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Author Topic: The coming armor change  (Read 8715 times)

naufrago

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The coming armor change
« on: September 06, 2013, 07:18:40 PM »

EDIT: The patch notes were updated that the new maximum damage reduction from armor will be 85%, not 90%. Some of the info in this post is now outdated.

In case you haven't read the latest patch notes, armor will now provide a maximum damage reduction of 90% (up from 75%). This post is just to give you an idea of what exactly that means. To sum it up- armor just became a LOT more formidable. Also, damage per shot becomes MUCH more important the more armor your target has. Skip to the bottom for a rundown on how most of the weapons will be affected.

How I came to my conclusions
To recap how armor currently works, Actual damage = (Base damage * Base damage)/(Armor + Base damage). Actual damage then gets reduced by the explosive/kinetic/fragmentation armor multipliers (.5/2/.25 respectively). As a result, the minimum damage of kinetic weapons is currently 12.5% and explosive's is 50%. Armor isn't exactly uniform, though, so that calculation isn't perfect, but it's close enough. Also, I'm not really sure when damage starts bleeding through to the hull, but it would be nice to know. Also, I have no idea how beams are affected by armor. For reference, the minimum damage of kinetic weapons will be 5% and explosive's will be 20%. Frag damage will be nigh useless against armor, doing only 2.5% of its damage.

To give you a simple way to determine what effect that will have on the current weapons, multiply their damage by 3 and apply explosive/kinetic/frag multipliers. Anything with more armor than that takes less damage. For example, The Arbalest Autocannon does 150 damage per shot. 150*3*.5 = 225. Currently, anything with more than 225 armor will only take 12.5% of the 150 damage, for 18.75 damage per shot. Ships with more armor than 225 armor will now take less damage from the Arbalest.

Now, multiply a weapon's damage by 9 and apply damage type multipliers. Anything with that much armor or higher will only take 10% damage. Continuing with our Arbalest example, anything with 675 or more armor will only take 5% damage, for 7.5 total. For an Autocannon to deal more than minimum damage against a ship with 750 armor (like an Enforcer), it would take about 10 shots to the same spot. Against something like an Eagle with 1000 armor, you'd have to expend about 1/3rd of its ammo hitting the same spot to reduce its armor enough simply to deal more than minimum damage.

To figure out the strongest hit a ship can take while taking minimum damage, a good estimate is to divide the armor by 10 (The exact number would be to divide by 9. The estimate is lower than what it can actually take, but easier to calculate). That number is how strong a weapon can be and still deal minimum damage (be sure to apply damage type multipliers). For example, if you have 1000 armor, you would take minimum damage from something that deals 111 base damage, so only 11 damage taken. This means you could get hit by a kinetic weapon that deals 222 base damage and take only 5% of that (11 damage), or get hit by an explosive weapon that deals 55 damage and take 20% of that (11 damage).

Implications
In the next patch, it will be extremely wasteful to let kinetic weapons hit armor. Pulse weapons and beams will also have a very tough time punching through armor, which necessitates blasters, plasma cannons, or strike weapons/fighters to kill anything in a reasonable amount of time.

Against anything bigger than a Destroyer (and even the Enforcer is quite the tough nut to crack), energy weapons with unlimited ammo, strong explosive weapons, strike weapons, or strike fighters will be necessary. Going without will mean cracking the armor of anything bigger than a destroyer will take an eternity, or you risk running out of ammo for your ballistic weapons. Pulse lasers are fairly lackluster, so bringing a blaster or two now seems fairly mandatory. Also, the Combat skills that consider your armor doubled for damage reduction purposes and consider your weapon damage doubled for damage reduction purposes are now EXTREMELY useful.

This is just theorycrafting, but I think it may be warranted to change all the Pulse weapons to have slightly higher damage per shot and lower rate of fire, keeping DPS and flux efficiency the same. They're hit quite hard by the change, and there are barely any alternatives. If there were other options besides blasters and beams, I'd say they're fine as-is. My thoughts on other weapons are below.

