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Starsector 0.95.1a is out! (12/10/21); Blog post: The Pilgrim's Path (07/19/22)

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Author Topic: Eagle + HSA decent?  (Read 1765 times)

smithney

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Re: Eagle + HSA decent?
« Reply #45 on: July 01, 2022, 11:50:23 AM »

Well if you consider all the late game challenges (I'm scared to even think what we'll fight in the actual end game once it's done), then I'd say the cruisers are nicely balanced. We had a period where frigates were underpowered, and that has been solved now. I genuinely think the balance currently is the best it has ever been (coming from me playing the game for 8 years I think).
As a game design geek, I don't even know why balance would be something to discuss in Starsector. The actual problem with Eagle is that it isn't fun right now, when it very easily could be if it was given a niche to shine in.
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Megas

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Re: Eagle + HSA decent?
« Reply #46 on: July 01, 2022, 11:51:52 AM »

To put things into perspective, not every ship needs to be a Tempest, a secret weapon for the skilled player to use for the rest of the game. A Shrike can be cool, too. Even if you grow past its flashy, but short-lived tendencies. By the way, Dominator, Apogee and the regular Falcon are all cruisers that don't punch up, albeit for different reasons. Dominator is a raidboss for midgame fleets, but also a brick to be sacrificed lategame. Apogee is a semi-civilian ship that's meant to fulfill trekkies' fantasies of piloting SS Enterprise, doubling as a support. Falcon is a nimble support that's shepherding enemy destroyers and pressuring cruisers for the bigger guys to finish the job. As long as Champion, Phalcon, Gryphon, Heron all punch up, even as specialists, I don't see a reason why midline can't get another ship to punch down.
Dominator can punch up.  It can have superb long-range ballistic firepower (more than Eagle can pack) and missile spam in critical moments.  Dominator is also a brick and one of the few good options for Shield Shunt.

Apogee is cheap for a line cruiser.  Plasma cannon and large missile is a good assault package.  It has been nerfed at least twice (lost sensor drones that extended range, lost shield efficiency) since Starfarer, and it is still fairly strong for its DP cost.

Falcon is relatively fast and cheap (at least non-P version).  It functions more like an elite destroyer than a line cruiser.  It is fast enough to chase smaller ships.

Eagle is mediocre at punching down.  It is not very fast, not fast enough for short-ranged energy weapons, and long-range small/medium beams are slow killers.  Eagle needs more speed (or more long-range burst firepower) to punch down effectively.

We had a period where frigates were underpowered, and that has been solved now.
As a whole, perhaps.  Some individual frigates can use some help.  Wolf's flux stats are terrible (barely better than other 4-5 DP frigates with ballistics), and Vanguard is too expensive for crash-test dummy gameplay.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2022, 11:55:57 AM by Megas »
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Grievous69

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Re: Eagle + HSA decent?
« Reply #47 on: July 01, 2022, 12:06:30 PM »

As a game design geek, I don't even know why balance would be something to discuss in Starsector. The actual problem with Eagle is that it isn't fun right now, when it very easily could be if it was given a niche to shine in.
You kinda answered it with your second part of the post. If something is performing sub par, it's likely that it won't be fun to play with. Likewise if something is too good then it sucks the fun out of the game as it present itself as an obvious choice. Single player games need good balance too, don't know why that seems to be somewhat put aside in some cases. Played plenty of good games with great mechanics, but balance killed the enjoyment for me. Variety makes for fun and meaningful gameplay.

@Megas
Agree about those two specific ships, but I fear Alex doesn't want to make Wolf any better than it is, maybe it would make early game more annoying idk. I just know that it gets mentioned quite often in balance discussions and so far it hasn't been touched for ages.
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FooF

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Re: Eagle + HSA decent?
« Reply #48 on: July 01, 2022, 12:10:35 PM »

From Hiruma Kai's analysis:

Perhaps what plagues the Eagle the most is lack of identity. You're right: it's clearly meant to be a mixture of beams and ballistics that is sort of mobile and sort of tanky. Many moons ago, your choices of attack Cruiser were: Venture, Falcon, Eagle, Apogee, Dominator, Aurora, and Doom. In that line-up, it is clearly the middle-of-the-road option. As more specialized cruisers have been added, the rather "vanilla" Eagle became less and less attractive to the point that we're having this discussion now.

