Orbital Refinery
Cost: 1500 Credits 125 Metal 175 Crystal
Build Time: 90 Seconds
Logistics Slots: 4
Hull: 6500
Armor: 5
Ability: Bonus resources

Orbital Refineries provide bonuses to metal and crystal production.

TEC Orbital Refineries Edit

TEC Orbital Refineries send refinery ships to extractors at the local planet and all directly adjacent gravity wells (one jump away). It's important to understand how they work, to optimize your income:

  • Each refinery earns 0.06 metal or crystal per second for every "regular" extractor (at one of your planets). If the extractor is neutral (at a UCGW), the refinery earns 0.08 resources/second (a third more).
  • There can be a maximum of 3 refineries servicing each extractor, or 4 refineries for neutral extractors. You can see how many refineries are servicing a particular extractor by holding your cursor over the extractor. If there are more than 3 (4 for neutrals), the extras are superfluous and don't provide any more income.
  • The base income rate of an extractor is 0.40 resources/second. Thus, if you have 3 refineries, you can increase its output by 45% (.18/.40).
  • Each Refinery can serve an unlimited number of extractors (sending one ship to each of the extractors), even though technically refineries are defined as having 10 ships. Apparently these 10 ships are mainly for show. If the number of local and adjacent extractors exceeds 10, the refinery continues to get 0.06 credits/second per additional extractor, regardless. (Tested and confirmed for up to 17 extractors.) One way the 10 ships do appear to matter is that you will not receive the full income from a refinery until all 10 ships have appeared at it; it takes 25 seconds for each one to spawn.
  • Refineries are not subject to allegiance, and they are also not affected by planetary bonuses that increase resource income (Expert Miners and Roiders Outpost). So don't worry about allegiance or bonuses when placing refineries. They are also not increased by research that increases extractor output (but are increased by TEC Cargo Hold research).

Because refineries are not impacted by allegiance, they are an effective counter-ploy for boosting the resource income of an expanding empire suffering from low allegiance. In practical terms, they boost resource income more than 45% locally, if at planets with allegiance less than 100% (which thus have a base extraction rate of less than 0.40/second). Combined with refinery research, they can contribute a significant fraction of resource income on large maps.

Optimal PlacementEdit

Taken together, these factors suggest that the easiest way to allocate refineries is to place three of them at a planet that is central (local planet plus adjacent grav wells) to a lot of extractors. This is very cost-effective, because the refineries service a large number of extractors. If the refinery domain contains start worlds, Ice planets, or Volcano planets, all the better. Remember, it doesn't matter if the refinery is at e.g. an Ice planet; you'll get the crystal, just as long as it's adjacent.

In contrast, placing a refinery at, e.g., an isolated Asteroid (with no adjacent extractors) is very inefficient, because you are only increasing the output of 2 extractors (that's all Asteroids have). Much like Broadcast Centers, refineries are most cost-effective when servicing a large domain. (Unlike Broadcast Centers, however, refineries do not work past adjacent planets.)

If you take the 3-refinery approach, try not to put additional refineries at adjacent planets, or even at planets adjacent to those planets - otherwise there will be superfluous ships going to extractors where the refinery domains overlap. (You still get the max refinery income from the extractors - it's just that a portion of the refineries are underutilized.)

That's the easiest approach - a sprinkling of tactically-placed 3-refinery planets. But maps aren't always so kind with their logistical slots, and you'll rarely find perfect places for 3-refinery planets. You can opt for a more distributed approach, such as 1 refinery at most planets, but you may incur small amounts of overlap and/or under-service of extractors (possibly especially neutral ones). It all depends on the map.

Refineries at UCGWsEdit

It's curious that neutral extractors in UCGWs have 4 ports for refineries. You can make a fourth refinery at planets adjacent to neutral extractors, but unlike your first 3 refineries, they will only be serving the one extra port of any adjacent neutral extractors. (Your fourth refinery will be superfluous to any "regular" extractors.) Perhaps every now and then there will be a planet in position to serve, say, three neutral extractors. For the record, 3 neutral extractors are effectively equal to 4 regular extractors, due to their 0.08 resources/second rate vs. 0.06 for regular extractors. But consider that you probably have other planets where you could put refineries that serve more than four extractors, before you place a fourth extractor for the sole purpose of servicing extra neutral ports. (This is an arbitrary example, to show the relatively small opportunity that the extra port on neutral extractors presents.)

Math Edit

If it helps in understanding refineries, here's some math.

  • Let's assume there are 6 metal extractors at, and adjacent to, a planet with 3 refineries. (It doesn't matter if they're local or adjacent - just add them all up.)
  • One of the extractors is neutral. This effectively adds a third (.08/.06), so we'll call the number of extractors 6.333.
  • The game income rate is set to Normal (all income +15%).
  • TEC has done its Cargo Hold research, adding 30%.

