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Games => AI War II => AI War II - AI Discussion => Topic started by: x4000 on September 06, 2016, 01:12:52 PM

Title: Tell my your thoughts on reprisal! ....morale?
Post by: x4000 on September 06, 2016, 01:12:52 PM
Sparked by this:

This kind of sounds like the Reprisal mechanism.  Which, while I don't like it when used for Reprisal (when the accumulation trigger is "Player loses ships"), could actually be a good way to do a retaliation mechanism when the accumulation trigger is "Player does offensive stuff".

This is an interesting point.  Keith's explanation of salvage and reprisal (kinda related to one another, but not completely) was:

Quote from: keith.lamothe
Basically the literal mechanic is that:
- an AI ship dying on a human planet increment that planet's salvage counter by some portion of the ship's metal cost
- each second, a certain % of the total salvage on the planet is reclaimed by the player; the efficiency (% wasted) of that depends on which command station is present (home gets best; logistical-III next, on down to military-I)

The flip-side mechanic is reprisal, where:
- a human ship dying on an AI planet increments that AI's reprisal counter by some portion of the ship's strength (roughly corresponding to metal cost)
- when that passes a certain threshold (relative to normal wave strength) the AI schedules a reprisal wave a few minutes later; and when that launches it sends all the accumulated strength back at the player in a wave (the Mimic AI type actually sends back the same types of ships that the player lost, which gets !Fun!)

The meta-goal being that if your fleet wipes you won't have to sit around for half an hour (real-time) waiting for it to rebuild; instead you have a few minutes to prepare for a nasty counter attack, which will either kill you or give you lots of extra metal to help rebuild your fleet.

The secondary meta-goal is that tactics based on throwing away entire fleets have a trade-off other than real-time waiting. This doesn't tend to hit neinzul tactics very hard (I still use "dock cannon" tactics with them and the reprisals aren't too bad), but it does make the loss of a core of starships, or the careless handling of any fleetball, hurt more.

In other words: you still set the pace of the tennis match, but the AI will return your last serve

I'm not sure if anyone has objections to salvage or thoughts there, but if so honestly that should be a different thread I think.

The motivations behind reprisal are interesting and make sense to me, but I can also see the objection to it.  The AI reacting to you doing "offensive stuff" makes sense, but also the AI reacting to "hey you jerk that just keep throwing walls of dead bodies at me" makes sense from a balance standpoint.

Perhaps more relevant would be honestly a morale system for ships that are in a battlefield where they are just getting routinely trounced.  Aka, morale goes down by x amount for every squad death above n on a planet.  And then morale improves by y amount per second if morale is dampened on a planet.  Effectiveness of the human ships on that planet are dampened in some way by z amount based on morale being lower that x amount.

This would only apply to AI planets, since on player planets that would be maddening.  Everyone hates morale systems most of the time, and I am one of those people.  But in this case, it would be one way to stall the too-cheesy tactic of "just keep throwing little rocks at the big rock over and over and over with no consequences until it breaks."

With (potentially) the new system of techs, this would also be a non-ship-focused area where you could potentially invest some science, basically to make your pilots have less negative response to morale drops.  (Yes in this game I see the ships as potentially being piloted, whereas in AI War Classic they were not).
Title: Re: Tell my your thoughts on reprisal! ....morale?
Post by: chemical_art on September 06, 2016, 01:15:37 PM
I would be fine with this with the caveat that suicidal units or alien units (neinzul) do not affect this mechanic both in contributing to it and do not suffer from it. They are meant to die so if any unit was to be autopiloted it would be them.
Title: Re: Tell my your thoughts on reprisal! ....morale?
Post by: x4000 on September 06, 2016, 01:17:14 PM
For sure, there would have to be some exceptions to that.
Title: Re: Tell my your thoughts on reprisal! ....morale?
Post by: Cinth on September 06, 2016, 01:23:15 PM
As someone who burns really big fleetballs repeatedly, I don't like it.  :P
Title: Re: Tell my your thoughts on reprisal! ....morale?
Post by: Orelius on September 06, 2016, 01:28:27 PM
Personally, I think that if you have the economy to sustain it, shutting down the killbots by overflowing their kill counters should be a viable tacticc.

