Certain Weapon Adjustments

Star Fleet Universe Discussion Board: A Call to Arms Star Fleet: ACTASF Book 1.2 (The ADB Revision): Certain Weapon Adjustments
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The relative power of certain weapons at certain ranges may not properly match the Star Fleet Universe Knowledgebase and after our analysis is complete some of these weapons may start testing revised tables. This may involve adding some data to various weapons and that may be tied in with rationalizing the damage scores of the various ships.
By Ken Rodeghero (Ken_Rodeghero) on Monday, February 17, 2014 - 01:38 pm: Edit

Mark,

I misunderstood your point. You are referring the original ACTA design so we are perhaps saying the same thing. I.e., Starmada accepts an SFU scale of weapon variety more easily, perhaps, than ACTA. I agree that could be an issue.

It is all about feel and balance. Neither are easy and it is unlikely that 100% will agree on what those are and when they are achieved.

By Ken Rodeghero (Ken_Rodeghero) on Monday, February 17, 2014 - 01:40 pm: Edit

Thanks, Tony. We play next week and will let you know our play results with the latest draft!

By Tony L. Thomas (Scoutdad) on Monday, February 17, 2014 - 01:50 pm: Edit

Ken. A big part of the problem, with the game as originally released stemmed from some of the rules we've fixed.

When agile Klingons could zip around the board with impunity (and turn their reinforced forward shields to bear), it was extremely difficult to out maneuver them.
Throw in the fact that most people who were attempting to learn the game used smaller forces (3 to 5 ships was the typical amount I heard). This number made it very difficult to get around the Klingons superior maneuverability. And once the phasers started flying and damage racked up - the imbalance typically increased. Fed (or Kzinit, or Romulan) ships became slower and less maneuverable. Their shields became weaker - while the Klingons were usually able to avoid the situation. This attitude of a 'broken game' became pervasive and many people gave up on the game.
Our group almost always plays with 7 to 9 ships per side as a minimum (and usually more. With this number, we always had some that could fire on the weaker flank shields of the Klingons and had a large enough number of photons to average several hits and still retain some for the next turn's fire (while the discharged torps were being reloaded).
At this point - terrain was effectively 'required' in order to give the non-agile/disruptor empires a fighting chance.

With the revised shield / damage scores and maneuvering rules - it's not so bad.
The game still works best with a larger number of ships - but even without terrain, one empire doesn't run away with the game. Having a uni-directional shield means you can't turn a new shield to bear, but since a Turn Mode B Klingon ship now turns exactly like a Turn Mode B non-Klingon ship - you can maneuver against them.
Disruptors are still the easier weapon to learn to use - but once you've gotten the basics down, Photons and Plasma have just as much chance at winning the game - they just require different tactics.

And the final rules are still not set in stone. By all means play games - send me reports - if changes / revisions are still needed - they WILL be made.

By Bob Stusse (Lincolnlog) on Monday, February 17, 2014 - 02:01 pm: Edit

Alright well terrain overshadowed the original thread here. Oh well, start over or give it up.

By Charles Lister (Daboss) on Monday, February 17, 2014 - 02:02 pm: Edit

Terrain: As I said in a previous Call Out Note I find that terrain is a important element of ACTA and clear tables lack something. But it is not compulsory.

However I am of the opinion that terrain in a game makes it more interesting/tactical/challenging and enjoyable game - be that in 40K, ACTA or pretty much nay other game. Maybe not Chess but hey their might be a version out there where this is included!?

"In SFU, the variety of weapons and other systems, gives the game a taste others don't have. Integrating them into a system not designed to have such variety makes things difficult to balance."

I am not at all happy with this I am afraid, ACTA has represented a vast arrya of weird and wonderful weapon systems using a variety of tools in its kit, both in the main rulebooks for several unique universes and fan made stuff for even more.

There have always been many constraints on trying to make the ACTA system conform to the SFU and the constant friction between the two is difficult.

Every suggestion that comes up for a weapon has to go through a whole series of arguments about if its SFU accurate (and it should and rightly respects that universe) but quite often I find that few within the community can actually agree about what accurately represents a given weapon:

Take Disruptors - some say the current version represents how they behave very well - others the complete opposite........

As a SFU "idiot" I have to try and work out which one to believe - and thatís not easy :) hence I ask alot of stupid questions!

By Lee Storey (Storeylf) on Monday, February 17, 2014 - 02:31 pm: Edit

Terrain: I'm not sure where the terrain is required for balance comments came from, I've mentioned terrain a few times, as ACTA seems to expect it and I'm assuming play testers are playing the game as written. I've also said things like I don't get hit by long disrupters because I use the terrain, but that is not remotely the same as saying terrain is required in order to have balance. There are, as I've pointed out other counters (shield boost and evasive pretty much neuters long range disrupters).

