The main problem with the current interactions between a carrier's planes and a surface combatant is that AA is based off of a RNG dice-roll DPS system where aircraft experience damage by simply being within an aura around each ship. This results in a nearly binary situation, with a knife's edge to balance the situation on, where either the AA is too weak/planes too durable and the surface ships get sunk too easily, or AA is too strong/planes too flimsy and the carriers do a grand total of jack and sh*t in each game, as far as damage and, consequently, experience and silver is concerned. By making AA an automatic system, with little input from the player aside on/off and priority targets, the developers sort of painted themselves into a corner on this one. In this case, what would a "balanced" situation even look like? With such a system in place, it would have to look like planes and ships being destroyed in proportional measure, but in that case, what would be the "correct/balanced" proportion? Now, I can already see the immediate hatred, crying for the prompt removal of carriers from the game. The lone wolf destroyers carrying vendettas against the carriers that ruined their stealth plays, the battleships that were sodomized by successive waves of aerial strikes, etc... .Before you tune me out and return to your seething hatred of anything that flies or launches anything that flies, please here me out: what if anti-air warfare became more involved for both parties concerned? This is my idea: Have aircraft be allowed to fly at three different altitudes(low, medium, high) and allow for AA suites to be focused on any one of these aforementioned altitudes. For the aircraft, there will be advantages and disadvantages for each altitude. At low altitude, they will enjoy an increase to their maximum speeds and a reduction to the distance at which they are spotted, whilst the disadvantage will be an increased vulnerability to AA fire( ~20% increase maybe?) For high altitude, the planes will have a reduction to AA damage experienced(10% or 15% reduction), but they will have their speeds reduced and the distance at which the planes will be spotted is increased. Medium altitude will be the middle ground( surprise to probably no one in particular), with no speed, stealth or AA damage modifiers. Also, each aircraft type will have special interactions with each altitude. Fighters squadrons that attack another squadron at a lower altitude will enjoy a momentary increase to damage output. Fighter squadrons that engage other squadrons at the same, or higher altitudes than themselves will enjoy no such increase. The fighter squad will also descend to the same altitude as the target once engaged however. Torpedo bombers will be able to travel any altitude, but must make their attack runs at low altitude( they will automatically descend to low altitude if ordered to attack) Dive bombers will be able to commence their attacks any altitude, but lower altitudes will allow for smaller bomb dispersion( high altitude will have the greatest dispersion, low altitude the smallest dispersion). For the AA suites, focusing on each altitude will allow full damage application, but the at other altitudes the damage will be reduced. Example 1: AA batteries are focused at low altitudes to repel a torpedo squadron. The torpedo squad receives full damage (on top of the low altitude damage penalty), the dive bomber squad at medium altitude receives ~50% of the damage, and the fighter squad at high altitude would receive ~25% of the damage (along with the high altitude damage reduction). If the AA were focused at high altitude(you must really hate fighters, huh?), it would be reversed, with high altitude receiving full damage (high altitude damage reduction still in play), medium altitude still ~50%, and low altitude a whopping ~25% (still getting the low altitude damage penalty though). Example 2: AA batteries are focused at medium altitudes, medium altitude aircraft receive 100% damage, whilst low and high altitudes receive ~50% damage. Also, to switch between each altitude, for both AA and aircraft, will obviously need to take some measure of time to conduct the swap, but AA suites will be able to switch altitudes faster than the aircraft( maybe 6 seconds for the AA guns, but 10 for the aircraft). To switch between each altitude for the AA guns, press P to cycle to a higher altitude, O for a lower altitude, and L to turn off the AA batteries. A momentary delay before the AA suite carries out the switch to allow for the player to input the desired altitude, turning on/off is immediate. For the aircraft carriers, while the carrier itself is selected, P, O, and L will perform the same functions as on the other surface ships for the AA batteries. When an aircraft squad is selected, P will cycle for a higher altitude, and O for a lower altitude (L does nothing). For multiple squads selected, they will be effected at the same time as if as one squad. Same momentary delay as the AA guns before executing the altitude change. TL,DR: Aircraft can fly at one of three altitudes to enjoy certain benefits but also receive some penalties, while AA guns can focus their damage at one of the three altitudes at the expense of damage at the other two altitudes. As always, whether you think this idea is great and should be implemented, or that it is completely terrible and should never see the light of day, please make your comments known. And yes, I know that this idea would involve will reworking a significant portion of the game, and as such may never be implemented, but a guy can dream, can't he?
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