Examples
EDIT: The minimum damage and amount of armor required to make weapons deal their new minimum are outdated. I may or may not update things later.
This part is to provide more detail on how the changes affect the guns. The numbers displayed are the old minimum damage per second, the new minimum damage per second, the amount of armor required to make it deal its old minimum damage, and the amount of armor required to make it deal its new minimum damage. Basically, the higher the numbers, the better the weapon is against armor.

NOTE: Strike weapons have minimum damage instead of minimum dps listed, since their damage is more relevant.

Ballistics
Light Assault Gun= 80, 32, 240, 720                 (Heavily affected by the armor change, but still has decent dps against armor)
Light Autocannon= 12.5, 5, 75, 225
Light Machine Gun= 19.5, 7.8, 37.5, 112.5
Light Mortar= 37.5, 15, 450, 1350                   (Surprisingly reasonable at cracking armor, but still terrible. Quite cheap, though)
Light Needler= 18.375, 7.35, 75, 225               (All of the Needlers, and nearly all kinetic weapons, are now quite terrible against armor, but that's fine)
Railgun= 20.875, 8.35, 150, 450
Vulcan Cannon= 18.75, 7.5, 11.25, 33.75         (Hit HARD by the armor change. Talons need a slight buff now maybe? =p)

Arbalest Autocannon= 18.75, 7.5, 225, 675
Assault Chaingun= 133.5, 53.4, 240, 720          (Heavily affected by the armor change, but still has decent dps against armor)
Dual Flak Cannon= 28.44, 11.375, 112.5, 337.5
Flak Cannon= 12.5, 5, 150, 450
Heavy Autocannon= 26.75, 10.7, 150, 450
Heavy Machine Gun= 40, 16, 60, 180          (Not completely terrible against armor, but explosive weapons are still much better)
Heavy Mauler= 125, 50, 1500, 4500           (Nearly unaffected by the change, great for cracking armor)
Heavy Needler= 26.375, 10.55, 75, 225
Hypervelocity Driver= 17.25, 6.9, 412.5, 1237.5    (Decent against armor despite being kinetic, but low ammo and dps)
Thumper= 28.125, 11.25, 67.5, 202.5

Gauss Cannon= 43.75, 17.5, 1050, 3150              (Another kinetic that's decent against armor, but low ammo)
Hellbore Cannon= 250, 100, 4500, 13500         (Completely unaffected by the change, great against armor)
Hephaestus Assault Gun= 240, 96, 720, 2160     (Hurt a bit by the change, but fine)
Mark IX Autocannon= 43.5, 17.4, 300, 900            (Hurt quite a bit by the change, but not completely terrible against armor)
Mjolnir Cannon= 133.25, 53.3, 1600, 4800              (Nearly unaffected by the change, actually worth considering now)
Storm Needler= 93.625, 37.45, 112.5, 337.5

Energy Weapons (including Thermal Pulse Cannon)
NOTE: Beam weapons omitted because I have no idea how armor affects them
Antimatter Blaster= 300, 120, 3600, 10800    (Basically unaffected by the change, great against armor)
IR Pulse Laser= 26.5, 10.6, 105, 315            (Does less dps to armor than a light mortar. That's just sad)
Ion Cannon= 12.5, 5, 75, 225

Heavy Blaster= 100, 40, 1200, 3600            (Mostly unaffected by the change. Probably your best non-strike choice for armor cracking)
Mining Blaster= 75, 30, 1800, 5400             (Great at cracking armor, but terribly inefficient otherwise)
Pulse Laser= 56.75, 22.7, 225, 675               (Hit hard by the armor change, but still has infinite ammo)

Autopulse Laser= 250(50), 100(20), 300, 900     (Hurt a lot by the armor change, but still has infinite ammo)
Plasma Cannon= 140.75, 56.3, 2250, 6750         (Basically unaffected by the change, great against armor. Very inefficient otherwise, though)
Thermal Pulse Cannon= 312.5(62.5), 125(25), 750, 2250       (Hurt a bit by the change, but still good)

