Sigh. It’s really hard to discuss things with people who don’t actually attempt to understand the other side, or read carefully.
I pretty clearly and repeatedly mention 15 minutes of active time, and said several times you should be finding something else to work in during the hands off cooking time. Nobody said the hardened Becks are done in 15 minutes. It’s 15 minutes of work, not 15 minutes start to finish.
To clarify, I play on official pvp 3800, feel free to stop by my bases.
You keep talking about diminishing returns, but I don’t buy it. The best I can tell is that you spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to cram every last drop out of each furnace, so not using the full furnace is wasteful. I’d say the whole root of your problem might be that, which is why you keep talking about dividing the stone up and loading the smelters as though that’s an actual task. It’s a negligible task if you’re just sticking the same stacks in that matches evenly with what you returned with.
The only way there’s diminishing returns is if this loading process takes a long time, which seems to be the case for you. If loading is quick and simple then the active time constraint is the harvesting of the stone. Harvesting twice as much stone takes twice as much time, that’s not diminishing. I like doing batches of 2000 because it satisfies my OCD, and my local area has about 20k stone worth of boulders. Want more? Build more furnaces and make more trips, though I would say there are actually diminishing returns if you’re extending your travel time for boulders. Likewise if you’re in such a rush, build double furnaces and put half as much stone in each, it’ll finish twice as fast.
The only other thing I can suggest, beside streamlining your loading process, is to add making batches as a general part of your play routine regardless of what you’re building. You seem panicked to finish your bricks now, but I don’t experience that kind of rush. When I log on I start a batch of stone, which takes about 15 minutes. Then I go about my business, getting thralls, prepping steel, whatever. When I notice that my furnaces have turned off I do another 15 minutes to get them going again. I do this regularly, so I constantly have a stash of 5k-20k hardened bricks in storage, depending on how recently I built something. The biggest problem is the storage, which I mentioned earlier.
In the end the burn time is completely irrelevant to my process. I get 2000 bricks for ever ~15 minutes I spend actually working on bricks.
Other aspects of hardened brick that are a problem for others but don’t apply to my situation:
-Official PvE servers double the harvesting time for stone, which is the main active time sink. That’s rough. I don’t think I’d build bricks in a PvE server.
-Large clans build bigger bases and go through more resources. That results in strip mining areas and still not having enough stone, requiring stone factories in multiple areas. I play solo, so the 20-25k stone bear my base is plenty.