Vanilla mine/train/smelter strategies - what and why?

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Vanilla mine/train/smelter strategies - what and why?

Post by zOldBulldog »

TLDR VERSION:

I would like to ask experienced players (at least 1000 hours) to share their overall vanilla (no mods) strategies for getting ore to smelters and more importantly WHY they chose those strategies.

I am not talking of mining, station or smelter design, but rather the big picture of how to fit those things together in an efficient whole.

LONG VERSION:

In Factorio you need at least one decent size deposit of each ore near spawn to get you started, and after that the ideal is to get few but huge deposits at reasonable locations so that you can ship what you need to your smelters by train. After that the rest of your base(s) and outposts are built according to personal preference.

Unfortunately, the map generator is pretty horrible and it is very hard to get it to make maps with those characteristics. The solution of course is to either use RSO (no good if you want to play vanilla) or to hike tens of thousands of blocks to setup a base where deposits are bigger (boring as hell).

So, most of us need good strategies to deal with the many small deposits that can't saturate a blue belt (and typically not even a yellow belt). I played hundreds of hours and I still have not found a strategy that fully satisfies me.

This is what I tried:

1) A centralized smelting facility (at base or elsewhere) fed by 1-2 trains. All mine stations use the same names, empty or loading trains wait at each depot until full (max 2 per mine at which point the station gets disabled to prevent additional trains) and full trains wait at the unload station (designed for up to 1, 2 or 12 trains depending on need). Works fairly well but has some flaws:

- With typically 10 copper plate smelting lines, 8 iron plate, 2 ore to steel, 1 brick/concrete... It uses a lot of space, and because of it at least at the beginning it ends up having to be placed right over deposits.
This is a major pain, especially early on.
- The rail stations going into (and possibly out of) it use almost as much or more space, again having to occupy the same space as deposits.
- Lots of train traffic. Not a huge issue but forced me to modify layouts to simplify traffic flow by making most trains circle in the same direction and avoid crossing each other at intersections.

2) Smaller smelting outposts near the mines. Again, works but has flaws:

- Plenty of belt spaghetti, to get the ores from the nearby deposit to the smelters.
- It is still difficult to find good space for the station to get all of those ores out.
- It is very inefficient when the deposits are small or are dwindling.
- Has to be dismantled once the deposits run out.
- Depending on the train strategy, it can result in stranded trains waiting when the deposit runs out.

3) A strategy I am considering for my next and final long-term playthrough (I would appreciate comments on it, both positive and negative if you see a flaw I missed).

- Use a bootstrap base fed by belted local ores to get started with minimal resource use but produce necessary materials.
- Main train line is 4-track, with a vertical and horizontal line crossing near the center/spawn, and a perimeter loop. Factories are fed by stations that branch off the main line.
- Dedicated straight "horizontal" RAW ORE ONLY rail lines at regular vertical intervals. Each ore line has a left and right segment, to avoid crossing the main vertical line. These lines are dismantled once all the ores along it are tapped. Then the space becomes available for factories.
- Minimal simple 1 train branch-off loading stations near deposits. Or multiple branches if supporting multiple ores. Ore is belted from the nearby mines. I expect these load stations to be inefficient, but it should not matter if simple/fast to build and dismantle with bots... having many of these should compensate for any inefficiencies.
- Probably use 1-4 trains and let them sit at the loading station until full or the deposit is fully tapped out.
- Each ore line has a smelting facility near the place where it would intersect the main vertical line. Smelted products are delivered to the main line. Again probably use 1-4 trains for the main line, as this is for an initial base and NOT for a Megabase (four wagons should be more than enough to support all 1st rocket or even first few hundred rockets bus or factory needs). Smelting facilities are dismantled when their supporting ore lines get dismantled.

I foresee that the eventual (much later in the future) Megabase stage would scale this design, with each square like the one above being used to produce Smelted ores until depleted, and with a mega-rail line with much larger trains transporting the goods between squares and to the Megabase factories.

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Re: Vanilla mine/train/smelter strategies - what and why?

