Ship Balance Discussion Thread

General discussion for the game Anacreon
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Ship Balance Discussion Thread

Post by --Imperator-- » Sat Mar 04, 2017 8:35 am

Ship Balance Discussion Thread

Evidently ship balance is a difficult topic, so here's a topic to discuss what changes should be made to ships' stats.

A few ideas:

Each ship type should have its unique strengths and weaknesses, with some types being able to counter others.

We have 5 major types, listed here in increasing order of "heaviness":

1. Jumpships
2. Jumpcruisers
3. Gunships
4. Starfrigates
5. Starcruisers

The general idea:

Jumpships
Strengths: high speed, missile immunity
Weaknesses: light armor, low cannon damage, short range
Use against: jumpcruisers, starcruisers (hard counter)
Vulnerable to: gunships, starfrigates, planetary defenses


Jumpcruisers
Strengths: jack of all trades: medium armor, speed, range, damage
Weaknesses: master of none, other classes are better specialised
Use against: gunships
Vulnerable to: jumpships, starfrigates


Gunships
Strengths: high armor, longer range than jumpships
Weaknesses: slow speed, medium damage (higher than jumpships)
Use against: jumpships
Vulnerable to: jumpcruisers, starfrigates, starcruisers, planetary defenses


Starfrigates
Strengths: very powerful long range cannons, high armor, some missile defense
Weaknesses: very slow speed
Use against: jumpships, jumpcruisers
Vulnerable to: starcruisers


Starcruisers
Strengths: very powerful long range missiles, very high armor (strongest in-game)
Weaknesses: very slow speed, no missile defense
Use against: starfrigates
Vulnerable to: jumpships


I didn't mention Explorers, but I think they're called EXPLORERS for a reason: players shouldn't use them as a military unit (or as cannon fodder) but rather for reconnaissance. This could perhaps be achieved by lowering their range, damage and armor (to the point where a high tech explorer will lose against a low tech jumpship)

Now, every ship type has a niche role and this will hopefully encourage mixed fleet composition and different tactics apart from the well-known Eldritch/Gorgos/Helion spam.

How exactly to achieve this:

1. Increase the range of gunships to +5 beyond jumpships of the same tech level. This will allow gunships to first-shot jumpships without taking hits, and their naturally higher damage complements this.
2. Decrease starfrigate damage by a resonable amount, so that they take significantly longer to penetrate starcruiser armor, but can still one-shot jumpships, gunships and jumpcruisers.
3. Increase starcruiser range to be +10 higher than a starfrigate of the same level. In face they should have the highest range in the game.
3. Increase starcruiser missile damage OR decrease starfrigate armor enough so that one hit from a starcruiser missile will destroy a starfrigate.
4. Decrease starfrigate missile defense to +1 for both Defiance and Gorgos. Now there's a much higher chance for starcruiser missiles to actually get through.
5. The Hammerhead-class should perhaps have a cannon attack instead of missiles to be consistent with other gunships?

Counters:

1. Jumpships are a hard counter to jumpcruisers and starcruisers as they're immune to missiles.
2. Gunships counter jumpships, which provides incentive to deploy them to support starcruiser/jumpcruiser fleets. They get eaten up by anything else though.
3. Starcruisers now have an actual use: they are the only unit to counter starfrigates with high damage, long range missiles.
4. Starcruisers can be used as siege weapons to destroy planetary defenses (which should have also been buffed, see the other post), with the longest range of all units (~35ls?). BUT they move extremely slowly and if a player wants to capture a world quickly they would use other units.
5. Jumpcruisers are general purpose combat units, can be used for pretty much anything, except against jumpships. Good against gunships with no missile defense.
6. Planetary defenses are now no longer defenseLESS against jumpships. Given lower resource costs, higher range, damage and armor, static defense can eliminate jumpship fleets unless outnumbered by more than 5:1. Players will use jumpcruisers (taking some casualties, but less than jumpships) or starcruisers (taking no casualties) to clear a world of defenses before sending in transports.

Of course, all this would work only if priority targeting is also fixed. So ships should attempt to (somewhat intelligently) neutralise the biggest threats to them first. For example, a player attacks a Gorgos fleet with Helions, while an Eldritch fleet arrives in the next minute. The Gorgos must destroy the Helions first before they can attack the Eldritch, which isn't optimal at all considering Helion weapons can barely scratch Gorgos armor while the Eldritch are a serious threat and will decimate the Gorgos fleet in a few rounds while taking no casualties at all...

