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In Supreme Commander, the economy refers to the production and consumption of energy and mass. Careful management of these resources is crucial to succeeding in Supreme Commander. An overview for economy structures could be found under Economy Units.

Unlike many other popular strategy games such as StarCraft in which the total resources on a map are limited, in Supreme Commander, resources are always available. However, many units and structures consume resources continually rather than merely upon their construction. In addition, unlike in other strategy games, resources must be stored, and resources generated which are not stored are wasted.

Therefore, rather than emphasising control of scarce resources, resource management in Supreme Commander is a matter of ensuring your 'income' and stockpiles of the two primary resources can meet your 'expenditure.' Running out of resources will not only halt construction, but an energy shortage will shut down Radar, Shield Generators and other power-consuming devices.

EnergyEdit

Energy is more or less the main resource, as mass production needs energy. Energy will be produced in Power Generators and Power Plants. ACU's and SACU's also produce a small amount of mass (+1) and energy (+10), while the ACU and SCUs could be upgraded with a Resource Allocation System which produces a large amount of extra mass and energy. Energy could also be gained by reclaiming.

Energy BuildingsEdit

There are four different structures that produce energy and one Energy Storage. Note that completely surrounding[or "ringing"] these structures with T1 Energy Storage units will increase their power production by 50%.

T1 Power Generator - This is the basic structure for energy production. It is cheap and produces 20E/s (Energy per second). It produces 30E/s when ringed.
T1 Hydrocarbon Power Plant - The Hydrocarbon Power Plant is a special structure that can only be built on special places on the map. Its cost compared to its output is very good. It produces 100E/s, or 150E/s when ringed.
T2 Power Generator - The T2 Power Plant is the next basic structure for energy production. It costs 16x more mass, energy and time to build as the T1 one but produces 25x more energy per second; 500E/s.
Also produces 750E/s when ringed.
T3 Power Generator - The T3 Power Plant is the last basic energy producing structure. It costs 2.7x the mass and time and 4.8x the energy of a T2 power generator and produces 5x as much energy per second; 2500E/s. This makes the T3 Power Generator the most cost effective energy producing structure. However, when destroyed, the resulting huge explosion will destroy nearly anything in its blast radius.If one explodes in a large group it will result in chain reaction that can be equal to a Nuke. Produces 3750E/s when ringed.

All Power Generators/Plants provides Adjacency bonus. They also have the ability to store energy.

T1 Energy Storage - provides a higher max energy cap and when placed close to Energy producing buildings it gives an Adjacency bonus up to a max +50% to production (All 4 sides of energy producing building is linked to energy storage).

Energy ProductionEdit

There is not much to say about energy production. Connecting Energy Storages could increase the production rate of a Generator. But Energy Storages are not cost effective for adjacency and it is cheaper to build new Generators. Energy Storages are most of the time only useful when you need temporarily a huge amount of energy, like when using a Scathis. Following a list of production costs.

Structure Building Cost Production Costs per 1E/s*
Mass Energy Time Energy Energy Time
T1 PGen 75 750 125 20 37.50 6.25
T1 HydroPP 160 800 400 100 8.00 4.00
T2 PGen 1200 12000 2000 500 24.00 4.00
T3 PGen 3240 57600 5400 2500 23.04 2.16
EStore 480 4800 400 0 - -

MassEdit

There are two basic ways to produce mass, with Mass Extractors and Mass Fabricators. Both require energy for maintenance. Mass could also be gained by reclaiming.

Mass BuildingsEdit

There are five different structures that produce mass and one Mass Storage.

