide will be using. You can queue them all up ahead of time.:

1. Basic Construction
2. Vehicles and Mining
3. Power and Maintenance
4. Beacon
5. Basic Farming
6. Trading Dock
7. Concrete Production
8. Ship Dock Repair
9. Basic Diesel
10. Synthetic Rubber
11. Copper Refinement
12. Construction II
13 Efficient Concrete
14. Conveyor Belts
15. Storage
16. Fuel Station
17. Groundwater Pump

The last step is to set up a few designations. One of the vehicles we start with is a tree harvester. It will only remove the trees from areas we designate. Use the H key to set your cursor to tree removal designation and highlight a bunch of trees. Next, select your tree harvester and assign 1 pickup truck to collect the wood it harvests.
Waste is produced by our settlements and we need to dispose of it. Use the Z key to switch the cursor to dumping designations. I usually set the dumping designation to¬†Flat and extend the coast line by dumping into the ocean. This is preferable to creating a giant hill of waste that you can’t build on. Don’t forget to build a waste collection centre for your settlement.

Now you can unpause and watch the action unfold!

A note on Unity and boosts:
You might notice that a single coal maker fully supplied with wood cannot produce as much coal per minute (6) as your smelter calls for (9). We could build a second coal maker, but a better option here is to boost production using unity. This will double the output thus giving us the performance of 2 coal makers for the same amount of workers. You may want to assign a second pickup to your wood harvester to keep the coal maker fully supplied.
I won’t generally advise when to boost various buildings throughout this guide, but during normal gameplay 4 research labs will leave you with a surplus of unity that will build up over time. You can use unity for a wide range of purposes and you should get into the habit of using it to speed up certain tasks or processes.

Construction and Mining

It shouldn’t be too long after everything is up and running before our first technology is researched – construction. This unlocks the assembly building which lets us build our first basic components. For now we will focus on construction materials. Almost all buildings require construction materials and we’re going to run short on those very quickly. The communications centre has a decent supply of concrete blocks (900), we are starting to smelt iron and we are gathering wood, though we’ll want to stop burning most of it soon!

The way the assembly building works is that you can turn recipes on or off using the green tick in the top left recipe, and arrange the priority using the up and down arrows. Here I’ve set construction materials to be priority 1, and electronics to be priority 2. This means trucks will deliver the ingredients to produce either of these. The workers will first try to make construction materials and if they don’t have enough ingredients, they’ll shift to making electronics. They’ll remain idle if there isn’t enough ingredients for any recipes they have in the list.
We do have supplies of copper and rubber on the ship, and electronics are the only thing we really want copper for at this stage. We do need to leave some rubber to make vehicles but we won’t use it all up too quickly. Our smelter is capable of producing 24 iron per minute if we’re feeding it coal and scrap iron, so we can sustain a maximum of 5 assembly buildings. I’m going to build all 5 now, but you could start with 3 or 4 and build the others later or use unity boosts once they start to get a stockpile of ingredients.

Note: We’ll unlock more recipes as we research more technologies and you should check and update the priorities for these assemblies with the products you need as things develop. At some point soon you’ll need them to produce vehicle parts, for example.

Vehicles and Mining
There isn’t a whole lot else to do until we finish the vehicles and mining research. Just keep an eye that your tree harvester hasn’t eaten through all the trees you designated. You can designate as much as you like or designate a little bit at a time if you want to clear specific areas for expansion.

Vehicles and mining opens up everything we need to finally start mining coal instead of burning wood. Place the Vehicle Depot right next to the docks. You can issue it orders before it has even been built, so create 1 small excavator and 2 pickups.

Next, place a Mining Control Tower somewhere close to our coal deposit. Not too close, as we’ll be digging down to get at the coal at some point and land slippage will be an issue. use the Edit Area function to surround a decent chunk of the coal mountain and use the (M)ining designation with the (F)lat tool to level off all the coal above ground level first. That will keep them busy for a while.

I won’t go in depth on the details of mining as the Charlie Pryor has an excellent tutorial here

Once the small excavator is built, don’t forget to assign it to the coal mine through the mine control tower interface. Also assign 2 pickups to ferry the coal to the smelter. If you’ve done all that, you should start to see coal deliveries coming to your smelter.

Decommissioning the Coal Maker

While you could wait until we’re getting coal from the mine and then simply delete our coal maker, we can make a smoother transition than that. Select the coal maker and turn off truck imports. This prevents any more wood being delivered to the coal maker, so only the wood it has in the building can be used. If you still had unity boost active on the coal maker you might as well shut that off as well. By leaving exports on, the final loads of coal can still be delivered to the blast furnace.

