If you are reading this, you are probably new to Sapiens, so, welcome! This guide is designed to provide you with some help in getting a tribe set up and stable.
On the start-up menu, there are several options, with the main ones of interest for this article being the settings button and create world button. Firstly, check your basic settings - ensure the graphics settings are desirable, and maybe take a moment to view the keybinds - we will be using default keybinds during this tutorial, so remember if you change any. Don’t worry too much about this, as we can always change these later.
Now, you can create a new world. The new world menu should be set up with medium settings for all options, such as temperature - these are recommended for a new player, as they provide a rounded game experience without extreme challenges. However, once you become familiar with the concepts of the game, these settings can be modified for a fun challenge.
When you’re ready, press Create World.
Selecting a tribe
At this point the in-game tutorial should have started. This tutorial is very informative and provides you with most of the same information you will get from this guide, but if you don’t want to follow it for any reason, feel free to continue reading this guide.
You will be prompted to zoom into a specific region of the planet, and select a tribe to start from. Tribes are marked by icons and when clicked on, the temperature and its related difficulty, and the tribe members, are visible. It is recommended to start in a temperate or tropical region, as tropical regions do not have cold winters, and have plentiful food, and temperate environments have mild temperatures and decent food supplies, although winters can be cold. A plentiful supply of trees is also recommended, as well as perhaps a source of branches such as reeds or bamboo.
A tribe consisting primarily of young or middle-aged adults is also recommended, as they will all be able to perform all functions. However, new tribes should appear occasionally which you can recruit, to increase tribe numbers. 3-5 tribe members should be good. When you are ready, select a tribe to begin!
Before you perform any actions, make sure that, in the top left, the pause icon is highlighted blue. Now, we can take as long as we need to get acquainted with the menu, and the environment. Firstly, look at the user interface - there isn’t much right now other than the time controls, which we just paused. This box contains the time of day (an arrow rotating around a sun and moon representing the state of day or night), and the ability to pause time, play time at normal speed or speed up time.
Now, press escape to bring up the build menu, and have a look around. Right now, we won’t build anything, but we can come back later. There are also 4 icons at the top - the hammer for the build menu, the tent for the tribe menu, containing useful info about your tribe and assigned skills, and a stack for a resources menu, for managing storage and resource routes, and a gear for the settings menu.
When you’re done exploring these menus, return to the game environment by pressing escape again. Now you can try to find your sapiens. When you find them, try clicking them to bring up a menu about them in the bottom left. You can see their name and age, and portrait, and happiness and loyalty. Loyalty is a measure of how close a sapien is to leaving the tribe, and it is fine for it to remain at 3-4 stars, although 2 or less will be a cause for concern as sapiens may be getting unhappy and wish to leave the tribe soon - this is a common indicator of problems such as food shortages. Happiness is a measure of how productive the sapien will be when working. Both of these are influenced by status effects. You can also change a sapien’s name by clicking on it.
You can also zoom to a sapien, for example if you lose them, by going into the menu by pressing escape, selecting the tribe menu from the top icons, and selecting the sapiens menu. Here you can see a list of all your sapiens, and if you zoom to a specific one it will take the camera to that sapien.
Now, feel free to take the camera around the environment, and explore a bit - take a mental note of any rocks or fruit-bearing trees.
When you’re ready, we can start giving your sapiens some orders.
Cutting the grass
Unpause the game again by pressing the play button in the time window. You can also press space to toggle between pause and play. You can give sapiens orders whilst paused, but it is more interesting to see them perform the orders as you do them.
Click on a piece of grass - it should turn blue when hovered over. At the top of the screen you should get some information on what you are hovering over. When you click on the grass, a radial menu should appear, with some options. At the top should be a sickle, ‘clear’ - click on this. Your sapiens will now pull the grass until it disappears, and dirt will be left instead.
Some loose green hay will be left behind, and if you click it, it will show as ‘wet hay’ - a progress circle shows that it will dry very soon outside. When the hay dries, it can be used in several different ways.
