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The Plasma Problem
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Monty
Lieutenant Commander


Joined: 23 Aug 2007
Posts: 231

PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2012 8:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was always under the impression that EPT's weren't included not because of play balance issues, but to keep the options limited for new players just getting into the game.

When I used to play SFB, EPT's were a situational weapon and not equivalent to the overloads of other weapon systems. Definitely not used at the same rate overloaded disrupters and photons due to the power consumption and the nature of how the weapon divides its yield among all the shields. There were more situations I wanted to turn the opponent away with concentrated fire rather than let them distribute the damage all around. The dynamics will be different in FC since shield repair is quicker and more flexible along with ships being faster and to run out plasmas further. I believe EPT's would allow better tactical options in more play arenas without being overpowering.

I also believe they need to be brought back because of the deep rooted history in TOS/SFU lore. Hell, there was a whole TV episode written around the one weapon system and you can't utilize it in the game designed to have a broader appeal to fans of that sci-fi genre.

If they're brought back, I would hope it would be for all the plasma empires and not limited to any one. It's the only reasonable improvement that can be made at this point without going too far. I contend it won't be enough to justify some BPV's but it will help.

As for the over-pointing argument, it can be spun many different ways but it comes down to this in my opinion; it simply seems that some of the ships do appear over valued because the weapon system didn't quite make the translation from the core game in which the BPV was based.

As for cloaks, EPT's don't come close to fixen em. Cloaks do not give the captain an offensive initiative what so ever (everyone knows where you are and that you are going slow, really slow if you're loading any EPT's) so the instances you'll be positioned for an EPT based attack will be limited even further. Cloaks are a pain to use on defense if the other guy has seeking weapons of any type. You know you'll be spending more time and energy cloaked repairing seeking damage than trying to setup an attack run. It becomes a chore to use when maneuver grants better benefits. I'd honestly rather be awarded a 20% BPV adjustment at the end of the game for crossing it off my SSD and not using it.

I'm pretty sure I know what will fix the cloaking problem and make it worth the 20% of a ships BPV.
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Patrick Doyle
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Joined: 18 Aug 2007
Posts: 208
Location: Norfolk, VA

PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2012 1:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I thought I'd Enter the debate here.

Fixes and Solutions to PLASMA
(1) Go witht the EPT: This is something that should be added for the game as a whole. Anyone using plasma should have them. It makes more sense than the Sabot. Sabot would overcompensate and make plasma too powerful. The idea behind the EPT is that it provides the plasma player with and additional tactical OPTION. It is a little harder to run out the EPT than a regular plasma torp. It increases the effectivness of plasma that is nearing the end of its lifespan. Remember, the EPT comes at an additional power cost, it is not free. In my experience with the Gorns, they are often short on power.

Like allowing the plasma player to launch large plasma torps on turn 1, it is in incremental step towards balancing the plasma empires with the others. I am not sure that plasma will ever be as good in FC as they were in SFB, but EPTs would make it a little more sporting.
(2) Adjusting BPV: This is a non-starter. Its just not gonna happen on the scale that it would need to happen because of costs of reprinting cards; ie real world business reasons. SVC would have to change his mind on this. Until then, don't wast any more time on the idea.
Also, if BPV is adjusted, lots of playtesting time would be required to get it right and its impossible to get it perfect for all situations. BPV is merely a rough guidline, not a perfect guide. Bottom line, even if you adjust BPV, it would still be wrong.
(3) Also, I have to say this about the Romulans... it seems ironic to me that the only good plasma force (in my and Pauls most humble opinions) are those romulans ships that are supposed to be the old rickety outdated Eagle class ships. They have the best shields, R-torps (these are effective plasma torps), armor, lots of batteries, and can use their cloak at a lower power cost than any other ships. Obviously the Vulture and King Eagles are the most dangerous.

