Kenshi – Rapid Progression Guide


There are many starts, personally I prefer Nobodies as it gives you 5 members to start with. 7 is the magic number of characters to have for fast progression so starting with 5 is excellent. (If you have less than 7 characters, you are easily party wiped, and if you have more than 7 members it takes a lot longer to train all your character’s combat skills). Keep in mind that you should have 2 shek, 1 Hive Warrior, and the other two is up to you. If it were up to me 2 Shek, 2 Hive Warrior, 1 Hive Prince.

Reasons for starting this way: You want to have enough Sheks as they are really good late game for being all around fighters. Hive Warriors are probably the strongest unit in the game right now with 100 hp on limbs and a whoopin 200 on head, they still have the racial combat speed bonus from being Hive, very SLOW bleed rate from being Hive, and has no real weakness from being Hive (which is usually low limb HP). 200 hp on head is really really good even though he can’t wear a helmet (think of it like this… he has twice the Hp so that’s like taking half damage to his head). Hive Prince is really good for stealth, lockpick, assassination type things, and gets bonuses to a LOT of skills. They are more fragile than the Hive Warrior but he’ll do just fine late game with some gear.

Location: Start at Hub, if you don’t start at Hub, make a NEW GAME repeatedly until you start at Hub. There are lots of locations that are impossible for you to survive if you start there.

I was originally going to make Youtube vids of this… I still might, but due to having real life stuff like work, I can’t make the time… WAS going to make a youtube channel with a whole gaming channel about min maxing for many many games… but eventually just decided I want to enjoy gaming and not turn it into work. Sorries.

Squin: Athletics, Basic Gear, Money

Now that you started at Hub, you run your 5 person group to Squin, make sure you avoid bandits along the way. At this point everything in the game can kill you. Just run run run run run and then RUN.


Three things to do here at Squin before moving on.

Find the patch of Iron (3 worker slots) and Copper (2 worker slots) north of Squin. Work there to get both iron and copper and sell them in Squin for money (cats is the currency name) and buy ONLY Dried Meat (most money efficient food). You can automate this process by holding Shift and then right clicking on those patches to assign Jobs to your characters so that they will automatically mine the copper/iron. You just have to turn off jobs to be able to control them again and take them to Squin to sell off their heavy loads for food and cats.

1. Athletics: In the beginning don’t take a full load… just some and go get that food so your characters don’t starve. Also since this way will eventually give you some savings, you will want to run your characters around so they get some decent Athletics (20+).

2: Basic Gear: Once you are able to do that, you can keep doing multiple full load trips to Squin with Iron and Copper and only buy Dried Meat… this should start accumulating money. Spend money buying these items for your crew:

a. Samurai Clothpants (ONLY THE CLOTH), they do not slow you down, they do not lower any important stats like athletics, combat speed, dexterity, or dodge. DO NOT buy anything that lowers these stats!.

b. One Shek should buy a Plank. (This is for training Heavy Weapons skills to get ready for Falling Sun late game.)

c. Give your characters leather shirts (Hive characters can’t wear them). It’s ok to go shirtless on Hive characters for now… we will gear them soon.

d. Don’t spend too much here… just get VERY BASIC protection so the characters aren’t taking full damage. Since you already have no toughness to start you’re actually taking additional damage per hit that you take, having SOME protection can help. You also don’t want anything heavy since at this stage your characters don’t have the strength to wear heavier armor without being encumbered. Being encumbered in fights can get you killed early on.

e. I would get a trader’s backpack (wooden backpack that lets you stack items 9 per stack), and a Large Backpack (large enough to put long/heavy weapons like planks inside them). That’s all you need at this point: 2 packs, one of each type. I would store food like dried meats inside the wooden pack, and extra weapons in the Large Backpack. For now put the Plank in there.

3: Money: I would save up money here in Squin until you have around 30,000 cats. This shouldn’t take too too long and trust me it will be worth it. Once you have 30,000 cats go to Hub again.

