PA Economy Factsheet (for new & improving players)

Discussion in 'Backers Lounge (Read-only)' started by silenceoftheclams, October 6, 2013.

  1. silenceoftheclams

    silenceoftheclams Active Member

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    Disclaimer: this thread is about making information about more technical aspects of gameplay available to players who want to understand the game better. Many good players will already know this stuff, and many casual players will not be interested. But as I couldn't find all this info anywhere else, I thought collecting this stuff in one place could be useful for other players who, like me, want to understand PA's economy a little better, and perhaps start planning out/optimising build orders. Warning: may include numbers! Unit data & values correct as of Build 64498. We are now more up-to-date than PADB.
    NOW with Spreadsheets, with thanks to GoogleFrog!


    1. Intro: Metal and Energy

    PA's economy is rate-based. You have two resources, metal and energy, and they are produced not in lump sums but at a continuous, streaming rate. This rate is calculated by in-game 'ticks', and your production/expenditure per tick is displayed in the economy bars at the top of the screen. These ticks are on average slightly less than one second of real time (around 0.95 secs) but for simplicity's sake we'll say that 1 tick=1 second.

    You use both resources to build things, but only metal shows up as the 'cost' of a unit. This means that metal is the backbone of your economy: a building or unit is only finished when the full amount of metal has been spent on its production.

    Energy, on the other hand, is used to power the construction of buildings/units, and also to run things like radar & sonar. Every thing that builds another thing has an energy cost associated with its build power. So the amount of energy it costs to put out one unit of metal is a very good measure of the efficiency of a unit's build power. Generally speaking, factories and the commander are the most efficient builders, air fabbers are the least efficient, and other fabbers come in the middle. More importantly, by using more efficient construction units, you can get the same units or buildings made for a lower energy cost.

    If you run out of energy (and you're still spending energy faster than you produce it), your economy goes into a 'stalled' state. In this state, your radar shuts down (which is potentially lethal) and your ability to spend your resources is drastically reduced. More on this later, but if you're new to the game: avoid stalling your economy if you possibly can.

    This post is mostly about understanding how to get the most out of your economy, and how to trade efficient construction against the need to get things done quickly.

    2. Fabbers, Factories, and their Efficiencies

    Note that every construction unit ('fabber') or factory builds at a constant rate. It doesn't matter whether a T1 fabrication bot builds a pelter or a radar, it will always build it at a rate of 10 metal per tick. Different types of fabber do have more powerful rates, though: your commander, and the T2 Fabrication vehicle, both build at a whopping 30 metal per tick. To complicate matters a little, factories also have a 'roll-off' time, which is a (fixed, constant) time it takes between a factory finishing one unit in its build queue and starting the next.

    To save you all the time of looking this up for yourself in-game and working it out, I've listed the build power and efficiency of all the construction units, and the approximate roll-off times of all the factories, in the spreadsheet below.

    Efficiency is in Energy per Metal, i.e the amount of energy it costs for the unit to output one unit of metal, so higher values in the 'efficiency' column mean worse build efficiency!

    The Spreadsheet - https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Ah_6VtyO1hObdEdnSFNPZTFZS1pkdWJPbTVkNUJySXc&usp=sharing

    A few basic points:

    The commander is pretty much the most efficient builder in the game. This means that, where possible, you should always have your commander building stuff, to avoid having to spend on extra energy production. He's also one of the few units that can assist a factory and actually increase its overall production efficiency.

    Air fabbers are inefficient. They may have great mobility and flexibility, but their high cost, fragile nature, and lower build output make them a situational unit, not a workhorse.

    T1 Combat fabbers are too expensive to just use to assist other fabbers. They cost as much as a sheller, but only build twice as fast as regular T1 fabbers. The T2 combat fabber, however, is actually more cost-effective than its regular T2 fabber counterparts.

    T1 Fabrication Bots, Boats and Vehicles are the most efficient fabbers for their construction cost. If you need more raw build power, these guys have a slight edge over the more expensive T2 Fabbers. That said, swarms of T1 fabbers assisting a key building can create pathing issues that cause them to mill about uselessly, so you'll want to switch up to T2 fabbers or even T2 combat fabbers as you move towards the late game.

