How to fix the shield resistance gameplay issue...

The identified problem:
Shield resistance is a 100% hard BLOCK to enemy fire of all types. Thus every fleet MUST have some method to take down the maximum-shield resistance modules in the game, and every fleet MUST equip those modules wherever possible (at least one of them). Why is this bad? Because no-brain choices are no choice at all, and it reduces the scope for interesting tactics. Everyone is using the Heavy Shields, and everyone is ensuring their ships have those weapons that take them down.

Proposal #1:
Shield resistance is changed so that it becomes the AVERAGE shield resistance of all shield modules. This way you need to either really commit to a high resistance strategy or abandon it. The downside is that this negates the whole existence of the shield capacitor module which is designed to take advantage of the existing mechanic.

Proposal #2:
We nerf the non-shield damage capabilities of weapons with high shield penetration. For example heavy plasma has shield penetration of 27 but armor damage multiplier of 100% Arguably no weapon with heavy-shield penetration capability should do 100% damage to armor or hull as well. This would give you an incentive not to over-supply your ship with these weapons, as the initial shield-taking down is all they are good for.

Proposal #3:
We beef up shield disruption as a mechanic. giving the weapons that cause this a high capacity to disrupt shields, making this a more commonly used tactic, and encouraging people to attempt this rather than bother with cutting through high shield penetration

Proposal #4:
A totally new weapon. The shield penetration beam. A weapon which does no damage, but it does change the enemies shield resistance whilst active, effectively letting other incoming fire tunnel through the resistance and do shield damage regardless of their shield penetration. The plus side is this is another weapon we can give to maybe frigates or destroyers, encouraging the whole ‘combined arms’ thing. I could write code for weapons to prefer affected targets if their weapon could not otherwise penetrate.

I like the idea of #4 myself. Any thoughts? or indeed, better ideas :smiley:

Agree and a very good initiative to start this thread.

Not my favorite.

Plasma is not the first weapon class I would mention, but I support this proposal.

I already proposed to reduce armor effectiveness for pulse lasers to 20% (currently 70%) in another thread. With their very high tracking speed and high shield- and armor-penetration they are an all-rounder and can even hit faster ships!

Plasma has low tracking as its major disadvantage, this means, unlike pulse lasers, it doesn’t hit faster ships. I would not weaken armor effectivenes as much as pulse lasers, maybe to 50% (currently 100%).

Beef up shield disruption: YES. But this should only be an alternative to deal with shields.

Good proposal, either as a solution for the whole problem or as a further alternative.

Proposal 5:
In this thread ([i][/i]) I proposed to rebalance some weapons, with the intention to have more weapons that can penetrate the highest shield resistance. After a few days of thinking, I think proposal 6 may be a better solution.

Proposal 6:
Rebalance the heavy cruiser shields. Reduce the shieldstrength of heavy cruiser shields from 200 to 80. As accompanying measures it will be necessary to slightly reduce its cost*, and maybe also to slightly beef up the other available cruiser shields.


  • Player cannot have both at the same time, max shield resistance and max. shieldstrength.
  • Player will more likely choose lighter variants of shields.
  • Player will possibly mix a heavy shield and medium shield(s) which is much more interesting for both, the player and the opponent.
  • No need to spam the same weapon type to overcome very resistant shields; a few of those weapons distributed over the whole fleet are enough.
  • The cruiser medium shield will become very prominent because it has the highest shieldstrength. Because this shield has a lower resistance, this gives us more weapons that can penetrate them:
    . 2 more variants of cruiser pulse laser
    . 2 more cruiser plasma weapons
    . 2 frigate plasma weapons
  • cost: cost can mean cost, power requirement and/or crew requirement

For me the key part is the first sentence.

I would propose that shield and armor resistances are not 100% hard blocks but that the ratio of penetration / resistance modifies the damage inflicted.
If penetration >= resistance you do full damage. But if penetration < resistance the damage is multiplied by (penetration / resistance) cubed.
Also shield or armour penetration of 0 means you cannot damage shields or armour.

