This page answers the question, "what's the price-to-weight ratio of Schematics components, if I'm collecting them solely for the purpose of selling the final product?" In other words, what's the price of the final product versus the weight of the components.
If you want to use a schematic weapon, that's another thing. This is purely an economics page.
In this page, the term explosives means the mine and grenade, and armaments means the other five weapons. There are important differences between the two classes, from a price-to-weight perspective. Also, price-to-weight ratio will be abbreviated as PWR.
- Schem. Caps is the base caps cost for buying the schematics for the weapon from a vendor (or selling it to them)
- Comp. Caps and Wgt. (abbreviated CC and CW) are the total caps and weight for one set of all four Components for each schematic; CC / CW is the PWR for the set
- Final Caps and Wgt. (abbreviated FC and FW) is the caps and weight for the final schematic product; FC / FW is the PWR for one schematic-based weapon
CC/CW is the price-to-weight ratio (PWR) for a set of four components (if you sold them straight up), and FC/FW is the PWR for one schematic product. But the real column of interest here is the last one, FC/CW - final caps divided by components' weight. In other words, how much money do you ultimately get for lugging around the four components needed to make each weapon.
The table has been sorted with explosives before armaments, and then by decreasing values in the last column.
The "straight numbers" are much trickier than they look. Each of these inter-related points has important implications:
- For explosives, having more schematics causes you to make more explosives, but for armaments, they only increase the repair level (see Schematics).
- Explosives are always at 100% repair.
- Components are always at 100% repair - but armaments are not. (Ultimately, you might be able to make armaments at over 100% repair, but for the all-important early game, armament products will be at much less than 100% repair.)
- The cost of the Schematics is a big factor - if you are 1) buying the schematics (as opposed to finding or being awarded it), and 2) you're buying them solely for economic purposes (you won't actually use the weapon much, if any). If you would buy the weapon's schematic regardless because you like to use the weapon, then paying for its schematic is not a factor.
Note that your barter skill doesn't really matter, for practical purposes. If it's real bad, it's real bad for components, schematics (if purchased), and final product. Vice-versa if it's real good. Yes, it does make a difference in the absolute number of caps you get - but it doesn't make any difference to PWR at any given point in time, due to its effect on both the components and the product.
The one wrinkle to this is that the Bottlecap Mine uses 10 caps, which is independent of your barter skill. (If your barter skill is a crappy 50%, you could think of each mine as actually needing 20 caps.) Since mines are such a good deal, however, this wrinkle will be ignored in this discussion.
- It's worth noting that the distribution quantities given below are based on the items scattered in the wasteland that are not in containers. For example, the paint gun has about an 11% chance of being found in a tool box, and there are 362 such tool boxes. This leads to an extra 40 or so paint guns being available, just from them.
- Almost all components can also be found on vendors - while buying them from a vendor is counter-intuitive, it could turn otherwise low-value components into bottlecaps.
Explosives versus Armaments
The fact that explosives are at full repair can make their final PWR worth six times as much early in the game versus armaments. (Your character might start with a Repair skill of 17%; 1/.17 = 5.88.) Soon enough it will probably be around 50%, and eventually get very high - but by then, you'll be swimming in cash, anyway.
Take-home message: Explosives - i.e., their components - are worth far more than armaments, in the early game.
And if you can get multiple schematics, you double or triple your income. Due to the fact that the mine has a much better PWR than the grenade (25 vs. 10), and its schematics tend to be less involved to obtain (especially given the Nuka-Cola Challenge), you may want to focus on obtaining its schematics for early cash. Also known as, if you've done the Challenge, you are probably pretty good for caps by then, anyway.
As for components, the Mine has very even distribution rates (from 113 Cherry Bombs to 123 Sensor Modules on the map), so hang onto them all. The Grenade is rate-limited by the Nuka-Cola Quantum (93 on the map); everything else is plentiful, from the 373 Turpentines to 431 Abraxo Cleaners (both PWR 5) to the omnipresent Tin Cans (3,632). Consider keeping a handful of the common Nuka-Grenade components on hand, and then sell or ignore the rest as common loot; you'll always be able to find more of the common components, past however many Quantums you've found.
