A guide to trade cluster construction for the civilized emperor

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L.W., Windsor wrote:
Fri Apr 06, 2018 9:22 pm
There is no reading on these things as of yet. Please make some by responding to me. It will please the Scientists.
A guide to trade cluster construction for the civilized emperor


Step 1: The Core Worlds. Locate a group of 3 worlds close together with lots of space around them, like this:

Capture 2.PNG
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Step 2: Setting up the administration. Designate them as sector capital, trade hub and foundation respectively. You will need to wait 24 hours while the sector capital is established before continuing. In the meantime...

Step 3: Conquest. Capture all the worlds within a 200 light year radius of those 3 worlds. Once the SC is online: designate them to produce resources as follows:

a) Consumer goods: Earth-like, ocean and underground worlds.
b) Trillum: inhospitable worlds (everything except the above) with "abundant" deposits, if none are available "major" is also OK.
c) Hexacarbide: barren worlds with "abundant" deposits.

Leave anything with "minor" or "trace" deposits for now. If they aren't at TL5+, temporarily designate them to anything to allow them to reach TL5 so a spaceport can be built.

Step 4: Setting up trade routes. Ensure all those worlds are at or above TL5 and have a spaceport built. Now select your trade hub (from Step 2), right click on one of those worlds. A trade route should have been formed between the two worlds, with an arrow pointing towards the hub. Select the world you just right-clicked on, and right-click on the hub. The trade route should have an arrow pointing back towards the selected world.

Repeat this procedure for every single world you conquered. Make sure you don't miss any worlds! If you forget to right click once on the hub and once on the world, it will be only importing or only exporting, not both. And that's really bad.

Do the same thing for the 3 core worlds! They should all be importing from, and exporting to, each other. If a world doesn't have a trade route connected to it, you've done it wrong.

Step 5: Increasing tech levels. If your foundation is at or above TL8, select every single one of those worlds and right click on the foundation. If your foundation is at TL9 or 10, you need to click on the center of the trade route, click on the "tech level improvement" button in the bottom panel and manually set the tech level to uplift to 8 (antimatter).

If you don't do this every single world will be uplifted to TL 9 or 10, which is very hard to sustain for an inexperienced player.

Step 6: Increasing population. Leave your empire alone for a few hours. When you come back, all the worlds in that "cluster" will be at a high TL. Now click on each of them, go to the "Structures" tab and build a "habitat structure". This will be named something like "subtropolis", "planetary arcology" etc. Anything that has a description hinting towards increasing population. They will take anything from 2-4 days to build. There are often multiple "levels" of upgrades, so check back after the first tier is built.


If you have done everything correctly up to this point, your cluster on the zoomed out map will look like this:

Capture.PNG
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Step 7: Building units. Remember the worlds with "minor" and "trace" deposits? Click on them and redesignate to a unit-producing world of your choice (jumpship yard, starship yard or infantry academy). For every unit-producing world you should aim to have at least one matching "autofac" world (jumpship/starship parts autofac, infantry equipment autofac), also preferably built on worlds with poor deposits.

For worlds with "major" and "abundant" chronimium deposits (rare), designate them as chronimium refineries and connect them to the network. You'll need this to produce high tech units.

Step 8: Fixing underproduction. Click on the trade hub, go to "Production" tab:

Capture 5.PNG
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This is probably the most important screen: it shows you if any shortages are present in the trade network with brackets around the required amount. As you can see, this cluster is slightly underproducing chronimum, and as a result: advanced jumpdrives, which requires chronimium to make. To fix this, simply designate more worlds to produce the resource that has a shortage.

Continued in next post, due to the 3 attachment limit.
Last edited by --Imperator-- on Sat Apr 07, 2018 2:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Step 9: Fixing overproduction. Click on each of the worlds in the cluster individually. Go to their "Production" tab:

Capture.PNG
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In this example, hexacarbide is being vastly overproduced by almost 1000 units per minute, leading to a surplus stockpile of 35 million. You're free to redesignate this world to produce something else, provided there is another hex world producing enough to make up the difference.

