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Cordane

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This is my third attempt to come up with a countermeasures-based defensive layer as an alternative to the point-defense system currently in vanilla Stellaris (and if nothing else it's much less wordy than before). The primary mechanism is the use of utility slots to supply decoys and jamming emitters that interfere with the effective accuracy of direct-fire (DF) and missile weapons. Each utility slot provides a certain amount of effective damage capacity, similar to shields or armor, with the following differences:
  1. Each attack has a percentage chance of being interfered with by the countermeasures (CM). It would likely default to somewhere between 25% and 50% for Tier 1 sensors and Tier 1 CM modules. Units without explicit sensor modules (e.g., space whales) would have a set rating for each type; I don’t know if non-technological units would have CM-type capability or how that would work.
  2. Smaller (e.g., S-slot) weapons have a small (5-10%) increase in the chance to be interfered with by CM, while larger (e.g., L-slot, X-slot) have a similarly lower chance to be interfered with by the same CM. Missiles have a significantly larger chance increase than a same-slot DF weapon (more reliant on their internal sensors, although Torpedoes might be less affected), and strike craft have similar chances to other L-slot weapons (due to their point-blank attacks).
  3. As CM technology improves and is refit into warships, the higher Tier modules apply a larger chance; similarly, sensor technology improvements apply a reduction in the chance to interfere. Missiles see this type of improvement based on their own improvement more than for the sensors themselves.
  4. Any attack that is subject to CM interference applies its full damage to the CM layer (times any damage multiplier), not to any later defensive layer (i.e., what would have been a hit is now a miss). Fast cooldown weapons have a bonus to the amount of damage they apply to the CM layer, while slower cooldown weapons have penalties to their damage applied.
  5. Once the CM layer is defeated, it stays down until after combat or a set amount of time after last having been hit while still in combat. I don't know if I'd apply any modifiers to the chance to interfere based on the ratio between the incoming damage and the remaining CM capacity, but it's something I might consider.
Because missiles are much more affected by CM, both in chance and in effectiveness, this acts as a strong defensive system for them, similar to shields being largely stronger for energy weapons and armor for kinetics. Strike craft aren’t as affected because I would either keep flak as the SC-only counter or use defensive Hangars (possibly as a utility M- or L-slot) as the counter for offensive Hangars.

Smaller/faster weapons become a bigger threat to larger ships as they quickly strip CM capability with their rapid attacks. Strike craft don’t add too much here, in part because their attacks aren’t as likely to be interfered with, although their very low cooldown keeps them effective. Larger/slower weapons will probably have some difficulty getting unanswered one-shots on smaller ships, with the possibility of nullifying a single big hit.

I don’t know if I would want to see auxiliary slots for larger ships that alter the behavior of CM utility slots, by shifting the chance to be affected away from smaller attacks and toward larger attacks, or for hangars that cause their (offensive) SC to be more effective at stripping CM (either by chance or multiplier). But it could be a useful trade-off versus other aux modules.
 

Longherin

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So how does this work from a mechanics standpoint?
Does it map one to one (one CM module -> one weapon), ship to ship (one CM-holding ship -> one ship's weapons).
You mentioned a CM layer, so does that mean it works mechanically as a third bar of health?
 

Cordane

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So how does this work from a mechanics standpoint?
Does it map one to one (one CM module -> one weapon), ship to ship (one CM-holding ship -> one ship's weapons).
You mentioned a CM layer, so does that mean it works mechanically as a third bar of health?
Just throwing out numbers, but like 100 points for an S-slot, 225 for an M-slot, and 500 for an L-slot, or whatever matches up to the typical size increases. Do the same for the tech increase, such that you get similar effectiveness for CM, shields, or armor, just that CM works best versus missiles like shields vs. lasers/plasma or armor vs. kinetics.