High tech vs. low tech:

Low tech versions of ships should have drastically reduced production costs, to allow low tech players to amass much larger forces in lieu of technological superiority (think Zerg vs Protoss, any Starcraft players here?) Not too sure about the numbers, but I feel a 10:1 advantage of low vs. high tech ships would be fair? Right now it's actually MORE efficient to build high tech ships in greater numbers, because of the production bonus at higher tech levels.

Whew. That was long. Feedback/comments much appreciated! When we reach a consensus I'll update the spreadsheet with the final values for all the units.

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Re: Ship Balance Discussion Thread

Post by starxplor » Sat Mar 04, 2017 9:07 am

With 5 ship types, it is easy to do a 2vs2vs1 setup. Each ship type is great against one and good against another, as well as horrible against a 3rd and bad against a 4th, with its self being the '1'. I am not sure which should be which, but this kind of balance means you only need to choose three types to focus production on to get full coverage, and two types would give good but not full coverage.

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Re: Ship Balance Discussion Thread

Post by --Imperator-- » Sat Mar 04, 2017 11:07 am

Yep, that could work:
anacreon.jpg
anacreon.jpg (31.95 KiB) Viewed 254 times
much inspiration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iapcKVn7DdY

The large purple lines on the outside indicate a hard counter, the smaller black lines a soft counter.

Starting from the top working clockwise:

Starfrigates >>> Jumpcruisers: obviously, range advantage coupled with missile defense of SF annihilates JC
Jumpcruisers >>> Gunships: GS has no missile defense and should be eaten up by JC's longer range missiles
Gunships >>> Jumpships: GS has better range, damage and armor than JS of same TL, even when outnumbered
Jumpships >>> Starcruisers: missile immunity means JS can whittle down SC fleet bit by bit without taking any casualties
Starcruisers >>> Starfrigates: this is tricky... maybe SF point defense can't counter every single missile from an SC, and SC can one-shot SF

The soft counters:

SF >> JS: range advantage, but can't kill quickly enough before JS can retaliate
JS >> JC: missile immunity, but low damage kills them very slowly
JC >> SC: this one I don't have a clue about... maybe because one can mass JC in much larger numbers?
SC >> GS: because there's no point defense on GS, but SC are expensive so larger GS fleet may overwhelm them
GS >> SF: again tricky... but GS can be massed in larger numbers

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Re: Ship Balance Discussion Thread

Post by Watch TV, Do Nothing » Sat Mar 04, 2017 4:53 pm

I think this has the makings of a good system. Reducing starfrigate damage while retaining range is a good compromise (Mantas need longer range). I hadn't considered making starcruisers a counter to starfrigates but although it would violate missile protection it does makes sense. GS as a weak counter to SF makes more sense than you might think, the key is their high delta-vee which should allow them to get in firing position sooner. In the current game they will chew up starfrigates quite fast if the starfrigates are distracted shooting at explorers.

Numeric ratios of low-tech to high-tech ships should not be too outrageous unless missile protection is correspondingly better for protected high-tech ships, or overwhelming numbers of cheap low-tech jumpcruisers with high-damage missiles could become super dominant.

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Re: Ship Balance Discussion Thread

Post by george moromisato » Sat Mar 04, 2017 8:09 pm

This all makes a lot of sense to me.

I might be able to implement this relatively quickly so we can see how it works in practice. Then we can refine accordingly.

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Re: Ship Balance Discussion Thread

Post by --Imperator-- » Sat Mar 04, 2017 11:59 pm

Sounds good :)

It would be something like this...

Range: Starcruiser >> Starfrigate > Jumpcruiser > Gunship > Jumpship
Damage: Starcruiser >> Jumpcruiser >> Starfrigate > Gunship > Jumpship
Armor: Starcruiser >>> Starfrigate >> Gunship > Jumpcruiser > Jumpship

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Re: Ship Balance Discussion Thread

Post by starxplor » Mon Mar 06, 2017 10:38 am

--Imperator-- wrote:
Sat Mar 04, 2017 11:59 pm
Sounds good :)

It would be something like this...

Range: Starcruiser >> Starfrigate > Jumpcruiser > Gunship > Jumpship
Damage: Starcruiser >> Jumpcruiser >> Starfrigate > Gunship > Jumpship
Armor: Starcruiser >>> Starfrigate >> Gunship > Jumpcruiser > Jumpship
Having one ship type better in every category seems to defeat the idea of every type being better than some but worst than other ship types?

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Re: Ship Balance Discussion Thread

Post by --Imperator-- » Mon Mar 06, 2017 1:17 pm

Starcruisers have missiles (which are terrible as they can be shot down by even lowly jumpships) and would benefit from having all their other stats buffed considering their high cost of production. They should be powerful enough to consistently outperform starfrigates in some way.

