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News: Starsector 0.9a is out! (11/16/18); In-dev patch notes for 0.9.1a (01/31/19)
 
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Author Topic: [0.9.0a] 'Junk Pirates' 3.02 (including ASP & P.A.C.K.) - Graphicslib Req.  (Read 324155 times)
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« Reply #615 on: January 10, 2019, 05:34:12 AM »

I'm finding it difficult to purchase undamaged PACK ships because neither Petra nor Christchurch appear to have military markets or heavy industry. Is this an intended feature?
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mendonca
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« Reply #616 on: January 10, 2019, 08:31:10 AM »

I'm finding it difficult to purchase undamaged PACK ships because neither Petra nor Christchurch appear to have military markets or heavy industry. Is this an intended feature?

Hi,

In vanilla terms at this stage, yeah it is. Would you say this is a problem for you? I'd be really interested to hear your thoughts / experiences.

I haven't done much playtesting in 0.9 looking directly at PACK and her system; but the thinking is really centred around both the lore of the faction and the dynamics of 0.9 with player-manufacturing etc. (i.e. at some point in a run it's really gonna be a non-issue from the player point of view. There is also a longer term goal to change this up a bit in a specific way, which I guess means it would be acceptable to patch it up a little right now; but at this time I haven't done that.)
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« Reply #617 on: January 10, 2019, 04:22:42 PM »

My recent PACK only Nexerelin playthrough has been a challenging fresh change of pace since no other faction, modded or otherwise, fills their plucky underdog niche. I think having to rely on outdated D-modded hulls is rather thematic. However, I have noticed a dearth of purchasable dedicated combat ships.

The Mastiff cruiser and the BRT destroyer are the only two pure combat ships I have seen for sale after a year of in-game time. NPC PACK fleets and patrols seem to also only field these two as their dedicated combat ships along with an assortment of the various PACK frigates and freight destroyers. Interestingly, NPC PACK fleets seem to use vanilla Condors over their own GFB carrier, which I have never encountered in the campaign. The Shar Pei, along with other destroyers like the Pitbull and the Komondor as well as Schnauzer frigates are similarly absent.

I assume the lack of availability of ships is partly due to the nature of the open market. At any given time, half of the Petra market consists of multiple copies of the various vanilla tankers, civilian transports, freighters and salvage rigs. While I understand the necessity of filling the ship roles that PACK lacks, in practice these common hulls can be purchased in much better condition at other markets. There doesn't seem to be an easy fix for this since these vanilla ships shore up PACK's smaller roster. The other market, Christchurch, appears to suffer from the same issues albeit at a much smaller scale since the market itself is tiny.

From a non-PACK playthrough perspective, I find myself very rarely interacting meaningfully with PACK. Their markets are relatively small and the lack of heavy industry makes it hard to justify the trip over. At the same time, their fleets are often severely D-modded, discouraging piracy for the sake of ship acquisition. This isn't a big deal, however, because it doesn't detract from gameplay and they still add variety to the ambiance of the sector.

In addition, while I don't believe that a modder is in any way obligated to accommodate the works of other modders, the steadily increasingly roster of other high-quality 0.90 compatible mods will make it more difficult to acquire a specific faction's blueprints in a heavily modded game. This is probably more of an issue with how blueprints are acquired in the base game, but there may be times where the player only discovers PACK blueprints very late into a playthrough or even no PACK blueprints at all.

At the end of the day, I don't think military markets and heavy industries are needed if they break the established lore of the faction. I do, however, wholeheartedly support increasing the variety of non-custom PACK ships that are available on the open markets.

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mendonca
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« Reply #618 on: January 10, 2019, 08:31:49 PM »

Hey, thank you so much for that feedback, it's really appreciated.

