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Rebalancing big ships
01-21-2015, 05:45 PM (This post was last modified: 01-22-2015 06:12 AM by VanderLegion.)
Post: #1
Rebalancing big ships
One thing that's never managed to get completely balanced in SO is the use of frigates vs bigger ships. The game has swung back and forth numerous times over which is better. In the beginning, nuke frigate fleets dominated everything. Later, you'd see massive clashes of titans and mammoths. Sometimes it's been better to skip frigates and go straight to destroyers. Others people have started out with cruisers and skipped the first two.

The latest swing has gone back in favor of massive frigate fleets, though at least it's not ALWAYS (albeit still frequently) nukes. I occasionally see destroyers, and even more rarely cruisers, but not all that often for either. The ONLY times I've seen battleships have been in games that went long when someone wanted to use IPC, and that has only happened in a few games, mostly I've just seen IPC on starbases. The shift probably really started when RCs lost their passive bonus, thus making the pure industry builds far less effective than they used to be (and making it far harder for said pure industry build to actually research titans/mammoths), and losing movement speed as you lose structure hurt as well. Bigger ships are already slower, then when you add in further reduced movement speed, it makes it harder to use IPC or plasma effectively. But what really killed the bigger ships was the rebalancing of ship/component costs. Basically, it just costs too much to build a big ship anymore when you can build a whole bunch of cruisers for the same production, especially with the blitz playstyle most players use these days.

There's a lot of things that could be done to help fix the situation.

Quote:1) Rebalance ship costs (or weapon effectiveness or something) again.
Right now, it costs more production to build a laser 3 on a battleship than it does on a frigate, which means on bigger ships you're spending more production for the same thing, not even accounting for the extra cost of the hull itself. A battleship hull costs 10x the amount of a frigate hull, then weapons (and systems) cost 50% more as well. Ignoring systems, a laser 3 frigate with WO2 costs 190 credits (normal speed game). A battleship costs 1054, so you can get ~5.5 frigates to 1 battleship. Call it 11 frigates for 2 battleships. The battleships have a total of 600 hull, 600 structure. The frigates have 550 of each. Battleships have 16 lasers between them, frigates have 33. The battleships have a slight hp bonus, and an additional bonus that it takes more to kill one, while every frigate that dies loses you 3 lasers, but the frigates have just over double the damage output at the start. Obiously systems will skew the costs/hp etc as well, but there's little reason to build the big ships when you can get more weapons and damage output with frigates, unless you're way overcapped on CP and can no longer afford the maintenance of building more frigates.

Frigates also get the advantage if you need PDS against nukes. More frigates = more system slots for pds (at least with some PO) compared to bigger ships.

And that's just looking at battleships. A fully kitted out mammoth can cost in excess of 6000 production. If you were at 500 production per turn (which only a very well set up planet for an industrialist is going to get to), that's still 12 turns to build 1 ship.

Most likely, rebalancing costs wouldn't be the only fix for big ships. If it were done, it would probably be along with one or more of the other fixes.

Quote:2) Change the way CP work. There's a couple ways this could be done.
Quote:a) Limit it so you can't go over your CP cap, or come up with some more painful downside to doing so
As it stands currently, you can go way over your CP cap with little to no consequences. You can easily be 10+ CP over your cap before the maintenance cost penalty starts to become noticable. If you were limited to only being able to build up to your cap, you'd run out a lot quicker and be forced to upgrade to larger ships in order to get a stronger fleet within the same CP limit. The downside of a hard cap is that it penalizes smaller empires (and/or ones without SB 2 and 3) more. As it stands currently, a smaller empire can still build a larger fleet past their cap to try to take on the fleet of a larger empire. With a hard cap, they'd have to hope to get enough bigger ships while the opponent kept building frigatesto be able to combat the CP difference.

