My tool cupboard is gone, and it’s hard to breathe.
The offline raid
I call it a gut-check reality, loading into a server only to be greeted by a kill screen. While the information displaying the method and murderer is important, thoughts quickly change, and the priority becomes getting back to the last known location of your base as fast as possible.
You scour the death map, desperately looking for your shooting floor bed or bunker bag—both are gone. Frantically, you select what appears to be the closest outside bag you have left and make the long, slow-motion run back home.
Along the way, you collect enough wood for a building plan. Step by step, you inch closer to your new, unskinned front door. With hope dwindling, you whip out the building plan to find you are building blocked. The feeling sinks in. It’s over.
The morning after
It’s a harsh reality, this. Cast out and left with little recourse. Harsher still is the idea that all actions taken and work put in up to this point was for naught. That idea that we unwillingly handed over the keys to a property just 8 hours ago was secure and loaded with wealth and possession. The motives don’t matter; the rationality is moot.
We are now left with two options: move on or move forward.
There may have been a different reality altogether. Maybe insight, foresight, and action could have been used to prevent this reality and may be used to avoid it from happening again.
There is no use dwelling on the current situation; what’s done is done. But what if our next base, our next wipe, and our next chance are different? Better. But how?
The best defense for your tool cupboard
The concepts we’ll delve into range extensively, from good baseline practice to more advanced building techniques. You will also find tips and tricks to use for slowing the progress of being raided.
This guide will not stop you from being wholly raided. There isn’t a force, trick, or trap that can prevent the inevitable.
These tools and knowledge are taken from within the community to mitigate offline damage and maximize the time, energy, and resources it takes for potential raiders to remove what is yours forcefully.
Tool cupboard authorizations
The words building privilege, building blocked, and authorized get thrown around in RUST guides, but you rarely get clear-cut definitions of what these terms mean.
To possess building privilege, or “priv,” as most call it, you must have been in front of a specified bases’ tool cupboard and pressed the E key when prompted while it is unlocked.
Once complete, you become “authorized,” or “authed” for short. Unlike other entities, such as Auto Turrets, players cannot be authed to a tool cupboard by proxy.
This is an incredibly important, sometimes overlooked, tidbit within the RUST community; knowing who is authorized to your bases’ tool cupboard and determining if they should have that type of power over its destiny.
Once you understand the tool cupboard basics, it becomes clear why this is so important. A friend with auth that you slighted could very easily clean you out. This devious process, known as “insiding,” is where other players clear a tool cupboard’s authorization list and board up your base the moment you go to sleep.
While terrible to think about, this practice isn’t uncommon within RUST. Trust comes hard, but losing your base due to misplaced trust comes harder.
Taking it a step further, strangers that may have authorized during the building phase are very dangerous in their own right.
If thoroughly versed in deviousness, these players can remove window obstructions, sneak into loot areas, take what they want, and vanish, replacing those bars as they go. Newer RUST players never know what hit them.
If you have a falling out with a party member and they leave or suspect someone might have gained authorization covertly, it is never a bad idea to clear the tool cupboard’s authorization list and re-auth people after the fact. Better safe than sorry.
And for the love of all things holy, LOCK YOUR TOOL CUPBOARD.
Tool cupboard placement
One of the greatest tragedies in RUST is ignorance, not the toxic, cringe kind, but that of newer players ‘enjoying’ their first experiences with the game.
In a way, more experienced players intentionally facilitate more peaceful, early-game interactions with these players, knowing full well how easy it will be to steal their resources later.
New players not exposed to the horror of it all don’t know how the tool cupboard works. They discover, sometimes too late, that they even need one.
If they do catch on that these devices are required to sustain a base, they often hastily place them within view of window-barred openings. They aren’t bad players; they’re simply ignorant of how things are. They soon find out.
Placement, positioning, and strategy are essential in any serious base build. As a sum game, RUST rewards those who respect the math of everything.
