Distant Worlds has a number of different resources that are used for construction. The game refers to these as "strategic" resources. The home world begins with a large stockpile of each strategic resource at the beginning of a game. I used to wonder why things would just stop building, and I eventually discovered it happens because the necessary resources were not available. I came to realize that there are a lot of resources that you must find a source for fairly early on, or it's effectively game over. If the resource you need is somewhere nearby, but in another empire's territory, then you can still get some via independent freighters and from freighters of that empire if you're on friendly terms. If there are no planets with the resource you need anywhere nearby though, you will never, ever, be able to get it. Thus, game over.
Based on this, I compiled a table for myself of the resources required for all of the components you start out with as well as a few second tier components. After doing that, I decided to write this guide for the people who are frustrated with their empire suddenly grinding to standstill without even a notification window popping up to say "Hey! We're out of this resource!" :)
The strategic resources are: Aculon, Argon, Carbon Fibre, Chromium, Dilithium Crystal, Emeros Crystal, Gold, Helium, Hydrogen, Iridium, Krypton, Lead, Nekros Stone, Osalia, Polymer, Silicon, Steel, and Tyderios.
Caslon and Hydrogen are fuels (Hydrogen fills two roles). Everything else falls into the Luxury resource category and are not used for construction at all.
I'll start with a run-through of the components you can't do without:
Command Center - Every ship and station requires one, so there's nothing in the game you can build without one. It requires Gold, Polymer, and Silicon.
Fission Reactor - Every ship and station requires a reactor. Not necessarily this one, but this is the one that everyone starts with. It requires Helium, Iridium, Lead, and Steel. Shadows - The Basic Reactor doesn't require Iridium.
Standard Fuel Cell - Every reactor needs at least one. This is the one everyone starts with. It requires Polymer and Steel.
Gerax Hyperdrive - Every ship needs one. This is the one everyone starts with. It requires Carbon Fibre, Helium, and Steel.
Proton Thruster - Every ship needs a few. This is the one everyone starts with. It requires Carbon Fibre and Steel.
Thrust Vector - Every ship needs at least one. This is the one everyone starts with. It requires Carbon Fibre and Steel.
Life Support - Every ship and station needs at least one. It requires Gold and Polymer.
Hab Module - Every ship and station needs at least one. It requires Polymer and Steel.
Corvidian Shields - You *can* build without them, but survival isn't likely without them. This is the shield everyone starts with. It requires Gold, Helium, and Lead.
Standard Armor - Standard Armor only requires Steel.
Maxos Blaster - This is the weapon everyone starts with. It requires Gold, Helium, and Nekros Stone.
Energy Collector - Extremely valuable for stations and having at least one on every ship is a good idea as well. It requires Chromium, Gold, Polymer, and Silicon.
Those are the basics. I'll talk about the race-specific components later. They don't really change things up much anyway, and some make things more difficult.
Some things to note:
* Steel is the most common requirement and it's used in large quantities besides. Fortunately, it's common.
* Carbon Fibre is essentially the "propulsion resource" since it's used by all things related to propulsion. You can build stations without it, but ships must have it.
* You must acquire a source of Carbon Fibre, Gold, Helium, Iridium, Lead, Polymer, Silicon, and Steel fairly early on or your production will stall and you may not be able to get it going again. Iridium is not initially required if playing an Age of Shadows game. Chromium is also essential, but it is possible to design all of your ships without any Energy Collectors to save your Chromium for your mining stations. You can make the Chromium you start with last quite a while that way. However, that's only a delaying tactic to give you more time to find some.
Not sure how to find out how much of each resource you have? Click on the "Ships and Bases" button at the top of the screen or press F11. Make sure your main Spaceport (or whichever Spaceport you want later on) is selected and click on the "Cargo" tab. On that list you can now see what it has. The "Reserved" column lists resources that freighters or Constructors are already en-route to pick up. I do not know if the storage is limited to the Storage Bays on the Spaceport or if the colony itself adds to the storage capacity. It seems probably since a default mining station has 20 storage bays and a default spaceport only has 6, but I have no way to find out for sure.
The Expansion Planner is extremely helpful in finding resources. It lists everything your exploration ships have mapped out. You can see all of the resources you currently have mines on as well, so you can see if you need more of a certain resource. Thanks to Evrett for mentioning this tip!