I haven't played without terrain, but I can't see the Feds simply lying down and dying to klingons as it stands just because there is no terrain. Feds are currently pretty strong and klingons quite weak IMO.

By Bob Stusse (Lincolnlog) on Monday, February 17, 2014 - 02:37 pm: Edit

Lee, we got somewhat off topic, but your comments on balance and terrain+ tatics kind of lead us here. In responding to that it kindled a whole new discussion.

By Lee Storey (Storeylf) on Monday, February 17, 2014 - 03:37 pm: Edit

"Playtesting shouldn't have to determine if a game is balanced, and relaly becuase of differing player abilities playtesting is a very poor way to determine balance. Playtesting should cetify the mechanical operation of the game, like it has with sequencing, seeking weapons, etc... "


I think a lot of people would be quite gobsmacked at that. I've seen more than my fair share of complaints about how various games lack balance and "what were the play testers doing?" or "did anyone play test this!" If you haven't tested for balance then how can you even hope to say the mechanics and weapon stats work. Most players seem to define 'working' as 'balanced', balanced means that you have accounted for the tactics that the game system allows, and any tactic that is a sure win means that the game isn't balanced irrespective of mechanics. Can play testers get it spot on, not likely without a huge number playing, but they ought to be making the effort to determine if it is balanced. Averages and stats in a vacuum don't make balance, playing games as designed will find the holes and tactics that render something uber or pointless no matter how how it looks on paper.

Weapons stats in FC are pretty darn close to those in SFB stat wise, far closer than ACTA will ever get them, but some top SFB tourney players who I have played FC tourneys with decry its lack of balance compared to SFB (I can't comment on SFB myself). Play the standard FedCom tourney and klingons are toast to Feds/Hydran/Lyran barring some huge difference in player skill. The official FC tourney format is dominated by ~5 empires - all crunch damage ones (hydran/Lyran/Fed/Orion, plus tholian, who bring terrain with them). The other empires, who number many more, struggle.

I've certainly had some interesting talks with the above people, and I usually point out that it is not so much that FC is unbalanced, but that the tourney is unbalanced. Tactics that work with some weapons are a non starter in the tourney, and other tactics are unstoppable. They are the same weapon stats no matter what scenario you play, but the tactics you can or cannot effectively use make an enormous difference, and that can be simply down the map you play on - believe it or not even 2 maps both devoid of terrain can play extremely differently when you put Feds vs Klingons on them if they are different sizes. Same stats, same mechanics, different outcomes because of tactics that can or cannot be used properly.

Another thing that can skew perceptions is (as you maybe imply) player skill. Again take FC tourneys, the good players see Feds as being very good. The stats over the tourneys I was playing/watching had them bottom of the pile (only a 20% win rate as I remember). They suffer from being the empire that a lot of people want to play, hence there is probably more skew to newer players, and they don't have the experience to play an empire who can roll a fistful of misses on their important volley, nor when not to close to auto hit range, nor how to maximize overloads and energy etc. I happen to believe the same applies to ACTA, I always felt they were challenging, but not unbalanced as such. More 'hard to master' and needing a good grasp of the maths of photons and the devastating trait as well as tactics. Where as others seem to think they were just gimped full stop. Some maybe still do? There is probably a good argument for making the most iconic star fleet empire more beginner friendly, and leaving the more exotic empires for the 'hard to master' badges, but would that just run into issues with making them something they are not in the SFU?

By Lee Storey (Storeylf) on Monday, February 17, 2014 - 03:47 pm: Edit

"Take Disruptors - some say the current version represents how they behave very well - others the complete opposite......."


I think this is down to those looking at the stats, and saying it isn't converted right stat wise, and those (like me) saying forget the slavish conversion of stats, behavior counts at least as much as well. Stats and behavior are not the same thing when the game system is so massively different. Both sides are right in what they say, it is a difference of emphasis. Matching the technicalities and damage tables or matching the way it plays and the tactics that go with them.

By Bob Stusse (Lincolnlog) on Monday, February 17, 2014 - 03:49 pm: Edit

There are two issues with weapons, the first is scale as it applies to each others ranges.

Plasma-R is the longest range single turn weapon in the game, 32 hexes. So if we consider Plasma-R as a 1 on range scale (with an understanding that most with a few exceptions can fire out to 24 hexes) with a cut off at the 50% hit probability mark, then Phaser-1 should have a range that is .468 of plasma or 15 hexes. Disruptor is 25hexes or .78 of Plasma-R. All SFU games adhere to this including Starmada. This will be the first SFU game that a phaser and disruptor hits a plasma-r firing ship, because the plasma firing ship is not allowed to fire outside of phaser range.