Optional: If you see groups of garrus or goats moving near Squin, I would attack them unprovoked, and then RUN like hell to the guards at the gate to kite them into the guards. The guards will kill the goats and Garrus and you can then harvest them for meat. Build a campfire far enough away from Squin and you can enjoy loads and loads and loads of meat.

Optional: Any Hungry Bandits and Dust Bandits could also be kited into the guards at the gate in Squin, and you may even choose to fight there as the fight will be in your favor with the guards there. Just make sure to save before so you don’t get accidentally party wiped. This can help speed up the process of gaining some toughness, but it’s again optional and not the main focus here at this stage.

Recommended: I would recruit Ruka here, she is literally free if you just talk to her about being cool she didn’t have horns and that she likes to fight and prove herself. A Free Shek! This will bring your party number up to 6.

Cool Tip: To prevent being party wiped, here’s a nice tip… you should stealth (hide) one of your party members outside of the range of the fight. This “stealth” character should have medkits and be able to stealth rescue any downed members after the fight and for in case all your fighting members go down. Another option is to have the entire party be far from the enemy “camp” and have a fast (high athletics) character with no encumbrance run up to the enemy to pull aggro, and draw them to your party. This way if you do get “wiped” they won’t stand on top of your downed members and instead will eventually go back to their camp which allows your party to get back up and heal.

Explanation of training order: If you have low athletics you can’t train strength efficiently because you will be walking slower while overloaded. The more you walk while overloaded the faster your strength increases… so yeah that’s kind of important to level Athletics first so that you can get Strength faster.

You want Strength before you get Dexterity because of 2 facts about this game (1. If you are overloaded your ability to use Dexterity or fight “fast” is going to be reduced or affected by the weight you carry, so it is better to have high strength first so that you CAN carry weapons and gear and have things in your equipment without being weighted down due to having higher carrying capacity) (2. Fighting harder enemies raises your stats faster, but that also means you will need things like more gear or armor, which all weighs you down… so strength will help compensate once again.)

You want Toughness first before raising dodge/melee defense all the way, because if you raised both Melee Defense AND Dodge and prioritized those over Toughness you will be much harder to get hit and that makes leveling Toughness really slow. You want to reach level 50 on toughness first while leveling something like melee defense, then eventually switch over to martial arts to raise dodge while being “Unarmored/naked” so that you’re once again training your Toughness along with your Dodge.

Finally about Armor (Start with very LIGHT armor that doesn’t weigh you down and only get heavier armor once you have strength to compensate for the weight, THEN once you have toughness 50 or higher, go back to easier locations and go NAKED MARTIAL ARTS and train dodge and toughness even higher WITHOUT GEAR ON, and then once you have Dodge 50+ and INSANE Toughness (80+) You can go naked martial arts in places like Arach (later section in this guide) and go get your ultimate Sensei Senpai, Bug Master.

With fighting high end “bosses” like Bug Master you want to be fully geared out, with your best weapon, and best gear (masterwork heavy armor or something), so that you can guarantee the win… Bug Master is a total beast and totally worth getting to help you train your squad to perfection.

Hub Again: Shinobi Thieves = Lockpicking Skill + Katanas

At this point with 30,000 cats you can pay the fee of 10,000 cats to join the Shinobi Thieves. Do it, it is so worth it for what you’re getting out of it.

Here’s what you already have at this point:

– Decent running speed from Athletics 20+ (You want to stay unencumbered when you travel so you can run away from scary things… only carry some food and bandages)
– Your characters have some decent strength (around 20? don’t worry if it is not at 20, but you’ve definitely already built some strength previously) carrying iron and copper back and forth to Squin from the spot north of squin with 5 workslots in those veins. (You should also already have the two backpacks I mentioned for your party’s needs).
– You now have 20,000 cats to spend.

