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Age of Kings Heaven » Forums » The University » A Guide to Modders Aiming to Rebalance Water Warfare (Approved)
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Topic Subject:A Guide to Modders Aiming to Rebalance Water Warfare (Approved)
HockeySam18
Dúnadan
posted 07-10-15 01:48 PM CT (US)         
This article has been approved and can also be read at the University. - Leif Ericson

As we all well know, the current water warfare model in AoE2 is completely and utterly broken. I've seen several discussions come up about it in the G&SD forum as well as the Modding forum, so I figured I'd just write up an article once and for all that we can use for future reference:


The rock-paper-scissors model of naval warfare needs to be fully implemented from the moment you can build warships. Water warfare in AoE2 fails epically from the start because the Galley is the only warship available in Feudal, so it is what everyone will be building. Once you have a standing fleet of Galleys, it makes far more sense to keep teching into the Galley-line than investing in any other ships. The Galley-line is far more cost-effective than any other ship type, and that the nature of their stats mean that once a (relatively low) critical mass is reached, nothing can counter them except for a greater number of Galleys or a comparable number with superior upgrades and/or unit micro. The Galley-line is additionally far more effective against land units than any other ship type (except for Demo Ships on shallows, but that's very niche and situational), which makes water control all the more vital (and Galleys more effective) in a water map.

So here's a few things to consider:

1) Create weaker versions of Fire ships and Demo ships that are available in Feudal to get the triangular combat model going right from the start.

2) In general, the stats of the ships need rebalancing. Fire Ships should have enough pierce armor that Galleys should do just about as much damage to them as archers firing on rams do (or maybe 2HP of damage/hit instead of 1). That will make the Fire Ship-line an actual hard counter to Galleys as intended. They may need more HP as well to counter the fact that Galleys can still be microed to fire, retreat, and outrange Fire Ships.

3) Since mass Galleys will then die miserably to the rebalanced Fire Ships, Demo Ships will come into play more (they do melee damage, so they'll be just as effective as ever against fire ships regardless of tweaks to fire ship pierce armor) because they will be needed to counter Fire Ships. Demo ships need more HP than they have in AoK:TC, but not too much more (probably only 10-20 more HP than they do now, and should still have crap pierce armor but could have a little more melee armor). That will make them a requirement to use to counter mass fire ships.

Once points 1-3 have been implemented, some tinkering with stats will doubtless be needed, but that's something that can wait for when you're testing as it's nigh impossible to narrow down the exact numbers beforehand. You may need to do further tweaks to cost, HP, armor, attack, speed, and even training speed if needed. As a general guideline, though, for a revised water warfare model:

a) Fire Ships should always beat similar numbers of Galleys and be more cost-effective in this matchup as well. The nature of a counter unit is that it allows a player to win a battle with lesser numbers if they are using the proper counter, but still naturally lose if they are greatly outnumbered.

b) Demo Ships should absolutely wreck Fire Ships and in low equal numbers beat galleys as well. Demo Ships should cost more gold than Galleys or Fires, though, to make up for the fact that their blast damage can absolutely annihilate tightly-packed masses of ships.

c) Mass Galleys should destroy Demo Ships before they can reach them, and should be more effective against land units than any other ship (except for Demo Ships on shallows).


Generic Cannon Galleons are a perfectly-balanced unit as they are because they fit the niche of a siege ship that is great against buildings but only marginally effective against other ships. Spanish Cannon Galleons are a good example of awful balance, though, because when massed they're a super-unit that nothing can counter. Sure, their cost is quite large, but once you have a dozen or so of them with a few other ships as support you slaughter everything else cost-effectively.

One last thing to account for is ship UUs. You need to provide some sort of incentive to use them. They should be a better, more cost-effective version of the unit they're modeled after, and relatively feasible to upgrade. Longboats aren't used because they cost more than the Galley-line and the Galley-line is effective enough at winning water wars in the current broken model. Turtle Ships just cost a ton and are hard to mass. You can get a couple out but they still die easily (and cost-effectively) to mass Galleys (Turtle Ships are mostly a Fire and Demo Ship counter due to their low fire rate, high damage, low range, low speed, and high cost). If you rebalance water warfare as per above then you'll probably see more usage of ship UUs because it won't just be a race to who can mass the most galleys.