No-one cared for the scaling recommendation, but I don't see how you can call the game SFU compliant without scaling the weapons to each other in like proportions. I don't expect to be able to play a game of ACTA the same way as I play a amge of FC or SFB or even Starmada. But what I do expect at least in my mind is to have a similar effect. You can't get a similar effect with weapons ranges that don't make sense in relation to each other.

The second issue is every weapon should have a strength and a weakness. If you get long range accuracy that is traded off for less damage inflicted. If your accuracy is good a short range you get misserable accuracy at long range. Further, if we're going to call something a heavy weapon, then all heavy weapons should be treated the same. All are devastating or none are. Removing devastating from Plasma, drones and photons will work toward fixing the proble, just as much as adding devastating to disruptors would. I'm a much bigger fan of getting rid of it. The critical table doesn't need double results to get over critical fast. And double results see too over critical too fast anyway. I think drones have pretty well been worked out. But the direct fire weapons are still rather wonky to me.

And statistical averages are what they are, regardless of terrain or tactics.

By Charles Lister (Daboss) on Monday, February 17, 2014 - 04:02 pm: Edit

Weapons:

"Every weapon should have a strength and a weakness"

This will vary as all weapons are not created equally - the Phaser 2 appears (to uniformed people like me at least) as just a weaker version of the Phaser 1?

Much of the ability to make weapons more interesting / tactical choices has been elminated.

ACTA used to have weapons that were great at hitting , but did little damage. Some that did potentially more damage but hard to hit, Some that effected just systems or hit areas......... Some that were better aginst armoured targets, some that were not.

By Lee Storey (Storeylf) on Monday, February 17, 2014 - 09:05 pm: Edit

"No-one cared for the scaling recommendation, but I don't see how you can call the game SFU compliant "

Because SFU compliance means different things to different people. To you its the mechanical conversion of the weapon charts, to me it is having the empire/weapon play styles/tactics similarish to FC even though the game system is vastly different, whether that means the weapon charts look the same or not.

"This will be the first SFU game that a phaser and disruptor hits a plasma-r firing ship, because the plasma firing ship is not allowed to fire outside of phaser range. "

Sorry but you are simply wrong there. FC is, I'm pretty sure an SFU game, and you can't launch a plasma without being in range of all bar Ph3 and Shield crackers that I can think of from the top of my head. Rom comes to max launch range ready to fire his plasma, and eats 60 odd damage in a fleet game if the klinks want to shoot at him, before he even gets to launch.

By Dixon Simpkins (Dixsimpkins) on Tuesday, February 18, 2014 - 12:22 am: Edit

The Plasma-R is only "technically" a long range weapon. However, no plasma player in their right mind is going to launch at that range 24-30. There is simply too much time for the opponent to react and maneuver to run out the plasma. Anything left, if anything, will gladly be taken on whatever shield the target chooses to present. In order to score hits with plasma, the plasma player has to get in close. This means enduring the Disruptors, Phaser-1s, Hellbores, etc. before plasmas are launched. This is how it works in SFB and Fed Com.

Now, I haven't played with plasma in ACTA yet but to me they look "about right" in the sense of representing how they "should" play in the SFU.

By Bob Stusse (Lincolnlog) on Saturday, February 22, 2014 - 01:48 pm: Edit

This reposted over from Terrain. We got to discussing terrain here, and continued discussing combat in terrain.

Okay, if I'm firing 24 disruptors then the Federation has an equal number or at least similar number of ships (probably 6-8 could be more unlikely to less), and since SA's are played prior to firing (during movement) on average even at 6+ success 1 or 2 of the Federation ships should fail the Evasive roll. So, obviously those are the ships to be targeted. If I need a 2+ for success I'm sure 1/6 of my rolls will fail, which is better than having 50% fail. But this still allows the Klingons a target, at 50% hit probability. I'm a little baffled as to why Evasive didn't go auto for military crews?

At over 12" backing up isn't going to hurt the Klingons, since any drones fired by the Feds won't get here this turn. So drone hit probabilities are relevant yet. The first in range turn can be the best time for the Feddies to fire drons, but many times it really doesn't matter. Now, there are no absolutes here. My tactics can be grand, and the enemies tactics grander, so everything that happens depends on initiative, and choices/counterchoices that the players exercise (this is why I don't like to get too heavy into tactics when discussing balance).

A shield that 50% more damage than it actually has, not balanced. Yes, I played they game that way, and it became even more obvious it was unbalanced. But simple math would have told you the same thing. These scored both helped and hurt the Klingons imultaneoulsy, hard to knock the shield down in the front arc, but also hard for the Klingon to re-inforce.

The old damage figures, unbalanced. Yes, I played they game that way, and it became even more obvious it was unbalanced. But simple math would have told you the same thing. Especially once you understood how they obtained the original damage figures and it was based on a flawed system.

Neither Dan, Ken or myself were saying "do away with terrain", terrain like tactics should not be an overlying factor in determining play balance. Terrain and tactics, if used advantageously, shift an otherwise balanced game to the advantage of the wiser player. And I agree terrain can make a game more fun.

