Good morning settlers,
today I want to help you a bit in how to effectively use the new Explorer 2. As you might know, it is 6x faster than the basic Explorer 1 and has a probability to find a planet which increases with the distance. But what does this mean in practice? Here is some help...
Where is the Explorer II most effective?
At low distance, the Explorer II is basically useless, as it has only a very low probability to find a planet. At longer distances, however, it is much more effective than the Explorer 1 as the probability approaches 5.5% at very long distance. The following chart shows you the probability to find a planet at different distances:
However, the longer the distance the fewer explorations per day you can do. So to really judge the effectiveness of the Explorer 2, we should look at the probability to find a planet per hour of use.
The following chart shows the development of the hourly probability. As you can see, the sweet spot to find a planet is at a distance of 60 tiles, with almost identical values in the area in the area +- 20 tiles.
At 72 tiles the ship is only 2% less effective than at 60 tiles - so you will have a wide range of explorations you can do at almost ideal conditions.
Why do I mention 72 tiles specifically? Here comes my pro-tip: At 72 tiles the ship will be busy for 24 hours - so if you play once a day and always at about the same time, this will be the distance that will allow you to keep your ships busy 24/7 - without the need to have a bot helping you.
How does the Explorer II compare to the Explorer I in terms of effectiveness?
Explorer I is much more efficient at low distances. However, due to the fix probability of 1%, the effectiveness of the explorer I decreases quickly. The effectiveness of the Explore 2 beats the effectiveness of the Explorer 1 at distances greater than 17. However, I would not use the Explorer 2 at these distances as it is much more effective at higher distances. At its sweet spot, the Explorer II reaches the same effectiveness as the Explorer 1 at a distance of 5 tiles.
What does it take to build the Explorer II
The Explorer II is more expensive than the Explorer I - which is only fair given its superior performance. The ship costs 3,071 Coal, 1,537 Ore, 768 Copper and 461 Uranium to build and requires a shipyard skill of level 14. In Uranium equivalents, this is about 6.5x as expensive as the Explorer I. Is it really worth the high price? I think the answer is a clear yes:
Firstly, to find a planet with Explorer I you will need on average 100 explorations. If you start off fresh and no neighbor has explored anything in the area around you, 100 explorations will on average require a distance of 3.8 tiles.
However, even without facing neighbors, the second planet will on average already require a longer average exploration distance. Assuming that you find a planet with your 100th exploration and then again with your 200th exploration mission with Explorer I, the second planet will on average require on average almost 5 tiles of distance. bringing in competing nieghbors etc, things are not getting any better.
At a 5 tile difference, Explorer 2 is about as effective as an explorer 1, so if you are lucky and you have spawned at the edge of the ring with no neighbors in one direction, you might argue that it is cheaper and equally effective to spend your money on Explorer 1 ships instead of Explorer 2. However, there is one more argument you should take into consideration - the loss ratio.
While the loss ratio is 5% for each exploration for both ships, you will need fewer explorations at the sweet spot of Explorer II than for Explorer I. At 60 tiles distance Explorer II has a likelihood to find a planet of 2.0% versus 1.0% for the Explorer I - so you will need on average double as many ships to find a planet when using Explorer I.
More important than the actual costs are however inmost cases the opportunity costs. At distances above 5 tiles you will on average find a new planet much quicker with the Explorer II - the extra time of production from the new planet will in most cases make up the higher resources very quickly.
What Depot levels does it need to be able to store enough resources to build explorer 2?
In order to be able to produce and store enough resources to produce Explorer II, you need all depots at level 13, except for the Uranium depot which requires level 16. I would argue that a player who has successfully managed to increase the Explorer skill to level 20 and Shipyard skill to level 14 should not have any problems to reach level 13 for their depots. Level 16 for uranium is a little bit more difficult, but should be also withing range.
If you start exploring, Explorer I will be just fine for the players. It is cheaper and more effective at low distances. However, once exploration distances go beyond 5 tiles, Explorer II is more effective to use assuming that mission control limits your number of explorations you can do. You should ideally go for an exploration distance of 45 to 75 tiles in distance, as this is the distance with the highest effectiveness of the ship. Shoot for an area which is free of any neighbors and use the new planet once found to start again the short range with Explorer 1 ships.
Hope that helps, good luck with your missions ( I know, luck plays an important role) and I am more than happy for any feedback!
All the best,