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Re: Ship Balance Discussion Thread

Post by Watch TV, Do Nothing » Mon Mar 06, 2017 2:53 pm

starxplor wrote:
Mon Mar 06, 2017 10:38 am
--Imperator-- wrote:
Sat Mar 04, 2017 11:59 pm
Sounds good :)

It would be something like this...

Range: Starcruiser >> Starfrigate > Jumpcruiser > Gunship > Jumpship
Damage: Starcruiser >> Jumpcruiser >> Starfrigate > Gunship > Jumpship
Armor: Starcruiser >>> Starfrigate >> Gunship > Jumpcruiser > Jumpship
Having one ship type better in every category seems to defeat the idea of every type being better than some but worst than other ship types?
Remember that these categories alone don't define ship performance and apply only to individual units. There are also labor and mineral cost, damage type, missile protection. speed, attrition and delta-vee. The combination of all factors make a ship class better than some and worse than others for a given task.

Take the example of a wing of jumpships that has the same labor/mineral cost as a wing of starcruisers. Right now, 100 Victory-class starcruisers cost about the same as 1800 Eldritch jumpships. The wing of Eldritches will beat the wing of Victories every single time even though they individually have worse range, damage and armor. This is because the Eldritches have a combination of low cost and missile protection that renders them untouchable to starcruiser missiles.

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Re: Ship Balance Discussion Thread

Post by --Imperator-- » Tue Mar 07, 2017 12:18 am

Watch TV, Do Nothing wrote:
Mon Mar 06, 2017 2:53 pm
starxplor wrote:
Mon Mar 06, 2017 10:38 am
--Imperator-- wrote:
Sat Mar 04, 2017 11:59 pm
Sounds good :)

It would be something like this...

Range: Starcruiser >> Starfrigate > Jumpcruiser > Gunship > Jumpship
Damage: Starcruiser >> Jumpcruiser >> Starfrigate > Gunship > Jumpship
Armor: Starcruiser >>> Starfrigate >> Gunship > Jumpcruiser > Jumpship
Having one ship type better in every category seems to defeat the idea of every type being better than some but worst than other ship types?
Remember that these categories alone don't define ship performance and apply only to individual units. There are also labor and mineral cost, damage type, missile protection. speed, attrition and delta-vee. The combination of all factors make a ship class better than some and worse than others for a given task.

Take the example of a wing of jumpships that has the same labor/mineral cost as a wing of starcruisers. Right now, 100 Victory-class starcruisers cost about the same as 1800 Eldritch jumpships. The wing of Eldritches will beat the wing of Victories every single time even though they individually have worse range, damage and armor. This is because the Eldritches have a combination of low cost and missile protection that renders them untouchable to starcruiser missiles.
In addition, then:

Attrition rate: Starcruiser == Starfrigate << Jumpcruiser < Gunship == Jumpship
Labor & resource cost: Jumpship << Gunship < Jumpcruiser <<< Starfrigate < Starcruiser
Speed (in transit): Jumpship == Jumpcruiser >> Gunship >>> Starfrigate == Starcruiser
ΔV or acceleration: Gunship >> Jumpship >> Jumpcruiser > Starfrigate == Starcruiser

Uses missiles: Starcruiser, Jumpcruiser
Uses cannons: Gunship, Jumpship, Starfrigate

Has missile defense: Jumpship, Starfrigate

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Re: Ship Balance Discussion Thread

Post by --Imperator-- » Wed Mar 08, 2017 9:34 am

Ok I've updated the spreadsheet to be more concise and with the final proposed values for unit stats. These are consistent with the suggestions in this thread. Hopefully this makes it easy for George to copy paste into the game code. I've TRIED very hard to make it as systematic mathematically as possible, so the progression between levels makes sense and closely follows the rubric of which ship type beats which...

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/ ... =193009815

Some notes:

1. Ramjets have +50% damage and armor (built with more expensive, high quality materials?) but -5 range (weaker nebular sensors?) compared to clearspace ships. Similar to vanilla.

2. High tech ships have +5 range advantage against low tech (except for noncombatant explorers and transports), combined with +100% damage and armor values (this is very close to vanilla). To make low tech viable we decrease the cost by 200% to compensate, I think. Unfortunately I didn't have time to fill out the cost column as well so maybe someone can help me out?

3. Explorers and transports have negligible stats as they're non combatants.

4. Missile defense of all ships which had them previously have been decreased by 1-2 points.

5. Starfrigate armor and damage decreased while maintaining range. -5 to Gorgos range. Starcruisers of equivalent level now outrange all starfrigates.

6. Starcruisers outrange all planetary defenses of equivalent level. Starcruiser armor is now n*50 where n is starfrigate damage. So it will take 50 shots from a starfrigate to destroy a starcruiser, and impossibly long for anything else.