Step 10 (for advanced players!): Changing import/export percentages. Let's say we have 2 major trillum worlds and 1 abundant. The abundant world overproduces and the 2 major underproduce. We can force the hub to import more trillum from the abundant world. Usually, production is split evenly, so each world supplies 33.33% of the cluster's requirement. But let's make it 50/25/25:

Capture 2.PNG
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Now we still have a surplus of trillum, but the produced/exported ratio is much closer.

After all this, you need to play with the import/export percentages to find the perfect balance. When you find this balance your cluster is complete and is producing at maximum efficiency. Keep in mind that world efficiencies change as their tech levels and populations fluctuate during the initial setup phase, so leave this after the cluster has been in place for a few weeks.


Now everyone has the knowledge necessary to transition from a messy, sprawling mesh trade network to a beautifully organized trade cluster.

Edit: But I forgot to include the most important step:

DEFENSE. When push comes to shove, everything in the galaxy is finite... especially the number of worlds. You'll inevitably find yourself in conflict with another player and the first thing they'll be coming for is those nice clusters you've built.

When a sector capital is captured, a random number of worlds will "defect" and flip over to the attacker's control. This may or may not include worlds with fleets stationed on top of them, if so then those will defect as well. Long story short, you'll end up fighting your own ships and troops if you leave capitals undefended. More importantly: if all sector capitals AND the main capital is captured, your empire is destroyed and you lose the game.

Station as many ships and troops as possible at capitals. Like this:

Capture.PNG
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This is a good example.

Your trade hubs should also be defended heavily. If they fall, expect the entire cluster to fall into civil war as people die from resource shortages. They actually produce nothing, just import/export, so you can use their labor to produce 100% planetary defenses (set them to 100% manually in the Structures tab). Send some ships here too, but they might defect if the capital falls first, so weigh up the benefits/risks. Usually an attacker will make a beeline for the capital, but if the hub is inadequately defended they will knock it out first. Don't bother defending the foundation.

I'll update/clean this up as I think of more stuff...
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Mon Apr 09, 2018 10:14 pm

This is a good guide.

I think that it is also worth discussing planet placement relative to other players: If your neighbors are well-established, try to keep your capitals and hubs outside their maximum achievable jumpship range. Remember that any planet they control within range of a capital can become a jumpbeacon instantaneously. I think this should be changed, but right now any commandable enemy planet is a jumpship threat.

You own jumpship yards coverage is also a consideration, it's a good idea to keep them outside beacon range of one another so that the enemy can't daisy-chain if you get attacked by jumpship fleets. It's fine to have them near one another within clusters that are deep inside your own territory, so long as there is no easy avenue of ingress for an enemy jumpfleet or minotaur fleet escorting jumpships. A small nebula is ideal if you have one.

Clusters are cosmetically attractive and are powerful engines of ship construction, but I think it's a shame that the cluster strategy ends up creating large homogeneous regions of space. Clustered empires have a certain "sameness" to them and methodically conquering every single planet in a region is tedious.

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Tue Apr 10, 2018 4:43 am

Watch TV, Do Nothing wrote:
Mon Apr 09, 2018 10:14 pm
I think that it is also worth discussing planet placement relative to other players: If your neighbors are well-established, try to keep your capitals and hubs outside their maximum achievable jumpship range. Remember that any planet they control within range of a capital can become a jumpbeacon instantaneously. I think this should be changed, but right now any commandable enemy planet is a jumpship threat.

Good point. What would be useful is bring able to see a "preview" of the beacon range before designating, instead of trying to guesstimate how far it will reach or (worst case scenario) holding up a ruler to the monitor...

Something similar to view sector capital and trade hub range would be great too. Perhaps something for Era 4.

