Updated: June 14, 2021
If you've not caught wind of my unbounded enthusiasm for Workers & Resources, a fabulous industry tycoon game, then you're about to receive a fresh dose of superlatives and praise, as well as a detailed guide on how to create a perfect, self-sufficient economy in your Republic. Long story short, I bought the game a few months ago, quickly got addicted, furiously crammed in several hundreds of hours of play, and wrote a bunch of articles to try to help you figure out its somewhat difficult and definitely complex economy industry mechanism.
Those tips and tricks are outlined in my three guides - one and two and three - the last of which focuses on mega-industry, with shipping as the primary transport mode. There, I showed you a massive city, with seven or eight separate zones, about 300K people, 50-60 chemical factories, 20-odd plastic factories, full car and aircraft industries, 85,000 tons of crop import annually, and a lovely 100M rubles turnover. But how about something much simpler, smaller? Guide number four, if you please. Forsooth.
Attempt 1: Small, self-sufficient city
Here, I decided to try my luck on the new flatland map, recently added to Workers & Resources. When I first tried Soviet Republic, there was only the mid-hills maps (populated or empty), and now there's a third one. Here, the resources are a bit easier to access, and you can build more centrally, with a single hub in the middle, and the resources pouring in from the periphery - but no major shipping, mind.
I decided to go for a city that produces everything its people needed - including food, alcohol, clothes and electronics. And so, I carefully started assembling the entire chain of factories required for this endeavor. The two primary commodities are steel and chemicals, without which none of the advanced stuff can be done. So I put the big and material-hungry steel mill in focus, and built the city around it. Then, once I had the basics going well, I expanded the industry a little to include nuclear fuel processing, too.
I started with two food factories, which turned out more than sufficient for my city of about 60,000 people. I then added alcohol and meat. Here, I discovered that I needed a good few livestock farms to actually meet up with the demand. That would be four, that is. I also ended up with some eight chemical plants. The main reason for such a "high" number is plastic - this one is a guzzler, and needs at least six, perhaps even seven full-efficiency chemical plants to reach its total output. You also need quite a bit of oil, too.
I tried to keep everything tight and tidy, so that I wouldn't need too many trains or buses to carry workers to their factories. Even so, the nature of the game requires that you disperse your industries some, so there will be some, inevitable level of commute. I did create two isolated mini-towns for my coal and iron mining in the hills to the west of the city, but the bulk of people reside in the central part, focused around the steel mill.
As my industry sector grew, and I was comfortable with a steady supply of clothes and electronics, I also added an aluminum plant, which again needed a fresh set of three and eventually four chemical plants. I then built a refinery as well, and covered the map in a net of pipes and pumping stations. The refinery started churning out a tidy profit, but my overall efficiency was only about 60%.
Once this challenge was mastered, I also added a nuclear fuel chain, with two mines, two ore processing plants, a single oxide plants, and three fuel plants. The first two fuel plants were directly connected, and didn't require the open-hull trucks to carry the fuel around. But then, over time, I discovered that I had a hefty surplus of 50+ tons of UF6 waiting to be processed, so I added the third plant, and began transporting the casks to it. I used the smallest available truck so that I wouldn't deplete the reserves needed for the first two buildings.
And then, I added private cars ...
In all my previous guides, I never mentioned cars. BUT! You can set up car dealerships and let your people buy themselves private property, gasp! We're talking a range of genuine Eastern European car models, including license-produced Polish and Russian Fiats, Czech Skodas and Tatras, East German Trabants and Wartburgs, and even the West-imported Beetle. The good thing about the cars is that almost of all them have very high top speeds, so they will easily match the max. allowed 100 km/h road limitation.
I set the car sale to prefer younger people with higher education, and soon enough, there were hundreds of little metal boxes zipping about my city, painted in natural reds and greens and blues of the 70-80s era. But more importantly, the flow of skilled workers and engineers drastically improved. With buses, my engineers would get to their workplace only sparingly - even with a whole fleet of buses - but now, the nuclear fuel plant and the aluminum plant had an almost full roster of engineers, significantly boosting productivity. You do need to dot your city with parking lots, both near the residential areas and the actual factories, but then, you will have your workers going to where they need to be, and fast. This is a big advantage. The only downside is that I never noticed any carpooling. Any car at any given moment would only have a single person inside.
Profit? Yes, but we can do more
My city, in this state, was making about 18M per year, which is a nice, solid number. But then, I thought, is there a way to make it more efficient? And the answer is yes, and you don't need anything but an improved transportation network. So I added a few extra trains to carry workers to the somewhat remote industry areas. I bought a handful more buses. The steel mill has three direct rail connections, and I used them to create three train lines, which bring workers directly into the mill. Results? Yes!
