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State of the Game

Tell the world your Dropfleet related trials and tribulations!
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Jaeger

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State of the Game

PostFri Aug 10, 2018 9:11 am

Hey,

I've noticed that there are a number of threads dotted around the forum discussing different perceived balance and mechanics issues, and I thought it might be a good idea to collate all of them into a single thread. This way, both TTC and those of us looking to craft house / alternative rules can get a good overview of areas that may need addressing in the rules.

This includes:

- Rules mechanics.
- Internal & External Faction Balance.
- The relative importance of ground combat vs. space combat (e.g. Drop Spam)
- Scenarios.

This is by no means intended to be a whinge fest about what is wrong with DFC, but please feel free to opine on the current state of DFC as you see it (both good and bad!), and potential ways the game could be made better. Hopefully, this will be a beneficial, constructive exercise in the twilight days of the present forum. I have my own personal theories, ideas and heresies about the game, but I am more interested in hearing what the wider community has to say.

So, have at it. What makes Dropfleet Commander good, what isn't so good, and what could be improved?
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Thunderboy

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Re: State of the Game

PostFri Aug 10, 2018 2:08 pm

Good point.
The guy's at The HotLZ and Scanners Offline have talked about this.
Quite interested to see what everyone put's in. Or what one would find if you make a summary of everything already on the forum here.

Cheers. Michel
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Lorn

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Re: State of the Game

PostFri Aug 10, 2018 2:41 pm

Happy to add my ideas though instead of copy and pasting everything I will rather link this:

viewtopic.php?f=36&t=10506



From my point of view the main issues DFC has are related to Internal faction balance and the scenarios, there are some external balance issues but I mostly like the rest.

To be short but a bit more specific, most factions have ships with similar stats but different weapons which are easily comparable and showcase some internal balance flaws. Good examples are the Osaka and the New Cairo, or the Jade and the Topaz. The Osaka is only 2P cheaper but the main weapon system is a lot weaker compared to the New Cairo (which deals +42,5-52,3% against 4+/3+ armour) also since both only have one non-CAW weapon system the better arcs factor in a lot less compared to other ships such as the St. Petersburg and the Moscow. So for a minor increase in cost there is a major increase in damage.
The situation is similar between the Jade and the Topaz. Shaltari Lances are (with the notable exception of the Battleship) weaker compared to their Disintegrator counterpart and it took a lot of Talon lobbying to get the Jade ones to 2+ which would be the perfect balance compared to the Topaz if the same errata would not have brought that one down 8P.
In this case even the soft stats are against the weaker ship as the Jade deals (slightly) less damage but has the worse arcs yet it is more expensive.

In regards to the scenarios (in particular coupled with the tournament pack) all except one are suboptimal for bombardment, in particular pure bombardment ships and they tend lead to blobs around very few centre locations which get old soon and look ugly for new players. Also there is mostly a lack of decent anti-atmospheric options which leads to the "spam" complaint.

German space magic for PHR would you like to know more?
http://www.hawkforum.co.uk/viewtopic.php?f=24&t=7017

German space magic for all and this time it is in Space!
viewtopic.php?f=36&t=10506
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Gauntlet

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Re: State of the Game

PostFri Aug 10, 2018 9:05 pm

Though on that last point, the new Destroyers are starting to make a dent in that aspect of the game. The Kiev is particularly effective, whilst the PHR and Scourge anti-atmo are viable.
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Lorn

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Re: State of the Game

PostSat Aug 11, 2018 4:26 am

I agree on Kiev though as it is equally good outside of that role, this creates a balance issue itself.
Since they changed the PHR one like I suggested I agree that it is decent :lol: , but the Succubus is poor for anti-atmospheric work for it´s points and is not a specialist on that area.

German space magic for PHR would you like to know more?
http://www.hawkforum.co.uk/viewtopic.php?f=24&t=7017

German space magic for all and this time it is in Space!
viewtopic.php?f=36&t=10506
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Jaeger

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Re: State of the Game

PostTue Aug 14, 2018 9:47 am

Thanks for your interest.

If it helps to get the discussion going, I'll do some information collation and try and make a post that touches upon the various issues in play. Will aim to get it together by the end of the week.
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Jaeger

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Re: State of the Game

PostTue Aug 21, 2018 7:27 am

After a number of days submerging myself here and elsewhere, allow me to present what I hope to be a decent list of known issues.

To begin with, I'll note the general matters affecting the game overall, rather than specific to any faction.

