Weapon specific balance discussion


#1

A variety of issues I feel could be argued about. No mechanic suggestions, just numerical ones about the baseline game - keep it simple.

This sounds a bit negative, but the intent is focused on getting underused classes of weapons feasible.

  1. Cruiser close range

When it comes to knifefighting (and it usually does…) the cruiser laser reigns supreme. This isn’t a problem in itself, but that weapon is also the highest DPS shieldbreaking weapon in the game. The damage per tradeoff is so high over other weapons in it’s category that you don’t see much variety in this department - only paired tribe howitzers can compete.

Frigate close range seems healthier in terms of variety. The ion is still top dog, but it’s got a rather large deadzone and power requirement. Pulse lasers have limited anti-fighter ability and armor penetration, and Rapid fire lasers aren’t nearly as behind the ion as the quantum blaster is behind the cruiser laser. (the RFL outdamages the QB, hilariously enough)

Ideally, going all cruiser laser should be a sort of overkill. You don’t need 4 to drop a shield, so if you want that many, be prepared to give something up.

Perhaps a simple nerf to the Cruiser laser is in order, but this brings me to…

  1. The Cruiser Defense Laser (and the tribe autocannon)

This weapon’s draw is it’s excellent tracking, and is listed as an antifighter weapon. The pricing is near a cruiser pulse laser, but the damage/range/penetration understandably falls behind.

Unfortunately, this is not a terribly good antifighter weapon:

a) The tracking is good, but not good enough. Strangely, it is of a high enough tracking to hit any type of fighter that is actually a natural threat to a cruiser, but not enough to hit single-rocket fighters. This throws the driving AI into utter loops when there are large proliferations of rocket fighters on the map, making their presence potentially disastrous. The cruiser wants to fight them, but can’t hit them. Fighter weapon systems (except rocket/painter, which is race specific) suffer from the same problem, so this might be more of an issue with rocket fighters.

b) There seems to be a delay between the time a target flies out of range and the time when a new target is selected. The small range of the CDL and the nature of fighters can mean there are significant percentages of time where the CDL is simply not firing. This may be more of a game engine issue, but it is something to consider. I still don’t think the range should be increased significantly.

c) Price. This thing is really, really expensive for it’s output. If you welded a single laser fighter to the side of the cruiser, not only would it be cheaper, you would have a weapon that actually did more damage, which is a bit of insult to injury.

I propose treating this weapon more like a battery of small weapons than a single gun. For cruisers of this size, it’s not unreasonable to think that there might be dozens (if not magnitudes higher) of local point defense type weapons. Given it’s minimal penetration characteristics and the fact that we’re giving up a cruiser slot, this weapon could probably stand to receive a substantial fire rate increase. Arguably, it could even be made “competitive” (either through price or outright DPS) with other short range weapons like the CL. If you aren’t protected with shields or armor, a short range maneuverable weapon system that can accurately and frequently hit where it hurts should be a significant danger.

  1. The quantum blaster.

Gah. Unless you are getting buzzed regularly at close range by .6 speed cruisers with high-resist shields, I’m not sure what practical application this weapon has over another besides a CL gap-filler or some kind of hitpoint sink. The howitzer (which has the same or better costs) completely destroys it in damage - with almost double the output. That’s how bad this thing is.

  1. Heavy Plasma Launcher

This weapon has the same DPS (after damage per reload time has been factored) as the regular cruiser plasma launcher. Unfortunately, it has an abysmal tracking rate and poorer range requirements… there just isn’t any reason to use it. It is inaccurate and penalized more for individual misses than it’s cousin.

I’m a fan of plasma’s tendency to punish criminally slow fleets. Since this weapon system is targeted at the slowest of the slow, this weapon could be an equalizer in fights between nimble fleets and opponents that may have… “forgotten” to install engines. It could use some help in the output department.

  1. Fighter Torpedoes

These weapons have the worst sustained damage in the game. Their usefulness comes from two factors: favorable penetration statistics and frontloaded damage.

If the initial volley fails to make a significant impact - such as on a cruiser with point defense or multiple shields, or just unlucky misses on a shielded frigate - these fighters usually flounder about afterward until they die. You can brute force through a cruiser or two sometimes, but torpedoes normally can only be counted on for breaking the armor of unshielded AA frigates.

Once armor is gone or not present to begin with, fighter lasers/pulse lasers outperform torpedoes to the extent that they are completely outclassed. The ‘defense turret’ on a fighter often does more than the torpedo does.