An alternative solution to neighbors' capitals and yards being too close for comfort is to cleanse their worlds with holy fire engage in peaceful diplomacy to form alliances with them.
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Tue Apr 10, 2018 9:05 pm

I've just read through this in full (it's excellent of course) but do you not use the 100% on all import method? I've always found that leaving the %s as they are/trying to match them to world production causes all kinds inefficiencies, especially with things like jumpfacs that need to import multiple products to supply further products. Plus, 100% import makes it really easy to work out exactly how much extra capacity you have instead of just how much you need and is all round less fiddly and annoying. Or is it just me?
--Imperator-- wrote:
Tue Apr 10, 2018 4:43 am
holding up a ruler to the monitor...
All the old traditions and skills may be dying but in the Auroran Hegemony this work is still done by hand. Well, by finger. But UI stuff like this is really high on my wishlist, along with the ability to choose empire colour, a message log and the ability to dismiss all messages about shortages and deaths.

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Wayward Device wrote:
Tue Apr 10, 2018 9:05 pm
I've just read through this in full (it's excellent of course) but do you not use the 100% on all import method?
Huh. Learn something new every day. I've honestly just discovered this was possible. Thanks... I actually thought the percentages had to add up to 100% and was sitting around with a calculator figuring out how to get exactly 1:1 produced : exported ratio. Feels less of a 4X game and more like spreadsheet simulator, but whatever.

It seems you can even set import percentages to be MORE than 100%, to create a stockpile on the hub for emergencies in case some other player comes along and poaches resource worlds. I'm testing this out now, setting the Centauri hub to import 200% of trillum from 5 worlds - 3 abundant, 2 major.

When I set import to 100% or more, every minute when the game updates it seems the amount imported fluctuates wildly. Sometimes it imports 60k+ from one world, and 0 from the others. Other times it imports an even amount from each world. I've tried resetting the trade route, removing all trillum from a world and putting back, but nothing seems to work. Right now there's enough stockpiles on each world to keep this going for a while, but I guess we'll see if the main cluster falls apart in a week's time. Any ideas?

If this works I'll put it into the guide, credit to Wayward Device. Also WTV for the jumpbeacons thing.
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Wed Apr 11, 2018 1:31 pm

Wayward Device wrote:
Tue Apr 10, 2018 9:05 pm
I've just read through this in full (it's excellent of course) but do you not use the 100% on all import method? I've always found that leaving the %s as they are/trying to match them to world production causes all kinds inefficiencies, especially with things like jumpfacs that need to import multiple products to supply further products. Plus, 100% import makes it really easy to work out exactly how much extra capacity you have instead of just how much you need and is all round less fiddly and annoying. Or is it just me?
--Imperator-- wrote:
Tue Apr 10, 2018 4:43 am
holding up a ruler to the monitor...
All the old traditions and skills may be dying but in the Auroran Hegemony this work is still done by hand. Well, by finger. But UI stuff like this is really high on my wishlist, along with the ability to choose empire colour, a message log and the ability to dismiss all messages about shortages and deaths.
But ... if you get rid of those, what will I do with my ruler? and... my ten mouses that I prepared for clicking all those messages, it is like wake-a-message. They just keep coming for hours of fun. And also, also, I think it is a form of psychological warfare, if I know that attack a semi weak empire will cause them to freak out and quit because they don't want to deal with all of those messages, I'll do it! and I'll enjoy it!
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Thu Apr 12, 2018 12:12 am

--Imperator-- wrote:
Wed Apr 11, 2018 6:52 am
It seems you can even set import percentages to be MORE than 100%, to create a stockpile on the hub for emergencies in case some other player comes along and poaches resource worlds. I'm testing this out now, setting the Centauri hub to import 200% of trillum from 5 worlds - 3 abundant, 2 major.

When I set import to 100% or more, every minute when the game updates it seems the amount imported fluctuates wildly. Sometimes it imports 60k+ from one world, and 0 from the others. Other times it imports an even amount from each world. I've tried resetting the trade route, removing all trillum from a world and putting back, but nothing seems to work. Right now there's enough stockpiles on each world to keep this going for a while, but I guess we'll see if the main cluster falls apart in a week's time. Any ideas?

