Mass extractors are buildings built on Mass deposits. They extract the Mass from the ground and make it usable by construction units. There are three extractors for every faction: tech 1, tech 2 and tech 3 extractors.
Mass extractors can be built by engineers and command units. T1 engineers and un-upgraded ACUs can only build T1 extractors, but the extractors can themselves upgrade to higher tier. Higher tier constructors can build higher tier extractors. Their production can also be boosted by placing Mass storages around them. An extractor surrounded 4 Mass storages produces an extra 50% Mass. It should be noted it is just as expensive to upgrade an extractor, than to directly build one of a higher tier level. This means that it may be more efficient to directly build a higher tier mass extractor. However, this is largely based on the speed of construction, since an upgrading mass extractor will still provide mass, and the additional investment of the lower tier may pay for itself while it is upgrading. Power consumption can also be reduced by placing power generators around the extractor, but the benefits of this are minimal, and the operation is not recommended.
| Tech 3|
| Tech 3|
Costs* = Remember that surrounding an extractor costs 800 mass
Production* = Production when surrounded by 4 Mass Storages
As a general rule, the most economically efficient way of setting up Mass extractors is building as many T1 as possible, then, upgrading them all to T2. At this point, the optimal road is to surround your T2 Mass extractors with 4 Mass storages, and upgrading them to T3.
Upgrading a T2 extractor to T3 without first surrounding it with storage it is not a wise choice, and failing to surround a T3 extractor is a bad mistake.
When upgrading an extractor, that extractor ceases to produce resources. Even though an extractor can upgrade itself, it is recommended to assist the Mass extractor as much as possible to keep the transition time short.
A bug in the game prevents you from completely pausing a Mass extractor's upgrade. While Production is paused, resources are still being consumed. Also, should you run out of Mass during an upgrade, the Mass extractor will become a Mass siphon, consuming lots of Mass for little actual upgrade.
It is for the above reasons that you should always upgrade Mass extractors one at a time, while assisting it, and under no condition should you run out of Mass during this process. If you do run out of Mass, pause everything you are doing (except the Mass extractor upgrade). Your top priority should be getting Mass in your storages, and then completing the upgrade, before resuming production.
The following table shows how long you have to wait to start making profits from an extractor. It also includes extractors surrounded by mass storages, and takes into account the production gain, rather than absolute production. Only mass costs are considered. Applies only to Forged Alliance. Table is ordered by repay time.
Obviously, the faster an extractor repays for itself, the better, proving the first paragraph of this section.
While this table shows that as soon as a T2 extractor is surrounded, it is better to upgrade it than surround another T2, in reality, unconsidered build time overheads, risks and available resources make this an unwise choice.
In the original Supreme Commander, Mass extractors are important especially in the beginning, but players can manage their economy with Mass fabricators too.
In Forged Alliance, Mass extractors gain much more importance because Mass fabricators were made much less effective. This effectively makes map control more important because turtling in a small base with fabricator economy is not possible. Also, Tech 3 Mass extractors were made much more efficient, productive and durable, to stress their importance.