Post by evopwr »

I normally go with approach 1.

Centralised smelting, with multiple input stations, all controlled/activated independently by circuits, and a "waiting area" before that.

I think if you do localised smelting, its just a lot more extra work when you add an outpost, or remove one. Plus its a lot more resource to setup remotely. You may need 20 smelters, but then after awhile as ore gets low, you may only need 10. Then later, 5. By the time you've done this on 10 outposts, you have 200 smelters around the place, but only half are being used. That's a LOT of wasted modules! (I assume you fill yours up with Prod3 modules, and beacon everything as much as possible with speed3 modules?) If you centralise smelting, then it becomes "shared", and you don't need to worry about constantly load balancing each outpost as supply drops off.

For the tracks, I've done 2 different approaches:
- A single track, one direction only, going around my factory clockwise. Then shooting off from that are 2 lane tracks to the outpost.
The single lane track going around the base has the advantage of less intersections, so less congestion/stopping. But it may mean a train has to fully circle around your base to get to the smelting area (or back again).
- normal 2 lane tracks going around the base.
I couldn't really say which was is better, they both worked quite well. The single track meant each trip had to go around the whole base, but the speed the trains went with nuclear fuel, and not being interrupted at intersections countered this a lot.

I think the key is the less intersections the better. Hence I try to have just 3-4 intersections on my perimeter track creating 3-4 branches. Then maybe 2-3 intersections off each branch, as required. Think of it like a tree. Trunk, Branch, smaller branch.
Refer badly drawn picture below:

As for outposts,
Like you, I also keep the train there until full. This does leave a train stuck when the ores starts running really low, and then very stuck when it actually runs out.
I've tried 2 different approaches for outposts:
- all outposts have the same name, and are enabled/disabled, once the chests have X number in them. The negative of this is that several trains will then respond and get a cluster all trying to go to the same outpost. This annoyed me, and didn't work very well IMHO.
However, it does make it less work for me when adding an outpost, and works pretty well early on. Drop down the blueprint, personal bots build it all from inventory, and make the stations name "iron ore", and trains all start turning up without doing anything.
- uniquely named outposts is my preferred method (iron1, iron2, iron3), with dedicated train(s) for each outpost. Outpost is always enabled. Then you don't get several trains responding to the same place, they all go where expected, and come back once full. But you end up spending more time constantly adjusting train schedules as supply changes (ore fields get low, or run out, or create a new one, etc).

I didn't understand what you were saying with your point 3, so cant really comment. Maybe a picture would help my simple mind :)

I have read trickier setups where outposts are enabled when full, and using circuit networks you can control only getting 1 train to go there. Not sure how well it works.
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Re: Vanilla mine/train/smelter strategies - what and why?

Post by zOldBulldog »

@evopwr:

Seems that we've been thinking along similar lines. Even so, it works but I've not been fully happy with the results.

Here is a (pretty terrible) drawing of what I've been thinking for option (3). As I mentioned I have not yet tried it - this is all theorical. It is a hybrid approach of centralized vs on-site.

- The perimeter rail shown is approximately the size of the "starter" area without biters when you use the maximum starter area size settings... about a screenfull in map mode.
- I would expect that each smelting depot will be quite a bit smaller than the centralized one, but 2 or 3 will likely be equivalent to the typical centralized smelting.
- As each horizontal ORE train line (two parts: left and right of the main line) and their smelter will support a dozen or two dozen mines... I expect them to last quite a long time before their eventual removal. I also expect to have only 1-3 of these active/built at any time. With bots I expect it to be reasonably fast to remove and recreate an ore line and its smelter.
- There are two important considerations:
(1) ORE trains NEVER go on the main line, they just go left-right in a never-ending loop, stop at the mine branches, stop at the smelter, and loop back at the far end (next to the perimeter rail). That makes the ore traffic a simple one-directional local loop.
(2) ORE trains NEVER cross the main or perimeter line (unloaded ore belts do, using underground belts). That avoids intersections that could slow down traffic.
- I probably will connect the ore lines to the main line for pax and construction trains, but do it in such a way that the ore trains will never take that exit. A likely way to do that will be by naming the stops with the ore line number, and an East/West indicator as part of the name... so that all ore train stops are local to the specific ore rail loop.