Now, we will want more hay, and we will want a cleared area to work with, so we will clear more grass. A faster way of doing this is by selecting a piece of grass, but instead of pressing ‘clear’, press the 2 plus signs on the inside of the menu, called ‘select more’. This opens up a menu where you see an overhead view of grass tiles, so you can select them via a box select or radial select. Drag your mouse across a group of grass tiles so that you clear roughly 15-20, and then select them and press ‘clear’ to order your sapiens to gather more hay. As the clearing begins, you can start your next task.
In the dirt areas now cleared (or not, it’s up to you - you can build it in the grass instead), you can build storage areas, by pressing escape and bringing up the build menu in the top icons - it should be the icon on the left. In this menu, make sure you are on the leftmost tab, and click on the storage area icon - a stack of cubes. Build this by pressing build, and then it should display a ghost image of the storage area in the world. You can view the controls for building on the bottom left, although to simply place the area you can just left-click. Place a few of these, and then exit by pressing escape, then exiting again to the world. Your sapiens should now start storing your hay in the storage areas. Some of this hay should also be drying out by now - if you select the storage area containing the hay, you should see that it rots in a year outside - this is a decay feature which can prevent food from being kept for long periods, although most items will last for longer inside.
Once the clearing has finished, you should be left with a stack of hay in your storage areas. Now, you will want some branches. These can be gathered either from trees, or from reeds or bamboo plants. If you gather than from several different sources, they will still stack in the same storage area, but have different aesthetics in builds. The use of different materials can be controlled, but this will be saved for a more advanced guide. Gather branches by clicking trees and selecting ‘gather branches’ on the right - the select more option can also be used here.
From the build menu, you can select a hay bed. You can then place this and a ghost image of it should appear in the world, along with an icon for building it. These icons show if anything is stopping the building from occurring, such as if there is not enough light or not enough materials. Sapiens will bring the items required to build the item to it, and then someone with the required skills to build it can come and construct it. For a hay bed, no skills are required other than basic construction, which all your sapiens will have. Place a few hay beds, one for each sapien, and watch them bring the dry hay to them and construct them. If nighttime falls, the sapiens should sleep automatically.
When your sapiens come across objects in the world, they can use their knowledge of existing skills, and new objects, to try and make discoveries. This is known as investigation, and is represented by a lightbulb when selecting an object that can be investigated. Right now, you can investigate your hay that you have collected. If you run out of hay, you can always clear more grass - just remember that you will have to wait a bit for the hay to dry. When a sapien is investigating an object, they will stare at it and perform some actions on it until they learn the skill associated with the investigation - represented by the blue circle around their icon filling up. In our case, they will learn thatch building, allowing them to build a thatch shelter. Whilst one sapien is investigating, send some other sapiens to gather some small and large rocks and investigate the branches you gathered.
The investigation process is similar to the learning process when a sapien must learn a new skill, although instead of investigating they simply perform the skill automatically until they learn how to do it.
Setting up camp
Once you have finished the investigation, the sapien assigned to the investigation will learn the skill, for thatch building in this case. This allows you to build a thatch shelter.
From the build menu, you can select a thatch roof piece - this is a small triangular building piece used to provide a roof for small buildings, or function as a hut. Anything underneath is counted as ‘inside’. This provides sapiens with shelter, both from rain (so they don’t get wet) and whilst they sleep (which makes them happier). Place a thatch roof piece somewhere in your tribal gathering area.
Now you will want all your beds to be kept under the shelter to improve happiness of your sapiens when they sleep. Remove your beds and place them under the shelters. Removing a built object causes the sapiens to deconstruct it into its original parts, then store these parts again.
If you investigated the branches earlier, you should also be able to build a campfire - one of your sapiens will then be able to light it as they know the fire lighting skill. This provides your sapiens with some light and warmth, and can be used later to cook meat.
By now, it will likely be getting dark, so feel free to speed up time and let your sapiens sleep through the night.
You now have a grasp of the basic game mechanics, and can explore the game on your own if you wish. Alternatively, you can visit some of the other guides below if you wish to learn various other techniques. You eventually want to be able to sustain your sapiens, and build colonies, but these are not possible without basic skills such as crafting and foraging for food.