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What is a smooth/optimal economic and tech progression supposed to look like?

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My RTS experience comes from Starcraft 2, where tech is unlocked as the game progresses and you can read your opponents' available actions from the structures they've built and make educated guesses about the types of synergies they may try to utilize.

In Zero-K I do not understand how that same style of progression applies to a match.

I don't know how many solar collectors or wind turbines are appropriate to start with, I'm not sure when to begin building storage (or if I should even have to), I don't know what a good worker to fighting unit ratio is for my army, the list goes on.

So with that said, in an ideal scenario, what are some guidelines for when to add more power, when to transition to new types of units, when to scout, what to look for, when to add caretakers, etc?
+3 / -0
in zk you are traveling on a road very fast and if your opponent whom is travelling on the same road goes faster he overtakes you.
there are shortcuts and there is NOS
unlike racing, the finish line is mostly hidden
+5 / -0
Generally you want 2 solars to start. You can replace solars with wind, and in general 2 wind = 1 solar (this is not quite true, just a helpful estimate).

The most conventional start is factory-mex-mex-solar-solar. Always expand with your commander, and have 1-2 other workers for the time being(expanding/building E/. Once you have secured a bit of expansion, you can build a caretaker to start increasing bp. Maybe another has a hard and fast rule for this which is better.
+6 / -0

3 months ago
Zero-K has a flat tech tree therefore there is no investment to do in teching up and similar. The only ruling factor is available buildpower. That is, how much metal income you have and how much you can spend. The goal is to always be spending (building) as much as you are gaining balancing metal and energy income with buildpower. Metal income is linked to territory control: Your metal income will grow/shrink accoridng to your expansion pattern.
As you expand (build mexes), build energy accordingly. Energy income should be on par with metal income to spend all of the available metal. So 1 solar x mex is a good rule of thumb. having a small margin of energy helps because it enables repair/cloak/shields/overdrive, but don't overdo it. A solar collector costs as much as a glaive.
When to build constructor/caretaker: look at your income. A Factory builds at 10 m/s constructor at 5 or 7.5 m/s and the commander should be around 10 m/s depending on the type. Don't overbuild constructors unless the game is reclaim heavy. As a rule of thumb, I build a caretaker next to the factory once i am past 20 m/s and add another every extra 10m/s income increase. so that when the constructor are moving from one construction to another or when i'm reclaiming i'm sure i don't excess.
You build storage when your commander dies, there is no need otherwise.
Unit composition. This depends a lot on your way of playing and on how the match is evolving. recorded games on youtube or playing with the AI helps a lot. Make sure you undestand the unit type RPS and the special unit counters.
I'm sure you knew already half of this but I hope the second half helps,
Have fun.
+6 / -0


3 months ago
Here is an overall progression:
  • Start Factory Mex Solar Mex Solar.
  • Make two constructors fairly early. At least one within your first three units.
  • Expand with your commander.
  • Have your first constructor make Solars/Wind such that your energy income is at least two more than your metal income.
  • Expand with your second constructor.
  • Keep building constructors such that you have enough at base to spend all your metal on units (remembering that your factory has 10 BP), with an equal number moving out onto the map to expand, make turrets, make radar, reclaim, andrepair (whatever is appropriate for the map). Constructors are more valuable the further they are from your factory, so send them out radially.
  • Gradually transition to having 50% more energy income than metal income by around +30 metal income. This is so your can repair and spend reclaim.
  • When there is a lull, spend 2k - 4k metal on diversifying your army to give your opponent more things they need to defend against. Common choices include an air factory, a light Strider, or even just the demi-strider from your factory (Crab, Grizzly etc..). This usually happens about 7 to 10 minutes into the game.
  • Make a Fusion at about +40 metal.
  • Add another factory to fill gaps and attack your opponent from a direction they aren't expecting.
  • If you have enough map control, make a Missile Silo in range of their base and win.

This is all highly map dependent and maps vary a lot more than in SC2. A smaller map could cause the lull earlier. The metal and reclaim pattern plays a big part in the tradeoff between constructors and armies. This is just an ideal progression, it can be disrupted at many points and delayed.
+10 / -0
This is mostly a guide for 1v1 in Zero-K.

If you compare it to Starcraft, there is never really a strict optimal economic and tech progression. It mostly depends on what your opponent is doing and how the game has progressed overall.

You should have a more fluid mindset when it comes to ecoing and so called "tech" progression in Zero-K.