    For more info on assisting, including why assisting T1 factories is BAD and assisting T2 factories is GOOD, jump to this post later in the thread (special thanks to Googlefrog, again):

    https://forums.uberent.com/threads/pa-economy-factsheet-for-new-improving-players.52514/page-3

    There's more that could be said on this front, but I'll leave the data to do its own work.

    3. Stalling Your Economy

    Your economy stalls when you have no energy in store and you're still spending more energy than you're producing. Stalling is very, very bad; here's why:

    When your economy stalls, you'll start wasting metal production. It doesn't affect your actual metal production, but it does affect the rate at which you can spend it. Your build rate is cut (roughly) in proportion to your per-tick energy deficit.* This means that if you're building with five T1 bots (at a rate of 50 metal/tick, at the cost of 5000 energy/tick) but you're only producing 1000 energy/tick, your output is 50 * (1000/5000) = 10 metal/tick.

    Note that if you add more T1 bots to this build, you don't build any faster! Adding in 5 more bots gives you an output of 100 * (1000/10000), which is still 10 metal/tick. It simply doesn't matter how much metal you're actually producing: if you're stalled, and building with T1 bots, you can't build any faster than about 10 metal/tick.

    However, you can improve your situation by prioritising more efficient fabbers. By adding the commander's build power into the 5-bot situation, you get: 80 * (1000/6500) = 12 metal/tick. So if you are stalled, pull the least efficient fabbers off the line first.

    This also means it's very difficult to simply build your way out of a stall; throwing more fabbers into energy plant construction does redistribute your production priorities, but it doesn't actually get your economy building at its 'real', unstalled rate again.

    So when your economy stalls, do these things in the following order:

    1. Shut down any construction/unit production that isn't essential. Try to reduce your overall energy expenditure first, as this will make the biggest single difference to your situation.

    2. Pull your least efficient builders off the line. By increasing the average efficiency of your building, you'll increase your build rate in a stalled state. Pulling build capacity off is more likely to get you out of a stall, though, so do this first.

    3. Add more efficient builders to essential projects. Again, your aim in a stall is to push your average build efficiency upwards, since this increases your overall build rate.

    4. Add more build capacity to energy construction. This is the lowest priority, since adding extra low-efficiency building to any build project will lower your overall build rate. However, if all else fails, this will at least increase the proportion of your build power that is being sunk into getting you out of a stall.

    4. Finding a build order

    Remember that this data isn't conclusive on whether one build order is 'better' than another. Units have to walk between places to build new things, and to form a solid build order you'll need to account for that, especially when you start sending units to build metal extractors in distant portions of the map. You'll also have to account for other players trying to kill the poop out of you. So there's that too.

    Also also, be aware that I haven't talked about things like storage, which you can use to create 'bursts' of build output; most good build orders will use things like storage (even if its just the default store you get from the game's start) to squeeze the absolute maximum from their production output.

    Lastly, the unit data in the table will change as the game is balanced and rebalanced. I'll try to keep this updated and relevant, but I can't promise too much.

    Good luck and have fun!

    TLDR: Numbers, blah, numbers, blah. For Science!

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: April 26, 2014
  2. zaphodx

    zaphodx Post Master General

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    I think a couple patches ago energy stalls no longer affect metal income. From what I understand stalling doesn't hurt your eco at all anymore. So piling more engineers on a power gen build helps it build a bit quicker because it prioritises the increased build power on the power gen.
  3. silenceoftheclams

    silenceoftheclams Active Member

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    I ran these calculations last night, Zaphod, in the current build of the game, 54757.

    Stalling doesn't affect metal income, it affects the rate at which you can spend your metal, i.e your build rate. And adding extra fabbers, as far as I can see, makes no difference to how fast you can build energy plants, unless you add more efficient fabbers.

    Perhaps that's not clear in the initial post? I'll maybe clarify it a little.
  4. GoogleFrog

    GoogleFrog Active Member

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    If you have access to T2 energy generators then T1 Fabrication Bots are more efficient sources of BP than the T1 Bot Factory.

