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Starsector 0.95a is out! (03/26/21); Blog post: A Tale of Two Tech Levels (05/28/21)

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Messages - basileus

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I'm still finding some vanilla items in the stores in the latest beta.  The thing that caught my eye this time was the vanilla Heavy Annihilator Pod.  I can't be sure if there is an issue with your override script or there are just a few IDs missing from your database.

Happy Holidays, Morro!

Thanks, Albreo.  I haven't had any luck with Kraken BPs or finding enough of them in markets to test it out.  Do you use them on the Herons as well?

I don't think I've ever seen crew requirement being a limiting factor for any strikecraft.

Try playing the Perseans using only their stuff.

High tech and low tech are easy to play.  High tech you can play carriers, you can brawl with elite shields, go phase ships, or you can play long range hit-and-run.  Low tech you double down on armor and dakka dakka.  (Low tech has more L slots and hull mods to reduce heavy ballistic costs.)  Midline sucks.  There's no reason to choose it to go defensive, so it has to play offense as the best defense.  The most obvious option is to play a carrier fleet, and try strikecraft and missile spam.

The trouble is that its strikecraft and missiles are pound-for-pound worse than high tech, and the strikecraft typically have +1 crew to their high tech equivalents.

So not only are you at a strategic disadvantage to begin with, you also pay two additional taxes:  You have to buy lots of replacement crew, and you have to pay the upkeep to haul a lot of extra crew around with you or it can become a legitimate operational limitation.  To play midline, you pay more to use worse stuff.  With the Excalibur cannon nerf, I don't see that they have anything going for them.

Can anyone name any role that the midline excels at?  The Executor is an OK ship, but unless you use a mod that raises the officer level cap, you kind of have to choose between making it a ship of the line or a carrier.  As far as I'm concerned, you'd be infinitely better off with either a Paragon, an Astral, or two Pillagers for roughly the same DP.

Is it possible for you to change the 1st rank of Fighter Doctrine so that it reduces the crew requirement of all strike craft by 1?  There are all those LPs, and I'm unwilling to use 80% of them as things stand.

When your building these variants, do you test them with the pilot personalities that the faction favors?

For instance, SciCorps favors cautious pilots and that becomes a problem with some of their builds.

The Squall/Atropos variant for the Apogee works very well because the ranges are nearly identical.  Some of the other variants are a little more problematic.

The Exploration variant is fine without a pilot; however, with a cautious pilot it struggles because the pilot will try to keep at 3,500 and do nothing but fire harpoons.  That variant would benefit from something like a Heavy Shockstorm/Rapier replacing the Atropos up front and Typhoon Atropos in the Large.  Ditching the Liberators for Retributions. 

Meanwhile, the Long range variant probably needs to have all of its M/L as some combination of Thunderbolts / Hurricanes.

And if you wanted to do a MRM variant, then all the ranges should cluster between 2.5-3k. etc.

Anyway for any faction that defaults to cautious pilots, it's probably worth looking at the variants carefully to make sure that there are enough M/L weapons near the max engagement range of the variant.  Otherwise, the addition of a pilot risks making the ship perform worse instead of better.

Artificially creating a window for missiles would probably be a good thing and I could have much larger magazines on things like the Machine Gun to allow for another balancing mechanism.

Yeah, that way certain ships cannot have endless area point defense spam, in particular.  Maybe the Shattercell is an exception.

Making a note - though just to make sure are you talking about their military bases or smaller colonies? They have a lot of Patrol HQs which don't field capitals. There should definitely be capitals at places like the Directorship Headquarters.

I did start to see a few, but even at the HQ some detachments had no capitals.  That said, the Apogee is actually a competent cruiser now, which I'm happy about because I like exploration, and your Squall/3xAtropos build is quite good.

(Requires a new game.)

Oops!  OK. :)


WRT Missile ranges:

I noticed there is a Large Salamander now (or has it always been there?) @2,400, so I suppose that I'd only advocate for bumping Squall up to 1,800.  I've never thought of it as a DPS weapon.  I'd agree with Albreo that either the EMP damage or speed might need a slight reduction.  I probably wouldn't do both, at least to start.  The only ships that it really does a lot of damage to would be frigates, and the missile don't turn tight enough to connect with them.

I'd agree with the analysis of the Sabot, but it does give me an idea: Are there any fighters left with active flares?  Maybe if there were fast heavy fighters and/or maybe a light gunship that specialized in flare spam.  They wouldn't do a lot of damage on their own, but would open the door for other strike craft / missiles.  Sort of a Wild Weasel role.

