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Ranged Naval Units

Discussion in 'General Balance' started by CrazyG, Aug 19, 2019.

  1. CrazyG

    CrazyG Warlord

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    This discussion came up here- https://forums.civfanatics.com/threads/skirmisher-units.648649/page-3#post-15523877

    We want to discuss what ranged units currently do, and what they should do. Especially frigates.

    In the current system, I find frigates are extremely strong against cities, at least in human hands. Their promotions aren't well balanced either, with logistics being a clearly best choice for the 4th promotion, and this strength making bombardment a generally poor choice against targeting. Frigates have no strategic resource requirement which contributes to making them a very spam-able unit. Cruisers and battleships require iron

    The move after attacking trait makes any sort of +1 movement bonus incredibly powerful. This includes the Great Lighthouse, the Grand Canal (obtained by winning the treasure fleet world congress proposal), and imperialism's opening policy.

    I think the important questions are
    1. How strong should ranged naval units be against other ships?
    2. How strong should ranged naval units be against cities?
    3. How strong should ranged naval units be against land units?
    4. What units should require iron?
     
  2. pineappledan

    pineappledan Warlord

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    My main concern whenever this discussion comes up is that battleships must retain their 2 range/indirect fire, or else they serve no purpose. Once submarines/planes/minefields are up, the only thing that battleships do better is hit land targets; they have 1 job and they aren’t even doing it particularly well right now.

    TL;DR - Do whatever needs to be done to punish frigates/cruisers, but leave battleships alone.
     
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  3. Legen

    Legen Chieftain

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    I remember the issue being that naval supremacy under the 2-range ships created entire land zones where land units couldn't stay close. In fact, a navy could defend your coastal city from a land force with the 2-range, and the city didn't even need to be in a peninsula for that. Even foot archers and siege units couldn't get close to fend off the navy, as they were easy food for the 2-range ships.

    The change to 1-range skirmisher ships was also meant to give some extra tactical play in naval battles, especially in Classical era. Dromons were dominant vs Triremes with how easily 2-range Dromons could punish any Trireme that tried to get close.

    My opinion about Frigates is that its strength vs cities has less to do with the unit itself and more with the AI not building its navy in the same way it builds its army. The AI never floods its sea tiles with naval units to the same extend it does the land, leading to the following:
    • A human player trying to conquer an AI by land will get himself in a long attrition war due to how the AI keeps spamming land units. It only starts to change once war weariness starts to kick the AI hard.
    • A human player trying to conquer an AI by sea will face a much smaller force and can quickly crush the AI's navy. It only becomes an attrition war once the human player has to send land units around the city to protect his or her conquest from the retaliation force, by which point the AI is already somewhat suffering from war weariness.
    In other words, frigates, cruisers and battleships might be just benefiting from the AI being unwilling to invest in a big armada to the same extend it invests in its land army.

    The AI seems to have been inspired on early 20th century Russia: sends massive land armies into the meat grinder, catastrophically loses its fleet at Tsushima.
     
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  4. CrazyG

    CrazyG Warlord

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    I really think frigates should require iron, otherwise iron is pretty low value until cruisers. No swordsmen is at worst mildly inconvenient unless you have a UU. Cannons are nice but you always get at least 2 iron from the ironworks, and you can make due with 2 cannons.
    I strongly disagree. 5 move frigates can repeatedly hit a city without taking damage in return. On land, my cannons have to expose themself to a city, and the units within, to deal damage to it. I most likely have to put a melee unit in front to protect the cannons, and that melee unit is exposed to the city, units within, and units behind it. The ability to deal damage without taking damage in return is so powerful. Even if you weaken frigates, as long as I can deal more than the city heals, I can take it down, and lowering my damage just encourages me to get more XP in a long siege.

    We could also try this indirect fire idea I had:
    You know how an an archer on a flat grassland cannot shoot across a hill? What if a ranged unit in ocean couldn't shoot across land tiles? Would this possible?
    @ilteroi
    Is this possible? G told me to ask you.

    I 100% agree
     
  5. crdvis16

    crdvis16 Chieftain

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    I think naval vs naval balance is pretty good right now, right? As in- melee vs ranged is in a pretty good spot? So the main issue is just the city/land damaging ability of naval ranged? If those assumptions are all true then whatever adjustment is made should hopefully not affect those other balance concerns.

    Ranged ships losing their movement if they attack a city/land unit sounds like a decent idea. That more easily guarantees that a dominant navy can't so easily kill coastal units and cities with impunity.

    If you wanted to be more conservative then simply adding a default malus for ranged naval unit attack damage against cities/land units could also help so that even if they can attack without taking damage in return they will take longer to have an affect. I probably would prefer the first option though.
     
