I was designing a tank for my Federation fleet and decided to play around with heavy armor rather than heavy shields, so I set up the following configuration:
Federation Tiger Cruiser hull
9x Ultra Heavy Armor
2x Advance Armor Repair
2x Cruiser Engine 3
Fast Recharge Shield
Basic Power Generator
This has 76.54 average armor. According to the manual, this means that nothing should be able to scratch it (I thought there was a 77 AP weapon, but I can’t find it in the list). But as soon as its shields came down, it got absolute TORN TO SHREDS by Cruiser Beam Lasers (70 AP).
I ran some tests by challenging myself, and found that Cruiser Beam Lasers would pretty much always damage it, as would Fusion Beams (60 AP). Megaton missiles (AP 51) would only rarely damage it.
What gives? Given the ENORMOUS AP for Beam Lasers, and the fact that you seem to need +20 armor on the weapon to actually block it, it looks like any more armor than you need to block fighter lasers is worthless.
All weapons have a chance to penetrate armour. Having extra armour means you can keep your modules alive longer and also you can repair different armour modules at the same time if you have more repair modules. Making a ship unkillable like they were previously just breaks the game. You’ll notice that high armour ships reflect a lot of shots so they do last a lot longer than an unshielded one. Just don’t expect them to be immune to damage…
Moreover, the problem is that even 70+ armor does essentially nothing versus lasers or fusion. I was seeing very few, if any shots reflected. If I build a ship that has basically nothing but armor, with that much AR, it should actually last a decent amount of time versus even armor-destroying weapons.
Ships with even just 3 shields last pretty long even against shield-penetrating weapons. Of course, that’s in part because the resistance rules are strictly enforced with shields.
Ships that were immune due to high armor really were quite broken, so that indeed needed a fix.
That said, I think the current fix is a little wonky. It appears that low-AP weapons are quite able to get critical hits against very heavily armored targets, and can generally fire fast enough (especially fighter blasters / beams) that they shred heavily armored enemies.
Personally I think 1) armor should have much more hitpoints so it can last awhile if you stack enough on, 2) the chance to ‘crit’ the armor and damage it when your AP isn’t enough should be scaled depending on the difference between your armor-penetration values and the target’s average armor, and 3) repair modules would remain about as slow as they are now.
Armor should not replace shields or vice versa, I think they both deserve to have their own times to shine. Shields are great versus sustained fire because they naturally regenerate but they’re more likely to be drained by any shot (because to stop a shot it has to use some energy), whereas lots of armor should protect you against lots and lots of light weapon fire.
Realistically, any amount of light weapon fire shouldn’t faze heavy armor, it doesn’t have enough force to warp or bend or do anything to the material. Lots of armor should reflect that weak points are also covered-- it’s not like space ships need to flex and bend like some kind of mecha. But, balance-wise, we can’t have invincible tanks. The armor-criting system needs serious rebalancing, in my opinion, but I don’t want to return to the days when a mega-armored cruiser would take 10 minutes for an entire fleet of heavily armed cruisers to kill – or an instance where a battle ends in a stalemate because the heavily armored monstrousities don’t have enough weapons to kill their enemies, and the attackers don’t have high enough AP to do anything to it.
I wonder if the crit rate got dramatically increased. I’d read elsewhere on the boards that it was about 3%, which is much lower than it sounds like you were noticing, Alexander.
Personally I think all weapons should have a chance to crit, but scaling it so that high-AP weapons have a higher chance would certainly make sense. Maybe that’s exactly what’s going on here…? I haven’t noticed fighters getting particularly high crit rates.
I do support dramatically increasing armor module HP if reflectivity gets a significant nerf, since in its current state it would just get shredded to quickly to be useful. Armor that acts as a damage soak works well in these kinds of games, in my experience. Having it reduce incoming damage by some amount makes sense too, but as I’ve said many times before the binary all-or-nothing state of reflectivity at present is not my favorite.
Why not just treat resistance as some kind of percentage reduction? For example, a piece of armor could have 50% damage reduction. This would mean exactly what it says: only 50% of the damage of the weapon is done to the armor. Stacking could work multiplicatively in terms of damage received. For a single 50% reduction, 100-50% = 50% taken. For two pieces (1-0.5)(1-0.5) =0.50.5=0.25 (25%) is taken. This naturally incurs a penalty, as it will reduce in effectiveness as it approaches 0% taken (50, 25, 12.5, 6.25, etc). Armor with less reduction would stack even worse (for 25% reduction, taken would be 75%, 56%, 42%, 32%, etc.), encouraging the use of the heavier, more expensive armor when stacking, and leaving ships that don’t have heavy armor (e.g. fighters) without the ability to become ridiculously armored through stacking.
