Tips for balancing power in early ladder

In ladder, I have a few build orders down that get my second factory comfortably up-and-running. Between my second factory and my first t2 pgen, however, I seem to always either overbuild or underbuild power, or build the right amount, but too fast or too slow. When I watch replays where I lose, it is almost always power-related (too much power = not enough mass in tanks; too little power = can't build things fast enough).

I know the basic maths like a t1 land factory needs 1 t1 pgen, a t1 air factory needs 3 t2 pgens (building a transport needs 5), 1 engineer building needs 1 t1 pgen, and so on. However, even counting in my head ("okay, I'm going to end up with 5 land factories and two air factories, that's 11 t1 pgens"), it still doesn't work out. I often don't assign the right amount of engies at the right time, then end up stalling while trying to catch up on pgens, then end up with too many pgens.

Any advice on how to get it just right (besides "practice")? Is it really just something the pros have a feel for after their second factory, or is there some way to count or plan it out that I'm missing?

As I said, I have build orders up through the second factory, the problem is everything between the second factory and my first t2 pgen.

You make a line of pgens. Stop worrying about cute things like putting pgens next to factories or pgens next to mexes. You can worry about pgen adjacency again with t2 pgens and t3 pgens.

The trick is you want to look at the map and balance the line of t1 pgens to keep your needs handled for the next few minutes

This means you should be able to review

  1. How much you will be scaling up mex upgrades in the next few minutes (more upgrades, more assists -> more pgens)
  2. How much you will be scaling up unit production in the next few minutes (more factories, engie asisst -> more pgens)
  3. What type of units will you be building (air, navy, land in general terms, but transports and mobile shields also cost more comparatively)

If you make say a line of 15 pgens, it gives you the freedom to review these higher macro concepts at your leisure and think more about shaping the state of the game. If your engies finish, you can just make another line.

If you notice your power is over +100 because you accidentally built too much, get an acu upgrade. Or get more ints and bombers. While you might win the game due to using your resources, you need to be aware that you used them accidentally rather than thinking about what will be good on the map intentionally.

Overflow power and you don’t need it in the next few minutes? Take engies off power or stop scaling power. Power isn’t full? Put more engies on power, ideally you don’t need to build more pgens because if you have no power and need to build power your eco is screwed.

You want to keep the lines of pgens going until you get to t2 pgens, at which point you begin to make pgens as you need them typically, but you do the same thing of gauging if you will need +500 power in the next few minutes or not.

Also, you want to minimize the time you are making t1 pgens because t2 pgens are just so much more efficient, so that’s the counterbalancing force on just dragging a line of them across the map.

“When do I make more pgens vs put more engies on”

It’s always optimal to build 1 thing faster, but you need to get concerned with engie traveltime as the engie counts increase. 30 engies building a line of pgens are likely to begin bumper cars and be less efficient than 3 groups of 10.

So more engies -> faster scaling, but the pgen quantity itself is still a question of how much energy you need to properly operate on the map. Putting more engies on pgens also requires more pgens in turn so that’s a bit of a feedback loop.


  • Drag a random line of pgens once you get your first 3 factories going
  • start thinking about how you will play and how the map plays
  • adjust on the fly by referring back to your eco bars, you should be looking at them at least every 5-10 seconds.
  • as you get more comfortable, plan out further and further. You’ll start by just impulsively building things if you have resources, eventually you start thinking 5 seconds into the future, then 30, then 60. The pgen line is a way to accommodate that as you improve at that.

@pearl12 yes but those videos go to until 4-6 factory without stalling E

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@javi said in Tips for balancing power in early ladder:

@pearl12 yes but those videos go to until 4-6 factory without stalling E

Truth; I think what I am looking for is not a more extended build order to memorize but more general rules for how to proceed in any given situation.

@FtXCommando — thank you. Unrelated: your saying "stop worrying about cute things" made me think: pgen adjacency at the t1 level is nearly useless, isn't it? Is that on purpose or is that maybe something we should adjust? Like, I think a t1 air factory completely surrounded by t1 pgens doesn't even save 1 t1 pgen worth of energy on the adjacency bonus?

It isn’t useless, a fully ringed t1 air factory produces units at 75% the original e cost. It’s useless in relative terms because the savings don’t matter if your scaling is off in the first place. Worry about the adjacency when you’re 2000 rated and concerned about winning a tournament game.

That video should also help you get a better idea on how to balance e and mass in the long term

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