I think armor needs some help


#1

I think it degrades a bit too quickly. I’m not talking about crits - I understand the gameplay implications of unstoppable armor tanks - but the cascading value degradation from penetrating hits. The reason why this is important is that armor has a combined threshold value that determines it’s effectiveness. Correct me if I’m wrong with any math:

Right now the low penetration ion cannon /cruiser laser are my close range hull killing weapons of choice. They fire fast, they do great damage and strip down shields at an amazing pace. To me, armor should be a logical defense against these weapons due to their laughable penetration, but it is a difficult sell: Not only do you have the weight and price components of armor to worry about, but you also have to maintain the all important module ratio - adding a targeter module can actually kill you.

For the sake of argument, I’ve made a basic cruiser with 6 modules (two of which are weapons - not a terribly useful cruiser). Armor is divided among modules. Now add a plate of ultraheavy armor, which has 126 damage absorb and increases your module count. Divide over the now 7 modules and the craft now has an average of 18 armor, which is above the threshold for penetration for the ion cannon (12) and cruiser laser (15). This is great if opposing craft field no other weapons (and nothing crits!), but even the simplest fleets have something else.

A single hit from a frigate beam laser (49 penetration) does 26 damage to armor, dropping the average armor rating below 15. Subsequent cruiser laser hits will now damage the armor at 20 damage per hit, completely destroying the module within seconds and rendering the ship naked. This is that moment where something cracks the armor on the ship and the whole thing just lights up instantly as the average armor value passes threshold after threshold.

To me, this is a bit unintuitive. I can’t penetrate the front of a tank with a 9mm pistol, even after a giant space laser has melted the rear off of said tank. Would it make more sense for “average armor” to remain fixed, and have a percentile chance of complete armor bypass based off the condition of the armor?


#2

There’s another post somewhere where someone did a test and also concluded that shields are simply superior to armor. His conclusion was that it was mostly due to recharge but I think you raise a good point as well. There’s always that “tipping point” where your 4 plates of armor have taken enough damage that your ship goes from “I’m okay” to “I’m dead” in about a second – as soon as your average armor passes the value where the enemy’s main weapon (say, beam lasers) start getting through the armor, you die fast.

Assuming you’re right about the math, then maybe an alternative could be this…

Let’s say your ship has an armor rating of 10. A shot for 9 damage therefore bounces off.

Due to damage, your armor rating is now 8. Instead of the 9 damage shot getting through, let’s say that it has a 2-of-10 chance of getting through.

Percent chance of getting through = (Max Armor Rating - Current Armor Rating) / Max Armor Rating

So when your armor goes down to 7 of 10, that 9 point shot actually has a (10 - 7) / 10 = 30% chance of penetrating and a 70% chance of being entirely deflected.

This is basically simulating what you said – just because there’s a hole in the tank SOMEWHERE doesn’t mean your 9mm pistol can now damage the tank EVERYWHERE. If your 10 rating armor is 90% destroyed, there is still a 10% chance of deflecting a 9-point laser hit.


#3

I don’t see armor as something that is intended to be taken “instead of” shields. Most ships will need some of both. A ship without armor will be destroyed very rapidly by a cloud of laser fighters. A ship without shields will find that its armor just won’t hold for long against enemy capital ship weapons. It does seem like armor comes off rather like paint once the initial shine is taken off, but to strengthen it would be to risk making fighters irrelevant (just armor up, destroy enemy capital ships and ignore the gnats!)


#4

If you mean laser fighters vs cruisers, they already achieve their kills through critical hits on the armor. Nothing I’ve proposed really changes that.


#5

Laser fighters take a long time to merely crit% their way through armor, but a typical cruiser will have 10-15 modules. So the total armor left when the fighters start being able to strip off the armor is around 60-90 points left. Many cruisers only take one or two plates of armor, so changing the way armor works would significantly increase the amount of time needed for laser fighters to beat a cruiser. Take the case of the 15 module cruiser with one armor plate (a relatively common build, actually). A laser fighter need only take off about 30 points through random chance, and then the rest they can strip off rather quickly. Adding one more plate of armor means that now the fighters have to go through around 150 points of armor the slow way! It shouldn’t be possible to slap one one plate of armor and then be essentially immune to laser fighters (which two-three plate cruisers basically are since the fights are typically over before it matters, at least if your cruisers have the engine-thrust to get to the enemy in that timeframe)

My point here is that there are complex balance issues in changing the way armor works.