Also, elite ship upgrade costs need to be decreased. The whopping cost of the Elite Longboat and Elite Turtle Ship upgrades are insane when you compare them to the upgrade costs for other ship types. Just in terms of gold cost, you can have 15 Galleons for the cost of the Elite Longboat upgrade, and 26 Galleons for the cost of the cost of the Elite Turtle Ship upgrade. That's not even taking into consideration the gold cost needed to build the ship UUs after that.

With a rebalanced model, you should hopefully see all ship types used and more interesting water warfare as opposed to the same generic grush (Galley rush) build that currently occurs on every water map.

Storm on the Steppe | Galderton Hill RP | Proud member of Stormwind Studios

"Cattle die, kindred die, every man is mortal:
But the good name never dies of one who has done well." - Hávamál

"Hockey is the only sport left for true men." - ax_man1

[This message has been edited by Leif Ericson (edited 03-15-2017 @ 11:53 PM).]

AuthorReplies:
BF_Tanks
Squire
posted 07-12-15 07:03 AM CT (US)     1 / 12       
Quite a few good ideas here, Sam.

I always wanted to overhaul naval play. One idea I had was to have all researched ships available, so that you could build galleys as well as galleons.

Galleys would be more focussed on being a scouting/raiding ship, with pretty much the same use they have now, but that would be extended in later ages with techs that would make galleys much faster. They'd be useless in a navy at this point, but would still be viable for raids and transport.

War Galleys would be focused on combating other ships, with less health and armour over-all than a Galleon but matching, if not more, damage against other ships whilst being a whole lot cheaper.

Galleons would be very hardy but focus less on combating other ships and more for full on coastal assault. They'd have a massive garrison capacity and possibly be upgraded to fire small-bore cannons.

Cannon Galleons would essentially remain as they are now but be slower and be overall weaker than the Galleons in terms of health/armour. They'd essentially be trebuchets of the sea, with a big bonus against buildings and a big weakness against boats.

Turtle Ships would function like a Galleon but have a big damage bonus against ships, making them pretty OP on the water but with massive costs and quite slow, they'd not be viable for massing unless the player is confident in his resources and has the time to build them all.

Fire Ships would be similarly balanced, except they'd be almost impervious to ship damage with the exceptions of cannons and explosives.

Demolition ships would be a direct counter to this, and turtle ships. Fast moving with low stats but massive damage against anything on the water.

Longships would have the correct name, and would be pretty much a superior Galley. Later-game they'd keep their usefulness with garrison upgrades so they can carry much more people.

OVerall, all ships would be much more expensive, slower to build, but be a lot more useful and interesting.

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HockeySam18
Dúnadan
posted 07-12-15 10:36 AM CT (US)     2 / 12       
That's an interesting idea. Depending on the mod, water warfare could be taken in an infinite number of directions. My guide was specifically geared towards the vanilla game or mods whose water structure emulated it, but the principles with regard to balance apply no matter what you're doing

Storm on the Steppe | Galderton Hill RP | Proud member of Stormwind Studios

"Cattle die, kindred die, every man is mortal:
But the good name never dies of one who has done well." - Hávamál

"Hockey is the only sport left for true men." - ax_man1
Gastropod
Squire
(id: Tyretian)
posted 07-12-15 01:30 PM CT (US)     3 / 12       
One thing I always thought would be cool would be a ship to act as a mobile dropsite for your fishing boats (although as far as I can remember, 1 unit can only have a limited number of dropsites for the resource it carries). A combat ship that could also fish, like the Caravel in AoE 3 would be cool.
TriRem
Huskarl
posted 07-12-15 03:13 PM CT (US)     4 / 12       
A mobile dropsite is totally doable, and fishing ships have only the dock used as dropsite there is room for a second one. But wouldn't it make fishing OP having a dropsite that follow your ships just next the fish ? I would rather make the fishing ship being able to build a sort of fixed platform on sea as a second dropsite, it would make fishing more effective but not that OP.

As for a boat that can fish and attack at first sight it seems impossible without exe modding but maybe not I could check.
HockeySam18
Dúnadan
posted 07-12-15 03:53 PM CT (US)     5 / 12       
To be fair, having another ship as a mobile dropsite seems a little illogical. Wouldn't that ship then logically have to return to the dock anyway if fish was to actually to be delivered to those on land?