For example:

  • Fighter Beam Laser vs Cruiser Heavy Shield; penetration 2 vs resistance 22; damage is multiplied by 0.000751, so almost no damage.
  • Frigate Pulse Laser vs Cruiser Heavy Shield; penetration 12 vs resistance 22; damage is multiplied by 0.162, a fairly considerable reduction.
  • Cruiser Plasma Launcher vs Cruiser Heavy Shield; penetration 19 vs resistance 22; damage is multiplied by 0.644, still noticeable reduction even when penetration is close to resistance.


  • Weapons always cause some damage even if very minor.
  • Armour will disappear much faster as damage to armour also reduces the armours resistance.
  • All weapon penetration values and all defensive resistance values would need to be rebalanced.
  • Stacking effects especially on armour will need to be rebalanced as more damage will now be happening.
  • Weapon Shield Damage % and Armour Damage % become obsolete as the penetration / resistance ratio would determine this.
  • Lucky hits become obsolete as weapons will always do some damage.

I also like.


Which is similar to Frigates where Light and Medium shields have very high strengths but poor resistance and Heavy and Plasmatic shields have higher resistance but much lower strengths.

I’m slightly against changing the hard block nature of the mechanic because although it might be a bit problematic for me trying to balance stuff, it is easy to understand and explain. Not all players will be hardcore players and the explanation of ‘your shot bounced off because the shield penetration was too low’ is much easier to understand than any equation relating to cubing one variable divided by another.
I do agree that it is an elegant solution, I’;d mused myself on making shields a bit ‘leaky’ and it was partly this I was getting at by averaging resistances but I think we have to strike a balance between elegance and simplicity for new players.

Just real quick I think that a combination of Proposal #2 and Proposal #3 would be a way to fix things quite well within the existing framework.

Proposal #1 also seems reasonable, but I wouldn’t want to lose capacitors.

Proposal #4 would be awesome, but we’ve already got a weapon designed to take down shields, it just doesn’t work. Maybe get shield disruption working before we add more weapons that might not work :]

The shield resistance tooltip states that there’s a 97% percent shield reflect rate. I’m assuming that’s incorrect.

Capacitors sort of indicate an unhealthy system, I’m really not thrilled about them. They’re also confusing in that they have yet another one of those differing stack penalties. Cruiser level shields should probably be put back in line with how frigates work with the tradeoff between capacity/resistance.

Averaging resistances would be interesting, but I don’t think it would have any large influence on weapon selection by itself. There’s no way someone’s going to start taking the iffy weapons that might penetrate.

Although, if you want to change the shield metagame around a bunch, part of that comes down to changing armor or speed mitigation. Armor is in a really bad spot right now (why do anti-shield weapons have 15-20 armor pen?) and quality weapons with tracking in the ~1.5 range are a little too good at other things.

Stick #3 and #4 together: have existing shield disruptors lower resistance or block chance instead. Current shield disruption is far too binary, too guesswork prone, too difficult to visualize. I’ve never seen a fleet utilize it effectively. Ideally you want something that contributes in some way to the fight even if used in small quantities.

I’m actually really a fan of the “elegant solution”. It would also likely take a gunnery AI change - they need to understand when fire is ineffective even if it is nonzero.

Proposal #4 is still problematic, because it will just mean everyone always takes that weapon. However…

Let’s try something like this. Make Shield Resistance not a static value, but instead a sort of second health bar for shields. Make it percentage based, so it’s always a value of X out of 100. Shield Resistance determines what percentage of the incoming damage the shield actually takes, so if your Shield Resistance has been lowered to 50, half of all damage hitting the shield, no matter the source, is applied to the shield’s base value, or “health bar”.