Greed is good in Zero-K.
While expansion is done in incremental steps in Starcraft where the decision to go for another expansion is highly integrated into the build order and strategy you go for in Starcraft, it is much more fluid in Zero-K.
Grabbing another metal spot and making a metal Extractor there, typically pays for itself in just 45 seconds. Typically you should just expand as much as you can and retreat your constructors if you see incoming enemy units that you can't match. I recommend always having front line radars or using raiders to scout to see incoming units.
Anything you build have the same metal cost as energy cost so your energy production should always at least match the income value of metal. Then there are abilities that drain a bit extra energy like radars, cloak, repairing units, re-arming bombers or big shields. So if you are depending much on this, your energy production should be a bit higher than your metal income.
It is hard to include a prescriptive amount of energy production in your build order, as the amount of Metal Extractors you can make early game, highly depend on how greedy you can be without being punished by your opponent. There is also reclaim where destroyed units leave 40% of their metal value as wrecks that you can reclaim with Constructors or your Commander.

Overdrive is a mechanic in Zero-k whereas you connect metal extractors to any powergrid which makes them use excess energy to produce more metal. Overdrive has diminishing returns so you will have to spend more and more extra energy for every point of metal you produce.
Whenever you select an energy producing building, you will see the different powergrids on your side/team and the coloring of the these grids indicate the relative efficiency of the powergrids. Purple/pink means that the grid is not using any energy for overdrive, green means it is using a little energy for overdrive and is giving a high metal for the energy cost. Orange means, it is decently effective at converting energy into metal. Red means you are not making much metal while using a lot of energy. If the grid is red, you should definitely stop producing more energy production or grid more mexes to your powergrid in a 1v1 or team settings.
For 1v1 you can mostly ignore overdrive unless the frontlines becomes hard to break and the game drags on for a long time.


The density of units in Zero-K determines the "tech"-progression
There is an overall Rock-Paper-Scissors structure in the unit design in Zero-K.
Riots counters Raiders. Raiders counters Skirmishers. Skirmishers counter Riots.
However, in many games you can see almost only Raiders being spammed exclusively because of their speed and being able to overrun lone riots.
While Riots counter Raiders for cost, lone Riots are easily surrounded and overrun by a large number of Raiders.
However approaching a line of Riots is hard as their splash damage and/or DPS is so high that the Raiders don't have much time to get in range before they are destroyed.
On most maps in 1v1, you should simply be spamming raiders early game to try and take control of the map and counter the enemies raiders. Sprinkling out some light defenses/Lotus turrets here and there to help you defend is also usually a good strategy.
Now you might simply be able to win outright during the raider stage. If your opponent keeps continuing to spam raiders aswell, you should consider if you can get away with losing some mobility and going for slower riots to push expansions or even straight to the enemy base or if you still needs to match the enemies large raider forces.


Factory dominance and maps:
Some maps might have more or less established expansion patterns. If it is an open flat map with even density of metal points, you should consider going for Rovers, Hovers or Tanks. As their units are generally faster than their counterparts in other factories. Spiders, units that can climb any terrain, on the other hand have relatively slow units and are not suitable for flat open maps. While Spiders have a super fast light Raider, the Flea, that you can raid the enemy to death with if you have good micro, Fleas cannot easily kill other Raiders unless they can outmass them and Light Laser Turrets/Lotus turrets easily kill lots of Fleas even if you outmass it heavily.
Consider expanding through the middle of the map if the map is flat and open. That way your forces can go either side on the map to protect your expansion while forcing the enemy to attack the middle first where you can concentrate your defensive efforts.


Try be fluid in your build orders and adapt your strategy to what your opponent is doing.
Send out a few scouts/Raiders in the first minute of the game to scout your opponent. The first factory is free and you should almost always plop down the factory the first thing you do.
There is a counterrelationship/Rock-Paper-Scissors early game that you need to balance against your opponent:
Expansion -> Defense -> Offense -> Expansion
If you scout that the enemy is very defensive, you can be greedy and get away with more expansion. If your opponent is Offensive making a lot of Raiders or maybe even going for a rush, be prepared to make defenses to protect your MEXes or something to counter their rush.
What I generally consider to be greedy on most maps, is making 2 cons at start. On some maps, like Frosty Cove, where it is easy to defend, you can make more though.
I would also recommend expanding with your commander on most maps. Your commander is basically 1-2 cons and 1-2 Riots combined into one. However it also gives +3 metal income and plus +5 energy income so losing the Commander early can cripple you.
+11 / -0
I have found unit density to be the easiest way to think about ZK progression. This wiki article also outlines much of what is discussed above http://zero-k.info/mediawiki/index.php?title=Typical_game_progression

When worst comes to worst and you reach the midgame with map control / eco parity, a traditional tech tree of artillery/skirmisher hybrids arises - a blob of such is unassailable by conventional force as they can hide behind token numbers of escorts or inside the turret forest that lines both territories while still inflicting meaningful attrition even against highly mobile targets thanks to density scaling effects. Additionally. they themselves demolish such turret forests and thus are one of the strongest ways to fight an army consisting of artilleryskirms or weeding out their escorting force.