  6. Txurce

    Txurce Warlord

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    1. Melee ships should definitely threaten ranged ships — if necessary, more than they do now. The AI already builds them, and it's all they'd need to defend a city against extra-move frigates. If they don't have them, they're going to lose, and should — don't blame it on human frigates. This is a very simple and effective fix, which Legen also suggested. Your "non-exposure" argument doesn't hold water against melee ships.

    2. Range strength against cities is less relevant with the above change, but the obvious fallback position is to reduce city damage from ranged ships. Along the same line, logistics could also be dropped to fifth tier.

    3. Ranged naval units could be weaker against land units until the modern era. I think it'd be historically accurate as well.

    4. Frigates requiring iron wouldn't be needed with the above, but is also a way to go if those changes didn't fly.

    This is overkill for me. The AI wouldn't need a navy — just land range and siege — to destroy a ranged fleet attacking a city. The unit would lose its main purpose.
     
  7. Gazebo

    Gazebo Lord of the Community Patch

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    What about my point that naval ranged units could lose more movement points when attacking land units or cities? A ‘set up penalty’ for lack of a better term?

    G
     
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  8. Legen

    Legen Chieftain

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    Thing is, we're talking about having an unopposed fleet here. 5 frigates doing whatever they want, with likely a few corvettes in case a melee ship appears, of course it should be worrisome for the opponent. A city facing an unopposed army, with 5 siege units, plus a few melee to protect against a sudden melee unit, would also wreck the city. If the 5 frigates were taking the city while facing a comparable enemy fleet, then we would have a better comparison with an army trying to do the same while the AI keeps sending land units to fend you off.

    Another thing is that naval units can't heal outside friendly territory by default, you need either a promotion or Great Canal for that (assuming you're not expending an admiral). If these ranged ships are too easily hit by cities, we end with frigates having to retreat a long distance, possibly to another continent. It is one of the reasons why having lots of Dromons and Galleases do not result in city conquests, they often have to retreat long distances to heal, giving the city plenty of turns to heal back to full health.
     
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  9. Txurce

    Txurce Warlord

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    If you're saying one movement point, then whether it cripples frigates or not is debatable. But it's not an interesting change. Buffing melee ships makes for more of a chess game, and it's one the AI can play.
     
  10. crdvis16

    crdvis16 Chieftain

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    Pretty good points. If we're not scared of just making melee navy a harder counter to ranged navy then this could certainly help solve the problem. Easiest way to do this might be to significantly lower ranged naval unit CS so that ranged navy gets hard countered by melee navy the same way that archer/siege lines get hard countered by mounted melee lines. It might lead to ranged navy getting 1 or 2 shot by melee navy but I personally don't have a problem with that and I assume the AI can play that game?
     
  11. Legen

    Legen Chieftain

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    Thing is, will a fleet be worth the supply it consumes if it's unable to influence the battlefield around a city? The situation of having frigates conquering cities assumes you have critical mass and that the enemy's fleet is not a significant threat, a.k.a. heavily outnumbered. If having something like 8-12 unopposed ships sieging an enemy city does not result in a meaningful threat, why not spend that supply on more land units instead?

    There were cases when naval superiority was key to winning a war, often through the capability of the fleet harassing fortified land positions. And I think navies are in a good balance position for that currently. I don't see the need to make naval units weaker vs land units and cities.

    I really think the whole thing is that human players can use the navy as a way to fight without dealing with the AI's ability to spam land units non-stop. The AI just doesn't outproduce ships for whatever reason, it is very easy to achieve naval supremacy. And the AI never shifts its focus to assembling a navy in the non-sieged cities to answer the human's fleet, unlike what happens when a human sends an army to a city. A human fleet can spend 20 turns sieging a city without worrying about a big enemy fleet coming at any moment, but a human army is wary of more enemy units coming from other cities pratically every single turn.
     
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  12. Txurce

    Txurce Warlord

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    Exactly. I imagine range being 2-shotted by melee.
     
  13. Bhawb

    Bhawb Chieftain

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    I think the ranged naval line needs a promotion overhaul as part of this discussion as well. The melee naval line has extremely powerful 4th+ promotions that allow you to push them into at least 3 well-defined niches depending on your in-game circumstances. I have some Destroyers in my fleet that have been around long enough to have 6+ promotions, and by the time you start getting the later tier of the +HP line (I can never remember the new promo names), stacking things like +HP, reduced damage taken, reduced damage taken from cities, they can take a lot of cities in 2-3 turns. My +sight/mobility ones can spot Japan's silly backstab from a mile away and often destroy their ambush before it starts. With Prize and the anti-ship promos they can turn the enemy's navy into mine pretty quickly. These feel fun and they're easily the most interesting set of promotions we have, while currently ranged naval is a beeline to Logistics. And if we reduce the base strength but increase promotion specialization we can allow Frigates (and later) to better have niches to fill.