Here’s what you buy from Shinobi Thieves once you join them:

– You buy any and all katana class weapons you find here for your characters. Every character should get one. Does not matter what quality… if it is a Nodachi, Wakizashi, Ninja Blade, Katana, or whatever it is, it doesn’t matter, just get one for each in your party. (Katana class weapons are the fastest weapons in the game and are light weapons which means they are the best weapons to level up your Dexterity with). If you have Ruka, you’ll need 6. I’d get 7 at this point for your future recruit. They won’t have enough in one go so you’ll have to go back to squin for food and more money and come back to Hub for more katana class weapons.

– You want to keep a close eye on Assassin’s Rags. Buy these for your Hive characters. You can also buy these for your other characters. The reason is this: Assassin’s Rags are lightweight, bonuses to stats that are amazing (Combat speed, Dodge, Dexterity, Melee attack bonus)… All of these stats are amazing to have on any item, and having all of them on one item??? BUY IT!!

– Eventually you will find those wooden sandals that also give more combat speed and athletics, BUY THOSE or loot them when you find them!

You may need to go back to Squin frequently to get more money and food… but in the meantime this is our next goal…

Train Lockpicking to 20 for all your characters or at least one character, and 10 for the rest. We will be needing this skill for the next part so it is very important to have lockpicking up.

IF your characters still don’t have 5 melee attack yet, train this here as well. AND also you may train one character for Assassination here (if you ever want to abduct enemies one by one to kill them separately from the group… it’s a cheesy way to play but it works… I recommend the Hive Prince for this role).

After we have 20 Lockpicking on at least one character (ideally everyone), AND we have assassin’s rags, AND we have katanas on everyone… we will be heading to the … FOG. Yup. Highly efficient place to train if you know what you are doing.

Cool Tip: One of the ways to make some fights easier, especially if you are fighting a camp of something that have high stats (and maybe low numbers), it’s nice to have a stealthy character with high Assassination be able to sneak up to a group and kidnap/assassinate some of their members one by one to bring them back to your party and deal with them one by one this way. This takes patience and slows down the ‘speed run’ but is a nice way to reduce the difficulty of a big group fight by killing off some of their members individually and thinning the herd.

Progression of Lockpicking: So start with the training boxes at the Shinobi Thieves in Hub, but once you get lockpicking to 20, it’s actually nice to go to our next destination in the FOG ISLANDS because there’s plenty of places where you can volunteer getting “locked” against those polls and then you can lockpick yourself out.

Don’t wait until your party is in trouble and everyone is being locked up to train it… just take turns telling your characters to get on those polls and have them do their own houdini escape tricks until they get better at lockpicking (30+), then later when you go adventuring in search of Tech materials like Ancient Books, AI Cores, and Engineering Research, you will have high enough lock picking to start training on THOSE (Make whole squad lockpick them at the same time for faster unlocking and even lockpicking training for whole team).

Tactical Combat Tips

These tips will significantly improve your ability to “MACRO” your fights and not have to worry about every little detail.

In certain scenarios that DO require Micro I typically only have one character selected for this purpose (usually my hive prince, who I name after me, and roleplay as)

– Keep healing items on ALL your characters. There is no “medic”, EVERYONE is a medic and can heal themselves. Especially if they get knocked down they can heal themselves before getting back up. You do NOT want to be stuck after a fight wondering where the medical supplies are while one of your characters is about to die.

– Make healing an automatic action after every fight by having MEDIC as a JOB and even if you turn off Jobs, Medic will still be something that your characters will do when there’s someone in need of healing.

– Healing is a post battle action. DO NOT HEAL DURING COMBAT. Trust me, having more people fighting means faster victory and you can heal afterwards. (fighting while injured is how you level toughness anyway so don’t be a weakling, pain is the body telling you you’re weak… or something like that :P).

– Make sure at least one of your Sheks is fully armored and has both a katana and a falling sun. This configuration is God. This is what I’d call an anchor tank in other games but basically this character will still be fighting when even all your other characters are unconscious, and this character will be the one who will mop up and win the fight at the end for you. The unconscious party members will be healed by this character and gain their toughness for being beaten unconscious.