    Total cost of buying the infrastructure to spend 1 m/s in T1 Bot Fabricators = (((2700 T2 Energy Cost)/(5000 T2 Energy Income))*(1000 Energy Drain) + (180 Cost))/(10 Metal Drain) = 72

    Total cost of buying the infrastructure to spend 1 m/s in T1 Bot Factories = (((2700 T2 Energy Cost)/(5000 T2 Energy Income))*(675 Energy Drain) + (600 Cost))/(12 Metal Drain) = 78.125

    T1 Bot Fabricators are much more efficient than all the T2 factories.
    • The T2 Vehicle Factory has an efficiency of 144.522.
    • The T2 Bot Factory has an efficiency of 186.528.
    • The T2 Air Factory has an efficiency of 172.722.
    • The T2 Sea Factory has an efficiency of 150.722.
    • The Orbital Factory has an efficiency of 148.833.
    It turns out that the T2 Vehicle Constructor is more efficient than these factories with a value of 99.
    This sort of calculation would be useful to include in your spreadsheet. A column could be added for the cost of 1 BP using each combination of BP source and power plant.

    Rolloff time muddies the water a bit because a very large number of assisters around one factory will spend most of their time doing nothing. But rolloff time initially favours assisting for two reasons:
    1. Assisters can do other things during factory downtime.
    2. Factories have low (Energy Drain)/(Metal Drain).
    These advantages will fight against the eventual saturation point based on rolloff time. Someone just has to calculate where that point is. This should be done on a case-by-case basis. It is reasonably easy to calculate what to do if you want to construct some infrastructure which turns Metal into Levelers.

    1. If you put a small group of constructors between two factories such that they alternately assist factories then the assisters have no downtime. This is extremely efficient. Some may argue that this would take a lot of micro and finickiness to set up but PA is supposed to have a powerful UI and smart units. If the default patrol or area repair or whatever command is not up to doing this automatically then I hope UI mods can provide.

    2. Low (Energy Drain)/(Metal Drain) is a bad thing when comparing the total cost of buying the infrastructure to spend your income. I would much prefer my factories to have little upfront cost and and high energy drain. For example if I have a factory which drains no energy and costs 1000 metal then it is worse than a factory which is free and drains 1000 metals-worth of power plant production. I will be able to run more of the second type of factory because they will spend some of their time idling. The factory with no drain is wasting my 1000 metal while idle but the free factory does not waste any of my metal because the unused energy can be used elsewhere.

    As a final point constructors are also flexible. They can make turrets and assist any unit type. This is another point in their favour but it is unrelated to efficiency.

    On the spreadsheet itself. Could you put it in an online spreadsheet hoster? It would be much more usable for others than leaving it as an image.
    Last edited: October 6, 2013
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  5. zaphodx

    zaphodx Post Master General

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    Yes but build power still dictates priority? What I mean is if I have 5 factories pumping units and 5 engineers trying to build a power generator, if I chuck another 10 engineers to build the power generator then the increased build power will reduce the speed of factory construction and make the power generator finish faster. Is that not how it works?
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  6. GoogleFrog

    GoogleFrog Active Member

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    Technically yes but you should manage priorities by halting and shuffling production instead of throwing in more constructors. If you try to spend more metal than you have in income you are wasting energy.
  7. silenceoftheclams

    silenceoftheclams Active Member

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    Yes, assigning proportionally more build power does increase priority. But since engineers are generally less efficient than factories, adding in more engineers in this case actually lowers your overall mass output and so slows everything down, even though it will slightly improve the build time on the generator.

    In your 5 (let's say bot) factory + 5 engy situation, you have a build power of 110 metal/tick, costing 8375 energy/tick. Let's say your energy production is a respectable 7000/tick. So when you stall, your build rate is 110 * (7000/8375) = 91 metal/tick (I believe PA rounds down in some of these calculations for some reason). This build capacity is assigned to your factories and engineers proportionally to their (unstalled) build power. So your energy generator should go up at around 91 * (50/110) = 41 metal/tick

    Add on an extra 5 bots to that generator construction and you'll get a build rate of 160 * (7000/13375) = 83 metal/tick. So your total build power goes down! But, your power generator gets proportionally more of your metal diverted to it so it goes up at 83 * (100/160) = 51 metal/tick. So your generator gets built quicker, but on the downside by increasing the overall energy cost of your build rate you slow down the overall pace of building across your entire economy. (Note: I tested this in-game to check my calculation and it seems pretty accurate)

    So when you stall it's more important to put more efficient fabbers on the job (or pull less efficient ones off it), since this will actually increase the overall amount of metal you can spend in your stalled state.
    Last edited: October 6, 2013
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  8. silenceoftheclams

    silenceoftheclams Active Member

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    GoogleFrog, I'm not sure I follow your reasoning here. I'm assuming that you're trying to get an assessment of the pound-for-pound build power of the T1 bot fabber vs the T1 bot factory; but I can't follow you.

