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The Plasma Problem
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Monty
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Joined: 23 Aug 2007
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 07, 2013 10:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The tournament environment is great for play testing. Many elements of FC are a significant divergence from SFB so I dont understand how these BPV anomalies could be unexpected. Not sure how a calibration in FC BPV would need to cascade over to SFB.
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storeylf
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 08, 2013 12:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Monty wrote:
The tournament players are the best playtesters.


Why? anyone can playtest.

Plus the current standard tourney is pretty naff as a scenario. It massively favors certain characteristics over others. If you can close and crunch you have a huge edge over most others, tholians excepted. If you can hold damage potential cheaply (e.g. ESG, Photons) then you have an edge as you will do lots of damage very cheaply power wise on the important crunch turn, which will happen very early (turn 2 usually).

FedCom ships generally move somewhat faster than SFB ships, that means the tourney map, whilst the same size in hexes, is smaller in relative terms than the SFB map. I don't know what speeds are typical of SFB tourney play (and mid turn speed changes aren't something I remember) , but when I used to play SFB I don't remember going over speed 20 much, often quite a bit less. In FedCom I'll seldom be below speed 24, often more with accels.

As a generalistaion the likes of the Klingons and selts get hammered because they do not have the time or space to wear down the enemy before being overrun by a big crunch attack on turn 2. Plasma has a problem because it doesn't have the time or space to reload (Plasmas problem n a small map isn't hitting someone as much as it is reloading over 2 empty turns with no where to run).

Opening up the map to 99*99 (near enough 3 turns movement either way) goes some way to mitigating those issues. Single turn armers get the room to avoid an immediate crunch and maybe wear down the enemy somewhat (especially klingons with wide arcs). Plasma get to have the possibility, if they plan it right, to reload without getting cornered. Crunch empires still have an map edge to run you against so you can't run forever. There will still be some balance issues, perfect balance isn't going to happen. Putting some terrain (a planet in the middle) might help more as well, it offers the possibility of avoiding a straight intercept course, or avoiding the sandpapering attacks of someone at range. Starting closer makes those with cheap hold costs have to take more risk to get all the energy paid for etc on turn 1.

Whilst the above suggestions are not some uber fix, I played the tourney scenario to death a good while back, and quickly realised just how appalling it is for a good balanced game. And how different to other styles of play.

If you ask tourney only players for the 'accurate' point values of ships then they will give you values based on the tourney setup as that is what they are familiar with. Clearly many empires gain or lose a lot under different conditions. Feds are potentially very good on the tourney map - the power issues are not such a great issue as you don't have to do much chasing. On a larger map that lack of power can be a real knacker if you have to chase for several turns. Fusion hydrans are stupidly cheap on the small map, they will hit you on turn 2 and there is little you can do to take advantage of their 'weakness' - lack of hitting power beyond range 3. Put them on a floating map and they are not quite so good.

Whilst it is clearly only my personal opinion, I woudn't want tourney players playtesting ships for pointing purposes until they move to a scenario that is more a reasonable compromise between the tiny fixed 32*40 (or whatever it is) map and the fully floating one. I don't for example want Klingons repointed on the basis that they need to be able to survive a turn 2 point blank exchange with Feds, Hydrans and Lyrans.


You edited whilst I was typing.

Quote:
The tournament environment is great for play testing.


For the above reasons I think it is appalling. Jim has run 1 online tourney with a larger map, but that has so far been the exception. Plus he added handicaps which skews results.


Last edited by storeylf on Sat Mar 09, 2013 4:00 pm; edited 1 time in total
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DNordeen
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 08, 2013 4:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Concur. Tourney is terrible for playtesting. How do you playtest using an unbalanced scenario? Might as well playtest Orions using the Orion DN scenario or Feds with the Hood scenario.

On Plasma tourney...if hitting with the first strike isn't the problem, I don't see how reloading is. Any ship taking an alpha from a plasma ship is usually crunched up. Seriously, no one crunches in a single close-range alpha strike better than plasma does.
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DNordeen
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 08, 2013 5:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another possibility for the Gorn BPV issue is the Gorn Anchor. FC changing the tractor rules so you can fire at plasma and drones while tractored gutted that tactic hard.

Trust me, the Gorn Anchor was devastating in SFB. Getting hit by a full plasma strike at range 1 and being unable to fire at the plasma pretty much ended your game.
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storeylf
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 08, 2013 9:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

DNordeen wrote:

On Plasma tourney...if hitting with the first strike isn't the problem, I don't see how reloading is. Any ship taking an alpha from a plasma ship is usually crunched up. Seriously, no one crunches in a single close-range alpha strike better than plasma does.