If this works I'll put it into the guide, credit to Wayward Device. Also WTV for the jumpbeacons thing.
Ok, so first of all I can confirm that 100% import definitely works (999% is another thing) because every cluster I've made for the last 2.5 years has been using that method. I do not recommend more than 100%, every time I've tried 999% to try and get a bigger stockpile on the hub it's ended with wild swings causing rebellions, even when the supply chain was well over capacity. From experience, you shouldn't have to redesignate any trade routes, just make sure they are all 100%. Mixing 100% with >100% has always been a bad for me and caused major problems with worlds not exporting, much worse than pure 999%. It''ll be stable for a few days and will have a large stockpile on the hub then bam, trillum tantrum rebellions everywhere.

Now, to try and answer your import fluctuation question. I've tried and failed to experimentally prove exactly how it works but here's my best understanding of what's going on with your stuff. First of all, it seems that 100% hubs have bigger stockpiles that the ones using the split % method. For example, in the screenshot in step 8 you seem to have a hub making either 191 Eldritch or Warphants a minute. It has a stockpile of 1.6 million durable goods, exporting 577k a minute. I have a very similar 100% cluster currently exporting 546k durable goods, it has a stockpile of 6.6 million. So your hub is trying to import enough to go up to to whatever new stockpile limit it is trying to reach.

Normally when I'm in similar situations (say, connecting a CGA world with 150 million stockpiled durable goods to a cluster that had a CGA product shortage) what will typically happen is a couple of hours where the hub alternates between pulling huge amounts from the world (or worlds) with the big stockpile and ignoring the others and then flipping back to pulling from the other worlds because they produced a bunch of products and didn't export any so have a modest stockpile, before switching back to the big stockpile worlds etc. The weird thing is that the hub won't just import like 10 million durable goods from the big stockpile world to get it done in one go. Maybe there is a hard limit on how many goods can move through a hub and we just usually don't hit it with normal production levels, even in the largest clusters.

Anyway, things should settle down soon and you'll have most production worlds with no stockpile exporting the maximum each minute and a few (whatever your total surplus is) exporting nothing or almost nothing with massive stockpiles, making it extremely easy to gauge how much total capacity you have.
TheBugKing wrote:
Wed Apr 11, 2018 1:31 pm
I know that attack a semi weak empire will cause them to freak out and quit because they don't want to deal with all of those messages, I'll do it! and I'll enjoy it!
So I've talked many times about how awful the message spam is, how many thousands of actions it can take to clear them after a big rebellion, how soul destroying it is when server lag causes them to pop right back and how the constant clicking pushed me to finally address the RSI in my index finger. That said, some days I do feel that it acts almost like "fog of war" and that is in it's own way a very cool feature. I mean, the hardest work during the rebuilding after you got in my beacon network and collapsed a bunch of my clusters in the last war wasn't moving the fleets or redesignating the trade routes, it was the clicking. I like the fog of war effect, I just wish there was a better way to clear it.

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Mon May 07, 2018 3:44 am

That's a very nice tutorial, except sometimes it still wouldn't work.

Why do planets sometimes seem to import and export the same goods? Is there a cap to the amount of resources that can be distributed by a trade hub?

Fixing these issues is nightmarish already with just 250 worlds! (=

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Mon May 07, 2018 5:34 am

Yes, if some production worlds are both importing and exporting it generally means there is a shortfall somewhere in the network. Trade networks won't be 100% efficient because some worlds will overproduce and others will underproduce.

The method outlined in the first post can actually be improved: you can click on the trade route and set the import percentage from each world to 100% of the hub's requirements. This will force all worlds to export 100% of the clusters demand (often ALL of their output). I've personally tested this and it certainly works. Credit to Wayward Device who mentioned this in the 2nd or 3rd post down.
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Tue May 08, 2018 4:55 pm

It is common to have worlds simultaneously importing and exporting a resource to a hub without any net shortfall in the entire trade system. This is mostly seen with consumer goods on CG autofacs but it also occurs with trillum. It is actually a good and functional mechanic that works around trade hubs' inability to adjust demand to individual worlds' supply, and should be more broadly implemented if it's too difficult to implement demand balancing another way.