I hope this helps understand what I am thinking. My hope is for it to be about as effective as the centralized smelter method, while also reap the benefits of "on-site" or of a "dedicated smelter outpost" approaches. Finally, by fully exploiting one or two sections of the map at a time... it should be very effective at clearing space for construction.

The only flaw I see so far is that it assumes "no expansion" biter settings as I'd be building in a non-defendable way. But that is OK... when I want to play with aggressive biters I'll use RSO for more sensible ore deposits and a fully centralized and compact pre-rocket base.
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NOTE: While previewing I noticed I should mention that I use Left Hand Drive to make my exits from the trains more convenient. That is why the smelters are positioned in the locations indicated... trains exiting from the smelters could simply loop in clockwise direction in the quadrant they are located without ever "crossing" an intersection. Hmm... that makes me realize... I should probably alternate the smelters left/right of the vertical main line, so that I could deliver to all 4 quadrants without crossing intersections (only split-off and merges).

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Re: Vanilla mine/train/smelter strategies - what and why?

Post by evopwr »

sounds interesting, would love to see some pics and feedback after you try it!

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Re: Vanilla mine/train/smelter strategies - what and why?

Post by Lav »

zOldBulldog wrote:I would like to ask experienced players (at least 1000 hours) to share their overall vanilla (no mods) strategies for getting ore to smelters and more importantly WHY they chose those strategies.
I play 0.15 and wait for 0.17. This strategy works every time. :-)

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Re: Vanilla mine/train/smelter strategies - what and why?

Post by zOldBulldog »

Lav wrote:
zOldBulldog wrote:I would like to ask experienced players (at least 1000 hours) to share their overall vanilla (no mods) strategies for getting ore to smelters and more importantly WHY they chose those strategies.
I play 0.15 and wait for 0.17. This strategy works every time. :-)
ROFL! Can't say I blame you.

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Re: Vanilla mine/train/smelter strategies - what and why?

Post by WeirdConstructor »

4) Smelt everything on site (see Attachment).
I always see some dedicated lines for smelting in other bases. But I tried to build a base based on this technique. Using dedicated modules for assembling main items like Science Packs.
The advantage is, that it is fun to build these assembly islands in an as tiny as possible space. The downside is, that it takes some time to first build this in creative, and then also building
the spaghetti module from a blueprint later in game (without construction bots).
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Re: Vanilla mine/train/smelter strategies - what and why?

Post by FunMaker »

I played with approaches 1 and 2. I loved 1 for the smart smelter setup i mainly used (Smelting from train to the same train (Copper, Iron, Steel, Stone). it worked crazy well. Ore stations activate only if they have enough in their buffer to fill a train. My main problem with this was, that the train networked jammed alot after 80-120 hours in the game. The whole network was 3+3 track. Maybe the main problem was, that i choosed LLWWWWWWWWWW trains. It was also no good that i did all production train to SAME train without any buffer spaces. It was all great design and worked very well but because of the reduced space in a waggon for input and output it forced the rains to leave stations a tiny bit earlier. A Great advantage was that i build a dedicated store for the trains where 2 stations where dedicated for every product (one was for input the ingredients needed, other for output. To prevent input jams a input filter for trains was used. Every input ingredient had a seperated station that was deactivated if the ingredient was needed. So a train that had loaded something not needed waited at input filter station until the ingredient was needed. If the ingredient was needed the station was deactivated to not interrupt train flow.

I abondened the game because of the huge jams on the network. And i think most jams where dedicated to ore trains.

