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11/25 - Air Combat

Discussion in 'General Balance' started by Stalker0, Dec 2, 2019.

  1. Stalker0

    Stalker0 Baller Magnus

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    Over the last several versions I have gotten to do a lot of air combat, both offense and defense. While I like a lot of the adjustments that have been made, I do think there are some flaws in the current model that we can address. I've talked about all of these individually in various threads, so I though it made sense to centralize them all for an easy review.

    1) Interception is too weak to act as a deterrent. To me the purpose of interception is to act as a defense against air attack. However, the current interception strength is too weak to accomplish this.

    Generally interception will do 50ish damage when it hits, and sometimes can get into the 60s. While that's great damage, compared to the old system (where interception basically equals death), its not enough to stop me from attacking. I will snipe your unit, and heal my plane....ultimately winning the combat.

    What this means is, there is no real defense from air attack. If you have a vulnerable unit, I will take it out. It doesn't matter if you damage a few of my planes, I will always attack safe in the knowledge my plane will survive, and your unit will not. Over time....I will simply win.

    Because of this...all of the interesting nuance of interception is gone. I no longer bother with air sweeps (why waste the damage on my fighter when I can just bomb and do real damage...I can always just heal the damage later). In fact, I rarely bother with fighters anymore. My interception doesn't stop enemy planes, and I would rather bomb than air sweep....so what I have found is I make fighters less and less. I will add in the occasional anti-aircraft gun to slow down his bomber strikes...but I rarely trade in a precious aircraft slot for a fighter.

    --Solution: Probably the simplest method is to increase the Air Superiority promotions of both fighters and anti-air craft guns from 75% to 90% or maybe even 100%. Interception should nearly kill a fresh plane...or there is no point to having it.

    --Radical Solution: I personally think this idea is too radical, but its another option. Toss the entire interception system. Instead, intercepting units add +X air defense to all units in their intercepting range....and the effects stack. Air Sweeps reduce air defense by X to the target you strike.

    Example: I have 2 Jet Fighters on intercept. These add +25 air defense each to all units within their range. I also have a Mobile Sam that adds +20 air defense to everything within 4. This means many units have Air Defense 70 + their base. When I go to attack, I quickly see that my bomber is going to take a lot of damage. I either take it, or do an air sweep, which reduces the damage by 30 (again note all this numbers are examples).

    2) Carriers need more protection from aircraft. If you actually get into true modern naval warfare (aka carriers + ships), the issue right now is that carriers are too easy to take out from planes and guided missiles. The first to attack will kill the carriers...which cripples the strength of the naval force. Its too binary.

    --Solution: I think the carrier should get the air superiority promotion (to give it some protection and beef up its interception). This combined with the interception increases above should give it the protection it needs so its not so easily taken out.

    3) Stealth Bombers need to work on carriers. Heavy Bombers are not strong enough to deal with late modern/information era units...especially if the enemy has jet fighters and stealth bombers of their own. The simple solution is to allow stealth bombers to work on carriers. While I recognize that is not factual in the real world....IRL stealth bombers have a nigh global range with their mid air refueling capabilities. Many late game combats (if they are for actual stakes) involve projecting force into another continent. Without the ability to use stealth bombers, carriers become very weak. So unless people want to give the stealth bomber the range of an Xcom squad, I think this is a good compromise.

    4) A rework of the Stealth Bomber: The stealth bomber has two problems to me right now. On the one hand, its current interception evasion just further weakens an already weak mechanic. Jet Fighters and Mobile SAMs are literally useless right now in most circumstances. On the other hand, cities do an incredible amount of damage to a unit designed to "evade defenses". So we have this weird situation where the unit is nigh invincible against units and crap against cities.

    --Solution: I have been advocating for a reduction in city air defense but I think I have a better idea to kill two birds with one stone. Instead....remove the current 90% interception evasion and give them a "half damage from air defense" promotion.

    So now, interception is still a factor against stealth bombers, and stealth bombers can bomb cities and other high air defense targets without a huge amount of damage. This allows the stealth bomber to bomb...but still allows interception to be relevant as a defense against the unit.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2019
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  2. Rekk

    Rekk Emperor

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    Whenever you say "air strikes" do you mean "air sweeps"?

    Air strikes are what fighters use to deal damage to ground units; air sweeps are used to clear out interceptors.

