A Death Spiral is an undesirable, possible end-of-game scenario resulting from a critical lack of incoming resources. In this scenario, a seemingly innocuous or otherwise overlooked problem such as a shortage of Copper or Diesel fuel, causes a cascade of other problems which self-propagate throughout your industrial complex, shutting down critical infrastructure until no machine is left running. When this happens, an eventual lack of food will cause your population and worker counts to decline until they reach zero, ending the game.
Avoiding a Death Spiral
To avoid a Death Spiral, keep a close eye on resources needed to maintain the state of your factory. For example: in the early game this means keeping a steady supply of Iron, Copper, Rubber and Diesel flowing, as Maintenance and Diesel are what keeps your vehicles and buildings running.
As a general rule, it helps to prioritize the supply of your Maintenance Depots and Fuel Stations above all else. But beyond that, it is generally a good idea to have more than enough storage ahead of these buildings, with alarms set to notify you of a shortage before it becomes a serious problem.
Recovering from a Death Spiral
It is not always possible to recover from a Death Spiral. Your odds of success ultimately depend on a number of factors, namely: how quickly you recognize the problem, how soon you can react, how many stockpiled resources you have, and whether or not you have some settlements on the world map with whom you can trade for required resources as a mainstay.
In the event of a Death Spiral, time is your enemy. If you receive a Maintenance, Fuel or Power related warning, it is generally a good idea to pause the game, and investigate the root cause of your problem, as every second that goes by can potentially exponentially increase the number of problems you have to address.
Mid-to-Late Game Tips
- For mid-to-late game islands, be sure to scale your stockpiled resources with the size of your factory, as larger industrial complexes will require greater resource and unity costs to recover from a Death Spiral condition.
- As you reach mid-to-late game, interdependent relationships between new resources and products grow in number and complexity. Keep a close eye, or set low storage alarms for any new resources that could affect the production of Maintenance, Fuel or Power for your island.
- The mid-to-late stages of your game come with some of the greatest risks of unrecoverable Death Spirals. As you gradually exhaust the natural resources on your Home Island, you should be actively looking for infinite sources as replacements. Coal, Limestone, Wood and Oil and other Outposts are easy to come by, but setting up contracts for infinite Copper and Iron income will likely represent a significant hurdle that should be prioritized early, so as to avoid disaster.