In my current game i am going with option 2. and trains with dedicated routes. In my opinion this is a boring approaches but there are many things that do prevent me from building up a train network of my likings (mods might do it, but i am talking about vanilla):
- No Way to set a route by circuits
- Train IDs are a niche feature. It would be better to make train ids configurable (like a constant combinator)
- building and debugging of circuit networks is pita
- Current train pathfinder makes trains behave dumb (train wants to turn, drives thorugh a loop and stays behind a bay where a train is unloading even if 2 tiles away there is a free bay to drive through, stations further away are nearly ignored by the pf because of the low penalty for blocked stations or stations where the train has to wait). I think the main problem with the path finder is that it lays the route primarily at start and not on every branch. Transport Tycoon does so well with this approach and i think the momentum problem for trains would be handable even for this pathfinding.
- No rail tunnels (I hope they have this for 0.17 and surprise us with it)

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Re: Vanilla mine/train/smelter strategies - what and why?

Post by WeirdConstructor »

FunMaker wrote:- No rail tunnels (I hope they have this for 0.17 and surprise us with it)
Actually I would love rail bridges. I remember the good old times when I dumped a 2 or 3 digit amount of hours
into OpenTTD, building rail networks. Building the junctions were the most fun part. Bridges would allow for more
efficient train routing:

Image

And I fully agree about the path finding. But I also know, that the pf in OpenTTD was a constant topic on the forums.
Once you start making it more intelligent, you want to give it additional signalling and make it more complex.
I am not sure how much the devs want to invest into rail ways at this point.

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Re: Vanilla mine/train/smelter strategies - what and why?

Post by eradicator »

I think there's no "one best way to do things", that's the whole point of factorio. To make you try new approaches to old problems on each map.

I use several different approaches depending on the game stage, and try to throw in some variation in the later stages on each new map i play.

In the early stages before trains i smelt directly on the ore patch (not next to it, on it). This reduces the output of each ore-patch but saves you the work of clearing space for dedicated smelters, and also the work of having to belt ore all over the place. And at this stage throughput isn't usually a problem yet.

When trains become available enough (i.e. not right after the tech is finished, but when production is automated at sufficient speed) i slowly transition to a a centralized smelter array at the beginning of the main bus, because smelting next to the tiny ore patches you get at this stages involves too much overhead for de/construction extra smelters for each ore field. I never use trains with less than 4 wagons, because less trains == less traffic == easier to manage. I usually go with bidirectional trains with either 4 to 8 wagons and 1 or 2 locos per direction (depending on distance/desired speed), and start to plan the position of the main rail line. Bidirectional trains require less construction effort/space for stations and i don't have bots yet. When i play alone (i.e. not MP) i go with one horizontal main rail with 2 lines per direction, i.e. i play the map as a ribbon of about 1-2000 tiles "height". Why? Because it means i get to make really long rails :D. And i don't have to bother with the implications of rail "squares" or anything, becaues the whole factory is simply on one (or both) sides of the main rail-bus.

As the game progresses and mines get bigger (==last longer) i transition to longer trains. And when i say "long" i mean at least 10 wagons, more likely 20+. I also transition to one-directional trains to save on locos because i now have enough space to build larger train stations, and bots to build them for me. Long trains means that optimally one train per mine is sufficient, i.e. the trains throughput is higher than that of the mine. This also implies though that i need more outpost to make the ore flow "smooth" as it comes in rather large bursts otherwise, but saves construction effort at the mines because waiting bays or complicated signaling aren't needed. At that stage i obviously have to build a new semi-final smelter array that is compatible with the longer trains, which also requires a large holding area for inbound trains, as they do most of their waiting here.

At "mega"-stage... everything is on the table and depends on what kind of megabase you want to build. Smelting arrays next to the mines are only the first step. Some people produce simple components (gears, green circuits) directly at the mines, to reduce train traffic. This is feasible at this stage because mines are now big enough to last tens of hours so the de/construction overhead is less of an issue. It also depends on how "mega" you want to build. There's a large difference between "a few regular rockets" and "spent more time on UPS optimized designs than on the actual factory". And ultimately the speed of your computer determines how much effort you need to put into UPS optimization to reach your goal.