    I think you're defining efficiency differently to me, and having checked the dimensions of your calculation (warning: dimensional analysis ahoy), I'm not sure what exactly it is you're doing: if the units of the calculation are metal (M), energy (E), and seconds (S), we seem to have:

    ((M/(E*(S^-1))*((E*(S^-1)) + M) / (M*(S^-1)) =
    ((M*(E^-1)*S)*((E*(S^-1)) + M) / (M*(S^-1)) = M / (M*(S^-1)) = S

    Which means that your 'cost' is actually a cost in time?

    Could you go through your calculations to explain to me exactly what you mean by the steps in your calculation? I note that you come up with a set of efficiency figures, which is clearly calculated differently to the way I've defined 'efficiency' in my spreadsheet.

    I'll see what I can do. Might not be today though.
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  9. zaphodx

    zaphodx Post Master General

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    But I don't lose anything, right? I'm stalling power and mass and I chuck more engineers on a nuke build - I don't lose anything, just everything builds slower and the nuke builds quicker proportional to the other stuff that is slowed?
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  10. GoogleFrog

    GoogleFrog Active Member

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    The efficiency numbers are different. Your efficiency is simply how much energy is drained by the constructor per unit metal spent. My efficiency is how much it costs in total infrastructure to spend an income of one metal. I'll walk through the first one.

    Total cost of buying the infrastructure to spend 1 m/s in T1 Bot Fabricators = (((2700 T2 Energy Cost)/(5000 T2 Energy Income))*(1000 Energy Drain) + (180 Cost))/(10 Metal Drain) = 72

    To run a T1 Bot Con it takes 1/5 of a T2 power generator. So if you want make a T1 Bot Con and run it at full pelt you have to build 1/5 of a T2 power generator to pay the upkeep, this costs you 540 metal. The Con itself costs 180 metal and can spend 10 metal/second. So you have paid 540 + 180 = 720 metal for the ability to spend 10 metal/second. This means that in terms of metal output the cost efficiency of buying T1 Bot Cons and running them with T2 power generators is 72 metal/(metal/second), this is why the dimensional analysis yields seconds. There is a nice way of interpreting this result, it takes 72 seconds for a group of T1 Bot Cons and T2 power generators to spend as much metal as it cost to build them.

    My measure of efficiency takes energy right out of the equation. This should not be done all the time because given equal efficiency it is advantageous for the constructor to have a higher energy drain. But when you think to yourself "I want to increase the amount of metal I can spend per second by 500" it tells you the most efficient combination of energy generators and constructors to build to achieve this. In practice people don't build power generators exactly for every constructor so this measure mostly tells you what to do when you are building power generators of a particular type.

    By the way thankyou for the work put in to the spreadsheet. I'll talk about specific economy numbers but don't currently have the inclination to gather them myself.

    You actually lose energy. See https://forums.uberent.com/threads/...energy-is-drained-when-mass-is-stalled.52517/
    Last edited: October 6, 2013
  11. silenceoftheclams

    silenceoftheclams Active Member

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    Yes, my 'efficiency' is actually a measure of energy cost per build rate; it's a very simple quantity, and doesn't really reveal that much about the deeper mechanics beyond the fact that it's clearly cheaper to build with some things than others. It is still a useful measure when to think about when your economy stalls though. Your efficiency is a rather more complex beast!

    This is where I think the complexity of your efficiency measure really comes into play. It's surely more of a 'metal cost per unit build power'. As such, doesn't it also represent an ideal time cost to buy a single unit of build power that can then run indefinitely, for a given efficiency (my efficiency measure) of build power? In practice, it's likely this will be offset by the fact that you won't be building energy production at a continuous rate, but at a discrete one, as energy plants only start producing once they've been built. It's a powerful measure, but surely it's actually a limiting case for a differential equation determining the rate at which you can grow an economy in PA?

    In fact, now that I think about it, that's the key: we need a measure of economic power that accounts for both metal production and your ability to spend it, and I think your efficiency measure is closely linked. I need to think about this; I'm a bit too tired to make headway at present.