Make the Shield Penetration value of weapons represent the amount of the Shield Resistance it depletes when it contacts a shield. So, for example, a weapon with a damage of 100 and a Penetration of 1 hits a shield and lowers its resistance to 99. The shield resists 99% of the damage and takes 1 point of damage. The next shot hits, lowers the Resistance to 98, and the shield takes 2 points of damage, etc.

Resistance should regenerate just like the base shield value does, but much, much faster, meaning you need to keep constantly hitting the shield with Penetration if you want do damage it. You could even have Resistance regenerate faster the lower the shield’s hitpoints are, meaning that you have to start hitting the shield harder and harder the more damage you deal to it if you want to keep damaging it. This would be a fantastic mechanic for frigates and destroyers; they could have super-high Resistance regen based on their small base shield pool, whereas cruisers and dreadnoughts have very deep shield pools but their Resistance regen is much slower.

In this scenario, a Penetration value of 5 would be extremely high, and weapons with fractional Penetration values would be common. Shield Disruptor Bombs and Lightning Beams and other such anti-shield specialty weapons could just be weapons with Penetration values of 1 or higher.

Another idea (spinning off of the regenerating Resistance value) is to scrap Resistance entirely and instead re-work it into Regeneration. I always felt that shields regenerated too slowly, even in GSB1. In this scenario, shields take damage from all incoming fire based on the shield damage percentage value of the respective weapon, but the shield could theoretically be regenerating more HP per second than the damage that weapon is dealing. Penetration value then becomes the amount that a weapon subtracts from a shield’s Regeneration value, and is an attribute that is not even seen on most weapons.

Let’s say that a shield with a Regen of 100 regenerates 100 shield HP per second. Now let’s say it’s hit by a Shield Disruptor Bomb with a Penetration value of 10… that Regen value now becomes 90 for as long as the effect of the bomb lasts. Stack enough Penetration on a shield and you can negate its Regen entirely, but if the volume of Penetration fire incoming on that target drops for some reason, it will be back to full shield Regen before long and could theoretically refill its shields even while taking fire. In this scenario, you can either just overwhelm shields with a huge volume of incoming fire that the Regen can’t compensate for, or you can bring some specialty weapons with Penetration to compensate for a lower or more widely distributed volume of fire.

Just a couple thoughts.

Excellent discussion to date.

I like:

#2 a lot. Nerf those weapons that can penetrate very heavy shield values.
#3 is fine. Cannot be the only solution though.
#5 general rebalance.
#6 is the real trick if I understand correctly the proposal. Make Heavy Shields have High Shield Resistance, but low overall Shield Strength. Light shields would therefore have low shield resistance but higher (or equal) overall shield strength. Then all kinds of shields become viable, rather than just taking the Heavies every time.

On this point, I am pretty sure I don’t quite understand the stacking values. Do capacitors stack with other shields and reduce their effectiveness? Do light shields stack with heavy shields? Does powered armor stack with armor? I’ve done some tests, but it might be clearer how this is supposed to work.

I really like the idea to remove shield resistance and compensate by increasing regeneration. Especially since weapons can be tuned to deal different amounts of damage to shields/armor/hull. Focusing on regeneration would increase the effectiveness of smaller ships vs. cruisers and actually make small craft relevant again in the anti-ship role. More importantly, it would significantly reduce the effectiveness of the Shield Support beam, whose effectiveness is multiplied by higher shield resistances.

However, reducing regeneration via shield penetration is… well, I would rather have shield bleed-through than the penetration mechanic. It’s just not intuitive. I can see straight Shield HP and Shield Stability, but Regen Reduction is a specific Debuff mechanic best left for a Tactical-themed DLC or something - after the basic system is in place.