Refleeting is already really expensive and painful, if someone really wants to inflict that upon themselves then that's punishment enough.
Title: Re: Tell my your thoughts on reprisal! ....morale?
Post by: chemical_art on September 06, 2016, 01:34:12 PM
As someone who burns really big fleetballs repeatedly, I don't like it.  :P

Personally, I think that if you have the economy to sustain it, shutting down the killbots by overflowing their kill counters should be a viable tacticc.

Refleeting is already really expensive and painful, if someone really wants to inflict that upon themselves then that's punishment enough.

I would imagine that the timers decay, so that by the time you could refleet a whole big fleetball the counter would be reset.

If your economy was over the top, just throw the fleetball somewhere else next time, then come back to the first one?


Title: Re: Tell my your thoughts on reprisal! ....morale?
Post by: Cinth on September 06, 2016, 01:38:18 PM
That would depend on the star map layout.

I should clarify, I don't care for a morale system.  Reprisals are fun and salvage should be a bit more even across the board for the different cc.
Title: Re: Tell my your thoughts on reprisal! ....morale?
Post by: chemical_art on September 06, 2016, 01:42:45 PM
That would depend on the star map layout.

I should clarify, I don't care for a morale system.  Reprisals are fun and salvage should be a bit more even across the board for the different cc.

I agree, I have had my share of Snake Fallen Spire games  ;)

So I imagine that for this idea either:
A) The timer on this is static, so that in the early game it is discouraged but the last third of the game refleeting times are larger then the timer itself, so that it doesn't matter anyway.
B) There can be techs to shorten this timer, so again that it keeps up with the economy of the player.


Just to be clear I am a huge fan of the blunt strategy of fighting. I had one 10/10 game where I defeated the AI so soundly that their CPA's were failing for they were out of ships (bug abuse is real).
Title: Re: Tell my your thoughts on reprisal! ....morale?
Post by: Cinth on September 06, 2016, 01:50:13 PM
Nah, this comes from beating Aid with fleets of mk 1 fleet/ss balls.  It takes a whole lot of those to crack some planets   :o

Timers just encourage netflix time.
Title: Re: Tell my your thoughts on reprisal! ....morale?
Post by: chemical_art on September 06, 2016, 01:58:01 PM
Nah, this comes from beating Aid with fleets of mk 1 fleet/ss balls.  It takes a whole lot of those to crack some planets   :o

Timers just encourage netflix time.

But...MK II units from a performance standpoint are just as good (2x the cost for 2x the benefit...)

And...that isn't a whole fleet ball, that is the cheapest fleet ball. Which seems wasteful late game. (cheap is not always good)

I must disagree with your wave tactics. The current reprisal mechanics already hurt you bad over this. (never thought I would say that.)

(This is all in light heart)
Title: Re: Tell my your thoughts on reprisal! ....morale?
Post by: Cinth on September 06, 2016, 02:03:47 PM
It's not always about min/maxing your play.  Sometimes I do things just because I can.  Also, going full defensive on K spending doesn't afford you much in terms of offensive units.

No worries CA.  Posting from my phone,  so keeping it short.
Title: Re: Tell my your thoughts on reprisal! ....morale?
Post by: kasnavada on September 06, 2016, 02:06:33 PM
If you abused the reprisal mechanics, like for example letting your heavily defended homeworld open to waves, then losing ships actually made you gain metal if the difficulty level was high enough, which in turn let you feed the war effort in the first place.

One of the reason why I think salvage needs to go.

About the reprisal idea above, morale, not sure. That means that you'll have to stop fighting from time to time ? Not sure I like that.
Title: Re: Tell my your thoughts on reprisal! ....morale?
Post by: Tridus on September 06, 2016, 02:09:10 PM
The thing I don't like about morale is that it's timer based: if it goes down, I need to wait it out.

Reprisal gives me something to do if I get wiped out: scramble to prepare for an incoming attack instead of just waiting for the fleet rebuild timer. Given that the AI is using my own salvaged ships to do it, it's effectively "free" on their end in terms of resources, so why wouldn't they use it? It's not costing them anything from what they're doing elsewhere.

Salvage on the human end I think would have worked better if the spread between Command Station values wasn't so high. I probably want the AI attacking a military command world (to help survive the reprisal), but those give so little salvage that it's largely meaningless.