GENERAL TOURNAMENT SOLUTIONS
(1) Tournament Fleets: This goes beyond plasma issues but we really need tournament fleets to be set up. This would allow some realistic balancing and the elimination of certain ship combinations that are excessively powerful.
Hydrans and Orions (and the LDR which were banned long ago) are the most prone to abuses. Hydrans can bring a lot of fighters (8 for now, but it should be fewer IMO. I had to argue very hard to get the limit down to Cool. There is also the force Paul brought in an earlier tournament.
Orion option mounts when give them so many options that they can be VERY powerful even while staying within the point value limits. I would suggest that Orions, within the tournament be limited to disruptors as heavy weapons on all but one ship or that the point value from which they build thier fleets be reduced some. Historically, the VAST majority or Orion pirate ships carry disruptors, but NO ONE plays them that way. Its is part of the fun pf playing Orions to come up with some devilish weapon combo, so I would understand resistence to to this idea.
(2) Plasma races (with EPT or not) could be better balanced by perhaps having a greater point value worth of ships similar to what wehave been doing already for plasma races. We could also attempt to come up with Andro
(3) I am NOT claiming that this would be an easy solution to implement, it would take some trial and error, and lots of time, but I think it moves things in the right direction. It would be time consuming and there would be disagreements over specific forces. It still moves things in the right direction...imo.
(4) Handicapping - If we want to implement a handicap system (and I think we do), pre-made fleet would be good. I was thinkning along the lines of having 4-6 levels. Ensign=newbie player, gives them a more powerfult fleet to make it sporting for them so they don't get frustrated and quit after a couple games, not powerful enough that newbies are always the ones cleaning house.....then on up to Admiral Level = for the most experienced and best players, possibly using more pre-general war designs, intended to offer them greater challenges. Lee had a good proposal for a point/handicapping system in the Handicapping section.

PLAYING THE GORNS
(1) at 450 Points, its tough to make a competitive fleet.
(2) Game 1 vs M1 - AFter the first pass, my ships had more damge than his. He was not making many mistakes so I decided to concede. I did make a mistake both by being rusty with plasma and forgetting that bolt firing arcs are restricted.
I am not sure it would have mattered much whether or not I screwed up the Bolt/Carronade arcs. M1 played well and didn't make mistakes that I could take advantage of to score worthwhile damage.
(3) Against Lee and his 22 Drones - WHat a friggin nightmare! You can claim I made a mistake, but when faced with all bad options everything can be called a mistake. Yes there are some things I'd do differently, but I'm not sure it would matter, I would simply have died under slightly different circumstances. Gorns are awful against drones. This was a radical fleet and thus I have not found the solution to it yet.
(4) Fightin the Feds - I did win. I had finally gotten rid of some rust. However, the Fed Commander made a couple choices I beleive worked in my favor. His formation was spread over 3 hexes. This allowed me to maneuver so that different shields were hit. His ships generlly fired 2 overloaded torps and 2 standard loaded torps. Firing from range 8, Each Fed ship did roughly 24 points of damage to 3 seperate shields on the DN. After that I was able to run down the Feds while they were reloading.
(5) History - I have played the Gorns MANY times testing them out and lost 90% of the time (in more than 10 games) playering against Archer (Brandon Archerbald) or Paul. THey understand the weaknesses of plasma and how to take advantage of those weaknesses. PLasma empires need some help.
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storeylf
Fleet Captain


Joined: 24 Jul 2008
Posts: 1876

PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2012 6:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Patrick Doyle wrote:

(3) Against Lee and his 22 Drones - WHat a friggin nightmare! You can claim I made a mistake, but when faced with all bad options everything can be called a mistake. Yes there are some things I'd do differently, but I'm not sure it would matter, I would simply have died under slightly different circumstances. Gorns are awful against drones. This was a radical fleet and thus I have not found the solution to it yet.


If not for that one dire mistake I'm absolutely sure you would have won. I was running out of loaded drone racks by turn 7/8, and I couldn't keep up the drone weight needed to overwhelm all your starting fleet. Even with only 2 ships left It was not that easy.

Basically, whether by design or not, you were playing what IMO was the correct strategy, avoid drone hits whilst forcing me into launching drones until I start to run out, then you can close and kill me.

Against a pure drone force (as opposed to Kzini/Klingon) I don't think Gorns are actually that bad to be honest, the drones themselves struggle to achieve any damage, and the Gorn plasma keeps other ships at bay. Sooner ar later the drone user runs into reload problems and the few Phasers are not going to cut it when the Gorns come bearing down later on. Not that I'm claiming that somehow shows plasma is good, like you say, my fleet is very much a gimmick fleet and not very representative of anything.
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Monty
Lieutenant Commander


Joined: 23 Aug 2007
Posts: 231

PostPosted: Tue Mar 05, 2013 6:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Closing in on a year on the subject and the energy around balancing plasmas has dissipated like an 8 impulse R.

Unless there was an unintended consequence I missed or it didn't address the issue, EPT's seemed to be a reasonable solution. Are EPT's too powerful for FC or would they have little effect on the balance.

The two main cons that come to mind are:
-An EPT still won't catch anyone wanting to outrun it
-Cost prohibitive to fire multiple so it may not matter
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storeylf
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Posts: 1876

PostPosted: Tue Mar 05, 2013 9:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well I still sit in the camp that there isn't that much wrong with plasma per se. So IMO no problem, therefore no solution needed.

Roms will be pretty darn tough if they are using the proposed cloaking rules (too tough I think with the entire void change).