TL;DR:
I use centralized smelting with long trains. Because longer trains cause less traffic and are thus less annoying to manage are cooler! :p

Addendum:
Also from memory i think 1-4 trains like OP suggested would have bad accelleration due to insufficient loco power. My feeling says that a 4-12 probably has better acceleration even though it's the same ratio(?).
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Re: Vanilla mine/train/smelter strategies - what and why?

Post by Hannu »

zOldBulldog wrote: 1) A centralized smelting facility (at base or elsewhere) fed by 1-2 trains. All mine stations use the same names, empty or loading trains wait at each depot until full (max 2 per mine at which point the station gets disabled to prevent additional trains) and full trains wait at the unload station (designed for up to 1, 2 or 12 trains depending on need). Works fairly well but has some flaws:
This is what I typically do. I make railworlds in any case and smelting factories for iron and copper fit in that style very well.
- With typically 10 copper plate smelting lines, 8 iron plate, 2 ore to steel, 1 brick/concrete... It uses a lot of space, and because of it at least at the beginning it ends up having to be placed right over deposits.
This is a major pain, especially early on.
I do always starter base first. I may build small train network to reach nearest resources, but I do not begin heavy expansion or build "final base" before I have nuclear weapons and/or artillery. Clearing room is too tedious before it. 50-100 iron plates per second is enough for starer base, i can get all tech and weapons in reasonable time.

When I have few hundred nukes area is free. I need much larger area than necessary because I want to have couple of hundreds of meters between factories. Typically I have finally 20-50 square kilometers.
- The rail stations going into (and possibly out of) it use almost as much or more space, again having to occupy the same space as deposits.
- Lots of train traffic. Not a huge issue but forced me to modify layouts to simplify traffic flow by making most trains circle in the same direction and avoid crossing each other at intersections.
I do not use 4 track system. I put central base (research and rocket) at center area , intermediates around it, smelters further and periphery is resource gathering area. I also get iron from the side my iron smeltery is etc, at least when my base reach that level. What you wrote is about the largest I will build. In my opinion real megabases are tedious. They have to be build factorio optimal way instead of some kind of aesthetic and semirealistic way I like to build. But 10 iron and copper does not need anything fancy if you have decent desktop computer.
3) A strategy I am considering for my next and final long-term playthrough (I would appreciate comments on it, both positive and negative if you see a flaw I missed).

- Use a bootstrap base fed by belted local ores to get started with minimal resource use but produce necessary materials.
- Main train line is 4-track, with a vertical and horizontal line crossing near the center/spawn, and a perimeter loop. Factories are fed by stations that branch off the main line.
At least Nilaus made this kind of structured base in one of his series. Have you seen his videos in Youtube? His bases work well and I like his videos but his style leads to too artificial looking bases to be my own builds.
- Dedicated straight "horizontal" RAW ORE ONLY rail lines at regular vertical intervals. Each ore line has a left and right segment, to avoid crossing the main vertical line. These lines are dismantled once all the ores along it are tapped. Then the space becomes available for factories.
- Minimal simple 1 train branch-off loading stations near deposits. Or multiple branches if supporting multiple ores. Ore is belted from the nearby mines. I expect these load stations to be inefficient, but it should not matter if simple/fast to build and dismantle with bots... having many of these should compensate for any inefficiencies.
- Probably use 1-4 trains and let them sit at the loading station until full or the deposit is fully tapped out.
- Each ore line has a smelting facility near the place where it would intersect the main vertical line. Smelted products are delivered to the main line. Again probably use 1-4 trains for the main line, as this is for an initial base and NOT for a Megabase (four wagons should be more than enough to support all 1st rocket or even first few hundred rockets bus or factory needs). Smelting facilities are dismantled when their supporting ore lines get dismantled.
I do not see any bad flaws. That kind of structure may be laborious to build but probably works very well if artificial look does not disturb you. I do not see why that idea would not be expandable to megabase class if you make efficient production units.

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Re: Vanilla mine/train/smelter strategies - what and why?