If the expectation is that the CM would interfere 25% of the time, then 2-3x as much total effective damage capacity as a shield or piece of armor. If you expect it to activate more often, reduce the effective damage capacity.
Protip: there's a suggestion board where suggestions are welcome. ESPECIALLY the well thought out ones
https://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/index.php?forums/stellaris-suggestions.943/
With all due respect to those that setup and those that frequent the Suggestions forum, it cannot compare to the traffic that comes through the main forum, which is still quite full of suggestions. I counted the first 5 pages of each sub/forum, and Suggestions went back to Nov 30th with only 20 threads with 200+ views, while the main only went back to Dec 10th with 81 threads of at least 500+ views. It's never my intention to flout the forum rules in this way, but my hope is to present my idea to the larger, more active audience here in hopes of a good conversation that I honestly have never really gotten when I have posted there.
 

Longherin

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(I'm gonna be that guy)
So...just a third bar of health then?

(Also missiles are in no way dangerous enough to warrant a layer of health specifically for them, but I assume you're working with an environment in which they are).
 

DrNukeLear

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Better idea: improve strike craft/missile/pd balance
 

Cordane

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(I'm gonna be that guy)
So...just a third bar of health then?

(Also missiles are in no way dangerous enough to warrant a layer of health specifically for them, but I assume you're working with an environment in which they are).
Point-defense is already a defensive system specific for missiles, but it's completely point-less when the enemy brings either few or no G-slots. Shields and armor each provide some level of defense versus even for the weapons that have significant damage bonuses against them. PD is also badly balanced in that it's capable of practically eliminating a type of incoming damage, something no other weapon is subject to. Shifting to a system that provides some defense against nearly all attacks and a moderately strong defense versus a significant portion (possibly also shield/armor penetrating weapons) is I think a better way to go about it.

Point-defense that knocks down most missile attacks is only needed in a game-world where missiles ARE the preeminent threat. Realistically, at any range where there's even a possibility of evading laser fire, missiles should be the scariest thing a space warship would face, shot for shot. Aiming a direct-fire weapon at a not-perfectly-predictable moving target that's hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of kilometers away is incredibly hard, and the great majority of DF attacks should miss. Without a PD or CM system working against them, virtually all missile attacks would hit, and for FAR greater effect than any individual DF attack (think something the mass of a delivery truck ramming the warship at hundreds of kilometers per second). A warship's defenses would have to be near perfect versus missiles, with any effectiveness versus DF attacks being a minor bonus.

But we don't have that in Stellaris, because basic DF attacks (i.e., the mass driver and laser tech-trees) are only at worst about a third less effective than same-tier missiles when there is no PD arrayed against them, when all weapon elements are factored in, and around 3-4 times as effective when any significant PD is present. PD as a weapon system only applies if you think missiles are just slightly faster tiny warships that pull up close to an enemy and go "boom" - they would realistically cross any battle zone in hours, not days (or weeks), and would spend only minutes in range of any PD emplacement before slamming into their targets.

The far-more compact weapon damage scale is a "necessary weasel" of game design. I like to think that the relatively high accuracy and damage of DF weapons is more a result of summarizing a significantly larger number of mostly inaccurate and/or ineffective shots over the same period of time into a single "attack" that does a similar amount of damage to a single missile (and the relatively long cooldown between shots for missiles is a conceit to allow for ignoring the storage limitations that should otherwise apply).
 

grommile

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would spend only minutes in range of any PD emplacement before slamming into their targets.
In a modern navy, a useful CIWS has to be able to identify, engage, and destroy an inbound sea-skimming anti-shipping missile in under thirty seconds.
 

Longherin

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I mean...ok, but 'missiles are really good' isn't much of a justification for including Countermeasures if the missiles are, uh, not that good to begin with.
Putting aside the conversation on how 'realistic' this has to be, though:

Your mechanic, then, is fundamentally a third bar of health that can only be damaged by non-missile weapons?
Like Lore Justifications are good n' all, but how does your mechanic shake out in theoretical gameplay circumstances?

(Gonna be that guy again)
At the moment, though, it sounds like you're trying to solve a problem you've manufactured (missiles being deadly) which is...respectable, but not necessarily useful.
 

