Buoyancy – How to Survive

A general how to guide to get to a large population.

How to Survive in Bouyancy


So, about me. I’ve been playing city builders since SimCity on the SNES was a thing, and man, have we come a long way. Bouyancy is one of those games that is going to take everything you thought you knew about city sims and throw 90% of it out the window, and then mix the other 10% with Beer and tell you that it gives happiness. Well, if you like a challenge, and you’re not afraid of failure, you’ve found the right game. Lets begin.

This guide has several parts, and is by no means comprehensive. I also make no promises that the RNG Gods will smile upon the flotilla that is your city. This is comes from my observations and many, many, many hours of trial, error, trial, anger, and finally, success. We must keep in mind, this game is in Alpha development. The Devs are literally still creating pieces of the game, so yes, stuff will be unbalanced. Yes, stuff might just break, and yes, some things may seem needlessly complex. I assume that’s why you’re here, to get a handle on it all, and to gain some satisfaction over beating the system.

We’ll cover the basic tenets: Food, Moving, Beer and Happiness and Military. Lets assume you’ve spent a few hours playing and already know how to gather raw materials/how the game generally works.

Fish, Crab, Meat, Seaweed?!

You start out with literally nothing but your town hall and a couple villagers. So, first things first, you need to start gathering food and wood. Ideally, start with food, because that will run out first. In the early game, you’re going to rely on fisheries, and if you’re unfortunate, seaweed. So, how do we avoid having our villagers live on terrible ocean plants? Crab. Once you’ve got your basic city established, with a solid income of wood and fish, you should be looking to build a trapper.

This move serves several purposes. It appears that fish were never meant to be the primary food source, Bread, Crab, and Meat are. Bread is quite a complex food source to gather, and Meat is rare, so, this points towards the obvious choice of crab. Trial and error has led me to the following discoveries.

A single fishery can support a single trapper, but has a reduced output. Now, I’m not saying the game logic is complex enough that it will literally not give you all the crab it can. I’m saying, there simply wont be enough fish to bait and drop a trap every time it’s ready. To ensure you can hit this point, you’ll want to look towards 2 Fisheries for a single Trapper.

This 2 to 1 ratio ensures that your trapper can continuously function, while also slowly building a small stockpile of extra fish to eat. When i say slowly, I mean painfully slow, but, it will happen.

As your city grows, you’ll need to continue to increase the amount of fisheries and trappers to ensure a sufficient supply of crab. At some point, you’ll need to expand into bread, but this must wait if you have any hope of surviving. The game will punish you severely if you run out of beer, and due to the very nature of beer and bread requiring the same resource, grain, beer must win out.

Meat can, and will, provide you with a high nourishment food, but is difficult to come by, as it can not be automatically generated in sufficient quantities until late game. The harpooners seem like a very tempting option, as whales provide not only meat, but blubber for later conversion to fuel. DON’T FALL FOR THIS TRAP. Whales are ridiculously hard to come by, and with the recent addition of ‘Fish are Friends, not food’, you’ll want to avoid hunting whale.

Side note, Fish are Friends. The devs added a feature that if you go some number of days without killing a whale, and get attacked by pirates, the whales may help you fight off the pirates. I haven’t encountered this mechanic yet, so I can not speak to it.

In late game, you should have several prisons at max capacity (50 prisoners). If you allow your prisoners to have babies reproduce, the game allows you to turn these new babies prisoners (whom are magically full sized adults) into meat. No butcher required. The villagers literally will carry the dead babies prisoners to the galley for processing into meat. 2 full prisons wont supply a city with sufficient meat due to the slow birth rate, so, never stop your trappers unless you’ve got some serious stockpiles of food.


You should only look to bread as a back up to your stockpiles of crab, and only after you have a steady supply of beer. Again, breweries and bakeries both want grain (processed into flour for the bakery), water. This competition for supplies will lead to your demise if you don’t keep the delicate balance.

Moving the City

Beginning Stages

Rowing your city is the only method when you first start. And yes, everyone will stop what they’re doing to move the city. Unfortunately, this means you must choose wisely. Do you move the city to get from A to B, or do you let the villagers continue to retrieve resources from producers and supply resources to consumers? Again, this game is all about the subtle balance. You’ll find for a while that you can only move a short while before needing to stop your city and allow for the collection and distribution of supplies through out your city. This is why building a prison should be higher on your priority list than you ever thought necessary.


Beyond providing a questionably sustainable source of meat, your prisoners will also supply your city with a labor force, rowers. The interesting part here, is that your prisoners count as more than one rower, whereas each villager counts as one rower. This is the crux regarding the high priority of a prison. You wont find yourself with a surplus of villagers until late in the game, well beyond the point where you actually needed them. Additionally, due to the balance, if you attempt to raise your population too quickly, you’ll run into supply issues (beer), and everything will crumble around you in minutes. So, save yourself some headaches, build a prison, and find a survivor raft to take prisoner. Allow reproduction, and newly born prisoners must become prisoners themselves. Survivor rafts, in my games, serve a single, solitary purpose. A steady supply of prisoners, not villagers. Are your prisons full? Let the survivors drown after destroying their raft. This is survival, be vengeful.