    Your issue with stealth bombers not being available on carriers should be solved with jet fighters being able to get promotions to provide meaningful air strike damage, so they can take the "ground-attack" role, or multirole with mixed promotions.

    Stealth bombers are then used to go deeper into continental territory after a city has been taken.

    What are Jet Fighter Air Strikes like compared to Heavy Bombers? (Aside from cities)
     
  3. Stalker0

    Stalker0 Baller Magnus

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    Yes, I did mean air sweep, my apologies. I've updated the OP with the change.

    Previously fighters and jet fighters did more ground damage, but that was reduced because at that time, no one built bombers. Now we have gone the other extreme imo. I personally think it makes sense for fighters to serve as the anti-air role...its just that there isn't much for them to do at the moment. So that's why my proposal focuses on more areas that Stealth bombers can participate in, and a stronger anti-air capability for the fighters.
     
  4. vyyt

    vyyt Emperor

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    I agree with making the fighters more anti-air.

    I know this would probably mean new code, but I always thought it would be nice if it was also possible to strafe the aircraft stationed in a city with your fighters. It could be tied to the air sweep action. If you do not encounter any interceptors, your attacking fighter would directly attack the stationed aircraft in the city, taking some minimal damage based on the city strength (or none?).

    On top of being fun and realistic, it would also solve the problem @Stalker0 mentions above. You would need to produce fighters and AA guns to protect your bombers and you would have to be extra careful when leaving your damaged bombers in a frontline city to heal.
     
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  5. Rekk

    Rekk Emperor

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    The Carrier issue was specifically that Heavy Bombers are outclassed. I'm only suggesting that Jet Fighters become truly multirole capable, not Fighters or Triplanes.
     
  6. Stalker0

    Stalker0 Baller Magnus

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    Its true, and something I had thought of as well. But then you have this scenario where you invested in all of these heavy bombers...and you realize you have to shift to a carrier based strategy. So if we focus on the jet fighter, than that means all of those heavy bombers have to scrapped for something useful.
     
  7. Rekk

    Rekk Emperor

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    They'll be useful in home defense, and useful again as soon as you take a city on the new continent. I also agree with increasing their combat range.
     
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  8. Gazebo

    Gazebo Lord of the Community Patch Supporter

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    We could increase fighter range relative to bombers, or vice-versa. Reach as the biggest differentiating factor is easier to manage and balance.

    G
     
  9. civplayer33

    civplayer33 King

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    Bombers should probably have bigger range than fighters but if I understand the code correctly AI sweeps are only executed on cities directly...maybe this can be improved so they also sweep the tile the bomber wants to attack.
    Edit: this would prevent situations where the enemy city with the Interceptors is too far but the Bomber will still get intercepted because he's attacking something in between his city and the Interceptor's city. Ideally the AI would take into account both the bombing targets as well as estimate the range of possible interceptors in nearby cities/carriers so it can assess interception danger like the human does.
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2019
  10. Stalker0

    Stalker0 Baller Magnus

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    I will disagree with you on this one. In terms of heavy bombers vs stealth bombers....the simple problem is pure power. Heavy bombers just don't have enough CS to handle late game units...nor should be expected to. This is one of the weird scenarios in the game where an upgrade is actually a downgrade. By upgrading, I have lost the ability to project power on an enemy (loss of carrier capability). The later game units should be better than older ones...but we have this weird exception. I am sure it is due to IRL considerations....but if that is our focus than stealth bombers should have ranges in the XCOM range....which I don't think is a great idea either. I truly think this is an area where gameplay needs to trump real world examples.

    Now if the comment was more about fighter balance vs bombers...than I will disagree again. G you nerfed fighters a while back, and for very good reason. They were simply the best plane to make. You have created a good division against the two paths right now....bombers kill things...and fighters kill bombers. The issue simple is....bomber killing isn't very strong, so fighters don't have strong purpose. The answer is not to make fighters better at killing things, then you have the same niche problems we are dealing with on the skirmisher. As long as bombers and fighters both are designed to kill things, one will naturally win over the other. The real answer is to make the killing of bombers stronger.

    UNLESS! There is another classic niche you could bring back if you wanted to. Fighters kill units (including planes), bombers kill cities (aka classic ranged vs siege differentiation). This is a niche differentiation we know works, so its an option.
     