The more walls, doors, and obstructions that block the path between a raider and the TC, the more it will cost to raid that structure fully. With that in mind, placement is equally vital to future expansion and overall design.
If you build your base in a space-restrictive area, such as on a cliffside or against the building block radius of a monument, defending your tool cupboard can become a no-win situation.
While there isn’t adequate space within a written guide to explain the nuances of more exploitive, advanced base builds, we invite you to check out some of our content partners’ videos.
Entity & foundational upgrades
It’s no secret that more defensive mechanisms slow down raiders, from Auto Turrets to standard base traps. Even a few minutes of inconvenience is enough time to allow for counter-raiders to show up and ‘save’ the day. Or finish the raid, but I digress.
When you have more doors, traps, and automation, all are working towards the same goal. Ultimately, walls and upgrades are your best defense against the offline. Sheer cost against the most direct (presumed) route to your TC can help ensure that although you were raided successfully, there is considerably less profit due to the base raid cost.
Upgrading foundations from stone to better materials, ensuring that roof structures are metal or better, and making the core of your base as strong as it can be goes a long way.
Working our way down the priority line, serious base owners must prioritize using at least Garage Doors throughout their building.
Sheet Metal Doors, while reasonably strong on wipe day, are quickly viewed as simple-math raids. They require only 4 Satchel Charges to penetrate and take the same amount of metal to craft as the far superior garage door. While not a default blueprint, garage doors are considered by most as absolutely essential to base security beyond the first day.
By the end of week one, if you’ve lasted this long, garage doors should start being upgraded to Armored Double Doors. By this time, an electrical system should also be planned, and a proper compound should be established to decrease ore cook times via Large Furnaces and increase security.
When beginning the process of upgrading, it is also imperative to consider the impact that entities and upgrades have on upkeep, so consider that before you upgrade your entire base into HQM.
Compounds have quickly become much more mainstream amongst smaller groups than in years past, chiefly because of the tech tree update and their relatively cheap resource cost compared to their benefits.
Unfortunately, going back to the topic of ignorance, many players don’t know that a compound is only as efficient as the building privilege radius that it protects. Those that take extra ‘space’ liberties by expanding their compound out an excessive amount beyond their furnaces often overlook how easy it is for outsiders to ‘build in’ due to their tool cupboard priv ending where the walls begin.
To combat this privileged void area at the perimeter of your walls, consider building lower-grade foundations outwards towards points of your wall furthest from the base. These ‘spider-webbing’ foundations perform many functions, chief amongst them being increasing build privilege or stopping players from building close enough to your wall to jump over.
In addition, they also provide wonderful locations for the placement of external turrets and can act as filler areas for entities like Large Planter Boxes. Some players even use them as deployment locations for Mixing Tables.
For more advanced players, maybe you’re considering a network of outer tool cupboards that connect back to (almost touching) your main base. While this guide won’t delve directly into multi-tc bases, some of our partners have covered this topic in great detail.
This build mechanic can be a terrific anti-griefing measure to take, protecting things like your workbenches and other expensive entities from being stolen in the event of a raid. They can also prevent raiders from placing doors, bags, or other home necessities and taking over your base.
Honeycombs, pancakes, and unpredictability
You’re definitely a RUST player if you read that as anything other than breakfast material. In all seriousness, honeycombing and adding a pancake layer to your base are both solid choices if you anticipate being raided from either the roof down or sides in (non-doors).
Of course, adding these optional layers of protection significantly increases a structure’s daily upkeep costs and increases the base’s strength in the event of both offline and online raids.
Honeycomb(ing) is the term given to additional triangular layers of walls added equally to the perimeter of a structure, typically only for rocket-based protections. Pancake(ing) is the same process but with half-floor layers built between stories vertically.
Unpredictability is a choice that all RUST players have, but very few choose to consider. Nothing stops you from moving the tool cupboard from its original spot, especially when building a large base.