Missiles
NOTE: Most missiles omitted because they're mostly unaffected by the change
Also, instead of minimum dps, it lists minimum damage per shot
Annihilator Rocket Launcher/Pod= 100, 40, 1200, 3600    (Mostly unaffected, so still great)
Sabot SRM (Pod/(Single))= 93.75, 37.5, 1125, 3375        (Mostly unaffected, so still decent)
Salamander MRM (Pod)= 31.25, 12.5, 375, 1125
Swarmer SRM Launcher= 18.75, 7.5, 225, 675         (Like getting hit with a Pulse Laser, but very limited ammo)
« Last Edit: September 08, 2013, 10:32:13 PM by naufrago »
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Thaago

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Re: The coming armor change
« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2013, 08:15:54 PM »

Nice analysis! I'm happy for this change (at least in theory, we'll see about practice). I remember that beam damage vs armor was stated at some time, but I have no idea where... if I remember correctly then half(seriously guessing here) of its dps is used as its value for base damage? Blech I could be totally wrong.

I think the hardest weapons hit are the autopulse lasers... they were already pretty marginal in terms of damage output for their OP and slot. Pulse lasers lose proportionally more against armor, but remain the best shield damaging weapons because of their efficiency.
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xenoargh

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Re: The coming armor change
« Reply #2 on: September 06, 2013, 09:18:47 PM »

As I run a mod with ridiculously-high Armor values (by Vanilla standards) and huge Armor buffs (ditto)... I can say that all of this is pretty much right on. 

The change to Armor, without a change to Shields and Hard Flux manipulation (i.e., there aren't any plans to replicate the Hard Flux drains I have put into Vacuum) means that Kinetics get a big nerf vs. all but the thinnest-skinned opponents, because they're pigeon-holed as Shield-killers. 

This is fine, but not if both they and ENERGY are similarly displaced.

Energy weapons in general just became even less useful for their Flux costs, with their only saving grace being ammo conservation, which is not enough, unless battle durations are expected to go up (which they will, with this change, so keep that in mind).  They were already marginal as shield-killers, and now they aren't much good as armor-killers.  They should be buffed, and probably the 1:1:1 ratio should probably get re-examined: I think that 1.5/1.0/0.5 might actually be best for them.

It also means that Beams, since they don't deal Hard Flux, got the biggest nerf of them all.  Their Flux efficiency vs. Shields was already pretty horrible (when we aren't talking theoretical, no-lapse-in-contact stuff, but real combat) and now they're nerfed vs. Armor, where they were already weak.

FRAGMENTATION weapons were already useless against serious armor; nothing has really changed there.

Anyhow, I welcome the change, personally; as my Beams do Hard Flux and I am quite used to dealing with all of these balance consequences, I am not at all bothered by them and the increase in emphasis on two-hit combos-  Kinetic followed by HE- is a good thing overall, because it encourages the Ballistic ships and makes them quite competitive with High Tech. 

But for Vanilla, I'd definitely want to see much higher DPS / Flux ratios from the pew-pew guns and stuff like the Mining Blaster will probably need a buff.  I have never been all that impressed with the pew-pew stuff at all; given that it's Flux-heavy and is thus sucking lifetime out of my Shields, I really expect it to hurt things or I just don't bother mounting it.
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naufrago

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Re: The coming armor change
« Reply #3 on: September 06, 2013, 10:44:26 PM »

My final thoughts on this are that I'm okay with most of the implications of the armor change. Kinetic weapons becoming more specialized as shield killers and explosive weapons becoming more specialized as armor breakers is a perfectly acceptable outcome, imo. However, there are four weapons that I feel were hit a little bit too hard with the change:

Vulcan Cannon- It already does pitiful dps, and the change makes it do only 40% of its former minimum damage to anything with more than 33 armor. The armor change indirectly nerfs Talon interceptors significantly. Would probably be fine if you just double the number of Vulcan Cannons on Talons, but hull would evaporate the instant shields and armor fail. That might be fine, though.

