Surviving Mars: Exterior Buildings: Outside Ranch

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Outside Ranch[edit]

That covers all 4 indoor ranch breeds.

The outside Ranch takes 9 workers instead of 6, but it does not occupy space in the dome, so that space can be used to... maybe build an apartment that can house 24 more people, and 9 of them can work in the outside ranch and still have 13 left over. Or build just a Living Complex that cost almost nothing to build and can house those 9 workers and still have 4 over. This will allow you to delay building a new dome. Consider that those 9 will have access to the recreational facilities that should already be present in the dome, and also provide 4 additional workers for them.

The Outside Ranch costs 20 Cement, 10 polymer, 3 Machine Parts and 10 electricity. If your dome starts to feel crowded, consider building this and salvaging the indoor ranch, gaining back 5 Cement, 2,5 Metal and 0,5 Machine Parts. The 5 Cements will pay most of the 6 cement required for the Living Complex replacing the indoor Ranch, and the 2,5 Metal and 0,5 Machine part can pay for the 5 extra electricity required to power the outdoor ranch.

This mechanism of not taking space in a dome allows for domes that are a lot more populous, so compensate for this, the effectiveness of the outdoor ranch is lowered compared to the indoor variant. However, this does not manifest as lower yields, but rather, in a higher water requirement. This counteracts the higher population it allows in each dome by reducing the number of domes available for the same amount of water.

Having the workplace outside the dome brings the obvious drawbacks of risking being hit by a meteor destroying the entire building and everything in it, including workers (not confirmed). It's a really small chance that happens though.

Working outside will drain sanity, so a hard workload will drain 20 sanity a sol. Luckily, there is no need for any of the 9 to have a night shift.

Outdoor ranches pisses of all vegans that could work in it, so that means any dome in a large radius.


The pig also shares 5 sols growth time with the turkey. Requiring 50% more workforce, it also produces higher yield, 100 instead of 60, 10 more food than 60*1,5=90.

However, there is a cost to get that extra 10 food: 372 water and a lot of more oxygen. (4-0,9)*24*5=372. This gives an exchange rate of 0,03 food per water. That is enough water to sustain 3 Barrel Domes. What you really are paying for with all that water isn't 10 food, it's the ability to grow the food outside the dome.


The goat takes 6 sols instead of 5, so 20% longer growth time on top of the 50% larger workforce. For that you get... 50% more food. Also, you lose 72 water. This is the least amount of water you are going to lose compared to Turkeys.

On the 6th day, 6 workers on indoor Turkey would have a base production of 60*(6/5)=72 food. That would consume 130 water. 9 standard workers on Goat would produce 90 base food at the cost of 216 water. So 135-72= 27 more base food at the cost of 216-130= 86 more water.

For this amount of water, you could have had a Micro Dome instead.

However, the indoor ranch requires only 6 workers while the outside requires 9 workers. Scaling those down the performance of those 9 workers to 6 workers would result in 90/(6/9)=60 base food. So in this hypothetical comparison, the people working on Goat would produce 72-60= 12 less food for the above mentioned 86 extra water.

Using the exchange rate of 0,63 from above, we can conclude that the 86 extra water spent on growing Goat is worth 86*0,63=54 food. Adding this 54 food to the scaled down comparison, we get 60 food from goat vs 72+54=126 food. Lets lower that a bit since the water won't magically transform itself to food without workforce, so 72+27=99.

So you are exchanging 1/3 of the yield compared to Turkey (60/99) partly in 17% decrease food yield (60/72) and partly in doubled water expenditures. What you get for that loss is not needing to use 10 hexes in the dome, and the opportunity to employ 50% more workers (9 instead of 6) without requiring increased dome space to bring back the theoretical yield to the Turkey level.

If you have 3 extra people that you don't know what to do with, then moving the ranch outside and freeing up some space in the dome is a net win. If you are struggling to fill your factories, you are better of with the indoor ranch. Make sure there are no vegans in a large radius or they will all get pissed off.

Having a competent workforce, you can easily get 135 food per 6 sols from goat, and that can sustain 112,5 colonists. That's 4,7 apartments. If it's a Barrel Dome, you still have 3 large and 2 medium hexes. If they are working on doing polymers, metals and rare metals outside, then the remaining 36 hexes are enough to keep the 112 people content.


The Ostrich takes 8 sols instead of 5, so you need to have food reserves that will last you those 3 sols if you are going for Ostrich. Scaled down to 5 sols, the Ostrich would produce 93,75 food, so less than the pig (100) and more than the Goat (75).

Compared to our baseline, the indoor Turkey, it yields almost the same amount of food, but takes more water. You get 3,75 more food per 5 sols at the cost of 132 water. And 3 extra workers. Note that those 3 extra workers will eat most of the 3,75 extra food.

