X4: Foundations – Terran and Loop Economies Explained

This guide explains the Terran and the Loop economies added by DLC.

Terran Station Modules and Wharf

Do you dream of a self sufficient wharf but actually want to make Terran ships instead of the weaker Argon ones? Well then this guide is for you, not that you really need a guide.

Ok, the first thing to keep in mind is that the Terran economy is slimmed down with a lot fewer steps. Terran station modules do not use any Argon materials at all. You need to invest in a completely different supply chain. It is likely that the same amount of raw resources are needed to produce ships but the Terran economy gets right to the point. Or rather, it could also be seen as the player being able to see each more detail of Argon production and less detail of Terran productions with additional steps hidden from view.

When making Argon station modules you need three things; energy cells, hull parts, and claytonics. From these we build all station modules that produce the other things that ships and turrets are made out of. That is because station modules and ships are not made out of the same stuff. Maybe hull parts will appear in both recipes but you need a lot more than just hull parts. Each thing you produce will be for a different thing you build.

For the Terrans, the ships and the station modules are made out of the same stuff. That is the one huge difference between them. They are made out of the same stuff so once you have built all you need to produce station modules for free, you also already have the ability to produce ships for free. However, this also means that; unlike the Argon who sort of have a beginning, middle, and end; there is not a correct order for building a self sufficient Terran Wharf. You need everything so you have to build everything at the very beginning.

Here is what you need.

  • At least two mineral miners; one for ore and one for silicon.
  • At least three gas miners: one for hydrogen, one for helium, and one for methane.

We will be skipping any talk of food or habitats at the moment. We can build that stuff later if we really want to.

All Terran station modules are made out of four things.

  • Energy cells
  • Metallic Microlattice
  • Computronic Substrate
  • Silicon Carbide

That’s it. Just four four things. That’s four station modules to build and then you can build station modules for free, but it no longer matter because you have already built all the station modules you need to build. But you can build additional clones of your station for free and more importantly, you can build ships for free.

To put this in perspective, for the Argon, you need to build 25 production modules to build ships for free. In order to build station modules for free you need to start with 10 station modules already built. For the Terrans, it is 4 station modules to build both new stations and new ships for free. Same amount of raw resources though, … maybe.

You need all four of these so you might as well build all four of them but let’s break it down so we know what is happening. There is an argument that energy cells and Metallic Microlattice is earlier in the production chain than the other two and you’ll see why below.

Basics before beginning, you will need a dock, a pier, and all three kinds of storage; container, solid, and liquid. No matter if you build all of this in one station or split it up into individual stations, you will need all three storage types for each station except for a pure energy cells only station. For the Argon a refined metals factory only needed two types of storage and a Hull parts factory theoretically only needs container if it imports the materials it needs. But the Terrans don’t roll that way. You need all three types of storage for every station so it actually makes sense to consolidate this.

  • 1-1 Energy Cells: The energy cell production for the Terrans isn’t as good as the Argon but really that is just a product of the fact that further away from the sun than Mars and sunlight drops off very quickly. If you build your wharf outside of Terran space; such as in Argon prime you don’t really have a problem. If you do build outside of Terran space you can use local energy cells but you’ll need to haul in the other three things you need. For all productions I will list below you need energy cells so just assume you need that as part of the recipe.
  • 1-2 Metalic Microlattice: For this we need ore and helium. And so you can see that you need all three kinds of storage. The Ore goes in solid, the helium in liquid, and the energy cells in container. From these we make the Metallic Microlattice and it also goes into container.
  • 1-3 Computronic Substrate: For this we need Silicon, Ore, and Hydrogen. So again you see we need all three kinds of storage.
  • 1-4 Silicon Carbide: Finally we have silicon carbide which is the only production that uses a previous production besides energy cells as an input. We need Silicon, Methane, and Metallic Microlattice. Because of this, we are already incentivized to combine Metallic Microlattice and Silicon Carbide production. If we do that and add energy cell production and Computronic Substrate then we are producing everything we need to build ships. Might as well slap a wharf on there and start building a fleet.

Again, Terran ships and Terran station modules all pretty much have the same recipe so there aren’t any more steps. You can start building ships. Or other stations.

The Loop Economy

Now wouldn’t it be nice if the Argon were able to pull of this same trick and build ships, shields, and turrets out of the same things that we build stations out of. Well, actually you can. That is basically what the loop economy is about. Someone at Egosoft saw the thing with the Terrans and decided to do the same thing with the Argon. All station modules in the Argon economy are made from hull parts, energy cells, and claytonics. The loop economy makes it so that ships and everything else are also made from just hull parts, claytonics, and energy cells.

