Hey friends! Today, I’ll get back to writing nerdy Illuvium content, but for the first time, we’ll examine the mechanics of Illuvium Zero! In this edition, we’ll dive into paths and how to use them to optimize your IZ game play.
Super briefly, if you’re not familiar, I have no idea why you clicked on this article, but Illuvium Zero (https://play.illuvium.io/zero) is the mobile city builder game (industrial complex creator) for the Illuvium integrated gaming universe. Currently, the game is in its alpha edition and open only to land owners (not financial advice, but if you want land, go to https://illuvidex.illuvium.io/land/plots) but eventually IZ will include a free-to-play version.
Illuvium Zero is all about resource generation and optimizing your land. One way to impact optimization is through creation of paths. Currently in the alpha, paths require no resources or time to build or destroy, so you can move them (and all buildings not specifically tied to a resource location) around freely. This may be changed in later versions of the game, but for now, it allows for more experimentation.
Paths are significantly impactful in optimized Illuvium Zero gameplay by reducing both the amount of time required to construct and upgrade building, along with reducing the amount of time activities take to complete. Placing paths completely along one side of a building (including corners) will reduce the time by ~17%, while completely surrounding a building reduces the time required by ~27%. There are a variety of techniques to use paths optimally in the alpha edition of the game, including leveraging free building movement to construct/upgrade in one area, then move the finished (non-active) building to a more optimal location.
As late game activities take significantly longer and critical activities involving fuel and blueprints are not eligible for other speed-up techniques, paths can significantly impact your optimal play if used correctly.
Creating & Destroying Paths
To build or remove paths, just click on the “Build” icon in the lower right, select “Paths” and then click on the tile you which to convert to a path. Once you are happy with your design, click “Save” in the middle of the screen. Easy enough! Onto the nerdy analysis!
Role of Paths
Besides making your industrial complex more aesthetically appealing, paths provide a functional benefit in two ways. First, they reduce the amount of time it takes to build or upgrade structures. Secondly, paths also drop the amount of time it takes for a building to complete its specified action. How much it impacts both of these is based on the design of the paths around each specific building.
Each building has a base amount of time it takes to build and complete its action(s). For example, we’ll look at the extractor for silicon – the mine.
When you first construct a mine, default construction of the building takes 60 seconds. However, if the 2×2 space around the resource site is surrounded by paths, construction will only take about 43 seconds. This is a reduction of about 27%. The mine’s action also takes 60 seconds by default, and if surrounded by paths, this too is reduced to ~43 seconds, making it more efficient in the early stages of your build out when you are very actively engaged in resource collection.
What about partial paths?
Clearly, surrounding a building offers a benefit, but what about a building that only has paths partially around its perimeter? There are a variety of reasons why you may not be able to completely surround a building with paths, such as resources located at the edge of maps or other space constraints as the game progresses. In this case, how much impact do paths have, and what is the optimal design.
We’ll start by placing paths only along one side of our structure. In this image below, the silicon matter silo only has paths along a single side. Upgrading this structure to level 2 would typically take 2 minutes (120 seconds) to complete. By placing paths completely along one side, this time is reduced to 100 seconds, or 83% of the initial upgrade time.
Critical note 1: Corners matter!
In the example above, the path extends one unit past the structure in both directions. This is important! If the corner path tiles are not placed, the time reduction benefit doesn’t happen! For the image below, attempting to upgrade this silo requires the full amount of time, despite having paths nearly surrounding it.
Increasing paths surrounding a building
Going from one side covered to two sides results in an improvement from 83% of the build/upgrade time to ~77% of the upgrade time. In the case of our silo, the upgrade time is now ~92 seconds compared to the initial 120 seconds. (note again, to get credit for the side, the path must extend one unit past the structure)
Adding the third side results in an upgrade time of 74% of the initial, or 89 seconds, while adding the fourth side gets us to our eventual optimization of 72.6% of the base time, or 87 seconds.
This math seems to hold for all building structures and operations I’ve tested thus far.
Overall, surrounding a building with paths does continue to provide greater benefits, but there are diminishing returns on each additional side. Early in the game, where possible, surrounding your buildings with paths provides the opportunity for the fastest progression. If you’re not actively engaged, paths may not be necessary. Certainly adding paths on a single side provides the greatest jump, reducing the time by 17%. Adding a second side benefits with an additional 6.5% improvement, while the third side only adds 2.8%, and completely surrounding the building adds only another 1.4% improvement.
While minor, surrounded is best, particularly in the early game. Most of the benefits are received with three sides covered with paths, so a back to back orientation of buildings only gives up a minor benefit while reducing used space.
Take Advantage of No Moving Costs
Currently in the alpha version, there is no cost or penalty for moving a structure. This may change in later versions of the game. This allows for a strategy of creating a “construction zone” on your map, setting up default, empty 2×2, 3×3, and other configuration zones that you can move the unit you are upgrading to temporarily. This works particularly well for storage units that only have passive actions, allowing for them to be compressed together without paths when not being upgraded, and only moved temporarily when needed. This also applies to the Engineering Workshop and Quantum Fabricant which only have passive actions.
Since the path improvement also applies to actions performed by the tiles, other units, particularly the (current very powerful) converters have an ongoing benefit from being surrounded by paths to reduce their action time.
For extractors, these plots are tied to a specific location on the map, so you will need to decide based on the design of your plot how to design paths to optimize these units.
Critical Note 2: Path Bonus Applies At The Start!
Another critical thing to note – the bonus provided by paths is determined when an action (construction, upgrade or action) is started, and adding or removing paths after the action is underway will not impact the time. For example, if you start construction of a power plant (10 minute default build), then add paths completely around the 2×2 square, the build will take 10 minutes. However, if you start construction in a square surrounded by paths and then remove them, the build will take 7 minutes 26 seconds. The same is true for actions performed by a building.
Paths Significantly Impact End Game
As you progress through the game, the amount of time actions take increases dramatically. While in the early game, it’s not uncommon for actions to take a minute or less, particularly if using paths. However, at the current end game, the focus is on generating fuel, scanning for Illuvials, and researching for blueprints. As these activities are all directly tied to potential generation of real value, to ensure fairness, none of these activities can use speed-up credits to complete the action immediately. Therefore, paths are particularly impactful to increase the throughput of these important actions. As each of these activities currently has a default time of 1 day, here’s the impact of paths on your fuel extractors, converters, materials lab, and singularity scanners.
While paths only provide a minor improvement in lowering action times, at longer time scales, the throughput improves significantly. Over the course of time, if played optimally, the use of paths can significantly increase your output. The table below shows that the addition of paths can increase the number of fuel extractions or blueprint research attempts from 365 per year all the way to 502 if played perfectly!
This does require you to immediately complete the action as soon as it is available, which does lead to a challenging schedule. At best, you’re shifting your play time by about 6.6 hours daily. If you commit to this, here’s the optimal times to check in on your plots over the course of 10 days, starting at 5 PM on Day 1.
So, goodbye reasonable sleep schedule, hello more fuel extraction!
Reminder – Corners Matter!
Just remember, corners matter! The below structure only has two sides covered with paths, despite only missing a single tile from being completely surrounded. This structure has only operates at 77% compared to the 72.6% improvement by adding the missing tile.
I hope this was helpful in understanding the role of paths in Illuvium Zero alpha to optimize your game play. If paths are adjusted in the future, I’ll update this article and share more details on how paths impact game play.
Good luck out there!