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High Income III: Production Chains and Efficiency

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A production chain is when you have a product being used as a resource for another product and so on to make a final product. The only two final consumer products not part of a chain are milk and fish. One of the earliest examples of a production chain is bread.

Any product or production building that is not the first in the chain is called higher tier. So wheat is a basic product, but flour is a higher tier (2nd tier in this chain) product while bread is also a higher tier (but more conveniently called the final) product. Residents only consume final products.

From the build menu, if you tap to build any building that is part of a chain you will get a diagram of the chain that tells you how much of each building you will need for a maximum efficiency chain. Here is the diagram for producing bread:
High Income III: Production Chains and Efficiency Wheat_10

Notice it has 2 on the wheat farm, 1 on the mill, and 1 on the bakery. This means that for maximum efficiency you’ll need two wheat farms for each mill, and one mill for each bakery; a 2:1:1 ratio of farms:mills:bakeries. These numbers are based on the production times for each product of the chain. Here are the production times for a single item of each product in this chain:

Wheat: 7m 20s
Flour: 3m 10s
Bread: 3m 10s

Since wheat takes twice as long as flour to produce, you  need two wheat farms to keep a steady supply of wheat for the mill to produce flour. Since flour and bread have the same production times, you only need one mill per bakery. Keeping a constant supply of resources for each part of the chain ensures maximum efficiency in the chain. This is what the ratios and diagrams are based on.

Note: This does NOT mean that 2 wheat are used to produce 1 flour!! It just means you need two farms to feed a mill, but in every chain only one of each resource is used to make the product, always!!

Here’s one more example of an advanced production chain for producing Tools. I pick this one because it’s one of the largest and most confusing chains I've come across. I certainly needed it clarified to me when I first unlocked it (thanks again Dudecorp!).
High Income III: Production Chains and Efficiency Tools_11

First thing to learn from this diagram is that when there are two different resources sharing a single arrow it means you need either one or the other; not both. In this case you need either charcoal (made from wood) or coal (mined). I haven't seen any other chains with something like this yet.

The second thing is that, due to the production times of the involved buildings, you need a large number of buildings running before you get nicely matching production times. See Myainsel's reply below for a full explanation on how it works out exactly to a 100% efficiency over the entire chain. To summarize, a fully efficient chain will require the following:
2 Iron mines, 4 Charcoal burner's huts, 3 Iron ore smelters, 4 Toolmaker's workshops.

Of course you will only start out with a single chain due to their high construction and maintenance costs so here's what you need to begin with for a fully functioning chain:
1 Iron Mine, 2 Charcoal burner's huts, 1 Iron ore smelter, 1 Toolmaker's workshop.

This will give you 100% efficiency on the tools production but not the entire chain since you will end up with a surplus of iron ore and charcoal until you have the full 2:3:4:4 chain.

Efficient setups:

Buildings from production chains require that resources be moved between them as well as to/from the distribution house. For example flour requires wheat, so a collection wagon will travel to the wheat farm, collect the wheat, and deliver it to the mill. Similarly bread requires flour and therefore it must be delivered from the mill to the bakery. Finally the bread is collected from the bakery and taken to the distribution house (or harbour).

Even though the description in the game says these buildings need to be in range of each other, technically speaking they don't, as long as they are all in range of a distribution house since the distribution house can pick up the required resource from storage and deliver it to the next building in the chain. However, for the most efficient setups, its best to have all the buildings part of the same production chain close to each other and also close to a distribution house so all the moving can be done swiftly. See various island screenshots on this forum for examples. Although not my style, Zenobia has possibly the most efficient product chain setup I've seen and you can see it here:
(see the post dated 2014-12-12)

Provision House:
Last but not least I want to talk about the Provision House. It is unlocked at city lvl 9 and allows you to produce the following items:

Cake: Increases production by 200% for 30 minutes. Uses 8 flour
Salad: Increases production by 200% for 3 hours. Uses 10 herbs and 12 spices
Roast: Increase production by 200% for 12 hours. Uses 5 grapes and 15 meat

What this means is that these items cut the production time in half for any building you use them on! So use it! I would recommend having a surplus of flour and having your provision house constantly producing cake, and then similarly for salad and roast when you are able to. Use these boosts on anything you need more of (usually building materials like stone, wood, and the tools chain, etc.). Also remember that you can build more than 1 provision house and because of the long production times of salads and roast, I recommend you build at least 1 for each product as soon as you manage a consistent surplus of the production supplies.

I would suggest using cakes while you are online since they only last half an hour and if you're online you can simply renew them when they run out and save salads or roasts for when you're about to stop playing since they last for 3 hours (or 12hours).

