This is a guide to optimizing production per unit of power. I have reached tier 7 entirely on biomass through the current early access (125236) power equations. You can even set this up before you lay down your hub starting a game…
Ideal for starts in the Rocky Desert, where coal is about 1.5km away, up a cliff, or those who enjoy the exploration and spend time away from their base.
The best way to get started on an underclocking game is to begin a new map. Check the ‘skip onboarding and start at tier 1’.
First, you will need to gather the following: 200 copper ore, 300 iron ore, and 1 green power slug.
You have enough space in your starting inventory to do all of this before you put down the hub. What I normally do is hold the scan button to select copper, and head to the closest deposit (regardless of biome). Drop two portable miners on it. While they are mining, I go looking for a green power slug.
Once the hunt is complete, I return to pick up the miners and their 200 copper ore. Scan for iron and travel to the deposit where I want to set up the hub. Drop 3 portable miners on the iron, and set up the hub.
I manually melt down the copper into ingot at the workbench and then turn it into 400 copper wire. Having something to hold down your mouse button make this easy and gives you plenty of time to go to the restroom, play with your daughter, or do a couple homework problems.
Once this is done, collect the iron ore in your portable miners and melt it down into ingots. Make 125 iron rods and turn the rest into plates (you can drop piles of iron by dragging them out of the inventory window, if you’re going to be doing absentee crafting this is a must-know). Turn 75 of the 125 rods (right click to split the 100 stack and then drop half if you want) into 300 screws.
Now, turn around and finish Field Research in the hub as your first milestone. Build the MAAM from your special buildings nearby, immediately research Power Slugs and then Overclocking…
Gather wood, leaves, and flowers for 5 minutes while it finishes. Check the MAAM to get Overlocking and then feel free to disassemble it (with F, usually) to get all your materials back.
Behold Your Overwhelming Efficiency.
Mineral deposits are not everywhere, so you should generally adhere to the following until you have coal power:
Underclock Pure nodes to 25%, you still get 50% of normal output for about 10% of the energy.
Underclock Normal nodes to 50%, they run at 1.3MW or roughly a quarter of the power.
Impure Nodes are just going to be power hogs if you want any reasonable rate out of them.
This effectively cuts our production to 50% and energy consumption to around 25%.
The latter number is important–you won’t have to run around and collect a metric ton of biomass.
*********NOTE: There is currently (Early access 125236) a bug that causes underclocked machines to use normal power levels unless you reset them once after powering them. The easy way to handle this is have all of your biomass reactors connected to the network by a single line from a pole. Whenever you make large changes, disconnect and reconnect your master shuf-off wire.********
The Power of 3 and 9
So what’s as fast as a smelter and uses less than half the power? 3 smelters running at 33%.
This is what you can do with a single splitter into 3:
Run a full 60-unit belt at 67% on 3 smelters to save power costs over 2 smelters.
Run three smelters at 33% to save 50% power, you can even handle a full belt with a pre-split into two separate sets of underclocked smelters.
Now, things get really odd when you split out twice into 9 units.
9 smelters running at 33% is the equivalent of 3 smelters and uses 135% of the power of one smelter.
9 smelters running at 22% is the equivalent of 2 smelters and uses around 30% of the power of one smelter.
9 smelters running at 11% is the equivalent of 1 smelter and uses around 5% of the power of a single smelter.
These ratios hold true for constructors, assembly machines, refineries, etc. As an added bonus, each added smelter, constructor, etc, buffers and additional stack of the item being produced. This is ideal if you leaving your factory open for a while while you go do something else.
I left a 100-constructor factory running overnight on solid biofuel and came back to find it still had power.
The downside is that you need more items to build everything. Not much of an issue because you can reclaim buildings for all their resources or just upgrade the systems later. When i hit coal power, I just returned everything toward normal clocking and upgraded the belts with my mark 2 miners.
The Optimum Use of Power Shards
Your first two power shards should go into the Hub’s biomass generators, if you even use them. They operate at 20MW where your constructed ones run at 30MW. Using the two together is an exercise in frustration as they will burn through biomass, leaves, etc at different rates.
Power plants are the only place where power shards are 100% beneficial. Normally, a coal plant takes 45 water and 15 coal/minute to produce 75MW of power. Your first coal node will likely produce 60 coal/minute (4 plants) and the water extractor makes 120 water/minute (2.66 plants).
You have one three-way splitter to 3 coal plants and one pipe junction also feeds 3 plants off the incoming water line. Toss two power slugs into the first 3 coal plants you do for your easy setup and now you’re using 60 coal and 180 water per minute.
Wait, the water plant only makes 120–how do you handle that? Simple, what uses less energy and produces more water than one extractor? 3 water extractors operating at 50%. Gets you about 15MW more out of that quick and dirty coal plant setup…or around 900 underclocked smelters.
Biomass Management (Biome Specific)
To power your base, this is what you should look for:
Alien Carapace (After the first 21 for research)
Never use Alien Organs, as they seem to have uses in medicinal inhalers later. This might change.
Wood has a special place in my heart because you can use a 16% clock rate constructor to output 60 biomass per minute which operates the constructor for something like 18 hours.
The desert biome is hands-down the easiest place to get wood for biomass. There’s an oasis in the east with tons of roots that generate large amounts of wood. The second easiest seems to be the rocky desert with all of it’s little woody weeds.
The forest and grassland have a higher leaf to wood ratio, but also have plenty of flowers. Flowers are almost as good as biomass thrown straight into a generator, but I prefer biomass as it’s very standardized, has multiple sources, and converts into solid biofuel for the chainsaw. Flowers are also needed for changing the colors of your base, so they’ve got alternative uses like Alien Organs and your first few carapaces (to get the Rebar Gun).
You also need to be careful in the forest and grassland. Wood on the sides of some cliffs serves as a ladder, allowing you to reach Somersloop and Mercer Spheres without needing to build or fly. Grab the stuff at the top before disassembling the ladder on your way down.
You can hit tier 7 on about 5,000 biomass if you’re frugal with your energy.
Tips for Everyone
If you find a remote resource like Quartz, Caterium, Sulfure, or Bauxite and want to fill up a container for later, just clock the miner to 10% and drop a biomass burner. It will run forever with the 1% power consumption. You can even run it at 40% and usually get a full load out of a Mark 1 miner on one stack of biomass or solid biofuel.
There is no recipe for biomass that runs optimally on the starting belts. You should always be underclocking for the input (leaves), or output (wood, carapaces, organs) and using a 3-way split to convert to solid biofuel.
Assemblers and Manufacturers
A 250% Assembler uses 65MW of power. That’s a single coal plant if you remove half the water pump’s energy use from the 75MW generated from one plant. These benefit the most from underclocking–three 83% assemblers produce just as much as one 250% but take about half the energy so you don’t need to build a new coal plant for each one.