IR Pulse Laser- They're already pretty bad, but the armor change makes them even worse. The armor change is completely warranted, but it feels like the IR pulse laser is hit a bit disproportionately hard compared to other guns. I suggest increasing its damage to 50 per shot, but lowering its rate of fire so that its dps is 120 while keeping its flux/sec around 150. I realize that's a slight buff, but I think it could use a bit of that. Hell, the Light Mortar can hit above its class better than this thing.

Autopulse Laser- The only alternatives to it are Beam weapons and the horribly inefficient Plasma Cannon. In order to make it more usable against cruisers/capital ships (which is what I primarily use Autopulses to fight), increasing its damage to ~150 per shot and reducing the max number of charges and charges generated per second while keeping its flux/sec and dps the same seems like the quickest fix.

Pulse Laser- Similar to the other Pulse weapons, the Pulse Laser is heavily affected by the change to armor, but not as much as the other pulse weapons. The Pulse Laser may actually be fine the way it is, especially if you consider the flux damage bonus. But if it's not, I suggest increasing the damage (perhaps to 100) and decreasing rate of fire proportionally while keeping flux/sec the same. It'll have a hard time against Capital ships and the more heavily armored cruisers (as it should), but it won't struggle quite so much against Destroyers.


Disclaimer: This is just theorycrafting. I could be overreacting and everything could be fine. This is just my opinion from looking at the information I have available to me.
« Last Edit: September 06, 2013, 10:50:29 PM by naufrago »
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Histidine

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Re: The coming armor change
« Reply #4 on: September 06, 2013, 10:45:02 PM »

Let beams ignore armor damage reduction  8)

My principal worries are low-power HE weapons like Light Assault Gun, Light Mortar and Assault Chaingun being obsoleted in what is supposed to be their nominal role (two of those three were already rather bad to begin with).
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naufrago

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Re: The coming armor change
« Reply #5 on: September 06, 2013, 11:54:47 PM »

Well, you have to consider that even though the assault guns do less dps with the armor change, compared to kinetic weapons they still do much more dps against armor and aren't as heavily affected by high armor. Compared to other explosive weapons, they have a much higher rate of fire and projectile velocity, so it's easier to hit smaller ships with them than, say, a Mauler. I wouldn't mind seeing their ammo capacity increased to compensate, however.

EDIT: Actually, it would probably be a good idea to increase the ammo capacity of all the kinetic weapons too, since there will be a LOT more 'wasted' shots against armor.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2013, 12:16:20 AM by naufrago »
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Voyager I

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Re: The coming armor change
« Reply #6 on: September 07, 2013, 02:11:44 PM »

Well, you have to consider that even though the assault guns do less dps with the armor change, compared to kinetic weapons they still do much more dps against armor and aren't as heavily affected by high armor. Compared to other explosive weapons, they have a much higher rate of fire and projectile velocity, so it's easier to hit smaller ships with them than, say, a Mauler. I wouldn't mind seeing their ammo capacity increased to compensate, however.

EDIT: Actually, it would probably be a good idea to increase the ammo capacity of all the kinetic weapons too, since there will be a LOT more 'wasted' shots against armor.

I'm actually somewhat in favor of having a distinction between low-damage, rapid firing explosive weapons that are easy to shred smaller ships with but struggle against truly hard targets and big, unwieldy cannons for punching through capitals.

My concern is about how well the AI will be able to deal with this.  It has never been terribly concerned with maximizing the efficiency of its weapons, but with the coming changes then something as simple as shooting Autocannons at a Hound could go from being suboptimal to outright counterproductive in terms of how much flux you build up for the damage dealt.  Even if you micromanage the firing on your own ship, all the way down to having explosive and kinetic weapons in separate groups for firing and enabling/disabling autofire individually, as it currently stands there's nothing we can do to prevent our AI squadmates from spending all their flux dumping autocannon shells into an Enforcer.

