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Naval Warfare and Hybrid Upgrades

Discussion in 'CivBE - General Discussions' started by Amrunril, Dec 2, 2015.

  1. Amrunril

    Amrunril Emperor

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2015
    Messages:
    1,193
    If one wishes to settle and defend aquatic, or even coastal, cities in Rising Tide, a strong navy is essential. While terrain obstacles can enable a slightly weaker army, bolstered by city defenses, to fight an effective defensive war, defending against a naval attack requires a powerful navy*. This might make for an interesting change in game dynamics if there was more than one way to create an effective naval defense. Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, there is simply no strategy that can compete with reaching 6-6 and 7-7 hybrid affinity as quickly as possible.

    Single affinity upgrades- the most relatively apparent alternative to a hybrid path- provide roughly equivalent bonuses but are impossible to reach on the same time scale. While the unit upgrade requirements suggest that 6 points in each of two affinities are equivalent to 11 points in a single affinity (and that 7-7 is equivalent to 12), the fact that tech costs scale and affinity rewards do not means that the former is dramatically easier to achieve. The fact that melee and ranged ships upgrade from level 2 to level 3 at 6 and 7 affinity only compounds this issue. A player at 7-7 has a navy two full levels ahead of a player at 5 affinity or even at a 5-5 hybrid, and it is remarkably easy to build a navy at level two costs and then upgrade it almost immediately to level four).

    The next alternative might be to fight quality with quantity, building a large enough level three navy, if not to defeat attackers, at least to force them into extended combat within city bombardment range. This would be feasible if the difference between level three and level four ships was a small one, but unfortunately this is not the case. The jump between levels three and four is by far the largest in the naval unit progression, with melee units literally doubling their combat strength and ranged units, in addition to their own strength bonuses**, gaining the game changing abilities to fire at three range or move after attacking (meaning that cities should never have the chance to shoot back, no matter how high their combat strength grows). Such a dramatic jump would be a balance issue even if it were only differentiating affinity 10 from affinity 12, and becoming available at 7-7 it simply makes any other option obsolete.

    Thus far, I’ve focused on alternatives before 7-7, as these are most important when it comes to survival and game balance. From a diversity perspective, though, it’s equally problematic that the units unlocked at 7-7 remain dominant for the entirety of the game, receiving no further upgrades over the course of the remaining 8 levels needed to win an affinity victory. Unlike on land, where soldier and gunner upgrades remain options but are largely eclipsed by armor, artillery and a broad array of affinity units, patrol and gunboat upgrades may be joined by hover units and by upgraded submarines and carriers, but they are never displaced from their role as the dominant form of fast moving aquatic firepower.

    For a player hoping to build cities at sea, or even on the coast, any strategy other a rush to 7-7 affinity seems to be a potentially deadly risk. This dramatically strengthens the already powerful incentives to focus on the inner rings of the tech web rather than experimenting with the outer rim, as well as pushing players away from single affinity research paths. Beyond altering affinity progression rates (which would be an excellent idea for a wide variety of other reasons) the most obvious solution would be to raise the requirements for hybrid upgrades to better reflect the costs of gaining affinity points. A unit that upgrades at 10 points in a single affinity should probably upgrade at 7-7 or 8-8 rather than at 6-6. I would also try to smooth out the progression of naval units, perhaps adding an extra step, to limit the power swing from being a single level ahead. And while it’s less critical for balance, I think it would be an excellent idea to either alter existing affinity units or add new ones in order to give them a role in aquatic warfare. If Rising Tide is heavily focused on naval play, and if offensive war is dramatically more effective on sea than on land, it seems only natural that naval warfare should have the same opportunities for late game affinity and tech progression as land warfare.


    *This post is based primarily off of my observations in hot seat multiplayer, but I think the reasoning should hold true for any format in which each faction is at least somewhat competent and genuinely trying to win. I do not take into account options based solely around exploiting the AI’s stupidity, which, while potentially effective, should not be confused for actual balance in the underlying game.
    **I’m not sure what the exact numbers for ranged units are, as they don’t seem to be documented either in the upgrade screen (except when actually upgrading) or in the Civilopedia, but I think the jump is comparable to that for melee units.
     
