Throughout the game, you will find that having money, or Cats, is convenient in order to survive in the dangerous world of Kenshi. Here are just a few helpful tips and methods of getting rich in this apocalyptic desert.
Low Risk Strategies
Early on, player characters will not win fights. The prevalent strategy to make up for this is luring hostile squads towards a town with town guards. After the guards knock all combatants unconscious, player characters should loot the downed characters. To save on inventory space, players should prioritize looting the more valuable items from these characters instead of just stripping them dry. Since the attacking squad was likely members of a Hostile Faction, all vendors should accept items stolen from them. Players should be able to make a few thousand cats off each group.
Players should lure bandits to the town guards for slaughter and looting until the player can afford good equipment. Fighting alongside the guards in relative safety is a good tactic for developing stats, at least around 20 for Melee Attack and Defense. Once players are confident in their characters' abilities, they should try taking on some wandering loners. At about 30-40 in their preferred combat skills, the player's squad should be able to take on small groups of enemies.
Fog Prince Head Hunting
Due to the danger of being downed in the Fog Islands, it isn't recommended for early game squads to hunt Fog Deathyards. However, Fogmen frequently attack the city of Mongrel. Mongrel's Shinobi Guards are more than capable of defending the town. Before being defeated, Fog Princes usually reach the Mongrel Barracks, however some Princes can be defeated before even entering the city gates. Fog Princes can be difficult to spot in large piles of Fogmen, but their distinct yellow blood helps. After looting their heads from their bodies, the bounties can be earned by simply selling the heads to any vendor. A Fog Prince Head is worth 6,000 Cats, and most squads with Fog Heavies will have 1-4 Fog Princes.
Across Kenshi, there are Iron and Copper deposits. Iron deposits can be ignored because Raw Iron is worth half as much as Raw Copper. These ore deposits can be used by 1 to 3 workers, depending on the size of the deposit. Characters can be given mining jobs by shift-left-clicking the deposit. Each deposit will stack only 5 items before it is full and workers will stop working. If these miners were assigned a Job, they will resume it as soon as the extracted copper is transferred to their inventories. It's a good idea to use a stacking Backpack to transport the copper as backpacks decrease encumbrance while worn and greatly increase carrying capacity of characters.
Mining characters should not be left alone since these deposits are in the wilderness and workers are left exposed to attacks by wild animals and Hostile Factions. If they are attacked, players should quickly move their backpacks to their primary inventory or simply drop them on the ground. This is recommended because backpacks can lower melee combat stats by 3 to 10, depending on the type of backpack.
Players should find a town that has a price markup on copper higher than 100%, then find the nearest copper deposit of a reasonable quality, preferably 100. Players should mine as much copper and sell it to the town's trader. This method will increase characters' Labouring and Strength stats due to mining and carrying large amounts of copper.
This is probably one of the most complicated methods. Players should find the Trader in their starting location and buy up whichever Trade Goods items are cheap until they run out of Cats. They should then head to the nearest location and sell whatever they can make a profit on. Players should next buy up the cheapest items again and proceed to either the previous location or a different one. Players can repeat this until they can purchase quality equipment and move on to fighting or until they can afford to build a Player Outpost where they can Craft items for trading.
Through Industry Buildings, players can give character's jobs to create Outpost Items which are worth more than their unrefined ingredients. These Buildings are primarily exterior-type buildings, meaning that they cannot be built in Player-Owned Buildings in Town.
Players can also manufacture vices such as Hashish and Alcohol. These buildings are listed in the Crafting page along with their primary inputs. Hashish production requires rarer Research Artifacts and selling Hashish is covered in "High Risk Strategies" section of this guide.
Crafting weapons and armour can be an inefficient way to make money because of all the Technology researching which goes into Weapon Grades and the Blueprints which are required for Armour Smithing. However, if the player has already set up their outpost for production of their own Equipment, they might as well use it to generate a profit. Once players have a reliable source of Raw Iron, Iron Plates, Steel Bars, Fabrics and Leather, it is worth assigning a full time machinist.
Getting high Armour Smith levels is easy because the workstations to create Leather, Armour Plating, and Chainmail level the Armour Smith stat. The quality of Homemade armour is exclusively dependent on the Armour Smith level of the maker.
Alcohol Trade Route
This trade route has three stops; it's a trade route I discovered myself which has proven to be very profitable as I accumulated (on average) 7000 Cats after just one full rotation. First, go to the Hub and begin purchasing as much Cactus Rum as you can. Next, travel into the swamps and sell all of it to the swampers. Then, buy Sake and head toward the United Cities; keep in mind that there is a possibility of getting stopped by corrupt patrols and guards. Unload all of the Sake and load up on Grog. Then trek back to the Hub and sell it all. After about an hour of repeating this process, I had made quite a profit.
High Risk Strategies
Stealing valuable items can be preferable to purchasing them, especially when players can't afford the items to begin with. Items which are recommended for stealing and reselling are blueprints and alcohol. Most valuable items are kept inside locked Storage containers so this method will require training Lockpicking, Thievery, and Stealth.
A more in-depth guide to thieving for new players can be found on the page Getting Started.
After joining the Shinobi Thieves, characters can sell smuggled goods to a Thief Fence. While there are several items which are illegal in Kenshi, the most reliable item to smuggle is Hashish. Hashish can be purchased from any town in The Swamp, primarily from Fish and Drugs Sellers. The Thief Fence decreases local markups by -50% of the average price. This means that in Clownsteady where Hashish has a 300% illegal goods markup, the Thief Fence will purchase Hashish at 250% markup. No other vendor will purchase illegal goods.
Players can risk being caught carrying illegal items by town guards, or they can put all illegal items into a Backpack and hold the backpack in their regular inventory.
Looting Ancient Locations
If players want to advance the buildings in their Outposts, they are going to need Research Artifacts to study. Strategies for clearing the dangers in the locations which these Artifacts are found can be learned in our Combat Strategies page.
Ancient Labs contain more than just Artifacts and can be a great source of money. It is recommended that players bring multiple stacking backpacks or a animal player character with a backpack in order to collect all the items in storage.
From only looting the Skeleton Muscles off of the Security Spiders, players can earn roughly 2,000 Cats per spider. There will likely be 6 Security Spiders per Lost Armoury. Ancient Tech Labs can contain anywhere from 6 to 14 Spiders as well as more Skeleton Muscles inside of Storage Containers.
Characters with high bounties can be learned of through their Wanted Posters. These characters are often leaders of Hostile Factions and will be surrounded by a group of relatively strong characters protecting them. Knocking them unconscious or picking them up while they are sleeping should not be difficult for skilled fighters or a character with very high Stealth. Bounties can also be found among randomly generated among NPCs such as Grass Pirates and Empire Peasants. Turning in a dead body for bounties will still reward you half the original amount.
Leviathan Pearl Factory
Leviathans are arguably the most difficult enemy in the game possessing devastating attacks, AoE, high health regen, and massive hit points. Even well-equipped, high-level squads can be devastated. However, each body drops one Leviathan Pearl worth 12,000 cats. There are a few strategies for hunting these beasts:
- Early on you can build a base in the Leviathan Coast. With several wall-mounted turrets facing the gate in a U shape, you can quickly take them down (and train your Turret skill).
- Younger leviathans drop the same pearl but are significantly weaker, less tanky, and slower and are therefore recommended as prey.
- If you have a source of iron and can make crossbow bolts, you can attack with long range crossbows taking advantage of the slow movement speed of leviathans. Their slow speed and high hit points makes this a good way to train crossbows, but their high health regeneration rate may make this very time consuming.