Last updated: January 6, 2020
With current versions of the North together with the “Norseman” and “Ironman” mods, the happiness system of Banished got reworked. In this post you find information about how it actually works now and what to do in game for full happiness. If you want to play it without the theory, just scroll down for some useful tips.
First of all, the basic mechanics of the happiness system explained in this text are hard coded in the original game and can not be changed by modding. What the mentioned mods do is a new scaling of happiness and a rebalancing of connected buildings and resources.
With the happiness change, banished people no longer start completely satisfied, but rather with an initial state of only 60%, which is 3 stars. To get 5 stars, the conditions for a happy life must be fulfilled. So, the effect of the existing system is now noticeable and also relevant in game, especially for productivity, because unsatisfied citizens do not work much, and happiness will improve it.
In Banished there are 5 aspects of happiness and citizens want to have everything fulfilled in order to be really happy. There are also a few additional factors that you should know. The 5 basic aspects are:
Health or in a wider meaning quality of life, provided by saunas or advanced houses (red cottages). This is a second basic need and possible without special effort.
Goods as supply of consumables by marketplaces and trading posts. This is a third basic need, which is incidentally covered when trading facilities are in use. Markets have to be in operation with a vendor, not necessarily filled with goods.
Spirit or religion provided by churches and chapels, or by pagan temples with later updates. This is one of the real happiness aspects and requires a considerable construction effort as well as a permanent worker.
Entertainment in taverns and tied to alcohol or other special goods. This is the final and most expensive aspect with ongoing costs for alcohol which has to be produced from food or procured and paid by trading.
Depending on mods, these aspects may be differently used but the basic principle of safety, health, goods, spirit and entertainment is always the same. The above aspects are provided by buildings in a certain radius. People benefit from this if they live within the yellow-marked circle. The 5 aspects stack up. Additional circles of the same aspect don’t do that and can not increase happiness. The following picture illustrates this principle. The log cabin in the middle is covered by all aspects for optimal happiness.
Detraction of happiness can be caused in the original game by mines and quarries. In the North, charcoal pits, brickyards and glassworks have this effect too. They also have circles but marked in gray. Each of these buildings (each source of emissions) removes one happiness aspect from homes. That means the whole aspect and not just the influence of a positive building. For example, a home with full happiness is detracted by 2 charcoal burners from 5 to 3 happiness aspects. So, detraction has a big impact and should be avoided as much as possible by keeping distances.
Cemeteries have a special function in Banished. They prevent people from becoming sad beyond a normal level after the death of a family member. This is calculated independently of the happiness aspects and can only be avoided if free space for a tombstone is available in a cemetery. A gravestone requires 1 game tile and disappears after a couple years.
Other factors that affect happiness are membership in a church (priest bonus) and also a high variety of food. Both increase happiness while homelessness and ragged clothing can reduce it.
The basic principle with overlapping circles is rather simple – how it works on individual citizens not so. The game only knows three states for them: normal with 3 stars, happy with 5 stars or sad with less than 3. Also, the calculation based on homes makes it difficult to understand. The better way to track happiness in game is the curve of average happiness of the population in town hall statistics. In the graph below you can see that people have a default happiness of 60% which gradually increases and ideally reaches up to 100%. The progress happens in smaller or larger steps depending on population. Also, basic needs have to be fulfilled before chapels and taverns can significantly improve happiness. So it may be that you will not notice any effect for a long time, even though enough wells and markets are built, and then people suddenly run wild because they can visit a church and a tavern.
In the following table you find all buildings of the North expansion related to happiness. Some have to be in operation or (in case of the taverns) to have alcohol in storage. The circles always start from the middle of a building, not from its edge. So the affected area around a quarry in game is much smaller than it seems, simply because of its large size.
With all the effort in special buildings and keeping distances, the question comes if that really pays off – and not only to have nice 5 stars in the overview window or only because it’s fun to make people happy.
The effect you can notice in game is that happy people work more efficiently. The other way, people often go for a walk and stop working if they are unhappy. These “strikes” are the game mechanics to get an impact. How much, depends on various things. Not every job needs a constant presence of a worker. For example, farmers in the fields are really important only at harvest time when winter is coming. And if a priest idles around the church, it has no effect at all. But a wood chopper and almost all production workers are directly affected by the idling mechanic. Also, the distance between workplace and leisure destination is important because the time to walk is often longer than the time to idle there.
Nilla has done a couple of informative tests on World of Banished and comes to the conclusion that productivity of happy workers compared to the initial state is about 10 to 35% higher, depending on type of work. That’s a lot and on maps with high difficulty like Ironman this effect is critical to the success or even the survival of a settlement.
And here are a few useful tips as a conclusion. The points apply only to games with Norseman or Ironman and as far as the buildings are concerned, only for the North expansion. However, it is transferable to buildings of the original game or of other mods. Please also keep in mind that these points are just recommendations and only important if you really want to get as many people happy as possible. The opposite strategy without effort for happiness can also work or can be even an interesting comparison.
And finally, a screenshot as an example of a happy village in the north, played by Nilla with Ironman and a couple of additional mods. This small settlement is already supplied with everything including chapel and imported ale. Also, the charcoal burner is far enough from houses and the merchants ship brings various food items from southern regions. That makes banished people happy. :)
With future mod changes and new knowledge about the Banished happiness system I will update this How-To. Also, feel free to ask and comment to this topic or to make suggestions for further development.