You can watch the coal maker burn through its final supply or come back in a minute or two and then use the delete key to issue the deconstruction order. Trucks will come collect salvaged materials and drop them off in storage. You can control a lot of your logistics network by using import/export rules and this is just a simple example. This saves your trucks delivering wood to the coal maker only to have to collect it again when you deconstruct the building. We’ll look at a few more examples of using import/export rules further on.

Power, Products, People and Priorities

You may have already finished the Power and Maintenance Research by this point, and be on your way to researching the Beacon. The Beacon needs 20mW to operate and cannot be unity boosted (which removes the power requirement) so we need to set up at least a diesel generator before we can get more people to our island. This is kind of important, because at this point we’re starting to run low on workers. Once you’ve finished the Beacon research, place the beaconwherever you like, I’m picking a little section on the other side of the docks.

The Beacon brings in new pops in waves and you can turn it off whenever you wish if you want to save power, unity, or if you want to control population growth. Our starter settlement has 90 pops and room for 140 in those stylish shipping containers. Expanding our settlement costs 80 construction materials and we’ve already eaten through everything we came with. Even if we had all 5 assembly buildings producing construction materials non-stop it would be almost 3 months before we could afford this.

So we’re going to turn off the beacon once we get close to our maximum population, and turn our attention to feeding the people we currently have.


Basic farming is our next research project and it should finish around the time the beacon is built. 1 farm will be enough to keep our food supplies from dwindling, but we’re about to get more people joining us so it makes sense to build 2 farms now and maintain a healthy surplus of food. We’re also reliant upon rain to grow the food and our soil fertility will reduce with each harvest, so the estimated 9.2 potatoes per minute is inaccurate and we’ll likely have fewer than that.

Tracking production
Let’s take a moment to look at how many potatoes we’re actually going through. You might have noticed a bunch of resources on the right hand side of your screen. You can click on these to bring up the statistics panel. Select potatoes and you’ll be presented with a graph showing that your settlement is consuming 5 potatoes each month.
You can go back to the list of all products and see the same graph for all the products you have. For instance, you can check your construction materials and see how production has ramped up since we devoted all our wood harvesting to assembly and have a steady supply of iron coming in.

One other thing we can do while we’re here is reconfigure what items we want to keep track of on the right hand side. For example, Wood and coal are not resources I’m stockpiling so I don’t really need to know how much I have on hand. But electronics and mechanical parts are about to become vital, so I want to make sure they’re tracked. From the products screen, click the pin icon to set up your preferred products to track.

Dealing with our worker shortage

Back to the issue at hand. We are building farms but we don’t have enough workers for them. What can we do? First up, We want to make sure that no matter what happens, the power is on and our beacon is lit, because that’s going to get us out of this problem. Select the Diesel Generator. You’ll see two separate “Priority” tabs, which you might have noticed appear against most buildings when you select them. You can read the tooltips, but the key for us is to set the general priority (the top one) to a low number (between 1 and 5) for the Diesel Generator. Because the default for all buildings is around 10, what this means is that if we ever run short of workers, we will be sure to have workers assigned to the diesel generator, so the power doesn’t go out. Go ahead and set the Beacon to P5 as well.

Think about what you could do without during a worker shortage, power shortage, or other problem. My recommendation is to set the vehicle depot and research labs to priority 11-12. The vehicle depot could even be paused to free up the workers immediately if you aren’t building anything in it, but at most if it is the first to be switched off you can re-arrange priority if you desperately want to build another truck during an outage. Research is similar, it can wait unless you’re in a situation where a specific technology is going to solve your current problems. Between the vehicle depot and the labs we have 22 workers who can be redirected to other tasks. Think about what other things you might want to keep going at all costs, or what can be shut off before anything else. Be aware that farms can lose their entire harvest if there aren’t enough workers.

Don’t forget! As refugees arrive, check the amount of space you have left. You get 16 pops every wave, so you don’t want more than 3 waves of refugees or you’ll run into a housing issue. This comes with a Unity penalty and can really slow you down on top of forcing the construction of extra housing earlier than you planned.

Mining, Maintenance and Storage

The next technology we unlock is the Trading Dock. I’m not goint to built the dock itself as this guide is focused on a sustainable start, but if you did run into trouble don’t forget you can trade with other settlements. The technology also unlocks the “Unit storage” building. This allows storage of 1 specific product and helps us start to stockpile goods. earlier I mentioned that Mechanical Parts and Electronics were about to become vital, and here’s where that comes in.

