Coal Thumpers are one of the most useful buildings in Frostpunk, but they are difficult to use effectively. Grand Structure is the player’s first source of “renewable” coal, and is still useful in most Frostpunk scenarios. Players can obtain Coal Thumper after researching it in the Workshop. You need 10 pieces of wood for research and 15 pieces for construction. Thumpers are the most flexible resource construction, they do not need any nearby resources to run. This advantage is partially offset by the size of the building and labor demand.
Frostpunk’s basic Coal Thumper requires 10 workers or engineers, and each standard shift can produce 560 units of coal. However, unlike other resource buildings, the coal thumper does not directly add its coal to the stack. Instead, it produces large amounts of charcoal for up to 15 workers or two Gathering Posts. This means that 25 to 30 workers are actually required to operate Coal Thumper.
While it may be tempting to save space by building a Coal Thumper, the collection station does provide some advantages. The biggest benefit is that they provide a degree of protection against various factors and reduce the number of workers affected by cold-related diseases. Players can also upgrade the collection station to improve isolation and collection efficiency.
Coal Thumper itself has upgrades available in Tech Tiers 2 and 5. The former allows players to replace their Coal Thumpers with the more expensive but more efficient Steam Coal Thumpers. The second is Coal Thumper Injectors, which adds + 15% efficiency to all Coal Thumpers and Steam Coal Thumpers. The description of Steam Coal Thumper says it produces enough for four collection stations. However, this may or may not be true, depending on the player’s strategy on each building upgrade path.
Frostpunk players should make sure to check their Coal Thumpers regularly to ensure that the coal pile is not too high or too low. If the coal pile runs out, the collector will have to wait, and Thumper will generate more. If the Coal Pile becomes too large, the Coal Thumper will stop working for a while. This is not a special strategic use of the city’s limited manpower.
Players should also be careful when using Automatons on Coal Thumper or its Gathering Posts. Although Automatons are not as fast as humans, they can run continuously for nearly 24 hours, only briefly stopping to refuel. This means that their daily workload is much more, which allows them to frequently deplete or overload coal piles when using human crews..