My two cents on this issue, being someone who
- saved everybody on New Home hard
- saved both cities on Arks hard,
- saving all refugees/lords on hard (people died to a scripted industrial accident though)
I found myself not touching the generator range upgrade at all. It simply does not help. I only start researching it when I simply have nothing else to do (endgame)
Lets see the "costs" of actually upgrading range versus… getting steam hubs. We all assume power level 1, as power level is separate from range. It's simply a multiplier that gets applied to both hubs and the main generator.
Note: capacity and costs are cumulative, research times are in HARD
A steam hub (utilizing the squishing houses technique) can fit 16 houses when placed on the third ring like this: https://imgur.com/NWVd50T
Cost: 6 coal/hr , 20 steel (one time) efficiency: 4.66 houses/coal Research cost: 11 hours 10 wood + 13 hours 30 wood 20 steel (research level 2) *expandable with multiple steel hubs
Upgrade 1 for generator Fits: 17 extra houses (3 houses * 5 sectors that isn't the stockpile, plus the stockpile sector fits 2 houses) Cost: 6 coal /hr efficiency: 2.83 houses/coal Research cost: 12 hours, 20 wood, 10 steel (research level 1) NOT EXPANDABLE
Upgrade 2 for generator Fits: 17 + 23 = 40 extra houses(4 houses * 5 sectors that isn't the stockpile, plus the stockpile sector fits 3 houses) Cost: 12 coal /hr efficiency: 3.33 houses/coal Research cost: 12 hours, 20 wood, 10 steel + 14 hours, 60 wood, 40 steel (research level 3) NOT EXPANDABLE
Upgrade 3 for generator Fits: 17 + 23 + 29 = 69 extra houses (5 houses * 5 sectors that isn't the stockpile, plus the stockpile sector fits 4 houses) Cost: 18 coal /hr efficiency: 3.83 houses/coal Research cost: 12 hours, 20 wood, 10 steel + 14 hours, 60 wood, 40 steel + 16 hours 120 wood 80 steel (research level 5) NOT EXPANDABLEЗагрузка...
having these hard numbers we can clearly see the difference
Total range: Steam hubs can scale indefinitely until you cover your entire map for 20 steel each. Generator upgrades hit a hard limit of 79 houses (ring 1 has 10 houses). Steam hubs also can easily service industrial buildings (especially those on walls), which cannot be said for range upgrades (range upgrades have trouble even reaching gathering hubs)
Coal cost efficiency: steam hubs have better efficiency across the board (1.5~2 times more efficiency).
Research time (when is the tech achievable for your required coverage?): Steam hubs, strictly speaking, only require 11 hours of research time to reach their peak efficiency. Upgrading is only for the efficiency upgrade at research level 4. Adding more coverage only requires 20 steel (which is trivial). Generator range upgrades, are a one time "limited" upgrade to your coverage, they also require a lot of resources and precious research time (which everyone really needs in hard mode) that can be better used for other more meaningful upgrades.
In general, in hard mode the real limiting factor is your research times. Steam hubs fixes all of your coverage issues with one single research at level 0. Range upgrades, on the other hand, often comes too late in the research tree to fix your temperature issues, produces even more issues since they take up your research time, and, in most cases, does not really solve your problem at all since your real problem is the workplaces not having enough heat.
© Post "Analysis of generator range upgrade VS steam hubs." for game Frostpunk.
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