Dragatus

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I mean...ok, but 'missiles are really good' isn't much of a justification for including Countermeasures if the missiles are, uh, not that good to begin with.

My understanding is that the idea is to get rid of the current PD weapons and have countermeasure instead which would be less of a hard counter for missiles, but which on the other hand would have some use vs direct fire weapons.

PD as a 4th health bar is something I've considered myself and it might work, but lately I've begun leaning more towards making missiles much more dangerous so that the inclusion of PD weapons would be justified.
 

Cordane

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I mean...ok, but 'missiles are really good' isn't much of a justification for including Countermeasures if the missiles are, uh, not that good to begin with.
But we don't have that in Stellaris, because basic DF attacks (i.e., the mass driver and laser tech-trees) are only at worst about a third less effective than same-tier missiles when there is no PD arrayed against them, when all weapon elements are factored in, and around 3-4 times as effective when any significant PD is present.
Within the game, missiles are not world beaters, but the current defensive system acts like they are.
Your mechanic, then, is fundamentally a third bar of health that can only be damaged by non-missile weapons?
My understanding is that the idea is to get rid of the current PD weapons and have countermeasure instead which would be less of a hard counter for missiles, but which on the other hand would have some use vs direct fire weapons.

PD as a 4th health bar is something I've considered myself and it might work, but lately I've begun leaning more towards making missiles much more dangerous so that the inclusion of PD weapons would be justified.
Yeah, all attacks can be subject to CM interference, but missile attacks are both more likely to be interfered with and less likely to remove their damage capacity (in large part because they're a long cooldown weapon).

There would need to be additional tweaking to bring PD-less missiles into balance with the other attack types once CM is brought in, with a real critical look needed regarding shield penetration (for SC, as well). It's both not mechanically sound (it doesn't synergize with virtually any other DF attacks, which either have to deal with both shields and armor or with neither) and not particularly logical in a realistic view.

I've read in several places over the years (before Stellaris entirely) that kinetic weapons would do well against magnetic shields because their impact on the shield actually transfers force back to the shield emitters, knocking them out of alignment (energy weapons have comparatively little kinetic force involved, and are either bent away or the energy is dumped into capacitors that are then bled off). Missiles "penetrating" shields only makes sense if the warship basically shuts down the shields to avoid catastrophic feedback to the emitters when the far more massive missiles would otherwise impact the shield. SC "penetrating" shields only makes sense if they are operating within the shield boundary, as they're currently firing energy weapons (bonus armor damage) - they would instead be circling their targets at many thousands of kilometers (they wouldn't have the acceleration necessary to be both fast and close), well past even my head-canon on distant shields (a shield that is further out only has to change the angle of the beam slightly to keep it from physically impacting the ship, rather than just relying on absorbing the energy).
 

Longherin

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So in other words (and by all means let me know if I'm summarizing this incorrectly):

Since you haven't really clarified one way or the other, I'm going to assume that CM works as a third bar of health.

There now exists three bars of health (besides the hull): Armor, shield, CM. Let's say they all share defense slots for simplicity's sake, with optional A slots to give them bonuses.

SMLX weapons damage armor and shield and are critically affected by CM.
G weapons both damage and are critically affected by CM.
H weapons do whatever they want (not the point of this discussion).
PD weapons vanish entirely (or exists purely as a counter against H).

Essentially, CM parts give a bonus that is at its 'maximum' strength when the bar is at maximum. As the CM is damaged, the bonus reduces.

In other words:
If we have two fleets with comparable SMLX weapons and CM, but one has more G than the other, then the one with more G should come out on top.

...
I can see problems with this model already, but this is just my interpretation of things.
 

Cordane

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So in other words (and by all means let me know if I'm summarizing this incorrectly):

Since you haven't really clarified one way or the other, I'm going to assume that CM works as a third bar of health.

There now exists three bars of health (besides the hull): Armor, shield, CM. Let's say they all share defense slots for simplicity's sake, with optional A slots to give them bonuses.