Aurora, Doom, and Apogee have all been accused of being too powerful at various points in their life I can't recall any time where the Eagle was ever considered OP. It's always been the plumb line for "average" by which other ships are measured. The fact that the Eagle is now considered weak is a good indicator that power creep has set in, or if nothing else, ship design has evolved over the years. The more recently-added Cruisers (Eradicator, Fury, Champion, etc.) are all more specialized but they all clearly have a solid identity. "Equal mix of ballistics and energy" is all the Eagle has ever had and that's not enough to distinguish it from a pretty crowded Cruiser field now. Hence the idea of a fighter bay, but I don't deny it needs a speed increase, too.

So my Eagle patch notes would look something like:
- Added fighter bay
- Increased OP from 155 to 165
- Increased top speed from 50 to 60

But, I'd also be interested in swapping the positions of one (or all!) of the Medium Energies and Ballistics and seeing what that would do for the ship. If the Ballistics were in the turrets and Energies in the hardpoints, it would play very differently. The lion's share of the firepower could be directed other than forward and it would give the shorter-ranged Energies a bit more breathing room, especially assault energy weapon types. You could also actually mount Ballistic PD on the Eagle, which is a sneaky-large benefit.
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intrinsic_parity

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Re: Eagle + HSA decent?
« Reply #49 on: July 01, 2022, 12:18:18 PM »

Maybe buffing beams (or HSA) could help eagle indirectly
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Draba

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Re: Eagle + HSA decent?
« Reply #50 on: July 01, 2022, 12:23:10 PM »

Well if you consider all the late game challenges (I'm scared to even think what we'll fight in the actual end game once it's done), then I'd say the cruisers are nicely balanced. We had a period where frigates were underpowered, and that has been solved now. I genuinely think the balance currently is the best it has ever been (coming from me playing the game for 8 years I think).
This version held me longer than any other previously and got around the entire roster a few times over.
Agreed on this, almost all ships work well enough to feel good. The ones that aren't are often only held back by some quirk in the AI (some short range brawlers can be indesicive even in easy 1v1s, some S/M missiles can be hard to fully utilise, fast frigates are often needlessly blocking cruiser/capital allies in 2v1s, hull/turret wiggling borks over some weapons).

See, this is where you're starting a 'Red Queen race' between different hulls, with the winner being the power creep, potentially forcing you into nerf nukes.
When you have a single strong outlier, nerf it. When you have a single weak outlier, buff it.
Eagle does feel like the weakest cruiser to me, its mount+speed combo is awkward to use so IMO there is no need to worry about power creep here.
There was some creep from s-mods and officers/skill rework, but that's neither here nor there.

By the way, Dominator, Apogee and the regular Falcon are all cruisers that don't punch up, albeit for different reasons.
Dominator can punch up really well, and when it gets a nice fat target the main downside (clumsy with 2 fixed hard mounts) doesn't matter as much.
HIL+squall Apogee spam is one of the best anti-everything setups in the game so that too :)

As a game design geek, I don't even know why balance would be something to discuss in Starsector. The actual problem with Eagle is that it isn't fun right now, when it very easily could be if it was given a niche to shine in.
Having lots of varied, viable fleet compositions is part of what makes Starsector interesting IMO.
As above, a walk in the park and being curbstomped without a fighting chance are both bad.

Apogee is cheap for a line cruiser.  Plasma cannon and large missile is a good assault package.  It has been nerfed at least twice (lost sensor drones that extended range, lost shield efficiency) since Starfarer, and it is still fairly strong for its DP cost.
To be fair its DP cost was also reduced from 25 to 18 with the nerfs.
Before the current squall+rack buff and current missile skill it was probably one of the slightly weaker cruisers for the DP, now it's on the stronger side.
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MechanistGrimm

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Re: Eagle + HSA decent?
« Reply #51 on: July 01, 2022, 01:53:44 PM »

Agreed on the points that the Eagle lacks a niche that it feels healthy in.  While the Eagle is not *terrible* it is certainly feeling lacking in it's current state and even in a single player game you don't typically want something that is generally available and seen as a "standard" option to be bad, same as you would also not want it to be particularly strong to overshadow the more specialized cruisers.