Gorns suffer primarily from very badly pointed heavy cruisers, which are the mainstay of any ship line up. I say that on the basis that I think the 2 plas S and 2 plas F is roughly equal to any other cruisers heavy weapon array (4 photons, disrupters etc).

I also don't see EPT making any difference to the likes of Gorn. For the most part if you aren't doing much now with plasma you probably aren't doing much with EPT either, Gorn heavy cruisers are not going suddenly be worth it because they have EPTs.


Also worth noting. In terms if balance, points are only really relevant to a tourney. Friendly games, campaigns, scenarios etc all put less (if any) emphasis on points. If tourney balance is wanted then SFB rules are not the place to look. SFB was so balanced that it resulted in a tourney specific ruleset and tourney specific ships for balance purposes. Its not like you see the Rom KE, Vul, FH, or Gorn CM, BC, CS etc in the SFB tourney. Porting SFB rules over isn't going to give you balance. All you end up with is porting SFB rules over for SFB sake.
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DNordeen
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Joined: 05 Apr 2007
Posts: 530

PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 3:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Concur. Don't port SFB just to port SFB. EPTs don't IMO solve the problem. if the enemy is running away from your plasma, an EPT isn't going to change that since they'll run away from that too.

IMO, it's a tactics (or lack of) problem. If you try the same thing over and over and it doesn't work, it's a bad tactic.

Plasma's just going to have to use patience and think ahead. Use bolts, Stagger fire, use 2-turn Fs. Nibble away at him until he slows down and than smash him with a full torp.

Not every empire can play like the Feds. If you don't like plasma, don't use them.
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storeylf
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 9:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Part of the issue is that a number of players (not all) are looking at it from the tourney perspective. The problem with that is the tourney scenario is grossly unbalanced in the first place, for reasons that have nothing to do with plasma, but very much affects plasma ships as well as others.

The starting point of the tourney was the SFB tourney, and just as porting SFB rules won't particularly balance things in FC neither did using the SFB tourney as a starting point give FC a balanced tourney.
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DNordeen
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 07, 2013 3:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree. Tourney play seems unbalanced. I've never done a tourney, so I can't really comment on how to fix it. I will say, I haven't tried a tourney because I see the banace issue.
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Monty
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 07, 2013 3:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Of course BPV doesn't matter when your making up your own scenarios. Weapon systems don't either.

How far off are the cruisers, 10% ?
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storeylf
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 07, 2013 10:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's impossible to say, as it depends on what you use as your base cruiser. Even within the Feds there are clear abborations. Take the Fed CA, NCA, CS. You will hardly ever choose a CA, it's only 3 pts cheaper than the much better NCA, and its more expensive than the often better CS.

However, as they are very similar lets compare the Gorn BC to the Fed NCA.

Ignore the heavy weapon comparison for the moment.

They have the same shields all round.
They have the same turn mode.
They have the same Power and batteries
They have the same number of phaser 1s and 3s.

So far then we are looking at ships that should have the same points value.

What is different.

The Gorn has 2 or 3 extra boxes (shuttles etc). can't check whether its 2 or 3 at the moment.
The NCA has 2 extra drones
The NCA has much better phaser arcs.

Padding is nice, but only slightly. As the the extra shuttles are kicking in you are probably already in trouble. It could make the difference in a very close game. I'd say it is worth an extra 2 or 3 points to the Gorn.

The extra Fed drones are worth a lot. Extra weapons are always nice. Drones are always useful. They can also be used as ADDs which makes them even more useful in a wide range of matchups. I'd say this is worth at least 5+ extra points for the Fed.

The phaser arcs on the Fed are a lot nicer, they can bring all 8 ph1s on the forward centerline, and 6 any where in FA, they can still bring at least 4 anywhere else, which is more or less the same as the Gorn and its supposed advantage of its bizarre arcs. The Gorn, however, only brings 6 on the centerline or 4 elsewhere in FA. The Fed has 360 phaser 3s compared to LS/RS on the Gorn. I'd put this worth 5+ points again to the Fed.

Overall, ignoring the photon/plasma comparison I'd say the Gorn BC should be around 140pts, if you are using the Fed NCA as the base. I personally consider the Plasma of the BC to be about equal to the photons on the NCA. That may not be true on the tourney scenario, but as noted earlier that scenario is so Fubar IMO for a suppopsedly balanced tourney (when did klingons or selts last do well in the standard non handicap tourney?) that the point is irrelevant.