SMLX weapons damage armor and shield and are critically affected by CM.
G weapons both damage and are critically affected by CM.
H weapons do whatever they want (not the point of this discussion).
PD weapons vanish entirely (or exists purely as a counter against H).

Essentially, CM parts give a bonus that is at its 'maximum' strength when the bar is at maximum. As the CM is damaged, the bonus reduces.

In other words:
If we have two fleets with comparable SMLX weapons and CM, but one has more G than the other, then the one with more G should come out on top.

...
I can see problems with this model already, but this is just my interpretation of things.
  1. Countermeasures are technically the fourth bar of health, as I clearly indicated in my first response to you. They take the same utility slots as shields, armor, and hull improvements, and Aux slots can be used to adjust how CM affects or is affected.
  2. All weapons can be affected by CM, with the likelihood being highest for G-slot weapons, with all direct-fire weapons well behind (S-slots a touch more, L- and X-slots a touch less).
  3. All weapons damage CM when affected, with longer cooldown weapons (i.e., burst damage) doing less relative damage (all the strike took out was a decoy drone).
  4. Offensive Hangar weapons are actually quite effective against CM, because they're less likely to be affected (range) and are more damaging when they do (fast cooldown). An Aux slot might be used to shift offensive Hangar weapons a bit more toward CM-stripping versus mostly avoiding it.
  5. Point-defense goes away, but flak might stay as a P-slot or it might go away too, with defensive Hangar weapons taking over that role.
  6. CM might be less likely to affect an attack that would blow through it in one shot, but regardless, if it does affect the shot, it's completely nullified with no spillover to the lower health bars (because you hit the decoy, not the ship).
Assuming an even slots split between CM, shields, and armor - If a warship shows up with just DF weapons: they would have 15-35% of their shots hit decoys (the CM layer) until it's eliminated, but the shots that get through have already been stripping shields and armor. Part way into damaging the hull, the last of the CM is spent and the remaining shots go through unmolested.

If a warship shows up with G-slots: those shots would hit the CM layer 50-75% of the time until it's eliminated, with shots that get through impacting shields (yes) and armor. Right around the switchover point from damaging shields to damaging armor, the last decoy goes down and now the shots come in unimpeded.

The numbers would have to be massaged to reach the sweet spot, to have CM be a little less than between shields and armor in effectiveness against most kinetic and energy weapons, somewhat effective versus shield/armor penetrators (perhaps allowing them to get higher base damage on balance), and "plasma vs. shields"-annoying for missiles.
 

Longherin

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1. The reason why I said it wasn't clear to me was because you weren't like "yes it's a fourth bar" but instead just threw out numbers, but yeah, I could've read a little deeper into it.

2. "well behind" meaning...that CM doesn't affect them as much? Or it affects them more?

3. Figured as much, and is one of my concerns.

4. Again, figured as much, but not the focus so I won't bother with this one.

5. Yay, but same as 4.

6. Eh.

So the issue I have with 3 and 4 is...assuming that we have CM as the *only* method of intercepting missiles (to remove unnecessary variables)...

0. If a missile were to 'get through', how much damage are you expecting it to do (I know we're not really talking numbers, but a rough idea would help).
1. What would be the expected fleet composition in your mind?
2. What would be the expected performance of a mono L fleet (BBs galore)?
3. What would be the expected performance of a mono G fleet (or as mono G as it can be)?
(That guy question)
4. Can't I just duplicate your rather strenuous model of elongating a ship's life by, say, tripling a ship's armor and shield rating?
 

