Author Topic: Discussion - Moving Force Field Frigate out of default starting fleet  (Read 1245 times)

Offline tadrinth

  • Sr. Member Mark III
  • ****
  • Posts: 499
Chris asked for more opinions so I figured I'd start a discussion thread.

I suggested via a mantis ticket ( https://bugtracker.arcengames.com/view.php?id=23317 ) that the Force Field Frigate be moved out of the default starting fleet, because that's what new players are most likely to try and the Force Field Frigate isn't great for learning the basic mechanics.

His proposal is to move the FF Frigate to a new, shield-oriented starting fleet, and put a different frigate in the starting fleet. EDIT: and it uses the same tech as Concussion Corvettes.  Maybe a Heavy Beam Frigate?

My thought was, if there was a pure anti-armor frigate (like a bigger pike corvette), that would be a good replacement for it. If there was a pure fusion-bomb frigate, I'd say swap that in and then swap the fusion bombers for pike corvettes, stalkers, or ablative gatlings (to keep the swiss-army-knife flavor). Maybe a new frigate that's a hybrid of the pike's anti-armor and the gatling's anti-albedo effects?

Or a Siege Frigate, since that's the closest thing to the Plasma Siege Starship from AIWC, though that's in use by a different starter fleet.

The new starting fleet should probably have stingrays or anti-shield pulsar tanks, to stick with the force field theme. The short range of the stingrays may pair awkwardly with the force field frigates, though; I did some experimenting last night and very short ranged ships require extra micro to both be useful and stay under the shield.  There's a couple fragile ship variants that might go well, especially Gunbots; the bubbles will help keep them alive, though that will be a very strong combo.  I would suggest not putting anything in this fleet that counters Stingrays, so that the AI has a clear counter and the player has a clear weakness to try to cover via ARS unlocks.

What do y'all think?
« Last Edit: June 21, 2020, 06:54:18 PM by tadrinth »

Offline Lord Of Nothing

  • Full Member Mark II
  • ***
  • Posts: 173
I think I agree with your point about the way people move on a planet being excessively influenced by the forcefield frigate, and generally I would support what you're suggesting, but one part does concern me a bit:

As you point out, the presence of the forcefield frigate slows things down a bit and makes the ships of the fleet feel a little more permanent and durable, rather than the more general emphasis the game has on using fleetships like ammunition. This is, I agree, not representative of normal fleetship game play. BUT. If we get rid of that, is the game doing enough to push new players into understanding that the idea is to be replacing your ships continually via good logistical support, whether through static or mobile shipyards, or, are we just creating a situation where their starting fleet in their first game just gets too easily destroyed and they feel that the game is impossible?

First impressions are so important, and let's face it, most people don't play tutorials.

Offline tadrinth

  • Sr. Member Mark III
  • ****
  • Posts: 499
Hrm.  The first planet you attack will always be next to your homeworld, so you're guaranteed to replacing your casualties as you clear the first planet.  Hopefully if they run into trouble farther out they notice that their flagship stopped building and try to figure out why.  Assuming they're starting on Diff 5 and they're building their whole starting fleet before heading out, I don't think they'll run into much trouble until they hit a higher mark planet.  They might have to retreat before fully clearing planets but they should be able to at least take out a guard post or two before then, so they'll feel like they're making progress. 

The tooltip for flagships could display some warning text when it has ships to produce but no friendly factories in range, I guess? But otherwise I'm not super concerned about this issue. 

Offline kmunoz

  • Jr. Member Mark II
  • **
  • Posts: 80
I'm not even sure I know what the force field frigate is for. It's not easily selectable on its own, so it usually just ends up going around with all your other ships, which ignore its position and will go outside the field most of the time. So the frigate winds up flying around by itself, doing nothing useful.

I'm a very bad player and can't win the Diff 6 - 2 AI default start, so take my comment with a grain of salt, but I feel like part of the reason I have difficulty with the game is that the game is not especially expressive about how to use the units you're given. This is especially true of the force field frigate, which seems completely useless. (Replies that start with some variation on, "Well, you're supposed to..." are only reinforcing my point.)