The following are locations where you should look for strategic resources. In some cases I may have missed some.
Barren Planets and Asteroids - Gold, Iridium, Lead, Steel. Iridium is somewhat less common than the other three, but still quite common.
Continental - Carbon Fibre, Chromium, Polymer. Also various common resources.
Swampy - Carbon Fibre, Chromium, Polymer. Also various common resources.
Ocean - Dilithium Crystal, Polymer.
Desert - Silicon (the *only* source I've seen!), Osalia.
Volcanic - Aculon, Emeros Crystal, Nekros Stone, Osalia.
Gas Giant - Argon, Helium, Hydrogen, Krypton, Tyderios (Frozen Gas Giant only).
Ice - Tyderios. Other than Tyderios these only have Luxury resources.
I find the number one PITA to find is Chromium, unless I start on a planet that has it. Carbon Fibre takes second place, followed by Silicon and Polymer. Once in a while I have a game where I have a hard time finding Nekros Stone.
It's unfortunate that there no system in place for substituting a resource when necessary. Something like using Steel in place of Polymer or Carbon Fibre when they aren't available, but with a speed penalty. Or, perhaps have an alternative Engine module that doesn't require Carbon Fibre but has poorer stats than the Proton Thruster, to use that example again. Even a black market where you could spend credits to buy (at a high price) resources you can't get your hands on.
Expansions - The addition of pirate smugglers now allows empires to inform pirate groups that they'll pay a premium for resources that they need. This can be very helpful, especially since they are not constrained by political boundaries. However, I'm not sure if they can acquire a resource from "thin air" if it cannot be found anywhere in the vicinity.
Low Resource Strategies
A certain number of civilian ships are built for each colony you control automatically. Another certain number are built for each spaceport. You can't tell your Spaceport not to build them, but...
Idea from Kadrush: "Make every civilian ship obsolete at game start."
Using this idea, and by not creating a new design, you can prevent the AI from building new civilian ships until you have acquired the strategic resources you need.
You don't have to pay credits for civilian ships, but they do use your resources. This means that if you go around colonizing like crazy, your Spaceport will breeze through a lot of resources building all those civilian ships. Keep this in mind when colonizing. If you do decide to colonize, then that's also a good time to see if you can do some upgrades on the freighters, passenger ship, etc. Mark the old design obsolete and then the new design will be used when your colony ship reaches the planet. With the Shadows expansion I find my private ships now update themselves on their next visit to the spaceport, so that's excellent. The main upgrades to look at for civilian ships are more efficient reactors, faster and/or more efficient hyperdrives, and faster cruise speed and/or more efficient engines. Note the Ion Engines have more efficient cruise speeds than the Proton Thrusters until they reach level 2 ("Enhanced Engines" on the tech tree). Better shields never hurt if you have them when you do the upgrade. I usually remove the weapon from the Small Freighter.
If you run low on Chromium, I mentioned the idea of not using Energy Collectors on ships if you start running low on Chromium up above. In addition, you should reduce the number of Energy Collectors on your mining stations to the bare minimum needed to cover the Static Power usage. You should also avoid using Ion Cannons, Torpedoes, or the Impact Assault Laser, as they use Chromium. Also note that Weapon Plants use Chromium (but Energy and HighTech Plants do not).
If you run low on Carbon Fibre, you can try using fewer engines and thrusters on your ships. That's about all you can do.
If you run low on Silicon, cutting Energy Collectors will help there as well. In addition, Countermeasure and Combat Targeting modules use Silicon.
If for some reason you can't find a place to build a Nekros Stone mine, you have three options:
1) Research Shatterforce Lasers ASAP. They use Emeros Crystal instead of Nekros Stone.
2) Switch to Fighters. However, make sure you have a source of Carbon Fibre first. You'll also need to research larger ship sizes to be able to fit even one Fighter Bay.
3) Switch to Missiles. Again, you'll want a source of Carbon Fibre for these. They're easier to fit than Fighter Bays, but they have about half the DPS to Space (size) ratio of Maxos Blasters.
4) I was surprised that Rail Guns use Nekros Stone, but they do.