Cordane

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0. Missiles still have advantages in Accuracy and Range for M-slot equivalents (or at any slot level if removed from G-slots), and previously had shield penetration, further increasing their effective damage versus a PD/CM-less target. I had previously written about effective damage per day versus a given defensive target, and the missiles in a scenario of 1/4 of total defensive "hit points" in shields, 1/4 armor, 1/2 hull ("Balanced") tended to be around 50% more effective than their basic kinetic equivalents (without PD), 60% when the ratio moves to 1/3 in each area ("Balanced+"). Again, that's with shield penetration and no PD/CM factored in - if you remove shield penetration (for multiple reasons), then missiles are already not much more effective versus either scenario, where they should be more ideally situated. There are multiple ways to get a better ratio for missiles in advance of CM, whether by a shift in the Accuracy spectrum for all weapons, more base damage, lower cooldown (probably avoid that one), etc. Mostly I need to go back to my Excel file (at work, but I'm on holiday) and put in several new scenarios to get a more detailed idea of exactly what's needed.
  1. I don't have any expected fleet composition - I just want a situation where someone can choose any pieces from the three weapon paths and generally find them useful. Players (including AI) should be able to take a look at what their opponent has put together and come up with a reasonable defense, but a mixed-arms fleet should be the hardest to gimp and the most hands-off in terms of constant refitting back and forth. Thematically, I'd prefer a mixed-size fleet as well, but too many factors in targeting currently favor mono-size fleets and I'm not interested in tackling that anytime soon.
  2. I'm thinking that L- and X-slot fleets are a little too capable against smaller targets, especially with the L-slot-only upgraded versions (Kinetic Artillery, etc.). I don't know for certain what my changes would have toward balancing them down - I wrote this up as a rough first draft and I'm not trying to release any sweeping mod where I'd have to have this all detailed out already for anyone.
  3. There are a lot of moving pieces to that question and any answer for it. Like I said above, I want them to be balanced with the other weapon types in a balanced scenario. If missiles don't have as ideal of a scenario (no CM) as mass drivers ("Shields+") or lasers ("Armor+") can have, then their gimped scenario ("CM+") shouldn't be as bad as those for kinetics and energy. I'd probably tweak their vs. shield and vs. armor effectiveness to get their ideal scenario better and allow their gimped scenario to get worse, more in line with the others. I'd also prefer to open up missiles and torpedoes to more slot sizes - shifting the defensive burden over to standard utility slots and aligning damage balance closer to DF weapons I think would allow that to happen.
  4. I'm not really looking to extend any ship's combat life by much at all - a balanced set of utility slots with CM as one of the choices would probably result in the same longevity as a ship with balanced shields, armor, and hull now. A ship that has all CM would probably do better against DF weapons that rely on their shield and armor bonus damage versus hull, along with the previously mentioned shield and armor penetrators. A ship going against enemies with high bonus hull damage would probably look to avoid a significant CM build, and a missile-using fleet would probably look to synergize with DF hull-crushers to force the enemy to stay balanced.
 

Longherin

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No worries about not having it all thought out: I'm just giving you a hard time. :)

The reason why I ask about fleet composition is that adjusting weapons is basically guaranteed to cause weirdo side-effects, and buffing missiles to the point where your mechanic becomes a valid counter would either result in (what I think) the following possibilities:
1) SMLX weapons are still reasonably good at burning down CM despite their hit falloff, and mono-BB is still the way to go (default case, really).
2) Missiles get really good at burning down CM compared to everything else, and corvettes reign supreme.
3) Missiles are really good, but there's a floor to hit rate and the occasional hit sucks, making missiles cruisers a thing (is missile cruisers a thing? haven't played in a while).
4) (Personal favorite) CM is such a pain to deal with that FINALLY, FINALLY we have carrier primacy.

I suppose a case can be made for mixed fleets, but Stellaris works on the 'more is more' mechanic, so the harder one weapon snowballs, the more likely it is that the ship able to handle it will see more use compared to its compatriots.

As the person who proposed this idea and most likely did it with some kind of gameplay image in mind when you did it, what did you have in mind?
 

Cordane

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In a modern navy, a useful CIWS has to be able to identify, engage, and destroy an inbound sea-skimming anti-shipping missile in under thirty seconds.
It also has less than15 seconds of firing time, against missiles inbound at 275m/s (around Mach 0.8 at sea level), as it's only good to about 3.5km. A Stellaris warship's PD mounts typically have more than a day and a half to fire on a missile heading directly for it, and 2-3 days for one passing through its massive zone of control - with a cooldown of half a day, that's several shots when it should have only one.
 