Yeah, I had maybe banked on the open market being a little 'better' than it appears to be (at least in terms of variety if not quality). I'll take a look, might need to try and do something clever (or dumb) about this.
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« Reply #619 on: February 24, 2019, 04:24:46 AM »

Hello! I've just completed a run in the 6th Starsector Tournament with PACK/ASP in the Underdog League!
I was lured in by the premise of an underused faction where the whole was more than the sum of its parts and I was not disappointed.  I am aiming to present some notable facets of PACK/ASP to help other players enjoy this rewarding faction, as well as a few personal notes on balance

Due to the specifics of the tournament ruleset maintenance & base ship cost played a big part in decisions, as well as of course AI usage of ships so a lot of feedback is geared towards that.  Actual availability of hulls beyond those factors is a minor issue in the tournament format, except where we nudge the tournament spam soft limits, so is not well addressed here.  Tournament faction distinctions restricted me to PACK/ASP and weapons & fighters from any faction I was paired with, which specifically does not including Bullseye (BE) variants nor Junk Pirate content

PACK/ASP has a varied roster with a reasonable number of base hulls, which then often have hull variations from Caomarelo Arms & Armour (CA), Canebianco technicians (CB) or Rothund machine shop (RH).  These variations should be carefully considered as they often involve different weapon mounts, built-in hullmods, OP changes or extra maintenance and can be significantly distinct.

Broadly speaking PACK has excellent access to omni shields with large arcs, high speed and also high maneuverability, especially deceleration.  In Starsector combat these are important factors.  The AI is able to use omni shields extremely well, with larger arc omni shields enabling potential close engagements against multiple ships relatively safely. 
High speed & maneuverability let them often pick battles, engagement ranges or enable flanking

Of particular note is their generally high deceleration stats, which is often the biggest factor of how effectively a ship can get out of a bad situation.  This is particularly important when reversing from full forward to full reverse in order to hide behind a friendly ship and recover flux.  PACK ships may be individually weak but by cycling out their front lines they are able to absorb & dissipate exceptional amounts of flux on a fleet level

Hullmods
There are various notable hullmods to accentuate PACK strengths or mitigate weaknesses.  It is no accident that many of these hullmods are available as built-ins for the various ASP elements.

Accelerated Shields synergises with omni shields to greatly improve their combat effectiveness, particularly under AI control.  An often overlooked factor is a de facto dissipation bonus since it inclines AI ships to drop shields more to passively vent.  Often built into (CB) hulls

Auxiliary Thrusters increases nimbleness of PACK to extreme levels.  Of particular note is the +50% bonus to the important deceleration stat.  Synergises with Accelerated Shields to enable even faster shield rotations that no human could take practical advantage of but the AI sure can.  Ships generally spend a lot of time not at max speed in combat and this improves every aspect of that movement significantly.  Often built into (CA) hulls

PACK is broadly susceptible to burst damage, with their generally fragile hulls.  There are various hullmods to mitigate this, with shield focused ones commonly built into (CB) hulls and a whole host of them commonly built into (RH) hulls.  If you like a PACK ship conceptually but find it needs more oomph then do check out those hull variations

Wirefox
3 maintenance for a medium missile and a fast omni shield frigate with a medium ballistic.  This is an exceptional fleet ship when used en mass or as part of a holistic fleet.  The advantages cheap of medium missile access and also medium ballistics are profound

Wirefox (CA)
4.5 maintenance for a nimble frigate of the line.  Yes a line frigate, despite its fragility.  The additional +5 OP goes a long way on top of the free, practically required built-in Auxiliary Thrusters.  Swarms of these can cycle damage away very nicely, particularly in combination with any fleet anchors

Diamondback (P)
3 maintenance for 3 small missiles on a platform with a blistering 195 top speed.  Can be fitted with a long range small weapon like a tactical laser to play the ultimate game of distraction.  These things can be extremely slippery while also having excellent strike potential via their missiles.  Worth noting that their very high speed and relatively low mass will often see them take more self-inflicted harm from ramming friendlies than from enemy fire; could probably stand to have more mass to mitigate this common issue

Pitbull
8 maintenance close range destroyer.  Generous 150 arc omni shield enables close quarters battle against multiple threats.  Lack of medium mounts precludes engaging at longer ranges, although PACK generally has exceptional access to medium ballistic mounts via other hulls.  Pitbull (CB) & Pitbull (RH) are notable if more OP or survivability for more cost is desired

Copperhead (P)
15 maintenance hunter cruiser.  A 90 speed cruiser with Plasma Jets and generous flux capacity.  Essentially an even lighter Falcon, that still provides cheap access to cruiser-grade hull range bonuses.  Can use it's speed & capacity to bully smaller hulls, or fit for long range damage or dual role.