Eh! I never know Odyssey has a salvage gantry. What a must have ship.

It's one of the new changes.  It's definitely something that you'll want 1 of in your fleets now.  Although, I'm skeptical you'll find it worth fielding at 28 DP.  Its DPS profile is modestly worse than the 22 DP Revenant (fewer hardpoints/worse fields of fire/worse net dissipation/worse shield efficiency), and much worse than the Legion or Onslaught.  Its cost probably needs to fall or it needs a full conversion to Battlecarrier.

Also, should the Renegade fighter-bomber count as a fighter for the purposes of the new hull mods?  Currently, I don't find them to be worthwhile, but if I could field them cheaply on the Ody or Revenant, I might.

Is this a problem?  I think it's a good thing if it's viable to use smaller ships with level 20 pilots, as opposed to forcing us to run all capital fleets in the late game.  Also, balancing around a fully optimized loadout and level 20 pilot might have undesirable consequences for general gameplay.  Does it seem too powerful without the pilot?

You should test it out. I myself only skim through it and won't be able to deliver a concrete verdict. From the brief test out with no pilot, usually phase ship AI is crappy with no pilot but it can still manage to solo at least 30 OP Onslaught while running away from fighter which should be a phase ship nemesis. I also used this missile build to kill the new Guardian ship with another capital. It looks like it's too slippery to me but well gotta sleep.

I won't have time to do too much testing until next year, but I'll try to get some level 6 and level 12 pilots and not promote them past that.  That seems to be what the AI typically uses.

It's not just the shuttle.  I can't use militarized subsystems anymore.  Maybe it's looking for the vanilla civilian grade hull rather than the AO version.

I like the changes overall, but I am moving and haven't had a chance to play much.

In my opinion, virtually all PD and Fire Support weapons should be soft flux and virtually all assault and strike weapons should be hard flux.

I also think that PD is too effective.  I'd recommend either shortening ranges or, better yet, making most PD weapons magazine-based, so that they continue at their current effectiveness for a time but can be overwhelmed.  (It might also make expanded magazines useful.)  If things become too lethal, then improve the effectiveness of interceptors.  It's the same as making PD weapons magazine based--PD capabilities can be degraded with enough sustained fire.  This will increase the lethality of fights, but I think that's a good thing.  They take too long, imo.  It's too easy for a player to keep all their ships alive once they have all the blueprints.

Doom with a proper loadout and captain can solo Paragon no problem in open space. Its speed might be too fast.
Is this a problem?  I think it's a good thing if it's viable to use smaller ships with level 20 pilots, as opposed to forcing us to run all capital fleets in the late game.  Also, balancing around a fully optimized loadout and level 20 pilot might have undesirable consequences for general gameplay.  Does it seem too powerful without the pilot?

SciCorps fleet doctrine needs to be adjusted to field more carriers now that the Odysseus is a carrier--or they need another capital.  All they field is Apogees and small ships.

There are two versions of the Dagger bomber currently enabled in the mod.  Actually, there appear to be multiple versions of a number of strikecraft.

Ogleth is still missing the Habitable modifier.

I'll also second Albreo that the Squall probably needs an extended range.  Since it's a capital class engine interdiction system, it would make sense that it has a medium range (1800-2500).

I can't apply Militarized Subsystems to the Mercury Shuttle.

Once I finish up this work on the REDACTED stuff I will likely release a test version of the new balance as an early Christmas present. ;)


Well, everything sounds well thought out, as usual.  I look forward to testing it.  Sounds like my old tricks are done for.  The Pillager was my ace in the hole after I brought the nerf hammer to bear on my stacking defensive mods for ~0.4 shield flux efficiency. ;D

I had already seen the screen shot you posted of the new Excalibur.  Honestly, I think adding some flux to that line was probably a necessary thing.  It and the Tri-beam could be pretty OP in player hands.

FWIW, you could probably field 5 Pillagers for the same cost as those fleets, and at least under the old balance I know a Pillager build where 3 could be enough to deal with the high tech fleets and 3 or 4 could handle the low tech fleet.

Different fleets play to different strengths.  The way that you've set those skirmishes up should play to the strengths of high tech.  If high tech is losing in that short of skirmish scenario, it doesn't bode well for them strategically unless they maintain a significant advantage in the carrier space.

High tech needs speed and space to thrive.  They want to spread the battle out into a number of isolated engagements, move in an unload doing some lasting damage while only taking flux damage, then disengage to reset.  Sending them up against even numbers of Dominators and an Onslaught should be perfect for them.

