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!