Offline CRCGamer

  • Newbie Mark II
  • *
  • Posts: 11
Generally speaking the force field frigate is indeed an outlier in the basic standard fleet. However it is one of the few reasons to actually *take* that fleet right now. It combines quite nicely with ship lines like trippers or snipers which are rather fragile and have extreme range and thus are perfectly happy to sit under the bubbles. Throw in some crowd control like tractor drone frigates on top of that and you end up with a pretty potent extreme range fleet. Very effective at parking in front of a wormhole you want to deny AI retreat through to minimize threat build-up. Or as a long range grinding option to remove a turret nest you don't want to get within range of.

Basically early game you block retreat paths with the frigates via a transport drop on top of the spot you want to block. If you can get a nice ball of super long range ships you put them into specialized fleet instead. They require a fair bit of micro to actually utilize as it stands right now unless you can get a sniper fleet up via unlocks.

Offline ANGRYABOUTELVES

  • Newbie Mark II
  • *
  • Posts: 10
My suggestion is to replace the Fusion Bombers in the Classic fleet with Assault Frigates, as Fusion Bombers are fragile, slow, and specialized in anti-structure work. Assault Frigates are easier to use, more useful in general, and are also a Fusion unit. The Forcefield Frigates would then be replaced with a Disruption strikecraft wing, so that a new player upgrading their starting units will also upgrade their starting Pike Turret defenses as well.

Offline CRCGamer

  • Newbie Mark II
  • *
  • Posts: 11
My suggestion is to replace the Fusion Bombers in the Classic fleet with Assault Frigates, as Fusion Bombers are fragile, slow, and specialized in anti-structure work. Assault Frigates are easier to use, more useful in general, and are also a Fusion unit. The Forcefield Frigates would then be replaced with a Disruption strikecraft wing, so that a new player upgrading their starting units will also upgrade their starting Pike Turret defenses as well.

That could be quite the problem however if one of the first couple planets the newer player goes into has an anti-starship emplacement. Frigates unfortunately get absolutely hammered by the emplacements specializing in blowing up bigger ships. And if your frigates are your main way of actually killing said structures? Ouch.
Probably better to keep the frigate in the classic fleet as something semi-useful and of a support nature. Either bringing detection, crowd control, or in-combat basic repair even if its something like a vamp frigate.

Offline ANGRYABOUTELVES

  • Newbie Mark II
  • *
  • Posts: 10
That could be quite the problem however if one of the first couple planets the newer player goes into has an anti-starship emplacement. Frigates unfortunately get absolutely hammered by the emplacements specializing in blowing up bigger ships. And if your frigates are your main way of actually killing said structures? Ouch.
Probably better to keep the frigate in the classic fleet as something semi-useful and of a support nature. Either bringing detection, crowd control, or in-combat basic repair even if its something like a vamp frigate.
You could say the same about Fusion Bombers. Without the Forcefield Frigate to protect them, they get ripped up by a heck of a lot of stuff; if the Forcefield Frigate is changed for something else, I think the Fusion Bombers have to be changed as well to keep the fleet useful. Assault Frigates at least require specialized anti-heug weaponry to be vulnerable.

Offline zeusalmighty

  • Full Member Mark II
  • ***
  • Posts: 151
New fleet proposal: Crowd Control Fleet

Brawler Frigate
Suppressor Frigate
Spider
Bombard

This fleet is all about letting your bombards get in position to take out guardposts and other critical targets.

Offline tadrinth

  • Sr. Member Mark III
  • ****
  • Posts: 499
That could be quite the problem however if one of the first couple planets the newer player goes into has an anti-starship emplacement. Frigates unfortunately get absolutely hammered by the emplacements specializing in blowing up bigger ships. And if your frigates are your main way of actually killing said structures? Ouch.

Hrm.  If you're talking about OMDs, the map gen should not put any on the first few planets on beginner difficulty levels.  If you're talking about Sabot guard posts, they have a 100x damage multiplier against frigates; assuming they're balanced around that 100x multiplier, they should have pretty pitiful base DPS, and be easily taken out by any strikecraft.  Same for Nucleophilics, they do 1/5th as much damage against strikecraft.

Probably better to keep the frigate in the classic fleet as something semi-useful and of a support nature. Either bringing detection, crowd control, or in-combat basic repair even if its something like a vamp frigate.

Since the engineering support fleets all include tachyon via sentry frigates, I lean toward avoiding including tachyon, to encourage players to figure out that they should bring support fleets along for this purpose.  Though I can certainly see an argument that including tachyon on the starting fleet's frigate would reduce the early frustration associated with cloaked units. They can always figure out the support fleet sentry frigates when they try a different starting fleet. 

