Trying to nail down the lowest cost way to get mass at all times as the game progresses, in terms of how quick to get and make it pay for itself.
I've watched Heavens eco vid at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-GzOhDQwA8&list=PLxH0oefiZR_VjudeMTq6cGaMOLnnNywKQ but I'm keen to make a simple guide for newish players and not go into opportunity cost or if mex likely to get reclaimed as he does. We'll set aside thoughts of power cost in general as we go.
if mex likely to get reclaimed
To begin with, we reclaim. Essentially free mass (ignoring cost of engineer). Rocks get more mass than trees. Reclaim alone can often win games as the quicker you can upgrade your mexes using this free mass the quicker you can grow your eco. When reclaim from dead units becomes available you should always grab it as a priority. The importance of reclaiming dead units cannot be overstated.
Then we grab T1 mexes. These should be grabbed at every opportunity, even if you feel you can not hold them for long as they repay the cost of making them in around 18 seconds. They cost 36 mass and generate 2 mass per second.
Next, we upgrade a t1 mex to a t2 mex. This costs 900 mass and generates 6 mass per second. 150 seconds or 2.5 minutes to repay.
We must ring those t2 mexes before even thinking of upgrading them to t3, so 4 mass storage each, total cost of 800 mass. This adds 3 mass per second, so a ringed t2 goes from 6 to 9 mass income. Just over a minute to repay the cost of all 4 storages.
Once I finish ringing t2 mexes I'm always unsure.
The two usual options i think are:
I think RAS income has changed at some point during a patch and it used to be the recommended next step but now seems only worth doing if you want the extra power it will create?? So it seems clear to me it's best to keep upgrading those t2 mexes to t3's and only then once they are all done get RAS on the ACU. If your faction has multiple RAS upgrades I don't know of any reason not to get the second stage immediately after the first.
(Oh, if you want to get technical, BrinkOfInsanity did a video where he proved if you have mass and power in the bank combined with plenty of buildpower, you should ctrl+k the t2 mex and build a t3 from scratch on top of it RATHER than upgrading it. Seems illogical but he clearly proved it.)
So now we're in late game, all mexes are ringed T3 and ACU has RAS. Once more I'm unsure.
Essentially, we are back to the choice of two pathways:
Interested in hearing everyone's thoughts. Ras on ACU before or after T3 mexes? What's your late game mass strategy and why?
If you go RAS after making a T3 pgen without the right amount of mass income then you are spilling a massive amount of power. On top of that, if you make a T3 pgen just for RAS, than RAS is not 5K mass but 8K mass for 14 / tick - as its sole purposes was to get you RAS. Going RAS first is never worth it as far as I am aware.
You mention reclaiming rocks is more useful than reclaiming trees because rocks give more mass. That isn't entirely true - if you reclaim a lot of tree groups (like on Seton's, or as air on Gap) you can push back your pgens, allowing you to upgrade your extractors earlier. In turn, they give you 'mass'.
Then there is the trade off - your topic is only about making economy with economy. But what about taking more economy from your opponent than you spent on taking that economy? As an example - a bomber may be only 80 mass. But if it manages to destroy up to 400 mass then the bomber has a 5x return investment over your enemy. That difference means one of two things:
This only increases when you strike engineers in general, but specifically those that are performing a critical job at the time (such as making power, factories or extractors). This is also why early raids can be so effective - their risk is small, but their return value can be gigantic.
After geting all T3mex, some mass fabs then portal + RAS SACUs, imo
You can get RAS ACU if you go air or nukes it makes the E worth, imo
Some games people have more than 100 SACUS its OP
@jip Good points mate, thanks
Jip made some good points and I'll add my point of view on it. To directly answer the title of your post, there isn't a way to do that. Each game is different, and this is highly situational and map specific. Some examples of what I mean:
Some other points
tl;dr: This is an extremely situational question with no one answer anyone can possibly give, but there are a lot of general tips that can go into it.
Depends on map. If you're in a big team and eco slot, you pretty much always ras instead of t3 pgen, because especially if the mex are closely packed. Dual Gap is a clear example of this.
If its a smaller team map with no eco spot then just copy top builds in Setons.
If its a 1v1 then look at 1v1 play.