I’m not entirely sure what role torpedo fighters are intended to have. There’s a variety of things that could be done with them - anything from dropping torpedoes from inside shields to disruptor/emp combo bombs could help their present standing.

  1. Targeting modules

A number of posters are reporting that these things not only do not help, but are possibly reducing cruiser accuracy. Has anyone found something conclusive here?


#2

nerf? nooo! I actually haven’t used the Cruiser Laser that much, but I haven’t played a big variety of online challenges yet. I would be more in the camp of saying make the other, less-used cuiser weapons slightly more powerful to increase their appeal.

I agree, I’d say the Frigate close range stuff is working pretty well.

I agree with your analysis. It is a terribly weak weapon to take up a slot on a cruiser, and it sucks at the role it is supposably designed for. Therefore I never use it. It seems to me that slow fighters get decimated by almost any weapons, so people go with fast fighters. Fast fighters can dodge the fire of pretty much all the defense weapons handily, therefore to have any sort of effective anti-fighter defense, I usually go with tractor beams. And once you’re invested with tractor beams, you can employ lower tracking rate weapons and still wipe out the fighters pretty well. If this thing had a sick tracking speed so that it could score hits on the fastest of fighters without needing tractors, maaybe it would be useful.

Yeah, this thing has an awesome-sounding name, but needs some serious upgunning before it could be used. Not that it needs to become competitive with the cruiser laser, but it at least needs to be moderately competitive with something.

I’d agree. In the single player I could do some pretty cool plasma spamming, but I always just used the regular launcher. The plasma launchers also suffer from the problem of getting ships to use their speed appropriately - I make a cool fast plasma boat, but it doesn’t keep an appropriate stand-off distance, and the plasma weapons seem to do somewhat less damage then missile spamming seems to be able to accomplish. I dunno though, the jury may be out on this. Anybody have some cool plasma spam challenge fleets?

Maybe they wouldn’t be so horrible if they didn’t make the fighter so slooow. Speed is life for fighters, which is why it seems like the most effective attack fighter designs are either fast paired rocket or rocket + painter loadouts.

I did do a couple tests, just with a standoff plasma cruiser though, with and without the target booster II module. It didn’t do squat for accuracy. Which is shame, because I would really like to use a module like this. I’d be interested for more people to do more tests with different weapons. I primarily see it as useful for a longer-range type standoff cruiser armed with high power, low-ROF weapons.


#3

Intrinsically, it’s just a low DPS weapon system. Which is okay. They have very good all-rounder penetration values, no point defense counter, and with that sort of range it’d be dangerous to let the pure damage get out of hand.

It’s usefulness against Tribe is pretty questionable for that reason, though.


#4

Nerfing this one would have serious impact on the gameplay. It would make shields overpowered unless disruptor bomb worked better.

a) this is an overall problem of how the targeting works in the game. Trough rocket should have increased weight and the painter increased energy cost.
b) It happens in general with all weapons. Also many times, ships have weapons ready to fire with targets in range but they don’t shoot or select a target.

Fix these problems and give burst (salvo) fire to cruiser defense laser ?

The problem of this one is that fits in the same role of cruiser laser. Buff it to much and it replaces the cruiser laser, don’t buff to much and it remains a second rate cruiser laser.

The problem of this weapon, is the accumulation of bad features it has:
Weight, Poor damage, High reloading time, Cost and Narrow fire ranges.

Seems like that, tried a 2vs2 with python cruisers armed with heavy plasma engaging at max range and no orders with more or less the same hitpoints (a diference of 3 per ship), the cruisers with target painter won 1 of 9 rounds.

For another poor weapon choice, there is the “Alliance Lightning Beam”.
It’s a short-ranged and multi-purpose, pretty decent. However it’s narrow ranges (220-360) make it not so good.


#5

I’d consider a CL nerf a worst case scenario, but it wouldn’t make shields overpowered. Arguably, shields aren’t even in a great place to begin with… Tribe is getting away with murder in that department.

The interest, anyway, is drumming up some diversity and a CL nerf is probably unnecessary. The cruiser laser’s primary role is heavy shieldbreaking, and that’s always what it would stay. Get other weapons (like the CDL) more real estate on the average cruiser and the problem will likely sort itself out.