Quote:b) Create, for lack of a better name, "support" CP.
So each larger ship you build (starting with cruisers or battleships maybe) gives you additional CP you can spend on smaller ships. I outlined the idea in a post a long while back, and don't feel like going back to find all the specifics I used there, but basically, when you build a larger ship, it lets you build x number of smaller ships as well. One way to implement it would be that when you build a larger ship, some of your smaller ships would no longer cost any CP. So say you have 10 CP as your cap and 10 frigates. You then build a Cruiser. The cruiser costs 2 CP, but "supports" 2 frigates, so you're still only using 10 CP instead of 12. You could also limit it so it only applies if the ships are in a fleet together (I know rocco, I'm just trying to make it harder on you!). So if you have 3 cruisers at your home system and 9 frigates flying around in space, it costs you 15 CP. If you have a fleet of 3 cruisers and 9 frigates together (or 3 fleets of a cruiser and 3 frigates or something), you'll only be using 9 CP.

My first thought for how it could work is that a ship would be able to support extra ships that are at least 2 classes lower than itself. So a destroyer wouldn't support any new ships. A cruiser would support 2 extra frigates, a battleship wuold support 2 extra destroyers (or some number of frigates maybe? Still 2? 3 or 4 instead? Dunno). A titan would support 2 extra cruisers, which would of course support 4 more frigates (2 each). A mammoth would get you 2 extra battleships, and 4 more destroyers (2 each again). The exact numbers would have to be playtested.

Another idea would be for it to be based on the CP cost of the ships in question. So maybe a ship can support it's own CP cost (or 1 less than it's CP cost) in smaller ships. Doing it that way, a destroyer or cruiser would be able to support 2 (or 1, depending which way you did it) frigates. A cruiser could support destroyer or 2 frigates (or 1 frigate). A battleship would support a cruiser or destroyer and a frigate, or 3 frigates (or a cruiser or destroyer, or 2 frigates), etc.

Some past posts related to this:
http://chimerasw.com/starbaseorion/forum...2#pid10212 Another idea in this one was limiting ship types based on a % of your CP. So A given ship type can't be more than x% of your max CP (until you hit the max at least, dunno how you would adjust when overmaxing), or limiting it based on current cp, but you're allowed to build a minimum of 1 of each ship type, still with a max % of the fleet can be composed of whatever size. So if 50% of your fleet cp can be small ships (frigate/destroyer maybe for small, cruiser/battleship medium, titan/mammoth large? Or maybe frigate small, destroyer/cruiser medium, battleship/titan/mammoth large, since otherwise you ca'nt build large ships unless you research), you have to build some bigger ships as well if you want to build up your fleet.
http://chimerasw.com/starbaseorion/forum...6#pid11146 In this case it was talking about limiting capital ships and encouring the use of more smaller ships, but it's the same idea.
http://chimerasw.com/starbaseorion/forum...4#pid11174

Quote:3) Limit frigates to only being able to use WO1 and PO1.

Part of the reason frigates are so good currently is that they can have 3 weapon slots and 4 system slots. If you remove their ability to use the second rank of WO and PO, it limites them to 2 and 3 respectively. That removes 33% of their firepower and 25% of their utility/survivability, which helps cut down on the power of swarming them.

Quote:4) Similar to #3, limit "tier 2" weapons to larger ships only.

In this case, I define tier 1 as laser, gauss and nuke, and tier 2 as plasma, IPC and proton. Currently, the only weapon with a size limit is IPC, which has to be equipped on a battleship or larger. if you limit the tier 2 weapons to larger ships only (and Diebo also suggested changing it to cruiser+ instead of battleship+ for IPC), it gives another reason to use larger ships. Right now, you can build a really scary fleet using 3proton3 fml frigates. Even with ECM that can still do a lot of damage. 3plasma3 frigates can be quite effective as well.

Quote:5) Scale damage based on ship type

Quite simply, the bigger the ship, the bigger the weapons it equips, so the more damage it does. If a laser 3 on a battleship does a bunch more damage than a laser 3 on a frigate, it makes it more worth spending the extra production to get the larger version.