#6

I think the point is that it doesn’t really impact fighter vs cruiser because cruisers are already basically immune to them. A cruiser with 1 heavy plate and 1 nano repair can live a really long time against a pretty sizable swarm. He’ll probably run out of repair juice before they kill him.

What it would REALLY change is frigate vs fighter. Right now, fighters are absolute death to frigates. Frigates have no repair system and even a 3-plate frigate will go down fairly quickly to fighters (and 3 plates is a lot for a frigate). You can’t reasonably build an anti-fighter fleet that’s powerful enough to save your frigates from being pasted by a big swarm of rocket fighters.

A change like this that helps keep the frigate armor functioning for longer might go a long way to actually improving game balance.

IMO, the way it should work:
Torp fighters can beat ships
Dogfighters can beat torp fighters
Ships can beat dogfighters

The way it works right now is that dogfighters are so incredibly good, almost every fleet has a ton of them, which makes torp fighters completely useless and makes frigates hard to use well.

I’ve actually been tuning a “cruiser fleet” that uses no frigates just because I was tired of trying to deal with fighter vs frigate problems.


#7

hi,

compare lightweight armor to powered armor, literally no difference.
yes, powered armor is cheaper and lighter, but offers same protection. the slight weight difference doesn’t really matter.

i mean, it consumes three power and still i need a repair system.
so it would be nice if powered armor would get self repair as bonus.

greetings
driver


#8

Powered armor is useful when having some excess power.


#9

hi,

i always try not to have excess power, but yes, if it happens i might consider equipping powered armor.

but still, i see no point in using something that needs power just because i have some excess power…i mean, if thats the only “benefit”…
(less weight and minor cost difference aren’t important to me, and as i said, the weight difference often doesn’t even matter).

so my suggestion was to give it at least a little bonus for the power consumption.
self repairing would give powered armor a considerable advantage, so that one might find one powered armor more useful than one more shield generator (which needs more energy and manpower).

greetings
driver


#10

I agree with your argument that rocket fighters are too good. I think the primary problem for rocket fighters is that they move to fast. Other fighters just cant hit them. Infact, almost nothing can without tractor beams. Either increase laser tracking speed for fighters to above 5, or adding more weight to the default fighter (it starts at 1, should start with more, depending energy produced) would be a good solution.

Actually, the second option, expanded, would allow a lot more variation in the hulls. Think, if every ship hull in the game had variations in base weight and thrust, in addition to the existing variations in power and cost. You would could make a low module count cruiser design that was really fast. Sure you can do it now by putting more engines but the prebuilt one would cost less, and basically fix you to a certain speed.


#11

OP is exactly correct about the problem with armor; I’ve raised this issue before. If I have shield penetration of 24 and the enemy has shield resistance of 27, he is basically immune to all of my shots. If I have armor resistance of 27 and he has armor penetration of 24, I might as well be unarmored, even if I’m carrying a repair bot or two, because after the first crit he will start tearing my armor to shreds. In order to get the same level of defense as a 1-point shield resistance advantage, you need a 20-point armor resistance advantage. Given the extraordinarily high module cost of armor this is pretty much infeasible against anything but fighter guns.


#12

I think the logic behind it is shields are supposed to be your primary defence, armor is supposed to be secondary. Makes sense to me that armor ablates faster than shields too - shields are fields of energy that regenerate, armor is essentially just a lump of ceramic and metal strapped to the hull.

If you made armor have the same style of resistance as shields battles would take forever, which a lot of people have previously complained about already with the mechanics as is.

If you made shields have the same style of resistance as armor battles may arguably be too short (although I’d be willing to try it) and again you have a problem.

I think as it is we have a good middle ground.


#13

Making armor better would be a better middle ground, IMO.

Part of the problem is that armor-piercing weapons simply aren’t as useful as shield-piercing weapons because piercing armor isn’t that hard anyway. I’ve never really gotten a lot of use out of laser fleets because lasers are weak to shields, and that’s the hardest part anyway. Once you’re through the shields, breaking the armor is easy enough. This is why those “fast frigate spam” fleets are so good. Load them up with ion cannons and they can kill anything. You can beat them with a heavy armor fleet but then your heavy armor fleet is useless against everything else because you have to sacrifice so much DPS to do it.