If you want to prevent tanks from being invincible while also making even basic armor useful, you could make the damage taken be some function of the difference between AP and AR. For example, damage taken = 0.5 * (AP^2-AR^2). When AP=AR, damage taken is 50%. As AP>AR, armor quickly becomes ineffective, though continuing to offer some small amount of protection. Conversely, AP<AR would give a lot of protection while still allowing some damage to get through. In the case of a fighter vs. a cruiser, a heavily armored cruiser wouldn’t be invincible to fighters, but would seriously hamper their progress as they slowly pitted through the armor, encouraging using heavier weapons against armored targets, while still leaving an unarmored (or weakly armored) cruiser very susceptible to fast fighter fire (say that three times fast!). Conversely, an armored fighter still wouldn’t stand much of a chance against high AP weapons, but could still take a hit or two from weaker, shield-busting weapons (making fighter armor a viable option).
No matter the case, this would eliminate the need for a crit system, which really just adds random chance to an otherwise numerical battle.
Yup, we’ve had some discussions very much along these lines. I’m strongly in favor of a system like this, myself. We haven’t heard anything from Cliff on the subject, though (unless I’ve missed it), so either what we have is what we get, or he has SECRET PLANS. ;-p
This is what makes armor feel a lot weaker than shields IMO. A lot of cruisers or frigates I’ll try to put on enough armor to put on over 8 armor so fighter laser cannons don’t get through. But just 8 armor isn’t enough. A few critical hits, and now the armor value is less than 8, and no longer any good. So to defend against 8 armor penetration you really need like 12-16 armor, and probably a repair module (which frigates don’t get).
I think the issue is that armor’s resistance gets weaker as it is damaged, so as soon as one critical hit reduces your armor resistance below the penetration of the incoming weapons you have no hope. That’s why just a few beam lasers are enough to deal with even very heavily armored tanks, if the rest of the fleet does lots of DPS. Once a critical hit (from any weapon) knocks the armor resistance down from 70+ to 69 the lasers can then knock it down further to where the rest of the ships can shred it all.
Hmm, I see others have made the same point while I was writing this (curse you Watsong :-p).
One thing that I’m noticing in this discussion is the following: people are claiming that the problem with armour is that after a ship with >70 AR takes damage to its armour, bringing its AR below 70, the armour will lose effectiveness, and so it will take more damage. But that doesn’t explain how it took damage in the first place. I just made a ship with 126 average armour (all it had was one piece of ultra-heavy armour and nothing else), and they were still destroyed by a combination of fighters and cruisers. They did, however, usually reflect about 98% of shots. Given that their average armour was exceedingly high, they should have taken no damage. Obviously a ship taking no damage could very well ruin the game, but I can’t design ships properly unless I know how their defense works.
Does anyone know why this is happening?
Lastly, I completely agree with James Cooper. I’m a mathematician of sorts, and I can’t stand randomness in games that are otherwise (more or less) perfectly numerical. That being said, if there is randomness, I can deal with it; I just want to know about it ahead of time.
There’s a 2% “critical hit” chance for any shot that hits armor to ignore resistance, applying full damage. This is why you’ll often see a swarm of laser fighters orbiting a cruiser for a while, slowly chipping away the armor until its resistance <= 8, at which point they tear the ship to shreds.
I love the randomness in the game. Like real life. A little RNG goes a long way to making things less of a thought experiment, which is what anything that is purely rule based mathematics is. I like that there is randomness… and If I had my way it would show up randomly also… so that those people out there planning to build algorithms to design the perfect fleet are continually frustrated. But I rarely get my way. =):
I suppose I should clarify. I don’t mind a little randomness – it keeps the game from being 100% predictable. On the other hand, I don’t like critical hits in most games – they often mean that something that’s impossible ends up happening. Case in point: fighters ripping through a heavily armored cruiser. While I don’t expect that cruiser to be impenetrable, putting that much into armor should provide complete protection against fighters as its tradeoff.
Randomness is only really harmful when there’s so much randomness that most strategy is irrelevant. Consider playing blackjack: you can try all the strategies in the world, but the game primarily consists of random card draws. Short of reducing the randomness (e.g. counting cards), the game is entirely a matter of chance.
I think a better way to add randomness is to make weapons have a range of damage, like 15-25, and have each hit give some random damage. Say your ship has 22 armor: now it’s not impervious to a 15-25 weapon, it just won’t be damaged by it on every shot. Sometimes it’s nice to have this gradient between invincibility and complete annihilation.