I struggle with the visualization some, but I see what you’re getting at.
I always thought of GSB1 having the following engagement bands:
Long range; which was poor tracking or point defense counterable anti-shield (missiles/plasma)
Beam range; which was anti-armor and anti-frigate (pretty much every large cruiser/frigate beam)
Short range; which was near unavoidable anti-shield of high dps (cruiser laser, ion cannon)
Fighters were most useful as anti-hull (how else could you kill tribe?) or anti-frigate. They were commonly killed through attrition interactions rubbing up against tractors, frigates, or opposing fighter groups.
As a rule, frigates typically did more damage than cruisers but burned out quicker, leading to this weird dichotomy where you could have too many frigates to have sustainable damage.
There was always this incentive to close with enemy ranged fleets to use the incredible combined DPS of ion/CL’s with a cloud of laser fighters. You could be reasonably certain shields would go down against CL’s and overkill just translated into more DPS. Long range weaponry was generally countered by movement speed and point defense so fleets had to account for that in some manner.
The long range band for GSB2 by comparison is obscene, and it’s pushed the metagame into ranged tanking fleets. I’m getting flooded with missiles to the point where I have something like 6 smartbombs covering each cruiser. Armor tanking of any kind does not exist within 850m of an enemy cruiser or 1100m of a Dreadnaught.
Even outside of that, my fleet must come to a stop to safely engage the enemy, which is getting me shredded by low tracking weapons. I’ve been experimenting with cruiser pulse cannon rushes but it is creating this chaotic environment where I can’t keep escorting frigates or destroyers alive at all - keep moving has my forces blundering into dreadnaughts (and each other) which explode for 800+ damage each. You can lose 5 destroyers at a time to that.
I don’t want to draw conclusions based on my charts, they only cover a small part of the tactical game. Nevertheless, I see some gaps in the chart (weapons that penetrate all shields) that could be filled, giving us more options to deal with cruiser/dreadnought shields. Especially low range weapons are missing here. Maybe something like this would be interesting (empty circles are not ingame yet):
There is a thing to consider when designing weapons for GSB2 that have 2 or more of these characteristics: low range, low DPS, low tracking. They need to be really cheap (cheap regarding cost, power req, crew req and/or weight) because in GSB2, the base hull cost is quite high and this makes it more beneficial to install ‘high quality’ weapons and modules, in my opinion.
Missiles seem to be quite strong angainst shields. I am in favour to nerf them, or to enhance missile defenses.
Armor piercing beams at 850m (heavy beam laser) and 1100m (particle accelerator) could then stay as they are, because shields may still be intact at this range when missiles are weakened.
Just want to mention Disruptor bombs on this topic, because this is another possibility to deal with heavy shields:
They temporarly disable shields, giving opportunity to other weapons to do armor and internal damage.
Unfortunately I didn’t manage set up a competitive fleet that uses this tactic, not yet.
It’s important to note that the current cruiser pulse weapons that can penetrate shields have a 50% damage loss against them.
Frigates have those 3-4 plasma variants that would fit in some of those roles if they could penetrate a shield. Oddly enough those weapons don’t have a hull damage penalty.
Disruptor bombs suffer the same problem as they did in GSB1: Too little and you can’t reach threshold for them to have effect. Too many and any extra are an utter waste due to their specialization. The binary nature of them hurts too much, and they’re exceedingly difficult to visualize. Additionally, gunnery AI doesn’t seem to capitalize on the takedown - Beams have inevitably tried a few times against the target (when it was shielded) and have moved on to something less resistant. I think they should be a percentile based bypass, instead. (40% stability damage => 40% of otherwise resisted shots pass through)
As an aside - Danou, your Yootan challenge - the Khan class dreads in it are somehow resisting cruiser heavy beam lasers. Did you somehow manage to get one above 25 resist? I’ve never gotten one of those above 19.
This is a fascinating analysis, and to be honest,m one that makes my head spin (I currently have a cold…and a headache)… but I am very interested in hearing the balancing suggestions from people who are this deep into the strategy of the game.
My own concerns are that we have too much of a problem with shield resistance in the game, with weapons basically defined as ‘those that can penetrate the top shield resistance’ and then everything else.
GSB2 has the advantage of featuring weapons that can be explicitly good against shields and rubbish against everything else, so you still need a multi-layering of weapons systems, but I fear I may not have balanced the numbers right to really make that work?