Early Weapon Requirements (non-race-specific)
(S) = Shadows expansion
Pulse Blaster (S) - Nekros Stone, Helium, Gold
Maxos Blaster - Nekros Stone, Helium, Gold
Ion Cannon - Lead, Gold, Argon, Chromium
Graviton Beam (S) - Emeros Crystal, Iridium, Chromium
Tractor Beam (S) - Lead, Iridium, Krypton, Chromium
Intimidator Surgewave - Nekros Stone, Argon, Gold, Aculon
Epsilon Torpedo - Nekros Stone, Helium, Gold, Chromium
Fighter Bay - Steel, Carbon Fibre, Polymer
Assault Pod - Steel, Carbon Fibre, Polymer, Aculon
Seeking Missile (S) - Aculon, Carbon Fibre, Krypton
Concussion Missile - Aculon, Carbon Fibre, Krypton
Long Range Gun (S) - Nekros Stone, Hydrogen, Lead, Iridium
Rail Gun - Nekros Stone, Hydrogen, Lead, Iridium
NovaCore Reactor - Quameno. Requires Aculon, Helium, Krypton, and Silicon.
Velocity Drive - Dhayut. Requires Carbon Fibre, Chromium, Steel, and Tyderios.
Turbo Thruster - Ackdarian. Requires Aculon and Carbon Fibre.
StarBurner - Sluken. Requires Aculon and Carbon Fibre.
Swift Vector - Mortalen. Requires Carbon Fibre and Steel.
Pulsewave Cannon - Wekkarus. Requires Chromium, Dilithium Crystal, Iridium, and Tyderios.
Shaktur Firestorm - Boskara. Requires Chromium, Dilithium Crystal, Iridium, and Tyderios.
S2F7 Repair Bot - Ikkuro. Requires Carbon Fibre and Steel.
ShadowGhost ECM - Kiadian. Requires Gold, Polymer, and Silicon.
Raptor Targeting - Ugnari. Requires Gold, Polymer, and Silicon.
Megatron Z4 - Zenox. Requires Krypton, Gold, Lead, Dilithium Crystal, and Tyderios.
Another thing to keep in mind in regards to your starting race is the type of planet they start on. If you start on a Continental or Swamp planet, you may very well start with Carbon Fibre from the get-go. Likewise, you have a good chance of starting with Silicon if you start on a Desert planet, etc.
The Wekkarus seem to have it particularly bad. Their Pulsewave Cannon uses Chromium, but since the Wekkarus' home planet is always oceanic, they have zero chance of starting a game with a source of Chromium. On top of that, you need Pulsewave Cannons in large numbers, not just one per ship/station.
Players using the Distant Worlds Extended Universe mod will have a few more:
Fissile Exploitation Reactor - Keskudon. Requires Steel, Carbon Fibre, Iridium, Krypton, Tyderios
SpaceDenial5000S - Riktoh. Argon, Iridium, Aculon, Emeros Crystal
Stinger Beam - Yor. Requires Helium, Gold, Nekros Stone
All Dimension Fighter Bay - Caleph. Requires Steel, Carbon Fibre, Polymer (same quantities as regular Fighter Bay)
Paratis Hammerhead - Paratis. Requires Krypton, Aculon, Carbon Fibre
Far Sight Center - Banoserit. Requires Silicon, Iridium
Disbelieve Mask - Endon. Requires Steel, Aculon, Carbon Fibre, Chromium
Compact Troop Compartment - Ortain. Requires Steel, Polymer
Rad Coupler - Tairoshan. Requires Steel (same quantity as regular Docking Bay)
Lipid Host Center - Lipid. Requires Steel, Polymer, Aculon
Note of Dev Appreciation
I just want to add a note here regarding additions and changes that have been made since the first version of this guide was written that directly relate to topics therein.
- In the Ship Design screen, the Devs added a note indicating any resources used in your design that you do not have a mining base for.
- The addition of smugglers greatly aides in acquiring strategic resources that you don't have, as long as you don't need them in large quantities.
- The Sluken's special tech used to be called the Velocity Drive, and I had a note in this guide stating that it's actually a thruster, not a hyperdrive. The name was later changed to "StarBurner".
- Misc. AI logistics improvements and any other changes that I'm not aware of.
< Message edited by Trifler -- 11/4/2016 5:24:31 PM >