   On the idea of missile buff I honestly would not want to go that route.  There are a number of cruisers that already pack solid or fantastic missile power and that would just be making the cruiser more ok by doing what others already do but better.  Feels like more of a band-aid than trying to define the ship.

   HSA I feel is lacking due to the mentioned issues on range for the energy slots and their positioning, although the mentioned swapping of ballistic and energy mounts positions on the ship could drastically alter that.  That would drastically alter the weapons profile in a simple manner although I dunno if that would solidify the identity or just make it work better as a high-tech combat style mimic.  I have the same reservations on the energy bolt coherer mod being added as that would likely be trying to define it in the same direction as swapping mounts but would do so simply be making non-beams the strongly preferred option while leaving the other functions on the ship the same.  To be fair I don't run heavily in energy weapons or high tech ships as much so maybe my lack of grind there means I miss how impactful and defining that could be.

   Overall I think Alex made a deliberate decision on avoiding missiles and blasters for defining it's niche and so that's why I think the lean towards a fighter bay and maybe even a smidge of speed is so popular when considering options to define it are considered.  Also sorry OP for drifting from HSA and Eagle on all this.
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bowman

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Re: Eagle + HSA decent?
« Reply #52 on: July 01, 2022, 04:21:48 PM »

I'm surprised the Champion is faster than the Eagle at base, though given its loadout I suppose that makes some sense.

I wouldn't add a fighter wing to Eagle because I think it would make the issue even worse: the AI would then send out its fighter wing and lose zero-flux speed meaning it wouldn't even get its ballistics in range before the enemy kited away (I also don't see the removal of them on the Brilliant as a reason to add another one back- imo it's something to be avoided)

Reading through the posts and what makes the most sense to me is either move it to 20 DP or give it Energy Bolt Coherer. A last-choice option would be 5-10u of speed since I worry about broadening the gap between the conventionally "slow" cruisers and the faster ones, especially one with the weapons profile of the Eagle.

The addition of EBC is, however, a little iffy to me because it doesn't quite feel right lore/tech-wise. It's likely that I'm simply used to it not having that effect so it feels wrong.
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Megas

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Re: Eagle + HSA decent?
« Reply #53 on: July 01, 2022, 04:49:05 PM »

I wouldn't add a fighter wing to Eagle because I think it would make the issue even worse: the AI would then send out its fighter wing and lose zero-flux speed meaning it wouldn't even get its ballistics in range before the enemy kited away (I also don't see the removal of them on the Brilliant as a reason to add another one back- imo it's something to be avoided)
AI mostly defaulting to Engage can a problem for AI warships that need speed (like Odyssey).  Also, there are not enough support fighters to prevent AI from using Engage, just pods and Xyphos.

Also, Eagle having a bay counts as one toward the eight bays limit from skills.
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smithney

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Re: Eagle + HSA decent?
« Reply #54 on: July 01, 2022, 10:12:30 PM »

I wouldn't add a fighter wing to Eagle because I think it would make the issue even worse: the AI would then send out its fighter wing and lose zero-flux speed meaning it wouldn't even get its ballistics in range before the enemy kited away (I also don't see the removal of them on the Brilliant as a reason to add another one back- imo it's something to be avoided)

Reading through the posts and what makes the most sense to me is either move it to 20 DP or give it Energy Bolt Coherer. A last-choice option would be 5-10u of speed since I worry about broadening the gap between the conventionally "slow" cruisers and the faster ones, especially one with the weapons profile of the Eagle.
I don't see slowing down as a result of engaging with fighters as a problem if Eagle was committed to a more supportive profile of roles. We agree that a boost to its base speed wouldn't hurt. Compounded by the fact that Eagle has a mobility system, the loss of speed caused by engaging could be compensated for, assuming we give up on Eagle being a dedicated hunter.
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SCC

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Re: Eagle + HSA decent?
« Reply #55 on: July 03, 2022, 12:21:07 AM »

I just remembered I wanted to swap Eagle's energy and ballistic mounts around, but I haven't played the game in months and I forgot about to do it... I doubt it would solve all of Eagle's woes, though.