I am going to go into the weeds for a moment to explain, so bear with me:

What are prerequisites for simultaneous import and export?
Simultaneous import and export of a resource on a non-hub can only occur if a world has a primary structure that produces the resource and also has any structure that takes resource as an input AND/OR has a consumption:() effect for that resource. The only examples of consumption effects in the game are for planetary populations, which consume CG and survival goods; since survival goods are never produced by a primary structure, they cannot be exported. So in practice the three consumer goods and trillum are the most common cases for simultaneous import and export, since consumer goods autofacs also consume CG, while trillum worlds use trillum if they are TL4+ and running a CG autofac and/or if they are a hostile world class that uses trillum to produce survival goods at a hab structure.*

When will simultaneous import and export occur?
The condition occurs because trade routes always attempt to export the defined percentage of a target planet's demand from the planet of origin. However, because the planet of origin possesses a structure that takes the resource as an input or a consumption effect, it is allowed to import the resource from its own trade routes. So any shortfall gets made up by importing, which increases the total demand for the resource .

An example
Imagine a 4-planet simple cluster consisting CG autofacs A,B,C each connected to a hub with 2-way trade routes. All planets consume 5000 food per watch. Autofacs A and B produce 8000 food per watch and autofac C produces 5000 organic food. Hypothetically this system generates a surplus of 1000 food per turn but autofac C cannot actually afford to export anything. All planets have reciprocal trade links to the hub and the hub is drawing equal percentages of its demand from each, which is the default setting if you don't fiddle with demand. I think the system will stabilize after a couple of watches to a condition where all autofacs are exporting around 2500 food per watch (in practice it will be slightly more to maintain stockpiles), but autofac C is also importing about 2500 food per watch from the hub. This seems stupid but it's a completely stable system that does not result in shortages, so there is nothing wrong with it.

If it is not possible or simple to implement automatic demand balancing, I think that the current system of allowing demand to be manually adjusted should be scrapped, and all primary structures that produce a resource should also be able to import it. This would effectively result in automatic demand balancing for all resources.

There are three issues with this system that I can see.

The first issue is that it takes some autonomy away from the player, they no longer are making decisions about supply and demand to the same extent. I think this is fine, since those decisions are not actually interesting or fun most of the time when compared to supply/demand decisions associated with adding or redesignating planets.

The second issue is that it is unintuitive. Actual demand balancing wouldn't involve passing resources around for no reason. This could be potentially obscured by reducing the amount of information on the trade route and resources screens to only indicate when there are shortfalls. I am not convinced that the large amount of information on these screens helps players make good decisions.

A final issue: I believe that some quirk of the code has resulted in a situation when there are multiple sources of demand for a resource and simultaneous import and export is occurring, sometimes one of the sources of demand will experience transient shortages as the supply fluctuates and stabilizes. This becomes an issue on planets that are generating goods that get consumed and have consequences for shortfalls. The classic example is consumer goods autofacs on hostile world classes: they can experience survival goods shortages. This is apparently because trillum can get claimed by the primary structure, which is the CG autofac, in preference to the habitat structure.

*I believe hexacarbide and chronimium planets could also have simultaneous import and export if the planets are building a bunch of defenses; a starship autofac could also have simultaneous import and export of heavy missile launchers if it is building battlestations. There may be other edge cases but they are not really significant or interesting.

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Thu May 17, 2018 2:35 am

The "final issue" nailed my problem!

I think I understood everything you explained. Thanks a lot.

So if I set my hubs to import from all the planets they're linked to and don't mess around with the percentages and then set ALL the planets to import 100% from that same hub it should fix it?

Might be worth giving a try tomorrow..


My 2 cents: I would like to have a screen or a visual mode to show the fluxes of resources through the trading network. Without having to constantly switch from the production panel of planets to the trade route management screen. It's a pain in the ass. Of course if trading was reshaped to make it less tedious and repetitive to micromanage, having to set individually each planet and each route instead of being able to - e. g. - have presets for the different designations of worlds... then the need for a better trading interface would be less sensible. Your proposed solutions go to the root of the problem, while mine are more of a sugar coating of the current buggy mechanism.

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