I think they accomplished what they set out to do pretty effectively.
Title: Re: Tell my your thoughts on reprisal! ....morale?
Post by: chemical_art on September 06, 2016, 02:10:58 PM
It's not always about min/maxing your play.  Sometimes I do things just because I can.  Also, going full defensive on K spending doesn't afford you much in terms of offensive units.

No worries CA.  Posting from my phone,  so keeping it short.

I appreciate it, but just came up with another exception for this rule:

If a planet can only be approached from one way (technically it would be two, one from player and one from AI) then it would also be immune from this mechanic. Sometime you just have to storm a position, no matter the cost.
Title: Re: Tell my your thoughts on reprisal! ....morale?
Post by: Orelius on September 06, 2016, 02:15:55 PM
I have a feeling that if someone really wants to take down a planet with suicide attacks, it's going to be possible using whatever exceptions exist.  In that case, I see no real reason to limit it to certain shiptypes, like railpods.  If I can spam railpods to get rid of that rudegesture ai subcommander, why can't I do it with transports of fleet ships?
Title: Re: Tell my your thoughts on reprisal! ....morale?
Post by: chemical_art on September 06, 2016, 02:16:19 PM
The thing I don't like about morale is that it's timer based: if it goes down, I need to wait it out.

Reprisal gives me something to do if I get wiped out: scramble to prepare for an incoming attack instead of just waiting for the fleet rebuild timer. Given that the AI is using my own salvaged ships to do it, it's effectively "free" on their end in terms of resources, so why wouldn't they use it? It's not costing them anything from what they're doing elsewhere.

Salvage on the human end I think would have worked better if the spread between Command Station values wasn't so high. I probably want the AI attacking a military command world (to help survive the reprisal), but those give so little salvage that it's largely meaningless.

I think they accomplished what they set out to do pretty effectively.

I can agree that timers are bad, but I feel like there can be a balance. If an attack was absolutely dreadful then it would make sense that attacking it again in a very short time would be painful. The trigger would involve far more forces then a raid, but the cooldown from it would be less then a total refleet. In short, it is actually a slightly more active form of saying "this is not the best way to attack"
Title: Re: Tell my your thoughts on reprisal! ....morale?
Post by: chemical_art on September 06, 2016, 02:19:38 PM
I have a feeling that if someone really wants to take down a planet with suicide attacks, it's going to be possible using whatever exceptions exist.  In that case, I see no real reason to limit it to certain shiptypes, like railpods.  If I can spam railpods to get rid of that rudegesture ai subcommander, why can't I do it with transports of fleet ships?

Cost. It is much more expensive to build 10 shipyards pumping bombers then it would be pumping 10 shipyards of suicide units. Even railpods are tame, and even their their name implies their are automations.

Just to be clear, the idea is not that you *CAN NOT* do this, but rather *NOT THE BEST WAY*
Title: Re: Tell my your thoughts on reprisal! ....morale?
Post by: Mad Rubicant on September 06, 2016, 02:23:44 PM
I don't like the idea of morale. As others have said, it encourages netflixing, and I always assumed that fleetships were unmanned.
Title: Re: Tell my your thoughts on reprisal! ....morale?
Post by: Orelius on September 06, 2016, 02:24:19 PM
Cost. It is much more expensive to build 10 shipyards pumping bombers then it would be pumping 10 shipyards of suicide units. Even railpods are tame, and even their their name implies their are automations.

Just to be clear, the idea is not that you *CAN NOT* do this, but rather *NOT THE BEST WAY*

Why should I be punished further for suiciding expensive units compared to cheaper ones?
Title: Re: Tell my your thoughts on reprisal! ....morale?
Post by: chemical_art on September 06, 2016, 02:30:59 PM
Why should I be punished further for suiciding expensive units compared to cheaper ones?

I don't like the idea of morale. As others have said, it encourages netflixing, and I always assumed that fleetships were unmanned.

These are both fair points. The natural costs of the units themselves should be enough. Suicidal units should be far cheaper then normal ones so there should not be some obscure mechanic.
Title: Re: Tell my your thoughts on reprisal! ....morale?
Post by: Timerlane on September 06, 2016, 02:39:13 PM
Why should I be punished further for suiciding expensive units compared to cheaper ones?
Also, Time. As said earlier, expensive/late game units usually take enough time to rebuild that this theoretical 'morale' timer shouldn't even matter for them.