7. Planetary defenses' armor increase by 2^n, and damage scales in multiples of 4. At higher tech levels they outrange all ships except for starcruisers. They should now be a worthwhile 15% industry investment, being able to inflict significant casualties on an advancing fleet, which should reinforce George's vision of defense being easier than offense. This also makes starcruisers an effective siege unit and starfrigate killer.

8. Starcruiser missiles one-shot starfrigates (if they get through). Starfrigate missile defense has been reduced and coupled with low wing size this is likely to happen.

9. The Hammerhead gunship should have a cannon instead of missile attack to be consistent with other gunships.

Question: is a ship with armor value n considered destroyed when it receives damage of exactly n or n+1? For my calculations I assumed n.

We haven't had the chance to test these yet so maybe George can switch these values in quickly and we can try out fleets of different compositions against each other. I've made an empire for this specific purpose.

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Re: Ship Balance Discussion Thread

Post by Watch TV, Do Nothing » Wed Mar 08, 2017 3:54 pm

In general I support trying out Imperator's proposed values. They don't give a ton of personality to ships - I admit that I am fond of the weirdness of the Hammerhead and Manta even though they are objectively terrible ships, because units with abilities that seem to be out-of-sequence encourage players to experiment with strategies- but these values are well thought out. Labor and resources costs merit a lot of consideration- not just crude costs, but how costs are divided between labor and resources. For example, low-tech ships might have their direct labor costs be a lower % of their total labor costs (when you factor in minerals and components), so that low-tech yards can still be highly productive and you don't have the issue of having to consolidate a gajillion small low-tech fleets. High-tech ships could have high component costs and direct labor costs. This is only one possible solution, though.

My few quibbles would be
  • giving 5 range to the Hammerhead might be crippling unless it is very inexpensive or opportunity fire is implemented. It would depend a little on how they interact with the new jumpships. Capital ramjets are much faster than capital starships, so ramjet gunships have to be pretty good at their job or they won't get much use.
  • Transports in general could stand to have a little bit more armor since I disagree with the assessment that they should be total noncombatants. This is especially true if we are going to have longer invasions (per this ticket) which could lead to situations where it's desirable that transports be able to fight their way through defenders to reinforce, even if it means taking major losses.
  • If GDMs are still single-use then they are a joke with these stats, maybe you are envisioning them as not being single-use (or really cheap)?
  • With longer firing ranges practically across the board, it is probably desirable for fleets to enter the battlefield at a higher altitude (they should probably remain fairly bunched up and not get spread out more, though.) If this is done, I'd suggest that satellites also be raised up by a little (maybe not a whole 5 ls) since their ranges are being increased.

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Re: Ship Balance Discussion Thread

Post by Watch TV, Do Nothing » Thu Mar 09, 2017 12:38 am

With the massive buff in armor that you are proposing for starcruisers, it would probably be a good idea to buff jumpmissile projectile damage. Right now they generate 16 projectiles doing 100 damage each. Maybe 16 projectiles doing 180 damage each?

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Re: Ship Balance Discussion Thread

Post by --Imperator-- » Thu Mar 09, 2017 12:47 am

16*180=2880 dmg per unit of jumpmissiles. So we require 3 jumpmissiles to destroy a Megathere of armor value 6400. Sounds good to me. The hardest part in all this is balancing the labor and resource costs...

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Re: Ship Balance Discussion Thread

Post by Watch TV, Do Nothing » Thu Mar 09, 2017 6:25 pm

Tested Adamant jumpcruisers at total cost parity against Minotaur gunships with no other units present. ~30400 Adamants jumped in and attacked ~22200 Minotaurs orbiting at 15Mm. Reported space forces were in the 6000-7000 range for Adamants and >30,000 for Minotaurs (I know space forces need to get recalculated).

Oddly the Adamants arrived below the Minotaurs, possibly because the world was the same sovereign as the Adamants. The Adamants all appeared to target the same cell in the same wing at the same time, while the Minotaurs attacked Adamant wings pretty evenly. Adamants closed to within <10Mm before starting to fire, before opening back up to ~15Mm. Minotaurs appeared to start firing as soon as they got within 15Mm. Minotaurs only took about 3000 casualties, while Adamants were annihilated.

Something is screwy with missile targeting and missile-equipped ships, and it hasn't been fixed by increasing missile-equipped ships' range. Jumpcruisers were intended to be a strong counter to gunship under the revised system and the Adamants had a numerical, armor and damage advantage but suffered a humiliating defeat which I ascribe to poor missile targeting and performance.

Final combat message was "imperial forces attacked by {other empire name}", although I initiated the attack.

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