The Complex Construction Kit enables the player to link player owned stations together eliminating the need for ships to ferry wares between stations. A well planned complex can produce final products using only Energy Cells as an input or even be completely self sustaining producing wares for free.
The size of station built affects the relative ratio of wares consumed and produced per hour so a medium size station can consume the full production of another medium size station while it would take two small stations to do so. The exception to this rule is Solar Power Plants where 1x productivity consumes 0.5 per hour over 1x production of Crystals but produces enough Energy Cells to supply 9.25x productivity of other stations.
S = 0.5x (900 Energy Cells/37.5 Silicon Wafers/150 Ore consumed per hour)
M = 1x (1800 Energy Cells/75 Silicon Wafers consumed per hour)
L = 2.5x (4500 Energy Cells/187.5 Silicon Wafers consumed per hour)
XL = 5x
The productivity of Solar Power Plants is determined by the Sun Strength in the sector it is built in. Every 50% Sun Strength changes the productivity of Solar Power Plants by 1/9th centred on 100% (for example a Medium Solar Power Plant in LooManckStrat's Legacy with 0% Sun Strength would only have 7/9x productivity while in Megnir with 300% the productivity would be 13/9x) however this also increases the number Crystals needed to keep them operational. In general try to produce a surplus of Crystals.
The productivity of mines is 0.04x and +<0.04x for each yield point up to 50 where each additional yield point adds +0.04x. As the asteroids with mines placed on them do not respawn upon destruction of the mine, there is no incentive to use medium size mines. In general every 25 points of combined yield equates to 1x productivity (10 points if using large mines).
Where the player builds a complex depends on several factors. The availability of silicon asteroids and nearby NPC owned Solar Power Plants places limitations on the size of complex that can be built and kept operational without running out of Energy Cells.
The distance to build the complex from the nearest Jump Gate is decided based on how likely military patrols of Races that are hostile to the player are likely to pass through the sector with the complex. If the sector is safe then place the complex as close to the Jump Gate as possible to minimise the flight time of any Commercial Agents working for the complex. If hostile fleets move through the sector then place the complex out of Triplex Scanner range (9 squares above the ecliptic). If built in hostile sectors (very hard) place it at a distance from the centre of the map of over 1.3x the sector radius to avoid Rapid Response ships jumping in on it and plan to only use Springblossoms to supply it.
Complexes that sell illegal wares should never be built in sectors owned by the race that consider them illegal because 3 recon M5 ships ill spawn from the nearest Jump Gate and make a beeline for the complex even if it is placed very far from ordinary traffic resulting in the loss of any police licence held for that Race. Instead build such complexes in the nearest Teladi, Pirates or Unknown owned sector.
Avoid building complexes with mines in the sectors of Races that are likely to turn hostile due to boarding operations (eg. Shuri or Valhalla) or plot missions (eg. the Yaki at the end of the Shady Business plot) to prevent any irreplaceable losses.
Type of Complex
Small complexes can be supplied with Energy Cells by Commercial Agents however there is a limit of 20 docking clamps at the Complex Hub meaning there is a limit as to how many ships can be supplying Energy Cells at any given time while local NPC Solar Power Plants will become exhausted. Eventually it becomes more economical to have an attached Solar Power Plant to generate the Energy Cells in-house and to supply larger complexes with Crystals. This is necessary in sectors where there are no silicon containing asteroids like Reservoir of Tranquillity. Some sectors like Megnir and Barren Shores have a surplus of Silicon asteroids and limiting amounts of Ore making them good for the production of Crystals to supply silicon poor sectors. Self sustaining complexes have all the mines and stations for the Silion Wafers>Crystals>Energy Cells loop and enough spare Energy Cells to produce other products meaning only a single ship is needed to handle the end product. As self sustaining complexes do not require an expenditure of credits to operate they can act as a constant and reliable income or be used to avoid large expenditures on missiles.
Balancing the Books
Due to the quantitative nature of the supply and demand of factories it is possible to assemble complexes that do not produce an excess of intermediate wares (unless the player is deliberately trying to supply local demand). Since it takes 4x productivity of energy cells to mine Silicon Wafers and convert them into Crystals every 1x productivity of a Solar Power Plant can produce enough Energy Cells to sustain it and an excess of 5.25x productivity worth of energy cells which is enough for 2 large stations or 10 small stations along with a bit of surplus.
To get the most out of a self sufficient complex consider using 2 medium stations instead of a large station if it would allow the 0.5x productivity in Energy Cells demand to go to another small product producing factory. In the case of Crystal Fabs and Solar Power Plants having 3 Medium instead of 1 Large can sometimes make better use of available silicon resources. Also do not just aggregate the asteroids with the highest yields into a complex as excess mining capacity also results in a higher drain on Energy Cells which could go into other product producing factories that work closer to a balance instead. Use https://joelbfant.bitbucket.io/x3/x3apocc.html for an online complex calculator.