Here I’ve set up two unit storage buildings. One for Electronics and one for Mechanical Parts. The other building is our Maintenance Depot. The Maintenance Depot produces a resource called “maintenance” which isn’t actually a product, it’s a representation of spare parts used to keep everything running smoothly. Many buildings and all vehicles undergo wear and tear over time and maintenance is consumed at a set rate. This building basically keeps everything repaired up to 100% condition. Not enough maintenance? Everything loses condition and starts to break down. Lack of maintenance is one of the easiest death spirals to fall into. So lets look at how we can give ourselves plenty of warning ahead of time.

First, simply having storage right next to the depot means we can keep a lot more ingredients for maintenance handy. Once we have researched conveyor belts we can automate this setup so trucks only need to deliver to the storage and don’t need to make a second trip to the depot itself. Secondly, we can use priorities and other tools to keep that storage topped up. By dragging the green “Keep Full” slider over to the right we can order our trucks to try to deliver all the electronics we have into this storage. Using the import priority we can also ensure that if we had other electronics storage buildings, this one would get filled before the others.

Be careful: If you set the priority of these storage buildings higher than the maintenance depot, your trucks will want to fill them before delivering anything to the depot!

The last tool we can use is the alert mechanism. By asking the game to notify us if the storage in this building drops below 50%, we can get a little bit of warning if our production isn’t keep up with our consumption. That gives us time to correct the issue before everything comes grinding to a halt.

Mining Iron

Now that you know how important mechanical parts and electronics are, it might be worth checking your production of each and our supply of ingredients for them. You’ll find that you have several hundred units of copper, which are only used for electronics. Rubber is going to be an issue before copper is. Mechanical parts only need iron, but they need a lot of it and almost all of ours is being used to make construction materials. Plus, we’re still using up the limited supply in the comms station. So lets start mining iron and get a second smelter going.

You can copy/paste the smelter setup to duplicate it close to where the iron mine is, and once again set your mining designation, mining area, and a nearby dumping ground. Don’t forget that you’ll need another Small Excavator, and it would be good to have a few extra pickups as well.

This is going to be a fairly expensive expansion in terms of construction materials – between the maintenance depot, storage, smelter and mine we’re looking at a little over 250 construction materials. So this will take us a while and we will likely jump ahead in a few research projects. Don’t forget you can use unity to boost production if you want to speed things up.

Once we’ve finished construction of all that, be sure to check everything is starting to operate as planned (are you making maintenance? Is the iron mine getting ore deliveries?) and then we can move on to concrete.

Concrete – Part 1

We’ve got a steady supply of wood and a steady supply of iron now. Those are two of the key ingredients for our construction materials pipeline. The last one is concrete, and we’re going to tackle it in a few stages.

First, it’s worth noting that the recipe for concrete blocks calls for 3 ingredients: Water, Cement, and either gravel or crushed slag. We brought 400 bags of cement with us and alongside the concrete production technology we unlocked a rainwater catcher. Slag is going to be our immediate concern, but we just solved it by setting up our 2nd smelter. Slag is a byproduct of melting iron ore at the furnace, so we just need to crush it and we’re all good to go.

Here’s an example layout with the iron smelter in view. From right to left we have the Crusher, which will take slag from the furnace and turn it into crushed slag. Then we have a line of 4 concrete mixers which will take crushed slag, cement, and water, turning it into concrete blocks. The concrete mixers are mirrored so their water inputs face one another. Don’t forget the (F)lip tool when building because compact designs like these tend to use this.
The two rainwater catchers to the left pipe water into the mixers. I’ve laid out 4 mixers here, but I’d recommend immediately pausing the construction of 2 of them to start as we won’t need that much concrete immediately. Pausing the construction will prevent delivery of materials but keep the blueprint visible. If you prefer, you can simply delete them once you’re confident you’ve left the space for that expansion later.

With that setup built, those 400 bags of cement can be turned into a further 800 concrete blocks, which means another 800 construction parts. Most likely this has come just as we were getting down to about 200 concrete blocks left from the communications centre. And you’re probably starting to really feel the pinch with every new building we put down, so it’s nice to have that extra cushion.