The V-wings are somewhat of a source of crowd control; they have engine slow.

You could say the same about Fusion Bombers. Without the Forcefield Frigate to protect them, they get ripped up by a heck of a lot of stuff; if the Forcefield Frigate is changed for something else, I think the Fusion Bombers have to be changed as well to keep the fleet useful. Assault Frigates at least require specialized anti-heug weaponry to be vulnerable.

That's odd.  I have a script which goes through the XML files and figures out which ships counter each other.  In the base game, the only structures my script finds which counter Fusion Bombers are DireGravityGuardPosts and FortifiedTestlaTurrets.  By contrast, the Assault Frigates are vulnerable to Pike, Sabot, and Nucleophilic guard posts and turrets, which should be way more common in practice.  Maybe the expansion added a bunch of stuff that counters bombers?  Or more likely the bombers are just higher cap and thus individually squishier, or the durability ratio between strikecraft and frigates means the frigates hold up a lot better under heavy fire. 

I definitely agree that Fusion Bombers should not require Force Field Frigates to be viable. I didn't particularly feel that fusion bombers were vulnerable in my last game, but they were never as highly upgraded as my primary units and I generally threw everything I had at big turret piles. 

Offline ANGRYABOUTELVES

  • Newbie Mark II
  • *
  • Posts: 10
Re: Discussion - Moving Force Field Frigate out of default starting fleet
« Reply #10 on: June 23, 2020, 10:54:23 AM »
That's odd.  I have a script which goes through the XML files and figures out which ships counter each other.  In the base game, the only structures my script finds which counter Fusion Bombers are DireGravityGuardPosts and FortifiedTestlaTurrets.  By contrast, the Assault Frigates are vulnerable to Pike, Sabot, and Nucleophilic guard posts and turrets, which should be way more common in practice.  Maybe the expansion added a bunch of stuff that counters bombers?  Or more likely the bombers are just higher cap and thus individually squishier, or the durability ratio between strikecraft and frigates means the frigates hold up a lot better under heavy fire. 

I definitely agree that Fusion Bombers should not require Force Field Frigates to be viable. I didn't particularly feel that fusion bombers were vulnerable in my last game, but they were never as highly upgraded as my primary units and I generally threw everything I had at big turret piles.
Your script is only looking at explicit damage bonuses and not any of the other things that make up unit counters, like DPS/HP ratios, refire time, multishot, wing size, etc. For example, Assault Frigates perform much better against multishot, beam, and AoE turrets than Fusion Bombers and don't get overwhelmed by swarms because they have a multishot weapon with a short refire time. You are correct that the DLC adds more turrets that counter Fusion Bombers that also wouldn't be flagged by your script; for example, the Holocene turret is an infinite range high-burst-damage AoE turret that performs extremely well against slow strikecraft, but does not have explicit damage bonuses against any unit statistic.

Additionally, a bunch of small units will always be worse than the same total amount of HP and DPS in a single unit, because the only hit point that matters is the last one. The small unit swarm will lose DPS as it takes damage and members die, while the large single unit loses no DPS until it loses that only hit point that matters. MK1 Fusion Bombers have 4800 HP, 2400 shields, and a 30 DPS single target weapon with a 6 second refire time. MK1 Assault Frigates have 165000 HP, 83000 shields, a 700 DPS single target weapon with a 3 second refire time and a 1067 DPS 8x multishot weapon with a 3 second refire time. The starting wing of 40 Fusion Bombers has a total of 288000 HP+Shields and 1200 DPS, split across 40 units. A theoretical starting wing of 2 Assault Frigates would have 496000 HP+Shields and 3534 DPS, split across 2 units. Wings you get from ARSs have an average of 32 Fusion bombers or 1 Assault frigate, so 230400 HP+Shields and 960 DPS split across 32 units for the Fusion Bombers and 248000 HP+Shields and 1765 DPS for the single Assault Frigate. Assault Frigates not only benefit from being a single unit and thus not being vulnerable to AoE/Multishot or losing DPS from taking damage until losing the last hit point, they also just have more total health and DPS.