You misunderstand me, I wasn't saying you will hit with some big crunch in the first pass. I was saying the fact that you won't deliver the big crunch in the first pass isn't the problem. The problem is that you have no room to reload on such a small map.

On the tourney map you cannot dribble out small amounts of plasma because the other guy will carry on and trap you against the map edge and hit you with photons/ESGs/fusions/gatlings etc. You can't launch a big strike because the other guy will outrun it and then trap you against the map edge whist you reload.

On a larger map either tactic has valiidity, if you dribble it out and the other guy runs through it to get at you then you have room to keeo away, so he takes damage but fails to clobber you. If you launch a big strike and it doesn't hit then there will be lots of room to reload.

In either case if he runs from plasma then you can follow phasering him up the backside, if you have kept plasma back then it becomes awkward for the other guy to turn around to face you - especially if he has already used his free HET to outrun a plasma attack, and if he does you just turn away until you have plasma back up and able to force him away again.

The key factor for plasma ships is room to reload, and room to manouver. The same room to manouver is also what the likes of klingons want, though obviously they don't need reload room.
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Monty
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 08, 2013 10:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think you misunderstood me, the "tournament environment", not a specific tournament format.

Going on six years after publication, where else are you going to find a better organized group of competitive, dedicated players that meet continuously using similarly matched equipment over a set number of games? The feedback loop is short and sustained. This is a very valuable source of information to analyze gameplay mechanics.

Btw, Jim has made great adjustments to the online tournament format based on the shortcomings of the official format. I hope the official tournament can at some point inherit the finer elements.

Look, when the cloak enhancement was proposed a year ago, maybe longer, there were a couple of individual test games and then it went no where. Not enough datapoints to make any actionable decision. Same thing happened with Plasma, a couple of guys went off and tried sabot or EPT (can't remember), came back and argued a little and it went nowhere. Now, throw the new cloak device into the middle of the online tournament and you get more folks willing to try Romulan for a change or maybe, just maybe, an Orion actually purchasing one. I really don't think it'll happen, but when it does you'll know it's worth 20%. Regardless, you get lots of interaction and feedback.

When you have to start hacking away at BPV's from their established source something was lost in translation.


Last edited by Monty on Fri Mar 08, 2013 12:49 pm; edited 2 times in total
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storeylf
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 08, 2013 10:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

DNordeen wrote:
Another possibility for the Gorn BPV issue is the Gorn Anchor. FC changing the tractor rules so you can fire at plasma and drones while tractored gutted that tactic hard.

Trust me, the Gorn Anchor was devastating in SFB. Getting hit by a full plasma strike at range 1 and being unable to fire at the plasma pretty much ended your game.


The same still applies in FC - if you get tratored and hit by a full plasma strike it is pretty much game over. The ability to phaser down what, ~10-20 points? of plasma from a 100pt strike isn't usually going to gut the tractor tactic. If you kept your phasers to defend with you are probably hanging on by a thread whilst the Gorn who didn't take all that phaser damage is almost certainly in better shape.

It may well be that the other guy may have been better off saving 5 o 6 phaser power to resist the tractor in the first place.

As to drones, I've won a good number of games by tractoring someone who has a packet of drones coming at him. Again, someone saving his phasers for drone defense when I'm at range 0/1 is almost certainly in a vastly worse position to me.
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storeylf
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 08, 2013 4:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Monty wrote:

When you have to start hacking away at BPV's from their established source something was lost in translation.



Out of interest I had a quick look at the SFB Tourney Gorn ship. I didn't have the FC cards to compare with and the layouts are different, but from memory it seems to be the Gorn CC but with 2 less shuttles and 1 extra battery. Then I had a look at the Fed tourney ship. That appears to be the older CC, but without the drones! and an extra battery.

Assuming I didn't miss something (quite possible I did) then it appears that even in SFB the standard Gorn cruiser hulls at 160+ points would be considered overpointed by around 10%+ by tourney players.

That would mean nothing has been lost in translation in that respect. The difference is that the SFB tourney players don't worry about standard ships. Maybe that is what is needed in FC. On the other hand If ADB would like a tourney scene in FC to use standard ships then they need to accept repointing them, or at least the most obviously bad ones.
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Monty
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 09, 2013 12:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry, but I'm not following your assertions relative to SFB. You are only looking at the simple SSD and disregarding the internal differences between the two game engines. The boxes are the same, BPVs are the same but the rules are different.