Until this point, the mill was working at about 50% capacity, with two iron and three coal processing plants feeding it raw materials, and a complement of about 350 workers, out of the total of 500. But this was still "only" enough to provide enough steel for the advanced industries, and there was no actual metal left for export. As soon as I improved the transportation, the numbers improved dramatically. The plant's output went up to as high as 85-90%, I had more than 400-450 workers inside at all times, and my open storage area started filling up with precious steel.
I bought still more cars and gave them to my people, added yet more stations, more buses, still more rails, and soon I even had small traffic jams at various junctions throughout the city. But overall, all my factories had more workers - and more importantly, more workers MOST of the time. This meant that with minimal changes to my infrastructure, and only more "manpower" supply, I was able to increase the annual turnover from about 18M to 24M, which would be a tidy 33% increase. Brilliant.
Attempt 2: An even smaller, self-sufficient city
So there you have it. But can we do less? And the answer is yes, we can. As my second experiment, I started the map from scratch and decided to make an even smaller city, with a simpler industry setup. The idea was NOT to manufacture everything locally. I'd only handle food, but I would import everything else my people may require. However, I did set up a clothing industry entire for export, with six clothing factories, supported by three chemical plants. And of course steel. But raw steel only.
Bolstered by my experience from previous endeavors, I made an even more optimal setup than before. A more efficient transport network, a tighter, smaller, more accessible city. The steel mill has four coal plants and two iron plants, running at 100% efficiency. For the first time ever, I managed to have surplus coal and iron at the aggregate storage, which means the mill isn't being bottlenecked by input. Similarly, there's sufficient workforce to keep a steady 450-people assembly line and about 90% efficiency. That means near-optimal 43t daily output of steel.
With 30K people, a single food factory, a slaughterhouse (with four livestock farms still), and all the clothing, I was able to make around 12-15M annually. Here, I am exclusively using the West-produced Mars buses, which have a higher passenger capacity and top speed than anything made in the East. Also, the cars are everywhere, running about, and every industry has a good, steady supply. None of those intermittent shortages that always cause a drop in efficiency. Everything is working at almost 100% capacity.
The export goes via a small number of trains, which bring everything to a near-border cargo zone, as I've already shown and explained to you in previous guides. Long internal and short external routes. This way, you're not limited by the customs warehouse connections, and you can simplify your rail network. In a way, this is about as tight and compact as you can do.
But then ... I decided to add a separate residential + industry zone, focused around a single refinery. And I decided to try to maximize its output, something I've not yet really done in any of my previous games. So I built a massive web of oil wells, some fifty or so, perhaps even more, and spent a good few hours distributing all of that oil to the refinery. As I expected, you really do need a lot of oil. A lot. The refinery never complained about being overloaded with crude, and the efficiency started skyrocketing. I was hitting the 90% steadily, and there was never any shortage of workers. I set it all up with a relatively small number of buses and personal cars, with most of the workers merrily reporting to morning duty on foot. Lovely jubbly.
I then added a massive export rail zone, with four fuel and two bitumen trains running back to the border, carrying all those previous tons of processed oil to the neighboring states. Very soon, my annual profits almost doubled. A single town, with roughly 5,000 people, centered around a single refinery, with no other industries around whatsoever, matched what the bigger zone with steel and clothing and five times as many people was doing. The setup is also significantly cheaper, everything is central, and you don't need super-long bus or train lines, or a whole array of distribution centers to keep the city supplied.
And that was it. I was pretty certain that it doesn't get much better than this. The simplest of industry setups - oil is produced locally, so there are no imports, the pumping station require no labor (only power if you play with power), there is a single raw resource conversion step in the chain, the fuel and bitumen are created relatively quickly, and they bring in neat profits. This zone is tiny and cheap. If you want to be self-sufficient (within reason), there's probably little else you need.
I wouldn't say I've mastered Workers & Resources, that would be too presumptuous - but I do feel I have figured out how to tame its uber-complex industry so you can have solid fun. Of course, you can always make it much harder for yourself, if you feel the gameplay isn't challenging enough. Make your people protest more when there's something missing. Add fires and pollution and power and snow. Add global events. Free up time in your calendar, because you will need a lot of it.
The best thing about this game is, even on "easy" settings, the tycoon mechanics are far from trivial. You have to work hard to make everything work just right. Workers & Resources is also a game under development - I never thought I'd be so amped about an early release, but hey - so there are new ideas and concepts coming our way. The ship and plane transport, especially the later, remain rather underutilized. There will be improved game mechanics and helicopters. There'll be an even more granular management of resources, in case your inner logistics demons are itching for action. Should be total fun. Well, there you have it. Hopefully, this guide will help you get even more joy from this splendid title. Now, time to burn a few more hours salivating over combine harvesters. See ya.