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Friday, 9 December 2016

Fanstorm Armada - Battlelog part 2

Now the last entry dealt with the easy to fix parts of battlelog, which brings us to (3) - making ships reflect accurately on the BL. Now this one is harder, since the BL categories of "Tier 1" are very broad - a dreadnought is waaay more BL efficient than a Battlecruiser, despite being double the points. Carriers are also inefficient from a BL perspective, and so it goes on....

Now those of you who have followed my contributions to the SG community or this blog for a long time will know that I'm a numbers guy. I always have been analytical, even when I was playing with model soldiers as a kid I thought that there should be a better way of knowing who got shot than my whim, and when I got started in wargaming at around 11 I was dissatisfied with the mechanics presented to me, and started researching armour penetration characteristics for different guns and so on. It's something that's contributed heavily to my present position in business.

Back in v1 of Firestorm there was a very cool custom ship creation mechanic, which disappeared in v1.5, and which I thought I could recreate and make much "fairer" (it was possible to game the old one to create point-efficient "monsters"). As part of that I went into a deep analysis of the game, elements of which I used in the FFG, like the FA probability calculator, which handles probabilities of DR & CR with various AD by overlaying probability curves - so you don't just get a raw number, but the whole vulnerability curve, which you can compare with others...great for ship design! (I'll share that one with everyone at some point).

The upshot of this is that I created a huge (like 50mb or so at last look) Excel sheet to analyse every single ship in the game - it's effectiveness vs every other ship in the game and its vulnerability to every other ship in the game, incorporating SRS, boarding, range and so on. From this you could determine an "effectiveness index", and on examining this it looks very much like what you'd create from a straw poll of the community using the ships, which shows its broadly in the right direction. It is assumptive, of course, but it's assumptive in a standardised way, thus reproducible and adjustable across the board, making it relatively future proof.

Now the next part if this is to create some standard "slots" of BL based on the current BL ranges - currently you have BL alterations from 1 to 11 (+7 on one side and -4 on the other). This seems a bit restrictive given that Dreadnoughts and Battlecruisers are in the same space, so let's extend that to 15 (the reason will become apparent below). Now we can assign every ship a BL value based on its arbitrarily scaled effectiveness, which should make much more sense.

That by itself solves some of the value issues, but how this is applied needs to be looked at too. Let's get rid of the whole "half strength" bit, because it doesn't really mean anything and its awkward in game, so toss it. Now, for Tier 3s let's just say you get their BL value when the whole squadron is destroyed - an easy to remember point in the game and fluff-justifiable. Tier 3s are now more attractive from the viewpoint that it's now actually quite difficult to gain BL from them - large squadrons with the last one performing FSE deny your opponent BL.

Now this won't work for Tier 2s, which are a more solid investment from a fleet perspective, and yielding BL on the full squadron would result in bloodbaths with FSE and no BL. So let's award BL for them being destroyed (again, an easy point to remember - destroy a capital ship, gain BL), plus a bonus for destroying the squadron - yet again an easy "stop point" to adjust BL.

Tier 1s can be handled in different ways, and actually should be, because this adds design flexibility and granularity in differing ships - you can treat a Battleship and a Dreadnought differently from a Carrier or Battlecruiser. For the latter, we can use exactly the same methodology as for Tier 2s, with the Tier 2 contributing it's BL as an accompaniment (more on that below - hold those thoughts!). For the larger Capital ships, 1Bl per HP is a good stand-in, plus a bonus for destroying the ship and/or squadron. This BL loss should not be applied until after the game ends, or the ship is destroyed/captured/escapes, however - that stops Tier 1s being sniped for BL, but still means you can lose a battle at the end because the other player managed to maul but not quite kill your Tier 1s.

So this all sound really complex, right? Well, it's actually easily represented by a number with three other numbers - one for the BL per HP, one for the BL per ship, and one for the BL per squadron - like so;

Retribution 15 (1-2-1)

This means the Retribution is worth 1BL point for every Hull Point you manage to take off it, plus two for destroying the ship, and one for destroying the squadron. How does a cruiser look?

Isonade 7 (0-1-3)
Tsunami 11 (0-2-3)

So our standard cruiser squadron can vary in BL cost from 5 to 7. You get a BL for every ship you kill, and 3 for taking down the entire squadron. heavy cruisers are worth 2 each, but still an extra three for the squadron.

This format gives a lot of design flexibility - so for a start an accompaniment is easily dealt with, since it contributes its individual ship BL...this would be 1 or 2 for most capital ships, and is 0 for Tier 3s. Adding in a heavy cruiser automatically ups the BL cost here, since they're worth 2 points instead of 1, so it neatly gets around any questions of "What is this ship worth in BL in this situation?".

I talked about Battlecruisers and carriers, so let's have a look;

Ares 7 (0-4-3)

The Ares is worth 4 by itself, but you only get that when its destroyed...hey, now carriers look like a better BL choice, don't they? But wait, taking a carrier by itself means that when its destroyed its worth 7 - of course you can mitigate that by adding a cruiser like a Hermes 4 (0-1-1), which would bring the total BL value to 8, but you can avoid half of that if you got the cruiser out after the carrier was destroyed.

Amentum 7 (0-2-3)

Now Battlecruisers are worth less by themselves, but still sit in a higher BL value "bracket", which helps with fleet building, which I'll address in my next Fanstorm blog posting.

The other thing this does is cement the dialog used in game, since you'll probably need to ask the BL value of ships/squadrons as you destroy them - this shouldn't slow down play, since you should have all of that information right to hand (the intent would always be that the BL cost goes into the ship entry.

Here's the current list, have a look over it and see what you think! Always happy to receive feedbacl and discuss in more detail :-)

Complete BL Value list (wip)

Enjoy!