Meanwhile, it's literally the Neinzuls' racial 'theme'(apart from the oddball Railpods and Scapegoats); they're fast, aggressive space mayflies with guns. Their units 'bleed' health simply for existing.

EDIT: And even for Scapegoats and Railpods, quick, 'suicidal' action is still integral to their main function as units.
Title: Re: Tell my your thoughts on reprisal! ....morale?
Post by: Draco18s on September 06, 2016, 02:57:05 PM
I'm also against the idea of a "moral" system, but from a different perspective:

All of our units are drones. There are no living humans aboard.  This has already been established by lore.
Title: Re: Tell my your thoughts on reprisal! ....morale?
Post by: Cinth on September 06, 2016, 03:13:09 PM
In case you missed it, it was noted that the ships not being manned could be up for a change too.
Title: Re: Tell my your thoughts on reprisal! ....morale?
Post by: Draco18s on September 06, 2016, 04:03:27 PM
In case you missed it, it was noted that the ships not being manned could be up for a change too.

I did. There's been a lot of text recently.
Title: Re: Tell my your thoughts on reprisal! ....morale?
Post by: Cinth on September 06, 2016, 04:08:40 PM
In case you missed it, it was noted that the ships not being manned could be up for a change too.

I did. There's been a lot of text recently.

It wasn't directed at you in particular.  I thought I'd mention it since it was brought up a few times now.
Title: Re: Tell my your thoughts on reprisal! ....morale?
Post by: tadrinth on September 06, 2016, 06:01:07 PM
Disclaimer: I don't play Fallen Spire.

I am generally extremely conservative with my forces, and reload if I do something stupid that causes a fleet loss.  So, I don't mind reprisal, because I generally don't get a ton of reprisal waves. 

On the other hand, AI War Classic generally makes me feel extremely time pressured. Even without AIP auto-progress, the knowledge that exos are charging and ever-larger CPAs are coming makes me want to win as fast as possible. That's part of why I am so conservative; refleeting takes time and time is AIP.  This is especially bad in the early game when metal is still very tight. 

Reprisal significantly alleviates the time pressure around refleeting, so to the extent that it feels like a reliable way to recoup moderate losses, it might actually make me play MORE aggressively.  That would be good!

Reprisals do seem hard to balance due to their tight integration with salvage, given that salvage also interacts with other mechanics like waves.   IE, you want to balance reprisal waves to a nice level of lethality, where they never feel fully safe but only a full fleet loss risks killing you, or whatever.  But, that might make them give too little salvage to assist with refleets.  You could buff salvage rates, but then people run their whole economy off the salvage from regular waves, and other econ unlocks become less attractive.  Waiting for large reprisal waves means you don't get any help refleeting from moderate losses. 

So, you might want to decouple the 'make refleets faster' and 'make refleets less boring' parts of reprisal+salvage.  Or, add knobs so that you can tune reprisal => salvage metal conversion differently from regular waves => salvage, but that's gonna get messy. 

If people are having to throw fleets into grinders to make progress, then that may indicate more of a problem on the tactical side of the game.  That's why Sabotage Hacks were added, to avoid horrible gordian knot defenses on the AI side.  Fallen Spire seems especially prone to fleet => wipe => refleet, from what I've heard, as well as not feeling very tactical.  Maybe those problems are related? 

Morale seems like a worse kick in the pants than reprisals.  Reprisals mean you get your teeth kicked in *somewhere else* where you aren't getting wrecked.  If you're doing badly on a planet, because that planet is a brutal nut to crack, then you don't need a mechanic that makes it HARDER to crack the longer you fail.  I mean, unless the intent is to encourage players to give up and use Warheads. 
Title: Re: Tell my your thoughts on reprisal! ....morale?
Post by: Tridus on September 06, 2016, 06:16:05 PM
If people are having to throw fleets into grinders to make progress, then that may indicate more of a problem on the tactical side of the game.  That's why Sabotage Hacks were added, to avoid horrible gordian knot defenses on the AI side.  Fallen Spire seems especially prone to fleet => wipe => refleet, from what I've heard, as well as not feeling very tactical.  Maybe those problems are related? 