As a full disclaimer - I am not a tournament player, and there may well be intricacies (and whole issues) that I may have missed. Please feel free to chime in to add to this list (or correct me), as that is what this thread is for!

-- OVERALL ISSUES --

Atmospheric Combat

As a game nearly entirely focussed around the taking of clusters on the ground, DFC encourages the taking of strike carriers to capture those objectives.

Unfortunately, it seems that effective counters to 'Drop Spam Commander' are few and far between, and many suffer from points-effectiveness issues:

'Hard' Counters (specifically designed to engage atmospheric targets):

o Corvettes
o UCM Kiev
o Scourge Succubus
o PHR Jason

'Soft' Counters (can engage atmospheric targets as an optional bonus to their intended role):

o PHR Orpheus / Ajax
o Shaltari Voidgates

In conjunction with bombardment's general lack of effectiveness, this means that the best current counter to drop spam is... ...more drop spam.

Bombardment

There seems to be a feeling that bombardment is not as potent an option as it should be.

- Bombardment rules as they stand do not provide enough firepower to deter or defeat enemy ground forces.
- Bombardment vessels are forced to hang in low orbit nearly over the target, which adds to the general 'scrum' for clusters and disfavours certain vessels which can't get into position in time (i.e. the Tokyo).

Torpedoes

Torpedoes appear to suffer from a general disdain for their lack of effectiveness:

- Their relative firepower is not worth the delay, nor the limited use.
- They can be countered in various ways.
- Their effects can be reduced or negated by lucky armour saves.
- A special shout-out goes to the Scourge torpedoes for both lacking in potency and a DoT effect on a weapon that already has a delayed action.

Scenarios

One gets the impression that balanced and effective scenarios, particularly for tournament play, are limited in scope.

- Certain scenarios rely on having space stations (and potentially significant numbers thereof).
- Securing clusters is worth more than securing the space above them.

Editor's Note:

A view that I have seen shared around is a desire for general space combat as well as the contested atmospheric drop that DFC focusses on.

One quote that stuck in my mind is:

"This game was at least partially marketed on being BFG 2.0. It is not."

Instead, it is 'space D-Day.'

Certainly, one wonders if certain issues with playstyles (PHR / Shaltari) might be helped by expanding the scope of the game beyond 'take and hold ground objectives.' This may be worthy of a separate post to discuss.


Corvettes

While these are the intended primary hard counter to strike carriers in atmosphere, there appears to be a consensus that, excepting the PHR's Echo, they all lack the firepower and points-effectiveness to do their intended jobs.

As per Lorn's thoughts, special care must be taken not to improve them so as to make them outcompete frigates in orbital combat.

Battleships

Similar to corvettes, there appears to be a general view that most battleships suffer from a number of common issues:

- They are too slow to make meaningful impact on games with the Column and Distant approach rules (ultimately, they lack threat range).
- Their high signature makes them more of a target than they necessarily deserve.
- They generally lack points-effectiveness in comparison to smaller vessels.

The notable exceptions to these general issues are with the Shaltari super-heavies (and to a lesser extent, the PHR), because the Shaltari vessels have a much higher threat range and the PHR ships have unique capabilities that partially make up for their issues.
Last edited by Jaeger on Tue Sep 04, 2018 12:15 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Jaeger

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Re: State of the Game

PostTue Aug 21, 2018 7:49 am

-- INDIVIDUAL FACTION BALANCE ISSUES (PART 1) --

Caveat: I am a PHR player and most familiar with that faction. Please don't shoot me if I misrepresent something from another faction - remember, I have ECM. :twisted:

Herewith, in alphabetical order, are the individual factions and their issues. This is Part 1 of 2.

PHR

Overall:

- Despite attempts to boost broadsides with Linked Fire, they still seem to be underwhelming and inefficient. This leads to the preponderance of PHR BTL / Launch lists.

Light Ships

The main issue I can see with PHR light vessels (besides general points balancing) is with the Ariadne suffering from what I'd like to call Multirole Syndrome:

That is, as is sometimes the case in real life, a multirole unit that has contradictory or compromised (due to necessary design sacrifices) roles.

In contrast, one argues that multirole units that work well tend to do so when their roles are complementary and do not reduce its capability to perform its other roles (e.g. an Assault Troopship with bombardment capability).

Thus, the Ariadne suffers because it compromises its firepower to bring bulk landers, while not offering anything much of value to compete against the heavier troopships.

Medium Ships

Issues with broadsides aside, these are some of the individual issues that have been brought up:

Ajax - Light broadsides are somewhat overkill for its intended targets; hard to use broadsides with front BTL. May yet see situational usage against destroyers (Wundergoat).