– Keeping all your characters on hold, and then luring only some of the enemy (not the entire group) towards your party will help you split up the enemy to “divide and conquer”. I’d use a fast character for this purpose like Hive Prince. Keeping your party on Hold makes it so they won’t run at the enemy and draw aggro from ALL the enemies in a room… instead pull half of the room OUTSIDE where your party is waiting. (this is especially important for fighting against Security Spiders).

– For enemies that come back up quickly like Spiders, Security Spiders, Beak Things, or whatever non-humanoid thing, you can KILL them while they are unconscious by removing Hide/Teeth/Electrical Components so that they are DEAD and can’t get back up again. Again, use one fast running character for this during the fight to get to the enemies quickly. Pause the game when you open the inventory and rip out the item to not waste combat time.

– For those of you who like being a ninja, use your ninja (hive prince?) to go in and abduct one target at a time by using stealth and assassination skill, and then use the party to fight that one enemy and kill/KO it before doing this again and again to thin down enemy numbers (similar to kiting/luring strategy).

– Keeping a “medic” away from the fight (ninja stealthed) is OK, where you stealth and once your party loses, you go in with the stealth character to heal everyone… I would say this strat has high chance of failure and I don’t recommend it, but it is OK to use in some scenarios. I’d say the better idea is just not lose in the first place??

– Adapt to the situation! Switch out different types of armor for different resistance types. If you are facing enemies with lots of cutting damage, then go for cutting resist on your armors… if you are facing blunt weapons, switch to armor that gives good blunt resistance! Also switch your weapons accordingly! If you are fighting Robots, use Hackers and Falling Suns! If you are fighting cannibals or humans in general use katanas and sabers! Use what is effective against the enemy to give you the upper hand!

– Finally, if you KNOW you will lose a fight, RUN! Seriously, there’s no shame in NEVER LOSING A FIGHT… can’t lose a fight if you run away right? That’s how you win every fight… only fight when you know you can win 😛 Kenshi is really punishing when you lose a fight… sometimes party wipes can be permanent as someone might go into a coma and then maybe they die while everyone is unconscious… OR cannibals, fogmen, spiders, beak things, wolves will just EAT YOU ALIVE. SO yeah, don’t lose fights… Run if you have to.

Midgame: Arach

I can hear you asking me “ARE YOU NUTS?”

Yeah I am! I mean I did make this guide after spending hundreds of hours restarting a game repeatedly trying to figure out the fastest way to progress.

SO I’m assuming you’ve done one or all of the three choices I gave you. You are probably ready to settle down.

The fastest way forward is to settle somewhere decently close to Arach. You want to bring with you some building materials, some iron plates, and as many BOOKS as you can buy before doing this… Oh and some electronic components (easily done when you just grab them off of robot spiders). You will need the corresponding food types that you want to farm… like bring enough wheat, and whatever other food/hemp/cotton you need to research and grow. Hemp is easier to grow than Cotton is in drier climates in this game. Obviously you want to bring your ancient books with the regular books you buy. It’s always a pain to go and shop for stuff you need once you settle so I tend to just bring EVERYTHING I need and just settle in one go, and go straight for tier 6 with everything I need. (Trader/wooden backpacks really really help).

Use the Prospect tool to look at resources available. I like to settle either west of Arach near the coast Or South West. Just make sure you don’t settle inside Shek or Empire owned territory so you don’t have to pay taxes or whatnot.

  • 1. I’d build stone extractor
  • 2. Build a refinery to make building materials
  • 3. Build a small shack
  • 4. Build a research bench in small shack (and get to researching asap, focus on teching UP to higher tiers).
  • 5. Build a metal refinery thing to make iron plates next to an iron node.
  • 6. Research storage…. build some for those building materials and iron plates.
  • 7. Upgrade to a larger building and make a level 2 research bench (which you will continuously level up to higher tech).
  • 8. Research and build your farm, and the stuff required for making bread. Use Bread to feed yourself until you can get a cooking station, batteries, windmills, and whatever recipe you’re going to use to change those bread into other things that are more nutritious.
  • 9. Once you have the good food being produced consistently (gohan, dustwich, or foodcube) (I still don’t know how to do meat wrap consistently… like I don’t bother raising animals for the meat… too much work) you can then set up the most important reason you get this settlement.
  • 10. medical production!… Make medical bandages that you need to heal yourself! Keep producing this! This is the main reason you settle near Arach!