I actually don’t have any problem with rocket/painter fighters. They’re actually slow enough to hit - I think the fastest one is 2.72 speed - the difficulty has always been the 3.5+ speed rocket packs with engines.

I noticed we’re all using plasma for our tests. I wonder if that matters… maybe it’s not working on certain types of weapons.

If it did a lot more damage, it might be fun as some sort of frontloaded defense gun. It’s strangely lightweight.

As of now, it’s too untrustworthy as an armor breaker and does too little damage to overpower a shield or to help much in a slugfest.


#6

well then its more like, should target painters be able to aim flawlessly other fighters ?


#7

I dunno, probably not. You could sort of rationalize it as a targeting computer with a graphic attached.

It leaves Alliance and Empire out in the cold, of course, and it’s a downright goofy interpretation of “rockets”.

On the other hand, it’s the only method fighters have for engaging targets above 3.0 speeds that doesn’t have a 2% hitrate.

Either fighters need to start getting missiles of their own, or (if cliffski is going for some sort of WW2 fighter rules) fighters need to be able to hit each other without taking such measures. It’s completely unintuitive.


#8

Target Painter or do you mean the Target Booster module? I would not expect the Target Painter to help plasma accuracy, although I don’t know why it would have a such a large bad effect either. My experiment was also with Pythons, but loaded with regular plasma. The Target Booster II module made accuracy marginally worse, somehow. Here’s a summary of what I posted in another thread regarding this:

Chiarne Prime single player mission, Easy difficulty.

Python CPFA cruiser (Cruiser, Plasma, Fast, Armored) loaded out with the following:

CPFA(+): 9x cuiser plasma, 1x target booster
CPFA(-): 9x cruiser plasma, target booster slot left empty.

Ignore fighters, engagement range set to 825 for FF and CA targets, cooperative and vulture orders for everybody. Deployed in a concentrated, 2 rank deep formation x5 high, alternating CPFA(+)/CPFA(-) types. Using five CPFA(+), and five CPFA(-) (along with other support ships and fighters), I got the following post game accuracy statistics in two trials:

trial 1:
CPFA(+) - 37%, 25%, 32%, 34%, 31% (average 31.8%)
CPFA(-) - 43%, 33%, 30%, 35%, 34% (average 35%)

trial 2:
CPFA(+) - 32%, 38%, 36% 29%, 29% (average 32.8%)
CPFA(-) - 39%, 41%, 41%, 25%, 35% (average 36.2%)

Booster module equipped ships were marginally less accurate, somehow.

I’d like other folks to try out similar experiments and see if they can confirm that the booster module is worthless. Also I’d like to see similar experiments for the laser painter used in conjunction with all the various missile and rocket modules.

Fighters could DEFINITELY use an anti-fighter missile module. You would think you could use fighters alone in order to destroy other fighters, but currently you can’t. They either need a gun that can track the other super-fast fighters, or an anti-fighter missile module that can reliably pick off enemy fighters of any speed.


#9

I’m not a fan of the plasma weapons, but I find that you get decent hit rates when you are within optimum range (as long as you aren’t trying to hit a frigate)…the difference is like night and day.


#10

One might use the heavy plasma launcher for it’s lower crew requirement compared to the normal plasma launcher. It’s also got slightly better penetrations and costs less. I don’t think this outweighs the disgusting weight and tracking though.


#11

heavy plasma canons served me well in the campaign. Back before I unlocked the other races, I would beat every level with a federation cruiser sporting 5 heavy plasma canons and 2 upgraded tracking computers, laser frigates, and dogfighters escorting the cruisers.

I don’t see the point of having 2 weapons that are good against shield and worthless against armor. Quantum Blaster should be made really long range, or just scrapped.


#12

Nerf the cruiser laser a bit, id say. Or make its armour penetrarion even worse, so that even a lightly armoured ship can withstand a good amount of fire from it, requireing diversity.
Defence laser needs better tracking speed, i think. Though isnt there that module that is supposed to help with that?

Quantum blaser is fine as it is. Its a slot filler, for tinkering with clever or low cost builds. Maybe up its armour penetration, couple with lower AP for CL, it might give it a different flavour.

Cant say much on heavy plasma, never found those weapons to be that useful.

As for fighter torpedos, i think fighters torpedos need their own command. One where they will bank and flock in the same dirrection, and try to release all their torpedos at the same time. As it is, they are next to useless. Havent met a situation where they would be better than laser fighters for killing cruisers.