Troopships - Possibly undercosted, certainly heavily used for their relative potency.

Perseus - Suffers from Multirole Syndrome as described above.

Heavy Ships

The primary issue here is probably the overuse of the Bellerophon due to its relative effectiveness and the ubiquitous broadside issue.

Achilles - Loses firepower due to its torpedo, and its torpedo suffers from the issues that all torpedoes do.

Hector - Partial Multrirole Syndrome sufferer, as the BTL is hard to use with the broadside, leading to a high opportunity cost that you pay for in points when you don't use its weapons effectively.

Super-Heavy Ships

The PHR battleships are better than some, but still generally suffer from the universal problems with battleships.


Scourge

Light Ships

While the destroyers are still being experimented with, and the balancing of points is a perennial concern, a couple of clear points stick out:

Harpy - Overcosted compared to similar gun frigates in other factions (Wundergoat).

Nickar - Very unreliable damage output, which adds to the general lack of cost-effectiveness of most corvettes.


Medium Ships

A recurring thought that I have seen is that Scourge BTLs do not provide reliable damage output compared with beam weapons.

Wyvern - Competes with the Strix and the Djinn, but not too bad (Wundergoat).

Heavy Ships

The big thing noted here seems to be the relative overuse of the Basilisk / Akuma as compared with the other Scourge heavy assets.

Manticore / Banshee - Suffers from the crappiness of Scourge torpedoes, and the relative lack of benefit from Stealth that the Basilisk / Akuma enjoys.

Shenlong - Eclipsed by the Basilisk / Akuma and Daemon for stealth and damage-dealing, respectively.

Super-Heavy Ships

Both Scourge battleships suffer from the issues common to other battleships. The Dragon also appears to be a terrible sufferer of Multirole Syndrome.
Last edited by Jaeger on Sat Aug 25, 2018 4:37 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: State of the Game

PostWed Aug 22, 2018 6:28 am

Good posts, I'm in general agreement. I've been thinking about this topic since you first posted the thread, and am in general agreement. Before getting into my own thoughts/fixes, I wanted to address a few points from your posts:

1) The Ajax - When the game initially came out, it was complete overkill vs frigates and the lack of split fire really hurt it. It was a one trick pony without a very good trick.. However, now we have destroyers. In effect, the Ajax got indirectly buffed because it just got much more valuable targets. I'm curious to see how it (and destroyers) shake up.

2) The Harpy - it isn't that the Scylla is better, it is that the Harpy is a gun frigate roughly equivalent to a Toulon but costs 20% more (42 vs 35). I mean, Europas are way better and still cheaper.

3) Wyvern - it isn't actually that bad. Like the progression from Yokai to Sphinx, you don't gain extra firepower going from Strix to Wyvern, you gain durability. For a mere 15 points and some lost speed, you get 25% more hull, better armor, and lots more point defense. However, paying those extra points is a waste if you are using it like a Strix (i.e. like a disposable cruise missile).

4) Shenlong - I always thought of this as a good ship, but if you are already paying the 55pts going from Sphinx to Shenlong, you might as well pay another 35 for the Akuma. Full cloak, more speed, more hp, more PD, 33% more WF firepower, and 50% standard firepower is a steal by comparison.
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Re: State of the Game

PostWed Aug 22, 2018 7:18 am

Anyways, my issues:

Rule Complexity Bloat – Rules should be as simple as possible and not have special cases in the base rule. Adding special cases reduces clarity and increases mental overhead, in addition to potentially reducing design space for no reason.

Examples:
Mauler weapons are automatically Close Action, but IMO this needlessly reduces design space (makes adding non-CA mauler weapons more difficult) and adds to mental overhead in the ruleset (have to remember maulers are also CA). In this case, Close Action should be added separately from Mauler.

Caliber H&S weapons were buffed by making them crit on rolls of 1 higher instead of 2. The issue is that this was added to the Caliber(x) rule as a special case for H&S only. This adds to overhead (have to remember that H&S has a special case) and cuts down design space (can’t have Caliber H&S guns without this rule, may overlap with future generic version of the rule). The solution is easy, remove the special case and make it a separate generic rule.