Post by Amarula »

zOldBulldog wrote:TLDR VERSION:

I would like to ask experienced players (at least 1000 hours) to share their overall vanilla (no mods) strategies for getting ore to smelters and more importantly WHY they chose those strategies.

I am not talking of mining, station or smelter design, but rather the big picture of how to fit those things together in an efficient whole.
What a great question! Thank you zOldBulldog for asking the question and sharing your ideas, and to everyone else who has contributed. Steam says I have 1300+ hours and I don't know how many on my local copy, and my experience so far has been ... I HATE TRAINS! I am working on another game that I started with the intention of figuring out how to make train networks work so all this advice on how to set up a train network is super helpful for me.

I currently have intersections everywhere, and not only does it slow things down, my trains are getting stuck! One train enters the intersection, as another train arrives. Train two waits as planned, but train one is stopped from exiting. Maybe instead of trying to figure out why it doesn't work, I will just change to one of the suggested ideas and get rid of all my intersections....
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Re: Vanilla mine/train/smelter strategies - what and why?

Post by FunMaker »

WeirdConstructor wrote:
FunMaker wrote:- No rail tunnels (I hope they have this for 0.17 and surprise us with it)
Actually I would love rail bridges. I remember the good old times when I dumped a 2 or 3 digit amount of hours
into OpenTTD, building rail networks. Building the junctions were the most fun part. Bridges would allow for more
efficient train routing:

Image

And I fully agree about the path finding. But I also know, that the pf in OpenTTD was a constant topic on the forums.
Once you start making it more intelligent, you want to give it additional signalling and make it more complex.
I am not sure how much the devs want to invest into rail ways at this point.
I am totally fine with bridges. Just something to cross another track without interferering.The visuals of a tunnel are easier to make than bridges - so i suggest tunnels. And i like tunnels more in OpenTTD because bridges have speed limits - tunnels don't ;)

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Re: Vanilla mine/train/smelter strategies - what and why?

Post by RocketManChronicles »

This is a great question. Having over 1800 hours, more than 1000 in modded games, I can certainly share my vanilla approach. I have played maybe more than 30 playthroughs in vanilla, about 10 modded.

To start, I will say I have tried both centralized smelting and localized smelting. In my style of play, I prefer the centralized, due to utilizing a more permanent smelting setup with modules, beacons, and easier protection. The localized smelting was ok, it was harder to manage as trains hauling plates from mines that were halfway and less depleted started to become slower to arrive. With centralized smelting, you can overcome the slower arrival of trains by the other trains arriving. And removing all of the structures to then just reset at another ore vein was just tedious.

Anyway, when starting a new game, I always try to get to rails quickly and get an initial base going. It is usually an inefficient spaghetti mess, but it gets things started. Once I have rails, I start to reach 2-3 outpost mines with 1-2-1 doubleheaded trains. These are quick and easy to build to without needing loops. These also usually use one rail going both ways. Again, quick, dirty, and easy. Then, Once I have automation working more on my side, I start to develop designated smelting arrays, iron, copper, steel. These have their own train stations with a 3 to 5 lane stacker leading into them. At this point, I am using trains that are 1-4-1; again doubleheaded for each of station design. But the four cargo wagons fill four lanes of belts to the smelters, I unload from both sides and merge into four lanes. Also at this point, I am basically building a "new" factory next to the "old" one. This new one is generally a main bus feed into full automation of everything. What I do design into the build, is a designated smelting array of both iron and copper to green circuits. So, an iron smelting array for the main bus, one array for green circuits, and one for steel. The main rail lines through my base are four lanes, two each way, and form a "plus" sign; only one major intersection. I have two lane mains from the perimeter of the main base out to the outposts. Assuming mines are 1000 tiles away, I have three trains per mine, with a small two-lane stacker at the mine in case the train stack up there. Also, once this really gets going, I convert trains to 1-8-1 trains; I double up the smelting array production as well to match. Train speed is not of concern at this point as production overpowers any form of inefficiency speed may present. You will need this for the mid-game. Going late game, when approaching mega-factory demand, I go BIG. This is after everything in the game is automated from the main bus factory and you have launched a rocket. I use trains that are at least 3-24 or up to 4-32 single headed trains to haul ores from the outposts. These super long trains are fed directly from mining drills, and may have three or four "substops" to have all of the cargo wagons stop in front of the mining drills. Then these long trains will haul the ore into the base and dump into super huge smelting arrays that are beaconed and module to produce God-level amounts of resources. Again, with trains this long, speed is not an issue as the efficiency of hauling 32 cargo wagons of ore is really high just based on one train arriving. This makes operating the rail lines easier, as longer trains equals less trains equals less blocked intersections or even less intersections entirely; in my case just one. Plus you get the added bonus of watching these massive trains move around. If you want a little more reality, go with less locomotives in the front, say only two, and you can enjoy the long slow ore trains, like in real life!

