I understand that this is an atmospheric game. As shown in this game and This War of Mine, 11 Bit Studio is amazing at creating such mood.
However, compared to TWoM, Frostpunk is more gamified and more focused towards "beating" the objectives. Combined with only 4 available scenarios, a lot of the playtime (after the first playthrough) is spent towards optimizing the gameplan. For this reason, "Strategy" is the 3rd most popular tag for this game on Steam.
As players try to figure out the best strategy to beat harder difficulties, less effective options are naturally ignored. As a result, once people figure out each options' return value, there are some build trees that hardly anyone bothers to invest because the alternative option is far more effective (ex: upgrading generator range vs building more steam hubs, house of healing vs others). It would be nice if these "minor" build trees can be tweaked to be more attractive alternative, so that players can have more strategic options to consider.
- All numbers are based on Normal difficulty, unless mentioned specifically.
- I won't mention researches/laws that are bad by itself, but are part of a build order that gives other reasonable options (ex: Organic Fertilizer, Faster Gathering).
- Bug-related interactions aren't considered in this post.
Things that are too bad
These researches/laws are hardly ever explored due to their low return value compared to its alternatives.
Steam/Advanced War Drill
Not only do they have a weird heating level, upgrading it to either steam or advanced outright isn't worth it.
First, the efficiency doesn't improve as much as other resource infrastructures:
- Coal Mine: 240 -> 600 (+150%) -> 900 (+50%)
- Coal Thumper: 560 -> 1120 (+100%)
- War Drill: 160 -> 200 (+25%) -> 240 (+20%)
- Sawmill: 80 -> 120 (+50%)
- Steelworks: 40 -> 70 (+75%) -> 130 (+86%)
Second, there are only one location per map for war drill, whereas coal mine and steelwork at least gets two locations per map. (Even then, coal mine hardly competes for coal thumper most of the time, since they use up to 6 steam cores). You're spending 2 steam cores, 22 hours of research time, and a lot more resources just to gain +80 woods / day. By the time you unlock lv5 techs, not only steam cores really important, you hardly lack woods compared to other resources.
Generater Range Upgrade (All of them)
The consumption increment is just too much to make this a viable alternative (unless you're going for the achievement). Just to put it into perspective, you can run 2 more steam hubs instead of increasing generator range by 1. Not only you can set up flexible opeerating time on steam hub, it only needs 1 research to be functional.
I have yet to see any scenario where there are enough amputees for this to ever matter. Also, the bottleneck time is how fast amputees are getting the surgery, not how fast prostheses are made. I would consider this research if it made the surgery 50-100% faster instead.
Things that are too good
These researches/laws are almost always preferred over its alternatives due to their high return without enough risks to justify it.
House of Healing, or Faith route in general
One of the things that sets Faith route apart from Order route. Just compare it with Infirmary:
- Can also cure gravely ill patients
- Doesn't require steam core
- Doesn't require engineers
- Works slightly slower than infirmary
- Larger building size
When you use house of healing, you can invest so much resources into lategame techs compared to other alternatives. No need to spend 20+ hours of research, dozens of engineers, and some steam cores for your medical infrastructure.
Also, Faith order in general gives much more immediate benefits at early stage.How does House of Prayer -> Shrine give similar amount of benefits compared to Neighbourhood Watch -> Guard Stations -> Propaganda Centre -> Agitator? HoP doesn't even require anyone to be functional, too! Not to mention Faith Keepers is infinitely better than Prison.
(I would almost dare to say Foreman is too good, but that's like the only thing that makes Order attractive.)
Speaking of lategame tech, this is THE best lategame tech available in the game. Compared with human labour:
- Doesn't give a crap about -150'C snowstorm (doesn't get sick)
- Doesn't need upkeep cost
- Fully-upgraded automaton has 228% production efficiency compared to regular shift labour (extended shift has 140%). Using automaton basically gives +1 upgrade on resource buildings.
- Foreman & agitator still works ¯_ (ツ) _/¯
- Can be taken apart for 100% value, if necessary at all.
Sure, there is a steep initial cost to be invested, but it's definitely a low-risk, high return. Even an upgraded automaton freshly out of factory still beats extended shift labour (144% vs 140%).** The economy just boosts into another level when you start making automatons.**
Probably least among this list, but I hardly ever find a reason not to use it. It's a 140% efficiency in exchange of:
- Small rise of discontent (that can be removed when you turn it off)
- Longer exposure to cold for cold workplaces
- Shorter time for building
First one is negligible (and is outright abusable with ultimatum), second one doesn't happen often with smart planning, and third usually doesn't even matter unless you're building 20 tents in a night.
In any posts in this subreddit about doing Hard/Extreme/Survival mode, I have yet to see anyone not using it. Extended shift in Survival mode (105%) beats regular shift in Normal mode!
Although Frostpunk is atmospheric game, a large part of its experience comes from optimizing gameplan for beating harder scenarios. To prevent some build orders to be completely neglected, I think some balance patches can give more strategic options to the players.
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