Particle is especially troublesome. Firstly – the name of the rule makes it specific to certain weapons, needlessly removing design space (other weapons may need this effect in the future). DZC had the Awesome Power rule for this class of weapons, which could and should have been used here. Secondly, the rule is overly complicated. The goal is clearly for Particle weapons to ignore saves, but instead of saying that outright, the weapons automatically crit (needless rule interaction) AND their crits ignore shields/passive saves (special case). The rules interaction (auto crits trigger crit effects) required that Crippling rule needed a special case to stop Particle from interacting with it. All these issues are solved if Particle just ignored saves.


Torpedoes: Torps are lackluster because of a) delayed damage, b) limited shots, c) ability to be evaded. They cost a fair amount, but don’t bring reliable damage to the table. They need an improvement to damage output. Simply adding Particle/Awesome Power could work, though it might require some points to be adjusted.

Ship Class issues:
Corvettes – Corvettes simply do not kill strike carriers fast enough to earn their points, and they don’t do anything else efficiently. The only one I see as workable is the Echo, and then mostly because it is almost a frigate in durability and firepower and so can do double duty. Corvette groups also suffer from having fairly high tonnage per point, making big squadrons of them very unwieldly. My vote would be to add Caliber (L) to their CAW, drop their tonnage to 0.5, and set their group size to 2/4. This makes them dangerous vs light ships and able to get the drop on their targets, thereby broadening their role in addition to making them capable at their original role without making them good at attacking larger ships or contesting critical locations.

Battleships – Battleships have a number of things going against them making them generally sub par with one notable exception. For the most part, the fact that their sig is roughly twice that of a cruiser means they are easy to focus and kill, despite having a ton of hull points. Furthermore, several have multiple weapon systems and thus must use weapons free to achieve damage outputs worth their points. Of course, most also have significant proportions of their firepower invested in a F(N) weapon that likely won’t have a target, further degrading performance. As a bonus, battleships are also hammered by an approach type. Comparing battleships to battlecruisers, the BCs often bring unique and more useful capabilities and similar firepower while being quicker and having cruiser level signatures. The notable exception here is the Diamond, which has neither the sig issue (shaltari) or the weapons free issue (based around 1 BFG). The Heracles is ok, though that is largely a function of having a BFG and amazing toughness. Before getting into individual ship fixes, I would change the signature progression from battleships being 4x a frigate to being 3x a frigate (i.e. frigates = 3”, cruisers =6”, battleships=9”).

Faction Adjustments-

I want to preface this that I generally agree with the points adjustments in Lorn's Fan Patch, along with some of the minor ability adjustments. Assume I'm on board with the points adjustments unless noted here. I'll call out the other adjustments specifically.

UCM

All UCM medium and heavy cruisers - link shoulder turrets, change arc to F/S(x)/R. This is mostly a QoL and flavor change.

St. Pete - Siphon power adds +1 attack rather than burnthrough(8)

San Fran - I like Lorn's idea of adding +2 hull to all troopships, and I endorse that here.

Beijing/Tokyo - Both gain a new rule, Arsenal (2), allowing them to use two weapons whenever they could otherwise fire 1. For example, a Beijing could fire the cobra and heavy mass drivers on standard orders, or the heavies and one medium battery.

Scourge
Chimera - +2 Hull
Shenlong/Raiju - Add a special rule (lets say "sneak") that allows these ships to turn while on silent running. This makes the heavy cruisers more slippery than the faster battlecruisers. The Raiju in particular might actually be able to pull off its role of stealthy furnace cannon while the Shenlong becomes more than a discount Akuma. Adjust points as appropriate. [edit: originally was adding Lorn's version of vectored, but that would be blatantly OP. That's what I get for writing this late]
Manticore/Banshee - Improve occulus weapons from an array to a phalanx. Given the torpedo buff, I'm hesitant to adjust these further.
Daemon/Dragon - Change name of furnace cannons to 'heavy furnace cannons' and apply Lorn's buff to the spread fire (focus is already an improved version). Link the furnace cannons and the occulus array. Change sig to 11".

PHR
Adjust HP improvements so all M ships are +2 hull and all heavy ships are +3 hull over the standard/UCM.
Add the following rule to PHR broadside ships, excepting the Euorpa and troopships - Shared Capacitors: When using Weapons Free orders, you may elect not to fire any number of 'broadside' weapons to instead increase the attacks of an identically named weapon by 50%. E.g. an Orion on weapons free could shoot 12 shots out one medium battery. The goal of this change is to improve single target damage via weapons free without drastically increasing PHR firepower. In the Orion example, it could get more damage out on standard orders if it split fire but better single target damage if it lines up a WF broadside.

Shaltari
I've not played enough with them, but it is pretty obvious most lance ships suck.
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