Timberborn celebration key art FHD

Timberborn Beginners Guide 2023 (Update 4)

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Early Access Guide – updated May 2023

Hello and welcome to Timberborn Early Access, now with Update 4!

Here’s a recap of what you’ll find in the game already.

  • Two beaver factions, each with unique buildings, architecture, and food chains, as well as faction-specific mechanized beaver bots.
  • Water physics and destructible terrain – you can reshape each map from the ground up.
  • Dams, canals, underwater paths, river control – city-building has a beaver flair here.
  • Droughts and other perils – beavers need to irrigate the land to keep fields and forests alive as droughts hit them hard.
  • Vertical architecture – you can stack buildings atop one another, use platforms and bridges.
  • Map editor, community-made mods, and more.

And here’s a guide to help you find the way in the drought-stricken lands of Timberborn.

Beaver factions

Once you start a new game you will have to choose between two factions – Folktails or Iron Teeth. In the beginning, only Folktails are unlocked, with Iron Teeth being unlocked once you reach an average Wellbeing of 15 while playing with Folktails. This is easily doable during your first playthrough and shouldn’t take too much time.

While the general gameplay is the same, each faction has some things they do differently as well as having unique buildings that help them achieve their goals.

Folktails are expert farmers that respect nature and make sure it is cared for properly – they use Beehives to make sure their crops grow faster and hide large quantities of resources in their Underground Piles. They live in cozy lodges and use Windmills to generate power.

Iron Teeth have mastered iron and science to build advanced machinery such as Engines, Breeding Pods or even stackable Hydroponic Gardens. They are an industrious bunch living in barracks and rowhouses and have access to upgraded buildings such as Deep Water Pumps and Industrial Log Piles.

Game modes

After choosing your faction and a map to play on, you additionally have a choice of a game mode. This encompasses your starting resources and the frequency and strength of droughts that will happen during gameplay. There are four modes:

  • Easy – Relaxed experience with focus on building a grand city rather than on surviving. Droughts are sparse and short, your colony starts with more and uses fewer resources.
  • Normal – Standard Timberborn experience as we envisioned it. You start with some resources, and droughts while short at the beginning get longer and longer each time. A good mix of having to survive and building cool settlements.
  • Hard – A proper challenge. Small amounts of starting resources and droughts that get longer to a point where after a few times it’s dry more often than not.
  • Custom – Our community wanted more customization when it came to the way they get to play Timberborn. Here you can choose how many beavers you start with, how much water and food they need, how many resources they have at the beginning of the game and how long the droughts will be. If you want to, you can make it an ultimate sandbox experience, or an ultimate hardcore desert world.

Surviving the first days

Simply launch a new game on Folktails and follow the built-in tutorial to learn the ropes. (The tutorial can be turned on and off in Settings). As described above, getting your Folktails colony to a certain Well-being level will unlock the second faction, the Iron Teeth.

An important change was introduced in Update 3 – now, all warehouses, piles, and tanks only store a single type of good. You can select the stored good in the storage building’s panel, or using a special overlay accessed with TAB.

The Iron Teeth play very differently, mostly because of a separate food chain that heavily relies on industrial food processing, and a specific breeding method involving Breeding Pods. This faction doesn’t have a tutorial attached, so come prepared!

Droughts and irrigation

After some time playing you will get a warning that in 3 days, a drought will come.  Once the drought starts, all the water sources on the map will dry out for the duration of the drought – and once the water leaves, all your land will become dry and the crops will slowly start dying.

While you can save water by building water tanks, the main way to make sure your land is arable is through dams. Putting up Dams, Levees or Floodgates ensures that once the drought comes, all the water behind them stays – until it evaporates or is used up by water pumps.

Settlement Panel

The Settlement Panel is a special interface that can be used to gain an overview of various information: from a list of beavers and their assigned homes and workplaces to a list of storages and their capacities or specific workplace performances. It is opened using the G key or using the stylised button in the top left corner of the screen.


A late-game option is Dynamite – it destroys the terrain block underneath it, which allows you to change the course of rivers or create deep lakes that can store a lot of water that won’t leave the map. You can also artificially move water with the help of a Water Dump – a building that takes water you saved and pours it back into the map, which can also create a reservoir. And if you’re playing Folktails, you can use Irrigation Towers to irrigate hard-to-reach areas.

In the later stages of the game, you gain access to Dirt Excavators which will destroy terrain below them and allow you to use the mined-out dirt to create new terrain elsewhere. Upon reaching the bottom of the map, the Dirt Excavator will continue generating dirt, however it will no longer destroy terrain. To excavate and place terrain blocks, you will need the help of Bots.


Around mid-game, you are able to optimize production by creating Bots. They are robotic beavers that work 24/7 but are made in a special factory and need to be maintained through methods that differ between factions.

Folktails’ Bots consume Biofuel, and can be overclocked using a special Catalyst liquid, both of which are made in the Refinery building. Iron Teeth Bots on the other hand are more like clockwork machinery and need to be periodically wound up at Charging Stations. Their performance can also be improved by placing Control Towers that use up generated science points to emit light signals. Bots can’t directly research new technologies or benefit from the well-being structures.

Depending on the player bots can end up making a utopia where manual labor is handled by machines, a dystopian factory where beavers were replaced with efficient machines, or anything in between.

Vertical architecture

You might notice that some of the buildings in the game are marked as “Solid”. This means that other buildings can be placed on top of them. With the help of Platforms and Stairs, you can create tall buildings and non-standard architecture. You can also use Suspension Bridges to bridge over wide gaps or even create multi-level cities with expensive Metal Platforms.

You can use Alt + mouse wheel to hide layers of your cities and T to make water transparent.

Paths and districts

Every building with an entrance needs to be connected by a Path to a District Center. It is then considered a part of the district. You will also need to build paths on roofs and platforms as you expand vertically.

Please note that beavers know how to swim and continue using paths that are underwater. They also gather resources and build underwater, even though flooded buildings won’t work.

Starting with Update 4, districts are no longer limited in size. At some points however, you will notice drops in productivity caused by long distances. To remedy that you can start a new district, with its own population and production. Districts can easily exchange resources between one another, as long as they are connected by a District Crossing.

This building is split into two halves, each employing specialized haulers that will bring goods that are being exported and distribute the imported goods brought to the Crossing from the other district. This process is largely automated, but you can do some fine tuning using the Distribution tab in the Settlement Panel.

Beavers and Bots can be freely migrated between districts. Using a dedicated tab in the Settlement Panel, you can either move them manually or set minimum population levels which the districts will try to maintain automatically.

Map editor

The map editor is found in the main menu and it allows you to create (or edit) maps of different sizes. The editor has tools for absolute and relative brushes for terrain, brushes for natural resources and a few other features such as natural barriers, ruins or water sources.

Other tips

  • Check the list of hotkeys, accessed from the game’s menu.
  • Use the Priority tool, available in building panels, as a tool on the toolbar, and in the Settlement Panel, to specify what needs your beavers’ attention first.
  • You can change working hours using the clock in the upper right corner.
  • You can rename your beavers!

Bugs and roadblocks

It’s an Early Access, right? The bug button in the lower right corner allows you to open our official Bug Tracker. In case of emergency, you can also break the glass and contact our comms guy Michal at [email protected]. We’ll do our best to help you!