    This is absolutely correct: when stalling, you pay the full energy cost for the build power you use, but you only get a proportion of that build power based on its energy cost per metal spent. I should add that you can also waste metal during a stall, since your lower spend rate during a stall can leave you topping out your metal storage and wasting any further production.
    Last edited: October 7, 2013
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  12. fergie

    fergie Member

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    I think people really under estimate the power of using a Fabber assist before using two adv factories.....

    I wrote up a spread sheet for it, but it has no Factory Roll off Time, yet. The idea is 1 Adv Factory + 1 Adv Fab Vs 1 Adv Factory while 1 Adv Fab, creates another Adv Fact, then leaves to do whatever else

    So the first 3 mins and 3 sec of production, they are both costing the same metal and energy, but the assist one is producing a lot faster, nearly double speed.

    At 18mins on the table, both sets have exactly the same production (though with rolloff this could change) both setups have created 56.57 Stompers in 18min mark,

    Assisted Factory cost a total of 71,280 Metal and 94,500 E
    Duel Factory cost a total of 76,680 Metal and 83,250 E

    You have in effect turned 11,250 E into 5,400 Metal, a very very good exchange rate, and at the same time, did produce a few stompers sooner, though by 18mins are now equal.

    At 30min mark....

    Assist Factory Produced 94.3 Stompers, for a cost of 118,000 Metal and 157,500 E

    Duel Factory Produced 97.7 Stompers, for a cost of 128,520 Metal and 137,250 E


    I Still need to fiddle with the numbers, I would like to add in the cost of the fabber, it would only be considered a cost vs the assisting, as it is useful elsewhere in the duel setup.... in the assisting, you would "need" to build another adv fabber to keep on the assisting line.

    I also need to add in Loss time between Product, and that gets a lil complex with assisting heh



    NOTE: This is for adv bot factories, it is less useful to assist a tank factory for 3 major reasons,

    FIRST an adv tank factory is a bit cheaper, so its quicker to get it started as well, and a bit less cost.
    SECOND the tank factory uses even less energy, making the E cost much grater between the two
    THIRD a tank factory produces 45 metal a second worth of tanks, a bot does 36, a fabber always adds 30 metal....assisting a bot factory you gain 83%, you only gain a 67% increase in production assisting a tank factory.
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  13. gunshin

    gunshin Well-Known Member

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    This is a pretty good post. Only thing i could ask you to add to it would be the fact that metal storage is pretty damn useless. Hopefully it will change, but im not sure how it can be changed =S in supcom they actually bolstered the income rate of adjacent mexs, but there is no adjacency bonus in PA =/
  14. superouman

    superouman Post Master General

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    Metal storage isn't useless, take a random game on nanodesu.info/pastats and take a look at the gigantic amounts of wasted metal because you couldn't store it. We are all extremely far away from using our ressources effectively enough to not need metal storage.
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  15. fergie

    fergie Member

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    I don't find metal storage useless at all, some people over build it, but I like to throw down at least 2 or 3 of each metal and energy storage to give some extra buffer. You can have your commander throw a few up in the middle of your base for nearly free, just as your moving from t1 to t2
  16. silenceoftheclams

    silenceoftheclams Active Member

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    In actual fact the roll-off times are a pretty significant error factor in your calculations. I built a spreadsheet to do these calculations, and I'll try to upload it.

    Let's compare the two situations: Case A, where the T2 fab bot assists the factory indefinitely, and Case B, where it builds a second factory, and then blows itself up (aka leaving the bounds of the model). The factories, when not being built, churn out stompers until the end of time.

    Case A is straightforward: stompers are built at a rate of 66 metal/tick, at the cost of 5250 energy/tick. This means a stomper is finished in 19.09 ticks, then rolls off in about 3 seconds. A new bot is started every 22.03s, but this means that the factory/bot combo spends about 13.5% of its time idle!

    Case B is a bit more interesting. The extra factory finishes in 183.3s, at a cost of 550000E. Meanwhile the first factory builds a stomper every 35+3 ticks, at a cost of 78750E. Then at the 183.3s mark it too starts on its endless stomper build queue, at the same rate as the first factory.