Mastiff
15 maintenance line cruiser.  A solid ship that demands considered decisions on where to spend it's limited OP.  Can be fit for tanking, ballistics support, mass small beam support or a High Intensity Laser but not all at once.

Gigantophis
22 maintenance carrier capital.  Actual carriers are rare & valuable assets, as opposed to the much more common & behaviourally distinct combat carriers.  The only actual carriers in vanilla are Condor, Gemini & Astral;  Gigantophis is an actual carrier.  Provides relatively cheap access to the exceptionally powerful one (1) second cooldown Recall Device.  This was showcased in the tournament via stripped-down Gigantophis with 50 vents and triple Longbow wings, providing constant kinetic sabot close support pressure for the PACK fleet just as fast as the 200 speed Longbows could travel to target.

Bulldog
35 maintenance force multiplying pocket capital.  Features the exceptional Entropy Amplifier on a durable non-phase ship hull.  This is a significant force multiplier for PACK via damage multiplier of Entropy Amplifier, access to large ballistics or capital-grade range boosted beam support. 
Particularly relevant in the era of stations as it can mount a Hellbore Cannon;  2250 effective damage from a Hellbore shot past shields will strip an Entropy Amplifier afflicted station's armour very fast, even more so with skills.  Unfortunately I was not quite able to field one of these beauties this tournament, an oversight I hope to remedy next tournament.
The two front small ballistics turrets could stand to be shifted further back, or further away from the centerline or swapped to hardpoints.  Right now they are practically immediately disabled if any notable damage gets past the shield from the front, making them somewhat of a trap to utilize

There are plenty of other PACK/ASP ships but I don't yet feel confident enough to comment on them specifically

Affenpinscher
Broadly speaking PACK has issues fielding enough PD, instead needing to rely on dodging or taking missiles on shields.  This is exacerbated by fighters in particular, which can attack from unshielded angles.  Affenpinscher is a built-in burst PD laser found on a few hulls with generous 360 arcs that feels like it might be a custom designed solution to this particular problem.  In practice they are mostly mounted on destroyers and 650 range isn't quite enough to provide fleet PD coverage for the mobile PACK fleet.  I feel like more range on the Affenpinscher could potentially contribute the PACK's more than the sum of its parts theme
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« Reply #620 on: February 25, 2019, 01:18:13 AM »

To follow up on fish's Bulldog thoughts I'd like to share some of my own from using the Bulldog as a support capital ship against the Dickersons.

Essentially the Bulldog is in the position of being a larger Mastiff, able to endure or deal punishment but not really both. In most contexts this leaves the Bulldog somewhat underwhelming as a battleship, with performance more comparable to that of a battlecruiser, but that includes thoroughly adequate agility. An extremely large selection of energy turrets gives the Bulldog an extremely distinct niche as a capital ship, being able to project overlapping banks of energy weapons to control fighter and missile swarms with relative efficiency that is sorely needed for PACK fleets.
For my purposes of using the Bulldog as a flotilla leader for light cruisers designed to break the back of lighter vessels, I fitted it with an exhaustive array of point defense weapons, anti-fighter weapons on the outer weapon nacelles, and standoff weapons in the medium energy hardpoints. This was intended to allow it to reliably zone out fighters and frigates, ensure breathing room for the rest of the fleet and while the battle didn't quite go as planned this wasn't due to any failings on the Bulldog's part. For the main guns I used a pair of Mark 9s backed up by some HE guns, a build again intended more to provide breathing room to the fleet than for breaking ships on its own. Finally the fighter bays were filled with support fighters of irrelevant type, largely an afterthought to be honest.