By fire range, the tree goes roughly along the lines of fencer/recluse/rogue/scalpel < ! stinger ! < dante < sling < emissary < firewalker < lance < merlin, with firewalker exhibiting standout riot-like properties. The progression may alternatively be disrupted by the airplane factory equivalent of unassailable artillery, likho, whose HP pool demands specific counters to economically fight.
+1 / -0
3 months ago
These build orders don't matter in the large 32 player team games though
+3 / -0
3 months ago
They do and they don't. How does that work.
+0 / -0


3 months ago
They know what is lob and they don't now what is lob they just lob, what the lob
+2 / -0

3 months ago
There is no worker:army ratio in this game. The economy is fundamentally different, workers do not generate resources, mexes/solars do. There is no unit cap, your creation of units is determined more by buildpower:income than the 120 second 'build time' of carriers. Instead, there's an income:buildpower ratio you should be looking towards, where build power should aproximate income. Build energy to match and then exceed metal income, build more buildpower to match and situationally exceed metal income, build storage when income is so high it becomes unmaintainable.

Start the game with a con and com ready to build mexes and solars. At 18 m/s have a new constructor assisting your factory. at 22 m/s have that constructor build a caretaker or factory plate, then leave to another task(more mexes/energy/repair/reclaim). Have factories produce an extra con when you hit the next 10m/s interval(30,40,50) to build another caretaker then move on to other tasks(I use the factory setting that sets cons to auto assist factory after construction for ease). Things can get out of hand at 45m/s+ so I can think of building a storage or few then(at 50m/s a storage is 2 seconds of time anyways).

For me, energy is second nature. The 2 resources I think about in the game are metal and time, and optimally metal is a function of time(I have mex, X metal is Y time). When everything relates back to time, different armies and compositions can be compared to time. at 15 m/s, 60 seconds is 900 metal. 900 metal does not cover the cost of 1 phantom and the solar collectors to cloak it, where as 900 metal is the cost of 1 reaver and 7 ronin. Or 1 reaver and 11 glaives. or even 2 knights and some llts. On a higher income level like 25 m/s, 60 seconds is 1500 metal, which is 1 phantom, 2 reavers, and 1 gremlin for vision. Essentially, at 25m/s phantoms become reasonable tech, where as at 15 m/s I cannot afford the time. A single grizzly can be built in 60 seconds with about 30-35 m/s, but at half that income it will take twice as long. It's very obvious when you think about it like that, and the game almost begs you to think about the economy that way with the big green metal income number, the very transparent metal costs and buildpower numbers(1 buildpower is 1m/s for any construction) and most everything rounding to an easy factor of 5.

Scouting: scout early, scout often. Tech is based on metal and time, so know what metal extractors are owned by who, take the ones that are unoccupied and make the mexes owned by enemies into unoccupied mexes. When you shoot their stuff they show their hand of what they have by shooting back. Raider runbys of front mexes or deep mexes hits their metaltime, shows you their fielded units, and if left alone can just be used to fucking kill them. When you hit higher metal incomes, you can build a radar and morph into sparrow(about 235 metal, that's 10 seconds at 23m/s) and spend some micro time to fly by every unocupied mex to make sure they are still unoccupied(free for the taking) occupied but poorly defended(liable for you to make unoccupied) and even check out their main production, see the buildpower they have pumping into their factory. sometimes, when I have 40m/s, I know I can build an airfac and owl from my central production of caretakers in 25 seconds, then reveal the whole map with a flyby.

If you know what the whole map looks like, who owns what mexes, what large power infra there is, where the armies/defences are and what central production looks like, you can judge the game differently.Instead of looking at your metal income, look at the comparative metal income between you and your opponent. Take a rough estimate of the number of mexes one team has to the advantage of the other. Instead of thinking just about your own time, compare your time to your opponent's. If I own 20 mexes and my opponent owns 15, I can think of all of my options as cheeper than my opponents due to the flat tech tree, cheeper in time. I can trade 1 to 1, I can even trade 1 for .75, because my metal and time is more and faster. If I am behind, I need to find something undefended and quick, and I need to very quickly attack my opponent's time to even the incomes out.
+2 / -0

3 months ago
One thing's for sure,

I have no idea

(or rather I play too abstractly and I enjoy this thread)
+2 / -0
I think your walls of text scared the OP away.
+3 / -0
In large teams you just take as many metal extractors as possible as quickly as possible and hold onto them for dear life. If you're frontline, ignore energy and let backline build it for you - you need all the mass you can get to hold the front. If you're backline, build power and overdrive grids for your allies while you micro support units or planes.
+1 / -0
Thankyou for all the feedback and tips!
+1 / -0