PWR of Armaments
Railway Rifle: The Fission Battery has a PWR of 7.5 and is always at 100% repair, while the Rifle only has a PWR of 7.4 at 100% repair. (Remember, you might only get half or even a sixth the value for the product, with early, low repair skills.) So, the Battery is better for caps than the Railway Rifle will ever be, until you get over 100% repair when making Railway Rifles (including multiple schematics)... but by then you probably have so much cash it doesn't matter. So, rejoice! Forget about all those Crutches, Pressure Cookers, and Steam Gauge Assemblies! (They're all PWR 3 or less.) And maybe even forget about Fission Batteries, depending on your personal PWR loot cutoff.
That's without amortizing the cost of Tulip's schematics. Ultimately, the Railway Rifle is probably quite a losing proposition, except perhaps for the most extremely frugal players in the game. You'll need excellent repair rates and tons of Rifles produced, and all that long after you picked up all the parts (while waiting to get your repair high and multiple schematics). It could be an end-game personal achievement, if you want. Even then, it's not clear that enough can be made, to make it profitable.
FYI, the least-frequent component is the Pressure Cooker (106 on the map).
Rock-It Launcher: The PWR for the Rock-It Launcher is a little more problematic. You need to be at an effective repair rate of 35% before it breaks even with the loss caused by repair (the 3.9 PWR of components divided by the 11.1 PWR of the final product by component weight). That's without amortizing the cost of the schematics; it's fairly easy to buy two of them (from Crazy Wolfgang and Moira, base value 500). It will probably take a LOT of Launchers to truly break even... at which point, again, you're probably swimming in cash. So maybe you'll take a pass on the Launcher altogether, as well. In which case, just evaluate components on a regular loot basis (Leaf Blower PWR 7.5, Conductor 6.0, Firehose Nozzle 5.0 - and thank heaven you can forget all the Vacuum Cleaners at PWR 2.0). FYI, Leaf Blowers are the least-frequent component on the map, at 88. Conductors are most frequent, at 147.
Shishkebab: The Shishkebab is starting to be much more reasonable, especially if you are any kind of melee player... it's arguably the best Melee Weapon in the game, so you may be buying the schematics anyway (which removes this cost from a purely PWR economic study). See if you can get multiple schematics soon, and keep in mind that the Motorcycle Gas Tank is the rarest component (93 on the map vs. 105 for the Brake, 116 for the Lawnmower Blade, and 174 for the Pilot Light). If you take a pass on it, the Brake (PWR 15) and Pilot Light (14) are much better loot than the Gas Tank and Blade (both 5).
Deathclaw Gauntlet: The Deathclaw Gauntlet looks good on paper (PWR 30), but its schematics are problematic (esp. multiples), and, of course, Deathclaws themselves are problematic. Perhaps just hold onto enough components to match the number of Deathclaw Hands you have, until you get schematics. Otherwise, Leather Belts and Medical Braces are ho-hum loot (both PWR 5), Wonderglue is 10, and the Deathclaw Hand 25. The least-frequent component (past the Hand) is the Belt, with 101 on the map.
- The Bottlecap Mine is clearly the best, early in the game. Nuka Grenades also theoretically have a nice early PWR because they're at 100% repair, but they're much more problematic for early cash, especially if you do the Nuka-Cola Challenge.
- The five Schematic-based armaments are more complicated economically, and will depend on how you like to play. Reasonable arguments can be made that:
- Only the Dart Gun is an absolutely clear choice.
- The Shishkebab is also pretty clear, unless you have something against Melee.
- The Deathclaw Gauntlet is somewhat problematic.
- The Rock-It Launcher is not worth it til mid-game (if you want to bother at all).
- The Railway Rifle is mostly (always?) a losing proposition. Barring masochistic personal achievements.
There will always be those among us who want to hang onto anything worthwhile. If you are one of those, hang onto all the components for problem weapons until your repair rate is maxed, and you have all the schematics you care to get. Then make all the weapons you can. At that point, you'll be bathing in caps, and bothering lots of traders... but you'll know you maximized your caps!