Quote:6) Have weapons act differently depending on the target size

Similar to #5 and another one I've suggested in the past. Make it so you can equip weapons designed to kill small ships or weapons designed to kill big ships. If your opponent has a big fleet of frigates with frigate-killing weapons, build cruisers or battleships of your own with frigate-killing weapons. If your opponent builds ships designed to kill big ships, build little ones. It would give another dimension to the strategic side of the game, dedciding what kind of weapons to use. IIRC, what I suggested in the past was that ships designed to kill large ships would have some % chance to miss against small ships (not designed to track as quickly, etc), while ships designed to kill small ships would do less damage vs large ships (better armor/shields, etc).

Anyway, that's just a few of the thoughts I had (and a couple diebo suggested), thought I'd throw them out there to get some discussion going. Feel free to lob out other ideas you may have as well. Personally, I'm fond of 2b. It has the bonus effect of not only making bigger ships more desirable to include in your fleet, but also encouraging people to use MIXED fleets, which is something that's rarely been seen in the game. It usually ends up either being all frigates or else all the largest ship you can build in a reasonable amount of time.

Copule past posts related:
http://chimerasw.com/starbaseorion/forum...0#pid18020
http://chimerasw.com/starbaseorion/forum...4#pid11994

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01-21-2015, 10:21 PM
Post: #2
RE: Rebalancing big ships
1 - Not sure I entirely agree, as I'd think the 2 BS would have a shot at winning that battle due to Frig attrition. There's something to be said for smaller ships having an advantage too (ie what you discuss in 6).

2 - Love both a and b. B especially would incentivize mixed fleets which would add more intrigue.

3 - Not sure how I feel about this, as this and 5 might go too far in neutering frigs.

4 - Love this idea in theory, especially since more advanced empires should theoretically be building larger and more advanced ships. Would want it joined with 2b though.

5 - See 3

6 - Not sure how to do this effectively or simply, but interesting concept.


Not sure I have anything new to add idea wise, as you hit on the main points. Personally, WO2 Proton 3 frigs are still pretty dominate in my opinion, and then upgrade to cruisers once CP become an issue. Only problem is versus SBs, and then you just get some IPC big guys to take that out. But even with 3xECM, protons do so much damage that the frigs hit way above their weight class.

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01-22-2015, 01:59 AM
Post: #3
RE: Rebalancing big ships
(01-21-2015 10:21 PM)Shep Wrote:  6 - Not sure how to do this effectively or simply, but interesting concept.

As far as that goes, it could possibly be done as simply as using something similar to #4, only instead of limiting it so only bigger ships can use the tier 2 weapons, instead it would be that tier 1 weapons were designed to kill small ships, and tier 2 weapons were designed to kill big ships. Maybe make the cutoff that frigate-cruiser is considered small, battleship-mammoth is considered big.

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01-22-2015, 05:09 AM
Post: #4
RE: Rebalancing big ships
Great post topic, VL.

A lot of this has been discussed before. See:

http://chimerasw.com/starbaseorion/forum...+diversity

Posted over 2 years ago, Marcus Victor wrote "Under the proposed change, frigates completely dominate in terms of efficiency- you'd be a fool to build anything but frigates, until you max out your effective Command Points. Expect to see huge frigate swarm battles- first Laser frigate swarms, then perhaps Plasma and Ion frigate swarms. As Diebo suggested, Warlord becomes a must-have. Morph trades a big premium too, for the command points."

And two years later, this is true. MV predicted laser, followed by Plasma but nuke works well too.

