Empire Citizen Game Mode - Kenshi Walkthrough
The Empire Citizen game mode starts you in Sho-Battai with 750 Cats to your name. Sho-Battai is one of the best noob towns in the game thanks to the close proximity of Copper Mines to the town and a common enemy that roams around town (Skimmers) that don't eat you. If you're looking for a game mode that is of normal starting difficulty then Empire Citizen may be the right choice for you.
At the start of pretty much all new games in Kenshi your primary goal is going to be earning money so that you can afford food and more companions. Sho-battai is home to a unique companion by the name of Ells who you can recruit for an easy 300 Cats! The most boring but typically the most effective way of earning money in a new game is through mining copper. I talk about the Copper Mines around Sho-Battai in my Mining for money guide as it's typically the best location to go in all of the Empire noob zones.
While mining copper the biggest threat to your life is going to be Skimmers; on the flip side the best chance of making a lot of extra money is also going to come from them. Skimmers are big bugs that roam around the desert and move very quickly. They have stats in the 30s and can very quickly end you as a fresh new character just starting out. One nice thing about the Skimmers though is they won't eat you - they just walk away. This will save your life since you'll be able to run in after they leave and heal up.
Your opportunity to make money from the Skimmers comes not just from looting their corpses when they get beat up by the guards but from their willingness to consider any and all humans a target. There are many groups of NPCs that will walk through this area and many of them will stand no chance against the Skimmers. On some occasions you will get very lucky and the Skimmers will take out a Trader's Guild caravan and you'll be able to loot the pack animals for tons of loot.
Note: Be careful when wearing armor that you loot off of people outside Sho-Battai because it could get you attacked by people of that faction who are upset about you wearing their stuff.
As you spend time outside Sho-Battai at the Copper Mine you will probably occasionally get run over by Skimmers. So long as you manage to make it to safety on one character and make it back in time to heal the characters that get "run over" your chance of survival will be high. I actually strongly recommend you occasionally get into fights with your characters because this is the only way to raise Toughness and Toughness is arguably the most important combat stat.
Our characters will end up getting knocked unconscious after getting into fights and put into Recovery comas for awhile. The best strategy is to pick these characters up and carry them around so that they can't be taken as slaves from Manhunters or any other slaver faction. If this is not possible the next best thing you can do is put them all down on the ground in the little cubbyhole near the 2 Copper Mines north of Sho-Battai and.... cross your fingers and hope for the best.
Since we are going to be hanging around Sho-Battai for a very long time and this is an Empire town you should expect to have a character or 2 thrown into jail or slavery while you're playing. Jail is something temporary that will eventually end on its own but slavery you'll have to buy your character out of -- or free him which is a whole lot more difficult. Usually when you're put into slavery by Sho-Battai you're taken to the Stone Camp which is a tad bit south.
The Empire is an unforgiving faction in this game, it's illegal to be poor and there are Noble Hunters which roam around and will attack you while you're walking around or mining. If you run to the guards for help, you'll be beat down and thrown into prison. Whenever I do an Empire Citizen playthrough many of my characters level up while in slavery and I also typically lose a handful of characters in the early part of the game to hard enemies that attack me while mining.
During your time in slavery you'll have the Obedient Slave task and if you try to escape or refuse to work you'll be beat and put into a cage. Being beat up will actually be a great way for you to raise your Toughness skill early in the game since the slave masters will always heal you and feed you. While you're a slave you'll also automatically raise your Athletics, Labouring and maybe your Strength too depending on how much stuff you have in your inventory.
For most new players slavery typically sounds like a bad thing but for veteran players we tend to see it as free automated skill ups. I talk about this indepth in my The Slaves Game Mode Walkthrough and my Kenshi - What to do as a Slave Youtube Video. When you are ready to escape slavery you have a few different options available to you... The first and quickest way out of slavery is by using the Reset Squad Positions when you Load Game; I talk about this in my Kenshi - How to escape Slavery in under a minute video.
The other method for escaping slavery is for you to very slowly train up your characters Stealth, Athletics, Toughness, Assassination and Lock Picking. When you're ready to escape wait for an opportunity like guards fighting a large group of enemies or being otherwise incapacitated. Free a couple more slaves around you to give yourself a distraction and search the containers near your cages for some clothes. Typically they'll put clothes in there from the people they capture. Slap on a disguise and either sneak or run on out of town.
If you'd like to see a video of me escaping slavery on one character and explaining all the different things you can do check out my Kenshi - How to Escape Slavery Video. The video is a bit long but I cover pretty much all I have learned from being in slavery and escaping on numerous characters.
Tip: If you lose a limb on one of your characters the closest town with a Robotics shop is Heft which is almost directly south of Sho-Battai!
When you are ready to break free of slavery or just move on to the next part of the game you'll want to head south to one of three different towns. Heng is the first town (and zone) you'll come across when you head south, it's a pretty big town and definitely good for settling in. Brink and Black Scratch are a bit further south and both of them have 1 building for sale in each town, Black Scratch is the better choice of the 2 in my opinion since Brink is missing needed vendors.
I've included all 3 of the different towns we can settle in below and I have sorted them based on difficulty. The difficulty represents a few things such as how many materials are in the town that we need, what level the zone is surrounding the town and the proximity of other useful towns nearby.
(Normal) Brink: There is 1 Stephouse for you to purchase here. I wouldn't recommend this town unless you plan to import supplies from Black Scratch regularly.
(Hard) Black Scratch: A very good town for making money since Reavers and Grass Pirates regularly patrol the area. You'll want to agro a group of Reavers or Grass Pirates then pull them into the guards of Black Scratch. Once they all get downed go through the bodies and loot all you can to sell. There is 1 building for sale in this town and enough vendors in this town to get you started with all you need.
(Easy) Heng: Probably the best town of 3 to settle in. Here you'll find 2 Longhouses for sale and plenty of shops for you to stock up on all the resources you will need at the start of the game. This town is in the middle of everything and it's in a zone which isn't way above our level like Black Scratch is.
Once you've picked a town you'll want to left click every building in town to check for one that's for sale. Purchase it, place a Researching Bench inside and get to work! Your goal is to research pretty much everything that you can with regular Books. When almost every recipe starts to require Ancient Science Books or Engineering Research you know that you're done with researching what you need. During this process you will need to upgrade the Research Bench a couple of times too in order to research new things.
If you'd like to learn more about researching in Kenshi check out my Kenshi Researching Guide. I also talk about this a lot more indepth in Part 1 of my Kenshi Walkthrough. At this point in time our primary goal(s) are pretty much merged with my walkthrough... meaning that this is the end of our 'unique' path of playing as an Empire Citizen.
At some point in the near future after researching all you need it will be time to start up our first base. I recommend you check out my Kenshi Base Locations page when this time comes because we're no where near The Border Zone which is where I setup my first base in the walkthrough.