Shields (not just cruisers) should probably always be invulnerable to these things:
High-dps massable small-arms fire. (e.g. fighter pulse)
Most or all beams, especially anti-armor.
Any shield that does not cover those is simply not useful to players if others exist as an option.
I would be in favor of bumping up the shield penetration for plasma globally, even if a damage hit is necessary to keep it in line. It seems like a class of weapon that shouldn’t worry about shield resistance - a possible equalizer for frigates.
Some of cruiser level pulse has the capability to globally penetrate shields but at a severe damage hit. For some reason these weapons sport alarmingly high armor penetration - they have a 70% damage modifier but the actual penetration rivals some dedicated beam weapons. This is in sharp contrast to GSB1, where you could easily have frigates immune to cruiser lasers. I don’t like the state of this weapon now, but I’ve seen very few examples of it in practice. They’re quite annoying on dreadnaughts.
Frigate level pulse has a dangerously low range and the inability to even penetrate destroyer shields. Capital ships in GSB2 feel larger and their cruiser laser equivalent seems to have likewise grown in range, whereas the frigate weaponry (which used to outrange it!) has not. The explosion radius of dreadnaughts seem to come into effect at about 350 meters - the 550m frigate doesn’t have a lot of room to work with and usually has to park in front of a target to avoid dying to it. Although the damage and cost is otherwise attractive, fighters fill the anti-hull role FAR better with the survivability they have.
I am unsure where the larger pulse weapons are supposed to fall. Cruiser level pulse can brute force through most types of defenses save for fighter speed. Frigates only seem good for hull damage.
In principle I agree. But the cruiser shield capacitor with its 0 resistance should still stay, because combined with another high resistance shield, you can use it to cheaply increase shieldstrength. I’m not sure if it’s worth it, but the principle works.
Frigate / destroyer shields
Shield resistance / shieldstrength (stack_effectiveness, recharge_rate and stability_recovery_rate are not listed here):
Light: 7 / 50
Medium: 11 / 70
Fast (zyrtary only): 11 / 70
Heavy: 14 / 30
Plasmatic (frigate only): 16 / 15
The light shield with 7 resistance is quite useless, it should have at least 8 resistance, in order to block fighter pulse (heavy fighter pulse would still do damage), 2 more cruiser beams and dedicated anti-fighter weapons from cruisers.
The plasmatic shield with 15 shieldstrength holds only 1 shot (2.65 seconds) from 1 standard cruiser pulse (40 dmg * 50% effectiveness = 20 dmg). Shieldstrength should be increased to 25. Read more about the frigate plasmatic shield in chapter plasma below.
Cruiser / dreadnought shields
This is just to complete the list of available shields:
Light: 14 / 50
Medium: 16 / 150
Enhanced (zyrtary only): 20 / 140
Heavy: 22 / 200
Capacitor: 0 / 150
Plasma Absolutely agree, but…
Currently there is only 1 cruiser beam weapon (very low tracking, doesn’t count), 1 figther missile and 2 frigate plasma weapons in the 15-16 shield resistance range (between frigate plasmatic shields (16 shield resistance) and frigate heavy shields (14 shield resistance). If plasma is shifted to 23 shield penetration, there is no incentive to equip frigate plasmatic shields! The fact, that the plasmatic shield has only 15 shield strength while the cheaper heavy shield has 30 shield strength, aggravates the situation even more! I am not even talking about the other stats (stack_effectiveness, recharge_rate and stability_recovery_rate), they are all worse for the plasmatic shield.
I am still in favor of bumping up the shield penetration for plasma globally, but we need at least 1 other weapon to fill the gap. Even then I think the frigate plasmatic shield should have slightly more shieldstrength.
In the 17-22 shield resistance range (between cruiser medium and cruiser heavy shields) we have 4 plasma weapons and 3 cruiser pulse. We have not the same problem here, because the shield strength of cruiser heavy shields is higher than the medium shields. This is quite a big incentive to use them.
If we make missiles less effective (I don’t know if it’s still necessary since multi-warhead damage has been lowered in patch 1.27), cruiser pulse could become the ‘shredder for everything’ (shields, armor, hull, fast targets, slow targets, …) if we do not take care. Granted, it has low dps, but this is compensated by the very high tracking speed! Range is also quite high with 800-900 meters!