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  11. Rekk

    Rekk Emperor

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    Intercepted aircraft used to deal pitiful damage. What happened to that? I would think that a bomber that does 5 damage while taking 40-60 in return is a waste of production and space.

    Destroyers are back to being a large fraction of the navy, so there is a large discrepancy between the number of air sweepers that can be fielded vs the number of destroyers in a zone. Is there any way that an intercepted aircraft does damage inversely proportional to the air defense of the interceptor? That way high quality interceptors are more desirable for reducing incoming damage over spamming low quality (interceptor promoted fighter class > differently promoted fighters / destroyers/ AA guns).

    This still keeps the problem that planes will almost never be destroyed in the air. No one will attack with a plane that has 40-60 health and risk losing it. I think 100 -> 0 destruction should be limited to the fighter class, though. Perhaps specialized ones at that. We could have promotions on both sides that increase interception damage dealt (in order to threaten 100->0)/ reduce interception damage taken (saves the plane, but 100->5 while dealing minimal damage is a low quality attack)?

    I don't know how to threaten the risk of plane destruction in the air. Maybe Air Sweeps that initiate "dog fights" should also have a high chance of destroying aircraft interceptors without defensive promotions. As such, Air Superiority > Interceptor > Bomber/Air Strike, But Bombers/Ground Attack fighters are what are actually needed to effect The main war. Air Superiority fighters have low interception values, so they are unlikely to destroy Bombers or reduce their damage.

    Then you have Triplanes and Fighters that are required for Bombers and Heavy Bombers to do meaningful damage to land targets. Differently promoted Triplanes and Fighters (Air Sweeps) push through Interceptor Triplanes/Fighters. If there are no bombers around, then they can do air strikes for minimal effect (so they're not useless, but definitely not preferred over bombers), and can be promoted to have marginal effect.

    Jet fighters can use those ground strike promotions to move from a marginal effect to high effect (they would start out being better than heavy bombers at ground strike, and promoted to be great at projecting force in the ocean and coastal inland as a worthwhile specialization option.

    Stealth bombers are still the premiere way of projecting force inland, because they are less likely to be intercepted (60-75%? I think the current value is way too high, and damage reduction means that there is no fear in the plane being destroyed) and therefore have their damage reduced. Because conquered cities initially can't hold very many planes, there isn't enough room to include air sweeping aircraft. It takes effort before more than two aircraft per conquered city can reach inland. I can see them also being excellent defensive planes by themselves, although with high risk, since once they get hit, they're out of commission for perhaps the remainder of the defense of a given city.

    AA guns/ destroyers reduce the frequency of attacks by forcing aircraft to repair, while actual interception aircraft threaten aircraft destruction.
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2019
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  12. vyyt

    vyyt Emperor

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    In addition to what @Rekk proposes, would my idea be feasible / Desirable? The inability to damage aircraft based in cities makes the air combat quite boring in my opinion.
     
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  13. civplayer33

    civplayer33 King

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    This would likely also be pretty AI friendly as, if I understand the code correctly, the AI currently only sweeps enemy cities with possible interceptors.
     
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  14. azum4roll

    azum4roll King

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    Can we make it so that a successful intercept not only damages the attacking plane, but reduces the plane's CS by a certain percentage (for this attack only) so it does less damage to its target?
     
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  15. ilteroi

    ilteroi Prince

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    i need to check the code but i assume as a last resort a temporary promotion like for naval units would be possible.

    on the other hand, damaged units already suffer a penalty to CS, it's just not very substantial. so that could be tweaked as well, maybe with a negative promotion.
     
  16. Stalker0

    Stalker0 Baller Magnus

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    I do like the idea of interception weakening the attack, they gets back to the notion that "interception provides protection"...which I think is missing right now.
     
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  17. Rekk

    Rekk Emperor

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    Intercepted planes dealing very little damage was the standard in Vanilla. I don't think it was proportional to damage taken or final health of the bomber, though.
     
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  18. ilteroi

    ilteroi Prince

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    i don't even remember how it was done in vanilla, or when it changed and why ...

    but come to think of it, the simplest solution is probably to abort an attack after successful interception.
     
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  19. Stalker0

    Stalker0 Baller Magnus

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    I would be completely in favor of this proposal.
     
  20. Gazebo

    Gazebo Lord of the Community Patch Supporter

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    @ilteroi pro-choice confirmed.

    G
     
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