Depends on which fleet you're talking about. Fallen Spire starts giving you Spire ships, depending on how far you take it. If you lose a fleet of those, it gets painful. Of course, that also means you're fighting something absolutely huge, because the bigger Spire ships are massively powerful.

Losing a normal fleet ball should be less painful in FS, because carrying it very far requires capturing a lot of territory (and gives you the defenses to hold it with Spire Cities), which means you have enough metal income to refleet faster than normal.
Title: Re: Tell my your thoughts on reprisal! ....morale?
Post by: Sestren on September 06, 2016, 06:34:13 PM
This might be more of a strategy question than a game balance one, but I genuinely don't know how to squeeze anything useful out of reprisals without resorting to excessive gate raiding and stacking all my defenses on a choke. I tried playing a low AIP game without gate raiding recently, and while I won, the need to put defenses strong enough to handle any arbitrary planet being hit with a wave meant my energy was always dangerously low and a planet going down resulted in both two minutes of no power and a bunch of threat wandering around until I dragged some ships away to purge it. If you can't consistently funnel waves onto a Logistics or home command system, you get salvage rates of 4 or 5 percent (MK 1 econ and mil) which is nigh worthless, and killing threatballs on your border is *actually* worthless. And I know you guys have hashed out the fact that chokepoints are optimal for far longer than I've been playing this game, but it feels like reprisals only work to the player's favor when playing a chokepoint heavy game. They're not crippling or anything otherwise, but they provide little to no benefit, and as a result don't help with the stated goal of refleeting faster.

What, in the current AI War Classic balance, makes it so that the player can't just... refleet faster (make base metal income higher or something)? I get that there is a point where it would turn into an insane perpetual death march of almost free fleetships, but is the current balance really close to that point? Is the intended experience for the average player supposed to be min-maxing all of the non-threat AI aggression onto a couple of key worlds and aggressively farming it for resources? Is the problem that it affects something in difficulty 9 and 10 games that I just don't see down in 7 and 8?

Slight side note, is a zpg meant to be absolutely crucial for mounting proper distributed defenses? It seems there simply is not enough energy available otherwise to take and hold the systems you have to capture if you don't create a clump of systems that can go without defences. (An uncaptured neutral system is a complete waste in my mind. If I've paid the AIP cost, then its in my interest to at least use it.)
Title: Re: Tell my your thoughts on reprisal! ....morale?
Post by: tadrinth on September 06, 2016, 06:49:24 PM
If you can't consistently funnel waves onto a Logistics or home command system, you get salvage rates of 4 or 5 percent

Home command station's 40% salvage rate is ludicrously OP.  My only Diff10 victory, I soaked waves on my homeworld *the entire game*.  That's insane.  And that was before warp counterattack guard posts got moved out! So I was soaking THOSE on my homeworld.  Every wave was 20% of a golem or something.  Totally worth it.  Did the same thing on my last Diff 9 game; yeah, I had to bring my fleet home for waves toward the end, but by that point I had too many Trader goodies on my HW to change my mind. 

Zenith Trader is a BIG culprit here.  Needs to die. 

Mines need to be per-planet capped.  Only global defense caps should be forts and HBCs. 

is a zpg meant to be absolutely crucial for mounting proper distributed defenses?
No, they vastly predate the turret changes.  They're rather OP in the current setup in low AIP games. In theory you solve energy problems with Econ command stations, but that's not helpful if you don't have enough backline planets to put them on, or vs a warp jumper.  You just have to build a lot of metal converters.
Title: Re: Tell my your thoughts on reprisal! ....morale?
Post by: Cinth on September 06, 2016, 06:53:16 PM
Trader is an optional.  Balance shouldn't be determined by the presence of something you know will vastly change the game (Trader goods do that!).
Title: Re: Tell my your thoughts on reprisal! ....morale?
Post by: Tridus on September 06, 2016, 07:00:26 PM
If you can't consistently funnel waves onto a Logistics or home command system, you get salvage rates of 4 or 5 percent

Home command station's 40% salvage rate is ludicrously OP.  My only Diff10 victory, I soaked waves on my homeworld *the entire game*.  That's insane.  And that was before warp counterattack guard posts got moved out! So I was soaking THOSE on my homeworld.  Every wave was 20% of a golem or something.  Totally worth it.  Did the same thing on my last Diff 9 game; yeah, I had to bring my fleet home for waves toward the end, but by that point I had too many Trader goodies on my HW to change my mind. 