  2. Barathor

    Barathor Emperor

    Joined:
    May 7, 2011
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    1,202
    Ooh, wish I had time right now to discuss more things. I'll just throw these out here real quick, and post my concept in the Ideas section later.

    Regarding the power jumps, yeah, it's pretty ridiculous. It's so easy to dominate with 6/6 and 7/7 basic unit types, especially in the seas. Strength increases need to be lessened.

    I think it would be better to keep the hybrid thresholds mostly where they're at, and instead, reduce the prime thresholds. The game needs a quicker pace and to get things out there so they can actually be used before the end game approaches and players are pursuing victories.


    This is a template for strengths I was going to work off of while rebalancing things. Units with powerful abilities or more utility will receive less strength. Everything is scaled from the basic soldier strength. 25% progressions; which can be increased if things seem a little too "flat". Ranged units are 25% weaker. Special units are scaled roughly 25% for every strategic resource they consume. I still have to work in some other things like tacjets. Also, I'm thinking of scaling aliens off of the tier 2 soldier strength.

    Spoiler :

    Oh, I gave away my tier switches too, haha.

    Here would be the new affinity level unlocks:
    Spoiler :

    You get to play with all your toys before the game ends (if you're keeping pace). Lvl 16 ultimates are pretty much your "giant death robots" of the late game as things are winding down to an end. Lvl 16 would be the new victory wonder requirement. I left out the alternate costs for the pure and hybrid units for clarity, and because I have a slightly different approach towards it than what the base game does.

    For anybody curious, I created a formula to create a spreadsheet of affinity point costs for every level:
    Spoiler :


    Note: So this chart doesn't paint the whole picture. For example, as Amrunril said, beelining a single affinity is a little harder because of increasing tech costs.
     
  3. DefiantMars

    DefiantMars King

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2014
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    Honolulu, HI
    Very interesting, Barathor. You'll have to walk me through these charts. I feel like I'm overthinking this.
     
  4. Amrunril

    Amrunril Emperor

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2015
    Messages:
    1,193
    I think that as things stand now, reducing the single affinity thresholds would be a mistake. There does need to be a chance to use late game units, but if that chance starts when you have just over half your affinity points that leaves a ton of the game without anything new being unlocked, which I think tends to get stale (especially with the game lasting 30 turns or so beyond getting the affinity you need to win). Now, if there was something beyond the level 4 boats to shake things up- either a 5th upgrade level or aquatic affinity units, then I think it might make sense to lower to thresholds (though I would be a bit concerned about upgrades that trivialize city defenses- extra range and move after attacking- coming around too soon).

    I do like the adjusted strength progression (at least the default units, I haven't really looked at the affinity ones). The numbers do start a bit high, but the progression looks a lot more reasonable than the current system- enough to make upgraded units worthwhile without completely invalidating outdated ones.
     
  5. Barathor

    Barathor Emperor

    Joined:
    May 7, 2011
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    Yeah, I purposefully left room for another tier, as an option. But, it probably isn't really even needed, and messes a bit with the hybrid units. Plus, the pace changes later in the game.

    Yeah, it doesn't really matter where it starts, it's all about the percentages. Higher numbers make it easier to work with percentages. Civ 5 started doing this (I think) because I remember always wanting the early units to start higher to avoid bad rounding in the earlier Civs.

    These ideas are a big piece of a bunch of ideas I have to reshape the game and make it much more interesting and fun. With the help of other modders working on different aspects of the game, I want to take down Civ 5, haha. I have another plan for city defenses, the way they scale, and the way they're sieged (along with a mod for siege units). It also helps out the AI. I have another one for strategic resources, etc. They're all somewhat connected to make things work (hopefully).

    DefiantMars, yeah, I'll write things up a little better in the other forum section, and maybe share some more things.
     
  6. ShaggyCan

    ShaggyCan Warlord

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2007
    Messages:
    149
    Looks like someone is working on a much-needed balance mod. :)
     

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