Combat Readiness Update

With CR being one of the main features (perhaps the main feature) of the 0.6a release, it makes sense to revisit it after seeing how it’s played out so far.

(If you haven’t been keeping up with the details: CR (“combat readiness”) is a percentage rating each ship has that’s reduced each time it’s deployed into combat and governs how effective it is, and whether it can be deployed at all. Recovering CR costs time and supplies, thus rewarding the player for winning with fewer ships. That’s not the only reason for CR’s existence, but there’s a whole blog post devoted to it, so I won’t talk about it here.)

Overall, I think CR accomplished its intended goals, but that doesn’t mean that it’s perfect and can’t be improved. One of its effects in the current form is that ships go from “pretty much working fine” to “can’t even deploy this rust bucket anymore” awfully quickly, without much of a transition period. For reference, right now a ship below 10% CR can’t be deployed at all, while a ship below 20% CR suffers weapon and engine malfunctions. In theory that should be the aforementioned transition period, but in practice deployment costs are high enough that it can get skipped altogether.

With that in mind, the changes:

Ships have their deployment costs and CR recovery rates halved.
This means the supply cost per deployment and the recovery time remain the same, but more consecutive deployments are possible.

Malfunctions start at 40% CR, critical malfunctions start at 20%
This is all about extending the transition period between “working fine” and “not working at all”. A ship in average shape has roughly the same number of deployments as before until it runs into malfunctions, but now it’s possible to continue deploying the ship well beyond that.

Just what are critical malfunctions, you ask? Conceptually, it’s a chance for things to go very, very badly wrong. For example, a power junction failing catastrophically, ammo exploding inside a magazine, an engine containment field failing, that sort of thing. In game terms, it’s a chance for weapons and engines to go offline for the duration of the battle, and cause major hull damage in the process. Simply deploying a ship at low CR will cause some of these, an continued use in battle has a chance to cause even more.

Say goodbye to the starboard-side Heavy Blaster and some engines; and that’s just the beginning!

This may sound harsh, and it is. The thing to keep in mind is that these deployments are effectively in place of not being able to deploy the ship at all. By the time you have deployed a ship at 1% CR (which, by the way, is the new minimum required, down from 10%), there should be no question as to why you can’t deploy it anymore. It will be a rust bucket; and now the game shows this instead of merely explaining it.

What this does is allow for a range of progressively more risky deployments. Is it worth deploying a ship at 30%? It won’t blow up on its own, but the malfunctions may expose it to greater danger. At 10%, you’re guaranteed to sustain major hull damage (and associated crew casualties) from malfunctions alone, but the situation may be desperate enough to warrant deploying it anyway.

Ships can be crash-mothballed prior to an escape attempt
If you’ve got some low CR ships and are attempting to escape from a fight, you might not want to risk critical (or even regular) malfunctions. Ships can be crash-mothballed (right in the pre-engagement dialog), meaning they won’t suffer any ill effects from deployment, but their weapon systems will be offline. This gives ships the best chance to get away as their engines will not break down – assuming their firepower isn’t needed for a delaying action, that is.

As a side note, fighters aren’t affected by this as CR represents something different for them – the number of prepared replacement chassis.

Critical malfunction or direct Hellbore impact? You decide.

Ship Repairs
I made some changes to the way repairs work; mostly unrelated to the CR changes above, but I wanted to talk about them briefly anyway.

The ship “repair rate” stat pulling double duty – controlling both CR and hull/armor repairs – always bothered me a bit, mostly because that’s something that’s not very clear to the player. The mechanics around repairs are also quite complex – you have a few sources of supply allocation for repairs, and then each individual ship also has a  maximum repair rate that limits just how many supplies it can actually use. Available supplies get split evenly first between ships flagged as a “logistical priority”, and after that, non-priority ships get a shot at repairs too. (If you find that explanation confusing, I’d say that illustrates the problem rather nicely.)

The question is, what does having a repair rate per ship bring to the table? A good way to think about this is what kind of differentiation a stat allows between ships, and whether that’s interesting enough to make the added complexity worth it. That’s a subjective call, of course, but let’s take a look.

You might have a ship with a really high repair rate, which means that it can be fixed up quickly. Unless you don’t have the ability to allocate enough supplies to repairs, in which case it’ll take a while to repair anyway. A ship with a low repair rate would be slow to repair regardless of how many supplies you could allocate. Is this an interesting  distinction to make between ships? You could already represent a ship being difficult to repair by having a high repair cost, and a ship being easy/difficult to prepare for combat by changing the CR recovery rate. All in all, there doesn’t seem to be a lot room for this stat to work with. Off with its head!

The new rules are much simpler. First of all, the “base repair rate” stat is now clearly labeled “CR recovery rate”, and only applies to CR. Second, the repair rate depends entirely on the supplies that can be allocated for repairs. This depends on two things, as it did before: the “emergency repairs” capacity of your fleet (affected by skills and such) and how much unused logistics capacity your fleet has. Ships that have logistical priority still get repaired first.

Some consequences:

The emergency repairs and the logistics capacity stats have a similar impact if the fleet is under its logistics capacity, both increasing the repair speed. I think the overlap here is ok, because it’s not complete. There’s still cases where you want one over the other, and the skills affecting each have different perks as well.

Construction Rigs need to do something different since the per-ship repair rate stat is gone; could perhaps just increase the “emergency repairs” fleet stat. That would mean they’re trading logistics capacity for emergency repairs, so if the rig provides maybe 2x in repairs what it consumes in logistics, that should work. That, in turn, means that Construction Rigs and the Field Repairs skill (the one that improves the emergency repair capacity) overlap. If that meant that you could get more rigs instead of investing into the skill, that’d be a problem – but since rigs also cost logistics capacity, they’re not “free”, and there’s still reason to invest in the skill; even aside from the skill having other perks.

Theoretically, a ship could be repaired incredibly quickly. In practice, about the best you could do is fully fix up a wrecked destroyer in a day or so – but that would require lots of personnel and the appropriate skills, so that doesn’t seem too out of line.

So, all in all, I think that’s a nice simplification that clarifies some player-facing stats and doesn’t take away anything particularly interesting that can’t be expressed in other ways.


Comment thread here.


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This entry was posted on Thursday, October 17th, 2013 at 5:17 pm and is filed under Development. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.