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Re: Vanilla mine/train/smelter strategies - what and why?

Post by Aeternus »

Don't know my exact timecount but I reckon it's over 1k hours.
It depends on the maturity of the factory, what I go for. Initially, when you're starting out and setting up building and low research production, I typically keep things fed from a small bus. The smelters are at the start of that bus, so it's easier to ship ore directly there, usually once the local ore fields run out. Lateron in the game, as your resource needs increase, trains grow larger and a centralized smelter becomes a good thing to have. By this time you'll be around 100+ research/minute and probably have blasted your first rocket up.

Eventually though, no matter how big you build that smelter, in vanilla you're going to hit a cap where the amount of trains you push in simply becomes the bottleneck. At that point you -have- to branch out, splitting up smelting into several smelters. In my still work in progress megafactory, I've split up research production into 8 largely identical 1250 sci/minute clusters. I tried doing it all from one smelter. There was no way I could both feed the smelters and drain the metal fast enough to keep up, even with bot-based transfers.

But for the sake of ease, I mine only ore. Makes setting up remote mines easier if you don't need to worry about local smelters. Pollution's lower too.

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Re: Vanilla mine/train/smelter strategies - what and why?

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Amarula wrote: I am working on another game that I started with the intention of figuring out how to make train networks work so all this advice on how to set up a train network is super helpful for me.
If you really want to figure out how trains work try playing OTTD for a few hours, as factorios train system is heavily influenced by that. And once you've managed a medium sized OTTD train network you'll find factorio trains easy as cake. The only drawback is that you'll be forever in agony over the missing tunnels and bridges in factorio. :p
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Re: Vanilla mine/train/smelter strategies - what and why?

Post by zOldBulldog »

Given the direction the thread is taking I probably should share a couple things I do that didn't seem important at first:

I just checked and it turns out that I crossed the 1000hrs mark myself, but I do not consider myself experienced. Most of my time has been spent researching better ways to do bases, so I waste incredible amounts of time doing, deleting and redoing designs. I never built a megabase, never did any of the more popular game types like railworld or biters,

I also create a small base to help me get started, my original design is at https://factorioprints.com/view/-LBLVHe1Xk2_ghVGn8Se and my current design is in the screenshot below (bus is above, ores input from below). The current design consumes 3x3 chunks, takes as input one belt each of ores and oil, consumes quite a bit less than 1 steam power plant of electricity, gives me bots, gives me what I need for train, solar and nuclear power, continues research (slowly) up to yellow while I'm busy doing whatever I feel useful doing in my build, and outputs excess supplies to the bus. With this design, a 480Mw nuclear plant, a minimal localized belt-fed smelting facility and a "rocket module" from Nilaus' Modular Megabase I launched a rocket without a bus or "real" smelting. Basically... it buys me a lot of freedom to do whatever I want to do at the moment instead of "having to" build a real base. I am currently refactoring it into what I hope will be close to a final design that is good enough to share.

After that I plan to try design (3) of the OP or a modified version based on what I read here... as my likely "final" single-player vanilla map, one that will probably keep expanding forever.
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Re: Vanilla mine/train/smelter strategies - what and why?