Aurora, Doom, and Apogee have all been accused of being too powerful at various points in their life I can't recall any time where the Eagle was ever considered OP. It's always been the plumb line for "average" by which other ships are measured. The fact that the Eagle is now considered weak is a good indicator that power creep has set in, or if nothing else, ship design has evolved over the years.
Yes. Once you get used to a level of power, you might conflate more power with more fun. Then again, late game enemies have also became stronger as of late.

Delta_of_Isaire

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Re: Eagle + HSA decent?
« Reply #56 on: July 03, 2022, 03:30:51 PM »

Ah yes, the Eagle. I really want to like the Eagle but it feels underwhelming, even with the flux buffs. I tried some devmode SIM battles with it just now to check its performance, and it feels like all good builds boil down to the same recipe: 2 ballistic kinetic guns + 1 ballistic HE gun + 1-2 Ion Beams + 1-2 Graviton beams + burst PD. For a supposedly 'jack of all trades' ship that is remarkably limited build variety. The main cause of this is the lack of  energy weapon options suitable for the Eagle. Energy lacks hard-flux kinetic weapons, which pidgeonholes the ballistic mounts into kinetic. At the same time Energy lacks anti-armor options with range matching the ballistic guns, which makes EMP from an Ion Beam the optimal choice, alongside relying on a mauler or heavy mortar for anti-armor.

On paper the Eagle has the strongest shields of any midline ship (noticeably better than Champion and Conquest), but somewhat underwhelming armor and hull integrity. That means it wants to move in and out of the line of battle to dissipate flux. However, the Eagle is simply not fast enough to disengage from other cruisers with base 60 speed, much less the Eradicator at base 70. While Maneuvering Jets boosts its maneuverability, its base 50 speed is on the low end. Maneuvering Jets compensates for that speed gap, but not enough to let the Eagle disengage reliably. Heck, the Eagle under AI control cannot even disengage from a Dominator that is aggressively using burn drive to chase it.

The combination of sub-par armor and lack of extra flux-free DPS from missiles means the Eagle tends to lose in 1v1 brawls against Dominator and Champion. Combined with the inability to retreat effectively, the result is mediocrity. The Eagle really does need a speed buff. If it cannot be a ship-of-the-line like heavy cruisers, then let it be a fast cruiser. Faster speed should also help enable some niche builds using short-range energy weapons.

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Sahqovum

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Re: Eagle + HSA decent?
« Reply #57 on: July 03, 2022, 09:26:12 PM »

Could always just make it a bigger Falcon. Give it 65 base speed and balance it to be around 20 DP. Still 6 more DP than a Falcon (and slower) and compared to the Fury it has 25 less speed and less missiles while having 3 actual medium mounts more compared to the Eradicator. It wouldn't have the burst potential of the Eradicator's AAF and missiles while the Fury's better for bullying destroyers and the like but it could stand as the midline 20 DP "fast cruiser". May need some tweaks to get it right but it'd give it an actual role at least.

Edit: Basically 2nd Delta's thoughts. If cruisers are roughly the 14-30 DP range and we can't change it's mounts there's not really any other options without redesigning the ship that I can think of that might work.
« Last Edit: July 03, 2022, 09:32:43 PM by Sahqovum »
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smithney

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Re: Eagle + HSA decent?
« Reply #58 on: July 04, 2022, 12:54:52 AM »

Could always just make it a bigger Falcon. Give it 65 base speed and balance it to be around 20 DP. Still 6 more DP than a Falcon (and slower) and compared to the Fury it has 25 less speed and less missiles while having 3 actual medium mounts more compared to the Eradicator. It wouldn't have the burst potential of the Eradicator's AAF and missiles while the Fury's better for bullying destroyers and the like but it could stand as the midline 20 DP "fast cruiser". May need some tweaks to get it right but it'd give it an actual role at least.

Edit: Basically 2nd Delta's thoughts. If cruisers are roughly the 14-30 DP range and we can't change it's mounts there's not really any other options without redesigning the ship that I can think of that might work.

Speaking of redesigning the ship, Eagle's going to be a staple hull in 3 (counting SD and LG as separate since Alex announced major changes to Special Modifications) different fleets, even as the uniquification streamlines their hull variety. I expect Eagle isn't going to get a Hyperion-sized overhaul after it gets another paintjob in the next patch.
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