So while I can agree that armor should not be a 50/50 alternative to shields, I do think that better armor would yield better gameplay, as that would make fighter spam and single-minded anti-shield attacks a lot less effective. When designing your fleet you’d have to actually ponder what to do about armor rather than realize you can ignore it and be perfectly fine against 90% of the fleets out there.


#14

It’s about classes of weaponry. If an opponent made a bunch of cruisers with 4 beams and one cruiser laser each, you’d just equip shields and laugh at him. A battle taking too long in that case is just him equipping improper weaponry.

Right now the highest DPS categories of weapons are anti-shield, low armor pen, close range weaponry. Cruiser laser, ion cannon. Once the shields are down, they continue to do the highest possible damage on unarmored hulls. Middle of the road short range weapons (like cruiser pulse lasers) already have a healthy armor penetration and a slightly lower DPS, presumably to offset that armor penetration. However, if the enemy never equips armor (or armor is too easily defeated), there’s little reason to equip a pulse laser as it does both a lower overall DPS and zero damage versus a cruiser shield. The small 110 range advantage is partially negated by a wider min range and the fact that you need to be in cruiser laser range to bypass a shield to begin with.

Right now, the antishield weapons are defeating armor to the point where you need very little in the way of armor penetration weaponry to support these short range shield breakers, and you’re actually hurting yourself at some point by taking AP weapons over another cruiser laser.

The exception to this rule appears to be missiles/plasma massed to the point where the severe range advantage takes over.


#15

No, we have no middle ground. The status quo is “equip exactly enough armor to keep fighter shots from penetrating, but don’t bother to use armor AT ALL to defend against anything else”.


#16

hi,

and yet i’ve got another crazy idea making the game more unbalanced… :wink:

no serious, what do you think of making shield bubbles larger?
me thinks it would make armor more valuable since fighters and frigates could get more easy within the shield and penetrate the hull dircetly.

greetings
driver


#17

Hmmm, if the rest of the posters are correct in what they say about armor, all this would do is highlight the problem that armor doesn’t do much. If armor penetration worked exactly the same as shield resistance but armor had severely diminishing returns (currently the diminishing returns is an ignorable .98) and the best armor had a value of 70 then it would no longer be possible to have armor better than the best armor penetrating weapon and the game balance would be different, but still playable.

I think the crit% should be variable and dialed down (to .0001% or less) for high ROF anti-shield weapons. It’s just unfair that the ion cannon and cruiser laser get to strip of shields and then just random chance their way through the thickest armor in under a minute.


#18

That’s a good idea.

Like make the crit rate be a factor of ROF. If a weapon with a ROF of 1000 has a 1% chance per hit to crit then a weapon with an ROF of 500 has a 0.5% chance to crit and ROF of 2000 has a 2% chance per hit to crit.

That way all weapons get the same “crits per second”.

Or maybe get rid of crits and assign every weapon in the game a “minimum damage” amount. Maybe a Megaton missile has a minimum damage of 10 (meaning it will always do at least 10 damage regardless of resistance) while an Ion Cannon might have a minimum damage of 0.1 or just plain 0. You’d have to think about min damage when fitting ships for dealing with potentially hard nuts to crack.


#19

I don’t think crits are the issue. Ion spam isn’t exactly critting it’s way through armor when there’s no need to leave it to chance.

Stick a low ratio of penetration weapons in that are capable of dropping targets below threshold.


#20

hi,

well, i think armor is meant to protect against short range attacks, not to keep the ship alive under heavy cruiser bombardment.
and a big mean cruiser laser that slices through shields should slice through armor the same way.
otherwise this would just feel “wrong” to me as long as it isn’t a special “anti-shield-but-zero-armor-damage-weapon” (such as those frigate bombs).

since some consider armor to be far too weak to use it in the same way as shields (including me), or to use it at all, my intention was to make shields less useful against short range weapons by making the bubble larger.

and i don’t like improving armor by making it just a second layer of shields. they are two completely different defenses and should have completely different characteristics.

sounds good. generally said, just nerfing this one weapon against that special form of defense would degrade ship construction to simple rock-scissors-paper in my opinion.

greetings
driver