Now it wouldn't be fair of me to blast the Bulldog's lack of exemplary performance given the nature of the build I used, however I did feel there was a distinct issue that even with predominantly beam weapons and Mark 9s the Bulldog struggled very hard to sustain any level of fire. It also occupied a position where the entropy amplifier simply was of no use to the Bulldog itself due to the lack of sustained and raw damage, which is why I built it as a support ship of course. Essentially it had a simply stunning ability to respond to harassment via its grid of energy weapons, but solely two large ballistics felt insufficient to pressure any target slow enough to be a valid target. More importantly even the most flux-efficient build reasonably possible for the ship boasted...mediocre staying power. (Though I will say that flux endurance is a complaint I think I've leveraged against every capital ship at least once, so while I'm confident in the criticism in this case take it with a grain of salt)
« Last Edit: February 25, 2019, 01:19:51 AM by Surge » Logged
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« Reply #621 on: February 25, 2019, 02:54:06 AM »

I think I bumped into similar issues with the Bulldog in testing and resolved them differently

Quite a number of its energy mounts do not converge forward.  This enables careful mount selection to produce a ship that reserves it's flux for ballistic forward primary armament against single targets and only use PD flux when flanked or dealing with multiple targets.  This does mean forgoing forward facing PD but makes it considerably easier to win flux battles against larger targets.  Particularly true with double kinetic or a high ratio of flux into kinetic damage instead of other damage, such as Storm Needler + Hellbore

I combined this with Auxiliary Thrusters purely for the deceleration boost.  The base stats are 50 max speed with 15 deceleration, so it can take a long time to go from forward to fully backing out.  With Auxiliary Thrusters that's closer to 22 deceleration.  Staying power becomes quite acceptable once it's enabled to back off & cool down

What I might like to see would be custom variation of the Entropy Amplifier ship system, for example setting weighted priority based on enemy ship size & proximity to friendly ships.  Try to have it trigger in more situations where the pack will converge on a target instead of just the Bulldog's current target, which can sometimes be less holistically useful to the fleet position or a relatively small target
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« Reply #622 on: February 25, 2019, 11:23:38 AM »

Thank you fellas.

That's great feedback; it really helps to get that kind of context to help understand exactly what is going on.

I really like the thoughts around the Affenpinscher. At present it is just really a 'free heavy burst pd' with some tweaks. Increasing range sounds like a really nice way to increase differentiation whilst working nicely with the intent / flavour of the faction. Will probably need some other changes to make sure it doesn't become some kind of superweapon, but I'll mull that over and see if I think I can make it work.

Also on the Bulldog - again very useful thoughts. It gives me something to think about; and some very helpful context again.

It isn't meant to be a particularly good ship - but it's interesting to hear that it fills some roles quite well. It might bear thinking about trying to tweak / shift the focus slightly towards the more specialist positions; I might even try out Heavy Ballistics Integration to free up OP when using the front mounts - perhaps shifting the focus away from the front facing energy mounts more to naturally guide the basic builds towards a more intermittent engagement pattern. A custom EA should also work well; for flavour if nothing else.

I still need to catch up with Rd 3 & 4, but that's all really appreciated - thanks again.
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« Reply #623 on: February 27, 2019, 11:45:46 PM »

I really like the thoughts around the Affenpinscher. At present it is just really a 'free heavy burst pd' with some tweaks. Increasing range sounds like a really nice way to increase differentiation whilst working nicely with the intent / flavour of the faction. Will probably need some other changes to make sure it doesn't become some kind of superweapon, but I'll mull that over and see if I think I can make it work.

Setting the collisionClass to RAY_FIGHTER might be an option too, not too many things use it beyond the Paladin PD System and the ability to fire PD over allies fits with a fleet PD role.  As noted would almost definitely need some balance adjustments alongside that
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« Reply #624 on: February 28, 2019, 10:56:48 PM »

Cool factions, especially JP and PACK. Felt really punchy and fun to use, loved the character.
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