Another idea is giving fishermen (the fishing villager) the ability to drop fish at the dock, which would be quite cool, except I'm not sure if it's possible without also having to allow farmers, hunters, and foragers to drop food at the dock, which would be one step forwards and three steps backwards :/

Storm on the Steppe | Galderton Hill RP | Proud member of Stormwind Studios

"Cattle die, kindred die, every man is mortal:
But the good name never dies of one who has done well." - Hávamál

"Hockey is the only sport left for true men." - ax_man1
Leif Ericson
Seraph Emeritus
posted 07-12-15 04:24 PM CT (US)     6 / 12       
It'd be possible to have fishermen drop at the dock. They just wouldn't be able to drop at the mill.

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HockeySam18
Dúnadan
posted 07-12-15 04:54 PM CT (US)     7 / 12       
That would be an elegant solution. I wonder if competitive players would accept such a change, though it's a fairly simple one, and even if they still didn't, it's only a tiny demographic of the wider community anyway.

The one problem you run into, though, is what to do with maps where tiny lakes with shore fish are generated. If they're not near the TC, then players would logically mill them if they bothered taking the shore fish at all. Building a dock for 150w vs 100w for a mill might marginalize the benefit of making that effort to take the fish, even if it was still fair for all players. On the other hand, it might shake up early water gameplay a tiny bit, as villagers would be able to build a dock and begin taking the nearby shore fish. Such a change coupled with rebalanced water warfare as per above could be interesting.

Naturally, if you're making a mod for fun and for a more casual crowd and have little interest in balancing it to competitive standards, then none of the analysis in this post need apply

Storm on the Steppe | Galderton Hill RP | Proud member of Stormwind Studios

"Cattle die, kindred die, every man is mortal:
But the good name never dies of one who has done well." - Hávamál

"Hockey is the only sport left for true men." - ax_man1
John the Late
Knight
posted 09-01-15 07:54 PM CT (US)     8 / 12       
Letting shore fishers bring food to the dock instead of the mill (or changing/adding any dropsite for that matter) comes with a problem: The right-click action is hardcoded to the vanilla dropsites, and only the automatic action (after carry capacity is reached or source exhausted) can be adjusted in the data, so even when you'd change the fishers' dropsite to docks, one would still be able to task him to mills, just that the he would keep the resources, and vice versa it would not be possible to tell him to drop the food at the dock, making the delivery only possible by telling him to gather fish again, until one of the above mentioned cases happens.

This can be remedied by executable editing, but that's not possible for everyone and then for anyone using HD the game itself is a particular hindrance.
HockeySam18
Dúnadan
posted 09-01-15 08:27 PM CT (US)     9 / 12       
Wow, how bizarre. Good to know, though. That's probably the least important aspect of any water rebalancing, thankfully.

Storm on the Steppe | Galderton Hill RP | Proud member of Stormwind Studios

"Cattle die, kindred die, every man is mortal:
But the good name never dies of one who has done well." - Hávamál

"Hockey is the only sport left for true men." - ax_man1
John the Late
Knight
posted 09-01-15 08:29 PM CT (US)     10 / 12       
Indeed, it's something not required at all.

On the topic of balance, I'm happy that you included a note about feudal ships, that's a problem I've been pointing out in pretty much every water balance discussion.
HockeySam18
Dúnadan
posted 09-03-15 09:25 AM CT (US)     11 / 12       
Indeed, it's bugged me for years. Boggles the mind that ES even thought they could have remotely interesting water warfare when there is only one warship available in Feudal

Storm on the Steppe | Galderton Hill RP | Proud member of Stormwind Studios

"Cattle die, kindred die, every man is mortal:
But the good name never dies of one who has done well." - Hávamál

"Hockey is the only sport left for true men." - ax_man1
Nabrimn
Squire
posted 09-23-15 02:18 PM CT (US)     12 / 12       
I'm not sure there should be any shore bombardment ship before the cannon galley. Cutting galley line range to match the same age archer line unit or 1 less would make taking the water less absolutely decisive since a large war galley force couldn't patrol to shut down new docks without being killed by mangonels.

The longboat represents shore raids and would get to keep its range but might be nerfed slightly in other ways if the range makes it too dominant against other ships.

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