In the same thread, drdpb wrote had some interesting ideas in this thread "…adding a chance to miss based on target speed and projectile speed. Faster ships could evade fire more easily, especially the slower projectiles. If laser beams travel at the speed of light then they would be immune to projectile speed effects, but there still could be a small target speed effect since the laser gun still has to be aimed. This would make lasers the best weapon to use against small fast ships. Plasma could be the slowest projectile making it the worst weapon to use against small fast ships but the ideal weapon to use against slow moving large ships. Missiles and Torpedoes could have similar projectile speed and target speed modifiers. Missiles high speed could make their turning rate so poor that they can't track a fast evading ship, torpedoes could travel slower with a better turning radius for hitting faster ships. This could open up the need for diverse fleets because a fleet of plasma battleships would not be able to defend itself against a fleet of much cheaper small fast ships. Battle orders could also become more complicated with a diverse fleet operating under these rules. Plasma battleships could be set to attack the heavy slow ships, laser destroyers could be set to attack the smaller ships the battleship could not hope to hit with their slow plasma weapons."

I had the following idea for CP changes in this thread:

http://chimerasw.com/starbaseorion/forum...+diversity

"I bet people would have a much different fleet composition if each ship of a specific type added 1 to the command point for each additional unit. So 1 mammoth = 3 points, 2 mammoth = (3+4=7) command points, 3 mammoth = (3+4+5) = 12 points, 4 mammoth = 18, 5 = 25, 6 = 33, 7 = 42, 8 = 52, 9 = 63, 10 = 75. That would encourage some real fleet diversity. Example: If you had 102 command points, would you rather 12 mammoth, or 5 mammoth (25 pts), 5 titans (25 pts), 5 battleships (20 pts) 5 cruisers (20 pts), 3 destroyers (9 pts) and 2 frigates? And this would work early game as well as late-game"

Other thoughts:

I like the idea of bigger versions of the weapons costing more, and doing more damage. Let people put IPC on frigates, but let the damage be reduced by the same amount that the cost is reduced (to reflect the smaller version of the weapon). I would also consider scaling bonus structure/armor in a similar way. Instead of HA2 giving 75 points, scale it up or down with ship size. Perhaps instead of 75 points +% bonus, make it all a percentage of base armor. Big ships are easier to hit, but also have more armor. This still wouldn't probably create fleet diversity, people would just build whatever had the best cost/damage ratio relative to the CP limit and their build production capabilities, but it would make sense. Related, perhaps the bonus damage from weapons scales with ship size to reflect the bigger weapon (e.g., nuke bonus 1% for frigates, 2% for destroyer, 6% for mammoth, similar concept for IPC).

I like that small ships would be harder to hit with certain weapons, and big ships easier to hit. The closer you are, the more likely you hit, too; distance from target plays a role. Again, this wouldn't do much for fleet diversity, but it makes sense.

I like limiting frigates to 1 warlord/pacifist overhaul, if for no other reason than balance. A frigate would still be cost effective, but it would encourage a bit of fleet diversity. Destroyers and Cruisers would be more cost-effective.

I like the concept of changing how CP works in a way to encourage diversity. Perhaps overall range could in part be determined by ship size, reflecting refueling/supplies. Maybe frigates will take you as far as your normal range, and each ship class higher allows you to move an additional space. A fleet of frigates and a mammoth would allow you to travel your normal range plus 5 spaces. But if you only have one mammoth, and the opponent kills it, you can't move any farther. Frigates would also potentially be adding additional fuel reserves so they could keep up with cruisers. Thinking about it, people would still just build frigate swarms, as the fuel tech is enough as is to do the job. But what if fuel tech was cut in half? You almost have to add fuel reserves, and bigger ships, to get places. Fuel reserves would serve to weaken smaller ships (by taking a valuable system slot, especially if there are only 3 slots) as an added nerf.

A CP cap being firm wouldn't create huge diversity. You'd just bump up to the next higher class. People do this already. Scrap frigates, turn into cruisers. I like the ability to go over CP, and the CP overage costs do get pretty steep after 10.