Late Game

Eventually, you’ll find yourself with a surplus of crude oil and fuel. At this point, it should be relatively safe to build ONE, maybe two, motors. It really doesn’t matter where you place them within your city, preferably close to the refinery so they get refueled quickly. This will finally allow your city to move at a faster than max rowing pace. Whenever you use motors, you must watch your fuel reserves like a hawk.

Pitfalls to Avoid

Running out of fuel

Those motors will chew through your fuel reserves faster than a fat kid can eat cake. Should you run out of fuel, your filtration units will go offline. When this happens, you must constantly be moving your city to stay out of the pollution generated, as sick villagers are unhappy villagers. If you don’t have a sufficient supply of free rowers, your villagers must constantly stop what they’re doing to row. This means extra beer consumption, with a lack of production, ultimately consigning your city to Davy Jones’ locker.

Defending Your City

How to tell you’ve met a pirate

The more you play, the more you’ll begin to recognize pirate boats and cities. For example. The little skiffs that zip across the water, often between trading cities. There exists a skiff that just sits dead in the water, and you’re able to approach without issue. BEWARE, these are pirates, should you approach them, DO NOT FIX THEIR BOAT. That is, unless you’re looking for a fight. Upon fixing the boat, they will leave, and give away your position to the big pirate boat. This is a guarantee they will come a knockin’, in force.

Some cities will have a label saying something along the lines of ‘This city looks to be an outpost for a much larger city’. Translation: they’re probably pirates. Are they warlike? Assume pirates. Do they refuse trade, recruitment, and tribute? Assume pirates. Are we getting the idea? If they aren’t neutral/friendly, assume they’re pirates.

How to respond to pirates

So. Now that we’ve learned how to recognize pirates, what do we do? Well, we kill them, or beat them into submission. This is the true difference between pirates and hermit cities. A pirate city will allow itself to be destroyed (my assumption) and a hermit city will yield in surrender after a sufficient attack is launched.

A pirate invasion. There exists two outcomes to a pirate invasion. Success and Defeat. Lets talk success. The only way I’ve found to be successful when dealing with pirates is to be prepared before they arrive. This means you’ll need to have guard shacks, rangers, and if your city is advanced enough, Harpoon Towers, as well as Junk and Water cannons. There exists no set number of each to be successful in a pirate attack. And if we’re going to be honest with each other, there’s no such thing as successfully surviving an attack. It is more like mitigating the amount of havoc caused.

Defeat. As mentioned, pirate attacks are all about mitigating the havoc caused. Based on your cities stance, Friendly/Neutral/Hostile, you may be presented with the option to provide tribute before the attack even begins. This is often the best course of action if you can afford it, as you wont lose and buildings or villagers in the process. If you attempt to fight, there will be a surrender button, again, this is the same as paying tribute, but now you’ve lost military and villagers, so a worse outcome. The choice is yours to make, and is highly dependent on where you city stands resource wise.

The Purge

One time, while playing, I was turning prisoners into food. A ship requested to come alongside, and I said sure, why not. This ship called themselves Dawn Breakers. They demanded I stop turning prisoners into food. I politely declined by destroying their ship, and killing the survivors. Life continued as normal for a while. I can’t tell you how long because this game just sucks the time out of you. Eventually, the fight music started, and similar to a pirate attack, a ship showed up. The difference? They didn’t offer me the chance to pay tribute. I attempted to fight them off. I only had 8 guards and 8 rangers, and they docked on the side opposite my towers. After my military died, I tried using villagers to fight them off. I watched my numbers drop from 250+ to less than 80, at which point I just rapidly exited the game without saving. I later discovered, after looking through the save, that I experienced what I believe to have been the Purge. I’m unsure if there is actually a way to survive this. After reloading, I immediately built towers on the side they would land on, and more guard shacks and rangers. They have yet to trigger again. To be honest, this seems to be the only successful way to win a pirate encounter. This method is based on turning your auto save time up from 1 minute to 5-10 minutes, and becoming okay with the idea that you may lose progress in a crash.

City Relations

Trade routes and Tribute

There’s not much to say here. Trade routes are kind of broken right now in terms of the usefulness they provide. The only routes I’ve found really useful are the ones with supply your city with relics. This is due to the costly nature of producing a shipyard and boats in order to establish trade routes. By the time you reach this point in your city, the small amount of goods exchange often pales in comparison to what you should be generating. If you’re attempting to run your city without prisons, the exchange of goods for villagers can be helpful in keeping your cousin rating low. Some cities will refuse to trade or establish caravan routes. They must be forced through military power. See the pirate section for this information.