No two players are at the exact same skill level. Terrain and even scenario conditions can create an inbalance between otherwise balanced forces, and not always to the advantage of the better player.

This is why we playtest on an open space board. We used terrain a lot before the rules went to re-write. But balance is more obvious based on a open board game and watching die results. Even if skill levels are not equal during a game, you can watch a result and look at the averages and compute probabilities.

You can see the math in FC and SFB. I don't know any of the guys at ADB or at the old TFG, but I assure you at least one is an engineer by trade. You can see it in the game geometry. Thats what the weapons in ACTA currently lack, that geometry.

When you look a Range/Damage/Rate of Fire/Hit Probability as a formula, please change out the Photon Tubes on my Fed ships and give me disruptors.

I am going to repost this in Additional Weapons Adjustments, because I think a lot of this is still discussing hit probabilities and such.

By Bob Stusse (Lincolnlog) on Saturday, February 22, 2014 - 01:57 pm: Edit

Dixon,

Sorry for the slow response. I understand that it's not smart to fire a PL-R across the table. But you can do it. And what I was actually saying is weapons should scale to each other. Once again it's up to the player to employ the weapon as you see fit. I actually prefer to Bolt when I play Gorn, I feel I get better results than allowing someone to shoot my torpedo away.

But, I still see an opportunity to Torpedo from time to time. When I attack I want to get the most "bang for my buck" pun intended. When your going to allow everyone a free IDF, and that plasma is my only heavy attack, I don't really want people shooting at it from a long way away.

By Lee Storey (Storeylf) on Sunday, February 23, 2014 - 07:57 pm: Edit

Moved this back here, seeing as it is about weapons again.

Some more updates. I can now have a run where 2 fleets move at each other and shoot away, and each others firing does affect what comes back (as per my last post on this I had simplified that out, and just shown damage on the basis that the shooter hadn't been degraded, which didn't make much affect in the last scenario I posted on). I've also enhanced it to allow multi ship types per side, though this introduced assumptions about which ship type you target with or shoot with first. Still no seekers, so avoiding scenarios where they may be immediately important (or that they have forced it out to the longer range). Also added in random shield boost, rather than some fixed value and shooter picks the weakest of the target type. I was mainly interested in a more 'real' fleet of mixed types, in particular something like 3 FF/DDs and 3 cruiser (ie some small ships in there), and that is closer to ~1000 points in original ACTA.

Scenario:
3 F5s + 3 D5Ws vs 3 FFB + 3 NCA.
Each side uses and targets the smaller ships first.
All ships magically at same range, but no explosions.
Shooting is same target until dead, then choose another with next ship.
First turn 21" (Feds blast doors and shield boost).
Second turn 15" (neither side takes power drain, fire for full effect on centerlines)

FFB1:- 39.9 damage, 65.5% kill chance, 27.9% cripple chance
FFB2:- 1.5 damage, 0.0% kill chance, 0.0% cripple chance

F51:- 33.7 damage, 99.9% kill chance, 0.1% cripple chance
F52:- 24.0 damage, 49.1% kill chance, 18.3% cripple chance
F53:- 3.3 damage, 3.7% kill chance, 4.1% cripple chance
D5W4:- 0.1 damage, 0.0% kill chance, 0.0% cripple chance


So the klingons aren't even sure of taking out a single FFB, though it will likely be crippled if not dead. The Feds have a small chance of taking out all 3 F5s, and a not bad 50% chance of 2 of them.

The other scenario that interested me is the larger game, which we tend to play, something like the above, but with 3 D5s and 3 NCLs added in for 9 ships apiece.

so that as above otherwise.

FFB1:- 42.9 damage, 100.0% kill chance, 0.0% cripple chance
FFB2:- 28.5 damage, 15.9% kill chance, 23.6% cripple chance
FFB3:- 0.2 damage, 0.0% kill chance, 0.0% cripple chance

F51:- 32.9 damage, 100.0% kill chance, 0.0% cripple chance
F52:- 33.9 damage, 98.1% kill chance, 1.4% cripple chance
F53:- 22.7 damage, 48.7% kill chance, 15.2% cripple chance
D54:- 4.6 damage, 1.0% kill chance, 1.3% cripple chance

Not unlike before, in exchange for 2 or even 3 F5s half the time, the klingons take out 1 FFB and maybe a 2nd on a good day. In a game where extra ships can be important as initiative sinks that has some useful implications for the Feds. May or may not make up for the reload the Feds now have to do, but they have totaled some 20 extra damage on average overall as well (if damage is what you are interested in), though half of that is overkill, which may or may not be good depending on explosion potential.

Caveat as ever, I've just added a lot of this, and I may yet find a bug or 2, but so far it is looking fine.


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