T1 Mass Extractor - T1 Mass Extractors are the cheapest way to produce mass and also have the lowest energy maintenance. The downside is that they can only be built on mass deposits. Thus, T1 Mass Extractors are very important in early game. T1 Mass Extractors can be upgraded to tech level 2 and then to 3. Extractors will always drain more mass than they produce while upgrading, resulting in a negative mass production value. A T1 Mass Extractor produces 2M/s (Mass per second) while draining 2E/s (Energy per second).
T2 Mass Extractor - T2 Mass Extractors produce more mass than a T1 but are more expensive to upgrade or to build. A T2 Mass Extractor produces 6M/s while draining 9E/s.
T3 Mass Extractor - T3 Mass Extractors are a good way to produce mass in late game. They cost more mass to build than a T3 Mass Fabricators but much less energy. Also, the energy maintenance is lower. They produce 18M/s while draining 54E/s.
T2 Mass Fabricator - T2 Mass Fabricators cost 100 mass and a good amount of energy. Also they have high maintenance costs compared to an extractor. It is a good way to increase your mass income early in the game if enough energy is available. It produces 1M/s while draining 150E/s.
T3 Mass Fabricator - A T3 Mass Fabricator is a bigger version of the T2 Mass Fabricator. Compared to that it costs a small amount of mass to build but a huge amount of energy. The energy maintenance costs are also very high. It also explodes with a large blast radius when destroyed. The blast damage is nearly 11 times more powerful than that of a T1, meaning it can destroy much tougher structures and units around it. A T3 Mass Fabricator produces 12M/s while draining 3500E/s.

All Mass Extractors/Fabricators provide Adjacency bonus. They also have the ability to store mass.

T1 Mass Storage - The main task of a Mass Storage is to store more mass. They will also, via adjacency, increase the mass production of Mass Extractors/Fabricators.

Mass ProductionEdit

There is more to know about mass production than knowing which structures exists. Together with Gameplay concepts there are several combinations all with advantages and disadvantages.

Mass Extractors

Extractors have a very low energy maintenance but could be expensive when upgrading them from T1 to T3. First a table for building them directly.

Structure Building Cost Production/Consuming Maintenance Costs per 1M/s*
Mass Energy Time Mass Energy Mass/Energy Mass Energy Time
T1 Mex 36 360 60 2 -2 1.000 18.0 180.0 30.0
T2 Mex 900 5400 900 6 -9 0.667 150.0 900.0 150.0
T3 Mex 1800 10800 1350 12 -36 0.333 150.0 900.0 112.5

With upgrading them from T1 we have following costs.

Structure Building Cost Production/Consuming Maintenance Costs per 1M/s*
Mass Energy Time Mass Energy Mass/Energy Mass Energy Time
T1 -> T2 Mex 936 5760 960 6 -9 0.667 156.0 960.0 160.0
T1 -> T3 Mex 2736 16560 2310 12 -36 0.333 228.0 1380.0 192.5

Now lets have a look at those Extractors surrounded with four Mass Storages when built adjacent to gain the adjacency bonus. The costs for the storages is included.

Structure Building Cost Production/Consuming Maintenance Costs per 1M/s*
Mass Energy Time Mass Energy Mass/Energy Mass Energy Time
MStore 160 1200 200 0 0 - - - -
T1 Mex + 4x MStore 676 5160 860 3 -2 1.500 225.3 1720.0 286.7
T2 Mex + 4x MStore 1540 10200 1700 9 -9 1.000 171.1 1133.3 188.9
T3 Mex + 4x MStore 2440 15600 2150 18 -36 0.500 135.6 866.7 199.4

As it looks there would be no need to surround T1 Mass Extractors with Mass Storages from an economical point of view. But when we do and upgrade then the upgrade costs benefit from adjacency. We get following costs including T1 Mex + 4 Storages.

Structure Building Cost Production/Consuming Maintenance Costs per 1M/s*
Mass Energy Time Mass Energy Mass/Energy Mass Energy Time
T1 Mex + 4x MStore -> T2 Mex 1464 10560  ? 9 -9 1.000 162.7 1173.3  ?
T1 Mex + 4x MStore -> T3 Mex 2878 21360  ? 18 -36 0.500 159.9 1186.7  ?

What are those tables telling us now? T1 Extractors alone are the most effective Extractors economy wise. But there comes a point when no more can be built. The next step would be to build new T3 Extractors and surround them with Storages. But when we don't have any more place to build and we have to upgrade. So the most effective way is to build four Storages around a T1 Mex and upgrade it then. The advantages are clear, extractors produce a good amount of mass with very low energy maintenance. But the disadvantages are that we can't build them where we want and therefore could be hard to defend. Also we need five buildings to produce 18M/s which could be too much when playing with a low unit limit and playing a long game.

Mass Fabricators

Fabricators cost a low amount of mass to produce but a huge amount of energy and have huge energy maintenance costs. So we have to calculate the costs of power generators into the fabricator's building costs. But first a table for only the Fabricators.