    So let's compare them. At 183.3s, when the second T2 factory finishes for B, where are we? Case A has built 8 stompers, spent 10513.8M and 836325E. Case B has produced 4 stompers, and spent 11666.8M and 935425E. Simply put, the continuous building on the T2 bot in Case B vs the idling during roll-offs of Case A has pushed up the overall spend on Case B.

    At 300s, Case A has built 13 bots, spent 17226M and 1370250E. Case B has built 10 bots and spent 19421.2M, 1420075E. Case B is behind on bots, though not so far behind that a bit of micro couldn't even things up; but the energy-to-mass ratios are definitely looking better for B.

    By 600s, Case A has built 27 bots, spent 34254M and 2724750E. Case B has built 26 bots and spent 39340M, 2665000E. We're nearly even on bots, but in terms of energy efficiency B is really getting ahead; it's almost saved the energy cost of another 1.5 T2 bot factories (provided you build them with T2 fab bots) over Case A.

    Lastly, by 1200s, Case A has built 54 bots, spent 68508M and 5449500E. Case B has built 57 bots and spent 79145.2M and 5152825E. B has now overtaken A for bot numbers, though not by amazing amounts. What's really working for B, though, is the serious reductions in energy costs created by using the more energy-efficient factory nanolathes as opposed to the less efficient T2 bot nanolathe.

    The overall efficiency savings aren't amazing, but they're still substantial, and the difference definitely comes through after the first 600s. By 1200s the increased build power of the double factories is also starting to show itself in the form of a few extra bots. Again, nothing amazing, but it's still an edge. Here's a chart of the energy spending comparison: http://imgur.com/ZB7ANER

    On the other hand, assisting is surprisingly solid if you have an energy surplus and want to maximise your short-term unit output.

    I'll try and sort out some file sharing for my spreadsheets tomorrow.
    Last edited: October 7, 2013
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  17. GoogleFrog

    GoogleFrog Active Member

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  18. zweistein000

    zweistein000 Post Master General

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    At least that how should it be. But TBH if it really needs more then 600 seconds (10minutes) to get even you might as well assist and not bother bother with the micro and build only half as much factories as you need and assist them.

    Also while 2 factors do produce bots more efficiently the cost of that second factory is so substantial that if you factor then into efficiency ratio, 2 factories only become metal and energy efficient after 1200 seconds - that's 20 minutes. By then I could possible have steamrolled my enemy.
  19. silenceoftheclams

    silenceoftheclams Active Member

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    Actually I'd be wary of calling that decision based on metal efficiency: there's no penalty for spending more metal than you produce, as it won't stall your economy, and having a greater capacity to spend metal is always better (other things being equal!). Energy efficiency, on the other hand, will definitely play a part in any stall situation: note that once the second factory is finished, you're actually paying 750 less energy per tick, which is about 1.25 T1 power plants' worth of production.

    Also, note that this situation is merely the simplest case of the assist/build factories problem. In an actual game, you'd more likely build that second factory with a truckload more build power, cutting down its set-up time. The key point of my model is that it shows that as soon as the new factory comes online, the multi-factory model starts to become competitive within about 2-3 times that initial set-up time.

    Be aware, as well, that a single assisting T2 bot is one of the most efficient assisting set-ups: as you pile on more build capacity, you shorten the production time of individual units, BUT the roll-off time remains constant. This means that as assisting build power goes up, it spends proportionally more and more time idling while stompers roll off, whereas T2 bot factories producing stompers unassisted spend about 7.9% of their time idling, no matter what you do. As you pile more build power into assisting vs. building factories, your energy efficiency goes down (assisting fabbers are less energy-efficient than factories) and the pay-off times will start to close up: 600s is likely the longest you'll wait for making more factories pay off over assisting just one factory.

    Still, you are correct: assisting is viable when you're starved on metal, since you can usually pay off the extra energy costs more cheaply than you can pay for the extra factories. It's actually just a version of the age-old production dilemma: if you can afford to pay a higher start-up cost, you can buy a more powerful and cost-efficient production mode. And so long as you know when you'll need those stompers, you can actually produce more of them by cutting factory production and going over to assisting right before the deadline.
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  20. zweistein000

    zweistein000 Post Master General

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    Wait... If overusing metal doesn't stall you. Why is metal even a resource then? I always thought thet once you were out of metal you begam producing slower.

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