Once you have this being produced and set up, make a repair bed for Burn if you have him, if not, proceed to saving up lots of first aid related items AND store up lots of food. Right before you are ready to go, make 7 bedrolls and back everything up and get ready to really GRIND!

Bring food, medical first aid stuff, bedrolls and head into Arach to fight those endless amounts of spiders! Work on whatever stats you like at this point… this is just the PERFECT spot to grind stats. You also want to maybe get away from time to time and put down the bedrolls to heal from sleeping (sleeping heals you faster!). Keep in mind those Desert Sabres from earlier that we bought in Mongrel? Use them here, Desert Sabers do more damage to spiders.

This is where I grind my characters up to 80+ stats in everything. When you feel ready and when you can literally handle hordes of these spiders without breaking a sweat, you go to find the Bug Master.

The Bug Master has maxed out stats… he has 99 in everything. He is a GOD. And that makes him be best character you can ever Abduct. Yes… Abduct.

Because like in my first guide? You abduct an enemy and keep him in a cage and take him out for training time? The Bug Master is your level 99 maxed out training partner. DO IT! Get everything Maxed out for your 7 characters!

Then turn him in to Admag and the Stone Golem (The Queen of the Shek who sounds like she’s got a head on her shoulders according to her lore and what every shek says about her…) will give you her… wait for it… DAUGHTER! Yay! Now you get the Shek Princess 🙂

You’ll have to train her of course, but she’s your 8th member so, it shouldn’t be too hard at this point to fight spiders in Arach until she’s up to snuff.

At this point this guide kinda ends… I mean you can go up north to kill Leviathans just for fun or destroy the faction filled with racist pigs called The HOLY Nation if you want.. hell, take their leader and turn him in to Admag and see what happens? DO you get to marry the Stone Golem herself? Who knows… I never got that far because around the time I get the Bug Master, I bow to the Bug Master and say “thank you sensei” and I start a new game to see if I can do all this FASTER.

How many days (in the game there’s a day counter) did it take for you to capture the Bug Master? Post your record times in the comments to this guide. I hope I didn’t ruin this game for you… yeah… sorry if I did. But seriously this is honestly the fastest progression route I can come up with after hundreds of hours.

Ranged Weapons

The reason I mainly use only melee builds for my “rapid progression” guide is because of the fact that I’m using only 7 characters to maximize their training speed for all their skills and stats.

Ranged fighting is best with larger party sizes where you have enough arrows or darts or whatever to kill enemies outright before they can get to your party. Ranged weapons suck in … melee. Big surprise.

With that said even Ranged Weapons are good for specific situations in a small party scenario. I would use one of those rifles that hit the hardest but fires slowly on your Hive characters… in particular Hive Workers for situations where you are not going to want them in the frontlines. Situations like fighting Leviathans or really hard hitting enemies. You still want to level up their toughness but for some of these scenarios it’s wiser just to let your tanky characters take the hits. You can level up toughness on easier opponents that don’t have the chance of taking out a limb in one shot.

Ranged Weapons are definitely an advantage for a lot of situations but they have the draw back of needing ammunition AND they also suck in melee, AND they make it so that you’re using less characters in melee so that weakens your frontline.

That’s why I prefer not to use Ranged. (I have this preference as well in Mordheim City of the Damned, haha, and it is the same reason, taking away from your frontline makes it weaker and ranged suck vs melee so melee usually just wins over ranged UNLESS you go FULL RANGED and try to kill things before they can reach you by one shotting them. This is hard to do as a rapid progression, min maxing player as ranged weapons are more of a luxury than a staple and you have to REALLY SPECIALIZE to get good use out of them.

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