I think the "support" CP could be the way to go. Right now starbases add 1-3 CP, each colony adds 1, and you start with 5 (excluding Morph/Battle Hardened). If bigger ships provided "support" CP it would encourage their use. Let's say each ship gives their CP cost/2 in support capabilities (rounded up). A destroyer would cost 2, but give a free frigate. A Battelship costs 3, but you could add a Cruiser (which could add a frigate) or a destroyer (which could add a frigate) or 2 frigates. A Mammoth would add 2 CP. But there is the downside: the command points from ships (unlike systems and starbases) only extends to the current fleet that the ship is in. On the CP display, you could list Ship CP as one of the lines, and it would vary depending on whether ships were together or not.

As an example, with 10 CP you could have 10 frigates. Or you could have 3 Battleships for 9 CP (and 6 bonus CP if the ships are in the same fleet) and a frigate. Those 6 CP could build 3 destroyers (or 2 cruisers and a destroyer), which would give enough CP for 3 more frigates. Production willing, people would rather have 3 Battleships, 3 destroyers, and 4 frigates than 10 frigates for the same CP costs. And perhaps we drop the bonus 5 starting points; in a standard game you would start with 4 CP and would need to expand to get more. But 4 CP could build 2 destroyers and 2 frigates without incurring CP, and most people would pretty quickly add more colonies. Plus the overage cost just isn't that high for the first 10 or so over CP. Maybe colony ships don't add CP, but troop ships do?
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01-22-2015, 05:56 AM
Post: #5
RE: Rebalancing big ships
I'll see if I can add some stats gathering around ships / weapons / fleet compositions when I review the racial traits. I think some facts will go a long way to helping this discussion.

Because, obviously, my tinkers-with-a-mixture-cruisers-frigates build couldn't POSSIBLY have just beat VL's science-with-homogeneous-fleets in game. That'd just be absurd Tongue
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01-22-2015, 06:14 AM (This post was last modified: 01-22-2015 06:16 AM by VanderLegion.)
Post: #6
RE: Rebalancing big ships
I updated the original post with some links with related ideas/discussions for 2b and 6. Diebo's suggestion for Cp costs is another interesting one that would definitely encourage diversification.
(01-22-2015 05:56 AM)rocco Wrote:  Because, obviously, my tinkers-with-a-mixture-cruisers-frigates build couldn't POSSIBLY have just beat VL's science-with-homogeneous-fleets in game. That'd just be absurd Tongue

Beating me probably isn't the best evidence there anymore. In the 53 games I have under Game Over, there's only 10 that say Victory Tongue
(01-22-2015 05:56 AM)rocco Wrote:  I think some facts will go a long way to helping this discussion.

We don't need no stinkin' facts muddling up the discussion!

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01-22-2015, 01:53 PM (This post was last modified: 01-22-2015 01:53 PM by ArlyB.)
Post: #7
RE: Rebalancing big ships
I'd wager that ideas 3 and 4 alone would accomplish the goal of making larger ships a worthwhile investment while not completely neutering small ships (especially in the early game). That's where I'd suggest going. They seem like simple changes to implement and their impact would be noticeable, impactful and not so disrupting that it would disallow any current strategies except for relying on small ships too late into the game.

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01-23-2015, 01:27 AM (This post was last modified: 01-23-2015 01:28 AM by Diebo.)
Post: #8
RE: Rebalancing big ships
(01-22-2015 05:56 AM)rocco Wrote:  Because, obviously, my tinkers-with-a-mixture-cruisers-frigates build couldn't POSSIBLY have just beat VL's science-with-homogeneous-fleets in game. That'd just be absurd Tongue

A mix of cruises/frigates is a pretty common strategy for the industry/tinker build. Generally speaking, for this build you expand out, and at some point need to start researching military. While you wait, you hoard industry so you can build a fleet when warlord 1 (or 2 if you have time) and nuke 2 or 3 or laser 3 or maybe gauss is researched (all depending on opponent and their strat). By the time you get those, you start cranking out ships as fast as possible, which means you build frigates at small industry planets, and cruisers with the bigger stored industry planets (and maybe a destroyer or two). Once the stored industry is built, you focus on whatever ship is fastest to get out (depending on CP, but you should have a decent CP with lots of planets and starbases).