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No worries about not having it all thought out: I'm just giving you a hard time. :)

The reason why I ask about fleet composition is that adjusting weapons is basically guaranteed to cause weirdo side-effects, and buffing missiles to the point where your mechanic becomes a valid counter would either result in (what I think) the following possibilities:
1) SMLX weapons are still reasonably good at burning down CM despite their hit falloff, and mono-BB is still the way to go (default case, really).
2) Missiles get really good at burning down CM compared to everything else, and corvettes reign supreme.
3) Missiles are really good, but there's a floor to hit rate and the occasional hit sucks, making missiles cruisers a thing (is missile cruisers a thing? haven't played in a while).
4) (Personal favorite) CM is such a pain to deal with that FINALLY, FINALLY we have carrier primacy.

I suppose a case can be made for mixed fleets, but Stellaris works on the 'more is more' mechanic, so the harder one weapon snowballs, the more likely it is that the ship able to handle it will see more use compared to its compatriots.

As the person who proposed this idea and most likely did it with some kind of gameplay image in mind when you did it, what did you have in mind?
S-slot weapons should have a pretty decent capability to strip CM - too many attacks that are subject to CM, each pulling more than their weight in taking out decoys. The heavier mounts are going to see a halfway decent number of their shots failing, especially early in a fight when the CM layer is large enough to ensure activation, and every CM'd attack is a big hit to the attacker's DPD.

I'd prefer to see missiles and torpedoes get moved out of just G-slots and out of just Corvettes and Cruisers. I'd like to see missiles regain more of their Tracking prowess, with S-slot versions close to 100% (which will necessitate additional tweaking of damage), but otherwise I want to get their "C/S/A Balanced" or "Balanced+" numbers in line with their kinetic and energy brethren, after factoring for Range, etc. Torpedoes should always require a larger (M or higher) slot and they should be more resistant to CM, but give back some of their damage. Swarmer mounts (also at least M-slot) might switch from large salvos to smaller cooldown/higher RoF with individual missiles, to get in on the CM-stripping game.

If strike craft end up being the best CM-stripping weapon, then I think that's a good use for them versus super-capital ships, especially if they can arrive in advance of an L-/X-slot alpha. As I indicated previously, I'd prefer to see the primary means of defeating SC to be other SC, with defensive Hangars in utility slots (again M- or higher) being my preferred delivery method.

Adding in CM and defensive Hangars would probably place a premium on utility slots, so I'd like to see some changes to slots and ship sections, including:
  • Move Aux slots either to a separate "section" just for them or 1 each in multiple sections
  • Have utility slots in all sections, about the same total value as currently
  • Have variety in slot size (e.g., Destroyer would need an M-slot on the utility side to carry a defensive Hangar, a Battleship might want just one M-slot D-Hangar and could use the other M-slot for another utility
  • Have ship sections that trade weapons for utilities or vice versa, even if it's just trading up to a larger slot on one side by dropping to smaller slots on the other
My biggest want on the slot/section topic is to get Cruisers and Battleships off of the 1/3, 1/2, 1/6 section format so that we can get an X-slot that is more in line with the S/M/L damage progression available on Cruisers. I'd pair that with forcing the outsized weapon for each class (e.g., L-slot on Destroyers, X-slot on Cruisers) be marked as a "cannon" that would deal with the forward fire-type rules currently on X-slots (e.g., per shot damage bump, RoF drop, arc limitation, Tracking hit) applying to each of them. It would also bump Battleships up to a double-X (or D-slot) cannon as its biggest option, and would probably require that section to use the larger number of smaller utility slots (e.g., Destroyer would normally have two M-slot turrets and two M-slot utilities in a bow section, but could go with an L-slot cannon and four S-slot utilities instead). Let me know if this specifically is something you want to discuss more.​
 
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