Has the AI gotten smarter about this for 0.6, Alex?
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naufrago

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Re: The coming armor change
« Reply #7 on: September 07, 2013, 05:09:37 PM »

Well, you have to consider that even though the assault guns do less dps with the armor change, compared to kinetic weapons they still do much more dps against armor and aren't as heavily affected by high armor. Compared to other explosive weapons, they have a much higher rate of fire and projectile velocity, so it's easier to hit smaller ships with them than, say, a Mauler. I wouldn't mind seeing their ammo capacity increased to compensate, however.

EDIT: Actually, it would probably be a good idea to increase the ammo capacity of all the kinetic weapons too, since there will be a LOT more 'wasted' shots against armor.

I'm actually somewhat in favor of having a distinction between low-damage, rapid firing explosive weapons that are easy to shred smaller ships with but struggle against truly hard targets and big, unwieldy cannons for punching through capitals.

My concern is about how well the AI will be able to deal with this.  It has never been terribly concerned with maximizing the efficiency of its weapons, but with the coming changes then something as simple as shooting Autocannons at a Hound could go from being suboptimal to outright counterproductive in terms of how much flux you build up for the damage dealt.  Even if you micromanage the firing on your own ship, all the way down to having explosive and kinetic weapons in separate groups for firing and enabling/disabling autofire individually, as it currently stands there's nothing we can do to prevent our AI squadmates from spending all their flux dumping autocannon shells into an Enforcer.

Has the AI gotten smarter about this for 0.6, Alex?

Yeah, the AI's disregard for efficiency is something I'm concerned about as well.

EDIT: Imo, the AI should stick to using its most efficient weapons for the task at hand. For ballistics, it's about as simple as "When shields are up, hold fire on explosive ballistics and fire kinetics. When enemy flux is high, mostly stop firing kinetics and start firing explosives." For energy weapons, it could be as simple as "Use your efficient weapons when enemy flux is low, only use less efficient weapons when enemy flux is high or your flux dissipation can support firing the weapon without driving your flux levels up rapidly." The AI for high-tech ships doesn't give a damn about its soft flux levels and will happily drop shields so it can fire its inefficient weapons, which is sub-optimal on most high-tech ships.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2013, 05:20:31 PM by naufrago »
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Gothars

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Re: The coming armor change
« Reply #8 on: September 07, 2013, 07:14:16 PM »

Very nice analyses, thanks for that naufrago :)


I just want to add that rapid fire low dps weapons are not quite as bad as the stats make it seem. Every shot reduces the armor, so once the minimum damage threshold is surpassed every subsequent shot does more damage. For example the Autopulse Laser would have somewhat higher DPS against cruisers and below because of that.

BTW, there were plans to make all ammo unlimited.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2013, 07:27:50 PM by Gothars »
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Cycerin

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Re: The coming armor change
« Reply #9 on: September 08, 2013, 10:25:46 AM »

All I can say is, poor poor Thumper.
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PCCL

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Re: The coming armor change
« Reply #10 on: September 08, 2013, 10:47:37 AM »

oh god the thumper...

I x1.5'd its firerate and damage and it still doesn't feel OP

wonder what I'm gonna have to do to it now...
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Alex

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Re: The coming armor change
« Reply #11 on: September 08, 2013, 12:00:18 PM »

A couple of things!

First, the damage type multiplier gets applied before the armor damage reduction is calculated. So, if a Light Assault Gun (high explosive) does 50 damage per shot, a "hit strength" of 100 is used to determine the damage reduction.

Beam weapons do indeed have a "hit strength" of half their DPS. This is now configurable via settings.json.

I've also adjusted the maximum reduction to 85%, after some playtesting. 90% was a bit much.

Has the AI gotten smarter about this for 0.6, Alex?

The AI will already prefer to use the right tool for the job, if one is available. For example, try fitting a Brawler with 1 HVD and 1 Heavy Mauler - in separate groups - and see how it uses them. It's more of an issue when it puts a group of turreted kinetic (or HE) weapons on autofire, but it should be more conservative with those as far as turning them off when flux gets high, though I haven't looked at that recently.