    Also, I do agree a significant problem right now isn't that naval ships are too strong (outside of Frigates with the movement issue), but that the AI for some reason refuses to build a navy like it does land units. I was fighting Mongolia where they had a wave of units at least 5 hexes deep, a unit on every single tile, and maybe 5 ships. They lost the war without much of a fight because I just sniped off their weak, unprotected coastal cities with a much smaller supporting land force. If they had enough navy to at least threaten mine it could have been different, but they had almost nothing and I had 10+ turns of free shots on any coastal city.
     
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  14. CrazyG

    CrazyG Warlord

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    I really, really disagree with this assessment. Is your opinion that an AI without a dominant navy should just lose all coastal cities? You don't think that's harsh? The inability of field guns or muskets to repel even small forces of frigates isn't a problem to you?

    To start, at one point you need coal to build melee ships, which really harshly limits their number. I pretty much never use ironclads, because this strategic requirement is a huge burden for a unit which I don't actually need. I will often disband cannons to get more cruisers, and I intentionally often have more frigates than iron because I want as many ranged naval units as possible. And when the AI does spend a coal on that big, bad ironclad, the best case is it hits one cruiser, one time before the death ball of ranged ships kill it. The more common case is it hits my corvette, because I usually keep about 4 around, just to look for ships and take a hit so a frigate/cruiser doesn't have to. Let's say he brought a big group of like 7 ironclads (where he is getting 7 spare coal I have no idea), and he really surprises me, and he gets to like, 1 corvette and 1 cruiser? The ball of death wrecks him, then moves out of his line of sight.

    You need to factor line of sight AI doesn't have imperialism, they can't see your ships that are 3 tiles away, but you can see theirs, so you can move in, shoot, and move out of their vision range. Why surprise him with melee, surprise him ranged so you don't take counterattack damage, and you move towards logistics. Melee ship promotions are new and cool, but logistics is logistics, it is bar none the best promotion in the game, and moving it to tier 5 slows me down but it doesn't stop me. The AI's 2 sight land units sometimes don't even know about the frigates that keep slamming them.

    G knows more about AI than we do, but I suspect that there isn't a "just make the AI better at naval warfare!" button. This particular aspect of the AI is probably burdened by the need to make the AI fast for convenience, the line of sight and movement options for ships are far more numerable than for land combat.
     
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  15. Bhawb

    Bhawb Chieftain

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    I'd also like to stress the Coal issue. It is simply far too scarce for most civs to be able to waste it on melee ships unless you are warmongering, at which point you can just go Autocracy and have the best of both worlds.
     
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  16. Rekk

    Rekk Chieftain

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    I don't think logistics as a promotion is with the cost to balance it.
     
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  17. ilteroi

    ilteroi Chieftain

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    the problems with naval combat for the AI are imho:

    * units can move further than their sight range (enemies as well!)
    * they don't seem to know when it's important to have a big navy

    therefore increasing the visibility range on naval units could be an interesting option? ideally only over water (disclaimer: don't know if that's feasible)

    also, please wait for the next version before making any drastic changes because of AI performance - i fixed a number of bugs again, which might or might not improve things.
     
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  18. vyyt

    vyyt Chieftain

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    If such things are possible now, how about reviving the old idea of making the current skirmisher-1-ranged ships lose their movement points but one after attacking?

    The cities and archers would be able to fight back next turn as you would end within their 2-tile range, while you could still be able to rotate your ranged ships in an attack and then place a melee ship in front of them to absorb an enemy naval counterattack. The AI would be able to handle it too, wouldn't it?

    On a separate note, I have also been noticing that in the recent versions the AI does not produce enough ships and when it does, often instead of keeping them in a tight combined melee-ranged formation, it scatters them around the map where I can pick them off easily. I thought it was just a bad luck, because it wasn't the case before, but you mention yourself now that AIs do not produce enough ships in the early game. Can anything be done about it? And has anything changed about the naval formations recently? My test sample is not big enough.
     
  19. vyyt

    vyyt Chieftain

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    I'd say they should always keep "somewhat" big baby, no? Also, when we talk about sight, let's not forget about movement. I think the late game ships are too fast. I know, it becomes tedious to move the ships around the map if they are slow, but the 10-11 movement destroyers must be a true nightmare for the AI to deal with.

    What do you think about keeping the ships in more tight combined formation I mention above? Has anything changed in this area recently or am I getting a wrong impression? I do not have time to play at all these days, so I haven't tested the last 2 betas.
     
  20. cerk

    cerk Chieftain

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    There isn't much defensible terrain at sea, so i think whoever has the bigger navy should be able to win battles. To have AIs build more ships we could change the coal requirement on ironclads to coal | iron or just iron and that should make human players rethink how they want their fleet to be composed as both ships now require iron.
     

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