Zenith Trader is a BIG culprit here.  Needs to die. 

Turn it off. :)

I do agree that the salvage on the homeworld command station is nuts, and also that it's too low on Mil/Econ command stations.  The gap needs to be tightened up. Maybe it should be more universal rather than command station specific.
Title: Re: Tell my your thoughts on reprisal! ....morale?
Post by: Sestren on September 06, 2016, 07:04:59 PM
You just have to build a lot of metal converters.

...which further slows the refleeting process and increases wait time again. Another point for chokepointing.

Mines (and the line place tool) really are the true MVP of defense. Making those per-planet would be nice, but you would have to tune it very carefully because nobody in their right mind wouldn't use the entire cap on every planet.
Title: Re: Tell my your thoughts on reprisal! ....morale?
Post by: Elestan on September 06, 2016, 10:13:54 PM
Not liking the idea of having to deal with morale.  Depressed troops are just not an interesting game theme (to me), and there are so many more fun things to spend the complexity budget on.
Title: Re: Tell my your thoughts on reprisal! ....morale?
Post by: Elestan on September 06, 2016, 10:15:44 PM
Mines (and the line place tool) really are the true MVP of defense. Making those per-planet would be nice, but you would have to tune it very carefully because nobody in their right mind wouldn't use the entire cap on every planet.

The value of mines would change significantly if the AI ever figured out not to fly straight lines from warp gate to target.
Title: Re: Tell my your thoughts on reprisal! ....morale?
Post by: chemical_art on September 06, 2016, 11:42:47 PM

Morale seems like a worse kick in the pants than reprisals.  Reprisals mean you get your teeth kicked in *somewhere else* where you aren't getting wrecked.  If you're doing badly on a planet, because that planet is a brutal nut to crack, then you don't need a mechanic that makes it HARDER to crack the longer you fail.  I mean, unless the intent is to encourage players to give up and use Warheads.

The more I think about morale the more I feel like it is a means to encourage players to do other things. So I am starting to think maybe instead of sticks there are carrots to encourage maybe if an player attack fails, rather then making an attack on that world even more painful other attacks become less painful. It would give a nice break to players not playing on snake worlds.
Title: Re: Tell my your thoughts on reprisal! ....morale?
Post by: Pumpkin on September 07, 2016, 03:13:24 AM
Instead of morale, what about pilots being cloned/un-cryo'ed at a certain rate. "Available pilots" would be a sort of resource whose income could be increase by science and/or assets.

I don't like the idea of having human lives at stake (even if "it's just a game"). But if it's going to be a thing in AIW2, I wish it would be much clearer and mechanically coherent. For instance, in AIW1, there is a sense of "death of Humans induce AIP": cryopods, bubble cities, rebelling colonies, etc. But not for colony ships and orbital command stations (but there is the shark plot). While I would prefer to not have human lives at all in the game, if you make it, make it completely.

On a more technical note, I like reprisal/salvage as it is and I don't see the need for improvements here. Wether that "morale" (or human lives) mechanism is an improvement, that's another question, and for now I vaguely think it's not.
Title: Re: Tell my your thoughts on reprisal! ....morale?
Post by: zharmad on September 07, 2016, 05:05:06 AM
Morale? I had the impression that there aren't enough humans to keep spawning pilots, much less morale. i.e. no humans exist in fleetships.

For players to like morale, you want to first allow them to grow emotional-attachment - this is only really possible for champion-type units and center-pieces of human fleets, which have human commanders in them.

Whether you want human commanders in ships is another topic.

= = = =
I though salvage and reprisal was covered in another thread? O.o
Salvage: Generally against. Meaningful player choice != small-percentage from any killed vessels, by any means. The Vasari in Sins had universal salvage from destroying enemy cap-ships and facilities, and I don't remember anyone ever talking about it.

Reprisal: In principle maybe, but it could do with more variety and initial ramp-up. The humans are playing as Palestine in the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Take that how you will, but it's at least of the same orders of magnitude difference in power and influence.
- Initial reprisals are non-existent.
- The AI makes meaningful or symbolic counterstikes. Rather than release threat to existing countermeasures, commit ships to counterattack on a particular player asset not on the homeworld. Or, release multi-front raid targeting all resource deposits.