Structure Building Cost Production/Consuming Maintenance Costs per 1M/s*
Mass Energy Time Mass Energy Mass/Energy Mass Energy Time
T2 MFab 0 1000 125 1 -40 0.025 0.0 1000.0 125.0
T3 MFab 800 100000 3000 24 -1500 0.016 33.3 4166.7 125.0

Now the table with Power Generators. Note that I have only calculated 60% of a T3 Power Generator in the bottom row, as this is the amount to maintain one T3 Fabricator.

Structure Building Cost Production/Consuming Maintenance Costs per 1M/s*
Mass Energy Time Mass Energy Mass/Energy Mass Energy Time
T2 MFab + 2x T1 PGen 150 2500 375 1 0 no maintenance 150.0 2500.0 375.0
T3 MFab + 3x T2 PGen 4400 136000 9000 24 0 no maintenance 183.3 5666.7 375.0
T3 MFab + 3/5 T3 PGen 2744 134560 6240 24 0 no maintenance 114,3 5606.7 260.2

Using adjacency from Mass Storages on fabricators is not real worth it. There is nearly no change for T1 ones and needs twelve storages for a T3 one which costs nearly 2.5x as much mass as a fabricator for 50% adjacency and is using a large amount of the unit limit. But Power Generators connected to Fabricators could decrease the maintenance costs drastically. Look at this table which shows the Generators connected to the Fabricators (The 3/5 Power Generator counts as one connected).

Structure Building Cost Production/Consuming Maintenance Costs per 1M/s*
Mass Energy Time Mass Energy Mass/Energy Mass Energy Time
T2 MFab + 2x T1 PGen 150 2500 375 1 +5 -0.200 150.0 2500.0 375.0
T2 MFab + 4x T1 PGen 300 4000 625 1 +50(?) -?  ?  ?  ?
T3 MFab + 3x T2 PGen 4400 136000 9000 24 +563 -0.043 183.3 5666.7 375.0
T3 MFab + 4x T2 PGen 5600 148000 11000 24 +1250 -0.019 233.3 6166.7 458.3
T3 MFab + 3/5 T3 PGen 2744 134560 6240 24 +? -? 114,3 5606.7 260.2

As seen in the last table adjacency gives a nice bonus to the Fabricators. Not only is the energy maintenance decreased, we also get some extra energy. It is also possibly to build whole farms like chessboards to gain even more adjacency bonus. In such a chessboard farm each Generator gives its bonus to all Fabricators surrounding it. But such chessboard farms are probably a priority target for your opponent so it’s on your own risk to build too large farms. The risk is highest for T1 Fabricators + T1 Generators and T3 Fabricators + T3 Generators. For the T1 one single destroyed Fabricator will start a chain reaction. For the T3, one Generator will start the chain reaction while a destroyed Fabricator will only damage the surrounding buildings. Relatively safe is the combination of T3 Fabricators + T2 Generators as the Generators will only do low damage to the surrounding Fabricators and the Fabricators will only destroy the surrounding Generators without a chain reaction. It is highly recommended to build Shield Generators to protect your farms.

TimeEdit

The most important aspect of the economy in Supreme Commander is TIME. In short, if you can produce more effective firepower on the map in less TIME than your opponent, you win. This is true of every RTS ever produced and is still 100% true of Supreme Commander. There are three concepts involved in time management; "Tradeoff Time", "Catch Up Time", and "Engagement Time".


Tradeoff TimeEdit

"Tradeoff Time" is the time you give in order to build one unit, structure, or upgrade instead of building another -- this is the economic principle of "Opportunity Cost."

For example, given equal resources and build point capacity, for the time it takes to build one Mavor, how many Striker tanks could you build? The answer is try to do that and you will see.

So if a player decides to spend all of his resources on a Mavor could he defend against all of the Striker tanks his opponent produces? Probably not, because in the time it takes to build the Mavor the enemy will produce hundreds of tanks that will then traverse the map and destroy his Commander long before the Mavor is up and operating. The "Tradeoff" or "Opportunity Cost" is far too great.

That's kind of an extreme example but it does highlight the point. If you try to build something too expensive, someone with less expensive gear will run you over because it takes too long to build.