Some other tasks you might want to think about doing now are:

1. Setting up more assembly buildings near our new iron smelter to expand production (with that extra iron we could be making mechanical parts constantly to keep on top of maintenance needs, and if you want to up the pace of construction you could have more assemblies making those parts as well)
2. Expanding the Settlement with another group of shipping containers (80 construction materials) and turning on the beacon for more workers
3. Repairing the shipyard (100 construction materials) as that’s the first task before we can begin exploration

Oil, Fuel and Rubber

We’ve still got plenty of critical resources left that we haven’t even started any production of, but since it took us a while to ramp up our production of construction materials it’s likely we’ve already researched Basic Diesel and Synthetic Rubber. These introduce the next major resource, oil. Using the (L)ayers overlay you will find an oil source in the forest between your coal mine and the coastline. Your tree harvester might have cleared away the trees around there.

The basic diesel setup is 3 oil pumps connected to a single basic distiller by a pipe. The distiller needs to get coal delivered and that will happen via truck for the time being, so be sure to leave room for trucks to get through. It also outputs fuel, exhaust and wastewater. The way I have laid things out below makes it very simple to mirror the distiller if we want to double our production later – remember you can leave the plans in place if you like but I deleted the extra distiller and additional piping before taking this screenshot for clarity.

The Fluid storage tanks are for wastewater and fuel. The fuel is being pumped from the rightmost storage tank to keep the diesel generator topped up.
Remember that you can set alerts on your fuel storage so you’re aware if you are running short. It’s also a good idea to turn off truck imports for your fuel storage – otherwise as soon as it’s completed your trucks will rush over with fuel from the shipyard and you won’t start producing anything until after that’s all gone.

Note: There are many different ways to set this up. I’ve chosen to set up close to the oil field and keep everything together so the build can be easily captured in a single screenshot. Some considerations to keep in mind:

  • We’ll be dumping waste water into the ocean for the time being, so you might want to set up the distiller closer to the coast where you can simply pipe to a liquid dump instead of using fluid storage and requiring truck transport like I have here
  • You can also import oil from offshore rigs, so saving yourself a few metres of pipe between your oil pumps and distiller now may not be wisest decision
  • This is the lowest tech of oil processing and it gets a lot more complicated from here, so don’t feel the need to overthink this setup

Rubber Production

This should be fairly straightforward if you’ve already done the diesel build. I’ve shown a different angle where I’ve added the rubber maker. As it requires a coal input and a waste water output it made sense to keep it close by.

If you’ve repaired the shipyard and the ship, you can now safely start exploring the world map. I wouldn’t recommend venturing out before now as it will consume all your available fuel and you won’t have the resources to really do too much on the world map yet.

Concrete – part 2

Now we just have cement and copper to go. Cement is coming first as our whole operation will grind to a halt if we can’t make concrete. Cement is made in a rotary kiln using Coal and Limestone. So we need yet another mine control tower, and another excavator:
Don’t forget to produce some vehicle parts in between all the construction materials!

This is the setup for the rotary kilns. I’m also finishing the other two concrete mixers as we’ll be ramping up production. The rotary kilns share a smoke stack. The distance between all the buildings is important to note – this is about as compact as I could get but if you’re just starting out give yourself more room.

I’ve jumped ahead in time in order to show something you’ll want to start bearing in mind as you build this. We’re about to unlock conveyor belts and with it, the capability to turn a great many of those hauling jobs our trucks are doing into fully automated processes. So here is another shot of the 4 concrete mixers being fed by 2 rotary kilns. Concrete is particularly tricky because part 3 includes adding sand to the recipe.
You will probably unlock the “Efficient concrete” recipe before these structures are even built. That recipe halves the cement requirement and doubles the concrete output and I put it early enough in the research queue that you can almost jump right to it. That adds the recipe to your mixers, and the easiest way to go is just set it as hte highest priority recipe, with the standard concrete recipe below it.

In order to add sand to your mix you’ll need – you guessed it – another mine control tower and excavator. Are you juggling production in your assembly buildings yet? Don’t worry, dedicated production facilities are just around the corner.

Copper Production

By this point you should be pretty familiar with setting up a new smelter and mining a new ore. Mining Control Tower, excavator, pickups, and your basic smelter. The extra step with copper comes from the electrolysis process, which needs water and a LOT of power. You have probably already had to build a second diesel generator – now you’ll want a third.

You’ll also note I’m now laying out conveyor belts and storages for inputs and outputs. You could go further than this to put a few assembers making electronics and a storage with rubber as a second input. But rather than walk you through all that I’ll leave you here. Because with copper all set up and ready to go, we now have a baseline production of everything we’re using. Iron, Copper amd Rubber for the mechanical parts and electronics to maintain all our facilities and vehicles, as well as fuel to maintain our power supply and keep everything running. From here it’s time to optimise and start ramping up production to reach the next tier of technology. Congratulations.

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