I'll take another look at the Vulcan/IR Pulse/Autopulse/Pulse - thanks for bringing those up as potential trouble spots. The IR Pulse and the Vulcan haven't been that appealing even before the change, really.

As for the Thumper, I've been using it in my recent playtesting (an Enforcer with 4x Annihilator, 3x Thumper, 2x Flak) and it seems to be working great, so I don't think there's a real issue *there* - it's just not an anti-armor weapon, or a top-tier weapon in general. It's surprisingly good vs shields, though, and devastating vs bare hull.


BTW, there were plans to make all ammo unlimited.

I wouldn't say plans... it's one of those things that has upsides and downsides. Much like the recently-discussed "energy damage vs energy slot" issue :)
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Silver Silence

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Re: The coming armor change
« Reply #12 on: September 08, 2013, 01:04:59 PM »


BTW, there were plans to make all ammo unlimited.

I wouldn't say plans... it's one of those things that has upsides and downsides. Much like the recently-discussed "energy damage vs energy slot" issue :)
Did I miss that energy topic?

As for ammo, the main upside is of course not needing to worry about it anymore. The downside is power weapons having unlimited ammo. With all the coming CR changes, I get the impression that battles are meant to be kept short and sweet, in which case an ammo count seems moot because it'll never realistically be hit. Battles that the player drags out to allow methodical killings suffer greatly from limited ammo. As such, energy-based ships have a distinct advantage in these prolonged battles, they will never have to worry about ammo. I guess power weapons (AM Blasters, notably) could have regenerating ammo and low actual ammo counts.
Over in the land of mods, the Neutrino have the pulsed beam laser which works like that. High power, one shot only, takes a while to charge a new shot. The FairyEN mod has all weapons use regenerating ammo in virtually all weapons. Unlimited missiles is particularly horrifying. There are super sized pirate Buffalo fleets that exercise EXCESSIVE use of all their missiles.


On the topic of HE, I rarely ever use light hitters like the Assault Chaingun, the LAG or the Mortar. My go-to weapon of choice has always been the Mauler because it hits hard enough that most ships cannot shrug off many hits whilst the tickles (in comparison) of the Chaingun take notably longer, especially when some mod ships also use hefty amounts of armour that make the Onslaught's armour seem like tissue paper. The Mauler's also got dat range and the ability to outrange most enemies is practically second to none.


"Hit strength" sounds like something that could be used to make certain weapons totally ineffective against shields/armour/hull. Like massed needlers will overload shields in literally seconds but you could waste endless bursts against a battleship's armour to little effect. Would be great for reinforcing the "kinetic on shields, HE on armour" ideas. Right now, Gauss Cannons are practically dual purpose as they will take shields out of the equation pretty fast and still do respectable damage on armour (if that meaty crunch on impact is anything to go by, compared to the sounds of a HV Driver or the Autocannons)
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phyrex

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Re: The coming armor change
« Reply #13 on: September 08, 2013, 01:14:32 PM »

would it be too strong if the AI that manages a player's groups on autofire was as wise as ai controlled ship ?
because right now, ai ships use appropriate weapons at appropriate times while ai groups on the player's ship will just fire away mindlessly as soon as theyre turned on autofire
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Alex

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Re: The coming armor change
« Reply #14 on: September 08, 2013, 01:30:53 PM »

would it be too strong if the AI that manages a player's groups on autofire was as wise as ai controlled ship ?
because right now, ai ships use appropriate weapons at appropriate times while ai groups on the player's ship will just fire away mindlessly as soon as theyre turned on autofire

It works the same for the player and the AI - the AI is just turning the groups on/off as it finds appropriate. You can also use the "hold fire" key to make managing things a bit easier.

Did I miss that energy topic?

Here.


"Hit strength" sounds like something that could be used to make certain weapons totally ineffective against shields/armour/hull. Like massed needlers will overload shields in literally seconds but you could waste endless bursts against a battleship's armour to little effect.

That's how it already works, and is why it exists/the armor damage reduction formula works the way it does :)
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