Catchup TimeEdit

"Catchup Time" is the time it takes for your more expensive unit or units to become more powerful than opponent who just continues to build a less expensive unit.

For example, player #1 and player #2 start off with equal resources. Player #2 then decides to upgrade to tech 2 tanks. In this example, in the time it takes to upgrade to tech 2 tanks, your enemy has produced 10 tech 1 tanks. Also, in this example tech 2 tanks are produced at the exact same rate as tech 1 tanks, but they are twice as powerful. So once you have upgraded your tanks to tech 2, you are 10 tech 1 tanks behind your opponent, and you will need to produce 5 tech 2 tanks (while you do that, enemy will make 5 more tech 1 tanks, so in total you will need 10 tech 2 tanks, while the enemy will produce 19 tech 1 tanks in given time) in order to catchup and then surpass the enemy.

Engagement TimeEdit

In the previous example, will player #2 win with his more powerful tanks? Maybe, as it depends on his engagement time. That is the time it takes for your forces to engage the enemy. This is a more arbritrary number that is fairly complicated. But essentially it means the time it takes for your units, or the enemy tanks, to drive up and engage on the map. The larger the map, the longer it takes. Faster units (like aircaft) take much less time to engage than slower units like ships.

So player #2 now has to build 5 tanks in order to break even. If player #1 can attack his base before player #2 can build the 10 tanks, player #1 will have a distinct advantage. If the bases on this map are four tank builds away, in other words the tanks can cross the map in the time it takes to build four tanks, then given equal player skill, player #1 should win with his superior firepower. But if the map is huge, and it takes 20 tank builds to cross the map, player #2 can defend himself from player #1. And once the catchup time has been overcome, player #2 now has the advantage.

Time ManagementEdit

To sum it all up, the engagement time must be greater than the sum of tradeoff time and the catchup time. This is why "rushing" T1 tanks works so well on smaller maps, but struggles on larger maps. If it takes too long for your tech 1 tanks to reach the enemy in large enough numbers you will lose if they have upgraded.


But let's look at a much more applicable example.

If there are two players using the same faction on a map. The map is a very simple flat map, with only one mass extractor location for each player. Each player has simulataneously built one T1 extractor, a few T1 power plants [maybe a hydrocarbon power plant], and one T1 Factory.

So both players produce tanks at exactly the same rate. If both players are of equal skill, nothing happens. Both players send tanks at each other and both sides are eliminated. This goes back and forth for eternity (kind of reminds me of a really bad infinite respawn first person shooter but I wont go there :) ).

But, player #1 decides he will upgrade his extractor to Tech 2. If successful in upgrading his extractor, and his opponent does not upgrade his extractor, player #1 will have 3 times the resources. If player 1 has or builds more production capactiy, he will have 3 times the number of tanks than player #2 and will win.

Assuming player #2 never upgrades his extractors, will player #1 win every game with this strategy? Maybe. It depends on if player #2 attacks player #1 before he can upgrade his extractor, upgrade his factory, and before the catchup time is reached.

To give some idea of how Forged Alliance works, the catchup time to upgrade one extractor is *about* five minutes from tech 1 to tech 2, if you are building tech 1 tanks. So if you see your enemy upgrading an extractor, chances are that you have about 5 minutes to "rush" him. Upgrading to tech 2 factories is even longer.

NotesEdit

Shortcuts used in this article:

PGen - Power Generator
EStore - Energy Storage
HydroPP - Hydrocarbon Power Plant
Mex - Mass Extractor
MFab - Mass Fabricator
MStore - Mass Storage
The Aeon have an experimental resource generator, the Paragon , which produces up to 10,000 mass and
1,000,000 energy. It doesn't increase it's output when it is ringed by either type of resource storages and doesn't produce or be affected by any adjacency bonus.

Another notes:

*Costs per 1E/s; Costs per 1M/s - These are the costs per unit of production of the relevant economy structure. This allows different structures of the same type to be compared. For example, the T2 Power Generator costs 12000 Energy, and produces 500 Energy/second. Therefore it costs 12000/500 = 24 units of energy produced per second.
Time - These values are not accurate, as the actual construction time depends on the units performing the construction. However, they are proportionally correct and may be used to compare the build times for different structures.

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