Hover your cursor over the Metal Summary. The planet will show a refinery income of:

= Game Income Rate * Research Modifier * No of Extractors * 0.18  (.18 because there are 3 refineries. It would be .06 if there was only one.)
= 1.15 * 1.30 * 6.333 * .18
= 1.7043 metal/second

The Metal Summary will show 1.7. Note how allegiance and planet bonus (if any) don't appear because they're irrelevant. Don't forget that you have to wait for the 10 refinery ships to appear before it receives its full income. Toggling Alt-O or the interface option to Show Cargo Ships may help highlight them.

Vasari Matter Processors Edit

Vasari Matter Processors work exactly like TEC Orbital Refineries, with one difference: The Vasari cannot increase their refinery output through research.

Advent Resource Focus Edit

Advent "refineries" work differently from those of the TEC or Vasari:

  • The Advent don't have a refinery that they must research; instead, they research the Resource Focus ability for Trade Ports that they can already build. TPs which are then toggled to Resource Focus act as "refineries". From here on, we'll just call Advent Trade Ports set to Resource Focus "refineries", for simplicity.
  • There are three levels of Resource Focus research, at +8.333% income per level. At maximum, then, Resource Focus can increase extractor income +25% over its base rate of 0.40 resources/second. In other words, at maximum research, each refinery adds 0.10 resources/second to extractors.
  • Advent refineries boost income for all extractors at their planet, but ...
  • They only increase the income for extractors at their particular planet. They do not boost extractors at adjacent planets.
  • Unlike refineries, they DO stack. You can put as many as you want (up to 9 on a Desert world!).
  • Importantly, Advent refineries are subject to allegiance. And,
  • Advent refineries are not affected by research to increase extractor output. (As opposed to refinery / Resource Focus research.)
  • They are affected by any Planetary Bonus for extraction (Expert Miners or Roiders Outpost). But keep in mind that while Advent refineries increase the output of all extractors, the bonus will only affect one type of resource (metal or crystal).

For the record: Advent Trade Ports set to Resource Focus do still participate in determining the longest trade route, but that's the only trade effect that they have. And no, planetary bonuses for trade income do not assist TPs on Resource Focus.

Optimal Placement Edit

As you can see, the best planets for Advent refineries have:

  • High allegiance
  • High number of extractors (i.e., 3 instead of 2)
  • Lots of logistics slots, so you can make lots of TPs at this optimal planet (high allegiance, high extractor)
  • If you're lucky as hell, it's also got an extractor bonus

Note that your starting homeworld will always have the highest allegiance, and 3 extractors (although never a planetary bonus). So it's a natural for lots of Advent refineries. But, of course, it's also hard up for logistical slots, certainly at least in the early game. Probably through the whole game, on a small map.

All in all, the Advent do not have it as easy as TEC or Vasari. On a large map, their refineries suffer from low allegiance. (Maybe you'll be able to move the homeworld closer to a good area for Resource Focus, but that's a hassle.) On a small map, they're probably pressed for logistics slots. Not to mention, it takes seven civilian labs to do all Resource Focus research! See below for a more extended comparison between the races.

Here's a convenient list of relevant info, copied from Planets:

  • Start worlds will have:
    • Terran: 2 metal and 1 crystal extractors, and 24 logistic slots (6 refineries, max)
    • Desert: 2 metal and 2 crystal, and 36 logistic slots (9 refineries, max)
  • Non-starting Terran worlds have 1 metal and 1 crystal, and 24 slots (6 refineries)
  • Non-starting Desert worlds have 1 metal and 1 crystal, and 36 slots (9 refineries). They also might have Expert Crystal Miners (+50% metal).
  • Ice worlds have 3 crystal, and 20 slots (5 refineries)
  • Volcano worlds have 3 metal, and 20 slots (5 refineries). Might have Expert Metal Miners.
  • Asteroids have 1 metal and 1 cystal, and 12 slots (3 refineries). Asteroids can have either type of Expert Miners, as well as Roiders Outpost (+20% metal).

To compare them for Advent refineries, here they are in order of best to worst:

  • Desert start worlds are fantastic (but start worlds never have bonuses). For a list of maps with Desert starts, see this.
  • Terran start worlds (1 more refinery capacity than Ice or Volcano)
  • Ice and Volcano are equal in the abstract, so choose based on whether you need crystal or metal. But a Volcano world with Expert Miners effectively has 4.5 metal extractors, making it even better than a Desert start world, except that you can't fit in as many refineries.
  • Desert worlds. Although they can hold a lot more TPs than other types, they are not as good on a per-TP basis, and that's what counts. Even if they have Expert Crystal Miners, they then effectively have 2.5 extractors... still not as good as Ice or Volcano.
  • Regular (non-start) Terran worlds are next to worst. They have 2 extractors, like Desert worlds, but considerably fewer logistics slots. Finally, they never have planet bonuses for extraction.
  • Asteroids are the worst; only 2 extractors, and little room for refineries. Even if a particular Asteroid magically had both types of Expert Miners (which is possible), it'd still only effectively have 3 extractors... and less refinery room than Ice or Volcano.