There are some nuisances involved with trading and tribute routes. Some cities seem prone to pandemics. Every time your ship returns, the villagers will be sick. The solution is supposed to be send a medical caravan, which curse the city of the pandemic, for a while. Eventually, it returns and the process starts again. Some cities will be attacked by pirates. If you have a military, you can opt to send a military caravan to aid in the defense of the city. Again, the trade route mechanic seems to be woefully unbalanced towards the end of utterly useless. I’ve attempt to establish as many trade routes as possible, to see if there’s some kind of achievement or wonder to unlock. Finding new cities is nigh impossible without some sort of map and compass to keep track of where you’ve been, and what area of the map each city dwells in. Yes, I say dwell. If you follow a city long enough, their movement patterns become apparent. Some prefer to move in long straight lines, I’m unsure if they just turn back or pick a new direction. Others will just randomly idle about a given area of the ocean, never moving far. Some, ie, the Pandemic city, don’t move. I take this to mean they just live a puddle of pollution, hence the constant pandemic requiring fixing.

Occasionally, you will come across floating fortresses. I’ve learned these are the cities protecting the wonders. The game will tell you what you must do in order to obtain the wonder. Thus far, I’ve only found the aircraft hanger. It was surrounded by an unmoving prison city. 24 military, and a bunch of prisoners. Defeat the military and the city as well as its supplies are yours. The game then prompts you to decide what to do with the wonder, absorb or abandon. If you absorb, it gets added as a single use building, to be placed somewhere in your city.

Beer does not Equal Happiness

Making Beer

2 Greenhouses and 2 Distillers for every 1 Brewery.

Managing Beer

Low on beer? Save and reload, wait 2 minutes, check inventory. Still low, save and reload, wait 2 minutes, check inventory. Still low, your production line is messed up, you’ve actually got a problem.

They can smoke too?

Cigarettes can be found as a relic. They’ll smoke em cause they got em. Triggers the construction cloud animation over villagers.

This Is Sparta! (Surpassing 300)

Disable the population cap before hitting 300 if you intend to keep playing after 300. In Alpha V2, I hit 300 with the cap in place, the city set off a bunch of fireworks, the calendar went bonkers and scrolled forward a lot, and I gained a super long happiness/productivity/hunger boost. And then the lag monster attacked. In Alpha V3, I disabled the cap immediately. Upon reaching 300, nothing happened, it just popped up the notification that my city had hit 300 along with the music, and life continued as normal. Quite the odd bug.

General Tips and Tricks

Its not about amassing wealth and inventory. If you find yourself with a lot of excess of something, you’re doing it wrong (early and developing game, late game will have amassed quite a bit of resources). This over production is causing undue strain on your city, and could lead to collapse.

Use bridges, not the square platforms. Bridges allow for a more compact placement of gatherers, leading to higher efficiency, and less chances for things to go awry.

Bridges and platforms have ZERO mass. They wont slow you down, only cost resources. If you have wood to spare, make your city look pretty.

Place producers near the gathers they rely on. This minimizes the distance resources must travel, thus ensuring your villagers aren’t tied up for excessive periods with tasks.

Place store houses even through out the city. Everything is ok to lump together except towers and store houses. Like real life, they act as distribution warehouses. So excess production can be moved to the nearest store house. If this is on the other side of your city, it ties up the worker for an excessive amount of time, causing a backlog of tasks.

If you can’t get your back log of tasks to go down. Save, Reload, wait 2 minutes. This forces a respawn of all villagers. They will all grab something, move it closer to where it needs to be, before going back to what they were doing before the reload. Do this a few times if your scratching your head, wondering why you can have so many of X building, and are still short on what it provides.

Crude oil is rare. Save it for filtration units.

Place a water cannon near your prisons. The prisoners like to set the place of fire, the cannon means you’ll never have to worry about it.

Reduce the percentage for your workshop to 10% for automatic dispatching. Yes, this cheeses the mechanic.

Try not to mess with the tasks order an priority order. This really screws things up.

Your refill food will never, EVER go to zero (Bug?). It should also never really go beyond a couple hundred. If it is, Save, Reload, Wait, repeat as necessary.

Never recruit from cities, never recruit from survivor rafts. This artifically inflates your population, rapidly stressing the fragile balance of your economy, and more often than not, leads to a death spiral.

Signal flares = Asking for trouble. Go ahead, you silly masochist, send one up.

Late game, if your beer and food production can support, build an excess of workers. I have a 400 population city with 150 idle workers. This prevents a back log of tasks.

Helena Stamatina
About Helena Stamatina 2712 Articles
My first game was Naughty Dog’s Crash Bandicoot (PlayStation) back in 1996. And since then gaming has been my main hobby. I turned my passion for gaming into a job by starting my first geek blog in 2009. When I’m not working on the site, I play mostly on my PlayStation. But I also love outdoor activities and especially skiing.

1 Comment

  1. so much in this game that i cant understand for the life of me
    i have a gallery i have a butcher and everything to cover food,etc
    meanwhile i have 65 people none of them will eat (starving,etc)
    none of them will do any gathering or work related stuff
    so to bad there wasnt a way to kick them off your city boat or what ever
    QUESTION why do or guys insist on destroying other cities that we have won against seems stupid and a waste to destroy other cities especially when sometimes they have better stuff on theirs then whats on my own
    ive made the mistake of connecting my city to an enemy city short story long after i conquered my guys (stupidly)destroyed enemy city making everything on fire,etc and of course in doing so set my own city a blaze and i had to quickly detached and destroy parts of my own city so i too didnt go under and game overed LOL

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