So here is how you build a self sufficient wharf with the loop economy.

Again, start with a dock, a pier, and all three kinds of storage.

  • Energy cell production
  • Ore miner supplying Refined Metals production
  • Methane miner supplying Graphene production
  • Refined Metals and Graphene being turned into Hull parts.
  • Hydrogen miner supplying Antimatter Cell production
  • Silicon miner supplying Silicon Wafer production
  • Silicon Wafers being turned into Microchips
  • Helium miner supplying Superfluid Coolant production
  • Superfluid Coolant and Graphene being turned into Quantum Tubes
  • Antimatter cells, Quantum Tubes, and Microchips being turned into Claytonics

Once you have energy cells, hull parts, and claytonics up and running then you can make everything.

Maybe you want to do all of this as one station but maybe you want to break this up into different stations. One idea would be to have a station that accepts all the gas stuff and then another that accepts the minerals but if you do that, while you save on building storage, you have to ship products from one station to another. Here is a different idea. You could build one station that starts with Methane and Ore and eventually produces Hull Parts. The second station would be more complicated because it would accept Helium, Hydrogen, and Silicon and eventually produce Claytonics. The only problem with this is that you need to ship over Graphene. That could be solved by adding Graphene production to both stations but the at that point you might as well add Refined Metals and do Hull Parts and Claytonics all in the same factory.

Food and Meds; Terran and Argon

Anyway, while I’m here I might as well breakdown food production for the Argon and Terrans. I won’t touch the other species that are not human because this is about Terran and Loop economies which are both human because the loop economy can only be used to make Argon stuff.

First Argon.

  • 1-1 Water: Have a mineral miner collect ice and bring it to a station to make water.
  • 1-2 Spices: Water is the input and the output is spices.
  • 1-3 Wheat: Water is the input and wheat is the output.
  • 1-4 Meat: Water is the input and meat is the output. If you fly around it seems clear that the Argon are using pork instead of beef for their space food.
  • 1-5 Food Rations: Wheat, Meat, and Spices all go in and food rations come out. I hope there is some variety because I don’t eat meat on Fridays. Also, I’m sad there are no space fish to eat. Do I have to buy Fine Meals to get a steak?

Next, meds. We are already producing everything we need to make meds.

  • 2-1 Medical Supplies: Water, Spices, and Wheat go in and out comes Medical Supplies.

So the Argon have all of these extra intermediate steps and we saw that the Terrans like to make things simpler. Let’s see if this is still true for food.

Terran Food and Medical supplies:

  • 1-1 Protein: One miner needs to bring Ice and another needs to bring Methane. YES, Methane. The Terrans did away with the extra step of turning Ice into Water and will just do that directly but they added the step of needing Methane. If you fly around the production it is clear they are using Soy Beans to make protein. That is too bad because I am allergic to soy. It does fit with the idea that the Terrans are both more efficient and dominated by Japanese culture.
  • 1-2 MRE: MRE stands for “Meal, ready to eat”. This is a US Government military ration thing. I guess the Japanese raided the US military bases in Okinawa and found a bunch of these and thought it was the correct English word for “food”. Anyway, the input is just Protein and the output is just MRE so you might as well put the MRE production on the protein factory in the first place.
  • 1-3 Medical Supplies: Two inputs; Protein and Ice. These together make Medical supplies. Since we already mine ice for our Protein production we might as well slap on Medical production. It is almost like we are being encouraged to do this all in one station.

So yeah, the Terrans do have fewer station modules to build and fewer steps to make both food and meds. For the Argon, food and meds need a total of six station modules. For the Terrans they need a total of three but you need one additional miner. Also, the Argon need solid and container storage but not liquid storage to make food. This is because the Ice goes into Solid storage and all products, including water, go into container storage. The Terrans need all three kinds of storage to make food. The Ice goes into solid, the methane goes into liquid, and all products go into container. So even with food, you have to automatically assume you need all three kinds of storage for the Terrans.

Incidentally, from the chemistry point of view, I’m surprised they need Methane to make food instead of hydrogen. In real life we need hydrogen combined with nitrogen to make ammonia which we use for fertilizer. However, I guess they are using the methane not only for the hydrogen bonded to it but also the carbon dioxide to fuel photosynthesis. The Terrans display a vertical farming mindset while the Argon seem to be using hydroponics.

Of course, since the Argon and the Terrans are both human it would be nice if they could both eat each other’s food. But they don’t. I guess they are picky eaters. The Argon turn their noses up at all the soy in Terran food and the Terrans don’t like anything too natural.

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