Banished Ventures

How-To: Happiness

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.

Game mechanics

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:

Safety against fire including the availability of clean water provided by wells. This is one of the basic needs and easy to provide because wells are cheap and needed for firefighting anyway.

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.

Happiness System

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.

Happiness progress

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.

Happiness Progress

Happiness Buildings

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.

Building Aspect Radius Requirement
Wells Safety 10
Sauna Health 20
Red Cottage Health 0
Marketplace Goods 45 Vendor
Village Shop Goods 30 Vendor
Trading Dock Goods 30 Trader
Trading Post Goods 32 Trader
Wooden Chapel Religion 30 Priest
Village Church Religion 40 Priest
Cemetery Religion 0
Ale House Entertainment 30 Alcohol
Tavern Entertainment 35 Alcohol
Goahti Detraction 0
Turf House Detraction 0
Charcoal Pit Detraction 6
Glass Factory Detraction 8
Brickyard Detraction 10
Mine Detraction 10
Quarry Detraction 15

Impact on productivity

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.

Tips for happy bannies

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.

  • Build wells near all residential houses, also along rivers or lakes.
  • Build saunas for all citizens. One sauna is enough for a small village.
  • People in modern homes (red cottages) no longer need an external sauna.
  • Replace primitive dwellings such as the peat goahti at some point.
  • Build a marketplace when the settlement grows,
  • … or build the settlement around your trading docks.
  • Small market stalls or wagon vendors can also do the job.
  • Build a chapel and assign a priest. It’s worth it already in early game.
  • Define a place as cemetery in time and expand the area if necessary.
  • Build an ale house or tavern and produce alcohol or import it.
  • Make sure that there is always enough booze available.
  • Or other delicacies like crayfish and roasted meat which also provide happiness.
  • Keep all gray circles of detracting buildings away from homes.
  • Make sure that all people have a home and decent clothes.
  • Ensure a wide variety of food, also by importing exotic fruits.
  • Optimize paths between workplaces and happiness buildings.

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. :)

happiness example

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.



I figured this would be a good place to share the city layout and housing area layout I came up with. The housing layout covers every house with 4 out of 5 happiness. To get to 5 of 5, simply place a tavern or other alcohol-related building next to the housing area, opposite from the market location.

The first tab shows the overall city layout I use and the second tab shows the detailed arrangement of buildings within the housing area. The entire city layout has housing for up to 48 adults and 72 children (or up to 120 people total) although you would need to surround that city layout with more paddocks, farms, or fishing piers to generate enough food. Changing out the Smokehouses for Salt Cabins would also boost the food production, but that requires importing a constant supply of salt at this point.

And, here’s what it looks like ingame:

Feel free to use and/or share the link as you see fit.

     Tom Sawyer

    This looks like a real efficient layout if the taverns are included as in your screen. The spreadsheet deserves a Banished urban planning award. :)


1) Is the happiness boost from “Goods” based on proximity to a building, or is it based on whether the house has access to the four food categories? Because what if I had a house not in range of market or TP but it had the four food groups in a nearby barn, will it have the “Goods” met even though it’s not in range of a market?

2) Is there a difference in quality of service between church and chapel? Or is one just larger (and fancier lookin!)?

3) Does it matter whether a Bannie idles in front of a cemetary or a market? In other words, are all idling places equal? Because when I build a cemetary far from town they take a long time to go there and seem to prefer it. But is where a bannie goes to idle random or is there a preference? Is there a list of idling locations somewhere?

     Tom Sawyer

    1) Houses have to be inside a circle of the marketplace to get the ‘goods’ aspect. Maybe we should think of it not as having the goods but more as fun to go shopping or to meet other people on a crowded marketplace. Ok, not everyone gets a pleasure from this but they do. :)

    2) Chapel and church provide both the same aspect in same quality but the church can provide happiness to more people and in a wider range (40 instead of 30 tiles radius) making the priest more efficient.

    3) People go idle to the next location when feeling this damn wish to leave their workplace. It’s not connected to the aspect and doesn’t affect their happiness state but as you say, it effects their productivity and the walkway between idle point and workplace matters. Every building with one of the happiness aspects is also an idling location. And there are some in addition like the campfire and the village hall which do not provide happiness to surrounding houses but offer a place to idle. That’s a point I should add to this guide.

    Thanks for your interest in this topic.


    Thanks so much for the information!
    This happiness seems like maybe the most interesting part of the game, I can’t believe it isn’t relevant in vanilla or mods. The four food groups is interesting, but this is even more complex.
    I wish there was a mod to make happiness relevant so I can use it with other mods. I would use Norsemen or Ironman except I think I don’t actually like the real-time aging because with 30 villagers I think it’s not worth it to have a teacher assigned for the next ten years before any results show.
    How is crayfish different from any other food? Does it truly offer happiness somehow like alcohol? And it’s not listed in your foods, in case you’d like the list to be complete :) Thanks again!

     Tom Sawyer

    I’ve added crayfish to the food table. And yes, it provides happiness ‘entertainment’ when served in a tavern making a crayfish party. These Nords just love it to eat lots of crayfish together with even more schnapps.^^


    Thanks for the crayfish info! So from reading this page, the radius of the hospital does not provide “health”? That seems a bit odd, maybe it should have been named “relaxation” or “recreation” lol.
    Then it makes me think, if “happiness” is from the base game, how is “health” provided in the base game since I think there is no sauna?

     Tom Sawyer

    In base game, happiness “health” is provided by the hospital, shown by a circle. It was taken away in the North mod (where it has no circle) because people idling around a hospital can get infected and the hospital already has an important function. This happiness aspect could be used to introduce new objects like the sauna or the quality idea of modern homes where we talked about in red cottage page. :)


I notice the Glass Factory and the Bloomery have a grey circle around them when I click on them. Is this the unhappiness factor? If so, is there a reason it is on these buildings and not others?
Ultimately my request is to have the happiness and unhappiness circles on all buildings that have one. Or if someone thinks that’s too easy or cheating then make it a standalone mod so that I can enable it for myself. :)
I currently have no idea whether my houses are being affected by positive or negative buildings. Thanks!

     Tom Sawyer

    In the North, all buildings with an effect on happiness show a circle – yellow if one of the positive happiness aspects and grey if detracting it. They are all listed in this table above. Buildings from other mods might not show their circles. Glass factory and brickyard as industrial buildings are detracting because of emissions. Also the smoky charcoal piles which should be placed in the woods. Bloomery and smithy do not in current version. I saw them as small and common parts of an old village.

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