Math Edit

Checking the math for Advent refineries is a little tricky because you can only see the total income rate for an extractor, but one element of it is subject to extractor research, and another part is subject to Resource Focus research. Let's say we have:

  • Fast game income rate (+30%)
  • 40% extractor research
  • 25% Resource Focus research
  • 90% Allegiance
  • 3 refineries (Trade Ports set to Resource Focus)
  • No planetary bonus
= Game Income Rate * Allegiance * Bonus * 0.40 * ( Extractor Research + ( No. of Refineries * RF research ) )              <-- Form 1. OR
= Game Income Rate * Allegiance * Bonus * ( ( 0.40 + Extractor Research ) + ( No. of Refineries * 0.40 * RF research ) )   <-- Form 2
= 1.30 * 0.90 * 1.0 * ( ( 0.40 * 1.40) + ( 3 * 0.40 * 0.25 ) )
= 1.30 * 0.90 * 1.0 * ( 0.56 + 0.30 )
= 1.30 * 0.90 * 1.0 * 0.86
= 1.0062 income/second

"Form 1" of the equation is easier for doing the math, but "Form 2" better shows the relative contribution of the extractor and the refineries. So Form 2 was used for the example.

Notice that we used 0.25, not 1.25, for Resource Focus research. This is because Advent refineries add to extractor output; they do not include the base itself.

Refinery Comparison across Races Edit

How do the TEC Orbital Refineries and Vasari Matter Processors (which are the same, except Vasari can't research Cargo Holds) compare to Advent "refineries"?

Overview Edit

Here are the important differences between them:

  • TEC/Vasari refineries are not subject to allegiance; Advent refineries are.
  • TEC/Vasari effectively can only make 3 refineries - but they enhance all local and adjacent extractors. Advent can generally make more refineries (up to logistic slot capacity), but they only enhance the local extractors.
  • Advent refineries benefit from planetary extractor bonuses; TEC and Vasari refineries do not.

Benchmark Example Edit

Let's put some math on the table, for the sake of comparison. We will choose a rather arbitrarily "good" example of placement for both types of refineries.

Both examples are at Slow Game Income Rate.

The TEC/Vasari refinery example has:

  • Three refineries
  • 8 extractors are in the domain of the refineries. One is neutral, for a total of 8.333 extractors. (For simplicity, never mind what kind of resource... all of their income is increased, regardless.)
  • No refinery research has been done. (TEC can do 30% better than this with Cargo Hold research, but Vasari can't.)

This results in an income of 1.5 resources/second. Notice that allegiance and bonuses weren't mentioned, because they have no effect.

The Advent example has:

  • Five Trade Ports set to Resource Focus
  • The full +25% Resource Focus research
  • Planet has 3 extractors (never mind what type)
  • Planet is at 100% allegiance
  • Planet has no extractor bonus, to keep it simple. (They're rare anyway.)

This also results in an income of 1.5 resources/second. This was with high allegiance, high number of extractors, lots of logistical slots filled with TPs, and full research done.

Are you seeing a trend here? Let's dig deeper.

Related Information Edit

Let's compare some indirect costs. First, the cost of the refineries themselves:

Refinery Credits Metal Crystal
TEC Orbital Refinery 1500 125 175
Vasari Matter Processor 1500 125 175
Advent Trade Port 750 100 125

TEC and Vasari are equal - and about twice as expensive as the Advent Trade Port. Advent wins this one.

Now let's look at research costs:

Research Topic Credits Metal Crystal Labs
TEC Orbital Refinery 1000 150 250 4
Vasari Matter Processor8001001753
Advent Trade Port 8001001753
Resource Focus 1 10001502504
Resource Focus 2 16003004757
Resource Focus 3 17003255007
Resource Focus Total430077512257
Advent Total510087514007

Here we see a much different picture.

Conclusion Edit

The Advent have needed 7 labs (probably fighting for logistics space with Resource-Focused trade ports) and over four times as much income, to be able to make refineries that are arguably considerably less robust than those of the TEC or Vasari. (They need more logistics slots for comparable income, and are subject to allegiance, making good refinery planets hard to find. They also have to spend more on unlocking high-level logistics slots at good planets.)

On a large map with lots of planets, perhaps Advent can make up for it, eventually. But it's definitely been an uphill battle all the way.

Keep in mind that, not only are Advent challenged with problematic refinery implementation, but they also can't do research to increase the credit income of their Trade Ports. So they are also in a worse place to buy what they have more trouble producing.

On the surface, it appears that the Advent are behind the 8 ball in the long run, economically. Perhaps they should forget about Resource Focus and push to expand early on, before TEC or Vasari have time to research and implement their better refineries and trade increases.

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