On the other hand, tech builds have a tech advantage. They can afford to research nuke 3, warlord 2, FML, and ammo, and shields. For that ship (or for a 3 laser 3 ship) it is optimal to make frigates, and generally you don't have much if any stored industry (too busy building all those buildings you researched, whereas industry/tinker build has maybe EF1/2, hydro 1, starbase 1 to build).

I've had a lot of luck with industry/tinker builds lately against science builds (and lost 2 league games where I was science against industry builds).

Back on topic - no one was building battleships, titans, or mammoths, and few destroyers were being built. There is little in the way of fleet diversity. Frigates are just too cost-effective at the moment (but as shown above, there can be reasons to build cruisers, too, to get a fleet out quickly once the needed tech is available).
(01-22-2015 01:53 PM)ArlyB Wrote:  I'd wager that ideas 3 and 4 alone would accomplish the goal of making larger ships a worthwhile investment while not completely neutering small ships (especially in the early game). That's where I'd suggest going. They seem like simple changes to implement and their impact would be noticeable, impactful and not so disrupting that it would disallow any current strategies except for relying on small ships too late into the game.

I like both 3 and 4, and have suggested them before. But they wouldn't greatly open up fleet diversity, at least at the higher end. You would see more destroyers and cruisers, but you wouldn't have an incentive to build battleships, titans, or mammoths.
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01-23-2015, 12:30 PM
Post: #9
RE: Rebalancing big ships
(01-23-2015 01:27 AM)Diebo Wrote:  
(01-22-2015 01:53 PM)ArlyB Wrote:  I'd wager that ideas 3 and 4 alone would accomplish the goal of making larger ships a worthwhile investment while not completely neutering small ships (especially in the early game). That's where I'd suggest going. They seem like simple changes to implement and their impact would be noticeable, impactful and not so disrupting that it would disallow any current strategies except for relying on small ships too late into the game.

I like both 3 and 4, and have suggested them before. But they wouldn't greatly open up fleet diversity, at least at the higher end. You would see more destroyers and cruisers, but you wouldn't have an incentive to build battleships, titans, or mammoths.

What if the Battleships, Titans, and Mammoths were the only ships that added CP as suggested in Vander's option 2b?

In nature there are neither rewards nor punishments; there are consequences.
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01-24-2015, 06:45 AM
Post: #10
RE: Rebalancing big ships
(01-23-2015 12:30 PM)ArlyB Wrote:  
(01-23-2015 01:27 AM)Diebo Wrote:  
(01-22-2015 01:53 PM)ArlyB Wrote:  I'd wager that ideas 3 and 4 alone would accomplish the goal of making larger ships a worthwhile investment while not completely neutering small ships (especially in the early game). That's where I'd suggest going. They seem like simple changes to implement and their impact would be noticeable, impactful and not so disrupting that it would disallow any current strategies except for relying on small ships too late into the game.

I like both 3 and 4, and have suggested them before. But they wouldn't greatly open up fleet diversity, at least at the higher end. You would see more destroyers and cruisers, but you wouldn't have an incentive to build battleships, titans, or mammoths.

What if the Battleships, Titans, and Mammoths were the only ships that added CP as suggested in Vander's option 2b?

That could work - CP only for the Battleships (1), Titans (2), and Mammoths (3), frigates only can use PO1/WO1, and plasma/IPC/proton is restricted to destroyers or bigger. Frigates would still be very effective early (you could still build 2nuke2 frigates very soon) but you couldn't build 3 proton 3 frigates. You'd see more destroyers later game, and more cruisers. Once CP caps set in, there would be an incentive to build the bigger ships.

But I do like some of the other changes, too.
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