I have no idea how well pointed Gorn cruisers are in SFB but it doesn't really matter.
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DNordeen
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 09, 2013 4:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Since we've been discussing the Fed CA, let's just take 6 Ph-1s. That's a damage range of 24 -63 at range 1. Half that phaser's down a plasma by 12-32. Since you're not going to get straight 1's or 6's, it's probably going to range 20-24 on average. That's like 20% of your damage bought off with 6 power (assuming 100 pt plasma) it's even larger percentage with smaller plasma!

It's been said that the Gorn BPV might be off by a handful of points. I think that a 20 point reduction in damage at the cost of 6 power is a part of the issue.

Gorn anchor in SFB doesn't allow folks to reduce the Gorn plasma strike at all let alone by 20 pts. The change FC brought, allows folks to reduce the Gorn plasma by 20 pts while being tractored.

Combine that with unbalanced tourney, higher speed ships, the removal of EPTs, psuedos, etc. and you now have a disadvantaged plasma.

What's the fix...I'm not sure.

The ships aren't going to slow down. EPTs have the same problem as normal plasma with more energy requirements. Psuedos should forever remain in SFB only and may they never ever be added to FC..

So how 'bout this:
1) Extend the tourney map to allow plasma to rearm
2) Extend the range of plasma torps. Leave bolts alone, but how 'bout doubling the range for the torp?

That would let a PL-R last for 16 impulses and keep them running longer. That would be significant help for gaining space to reload. If doubling the range is too much, how 'bout 50%?

The change would be a little harder to do, though. Doubling just doubles the numbers on the impulse of impact line of the chart. 50% increase would entail a little more work.
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storeylf
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 09, 2013 9:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Monty wrote:
Sorry, but I'm not following your assertions relative to SFB. You are only looking at the simple SSD and disregarding the internal differences between the two game engines. The boxes are the same, BPVs are the same but the rules are different.

I have no idea how well pointed Gorn cruisers are in SFB but it doesn't really matter.


Well the points are being ported are from SFB, and you were saying something was lost in translation. Plus people keep saying we need SFB rules being ported over to help balance things, as though SFB is balanced. Is it though? why have SFB tourney players produced special ships for their games if SFB is so balanced in the first place?

I'm making a couple of assumptions certainly. I'm assuming that he Gorn CC and Fed CC are the same cards as they are in FC and that they are the same points as they are in FC. That seems to hold true for nearly all ships.

The tourney ships are minor tweaks to those ships, I know the games are different, and that shuttles for example are more useful in SFB, then again so are batteries for reserve power. It seems unlikely -2 shuttles and +1 battery is a big -10% change to the value of the ship.

Someone like Patrick with good knowledge of SFB and its tourney can probably explain the differences better and whether my assumptions are valid as my SFB memories are way too distant, but my other assumption is that whilst the first shuttle is extremely valuable, and the second pretty valuable, that by the time you get to shuttle bay 5 and 6 you are looking at diminshing returns so the loss of 2 shuttles is not as bad as it first appears for the Gorn. The battery is a battery and very nice. On the Fed, the battery is again very nice, but the loss of your only split drone rack doesn't seem too minor - the ADD capability alone would be very useful.

If those assumptions are near enough, then the tourney players (who do have pretty balanced ships by all accounts) appear to see the Gorn CC with some very minor tweaks worth exactly the same as the Fed CC with some minor tweaks. That very much implies to me that they do not see the standard Gorn CC worth 164pts, when they see it as the same as a 150pt ship.

I.e. It appears that FC is probably no more balanced than SFB, nothing was lost in translation per se - you had an overcosted Gorn in SFB and you have an overcosted Gorn in FC.


Should the SFB points matter. Not really, If ADB want the FC tourney scene to use standard FC ships then they should put the time in to repoint at least the most obviously badly pointed ships irrespective of the SFB point values. The Gorn cruisers would be pretty close to top of the pile IMO.


PS. It has interested me for a while how different the tourney ships are given constant reference to SFB tourney balance.. if I get chance later this weekend I'll compare them to the standard cruisers better, I may still be missing differences having just gone from memory the other day.