To demonstrate how to plan a simple self sustaining complex lets turn Harmony of Perpetuity into a parking lot. The sector contains 3 Silicon asteroids (18, 19 and 20 yields) and 2 Ore asteroids (16 and 18 yields) and the only hostiles are the odd Yaki or Pirates fighter or Duke's TS so it is safe to build near the Jump Gate.
The combined Silicon Wafer availability is 18+19+20 = 57 so just over 5.5x productivity which is enough for 2 Large Crystal Fabs and a Satellite/Drone Factory or 1 Large and 3 Medium Crystal Fabs
The combined Ore availability is 16+18 = 34 though rounding error caused by the base productivity of mines actually makes it 35 which is 3.5x productivity
The Sun Strength is 300% so any Solar Power Plants get +4/9 times productivity. This means Medium Solar Power Plants have 1.44x productivity, Large have 3.6x and XL have 7.22x. As up to 5.5x productivity in Crystals can be produced in the sector there is enough Crystals to supply 3 Medium Solar Power Plants (3*1.44x =4.32x productivity) or 1 Medium and 1 Large (1.44x+3.6x = 5.04x productivity).
If going the 2 Large Crystal Fabs and 3 Medium Solar Power Plants the Energy Cells balance so far is:
- -5.5x productivity in Silicon Mines
- -3.5x productivity in Ore Mines
- -5x productivity in Bio
- -5x productivity in Food
- -5x productivity in Crystals
- +39.96x productivity in Energy Cells produced
This totals to 15.5x productivity spare and enough energy cells for ships
This also leaves 0.5x productivity in Silicon Wafers and 3.5x Productivity in Ore which equates to 8 Small stations and will need 4x productivity in Bio and 4x productivity in Food. If going a Satellite/Drone factory from a different Race or uses a different Food resource compared to the other factories (eg. Majaglit) then there will be an excess of 0.5x productivity in Food produced since Medium is the smallest station size for Bio and Food stations. This means between 12x and 13x productivity will be consumed leaving between 2.5x and 3.5x productivity spare which is enough for 2 or 3 Medium stations that only consume Energy Cells (Space Weed and Sunrise Flowers anyone?).
Complex Construction Kits can only easily link stations that are closer than 20km away and asteroids are often scattered throughout the sector making mines vulnerable to attack and travel times unreasonable. Once a mine (only use Large mines) is built on an asteroid, the player can move the mine using a Tractor Beam. Use an M6 ship since compatible TS ships lack the laser capacity to fire a Tractor Beam. To limit exposure to attack and make complex assembly easier the player will want to gather mines as tightly and neatly as possible. To do this, tether the Tractor beam to an asteroid part of the mine at a right angle to the docking structure before hauling it in the direction of the complex site while avoiding obstacles but aim at least 3 mine diameters below the destination. Once in the correct place on the X and Y axis dock at the mine and save before tethering the Tractor beam to the docking clamp and pulling the mine upwards into the final location. Try and cluster asteroids so that all docking structures are parallel on the Z axis and there is not enough space to fly an M3 between them. As bumping mines into each other results in instant destruction save only after the mine has come to a complete halt. Once the mines are in place the player can start placing other stations above them.
Most stations are compact and modular while others are not. When zoomed in once on the sector map make sure placed stations have at least half a station icon width between them along the X axis. Most stations can be stacked along the Y and Z axis with the icons overlapping and the ends of the icon corners just not touching. For unusually shaped stations (like the EMPC Forge) the station will need to be rotated to avoid collision. This is best performed using the (k) hotkey and an Advanced Satellite or using the F3 hotkey to get the camera view of the selected neighbouring station. Save before starting to place any new batches of stations (an Atmospheric Lifter can drop up to 5 per batch) and reload if you hear a thudding sound of stations colliding (always check all stations before linking them to a complex). Typically stack stations 3-4 high and then put the Solar power Plants on top. Start by placing the stations needed to get Energy Cells being produced from Silicon Wafers if the complex is going to be self sufficient as that allows for it to get up and running before the Energy Cells consuming stations are linked.
Placement of the Complex Hub
Once enough stations have been placed the player can start linking them up using Complex Construction Kits. When the first two stations are linked the player is given the chance to place the Complex Hub for the complex. The hub always defaults to facing North along the ecliptic and will need to be rotated (this is best done by getting the player ship to look downwards from above). Place the hub closest to where ships will be traveling to and from the complex and rotate the docking clamps to face that direction (only important in sector). Other stations within range can then be linked to the Complex Hub. If a station is too far to link with a Complex Hub create a second complex hub with that station as close to the destination hub as possible. Then link the destination hub to the intermediate hub using another Complex Construction Kit (yes the directionality of linking is the reverse of what would be expected). Once the stations are linked all that needs to be done is get the complex operational.
Jumpstarting the Complex
With 100,000 Credits ships allocated to the complex as a Home Base can act as Commercial Agents and buy in enough energy cells to start production. With self sufficient complexes an injection of 300 Crystals or 30,000 Energy Cells is needed to get the Energy Cells producing cycle going. If the player has other self sufficient complexes then spare Crystals from older complexes can be used to initiate new ones.