While unorthodox and even borderline reckless in some cases, taking a simple assumption made by every raider and putting it elsewhere gives you an unparalleled advantage, especially if you are being online raided.
Didn’t move it, and they’re closing in on your TC? Move to a higher level within the base that is still secure, and have a backup TC on your hotbar. Wait for the breaking noise, and slap down a new one as fast as possible. It’s rarely anticipated and further complicates things for the attacker.
Tough truths and choices
While we’d like our bases to possess every possible defensive structure, take up entire square blocks in size, and house all of our loot in different sections making it near impossible for all but the largest zergs to raid, that damned upkeep mechanic keeps coming back and haunting us.
Reasonably, pending server format, we can only build so big, given our group size and their farming habits. Tool cupboards only allow so much upkeep to be stored at one time, meaning that once your base achieves a specific size, you might have to log on multiple times a day to farm and insert materials. Because of this limitation, we are forced to accept rather harsh and tough truths.
You need to decide if your design is geared more towards being online raided, which accounts for roughly 5% of all raids done in the course of a wipe across most vanilla servers or be more resemblant of a tank for offline raid protection, making up the roughly 95% left. Very rarely can you have it both ways and afford it. So what are the differences?
Generally, online raid protection bases have shooting floors, inner peakdowns, and usually custom-made external gatehouses, complete with battlements to protect all of this, and kits disbursed near multiple beds allowing for quick spawns and the ability to re-engage an enemy after death.
Because of these ‘inner peaks,’ the core of the base, once through often a single door, becomes the battlefield of the attacker and defender. The defender utilizes these kits, bags, and defensive angles to beat back and re-fortify while the attacker attempts to control their breach area and hammer further into the core.
Offline bases, however, are not typically outfitted with inner peaks. While ideal during an online raid, these inner void areas offer no benefit during an offline raid. Even when equipped with turrets, 4-5 narrow, straight corridors around the often 2×2 or 3×3 armored core does practically nothing to deter an uncontested raiding party.
Filling these in with additional honeycomb, or “Up-Down” pathing – labyrinths of doors meant to increase raid costs, utilizing the vertical axis of the base – helps put the math back in favor of the base owner. They are considerably harder to defend if online raided but are just as easily outfitted with shooting floors with outer peak downs to help the cause.
This consideration often comes far too late after you’ve settled on a spot and started building. Logistics, especially regarding biome choice, monument borders, and landscape features, can significantly affect a raid’s outcome.
For example, bases built in the temperate biome, in and among the grubs of the server, are less desirable raid targets, especially for the offline raider.
When you are raiding, and part of your success rate hinges significantly on the number of people within hearing distance of your explosives, you’re more likely to target more remote, open bases with clear sightlines.
Another consideration, such as raid base location availability, springs to mind when building your compound up against a monument. When your outer wall faces a monument and butts up against its build block perimeter, the chance you’ll be online raided from that direction is almost zero.
Raiders want the protection of a place to store backup kits, and boom – this means that littering the only buildable spots with external TCs can increase the range between your base and the raid base, giving you another commanding advantage during a raid.
Finally, and in the same spirit of controlling the raid’s terms, building in water, such as on a delta or sand barge, can offer your external defenses additional protections, say from things like Molotov Cocktails and Incendiary Rockets. These weapons cannot be successfully deployed in any water, making their effectiveness against things like low-sitting turrets or High External Wood Walls practically negligible.
Final thoughts on tool cupboard base defense
As a general rule of thumb, planning out your base ahead of time is essential to maximize protection for your tool cupboard and your more critical loot and bag area.
We encourage everyone to hop on a build server, sit down with some youtube videos, and explore the world of RUST building. Learn a few handy tricks from teammates, and never stop pushing the boundaries of what’s possible.
Please keep those suggestions and begrudgingly witty comments coming back to us directly in our Discord. We love hearing different perspectives on this and all other topics. It keeps us thinking.