If Low Tech is going the slow and ponderous route, then they need to deploy combined arms: they need support from missiles / artillery / gunships to sustain flux pressure.  It's like advancing infantry behind a creeping artillery barrage.  Their slow-arse Onslaughts need to push the high tech back to the edge of the map.

The other alternative is to take away the biggest advantage of high tech--mobility.  The Pillager's burn drive allows them to adopt the Nelson doctrine and "engage the enemy more closely."  You have a 22 DP battlecruiser that can delete 17 DP Auroras--or at least it could under the old balance--and go toe to toe with Paragons, as long as it survived the Paragon's initial alpha.

But your skirmishes, imo, should favor high tech unless macro balance has been seriously reworked.

My Pillager build was roughly:
  • Mods: Frontal Shields; Advanced Turret Gyros;
  • 3 central mediums: Heavy Photons
  • 1 dorsal large: MarkIX
  • 2 forward large: Excalibur cannon aka best weapon
  • 2 wing large: heavy Vulcans
  • 2 forward wing small: Photon cannons
  • 1 rear medium: Vulcan
The rest is mostly PD and some interceptors to keep the torpedoes away.

Now this build may not be as effective without the captain skill for improved target leading, I'm not sure.  But it's effectively a zero flux build with tolerable shield efficiency, burn drive, heavy armor, good range, and very good sustained DPS.  It's more than twice as good as a Dominator and costs only 150% more... and frankly, it's enhanced mobility makes it better than an Onslaught as far as I'm concerned.  The Pillager will jet around the map almost always shooting at something. 

In skirmishes, as opposed to fleet engagements, the Onslaught will spend most of its time wishing there was something in range for it to shoot, and when it finally does get in range of something, it will use its built-ins at the edge of the shield box.  That's the real problem I have with powerful weapons with long CDs.  The AI is dumb and aims for the edge of shield boxes rather than center of mass.  That means that 20-25% the time they fail to damage armor/hull, even if they are "on target" in these sorts of isolated duels.  I did fly around with a pair of salvaged Onslaughts in my Luddic Path playthrough, but I only brought them in for major fleet engagements.  Usually 2-3 Pillagers did all of the heavy lifting.  Since I was playing Pather, I felt obliged to use Pather Eagles as meat shields... instead of just more Pillagers.  Plus, I had a very limited supply of Heretical Persean weapons.  I had to pay the iron price for them, after all.

Morro, do you think you could do a preview release of the mod?  Not in the OP but just in a new post, so that Daton, Albreo, and I can help give some balance feedback?

On the topic of PD pass-through: I think is very good but has to be very carefully balanced. Overlapping PD could have the potential to be very oppressive. Maybe reserve PD pass-through for a new category of PD? "Long-Range PD" or something? That would be a good place for flux-using PD too perhaps. Bigger opportunity cost (flux buildup) but big upside (fleet support).

That makes a degree of sense.

Hey, this gives me a thought that might also be pertinent to the "can't do that with beam weapons / AO debate."  Since you can make hull mods mutually exclusive, is it possible to make it so that certain weapons can only be equipped if a particular (potentially/probably built-in) hullmod is present?

That way the fleet support PD could be restricted to specific hulls given a mod that signifies them as having that role, without making major capitals OP.  Advanced Optics could instead become a built in hullmod that allows only certain hulls to equip the new super fire support beams (and have no penalties or bonuses at all).  In other words, it could be used by ships like the Apogee and Astral without making the Paragon or Tyrant Opie OP.

On the one hand, I get that it's nice to have the most options possible for every ship, but on the other hand there is currently a tendency to just load up on a bunch of your favorite capital and smash all the things.   Having roles more clearly defined by hulls (the way carriers are), could help promote more diverse fleets.

All tanky frontline ships may also need buffs to withstand this new barrage and the nerf to shield stacking may be somewhat detrimental now.

I'd say wait and see.  The game was previously a little too easy after the early mid-game.  It would be better if there were scenarios where the player felt compelled to either retreat or accept attrition.  Before I was able to do things like engage 3-4 Nex invasion fleets simultaneously with only about 200 total DP of combat ships and win flawless victories.  I suppose there's probably a very delicate balance between challenging and punishing, though.

One thing I am considering is a medium version of the Ion Beam as another option. Not 100% sure it is needed though.

FWIW, there have been times when I wished that option existed.  I wouldn't say that it's needed, but it opens up some interesting options around Fire Support / Control.

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