Last edited by storeylf on Sat Mar 09, 2013 3:31 pm; edited 6 times in total
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storeylf
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 09, 2013 10:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

DNordeen wrote:
Since we've been discussing the Fed CA, let's just take 6 Ph-1s. That's a damage range of 24 -63 at range 1. Half that phaser's down a plasma by 12-32. Since you're not going to get straight 1's or 6's, it's probably going to range 20-24 on average. That's like 20% of your damage bought off with 6 power (assuming 100 pt plasma)


6 Ph1s do up to 63 damage at range 1? you are looking at 24-48. The average damage at range 1 is 32, which removes 16 from the plasma.

But in practical terms what difference does it make.

You still hit with 80+ of your 100 plasma, and your 5 or 6 phasers. That is a dead Fed. The X points of plasma the Fed stopped isn't changing the outcome of that tactic. The Gorn anchor will still work in that case.

If I have a smaller plasma load then I going to be wondering whether I'd want to do that irrespective of his ability to defensive fire.

Sure it may make a difference in some corner cases, FedCom is full of those sort of scenarios when you compare to SFB. BUt if they dump phasers into plasma they are not hurting me , but they are still taking a pounding.
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storeylf
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 09, 2013 3:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was thinking a bit more about the tractor thing earlier.

I've used the 'anchor' tactic quite a few times with Kzinti, rarely with plasma ships. Yet the drone version sees far more damage mitigated per energy point by shooting down drones than the plasma version does.

But more to the point, There are a couple of reasons the plasma version may not come up so often. First you don't usually want to be close to a plasma ship anyway, so even if you haven't spotted that particular risk, you are more likely to be beyond tractor attempts. Secondly, It is probably clear that the Gorn is coming at you and you will therefore take action earlier to prevent it. Be it via making sure you don't end up next door to the Gorn, or that you can fend off the tractor. Drone ships on the other hand don't have quite that obvious 'don't get close' feel, the drones themselves are easier to outrun, dodge or shoot, so you may not be avoiding getting quite as close to start with, in the way you do with plasma.

The other factor that affects the tactic generally compared to the SFB tourney is that FC is more a squadron game, particularly the FC tourney. In a single ship game (like SFB tourneys) if you can get to anchor the other guy then you have won. So even if you take a lot of damage on the way in, as long as a tractor survives then you can launch the plasma and win. That can make it a move worth attempting. In a squadron game there is a lot more damage coming at you, making it far more likely that you will actually lose ships on the way in, before you can even tractor and launch. Some empires may be able kill 2 cruisers with their 3 ships. You don't want to lose 2 ships and only kill 1. That makes it a much more risky tactic.

Certainly when I think about the games I can remember, where I've won with such a tactic, they have been where I have already broken up the enemy formation to some extent, and can see that whilst I will probably take a hammering on the ship(s) I send in, I will probably survive with a tractor, providing me a game winning anchor. It's not something I start off thinking that I'm going to try it, because at the start of a game it feels a dubious tactic.


Last edited by storeylf on Sat Mar 09, 2013 4:03 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Monty
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 09, 2013 3:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

storeylf wrote:

Well the points are being ported are from SFB, and you were saying something was lost in translation. Plus people keep saying we need SFB rules being ported over to help balance things, as though SFB is balanced. Is it though? why have SFB tourney players produced special ships for their games if SFB is so balanced in the first place?
.


SFB Tourneys have less rules than the core game and are restricted to one ship per empire so it makes complete sense to have a dedicated tournament ship. Having one ship per empire makes executing a tournament easier because players and administrators aren't bogged down with ship combo shopping.

And yeah, I believe SFB is more balanced than FC.


Last edited by Monty on Sat Mar 09, 2013 4:19 pm; edited 1 time in total
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mjwest
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 09, 2013 3:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

DNordeen wrote:
Another possibility for the Gorn BPV issue is the Gorn Anchor. FC changing the tractor rules so you can fire at plasma and drones while tractored gutted that tactic hard.

Trust me, the Gorn Anchor was devastating in SFB. Getting hit by a full plasma strike at range 1 and being unable to fire at the plasma pretty much ended your game.

Can't let this pass without comment.

In SFB you can fire on incoming plasma. It is no different (conceptually) than in Federation Commander. What you cannot do when in a tractor is launch a wild weasel. That is the killer aspect of the Gorn anchor in SFB.

The main point of a Gorn Anchor is different between SFB and Federation Commander. In SFB, it is to prevent the wild weasel. In Federation Commander, it is to slow the ship down. But in either system, an anchored ship may always firing on the incoming plasma.
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