What should we do? Some proposals:
- cruiser pulse: reduce armor effectiveness to 20% (currently 70%)
With this measure, armor tanks would survive longer in the range of cruiser beams (850m), because cruiser laser would contribute much less in ablating the armor. It would also slightly increase life of armored frigates and gunships, which is ok.
Armored dreadnoughts would benefit the most because of their armor boost. This should be observed closely…
- Introducing a new cruiser weapon which is good vs shields at low range
With the intention to give more options to take down shields, I would like to introduce a new weapon:
The Cruiser quantum blaster (name taken from GSB1, because it acts similarly)
15 dps (like cruiser pulse laser) but 100% vs shields, 50% vs armor, 50 % vs hull
30 shield pen., 8 armor pen. (frigates resist armor penetration if adequately armored)
550 max. range
cheaper than cruiser pulse regarding cost, power req. and crew req.
I agree 12 shield penetration is not that useful for the frigate pulse laser.
We could increase it to 15 shield penetration, in order to fill the gap leaved by frigate plasma (see above). I think we should not increase its max. range of currently 550m. The dps is quite high and dying to dreadnought explosions is the fee to pay
To stay consistent, the proposed reduction in armor effectiveness for cruiser pulse laser to 20% would also apply for this frigate variant.
I would like to see some consistency with the shields definitely. If med shields have more strength than heavy cool - make it the same for all hulls. It’s honestly a good mechanic because otherwise there is very little incentive to take anything but the highest resistance shield you can find, although not intuitive for new players.
I love how capacitors work now that I understand them, still trying to determine the real value of taking them vs investing in heavies. All I know is that combing a bunch of capacitors with a single heavy has been working for me, specially with some shield support beams thrown in. I can get more mobility out of my ships while still having a really high time to live.
With the current state of shields Sledgehammer Pulse seems to be the best weapon in the game, and I love it - don’t get me wrong, anything but missile spam - but I do think it should have it’s range shortened and damage vs armor lowered. Currently I have no answer to shielded Sledge rush fleets with destroyer support beams - and it doesn’t look like anyone else does either. So far the only victors have sent wonky off-center ship stacks with dummy ships and crazy stuff that doesn’t hold up to a retaliation.
In GSB1 you could set up a pulse rush, but if you didn’t have a high armor pen weapon thrown it would be shut down. That’s not the case here -especially with the Sledgehammer, pulse lasers seems to be a sort of magic bullet vs all defenses.
Yeah, that sledge pulse rush is beyond unpleasant. At 20 penetration it brings down the best armor tanks after a single lucky hit - and that’s easy for a salvo weapon.
In order to beat the rush on that map, I have to drop all pretense of fighter defense, remove spending for point defense and focus on fighters. Nothing else survives the 900 range 1.6 tracking bubble of doom that penetrates everything.
You know, if you work some simple limpet cruisers in for AA (the pulse will do the rest), that might be a near unbeatable challenge without copycatting it.
You have a good point. Initially I wasn’t worried about fighter retaliations because I was getting the carriers down so fast but after facing 5190032 by NoShot who has a very heavy concentration of torpedo fighters my standard Sledge fleet was losing to attrition after the carriers went down.
One tractor beam on each Dread did the trick though. I may keep it too just because it provides so much utility. I do like the limpet launchers but I’m not as familiar with them. How do they compare as an anti-air solution to tractor beams?
Oh, the version you sent me was on Habitat D458, where tractors are illegal.
The limpets find their way into everything - they follow fighters straight to the carrier and generally annoy the hell out of me whenever I see them. Most of my fleets are glorified escorts for fighters, though.
If they’re allowed though… yeah, Tractors are stupid good. The multipoint one costs 100, so it’s paying for itself by firing once.
I’m in favor of this globally as a sort of a bandaid for how poorly armor performs - cut the % damage to armor for everything but beams. It’s going to hurt non-beam fighters even more, but they’re cripplingly terrible vs repair tanks already.
This is somewhat similar to a short ranged version of the lightning cannon. I don’t think it’s that necessary of a niche to fill for cruisers, though.
I tend to agree that Shield Resistance is a good mechanic but basically a problem. At least half of any weapons on any serious ship must be able to penetrate 22+, or you will be embarrassed sometime by decently shielded ships. No point taking anything but Heavy shields.