Going with a Regen-based shield system, there are good options for modules:
—Multi-phasic Shield - High HP, Med Regen
—Fast Recharge Shield - Med HP, High Regen
—Balanced Shield - Med HP, Med Regen
—Budget Shield - Low HP, Low Regen, Low Fitting Costs
—Tactical Shield - Low HP, Low Regen, works/regens until module is destroyed (even if shields collapse)

I feel like a balanced combat system is more important than easiness to explain

to a casual player all they REALLY need to know is “less shieldpen == less damage on shields”, it’s the tinkerers out there that really want to get into the nitty gritty of it

I’m fully in support of Sir Robin’s idea

I’m definitely not against this idea. The question then becomes whether the Shield Penetration value is a percentage of damage that bleeds through every shot, or a percentage chance that the damage will pass the shield completely. I guess you could have a third option of it just being a flat value that bleeds through. Either way, the values should be quite small, AND any damage that bleeds through does not damage the shield HP at all.

Just want to put this explanation here because it is related to why I made proposal 6.

The guide does not say what happens with the overall shield resistance if the ‘best’ shield is knocked out. I’m quite sure the overall shield resistance is recalculated in this situation (if currently it’s not, it should be that way).

Example: (I took into account proposal 6, which suggests modifying the shieldstrength)
Take a ship with 1 heavy cruiser shields (22 resistance, 80 shieldstrength) and 2 medium cruiser shields (16 resistance, 180 shieldstrength) installed. At start the overall shield resistance is 22. It requires adequate weapons with more than 22 shield pen. to do any shield damage. Because the shieldstrength of the heavy shield is quite low, this shield will get depleted quite fast, leaving the ship with only the 2 medium shields intact. As a consequence, the overall shield resistance drops to 16, giving the opportunity for other weapons to do shield damage.

I’m not sure I see the problem with Heavy Shields - they are very expensive for what they do, and currently dropping from 22 Resist to 16 Resist on a Med Shield is no big loss. There is only one decent weapon type - Cruiser Pulse Lasers - that bridges the gap between 16 - 22 Resist, and so long as you throw one Heavy Shield on some of your Main Combatants, the enemy cannot afford to try to exploit the 16 Resist.

If we are staying with Resists, then making a trade-off between Regen-HP should be accompanied by a refresh of the shield penetration on most weapons to justify a Low HP - High Resist Heavy Shield. Right now, there is little point of using anything but Med and Light shields on FFs and DDs - the ShHP is too low and the fitting costs are too high. Better to just bring a few support DDs to keep them alive with the buffer Med Shields.

Its great to read everyone’s opinions on this issue. I do believe its one of the major gameplay problems right now, or at least something which if ‘fixed’ could lead to an explosion in fleet design variety and thus… fun :D.

In general I am opposed to changing core mechanics in the game. Although those of us in this thread would be happy to adapt, you have to consider all the players of GSB1, all the challenges fuill of ship designs already uploaded, and consider how baffling (and frankly annoying) it will be for players who find their awesome fleet in version 1.29 is suddenly totally useless in 1.30. Most people don’t read patch notes, or discuss gameplay design issues online. Sadly :smiley:

So what I am very keen on doing is making any numeric changes that can push us more in the direction of balance without changing existing mechanics. I’d also like to explore further the idea of a shield-tunneling beam or similar capability but for now…how about this…

(Beefing up the power of shield disruption weapons).

  1. cruiser_shield_disruptor_missile. Increase disruption damage from 50 to 75
  2. cruiser_shield_disruptor_missile Increase missile speed from 0.39 to 0.75
  3. gunship_disruptor_bomb Increase disruption damage from 21 to 30
  4. gunship_disruptor_bomb Increase missile speed from 1.82 to 2.5

(Nerfing the non-shield penetration capabilities of high shield-pen weapons - cruisers).
5) sledgehammer_pulse_cannon Reduce armor damage from 70% to 35%
6) cruiser_pulse_cannon Reduce armor damage from 70% to 35%
7) cruiser_rapid_pulse_cannon Reduce armor damage from 70% to 35%
8) cruiser_heavy_plasma Reduce armor penetration from 18 to 13 (in line with other plasmas)
9) cruiser_multi_warhead_missile Reduce armor damage from 50% to 35%
10) cruiser_two_stage_missile Reduce armor damage from 50% to 35%
Topedoes are slow, and thus a decent defense exists already…

(Nerfing the non-shield penetration capabilities of high shield-pen weapons - frigates).
11) frigate_superseeker_missile Reduce armor damage from 50% to 35%
12) frigate_hyperspeed_missile Reduce armor damage from 50% to 35%
13) frigate_missile Reduce armor damage from 50% to 35%

(Nerfing the non-shield penetration capabilities of high shield-pen weapons - fighters).
No changes.