Fusion Bombers have greater frontloaded single-target damage, as they fire once every 6 seconds compared to the Assault Frigate's 3 second refire. They also have much higher shield penetration, 100% for the Fusion Bombers compared to 60% for the Assault Frigate's Fusion Bomb. The Assault Frigate also performs worse against single targets, as its 1067 DPS Point Defense weapon is Multishot and doesn't have any shield penetration at all. So in the situation where all of the Fusion Bombers survive the approach, they perform better than the Assault Frigate against single targets, at least until they start losing wing members. This requires a Forcefield Frigate and unit micro to keep the Fusion Bombers underneath the Forcefield Frigate. Assault Frigates do not require the same level of protection or micro and perform better after taking damage; they will be better than Fusion Bombers if the Forcefield Frigate is removed, as well as better for new players just smashing their fleet into an AI planet without microing anything.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2020, 10:59:15 AM by ANGRYABOUTELVES »

Offline tadrinth

  • Sr. Member Mark III
  • ****
  • Posts: 499
Re: Discussion - Moving Force Field Frigate out of default starting fleet
« Reply #11 on: June 23, 2020, 03:36:46 PM »
Dang, thanks for the detailed analysis. I am surprised the assault frigates have higher cap health, higher cap DPS, and a dramatically lower cap than fusion bombers.  I assumed they paid for their low cap in either reduced cap HP or reduced cap DPS or both.

Is that the general trend for frigates compared to strikecraft? If frigates are intended to be more powerful per line than strikecraft (they seem to usually have two schticks, whereas strikecraft generally have one schtick or a reduced cap if they're a two-schtick variant, so I think this is intended), then the question isn't so much whether assault frigates are better, but whether the default starting fleet should spend the extra power baked into its one frigate line on killing structures.

Offline CRCGamer

  • Newbie Mark II
  • *
  • Posts: 11
Re: Discussion - Moving Force Field Frigate out of default starting fleet
« Reply #12 on: June 23, 2020, 04:18:29 PM »
Each frigate is at minimum as powerful as ten standard strike craft. And that is for the lower numbered types like sniper strikecraft vs frigates.
And frigates have an interesting curve where they spring ahead of standard strikecraft really hard on the first few upgrades because each extra ship they get is a ton of effective HP. Though they do fail to upgrade their numbers on the final upgrade from mark six to seven.

Strike craft usually pull ahead once the upgrades pull their numbers dramatically forward, especially after fleet line doubling with a hack on a good line. Which is something you cannot use on a line of frigates. Basically a doubled strikecraft line is equal or better to the frigate equivalent in total power.
The huge advantage early on with your small frigate allotment is they mostly stay up doing their job while the strikecraft are getting rapidly replaced. The downside to the frigates is limited targeting. They can be brought down by swarm tactics much easier than an equally powerful force of strikecraft.

So the question should really be what core feature do you want the fleet to have maximum uptime on. Even if it can only focus it in so many directions at once?

Offline ANGRYABOUTELVES

  • Newbie Mark II
  • *
  • Posts: 10
Re: Discussion - Moving Force Field Frigate out of default starting fleet
« Reply #13 on: June 23, 2020, 05:29:38 PM »
The trend is that frigates are better in general than strikecraft per-line, yes. Strikecraft can be better in the specific situations where their schtick is strong, e.g. Agravic Pods and Eyebots punch out Dire Guardians and Golems better than almost all frigates, especially with transport micro, but are worse line for line than most frigates at killing things that they don't get bonus damage against. Frigates are good generalists, Strikecraft have specific roles.

Assault Frigates aren't just good at killing structures, their multishot Point Defense also makes them good against strikecraft, and their Fusion Bomb is acceptable vs guardians. They're slow, durable and have good DPS against most anything. Perfect for a basic generalist fleet, and perfect for newer players.

Offline CRCGamer

  • Newbie Mark II
  • *
  • Posts: 11
Re: Discussion - Moving Force Field Frigate out of default starting fleet
« Reply #14 on: June 23, 2020, 07:31:07 PM »
Honestly swapping the bombers for pike corvettes or porcupines and the shield frigate for a player equivalent of the AI suppression frigate would probably be the best way of handling it. Since making enemy ships in range take longer to fire their weapons is a more hands off way of making the new guy's ships last longer. And isn't as fiddly as trying to properly micro-manage the shield frigates.

As for the new fleet you'd move the shield frigates into though... Maybe instead of it being a focus on force field specialization instead be a mostly *heavy* hull fleet.
You'd have the Force Field Frigate as a sponge covering things like MLRS or Inhibiting Tesla Corvettes stuff that is short ranged slower moving and prefer sitting in the middle of the enemy forces to do their job.

 

SMF spam blocked by CleanTalk