Again, that's the cost of working outdoors, not occupying space in the dome.


The cow has several unique characteristics. First, it's base yield is 300. In all other cases, the base yield is easily increased by 50%, 100% or even up to 200% more. But doing that with a Cow as breed would result in a yield of 900... when the max size of the Outdoor Ranch container is 300. This means that you can only have lazy people and alcoholics with no moral boost working here if you are going to fill all 9 slots and put heavy workload on without wasting your harvest.

This means that if you have a competent workforce that can work at 200% rate, resulting in 600 food harvest, you need to do that with TWO outside Ranches, each having only 4 or 5 workers out of the 9 potential. This doubles the the building costs but even more impactful, it doubles the water cost of the cows.

How much is the water cost? 3 per hour, almost triple the 0,9 of the indoor ranch Turkey.

Another characteristic of the cow is that it has the highest efficiency of all the breeds for both indoor and outdoor ranches. If scaled to the 5 sols of the Turkey, it would produce 125 food, instead of the expected 90 for requiring 50% more workers. That's an efficiency increase of 50%

Another way of solving 300 limit is having fewer people working to not get over the 300 yield limit. Thus, having only 1 outdoor ranch with 4 people working on it. This way, the cow can be seen as way to produce more with fewer workers. Having 4 competent workers (150% performance) on Turkey would produce 60 food in 5 sols. Scaled to 5 sols, using Cow as the breed, those same 4 people would produce 83 food. ((4 workers * 1,5 performance= 6)/ 9 total possible workers) = 2/3 building efficiency)*300=200 yield after 12 sols, = 83,3 scaled to 5 sols. What does it cost to get 83,3 food instead of 60 for 5 sols? 252 water. So 23,3 more food at the cost of 252 water. Keep in mind that it's still outside, so it takes less space in the dome. Thing is, the water requirement does not reduce just because you are using fewer workers. So we need to scale it up to get 300 food. To do that we, need 6 workers at 150% performance instead of 4.

That would increase the Turkey yield to 90 and the Cow yield to 125. So 135 more food at the cost 252 water. The rabbit exchanged 22,5 food for 36 water. Those 36 rabbit waters scaled to cow size (135/22,5=6) * 36 = would be 216 and that is actually comparable to the 252 cost of the cow. Chicken has the same ratio (55 less food for more 72 water). So the increased productivity of the cow compensates for the inherit inefficiency of the Outdoor ranch, as long as you make sure to not get over the 300 limit.

This disability to put 9 skilled workers on cow in effect lowers it's base harvest per sol from 25 to 2/3 of that if your workers are performing at 150%, and even halves it if you they are at 200% performance. Keep in mind the extraordinary circumstance that results in the water used per workers increases the fewer workers you put on cow.

So having workers at 200% performance results in using only 4 out of the 9 spaces in order to not get over the max. This would result in ((4 workers * 2 performance= 8)/ 9 total possible workers) = 8/9 building efficiency)*300=267 yield after 12 sols, = 111,1 scaled to 5 sols. Still at a cost of 252 more water compared to Turkey. Turkey would require 252 less water and provide a yield of (4*2=8)/6=1,33% building efficiency * 60 base = 80 food, instead of the 111,1 of the cow. So those same 4 workers going for cow instead of Turkey would produce 31 more food at the cost of 252 water.

Oh, the cow takes a ludicrous amounts of oxygen, 108 per sol. So unless you got 1 filled oxygen tank per sol that ta dust storm lats, and then one extra on top, you can expect all cows to die. If you get an incoming dust storm warning and you realize you don't have 7 filled oxygen tanks, and they won't be done in a few days, you might as well just cut your loses and change breed on the spot to goats. They require 48 oxygen per day. You don't have 3 filled oxygen tanks for them either? Just close the Outdoor farm and consider other venues for getting food.

I haven't experimented with rationing oxygen to the Outdoor ranch, if you have, leave a comment.

The value of water[edit]

A bacteria culture will exponentially grow until the colony hits the walls of the petri dish. This is analogous to how everything else grows exponentially until it hits its limit to growth. At that point, the colony will organically stop increasing further in size and stabilize. It wont collapse into civil war with itself, ruining the colony.

In the same way, as long as you have enough water, you can spam domes and build as many farms as you please and have infinite amount of fuel and polymers. At state, all concepts of water efficiency will seem abstract and ultimately wasteful of mental energy and meaningless.

But once you hit the hard limit set by water, you have to increase the efficiency of water usage to further increase in size.

This follows the real life trend of doomsday predictions of famine by the year... well, almost every year we have passed. But once we have reached those limits, we employed human ingenuity to further increase our efficiency to further increase our limits.