That's the end of what I have to say about production. I hope I haven't missed anything important and that you've found it useful. My next post will be the final 'basic skills/knowledge/strategies' post before I get into the stage-by-stage guides and it will cover Ascension requirements, tips, and strategies. Until then!

Last edited by Tea on Tue Jan 06, 2015 3:21 pm; edited 7 times in total (Reason for editing : Amended some info about the tools production chain after being corrected by Myainsel and TheDamien. Added a line on provision house section about having multiple houses)


First, I want to say that this is an awesome post, and add a detail about some production chains like beer and salt. If you see 1.3 in a production chain, it actually means 1.333333..., or 1 1/3. Take beer for example, showing wheat:herbs:beer as 1.3:2:1. Since you cant actually build a third of a wheat farm, multiply the chain by 3. The actual whole number ratio of wheat to herb to beer is 4:6:3 for percent efficiency. So far I have only seen this in beer and leather chains. It may come up elsewhere for imperials.

Secondly, I wonder why you think the tools chain is off. While its true that a 1:2:2:2 chain will work for tools, and is of course how you should start the buildings since you cant afford all of them at once, its not perfectly efficient. Though obviously if you don't need many tools, its fine.

Iron mines (3.5mins), charcoal (3.5 mins) and smelters (5.25 mins) line up every 10.5 minutes, each mine and charcoal produces 3 times and each smelter twice. So you need a 2:2:3 ratio of mines to charcoal to smelters to be consistent.

Tools are made every 7 minutes, and iron bars are every 5.25mins. These timers line up after 21 minutes, meaning each tool shop produces 3 times and each smelter produces 4 times. (this is exactly two of the 10.5 minute cycles from the mine/smelter chain) Three smelters x4 equals four toolsheds x3. Toosheds also require more charcoal, but the timers are a perfect 1:2 ratio. One charcoal hut produces every 3.5 minutes, exactly enough to feed two toolsheds.

Since smelters are on the 3 side of the 3:4 ratio to toolsheds, things work out perfectly, in the 2:3:4(:4) ratio of mines:smelters:toolsheds(:charcoal). I have the exact setup recommended by the game on my Newport, and it balances. I don't generate any net gain of charcoal, iron, or iron ore until I fill up on tools. Or pause production because I need iron for a ship.


I was going to say what Myainsel already did: the iron chain IS 2:4:3:4. So far, all the chain images I have seen are correct. The problem with readability stems from the coal/charcoal duality and the choice to put some chain buildings at a fraction or leaving off the lowest goods.  In the end, you can always find how many of each building you need manually the same way you did with the wheat farm- checking times.


Production Time of building A  = Production time of building B
-----------------------------    ----------------------------
  Number of building A               Number of Building B

Which can be extended through the chain.
For wheat, its

7:20/2= 3:10/1 = 3:10/1

Also, you can convert to seconds if you don't feel comfortable working in minutes:seconds.


Good to know there are people checking my posts for accuracy! I see now you two are absolutely correct, i think I just didn't go far enough looking into the ratios for this one, lazy me. Well I'll go ahead and edit my post, and I think I'll simply point people to your reply Myainsel for a break down of exactly how the chain works.

Thanks again you two! Smile


Great stuff yet again, Tea!

The really complex chains can usually work okay (not great) at half the number of each until you save up enough tools and cash to get a full chain.

I have a leather jerkins chain on my medium herb island. The recommended is 8 pig farms: 1.3 salt mines : 2 charcoal : 2 salt works : 4 tanneries. I do fine with 4 pig farms : 1 salt mine : 1 salt works : 2 tanneries. They make enough jerkins for my 2,750 merchants with some to spare. The salt mine is idling off and on, but since the game automatically runs it at half the operating costs when it's idle, it's not so bad. I only have 1 salt deposit on that island so I will have to ship things back and forth once I need more jerkins though.

Similarly, I had a half toolmaker's setup for a while before I could afford the 3rd smelter and the 3rd & 4th toolmaker and it was fine for a while.


You can actually run 3 tanneries on one salt mine, Zenobia.

If you build a second salt works, you will burn through your stocks of brine for a time, but eventually you'll stabilize with the salt mine running full time and the salt works running at a combined 75% efficiency. You'll make enough salt to support a third tannery on that island.

The full chain at whole number efficiency is 2:3:12:6 (mine:salt works:pigs:tanners). Since you have only one salt mine, cutting everything in half means 1:1.5:6:3. This way, nothing from the mine goes to waste!

Granted, you probably won't need this for a while, I'm also around 2.75k merchants and two tanneries is plenty for me too. But I thought I would mention it.

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