Post by evopwr »

got enough storage chests? =P

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Re: Vanilla mine/train/smelter strategies - what and why?

Post by nosports »

I don't consider me very experienced (around 500h, still my first map) (vanilla with some later interesting mods added, but all not game-changing, or so i think), but my playthrough hat worked out very well for me....

Firstly i mined the batches and some nearby fields without rails,setting up the first base.
Then build a railsystem as relatively fast as possible. Thouse then reachable minefields i connected with a 1Loco-2Wagons to my base; unloading feeding through the then existing fields in the base, so that the existing fields act as backup in case the train feeding the smelters has a problem (biters or slow miner or empty mines)

After that i headed far out to fetch oil, connected with railsystem, feeding only plastic back into the base with a train.
Whats needed as ore then i set up a smelter facility relatively near the oilfield with a 2loco-4Wagon feed (one unloading, one waiting for unloading), but could extend to two such feeds and space for the additional smelters
Any nearby minefields will be attached also to the unloading station acting as back-up again, so i get a 100% feed of the conveyors into the smelters

Also the oilfacility got also a train tanker unload station which will feed through the existing oilfield, so that this field again act as back-up, as in the base
Every smelter-output will get a fairly sized storage for intermediate product thouse have a backup for spikes/errors and future needs

All the mining locations will get a 2Loco-4Wagon sized train loadstation.

I speciallised my production facilitys after i got enough space cleared of biters
* base --> research(ex yellow/white pod) and production buildings (was a produce all, but changed later)
* fuel --> solid / rocket fuel
* logistic --> inserters, chests
* infrastructure --> electric. conveyors
* chemplant --> munition, rocket
* Trains --> all trains
* high-tech --> modules, low density, logic

So where ore is needed i build unload/smelter and feed into the production.

Prime reason for this build up is, that every thing is scaleable (to an extend in availably space) and if a mining location runs out of ore or more ore is needed - you just need to open up a new/additional mining location without changing other things and infrastructure.
I find it more purposefull to separete mining from smelting/producing, because producing will be somewhat static(just resizing), but the mining-business is highly volatile, due to limited ores.
Additional reason is that the pollution will take place only in the core thouse making the outer biters comparably peaceful, because the will only be hit by the pollution of the mines (if any is near)

Only the uran production is located all in one place because it will run at slower pace and i just need to build a reactor to use all the nuclear fuel for it.
Uran ore here is feeded with a small 1Loco-1Wagon train
The ironplates are feeded through a belt from a nearby smelter

General rules i build which are :
* only one direction (circular railsystem) at core (starterbase and surrounding base), so avoiding the additional space and complexity for a 2way railsystem
* core rail-system is based on trains 1Loco-2Wagons, though a 2Loco-4Wagon will can travel through but maybe will cause some short congestions (hardly happens) which solves without user actions
* outer rail-system is based on 2-Loco-4 Wagons, using the 2way approch at the far side and a circular approch at the production/unloading/core
* avoid to send the larger trains through the core
* for every ore one unload station based on larger trains gets a load station for loading the 1Loco-2Wagons to feed the smaller core bases which still runs the smaller rail-system (though i can change but will be tedious due to space requirements, but never change a running system which runs stable and besides i like the trains zipping through)
* all stations got a differnt name, explicitely 2 locations which are explicite stackers (and both only because the waiting trains could wait only such in the limited space)
* for trains which are not needed 100% of the time (like ore-trains), artillery train, builder train i build a farily sized depot where they could rest peacefully

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Re: Vanilla mine/train/smelter strategies - what and why?

Post by zOldBulldog »

evopwr wrote:got enough storage chests? =P
They are from before getting buffer chests. Earlier on they were overflowing from all the build/deconstruct I kept doing.

Eventually I started using storage chests as part of a poor-man "return to use" mechanism for the highest volume items but I still have not returned them all.

I really hate that buffer chests are yellow science. Sucks. Makes for messy stuff earlier on.

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