Am I screwing anything up if I make these changes in the next patch? It may not solve everything, but a nice nudge in the right direction is something I’d like to achieve. (Along with another new mission and a ton of bug fixes, plus 2 new limpet types…yay!).

I agree it’s a nudge in the right direction, incremental changes may not fix the problem immediately but they sure would be less alienating as you pointed out.

For the next nudge I have a few suggestions.

  1. Add a new state of “shield resistance zero” to shield disruption. So that as shield disruption damage is inflicted the shield goes from fine, to zero resistance and then to disrupted. This is to add quicker progress feedback for shield disruption. Makes it less all or nothing.
  2. More weapons that disrupt shields. E.g. EMP Beams/Missiles.
  3. Add shield disruption as a secondary damage to some weapons. E.g. That radiation damage is mildly disruptive to shields. That the lightning gun damages the shield and disrupts it.
  4. Add a non-missile Frigate weapon that can damage Cruiser Heavy Shields. I miss my vicious ion frigates from GSB1. Similarly what happened to torpedoes for frigates?
  5. Am I missing something on the fighter anti-shield bomb it does 6 damage (only to shields) at an interval of 3700 compared to a fighter torpedo that does 21 damage to shields, 10.5 damage to armour and 14.7 damage to hull at an interval of 3800. The anti-shield bomb costs almost as much as the torpedo and weighs almost as much for a weapon that appears to be far weaker than its cost / weight and specialization would indicate.

Here’s the problem with buffing the shield disruptor like that: How much is 25 more disruption damage? How much disruption can a given shield take?

This weapon system still doesn’t work with the normal means of taking down shields, which is just ordinary damage.

Worst case, I can do 99% shield disruption damage and 99% normal damage to a shield, and the shield will still be up. That’s hundreds of points of damage/disruption wasted of one type or another that would not occur had I just consolidated on one. Disruption is a whole lot less valuable given that it only works on shields, and it’s only temporary at that. I’m still going with ordinary damage.

I’d rather have it so shield disruptors did both 100% (shield) normal damage and their ordinary shield disruption at the same time. No need to adjust the numbers otherwise. This way disruptors aren’t going to be an absolute waste in my fleet if I don’t hit critical disruption mass, and become a sort of failsafe for if my opponent is doing inordinate shield beam tanking.

I completely agree that effectively having two parallel damage systems (damage vs. disruption) is suboptimal, but if the weapons are dealing out standard shield damage, it feels like the disruption becomes a pointless “add-on” mechanic. Everything damages the shieldpoints, plus this small subset of weapons does something extra that adds up off to the side? Why bother? Just make shield disruptor weapons as 100% shield damage, 0% everything else, and call it even.

There should be some correlation between disruption and standard damage for sure.

Perhaps what is needed then is something that makes shield disruption valuable on its own merits - maybe a vastly decreased cost to deploy (i.e., cost, power or crew requirements) or something similar. Maybe really low weight to enable high-speed shield-disruption strafing ships. Something that makes an interesting tactical choice between deploying weapons capable of normally breaching the strongest shields vs. a volume of shield disruption to take advantage of being able to take any and all shields down for brief periods.

(I always felt that was the benefit in GSB1 of the Shield Disruptor Bomb - using it, I don’t have to worry about whether I can beat your shield resistance, just hit with enough of them and then pour fire in while the shields are down.)

On it’s own, the cruiser disruptor does have a very attractive 1400 range. The gunship version is terrible.
At least the GSB1 disruptor didn’t fire at fighters.