So on that basis the Gorn BC (and all the other hulls based on it) are ~14% more expensive than it should be. What makes this especially bad is that this is the Heavy cruser hulls, they are the ones that IMO are the main ships of the game. The tourney is 450 pts - effectively a 3 heavy cruiser fight. Obviously you can take bigger/smaller, but where most empires can come with 3 heavy cruisers the Gorn can only come with 2 and a CL.

If you think that plasma is naff and needs EPTs or Sabot or what ever then presumably you think that the Gorn is maybe a 130 pt (or less) ship, and is hence 20-25% to expensive.

Now it could be that the Fed NCA is badly pointed, and should be more expensive (something is clearly wrong with the Fed cruisers BPV overall), in which case the Gorn may be closer to what it should be. On the other hand the majority of heavy cruisers in the game are between 135-150 pts. There is nothing so special about the Gorn that would warrant them being so much more expensive (like say the Roms with their cloak, or tholians and their webs).


ADB have got ships costs wrong before, they have adnitted it and said what the proper cost should be. IMO they could just as easily do the same with the Gorns.


Last edited by storeylf on Thu Mar 07, 2013 8:47 pm; edited 3 times in total
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mjwest
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 07, 2013 3:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

storeylf wrote:
ADB have got ships costs wrong before, they have adnitted it and said what the proper cost should be. IMO they could just as easily do the same with the Gorns.

Not really. Well, not easily, anyway.

Every other time that points have been admitted to being wrong, it was because it was not what was intended. So, for example, when that Klingon T6 tug had a point value of 140, the issue is that it was different from what was intended and what is in SFB. Any corrections to this point have simply been to fix what are, for the lack of a better term, typos.

What you are actually asking for is a complete re-scaling of Point Values. That is a huge task, and encompasses way more than just Gorn cruisers. It also means a significant divergence from SFB, which ADB is loathe to do. (It could, in fact, also directly imply a rescale of SFB BPV in some cases, which really isn't going to happen.)

So, the chances of making significant changes like this aren't all that great. (I am not saying to not try. I am simply trying to explain what you are truly asking for, and why it would be hard to do.)
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Monty
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 07, 2013 5:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Was the carronade introduced as a simple way to counterbalance the power curve differences, shorter tractor range and the missing specialty plasmas from SFB rather than the advertised anti-cloak role?
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mjwest
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 07, 2013 5:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The carronade was simply carried over from SFB. It was included in Federation Commander, as it is the Gorn's "special thing" (even though it gets around over time).
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Monty
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 07, 2013 6:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cool, I didn't realize that it originated in SFB..

Regarding missing firing modes, I would say Psuedos are missed more than Enveloping. I am in no way advocating their introduction, just an observation.
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storeylf
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 07, 2013 7:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
What you are actually asking for is a complete re-scaling of Point Values. That is a huge task, and encompasses way more than just Gorn cruisers.


Actually I'm not advocating that.

It's obvious that ADB don't really care too much about point values. That much is clear from the fact they just port them from SFB in the first place, even though how good something is in one game clearly has little bearing in another game that plays quite differenty, and has huge chunks of systems/options/rules missing. The fact that the SFB tourney created its own special ships makes me think that even the SFB points are not that great either.

However, they have included points. So they must have some desire for point values not withstanding the above. My assumption therefore is that ADB isn't bothered that the points are accurate (despite using a scale which sees ships just 1 pt in 150 different?), so long as they are 'near enough'. To be honest all I want is something 'near enough' as well, I'm not tourney centric enough to worry about smaller differences.

What I would advocate is that where there are some serious anomalies then those ships are repointed to something 'near enough'. Despite what Patrick was saying about playtesting, ADB are hardly requiring extensive playtesting for points (that clearly never happened in the first place, can't see why they'd want it now). It just requires some reasonably thought through guess as to what the points should be in FC (and not SFB), probably based on a small selection of base ships for comparison.

So if there is some consensus that a ship is out by more than say 10%? then it should be repointed.

If the Fed NCA was considered a base ship then the Gorn cruisers are overpointed badly. Should they be 135, 138 or 141 or 145, no idea, but 140 is probably 'near enough' IMO.

Smaller and bigger ships coud be ignored for now IMO. I do, however, think cruisers (heavy and light) are key ships in the game, be it for game recognition (e.g. Fed CA vs D7 vs KE etc) or that many games involve them, often in multiples so the deficit builds up per ship. I would therefore like to see the cruiser types corrected to something that is 'near enough'.

The biggest offender IMHO are the Gorn cruisers. I'll ignore LDR as just totally broken en mass. I dare say there are some other odd ships as well, but Gorn suffer as an empire because of bad pointing on the key ship class. I doubt there are that many such ships altogether.


Last edited by storeylf on Thu Mar 07, 2013 10:58 pm; edited 1 time in total
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