But yes, this is essentially how I’m proposing we treat disruptors - a lightning cannon with benefits. I’m echoing what Brave Sir Robin says - we could treat disruption as a secondary mechanic for a limited range of weapons. The only true niche disruptors currently fill is ignoring shield support beam spam - and that wouldn’t change.

If Cliffski says core mechanics are off limits, I’m not sure what other route we can go with the disruptor. We either make it more like a normal weapon, or we double down and buff it to the point where it becomes more attractive than damage. The latter is a frightening notion.

The GSB1 variant suffered from the exact same problem - it had a fairly similar logistical requirement and range as the venerable ion cannon.

I like the changes you mentioned Cliffski, they all seem reasonable and a step in the right direction. However, I also agree that right now and possibly after those changes, taking disruption over something that does damage is a risky play. I would propose that in addition to those nerfs, reduce weight/crew/power/cost requirements of disruption modules to make them more flexible.

Good module design means that if you’re just a couple crew or power short for that module you really want, there should be an alternative that is still attractive but not quite as resource heavy that a player can go “well I can’t get another MWM, but I can fit a disruptive weapon there instead.”

Kind of like with engines - the resource req of Subspace vs Thrustmax is very slight, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve built a ship and had not enough power/crew or some extra power/crew and dialed it all in by switching engines around until everything fits. Both engines are great so I don’t feel like I’m nerfing myself putting in a subspace and it always feels good to get right up against the crew/power requirements.

A bit of a ramble, but there aren’t enough modules like those two engines I pointed out. Usually it’s quite clear what the best weapon for your application is and taking an alternative usually costs you so much that you shouldn’t bother. If the resource costs of lower power and niche weapons went down I think ship design would benefit and we’d see more variety.

Cliffski, I would urge not touching Shield Disruption at all this patch – more thought needs to go into it. A large amount of things can be done with it, simply because it is such a black box. Aside from the grey ShldStab indicator in-game, there is no visual feedback or status indicators on what Shield Disruptors do, or when they are working. Until I took a closer look at them, they weren’t viable to me because I see nothing, and that is probably the same for the majority of people who try to use them and think ‘what are Shield Disruptors doing for me? I don’t see anything – they look and act just like Dummy Missile Launchers. They don’t even do the listed shield damage!’ Add in that there is no shield stability percentage on the enemy status bar, and the only visual feedback the Disruptors have worked is when the enemy takes armor/hull damage through 100% shields (anything less than 100% could be explained by local shield failures).

Disruptors as a system are very confusing – if you damage a ships shields, then start hitting it with Shield Disruptors, the enemy shields actually regenerate! Not because they are being healed, but because disrupted shields still regenerate – and they don’t take damage when they are disrupted.

After doing some tests, the current Disruptors seem to be surprisingly good – 6 launchers on a cruiser do actually disrupt shields in battle and can be very effective. However, with almost no in-battle feedback, I really cannot tell how or why the Disruptors are working… You could make Shield Disruptors sprout Unicorns on-hit: no one would notice if no one can see them.

I would rather see variety through balancing both the effectiveness and fitting requirements of standard weapons. Shield Disruptors (and disruption in general) is too niche and vague. Trying to make non-standard/specialized weapons viable runs the serious risk of a revolving FOTM… exactly what we are trying to avoid. Your average player probably wants to have fun blowing up spaceships – not chase the Meta.

On a more positive note, the limpet mechanics look very interesting: would it be possible to create larger limpets (‘drones’)? The mechanic is ideal for remote Armor and Hull Repair drones for ships – a possible way to counterbalance the remote Shield Support Beam and shield stacking in general.

Actually, with the ability to set limits on how many limpets can attach to a target, could this be applied to larger ships? Such as, each Shield Generator or Repair System on a ship can support one Shield Support beam or Hull/Armor repair drone from another ship. It would prevent super support stacks, and also give a powerful reason to go with multiple smaller generators over a single larger one.